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Michigan Trail Safari Ride Report 2006

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Michigan Mccct Trail Safari 2006

Man were do I start. This ride has been a long time in the making.

The ride itself took place the week of June 26th 2006, but has been in the planning for nearly a year. I have been slowly collecting parts for this ride for a long time. So I guess I will start with the planning that went in on this.

I should probably offer a brief explenation of what this ride is about. Michigan has one of the longest if not the longest marked trail system in the united states. Its called the Michigan Cross Country Cycle Trail (Mccct) To ride this trail you need to have a platted and insured motorcycle. Sections of the trail share ORV trail systems, sections are on stand alone Mccct trail and sections are on dirt roads and paved roads. The trail starts at White Cloud and heads north to Indian River then east acrost the state to Tower then south to Gladwin. Then just north of Gladwin at St Helens there is a cross state connector trail that runs east/west over to Manton. All told the trail is about 850 miles from what I hear. Michigans Cycle Conservation Club offers a ride package for this trail. There are several differant ways that you can ride this trail. East to west, west to east, without the connector, with the connector..etc etc. We elected to ride all of it. You can also ride it over several weekends/months or just do it all over several days, this is what we did. The CCC offers, for $25, a map set as well as GPS track logs so you can always tell were you are supposed to be going. A very nice package that they have put together.

So anyways back to the preperation.

I have never camped off a motorcycle before but the idea had always sounded fun to me. Before the Safari idea had entered my head I had thought about getting some stuff for just some overnight trips somewhere close by.

The parts gathering started with getting a Promoto Billet Rack for my 04 Honda CRF250X in spring of 2005. I figured that the rack will be great for the safari, if and when I ever got to ride the safari as there were no plans to ride it at that point. That rack is also really useful for doing trail maintenance with the addition of a chainsaw mount that I also bought. Only downside with this rack is it doesn’t work at all with my FMF Q silencer. So I have to run the stock silencer when I use the rack. But really I don’t notice much difference between the 2 exhaust systems so it works out ok.

Next thing I got last summer was a used Garmin GPSV off of E-bay. With the addition of a Ram mount, a power cable, and some Topo maps I now know were I am at, still don’t know were I am going though. I was never a big GPS guy, actually didn’t now anything about them, but man now that I have it I love it. The CCC offers the Trail Safari trails on CD that you can download to your GPS. This is definitely the way to go, But more on that latter.

Around the fall of 2005 there started to be some talk amongst some folks on TT about doing the trail safari. Eventually it was agreed to do it over one week vs. several weekends. So the real planning began. The more that we talked about it, the more people that would pop in and voice interest in joining us. But as the weeks and months drug on I began to realize that what was looking at being a large group was dwindling down to a handful (we ended up with 5 of us). After several proposed weekends we finally settled on the week of June 26th 2006. That week seemed to work with everyone. We also decided that we were going to do it the original way. Camp right off the bikes with no vehicle support. We would start at white cloud and go around to Gladwin, then backtrack to St Helens and take the cross state connector across to Manton.

So I started looking in earnest for super compact lightweight camping gear. I searched all over the internet on sites about ultra lightweight backpacking, and adventure motorcycle touring and eventually I started to get a feel for what I wanted to get. My favorite place is a store called www.campmor.com they have everything that you need and a few things that I didn’t know I needed. Luckily right around the time I needed to actually start buying some of this stuff my birthday and X-mas came along so naturally I forwarded my shopping list to me relatives. And lucky me I got quite a few things that I wanted.

Well my main camping gear turned out to be a >Eureka Solitare Tent<, a

>Kelty Light Year Sleeping Bag<, a

>Therm-a-rest sleeping pad<, and a >Sealine 30 Dry Bag<. Everything fits nicely into the dry bag and seals up into a 12x12 package that straps nicely onto the rear rack. I had to take the tent poles out of the tent bag and put them into my backpack to make the tent pack small enough to fit nicely into my sealine bag. I also picked up a pair of those lightweight water shoes that you would wear for jet skiing or tubing down the river. They weigh next to nothing and pack nice and flat. Those also went into the sealine bag.

Here is the bag >packed up< and unpacked showing >what is in it<

I then picked up a day and a half internal frame backpack from campmor. It was cheep like $30. Well as they say you get what you pay for. It looks nice but I ended up killing it. Try as I might I couldn’t get the loaded backpack weight down below 15lbs. And I was getting pretty serious about weight reduction. I was even weighing my t-shirts to see which ones were the lightest. But even at 15lbs it carried very well. A pack with waist strap and sternum strap is key. They so help carry the weight. My shoulders never got tired at all.

I have a Moose tool wrap that fits into a fender bag. It weighed 3lbs loaded and fit on the front fender great. Then a Cycoactive number plate bag was used for a 1st aid kit, AA mag light, goggles and other small stuff.

>Here is the bike fully loaded up<

So now that I had pretty much everything there was nothing left to do but sit around and wait. Sit around and pack and re-pack and re-re-pack all my gear and double and triple check everything to make sure that it is all absolutely perfect. I am an engineer and a tad picky about some things (so says my wife that is) so yea I tend to over analyze things when it comes to trips like this. But it turns out that it worked out pretty good as I had no problems at all during this trip with any of my gear. I did manage to get a local ride in with my bike loaded to see how it would handle miles and miles of woops. And what better place to test at than Cedar Creek. The trail system that grows woops and ships them out to the rest of the state. My gear came thru with flying colors.

One more thing I forgot to mention. Make sure to pack so as to keep everything dry. You will want your tent and sleeping bag dry. Butt paper needs to be kept dry as well as spare clothes. Your gonna get wet at some point. Plan for the worst and hope for the best. Ziplock bags work great for smaller things. Bring a few extra along as well. They weigh next to nothing and do come in handy. We used one to syphon gas off Ricks bike to help start a campfire one night.

