Thursday, September 6, 2012

Yet another trip Up North

It has become a family tradition to head North for the summer bookend holidays. This Labor Day weekend we followed suit packing up the camper, the bikes, pancake supplies, and some special edition Fat Tire Amber Ale then pointed the truck North on US-31.

New Belgium Brewing "Pedaling Straight to the Great Lake State"

As we approached Ludington we saw a rather startling site:

Wind Turbines. This picture does not impress the gross stature of these beasts. I don't plan on starting a debate on this issue, all I'm going to say is that I was startled by the physical, unnerving reaction I had to the large, unmoving turbines. I wondered if this is what it felt like to watch the first power-lines be erected nearly a century ago?

Onward North!

Our final destination was Traverse City. We parked the camper at one of our favorite campgrounds Timber Ridge Resort.

Our home

Why is it one of our favorite campgrounds you ask? I'll tell you why:

Mountain Biking: you can ride from your campsite to the VASA Single Track trail. And/or you can ride the VASA Pathway (two tracks and cross country ski trails). We keep several copies of the GTMTBA Traverse Area Trail maps in our camper, they are extremely helpful when navigating the trail system in Traverse City. You can order your own copy here.

Really, that's the only reason it's our (i.e. Mom and Dad's) favorite campground. However, the kids have a few reasons of their own:
  • The Swimming Pool
  • Planned Activities such as crafts, games, dodgeball
  • The Candy Cannon
  • Glow Parade 
  • Bike Go-Carts
  • Playground
  • and the Bike Park (the kids can spend hours here)

VASA Single Track

GTMTBA Trail Map : VASA Pathway

Saturday morning, after making half-inch thick, saucer size pancakes for the family, I kissed them good-bye and rolled out in search of the VASA (this is where the GTMTBA map comes in handy). To get to the singletrack from Timber Ridge you have to navigate first the Timber Ridge Trails, then the VASA Pathway, across the power lines sand pits, and onward to the single track. 

My Garmin map: riding from Timber Ridge to the Single Track
The VASA is close to 13 miles. Riding from Timber Ridge and back makes it approx. a 16 mile ride. 

There's not much climbing, only 283 of elevation. It makes for a fast and flowy ride. 

An 11 mph average is decent for me, especially since this was only my third time riding the VASA in as many years. I was happy with my morning jaunt in the woods.

The trail had more sand and erosion than I remembered but it was manageable and allowed me to practice the "neutral" hand grip and "heavy" feet stance. This technique has immensely improved my ability to ride through Michigan's notorious deep sugar sand. 

There is one section of the VASA that I have always found unnerving. It's a tight, narrow, gradual descent with 180 degree turns. Imagine trying to navigate a 29er through a life-sized paperclip chain—that's what it's like. Typically I wobble and weave through the turns, bumping into trees and putting a foot down here and there to steady myself. This time, however, I was pleased and surprised to find myself steadily and confidently rolling right on through. 

Why the change? Remember a couple of weeks ago when I participated in the Muskegon Lip Dub? Well, we had a lot of down time to kill between practicing and filming. The police had blocked off the roads with narrowly spaced bright orange cones. What better way to spend my time than by doing bike drills? I utilized the orange cones and practiced tight turns on bike. This short amount of practice reaped a significant improvement in my bike handling skills.

I even managed to snag QOM on Strava for the VASA Single Track Climb segment. Although I suspect that's only because there are a whole lot of women in Traverse NOT using Strava. 

Stay tuned for more Up-Northness coming your way tomorrow! . . . 

No comments: