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PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 4:52 pm 
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Location: Michigan
I'll break this up into a few posts. Hoped to have videos done by now, but finding time to do that is short. Right after the ride we jotted down everything we could remember for each day. After chopping 3/4 of that out, this is the ride report. I wish I would have taken more photos. They are much easier to deal with than video editing. I ended up with 143 short clips, Eric had far fewer, but many 20 minute videos. All in all we have 8 hours or more of video (I still have 3 hrs and 34 min after deleting a whole bunch of crap, camera pushed way down, standing around with camera on helmet filming the ground, etc).

Background – A few years ago Eric and I (Adam) started riding on holidays and weekends when we could pull it off. We both come from a dirt background, and like more difficult/technical trails (despite me being on a DR650 and Eric on a XR650R. We talked about how awesome it would be to ride the entire MCCCT loop. We read some of the ride reports where guys were doing this in 5 days and figured we could do it in less, I mean, we are young and “fast”. Our first pre-run in 2015 from Gladwin to Mio quickly opened our eyes, 5 days would be a push. Less than 5 days would be impossible for us. Below was the planned route, starting and ending in Gladwin. For those that don't know about it, the MCCCT (Michigan Cross-Country Cycle Trail) makes up a loop of something over 700 miles of trail in Michigan's lower peninsula. There's some road sections, some wide trail and 2 track, but for the most part it's <50" ORV trail and motorcycle only single track.

Day 1 = Dark blue, starting on south east side of map
Day 2 = Red
Day 3 = Green
Day 4 = Yellow
Day 5 = DR Grey

Image

Big Thanks to Eric’s parents for being our chase vehicle with the camper and watching Eric’s kids. Also a big thanks to my parents for watching my kid’s while my wife started a new job the week of this trip. Thanks to the wives’ for supporting our idiot adventures. And a thanks to Dave for letting us bring his KLX250 as a backup bike in case of catastrophic failure of one of the 650’s (fortunately was not needed).

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Last edited by adam728 on Tue Sep 20, 2016 5:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 4:53 pm 
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Day 1 – Gladwin to Luzerne : Total 12h 34m, 134miles, Moving Time 7h 44m, Avg Moving Speed 17.3mph, Avg Speed 10.7mph

Eric started the ride by getting the first fall out of the way: straight out of the Gladwin parking lot he tucked the front tire in the first corner and laid it down. With that out of the way we kept trucking north. As we got closer to St Helen we found that the ORV route had been groomed/graded: the notoriously whooped out straight that passes under I-75 was billiard board flat. It was also at this point I realized that I hadn’t filtered the GPS tracks enough, and my Garmin HC had clipped every one of them so that each day only had about 1/3 of the route. Whoops. Luckily Eric had his GPS and cell phone mounted to the bars.
We got into the single track section of the Meadows trail and the contrast from last year was amazing.

We rode this section 8/28/2015.


At that time there were trees down everywhere, and little sign of anyone having ridden in quite some time (no tracks, lots of grass growing right on the trail, no go-arounds blazed around the trees, etc).

Same section, this year (tried to start the video about at the same spot, around 15 sec in both pass thru the same clearing)



Most the blowdowns were cut back so you could slip a bike thru, and much of the trail appeared to have carried a fair amount of traffic. Still not a very high use trail though, as we found a fender tool bag filled with tools lying dead center of the trail. Turned out to be a fellow member of the Great Lakes Dual Sporters (GLDS) whom had lost it a few weeks earlier. Hard to believe anyone else would have come thru and not stopped to grab the very easily spotted bag.

About 5pm we realized we were out of water. We found a good jump off point to head to the camp to refill and do some quick skid plate repair. Yes, I screwed a log crossing and broke the front mount on my homemade skid. About 6:30pm we were full of water, fuel, and I had securely zip tied the skid plate back on.
Back at the single track we lost the trail after crossing M-72. When we ran up the ORV route a ways, then took a cross road back towards where the MCCCT trail should be. Found it and back tracked it to cover what we missed. Found we missed a turn off at a split rail fence. Suddenly the description Robert R. emailed made perfect sense, we missed the trail in exactly the spot he explained.

Rolled into Camp around 9pm, about 10miles short of our first day goal. We stayed at the Luzerne Express Campground. They had everything; Food, Gas, and Showers. Slept like a big ol baby, despite my air mattress half deflating during the night.