Also rain gear. We planned on doing this in relativly warm weather. I have a heavy waterproof enduro jacket but didn't want to be packing this all week. So because of the warmer temps I just brought along a cheep $30 nylon rain jacket and pants I got at Sams Club. Then I put them in a small $3 stuff sack I got at Dicks Sports and lashed that to the front of the rack. Worked great. It wasn't as accessable as I would of liked but worked ok. If it had gotten cold I had 2 t-shirts as well as a spare jersey I could of layered on along with the jacked. So I think I could of managed the cold ok. Having easier access to my jacket would of been nice. Something straped to the top of my tent bag maybe. But the nice thing of were I had it is I could rest the backpack on it on the road sections and get the weight off by back. Heck I could lean back and relax like I was riding a chopper.

One other thing that I did to prepare for this trip is to prepare my body. I am an engineer. I sit at a computer all day. Not exactly a great way to stay in shape. And looking in the mirror this last winter it was obvious that I had let things get way out of hand. Well we put in a new fitness center were I work. So with 3 months to go before the big ride I was in there with a vengeance, running, biking, lifting and tons of cardio. I am happy to say that I feel it made a huge difference. I feel so much better these days. And the Safari was a lot easier on my body as a result.

To be continued..................

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D-DAY! Day #1

Well Monday June 26th finally came around. My wife offered to drop me off at the White Cloud staging area at 9:00am so I wouldn’t have to leave my truck there all week. We got there after a slight detour back to my house to get my backpack that I forgot on the kitchen floor (yea ok it was early and I was a little scattered because this trip was actually happening after all these months of prep)


So we show up at the staging area to meet the 2nd member of our team Tim. He is riding a 99 WR400. His packout consists of a set of saddlebags, a watertight bag on the fender (no rack though), a moose # plate bag, and a really nice Ogio backpack



Our next 2 members, Rudy and Jason, were supposed to meet us at 9:00am also. They had camped at White Cloud campground like 2 miles down the road. But somehow they got lost on the drive over to the staging area (the big brown OFFROAD VEICHLE STAGING AREA sign on the road must of confused them). By the time they found the staging area it was 10:00am and they had already ridden like 18 miles. But they were there. So a few quick introductions and we were on the trail at last.

Rudy is riding a WR250 this is his bike


Jason is on a Husaberg….a 450 I think here is his bike


And so the adventure begins. Within the 1st mile or so we had to stop so Tim could adjust his luggage that was bouncing all over the place. A few miles down the trail and Jason announced that he went down, bruised his hip and bent his front rim. But he was still good to go.


Then at about mile #6 Rudy snapped the return cable in his throttle cable. Things were not starting out very well at all. We got the remains of Rudy’s broken cable out and he was good to go again. On the Yamaha thumpers they have a push pull throttle cable. The return cable always seems to be the one that breaks which is great, because you can still ride the bike that way. The throttle is just a little sloppy.

Around this time I was really starting to wonder what I had gotten myself into. I mean we started an hour late and within the 1st six miles we had a few pretty good delays. This was going to be an interesting week to say the least.

So with Rudy’s bike patched back up we finally start to make some time. Everybody’s luggage seams to be riding ok for the time being. It was decided to make a stop at Peacock for a new throttle cable when we get up that way latter in the day when we get close.


We are now out of the White cloud trail and into the Big O trail system.



Somewhere on the southern section of the Big O we are heading down a dirt road and see a handful of bikes ahead coming our way. At 1st I see this ratty ol blue bike with a cobbled headlight on it. The rider was partly shirtless. My 1st thoughts are just some backwoods locals riding there rolling trash down the road. As I get closer to them this blue bike swerves at me, I counter the other way. He counters back at me, I slow to a stop and suddenly it hits me…..WOODSY!!! Scott, Ted, Larry, Bob and a friend of there’s were out for one of there legendary Monday rides. They started at Twin Lake and ended up intercepting us. I had told Scott weeks ago that we would be leaving that Monday. He remembered and tracked us down like an ol coon dog.



After chatting for a few minutes Rudy reminded me that we had to get on the trail and up to Peacock for his cable. So we were off once again.


We are now into the Whiskey Creek area. Shortly after we passed Hawley road, Rudy and Jason disappeared. A short backtrack found Rudy transferring some gas from his Wr to Jason’s Husaberg. Jason’s 2.4gal tank was dry (could of had something to do with that 18 mile detour in the morning maybe?). Jason had previously informed us that his fuel range was probably going to be an issue. And it was starting to rear its head. As it turns out it wasn’t that big a deal as gas was mostly available when we needed. Once back running it was determined to skip a short section of trail and make a bee line to my cabin near Branch were I had stashed 5 gallons of gas. On this short ride to the cabin it started to sprinkle.


At the cabin we gassed up and a quick look at the sky told me to put on my rain jacket. A quick look at the time told us that we weren’t going to be able to run the top of the Little O and still get to Peacock in time for Rudy’s parts.


So we decided to run US-10 east to Peacock. On the ride over it started to rain….HARD. By the time we got there we were all pretty soggy. But the folks at Peacock didn’t seem to mind. They had Rudy’s part in stock. Tim got some new gloves and a few bungee cords to reinforce his luggage tie down system.


With that settled we headed down the road for gas and dinner over at Club-37. At the restraint I checked my messages and found the final member of our group was waiting to meet us at Ravine campground south of 55. It was funny. Even though the folks at club-37 are used to us offroad crowd we still got a few strange looks as we pretty much took over a few tables with our riding gear spread all over. That “strange look” trend ended up following us throughout the week wherever we went.


Back on the bikes it was still raining a little bit. We ran single track up to 7 mile staging area when it quit raining. We shed our rain gear and dove back into the trail.


The trail was wet and slippery. The trees were wet as heck. After a few miles of this soaking we decided to hit the ORV route up to Lincoln Bridge to save a little time. The ORV route had just been graded. There wasn’t a single track on it. With the grading and all the rain it was like we were surfing in dirt, pretty strange. After several miles of this we were getting a little tired of it and dove back into the single. Man that was wet. All the branches were wet and hanging low. We got soaked. Finally up to Lincoln Bridge we stopped for a brief rest.

On up past that is more single track up to the Ravine campground.


After a good bit of trail we finally hopped out and headed to the camp were Rick was waiting. As we set up camp Rick and Jason headed over to the nearest gas station to get some….refreshments.



Having put a healthy dent in our liquid refreshments we finally went to bed around midnight.

Approx milage for the day was about 118

To Be Continued.............

