Bike Life Adventures: Team GreenSmith Goes on Vacation Pt. 5

It's Sunday, and that means that after we get one last breakfast out of the way, we will be heading towards Iowa to go home. The mountain biking adventure isn't quite over yet, as I was able to have us sneak in one last stop.

We would make our way to River Falls, Wisconsin to ride at Whitetail Ridge. Kinnickinnic Off-Road Cyclists build and maintain the trails. (KORC)

We were dressed and ready to ride when we pulled into the parking lot. It looked to be a busy trail day as there were several vehicles in the lot. I hoped that this trail system, even if it was smaller, would be built as such to spread folks out some.

Upon researching before we arrived, I found an updated trail map, which I downloaded to my phone. I still had Trailforks up as a backup. However, you'll see if you look at the map vs. Trailforks, Trailforks is not 100% complete now and some of the trail names have changed. Without asking, I assume that with the work that is going into this growing trail system, folks decided to have more family-friendly names (which I do not disagree with.) 

The experience visiting these trails I would say would have benefited from having a local guide to take us out. We definitely got turned around, slightly lost (or were we adventuring?), and experienced some minor frustrations trying to figure out where the heck we were in spots. 

There are some signs, but there are many intersections or places where trails cross in spots and you legitimately have no idea where you're going if you aren't familiar with the area. I tried to use Trailforks, but because it's not 100% current, that little blue gps dot did nothing to inspire confidence. We legitimately threw caution to the wind, developed a case of the f*ckits, and rode our bikes, hoping that everything would somehow fall into place.

Luckily, for the most part, it did!

I knew there was a fun wooden feature somewhere on the trails and I knew that Mullet had a tech section that would be challenging due to how steep it was. We managed to accomplish both of those plus I believe, hit most of the other singletrack options that weren't jump-intensive.

Visiting the trails at Whitetail Ridge didn't disappoint, but it definitely made me appreciate trail systems that seem much easier to navigate. We live in an area where many out of towners get confused by our local trails due to unmarked intersections, so we know that sometimes you just have to roll with it. It's all about finding some sort of positive out of the cluster that is feeling lost/like you're going the wrong direction/etc.

If you are driving through the area, I would say it's definitely a spot to check out so you can get some fresh air and stretch the legs. My hope is that in the future, their trail signage will be further updated. Perhaps an additional kiosk or two, or at least something at the intersections so a non-local knows which way goes where. Nothing makes a person feel stressed out quicker than showing up to an intersection and having zero clues as to which direction to take. Had we not been in a COVID year, I would have tried to seek out a local guide if I had known there would be so many mysterious intersections. A great map isn't helpful for someone who is directionally challenged if there aren't any markers to navigate by. Like I said, I'm definitely not disappointed that we stopped. I think that KORC is creating an area that will have a lot of great riding options for a variety of riders. 

I was sad to leave because it meant that our mountain biking vacation was over. As we left our final destination, we started rolling by farm country again. I sighed. I missed the trees I saw when we made our way to Michigan. I love trees. I knew, even tho my heart would miss seeing the woods, the kitties would be thrilled to have us home.

When we pulled into our garage, I quickly left the truck to get inside as fast as possible to see our cats: Cordie, Phoebie, and Figgy. As much as we needed time away to rest, reset, and spend some quality time together, I sure did miss the kitty kids. Let me tell you when you're the cat magnet when you're lying in bed (as in, having 1-2 cats on you/by you at all times) it's hard to fall asleep.

Soon, the work week will start up all over again and the trip somewhat fades back into memory as if it were a dream. There are plenty of photos for me to look at, and probably way too much GoPro footage. Now I'll have to work on compiling all of that footage into some sort of video or two, and I'm not sure how long that will take. At least I'll be able to relive the adventure!

Some folks might question why would we travel during a COVID year because as we found out, it did make certain things a little more challenging- like food.
I guess because we don't see COVID entirely disappearing. It's almost like we're practicing to have it be something that will be around for years to come. So, take the opportunity to practice safe traveling now so that if things do calm down, we know what we need to do to feel safe and comfortable.

Also, our activity was an outdoor activity. We didn't ask folks to ride with us or anything. Legitimately we kept to ourselves 99% of the time. Truthfully, I felt the safest in Copper Harbor when it came to how things were being handled. I have extreme sympathy for the community as being it's a tourist town, I can only imagine how stressful it can be for some of the businesses. We did our absolute best to be polite, abide by local restrictions, sanitize, and give some income to the local businesses.

I felt less comfortable in Hayward in certain areas: one being our first motel and second, eating inside a restaurant. I guess partly because there weren't any restrictions on the number of folks in place and I didn't feel as tho there were any social distancing measures taking place. It was a lesson learned and we changed how we did the next two mornings to make ourselves feel more at ease.

All in all, I managed to (mostly) successfully, create a great mountain biking trip away for the two of us, even with COVID precautions in place. Now, we wait and see what the next year brings. Hopefully, we can have a great Minnesota mountain biking adventure trip in early October if we feel that it's safe enough to do so.

This has been one heck of a year, and I'm not sure if folks truly realize how much some time away for Travis and me was needed. Having a bike shop during this first COVID year has been a whirlwind adventure to be sure. It was nice to be able to get away to ride bikes together, sleep in a little, smile, laugh, and just have fun. I love our road trips because we can be goofy together. I find 80's rock stations, play my air guitar with reckless abandon, and we say the darndest things to each other. Life feels good.

Travis is slowly coming to terms that I firmly believe we need some sort of vacation every year. So this is a fair warning to him and everyone else reading- it's going to happen again, and that's a promise.