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2013 DR 650
Mostly stock, for now....


Last edited by adam728 on Wed Sep 21, 2016 12:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 4:56 pm 
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Day 2 – Luzerne to Chandler Hills : Total 12h 25m, 158miles, Moving Time 7h 48m, Avg Moving Speed 20.2mph, Avg Speed 12.7mph

We hit the trail and things looked bleak. Everything was stiff. Felt too weak to stand, and too saddle sore to sit. How were we going to do 4 more days of this? As the morning went on everything loosened up and fell into place. I actually felt good. Once thru the single track and then the narrower ORV Trail sections of Hunt Creek the trail jumped onto a fair amount of road from Avery Lake up thru Atlanta. We topped off with gas in Atlanta and grabbed more water (not running out again!), then hit the road, it was already 1 pm and we’d only covered about 1/3 of the day’s distance.
Image

From there it was a mix of 50” ORV trail and wider stuff, but as the day went on we got back into single track near the Tomahawk loops. Ran into the first other dirt bike of the trip, a guy on a KTM 450. Shortly after breaking off from KTM-guy to continue on the MCCCT route we had our first near injury. I caught a tall stump with my right boot, pulling my foot off the peg. Before it could get yanked too far back the bracket for the passenger peg on my DR planted itself firmly into my heel. At this point my foot was used as a pole vault for the back end of the bike. For the 1st minute I was positive I just broke my foot to bits and ended my ride, it felt like my toes touched my shin. As of this writing this happened almost 3 weeks ago, and it still hurts.

I finally quit my sniveling as night was falling fast. Before it was completely dark Eric overshot a tight 90° corner in the single track and tipped over to the inside. A tree tried to help him hold up the bike by grabbing the tail light. Plastic tail light vs tree + XR650R = broken. A bit of Gorilla tape and he was on his way again, at least with a brake light (running light quit working). The trails opened up to more like logging roads and the pace picked up. Having an aftermarket headlight, plus a 6” LED light bar I was doing fine. Didn’t think about Eric and his, uh, “head light” (std Baja Designs dual sport light). We passed several downed trees that had been cut but not moved/removed. With his dimly illuminated spot of vision he managed to avoid the cutoff portion laying in the trail of one of the downed trees, but failed to see the portion of trunk still sticking out from the bank of the trail. Log to the shin, at probably 30+ mph. It was a pretty nasty looking bruise later that night, and a pretty nasty looking lower leg the next day.
Image

A very short while later I found a muddy dip/g-out at probably 45 mph. No time to reel in the speed, so weight back, on the gas, yup, that was decently deep black muck. I then saw immediately after was its big brother, complete with 8-10” of standing water. I was already way out of line, with the front and rear wheels taking separate ruts. Somehow made it out the other side, soaked and covered in terrible smelling black swamp muck, but upright. I started hitting the brakes to flash my tail light as a warning for Eric. If I didn’t see it until the last minute, then no way was he going to spot it with his lighting. I watched a headlight grow closer and closer, then disappear completely. No good, as this was a straight away easily a half mile long. Back I went to find him picking up the big XR up out of the mud.

As a final insult, shortly before reaching camp there was a very large downed tree that required going off-trail down a decently steep little hill side. Coming back up it was deep sand, and as you got on the trail you now were starting a long sand hill climb. Eric’s bike stalled coming out of the woods, and when trying to kick it he smashed his (already injured) shin on the foot peg. This pretty much took the last of his energy / will to live, and I refrained from teasing about the ease of electric start on the DR like I usually do when he’s going thru the hot start ritual on his bike. I jumped in as a pinch kicker, then we shot back to the campground.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 4:57 pm 
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Day 3 – Chandler Hills to Cadillac: Total 12h 31m, 170miles, Moving Time 8h 21m, Avg Moving Speed 20.3mph, Avg Speed 13.6mph

Day 3 started out with both of us hurting. Eric’s leg looked terrible, but he felt ok. My over stretched Achilles had turned into a taunt piano string, moving it hurt! The day starting with a lot of road sections, so we were eating up a lot of miles early. After the our first gas stop the MCCCT runs down a big section of 131, then onto Cinder Hill Rd out of Alba. Turning off 131 the bike felt “funny”, but I really paid no attention. Soon Eric is next to me pointing and hollering something. Yup, flat front tire. A handy trailside bike stand (log) and we swapped the tube and we on our way. A previous patch job of mine had failed to hold up.
Image