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DAY #2


Up and getting packed. We rolled out around 9:00am I think. We didn’t seem to get moving all that fast. I think some of it was just trying to get our packing system down. Once we were all packed up it was determined that the nearest gas/food was Boon. It was about an hour ride up there.

Oh 1st I need to introduce the 5th member of our group. Rick aka Sndmn2. Rick is riding his DRZ400. Rick was up to Wolverine the weekend before for the CCC event. He headed down to meet up with us at the campground.



So anyways we are finally packed up and on the trail again and heading north. Funny thing is the 1st piece of trail we dove into was a nice rutty hill climb…Good morning….everyone awake now! This is one of my favorite trails in the area. I love to ride here. We made pretty good time on up to Boon. No real issues that I can recall. Oh I was nice enough to let Tim lead thru here. I figured that he had never ridden here before so why not let him get 1st dibs on the trail. That and there was lots of water in the trees and cobwebs aplenty. He did a fine job of clearing those out for the rest of us :laugh:


We made the turn to the Boon turnoff and had to wait for Rick. He had to stop and reattach his luggage. It was shifting. >We made a sign for him in the sand< and were just about ready to head off when he showed up. We all took off for Boon for gas and whatever food we could find there. When we got there Rick was no where to be found. Pretty soon he showed up with a tale to tell. Apparently he was daydreaming going down the dirt road and didn’t notice the soft spot in the road from the logging trucks. He got into a speed wobble and judging from the marks in the road he was flung about 50 yards down the road. Rick said that he was sure that he was going to be seriously hurt. But someone must have been looking out for him because he got away without a scratch. Only damage was a broken Bug eye mirror and broke the plastic trim off the mouth guard of his helmet. After seeing his tracks I can verify that he got off really easy. His helmet even has some serious road rash on the LH side.


So now we are gassed up and fed at the Boon gas station. If you ever get up there you must stop in. The owners are super nice people that will bend over backwards for you. Any gas station that stocks Helmet fresh and Scott no fog wipes has it going on in my book.


Back on the trail. We took a while getting up to 32nd street. Tim and Jason were having a hard time in this section of trail. They just couldn’t seem to get a rhythm in there. I ended up dumping my backpack and running back to check on Jason. Man it sure is easier riding without a 15lb pack on your back. Once we had everyone out to 32nd street we started to make up some time.




The next section of trail is 2-track for a while before hitting some nice single track north of 115. Unlike the previous section of trail we made much better time thru here. From here on up is where I am in virgin ground. I have never rode any of the trail from here on out. This is where the GPS really comes in handy. It tells you how far to the next turn. Really helpful when traveling along. There were a few hiccups in the gps tracklogs along the way but for the most part it worked really well. In areas were I missed a turn it was pretty easy to figure out. All you have to do is look at the miles to next turn field and realize that the mileage is going up and not down. I also took the CCC maps that come with the safari cd and reduced them to fit into a 6x7 cycoactive mapcase that mounted to my bars. I then had the maps laminated back to back to keep them dry. Between the maps and the gps I can’t think of a better setup. It worked perfect all week. And the resized laminated maps fit perfect in the cover of my cycoactive # plate bag. Sweet.


From north of 115 up to Manton was all 2-tracks as I recall. But some really nice 2-tracks. Not all sandy and wooped out. These were very nice and scenic. Some of them were totally grass covered. You come to appreciate some of these 2-track sections every once in a while. They allow you to relax after a trail section and make up some time.

While traveling down one of these 2-tracks I saw a really strange sight. This trail was wall to wall vegetation on the sides. No room for anything but what is on the trail. Well coming down the 2track at us was probably a 30ft motor home towing a boat I think. I started to get to the side thinking it’s gonna be easier to get outta his way than him outta ours. But to my surprise he slid to the side to let us thru. He even smiled and waved as we went by, strange.


We made a side trip when we got near to Manton. Rick had left his truck and trailer there at a friend’s house. We stopped there to offload some unnecessary gear. I think everyone started to realize that less was more. If it’s not absolutely necessary don’t bring it. For a trip like this you need to pack for the absolute bare essentials. And keep everything as minimal as possible. Good rule of thumb is if you don’t use everything in your pack at least once a day you probably don’t need it. With the exception of things you bring that you hope you won’t need like a 1st aid kit. My sealine bag that held my tent gear doubled as a pillow once stuffed with my rain gear and spare clothes. My bungee cords that held my tent pack to my rack doubled as a cloths line. Find 2 trees close together and wala instant clothes line. If no tree is available I would attach 2 bungees from the hand guards to my rear rack on each side, instant clothesline. There was a comment about my bungee handlebar clothesline being a redneck steering damper. Point of all this is to try and make all your gear as multi use as possibly to save space and keep the weight down. Cause as light as I got my gear my X still handled like a dump truck with all that extra weight on it. You adapt as the week goes on. But it’s a workout.


So having shed some weight from the bikes and body’s and topped off our tanks from the gas in Ricks trailer we were back on the road. A quick look to the sky told me that we were in for more rain. Thankfully we were heading north. I was hoping that we would be able to outrun the storm. And for quite a while we did. Thankfully we managed to miss the worst of it. That is until we got into the Grand Taverse loops. The rain came down. But being in the woods it wasn’t that bad, until we got up to Kalkaska.


Tim needed to get some new rear brake pads. So we headed down the road to the local Yamaha shop. We were all pretty soggy by the time we got there. Road riding in the rain sucks. The rain on your face hurts. The Yamaha shop was a pretty small shop but they seemed to have what you needed. I don’t know how the name came up but talking to the one of the shop guys he looked up and said “You know Ted?” I am like young Ted Desolar…He was like yea that Ted….Timer you sure get around. Seems everybody knows you.

