Bike Life Adventures: Team GreenSmith Goes on Vacation Pt. 2

Continuing on from Part 1, we now dive into riding in Copper Harbor. With the two days we had to ride, I planned for us to do two different mountain bike rides.

Day 1 would be legit mountain biking with the purpose to hit some features I saw on YouTube prior to our trip. 

Day 2 would be an adventure-focused mountain bike ride on the Point Trail to take us to the literal point of the Keweenaw Peninsula. This would be more or less an all-day destination ride that would be a mixture of mountain biking and biking on some jeep/gravel roads.

Because of COVID and all of that jazz, and us wanting to be self-supportive/socially distanced, we didn't utilize any sort of shuttle service. We also decided that we would ride up Brockway Mtn. Drive rather than bike up some of the 2-way trails as we preferred the idea of 1. Not running into folks blasting down and 2. I wanted to see some of the scenic views from the road area that I read about.

We did indeed see some gorgeous scenery, but this is also where I started my first round of navigational bumbles. I didn't want our ride to start on The Flow trail and have us ride all the way back up again right away, so I was on the lookout for other trail options on the side of the road. However, I think with my focus on climbing up a steep paved road, I missed some telltale signs. Using Trailforks, we navigated our way back down to a section of trail that ultimately took us to Danimal.

There are many YouTube videos for Danimal, a trail boasting some sizeable drops for someone of my extremely limited experience to attempt to do. It does turn more into a jump trail after those drops, which I do completely suck at. No matter. The goal of Danimal was to do the drops. Drops are something that ignites a spark of wonderment and excitement laced with fear. It's that moment of being in the air...the float. I've always wanted to fly. I just didn't want to land with my body slamming into the ground like I did on the Luge trail back home right before our trip. Ouch.

There was a good bit of trailside hemming and hawing. Travis said we could come back later if I wasn't feeling it. I worried about getting lost and actually NOT making it back. (Logical worry). I also didn't want to tell myself it was okay to wait and then just not do it. The way I looked at it, there was no going back. I had to commit and I had to commit early on into our ride. 

This is a good YouTube video to watch of a ride through on Danimal. Now, as with all action cameras, it does this magical thing where it makes what you're riding look super EASY. Somehow everything looks less "big" or less "steep."

For me, it took several attempts of Travis leading me in to do the first drop. A good bit of it was figuring out speed. You have to ride up a steep ramp to get to the top, get a few pedal strokes in, and be going at a good enough speed to clear everything but also get yourself into a good body position so you can land proper. I get the gist of all of it, but with so few things of height to practice on back home, I'm literally learning on the trail.

I had Travis pull me in a few times until I started to feel comfortable. I was making small steps of progress and eventually felt comfortable enough to do the feature on my own, without Travis in front of me. Even tho my technique wasn't 100% (thank goodness for squishy bikes) I still feel I improved from where I started. 

The second drop feature, I never did feel as comfortable with to do it by myself, but I did feel comfortable to session it with Travis leading me in. I'm not sure why my comfort level varied. I suppose it might be because you come in at just the slightest turn...either way, I was successful in going off of that feature without injury/crashing/etc. 

Now we come to the part of the journey that most of the YouTube videos don't show or talk about. You're on a mountainous hill so that means after you've ridden down you're going to have to ride UP. I suspected this and was mentally prepared for it, but Travis wondered what the bleep was going on. (Insert giggles here.) 

Also, as much as I tried to use Trailforks, I still got us stuck in a weird wormhole of a circle. I never ride with my phone on the bike (as I do crash and I care about my phone a lot...) so there was a lot of stopping at intersections, walking spots, thinking I was getting us up where we needed to be and instead we went down where we didn't want to be. We knew there were some trails we just didn't care to experience on this trip, so we ultimately had to accept that this is the adventurous part of mountain biking in a new area.

Not all trails in Copper Harbor are like Danimal and The Flow. You'll have spots where you'll have awesome descents, then you plateau, then you climb. Some of the trails have some "old school" tech like rocks/roots. Basically, don't expect everything to be manicured, hard dirt- you indeed earn your turns.

Eventually, we ended up back down to a road and I basically gave up. My internal compass is broken. If the blue dot isn't on a trail, I'm utterly lost. So our game plan was to swing back to the motel for a quick break, have Travis eat some food, and we'd ride back up Brockway Mtn. Drive to hit up The Flow trail.

On The Flow trail, earlier in, I had to stop and get a picture of my beloved Stumpjumper, Frankie G. The trees were just so beautiful and I couldn't help myself. Seriously, I had been doing a really good job of not taking too many photos (or making Travis take them for me...hehe)

A kind fellow rode by and asked if I was okay, and we let him know that I was just snapping a photo of my bike. Later into the trail, we rode by him and he had been doing the same! He said I inspired him, and he followed behind me for a way down the trail.

Whomever this rad dude was, he was an exemplary mountain biking human. This is a guy who has been mountain biking as long as Travis, who had no problem following behind someone who was new to riding a legit downhill flow trail (there were times I was afraid of how fast I was going, so I would use my brakes some...especially around some of the berms as I have a tendency of hitting them high and worry about overshooting off the top. Trust me, it's happened to me before!)