Most the day was uneventful. Again a long day, and as night fell we were in single track. Pace was hampered by Eric’s poor lighting, and now even my lights sucked. It was at this time I realized the merit of helmet lights. In these tight conditions my bars (and lights) were often pointed where I didn’t need them, and “looking ahead” like I always do meant “staring blindly into darkness”. If we plan any more single track night rides I will be getting a decent LED flashlight and helmet mounting it. We made it to camp around 9:30 pm.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 5:03 pm 
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Day 4 – White Cloud to Cadillac : Total 14h 20m, 158miles, Moving Time 10h 7m, Avg Moving Speed 15.6mph, Avg Speed 11.0mph (Missed recording a small section)

We started out this day with what could be considered a near cheat. The plan was to ride from Cadillac to White Cloud on the MCCCT trail, then take roads back to. Neither Eric nor I were too excited about 70+ miles of road riding at the end of the day, nor the 17 miles of it at the start of the day just to get back to the trail (it was about 45 degrees out, so that meant it’d be a cold morning road ride, then carrying a jacket the rest of the day). So we loaded the bikes in Eric’s father’s truck and were chauffeured in luxury off to the trail head at White Cloud. Hey, we weren’t skipping any of the MCCCT, we were just avoiding large backtracks.

Pulling into the trail head we remembered it was now Saturday on a holiday weekend. There were 3 bikes just getting ready to pull out, and another truck/trailer pulling in. Up to this point we had still only seen the one KTM 450 over the 3 previous days, plus 4 quads (2 groups of 2). Not only was this the beginning of seeing a lot of other bikes on the trail, but also the beginning of seeing all those bikes that you know still exist, but almost never see. Two of the bikes in the parking lot consisted of an XR400 and an RMX250. Both used to be commonly seen every weekend, but now that they are 20 years old they seem to have all been regulated to the back corner of some garage, barn, or shed.

Getting rolling conditions were pretty nice. Must have been some rain, as the sand was decently damp, and there was even mud in the holes. Better than dust. Things were rolling along nicely, then on a small hill I noticed a kick start lever laying right in the middle of the trail. Stopped, ran back, and picked it up. Figured eventually we were going to catch up to someone having a bad day bump starting a bike in sand. It wasn’t but a few minutes later we caught the group from the parking lot taking a breather. No one claimed the kicker, then the rider on what was probably the newest bike there (YZ250F I believe) took a reach down and realized, no kick start lever. Stuck around long enough to make sure he had a spare bolt to secure it, then went on our way.
Image

Mostly an uneventful day. Lots of mix again, 50” ORV trail, wider ORV route, and some roads. After getting gas at Wolf Lake the trail started running next to, and then dumping onto, the wider ORV routes. Normally not a big deal, but it was now late Saturday evening on Labor Day weekend. There was a lot of people out, and many, many side by sides. All that kept going thru my head was “how much has everyone been drinking?” and “please don’t meet a 4 seater power sliding a blind corner….”. Really only had one sort of close call with a SxS that made no effort of moving right, nor of lifting his foot off the floor. I was off near the right of the trail wobbling along as that 4 seater absolutely roared by a foot and a half away. Eric was a ways back and had the experience, hardly enough time to get the bike out of the center ruts to move right, and the SxS ripped by with barely a whisker of space and the throttle still pegged.

As darkness fell I realized how close the motorcycle-only sections of trail run to the ORV route through Little Manistee and Lincoln Hills. A number of times I thought headlights were oncoming bikes, only to realize that the route trail was paralleled 15 yards away. I wonder what those people thought was going on seeing a bike headlight twisting back and forth every 2 seconds and bouncing around in whoops. Saw a good 2 dozen bikes this day, and probably quadruple that for quads and side by sides. When we stopped at the Pine River bridge below we heard a group of quads/side by sides coming up and moved out of the way. We were surprised to see it was actually a flock of lifted golf carts.
Image