Something funny that happened at the shop, and I guess you would have to be there to understand, is Jason walked by with a fairly large stick hanging off his backpack. I asked him if it was a souvenir or some special Husaberg metric stick. I don’t think he got my humor and turned to walk away so I re-attached to his backpack and off he went…lol

Well out of the shop we headed to get some food. It was looking like Big Boy or MD’s. One look at us confirmed that MD’s was our place. We wrecked that place. Like club 37 we took over a large area of the lounge. When we left the tables were wet. The floors were wet. The chairs were wet. It was not a pretty sight. But what the heck….were on vacation! As we were outside to gear up again I put my backpack on and the shoulder strap broke were it attached to the bottom of the pack…Crap. Now what? I loosened up the strap and tied it to a strap next to it and reinforced it with the handy mans helper…Duct tape. Don’t leave home without it. It lasted the rest of the trip with no troubles at all.

“If they don’t find you handsome they should at least find you handy….Red Green”


So we got some gas and headed back to the trail.

I want to take a minute and talk about convenience stores. I don’t go in them very often anymore. I use my debit card to pay at the pump. Well I know why I don’t go in those stores much. People in there are idiots. It almost became the running joke that in every store we went to there was someone in front of us spending his paycheck on lotto tickets. And in almost every store we went to there was a clerk behind the counter that didn’t have a clue what they were doing. I swear these people have no consideration for the customers at all. As long as they make there minimum wage they are happy. If anyone that is reading this works at a store like this I am sorry. Not trying to offend. But man those stores were driving me bonkers after a while.


So anyways back on the trail. We were in Leetsville. I am not impressed with this system at all. Just wide sandy orv route, nothing special. We were just about out of this system when Rudy fell back. Turns out his Rack lost a bolt and spacer. Tim lived a short distance away from there so Tim and Rudy made tracks to his house for parts while the rest of us continued on to Pickerel Lake were we were thinking of camping for the


These promotobillet racks and others like it are a work of art. But the attachment method on the bikes I have seen leave something to be desired. You need to locktite everything and then check the bolts often to make sure they are still tight. If you are doing a ride like this I would suggest carrying spare bolts and spacers in case some of them walk away on the trail. Mine stayed tight all week. But I kept on checking it anyways. Dont overload those racks. They really hang off the back of the bike and overloading them will put too much stress on the subframe. I wouldn't put more than 10 lbs on them. Probably more like 6 lbs to be safe. The leverage that rack puts on the subframe going thru the woops has got to be high.


Rudy and Tim returned after fixing Rudy’s rack. We talked about camping there for the night. I really wanted to get up to Weber Lake that night to camp. But being at camp had thoughts of sleep passing thru my head. A few people started talking about how far north it was and I jumped on the bandwagon and started pushing north again (woodsy syndrome). But to save time and a beating on our bodies we cut out Kalkaska. Tim rides that all the time and confirmed that Kalkaska was nothing but woops. Plus if we rode Kalkaska there was no way we would make Wolverene.

A friend of mine gave me a tip that turned out worked pretty good. When it’s getting late in the day, pick a campground that is a few hours away and go for it. This worked out pretty good for us as well.

North of Kalkaska it is pretty much roads up to Wolverene. We hit Wolverene about dark thirty. Riding some of that trail around dusk was interesting. I need to get back up there to explore some of that trail.


We finally got to Weber Lake campground and setup camp. Taking a bath in the lake never felt so good. To be clean….ahhhhh..





Rick came back from the lake with a black garbage bag. A quick peak in the bag revealed a case of beer he had fished out of the lake. Rick, knowing we would be up there to camp had stashed it in the lake for us. Man that tasted good after a long day on the trail.

11:00 pm


Mileage for the day was around 150 I think.

Another tip that a friend told me is to listen to a radio at night thru headphones when you sleep. It blocks out the background noises of the forest. And as it turns out it also blocks out the sounds of the other 4 exhausted snoring dirt bikers. Now if you ask them they will tell you that it was me snoring all night and that I kept them up all night. I know I snore. But I aint the only one! On other nights I woke up to a symphony of snoring. I pity any campers near us that slept lightly while we were there. Anyways that radio trick worked great. The 1st night I was awake ½ the night and I didn’t use the radio. The rest of the week I slept like a rock. Now some of that could be because I was wiped out at the end of the day. But I like to think the radio helped some also.

To be continued……….

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Day 3


Up and at them…..Well up a least. It’s starting to get harder and harder to get up in the morning. But thanks for our loudmouth redneck neighbor rolling in at 6:00am as loud as he could be we were up.


Packed up and moving. Once again I tried to get Tim to take point for the morning shift for the Wolverine section of Mccct (watere and spider web patrol), but he gave me some line about not knowing the trail, so I led. I’ve rode this section of trail last year, Wonderful stuff. I had a blast in there.


We all seemed to be doing pretty good thru there and in no time we were at Indian River. Well most of us were anyways. Rudy had to transfer some more gas to Jasons bike. Even before we got to Wolverine Tue night I knew Jason was going to be low on gas since the last fill up was at Kalkaska.



Indian River. While I waited for the others to show up I took a quick peak down the road to see what was down there in terms of food and gas. As soon as the crew showed up we headed down the road to a Napa store so Rudy and Rick could pick up some parts. Rudy needed some Dielectric grease for his GPS battery’s (It kept on shutting off) and Rick needed a replacement taillight bulb and a new bolt for his hand guard that was mangled in Tuesday’s crash. The parts guy was funny. In a bland expressionless kind of way. Kinda reminded me of Mike at Boston Motors….You west side’rs will know what I mean.

So with parts acquired we headed down the road for food. 1st place I came across was Michaels looked like a nice place so in we go. Really nice restaurant, I recommend this place to anyone in the area. Nice friendly atmosphere. And once again we got plenty of strange looks. As we walked in the owner said smoking is at-a-way…..no smoking is at-a-way….and chewing is in the middle. Good food and plenty of it, 1st real sit down breakfast since we started. Man that coffee was good. Waitress even brought out a few big pitchers of water so we could full out camelbacks.

The owner wandered over and chatted with us for a while. He is an ex cop. Drove truck for a while but a back injury forced him to quit (he has drop foot and other assorted back related pains). Now he runs the restaurant, great guy.




Next was gas and more lotto buying people. Rudy had noticed the night before that his bike was down on oil. At the gas station he found the source of the problem. He had just had some pretty major engine work done previous to the ride. Well the mechanic forgot to fold the lock washer over on his countershaft sprocket nut. The nut had worked loose and was right up against the sprocket guard. My guess is that the sprocket has moved outward and the seal was pushed out wit it causing an oil leak. I got out the tools and had the sprocket back in place and the tightened with the washer folded over this time. This seemed to fix the oil leak problem. I am guessing that tightening the sprocket pushed the seal back in place.

