Last weekend 9 riders hooked up through a local forum for a ride. The plan was to ride Pontiac Lake (11 miles), then get on a powerline right of way (that as far as anyone knew had never been ridden before by bikes) and ride over to Highland Rec. (about 15 miles), ride that (20 miles) before riding back to the Pontiac Lake trailhead. I was the instigator for the powerline portion of the route, I had been eyeing the bit I could see from Teggerdine Rd. for quite some time, and wondering what the faint two track would be like. We all geared up and off we went.
The Pontiac Lake part of the ride was uneventful and the trail was in great shape. We hit the powerline and things got a little less predictable. The first problem was finding a way onto the darn thing. It was so overgrown that it took a couple of false starts before we finally got onto the area where the fading two track was. Riding down that old track we came to a small creek, the headwaters of the Huron River. We blasted on through and went a little further only to find a huge swampy area barring the way. After a little discussion, the decision was made to go back and check for an alternate route, so through the river we rode again. Look as we might, no other path could be found, and the bush was so thick on either side of the right of way that forcing a way was impossible. A third water crossing was made and we resigned ourselves to the muddy inevitability of the swamp. Shouldering our bikes, we choose our various paths through the stinky black muck, shin deep and in one case hip deep, depending on the line we chose. By the time we got to the other side, we were all laughing though, so it was all good. Once on dry ground again, it was time for a quick once over for leaches, the we remounted the bikes and off we went.
After a couple of fence crossings (one electric - no one found out the hard way though), and an endo, I found myself with my bike on my shoulder once more, trudging through some more swamp. This one featured head high cattails, and we were slogging through single file when I felt a burning on the back of my ankle, quickly followed by another one on the back of my other knee. "Bees!" I hollered, and because the guy in front of me didn't move out fast enough, I made my own trail outta there. The final tally was just two of us stung twice each.
We finally ended up on the backside of the Alpine Valley ski hill, and up we went so we could ride down the other side.
After a few miles of riding on various dirt roads we arrived at Highland, and had another trail ride. I'm not a slow guy, but there were a couple gals with us who were fast. I was riding behind Kim and she asked me if I wanted a pass, I had to tell her I couldn't pass, I was just trying not to get dropped! Highland has several loops, and some of the peeps decided not to ride c loop after we finished a and b and regrouped, so we lost 4, who would wait for us at the trailhead. After doing c I was outta gas, and so was another guy, so Kim, Alex and Adam did d while we joined up with the bunch at the trailhead. While we were waiting for them to finish d loop it started to thunder and lightning, and some of it was close, so we're standing in the middle of the parking lot away from the trees, and it just started pouring, and I mean HARD.
When the gang was finally regrouped, it was unanimously decided that the route back to our cars would involve dirt roads, not the powerline again. Jeff said he knew the roads back, so we followed him and he got us good and lost. While we were riding, a big lab came running up to us. I'm watching this dog run, and he's throwing clods up like a racehorse, and I figure we're in for some trouble, but he turned out to be still a pup, maybe a year old, and just wanted to play. We figured he'd get tired and drop off, but he stayed with us for quite a few miles, and almost got clobbered right in front of our eyes at a road crossing. So, we're still lost, and now we've got this dog to take care of as well. Flagging down a passing sherriff, we got some direction on which way to go. At the next turn, he'd beat us there and had his directional lights on showing us which way to go, so we even had a police escort (of sorts).
We stopped for a little rest and to give the dog some water, and we decided to call animal control so this pup wouldn't get run down in the road, but no-one was on duty on the weekend so that plan was down the toilet. Same story with the local PD. We didn't know what to do with the dog, didn't really want to leave him, and he didn't have a tag. As we were talking about it up pulled this woman in a big SUV asking for directions. She told us she was campaigning for the GOP and got lost. We gave her directions, and told her about the dog. She said she'd take him home, so we loaded him up, even though we felt a little bad about sending him home with a republican ;^). The rest of the ride back to the cars was uneventful but muddy. I spent an hour getting my bike clean, and I think I'm gonna R and R my headset and bb just to make sure it's all clean and lubed. We've got a 100 mile ride coming up that hooks 3 trails up with some backroad riding, any one wanna come along?