By the time we hit the MCCCT connecter from Lincoln Hills to Caberfae it was after 9 pm, and completely dark. The pace was slowed greatly due to very narrow trail, and again by Eric’s lack of acceptable lighting. “Ride by feel” I believe is how he put it. Despite lighting deficiencies, it was a very fun section of trail. I’d like to ride it again, but in the day time, and on something half the size of a DR650. I did get to spot a flying squirrel that ran along the trail and then up a tree (but didn’t treat us to a flight), and several woods jumping mice, which are just comical to watch hop away. Cartoonish would be a good description. Also, Eric’s tail light decided to part ways with the bike. He noticed when the lens/housing kept hitting him in the back, hanging on in the whoops for dear life by the 1 wire that remained attached. There wasn’t anything worth taping up after that.
Image

Around 11 pm we hit M55 and headed into Cadillac, stopping at the first McDonalds spotted for a healthy after-ride meal. It apparently was the hot place to be. When we arrived we wondered if the dining area was even open. After we ordered people just kept streaming in, and we witnessed a picnic, we think. A group sat down at the tables outside, had their own Tupperware containers of food. And then more food. And then paper plates were passed around. Then a cooler arrived with more food. Suddenly a gallon of milk came out from a car and set in the middle of the table. It was just sort of strange to see a group of people bring all their own food to eat at McDonalds in the middle of the night.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 5:04 pm 
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Day 5 – Cadillac to St. Helen, then down to Gladwin : Total 11h 4m, 153miles, Moving Time 7h 47m, Avg Moving Speed 19.6mph, Avg Speed 13.8mph (Missed St. Helen to Gladwin Parking)

Image

Started with about 20 miles of road to get up to the cross-state connector. 45 degrees doesn’t sound cold, but at road speed in mx gear it sure feels cold! Right away we hit this bridge and stopped for some pics. Sure has some bounce to it. Eric hopped a few times and it seemed like the bridge would sway 3-4”. When he went thru the kick start ritual on the XR I was pretty sure the bridge was coming down.

Image

Lots of sand on this day. Lots and lots and lots of sand. Pretty uneventful, although I did have my first “crash” of the ride, finally. Tucked the front end in the bottomless sand near the end of the day. Bulldogged it to a stop just off the trail and patted myself on the back for not dropping it. Gave a healthy heave backwards to get back on trail, but a fallen tree decided to hold onto my boot. So I now was mostly back in the trail, but with my foot stuck up near the front tire and the bike leaning to that side. Flop. The worst was that my butt was down in the trail, with my leg/front of bike up on the embankment. Lifting that cow of a bike enough to wiggle my leg out from that angle was no small feat.
We hit St. Helen around 5 or 6 pm that evening, the MCCCT route was officially complete! We grabbed dinner, then decided to take roads back to the trail head at Gladwin rather than beat ourselves up more riding what we had already done. Loaded up and parted ways, Eric back to Cadillac and me up to Johannesburg. I never slept so soundly in my life.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 5:12 pm 
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:lurk: Great ride report so far...keep it coming!

EDIT: nvmd...you were busy posting while i was busy reading.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2016 11:42 am 
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Awesome ride report Adam! :clapping: How have you not convinced Eric to get a DR? :pardon:

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2016 11:51 am 
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Ah, youth. Good on ya!

Love the bridge pics.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2016 12:25 pm 
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mxrob wrote:
Awesome ride report Adam! :clapping: How have you not convinced Eric to get a DR? :pardon:


I'm actually surprised the XR isn't up for sale yet. He planned to list it after the trip. Not going DR though, more along the lines of KTM 300. First and foremost he wants electric start, and the >$1000 kit for the 650R is not really an option. So if switching bikes anyway he wants to go lights, much lighter. They all tease me for riding a DR anyway. I went from the "look how fast I am" guy to the "look how fast I still try to be on a school bus in the woods" guy. In retrospect I envisioned my riding changing a lot, and it hasn't. Knowing what I know now I probably would not have gotten the DR. Great bike, but I would have been better served with something more along the lines of a beater street bike an keeping my YZ.

If all goes as planned on my end I should be able to supplement the DR with a dirt bike next spring. You know, when prices are highest? After this ride I definitely want to get back on something much, much lighter than the DR for tighter trails. The DR will stick around for commuting and general dual sport rides (about half my off roading).

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