Back on the trail, well road anyways. There is a lot of road as you head east across the state, but most of it is dirt. I missed a turn in here. I was trying to find the correct tracklog on the GPS to follow and in the process it locked up on me and had to be restarted. It did that twice on me. And I blame that on the missed turn, at least that’s what I told the team.

From 33 on to the Red Bridge trail is an interesting piece of 2-track. Kinda rutted out and wet. Took a little thought as you headed thru there to pick your lines, pretty fun. We didn’t get to run any of the Red Bridge trail as the Mccct headed south from there. But the map says its ORV so how good can it be.

South to Tower, I hoped we could get some gas here. We weren’t that low on gas but you never know how far its going to be to gas so it’s a good idea to top off when you can. The only station had nothing but 87 octane so we passed and pushed on south. Well we went south after finding the correct road (My GPS didn’t tell me were to turn here for some reason) We headed south on the roads then the trail took a jog to the west and then south on a 2-track. This section did not look very promising. It was really wet and overgrown. It looked like fun, but not on an overloaded bike. A quick meeting determined that we did not want to try this section. So we backtracked and picked up the trail down the road a little bit after this section on Tucker road.

A little farther south the trail finally gets off the paved roads and into the woods again. This section was mostly 2-track. There was one turn in there that was mis-marked. The arrow said to go left but the trail went straight. We patched the sign up best as we could and headed off. As I said this section down to Atlanta was mostly 2-track but there was some awesome little sections of trail intermixed in here. Lots of fun.


Atlanta. We finally made the top of Atlanta. Weather was starting to look a little grim again. We took a quick break here then headed back onto the trail. This trail was nothing but woops woops woops. Not exactly fun on an overloaded bike. After a handful of miles we decided to take a detour to the west and get some gas. Jason was running a little low again. That and we were all getting a little tired of the woop beating.


At the gas station word had it that there was a BIG storm rolling thru. We decided to hole up at the El-Bow for some food. Nice little bar. I hear that some of the ROS crowd were here watching the SX final at Vegas this spring. You can definitely tell they cater to the sled crowd. We watched the weather channel in here as we ate but couldn’t get much of a weather report. So with no weather info other than a hand out the door, we threw on the rain gear and hit the roads. None of us were ready to for the beating that the rest of Atlanta was going to give us, so we bypassed the rest of the loop and picked up the Mccct to the south near country road 624. This was a fun little section. Mostly 2-track but it had personality. Oh yea... we got wet. It pored on us.



We made Atlanta. We decided to head into town to find a parts store. Jason needed some tubing to replace his gas cap hose that went AWOL and was in the process of leaking gas in his crotch. It was here that I started to conjure up a small side trip. I asked the parts guy if he knew a guy named Mike that rides KTM motorcycles. Has a fairly large spread with trails a plenty and is right off the motorcycle trail. He knew exactly the place, and pointed it out on my map. While waiting outside for Jason some local across the street must have been trying to impress us as he was riding his dirtbike around the house. No shirt of helmet as memory serves me correct.


Back on the roads we made it over to KTMikes house at around 6:00pm. I have never been there but knew I had the right place when I seen the grass track in the yard. We pulled up to the garage and I seen his wife out in the yard playing with the dog. I wandered over and asked if some Mike fella lived here and rides KTM motorcycles. She confirmed that I had the right place. A few quick introductions were made. Shelia ( I think that was her name, I am so bad with names) told us that Mike would be home in about ½ hour and would be thrilled to see us. But unfortunately we couldn’t stay that long. We wanted to try and hit the bottom of Mio yet that night. So we took a picture and were off again.

Another reason I had wanted to stop at Mike’s house is that the rear brake pads on Jason’s Brg were getting thin. I was thinking that maybe Mike would have a set that we could buy off of him since KTM and Husaberg pads are the same. But it turns out we didn’t hook up. Oh well. We managed.


South of Mikes house is some cool trail on the way down to Mio Not real tight trail but fun. Due to all the rain we have had there was a lot of erosion here making the trails really interesting? I had a lot of fun in here picking my way thru this. Some sections of sand were so saturated with water that you had to just flog the bike to make any forward progress. Pretty cool.




Top of Mio. We were now in Jasons romping grounds. He informed us that the west side of Mio was nothing but woops. This is were the Mccct ran. But the east side was much better. So the east side it was going to be. A quick Monster energy drink and a powergel pack and I was ready to go. Jason was right. There is some nice trail in here. But it was slow going. I quickly realized that we weren’t going to make the bottom of Mio running like this.


Tree strike. I was having fun in here and running a little too fast probably. I smashed my shoulder into a tree. Ummm it hurt pretty good. Nothing broken but it hurt. Hurt enough to make me not want to ride anymore. Plus looking at the maps told me based on how far we had just gone that we weren’t going to make camp before dark unless we jumped out here, Jason confirmed this too. So we headed west and south to find camp. Muskrat Lake was our destination.



We hit camp and started talking food and gas. Jason knew the area so we unloaded some of our gear here at some nice older lady’s campsite and hit the road.


Mio was a little farther than we thought it would be but we got there.

A quick dinner at McDonalds and down the road to gas and more lotto buyers. It was getting dark now and the light on my Honda is pitiful. Tim and I hit the road back to camp.


Camp. We set up camp. I was told to move farther away because of my snoring….Whatever…lol. They must have been doing some tree trimming cause there was firewood a plenty here. We siphoned some gas out of Ricks bike using a ziplock baggy and in no time we had a campfire. Instead of roasting marshmallows we had sox, gloves, and boot liners roasting on sticks all around the fire.



11:30pm Sleep.

Total mileage for the day was about 180.

To be continued………..

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Day 4


Up again. For some unknown reason it took us FOREVER to get moving this morning. I was sitting around packed for like an hour waiting for the rest to get moving. Jason did have to make a few calls to try and find some brake pads so Ill cut him a little slack there.


Finally we get moving.