He told me to ride my pace. He was totally fine with it and could understand where I was coming from as I didn't come from an area that has trails like The Flow at all. He lives in a similar have what I call "triangle climbs"...basically your straight up/down stuff. It's punchy. You don't have 10 minutes of downhill. All in all, this is a guy that gets respect for being a person who wants folks to have fun mountain biking and isn't annoyed by those of us who are learning to embrace The Flow. Literally.

After a bit, Travis did pull off to the side when it plateaued out and we let the kind dude go by. To be honest, I was super grateful for the break, because riding a constant downhill works different muscles and I was definitely tense! (But having a BLAST!) It was great to catch my breath and calm my heart rate. After the break, we continued on and had a great end to our ride that day. I wish we had more time before the rain came to ride The Flow again, but unfortunately, it wasn't in the cards.

Now, the great food mission begins. Would Travis and Josie be successful with finding supper? Stay tuned!

Insert Travis and Josie walking in the rain to the place they hoped to eat at, given they were arriving at a weird (what they assumed) off-time. Heckn' Nope. 

Well, fart

So, being that Travis and Josie are already wet, they walked to The Genny to see what was there. Worst case scenario, they would buy some stuff (other than beer) to sustain them through the night. Beer was indeed bought because when else are you going to get Michigan beer other than in Michigan? Also purchased were some fun sodas with ginger. (Okay, only one was good.)

Backup plan #3 was on tap.
Order pizza from The Log Cabin located at Mount Bohemia Resort.
Woodfired pizza...and order 4 of them so we have supper for two nights! (Or more!)
It actually worked out slicker than sh*t. 
You order online and choose a pickup time, and they scan a QR code that is emailed to you. Poof! Done. We had food. We wouldn't starve. Plus, it's pizza.

A self-care note: I utilized my Ultra Deep Tissue 43 CBD salve on my knees. I did this every night after every ride day to help my knees stay happy. My legs definitely were fatigued by the end of our journey, but neither knee blew up! Highly recommend the products from 43 CBD, especially the salves. I really love the Ultra Deep Tissue kind as I love IcyHot type products, but the smell is much less obnoxious.

The next day we had breakfast at Tamarack Inn once again. I had the same (#5) and complaints. The eggs were perfect over easy and I was super duper pleased. Today would be our nearly 30-mile ride out to The Point and I wanted to make sure I was well fueled for the ride.

On our way to the first portion of the KPT, we stopped to see the Maganese Falls. It's not the most impressive waterfall you'll ever see but it's still pretty! It's kinda the whole "When in Rome" sort of thing. Stop and see the bits and pieces, especially when you know it's not going to be a trip retaken any time soon.

Because of my wonderful internal compass...we added on a few extra miles after we completed Phase 1 of the Point Trail. Go figure! (To make myself feel better, I tell myself I just wanted to see more of the beautiful fall colors.) Just so you know, when you are riding down a jeep road and you see a gated area to your right with a "No Trespassing" sign, look closer. It's where you want to be. For reals.

On the second leg of the ride, you come to a spot where there looks like there used to be a bridge or they are working on putting one in. You stop dead in your tracks for a second and wonder "How the heck?!" Then you see that folks either use momentum to ride down into the creek and up the steep hill or you hike a bike. (Which I opted to do. Travis was able to ride the section both ways!)

All in all, I would say that the KPT provides a really entertaining adventure ride. You get to ride mostly singletrack, you ride up and down some stuff that you didn't think you could do, and you get to experience the joy of a destination ride. I can't tell you how much my heart swelled up once I could hear the sound of waves crashing on the rocks. I literally teared up. It was the perfect sized adventure ride for me- something that could be done in a day, pretty easily marked, and beautiful scenery.

We spent a good bit of time on the beach looking for neat Michigan rocks. I found a few smaller agates, which I was thrilled about because I wasn't expecting to find any at all. I also spent time simply enjoying the sounds of the waves. I love and respect water; it hits me in my soul.

After having some maple syrup and a small Twix, we decided to make our way back. The ride back did not disappoint! We did not ride down Flo'Rion for this trip as we were both happy enough to not add more climbing into our day, plus Travis was really excited to see how the trail we rode up would be riding down. (Think of it this way...we had nearly 20 miles at WinMan, 25ish on Copper Harber mtb trails, and then almost 30 for this day of riding. Tired legs!)

When we rolled back into town, we utilized the bike wash at the main trailhead. Copper Harbor had gotten a good bit of rain overnight and our bikes were totally trashed (as were we!) 

Back at the motel, I grabbed a beer and went outside to sit in a chair and enjoy the view of Lake Superior. I was tired, but my heart and soul were happy. I love riding and I love long rides that push me to my limits in a non-competitive way. I feel that the area is a healing area, it sounds hokey, but I don't care...I think those who visit the area know what I'm trying to say. For those who haven't visited, I feel it's something that is a must-do at least once in your life.

Stay tuned for more Team GreenSmith adventures! Part 3 will talk about the world's most amazing scone, beautiful views, and the worst motel stay to date.