Bike Life Adventures: Team GreenSmith Goes on Vacation Pt. 1

When it comes to planning a vacation, my words of wisdom are: Preparation is great for when it works out, but keeping an open mind is essential at all times. 

This was my first time taking the reins on trying to plan out a mountain biking trip all by myself (figuring out where to ride, lodging, food, etc.) 

It was, all in all, a worthwhile experience, and I would say, pretty successful. I did encounter unexpected hiccups, but the good thing is even with foiled plans or quick changes, Travis and I were able to have a great time away from the shop to enjoy mountain biking for several days.

Part one of the adventure starts with us packing up our adventure truck and heading to Mercer, WI. We would be staying at the Cranberry Inn overnight and ordering food to go from the restaurant. As we went further north, the drive turned out to be beautiful. 

We had to go to the restaurant portion to check-in, which worked out well because we could grab a menu to look over for what we would want for supper. We had a corner room and in general, the whole thing had a cozy cabin feel. Everything was very clean and the room had a comforting feeling. The bedding was minimal, which during COVID times, is understandable. We had brought a blanket just in case I would need it, but the one thing I never bring and should, was a pillow. The only negative about the place was the pillow, and usually, I'm a person who can sleep on just about anything. The lesson for Josie #1: Bring some sort of pillow that you can sleep on okay but aren't going to cry if you accidentally leave it behind. (I left a pillow once, thankfully got it back, but that literally scarred me for life and that's why I don't bring pillows on trips.)

Supper from the Cranberry Inn was very good. As you can see, someone had a very big appetite as I truly only ordered the sandwich with fries. I did steal some cheese curds tho because we're on vacation so why not?

Breakfast would be ordered from the Aurora Borealis Cafe, which wasn't too far of a drive from the Cranberry Inn. Originally I hoped to hit up a breakfast spot not far from the Cranberry, but upon double-checking their hours on Facebook I had seen they had been broken into and were closed temporarily. The breakfast from Aurora Borealis was good and I enjoyed having fuel in the proverbial tank for the mountain biking we'd be doing.

We would be heading to Winchester, WI to ride the WinMan Trails. I had heard about this trail system from a friend of ours and from following their Facebook page, I was very keen on seeing what it was all about. 

WinMan Trails has a chalet (which during COVID may not be open.) They have a large kiosk area with a map, donation box, and other news. They also had a picnic bench and an outdoor changing area (which I thought was rather neat!) The parking lot was spacious, too. (Granted, it was a Monday, but there seemed to be ample room.)

WinMan Trails truly has something for everyone (personal opinion)
You have 14+ miles of machine-built trails (and more to be added!) that provide riding for all levels of folks to enjoy. You had fun, fast, flowy descents. Climbs that didn't make you feel like you would pop a lung out. What I loved was you had features you could ride around if your comfort level wasn't there yet. The best part for me was being able to session some stuff to ready myself mentally for what we might see at Copper Harbor. Visiting this system during a weekday morning was perfect because I was able to session a drop feature numerous times without worrying about being in the way. 

The other thing I liked about the WinMan trails was that they are directional. You don't question if you're going the "right" or "wrong" way and that makes it so easy!
I had taken a photo of the map but also had Trailforks up if it was necessary and from what I can gather the Trailforks app is current/up-to-date with the trails they have.

I can't tell you which trail I liked most because it was our first time and I am not great with remembering exactly which trails we rode, but working on the drops was super fun and the exit we had going down The Twins was also a blast! (I will be working on some videos for my YouTube channel to showcase the riding we did on our vacation.)

All in all, we had a solid ride for the day and I was sad to leave! Really, I would have loved to have ridden longer, but at the same time, we still had some driving to go before we would reach Copper Harbor.

Now, the drive to Copper Harbor...oh my goodness. Beautiful. When you drive through what feels like a never-ending canopy of fall heart melted. We checked in at a cute lakefront motel called Bella Vista. The room was small but spacious enough for us and our bikes. You had a door leading out to a deck that ran along the backside of the building that gave you a glorious view of the lake/harbor. The bed was comfy and the pillows were just fine for my head! Overall the room was clean, it had a scenic view, and it was cozy/comfortable.

Now...when I mentioned above about the whole being open-minded...well, that's because my well-laid plans didn't work out quite as expected when it came to supper. See, the dates that I chose for our trip fell on days that some restaurants weren't open, and that made it extremely interesting/tricky. Especially because Michigan was going through a tough COVID time and would soon be having to step back in capacity numbers in businesses, etc. By the time we got going to see about ordering food to go from an establishment, they had already reached capacity and weren't accepting any to-go orders or additional dine-in. It would be a giant question mark if we would be able to get any food from there at all.

The Genny was also closed, so we couldn't grab food from there. The Fuel Stop was also closed. Same story. This was one thing I did not properly plan for and it would be one unfortunate situation where Travis wouldn't have a solid meal and that would make us both feel grumpy and frustrated. I drank a beer with bitter feelings towards myself while Travis ate chips & salsa along with whatever other snack foods we brought that would curb the growls from his stomach. Zero points for Josie.

I promised that we would make the next day better. No matter what, we WOULD find FOOD somewhere. 

To start off our morning, I made sure we got up super early so we could have breakfast at the Tamarack Inn. I wanted to give this place a shot even tho there were mixed reviews because the opportunity for a filling breakfast to fuel our ride was of utmost importance to me. I do best if I have your "meat and potatoes" sort of much as I love baked goods and such, I know I'd be feeling hangry soon after. Plus, if I had a solid breakfast, I can literally go without lunch. So there was some strategy in that!

We were the second couple to be seated that morning and it was an establishment that was definitely following social distancing protocol. A limited number of persons could be in at one time and there were only so many tables. The menu wasn't filled to the brim with options, but the options available were good ones. I had a #5, which was two eggs your way (over easy), meat (bacon!), hashbrowns, and toast. Literally, my favorite breakfast. The eggs were done absolutely perfectly! I was so excited about yoke-y eggs. Over easy is a cook that I feel is very easy to mess up resulting in very little runny yoke, which means if you want a runny yoke, then you would get sunny side up and run into the possibility of runny egg whites. It's no yoke...the cook did a fabulous job. 

Part two of Team GreenSmith Goes on Vacation will talk about our rides at Copper Harbor, how we survived the great supper dilemma, and more!