One uphill got Tim, and instead of helping get him moving we all just sat there and waited, forever, for him to get his bike running and up the hill.







Luzurene and lunch. We filled up the bikes here and got lunch at Ma Deeters. Nice little bar. HOT little barfly waiting on us. Having not showered in 4 days I am sure that we did not leave a good impression on her at all. Oh well.




Back on the trail. More nice single track. All the rain reeked havoc on this trail. Rooty hill climbs and downed trees. Way too much fun.

I made it to the Meadows system and stopped to wait for the rest. From all the rain there was a river running down the trail. Pretty cool. I dunked my head in there to cool off. As I was waiting a tractor drives up down the orv trail. It was the forrest service. They were trying to get the river out of the trail. It was draining into a road and had flooded it. We chatted with him a little. Mentioned the downed trees in the trail and he actually sounded interested in trying to fix it. Now that is strange.




Jason was pretty whipped after this last section of trail so I gave Tim and Jason an out. Tim and Jason were going to take the orv trail to the south end of the Meadows loop and Rudy, Rick and I were going to ride the single and meet up with them. I could tell that Tim really didn’t want to skip any trail but he was saying his arms were tired or something like that. We met up with him ½ way thru this system and chatted a little. Jason and Tim continued on with the orv route.


The next section of single was horrible. All woops and ****. Somewhere in here I managed to scare up a deer that was resting in a shady spot in the trail. Actually I don’t know who scared who, that critter got my heart rate up pretty good when it jumped up 20ft in front of me. It ran a short distance away and stopped. I waved Rudy and Rick off and managed to get 2 pictures of it before it ran a way.



When we finally cleared this section and met up with Tim and Jason 1st words out of Rudy’s mouth to Tim was “man was that a great section or what” I just smiled……He just said that to get Tim’s goat.

Rose City was up next, actually some nice trail in there. I was having fun.


Jason had made arrangements to meet up with his Husaberg dealer who had agreed to drive his rear pads to him. Jason had mentioned turning off on Sage Lake Road to go get his pads. So I set off in search of it. The trail thru here is awesome. I was having a good time. I think I went on a 15 mile run thru here without stopping. When I finally hit the road I was getting tired. I couldn’t hear anyone behind me so I ran down the road to a house to see if we might be able to use there hose to cool off and fill our drink systems. But no one was home. Before I could get back to the trail Rudy blazed past me and was gone. Instead of chasing him down I waited for the rest of them. So now Rudy is on a mission chasing me but I am behind him. Tim and Rick eventually show up. Tim got on me for riding so long without stopping. Asked me if I didn’t like riding in a group. I just shrugged and smiled. I ran down the road to see if I could intercept Rudy but had no luck. He was ridding like the wind.

We waited a little longer and still no Jason. I had managed to scuttle the whole bunch.

We made a plan for Tim to ride down the road to try and get ahead of Rudy and meet up with us at 7:00pm at the Ogemaw hills staging area (hopefully with Rudy) and he was gone.

Then a few minutes latter Jason rides up coming down the road instead of the trail. So now we have me Jason and Rick but have lost Tim and Rudy. Apparently Rudy finally reached a point in the trail when the tracks he was following (not mine) disappeared. He realized something was up and called Jason on his cell. Jason after relaying this info to us called Rudy back and left a message to meet us at the staging area. Rick and Jason headed off to get ahead of Rudy and try and find Tim at the staging area. I jumped back in on the trail to make sure Rudy wasn’t on the trail somewhere broke down or something. After a bit I found the turn where Rudy realized I was not in front of him. From there on out it was easy to follow him as his was the only track on the trail. I felt like an ol bloodhound chasing down my prey.

I found a spot in the trail when his track quit. I backtracked and realized that he turned off the trail and onto a 2-track. I followed his trail as best as I could and eventually found myself descending a steep bank and crossing railroad tracks. I followed the track towards St Helens. After a bit I saw a headlight coming my way. It was Tim, but no Rudy. Hmmm. The track I followed across the RR tracks was Tim’s not Rudy’s. Apparently Tim and Rudy were very close to each other but somehow missed each other.


So Tim and I headed down to the Ogemaw staging area to wait. I knew that at some point we were all going to need gas and if we didn’t meet up at the staging area we would all end up in St Helens. Someone in a Goldwing was there and we chatted with him for a bit. Nice fella. He even offered us use of his shower as he lived close by. But we were still missing 3 riders. Finally the rest of the crew shows up. Apparently they went up to the Ambrose Lake staging area to wait. After figuring out were we were at the headed down to find us.


We make it to St Helens for gas.


Hit the Peach Pit for Dinner. All you can eat Pizza and salad Bar Buffet. Yummy!


Tim and Rudy headed north to the Ambrose lake campground. Jason, Rick and I waited around for Jasons brake pads to be delivered down at highway 75.


Jason’s Husaberg dealer arrives with Jason’s parts. That man is a saint. I can’t think of any of my dealers that would drive an hour out of there way to deliver parts. But he said that he can’t let one of his Husabergs down. Very nice fella. We hit the road north to try and find camp.


Finally after wandering around forever we found camp. That place is not easy to find. I was wiped out but good. I threw my tent down, stripped out of my riding gear and fell fast asleep. Done.


To be continued……….

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Day 5 The last stand!


Wake up call. I am lying in my tent when I hear Rudy….DNR Officer….can I have a word with you! My 1st thought was….Smitdog you joker! How the heck did he find us out here? I unzipped my tent and poked my head out and actually seen the DNR out there. Woah, what the heck’s up with that? Well it turns out that you are only supposed to have a max of 4 tents on a site and we had 5, a fact that we were all vaguely aware of all week but chose to ignore. Well he was cool with it. Just made us sign up for an extra site. No big deal. Funny you can only have 4 tents but they can be monstrous tents containing as many people as you can cram in them. Go figure.

Being that this was our last day I pretty much gave up on writing down a timeline so this one is gonna be pretty much from memory.

We got packed up pretty quick, fastest that we had all week actually. We did a bit of quick bike maintenance like oiling chains and changing Jason’s Brake pads. I walked over to our neighbor’s campground and chatted with them for a few minutes. They had motorcycles and a campfire. Buddy! We chatted a little bit. They told me that in that county they could ride down the side of the road and that is why he was there. He could take his son and daughter down into town for gas and food. Very cool! Seems the new ordinance is working out pretty good.

Once all that was finished we were on the road back to St Helens and the Peach Pit.

As we made our way around Clear Lake I suddenly felt my front end start to step out. I looked down and my front tire was flat. Drats. Rudy, Tim, and Jason were in front of me. I pulled over and Rick pulled over with me thankfully. I decided to continue up the road a bit to town were there was a small gas station. We waisted no time to pull the front tire and swap out a tube. Only stumble is we had to find a metric rock to get the axle out. It was jammed in there but good. Thankfully the gas station had an air hose otherwise I would have had to start canvassing the neighborhood in search of an air pump. Rudy had the only pump in the group and he was long gone following his stomach to the peach pit. So I guess I need to add 2 more things to my list of things that I need to add to my pack. A front tube (I borrowed Ricks) and an air pump. I had Scabs tire patches with me but no air.

Back on the road we finally made it to the Pit were the rest were already settled in. I am glad that they were concerned enough about our well being that they stopped and waited or came looking for us….lol Another great meal and were off again.

We stopped at the Yamaha shop to see if there was anything we needed. I stopped at the parts counter to get a tube to replace Ricks. The parts guy apparently was more interested in talking on the phone to his friend about his weekend plans that he was about serving customers. The guy even walked around the corner with the phone so I couldn’t hear what he was talk about. I finally decided that sales were not that important to them and left without my tube.

We headed down the road again to top off our gas tanks and we were good to go.

We picked up the trail north of St Helens. We had decided the day before that in order to get back in time we had to give up the last section of trail down to Gladwin. We jumped on the cross state connector instead and headed for home. From what I hear of Gladwin we didn’t miss out on much.

For a change of pace I hung out in the back of the pack and ran Sweep. Tim led the group. It was nice to get a different perspective for a change. And besides I wasn’t feeling all that ambitious this morning. At one point Rick asked me if I needed a pillow…lol

This section of trail between St Helens and North Geels was pretty nice. A little woopy in spots but overall not too bad, until it happened. We came upon the bog, a nice big mud hole. It was not overly big as mud holes go, but it was sloppy. At 1st glance it didn’t look like there was any way around it as both sides were heavy brush. Tim scouted around but couldn’t find anything. Tim somewhat jokingly told me that I could go 1st. Now I was in no hurry to get myself buried in this quagmire but I then thought to myself when would I rather go thru this sucker 1st when it was virgin or 5th once it was all rutted out???? I stabbed the gas and dove in. There are some benefits to going 1st and this was one of those times. I made it thru with a liberal application of throttle and a lot of wheel spin.

Next to go thru was Rick. I think he stalled his DRZ but still managed to get thru pretty clean.

Rudy was next in line and I was there with camera ready to capture the action. He made it maybe 5 ft and his bike stalled. Those darn Yamaha vent tubes. They were underwater and killed the bike. I helped him drag his bike backwards and out of the mud. We got his bike started. I advised him to hit it in 2nd hear as I was wound out pretty hard when I hit it in 1st gear. Rudy’s 1st gear must me a little taller than mine as I don’t think the 2nd gear run worked out too good for him. He was buried and stalled out again due to the vent tubes. It was one of those times when the suction of the mud was not going to release his bike at all. We tried rocking it side to side to get the suction to release….nothing. We tried laying it over and dragging it out sideways…..nothing. It was stuck but good. It’s amazing how much energy a mud hole can suck out of you in no time at all. We were getting out butts whipped by this sucker.




Finally I had Rick go get his tie down straps that he was using to strap down his luggage. We wrapped one around Rudy’s forks and 2 others to that along with a toe strap that Rudy had. We then could have 4 of us pulling on the straps while Tim lifted at the back. After a few failed attempts it finally came out with a huge SSSUUCCCKKKKKing noise!!!!!!

We pulled his bike up to solid ground. There was so much mud packed into the chain that it was tight as a drum and the wheel wouldn’t even roll. It just dragged along behind. We were all pretty whipped from the extraction and took a break. I cleared his vent tubes and tried to start his bike but it was flooded but good.


Around this time Tim and Jason found the alternate line around the mud hole. It was there all along. Tim and Jason skirted the mud with ease using this line. They both got a few dirty looks from Rudy after that. Rudy finally managed to get his bike started by holding the throttle wide open. And we were off again, a little muddier and a little worse for wear. Thankfully there was a road section just up ahead to help clear the mud off Rudy’s bike and cool us off. We were all a little overheated after that extraction.

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Next up was North Geels trail system. That system from what I have seen is a total waste. I will never be back there. There were a few nice woods sections in there, all orv route. But those few small sections are severely overshadowed by the miles and miles of clear cutting that has gone on in there in the past. Nothing but Sand…Soft soul sucking sand. But we made due. I was still hanging out in the back and entertained myself by seeing how close I could get to Jason without getting taken out. Show him a wheel in a woop section here and there, Pin the throttle coming out of a corner behind him to announce my presence. It was fun.

Somewhere along the end of the Geels loop we missed a turn. Rick was on a mission and it took Tim a while to reel him in. Rick had hanging out at the back of the pack all week but today had found some speed….lol finally back on the correct trail we were out of the Geels loop. Thank god.

Next up was lots of road. Nice and boring. I did manage to get a power gel out of my pocket and get a snack while going down the road at 45mph. I got skills baby.

I did have one highlight in this section. There in someone’s front yard was a huge Enjoy the MCCCT sign that was shaped just like the Mccct marks that they mark the trail with. Except this one was like 3ft tall. Very cool. I thought about stopping to say hi. The owner was obviously a dirt biker and probably would have loved a visit by a bunch of muddy, smelly, tired dirt bikers. But we kept moving.

Speaking of keeping moving. About midweek we finally found our groove. We actually started making headway in larger chunks without having to wait too long for everyone. Because it is such a challenge to keep everyone moving it gets to the point that you don’t want to stop at all if you can help it. A 1 minute stop by one person to clean there glasses might turn into a 15 minute re-arrange the luggage stop. You start to feel bad for anyone that may have an issue that they need to attend to but on the other hand too bad deal with it en-route, we had to stay moving.

Next up trail, Mccct trail not any of that shared ORV/Mccct trail. I liked this section, except for the fact that I couldn’t find any kind of rhythm at all in here. Finally frustrated I started going faster, luggage be damned. Guess what, it worked. The trail became much easier to ride. It’s strange how a trail can take on a totally different personality with just 5 more miles per hour.

I stopped to wait for the crew to catch up and as I was leaning up against a tree I happened to look up to see this little sucker staring down at me….Hello.


Let’s see what was next…oh yea trail trail and more trail. Hey a fire station. I almost stopped to see if I could con a friendly fireman to share some cold water with us. I’m pretty sure we were all running low on water at that point. Come to think of it I am pretty sure we were all running a little low on gas around then also.

We came onto a road east of 127. We were all there. We crossed 127 and we lost Rick and Tim. Now what? Tim’s addle bags again. Rudy laid down for a nap.


Next up West Higgins orv loop. 2trackr if your reading this there is something wrong here with either the markings or the maps. The marks tell us to go counterclockwise around the loop while the maps and Gps say to go clockwise around the loop. We went clockwise.


Higgins is one fast trail. We were huffin it thru there. We made the west side in no time flat. Back on the Mccct trail we just east of 13mile road. Tim was looking at his maps telling how we could go this way or that way…We were heading to Moorsetown for gas and food. From the back of the pack Rudy shouts out “I don’t care how we get there LETS JUST GET THERE” I think we were all running out of food, water, steam, patience, gas….you name it we were out of it. And we were off.

4:00pm Moorestown invasion.

As usual we stand out in a crowd. Food gas and water were on the list. They have a nice little …. I guess you would call it a restraunt in here. Heck this place is everything. It’s a gas station, convenience store, hardware store, restraunt….Its the Moorestown mini mall. Hot food, cold drink, a tank full of gas and we were……tired






I was walking outside when I heard someone call my name. 1st thought is what the hell I don’t know anyone here. I look up and see fast Freddy walking my way. He was up for the weekend to get some work done for the upcoming Jackpine Enduro. We chatted for a bit and he went inside to shop the mall and the rest of us bundled up what’s left of our gear for the push to Manton.


I had kinda formulated a plan for the remainder of the trail and it had nothing to do with trail. I was done. I was hoping others would follow suit. I proposed to ride the roads the rest of the way to Manton. It was 4:00pm. I knew it was 60 miles via trail to Manton. At best that would put is to Manton around 8:00pm maybe. The rest followed suit and we hit the road to home.

But even road riding had a few interesting twists. As more and more of the road maps become visible on the GPS you start to realize that that road don’t go thru there. A few detours and we were getting close to Manton. Tim tells me to lead at an intersection and we were off. I come upon a bridge I recognize. Its were the MCCCT crosses 131. There is even a dirt shoulder on the side of the bridge for us to ride. Assuming that the rest of the crew was following me I hit the dirt shoulder and on the other side of the bridge dove into the last remaining section of trail. Rudy said that it looked like Destry Abbot going thru the woops as I bombed thru the last section of trail that runs right next to the highway. I am sure the drivers on the highway were not happy with me as I pretty much obliterated the highway in a wall of dust. But you know I don’t care we were done. It was over. We hit the trailhead….and Tim and Jason were no were to be found. Crap. 1 mile from the end and we lost them again. Oh well. I guess someone didn’t understand the concept of LEAD THE WAY. Tim knew were Ricks truck was. Hope they make it there. We hit the road to get to the truck. I knew I was getting really tired in here because as I followed Rick I started daydreaming and almost ran into him twice. That gets the blood flowing.

We get to the truck and there is Tim and Jason. I can’t remember whose house it was that Rick had stored his truck at but she had cold beer waiting for us when we got there. It just don’t get any better than that.


We took a few group shots and Tim geared back up for the 45 minute ride north to home at Kalkaska. The rest of us loaded up the truck and headed south to Kalkaka. I didn’t even dare to take off my boots till I got home. I didn’t want to kill us in the cab of that truck on the ride there.

We hit White Cloud and unload the bikes. Rick and Jason were gonna get a shower and camp there for the night. Rick was heading home. And I had a hour ride ahead of me still to get to Muskegon. It was almost 9:00pm and getting dark. My headlight sucks. I said my goodbyes and hit the road. I thought about stopping and taking my fender pack off so it wouldn’t block the light so much but was just to tired and lazy. I managed to get home around 10:00pm. 730 miles on the odometer. I opened up my enclosed trailer and pushed the bike inside. Threw my backpack in there, stripped off all my gear and threw it all in there and locked the door. Went into the house and straight into the shower. AHHHHHHHHHHHHH………Hot water has never felt so good.

It took me almost a week before I even opened the trailer up to look at how bad the bike and gear were, and another week to attempt any kind of maintenance. My backpack is still partly packed. I haven’t even got to that one yet. Still haven’t ridden the bike since the trail safari and really don’t feel the need to either.

I looked at the gps info and it said that we had like 30 hours of ride time in 5 days. Man it sure seems like longer than that.

Did I have fun???? Hell yes!

Will I do it again???? In a heartbeat!

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Just got done reading the report. What an adventure you all had!! To find a dealer that drove the parts out to you is a diamond in the ruff.:thumbsup:

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That sounded like the most amazing ride in the world and one hell of an adventure. Very descriptive!

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Just got done reading the report. What an adventure you all had!! To find a dealer that drove the parts out to you is a diamond in the ruff.:ride:

That dealer was a diamond all right. But the price was the rough part. Just ask Kzoo about that. He paid thru the :cry: for those break pads :thumbsup:

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That dealer was a diamond all right. But the price was the rough part. Just ask Kzoo about that. He paid thru the :cry: for those break pads :thumbsup:

Ah, it wasn't that bad. I gave him some gas money and a little extra for his trouble. You gotta admit, to drive from Davison to St. Helens after working 12 hours just to deliver a guy some brake pads is cool...

Andy is a heck of a dealer...:ride: If you guys are ever in Davison, MI stop by Euro Motors!

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