Wisconsin-Michigan Adventure Trail (WMAT - 1100 Mile Dual Sport)

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Cannonshot, Jun 6, 2011.

  1. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Super Moderator

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    Just completed a run on another adventure dual sport route I am sharing. My ADV pal freeflow and I ran this loop of Michigan and Wisconsin.

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    This track requires that you take one of the two ferries that cross Lake Michigan.
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    It is an incredibly fun ride.
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    We had a blast and you will too.
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    The track is a mix of a lot of sand roads, two tracks, single track, forest roads, and ORV trails. There are some pavement connectors as well.
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    Frankly, you must be pretty handy on sand to be able to enjoy this ride. It could be a chore for some that are not.
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    The usual obstacles.
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    GPX is available for download here and here.
    #1
  2. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Super Moderator

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    Back in 2009 I shared a route called the Wisconsin-Michigan Dual Sport Adventure. It is over 2,200 miles and is a pretty long trek for a lot of people to knock off in a single trip.

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    On that track I incorporated my ADV friend rokklym's Trans-Wisconsin Adventure Trail (green track segment).

    I got some inquiries from people that wanted to ride the route but couldn't do it all at once. I offered some recommendatons about how to break it into two trips and even produced some custom track for people to shorten their ride to make it fit some time limitations.

    I decided to break off some of the WMDSA and add some new tracks to put together an 1100 mile route that riders could knock off in 4-5 days. Before I posted it for download, I wanted to run it myself to account for changes required in the old track and proof ride the new track segments. Over time, land use changes and routes have to be changed. I'll post the final track file to share once I get a chance to polish it up a bit. I'll cover more later about some of the great collaboration that went into making sure this turned out to be a high quality ride for people to enjoy.
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    One problem I had with the long WMDSA route was that it involved two different intensities of riding. The Michigan tracks require a small-medium dual sport bike as it is sandy and involves a lot of trail. The Wisconsin portion is more road oriented and I would enjoy that entertaining and scenic ride much more on my DL1000 than I would riding all those roads and distances on my DRZ. That was another reason for putting together the WMAT route - it was kind of incovenient to have a single GPS track file for a ride that is best ridden on two different types of bikes.

    Someone will probably want to know if a KLR would be a good choice for these rides. The KLR would be perfect for the Wisconsin portions of the Wisconsin-Michigan Dual Sport Adventure. As far as the Wisconsin-Michigan Adventure Trail (or the Michigan portion of the WMDSA), the answer is whether or not you are comfortable pushing a significant amount of sand every day on the bike you are considering for the ride.

    No matter how handy you are riding sand, from time to time the sand will jump up and bite you on the ass. That is just how it is I guess. :lol3
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    #2
  3. freeflow

    freeflow get in or go in

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    deep rutted up steep down hill sand ruts are my favorite!!! (yours too !):lol3...thanks for laying that ride up and sharing some riding time cannonshot....damn, that was big fun....a day or 2 of relax time and I am ready again..:thumb....:lurk...



    just putting my 2 cents out there on bike choice for this route....DRZ type bike was better suited than my XR650R for many sections too. :augie...some of the low speed, wooded, tight single track in 80+ degree temps were getting near overheat temps for my speed/skill level on the XRr.....YMMV

    BTW, I have plenty of KLR miles in various terrains (Baja, copper canyon etc)....this would be a very taxing bike choice for this ride...even the northern wisconsin ORV trail areas were dry, deep sugar sand that took alot of focus ....A KLR would have been a real unfun handfull unless there was enough rain to tighten the sand up...IMO....
    #3
  4. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Super Moderator

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    There are two ferries that will get you across Lake Michigan. There is a high speed ferry based out of Milwaukee (about two hours) or this coal fired steamship based out of Manitowoc (about 4 hours).
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    This ship was originally part of a fleet of ships that would haul priority trains across the lake to avoid rail congestion around Chicago. Hauling trains by boat had been going on for a long time. The gate you see at the rear of this ship keeps the lake out. I dove on a ferry near Milwaukee that sank in the 1920s. It went out in the storm, the seas destroyed the rear gate, water came in the back and sank the ship.
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    Even though this ship was built in 1953, the railroad decided to make it coal fired instead of diesel. Railroads owned coal mines (train fuel) and had the means to haul coal (trains) so it was economical for them to use coal. This ship is the last coal steamship in operation in the US. It discharges a slurry of inert coal ash over the side on each trip. Even though the slurry is inert, the practice must stop so this ship must be refitted with some other system or figure out how to manage waste.
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    A truckload of coal being backed into the ship and dumped into the hold.
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    These wind turbine towers are going to be loaded on board. Freeflow can tell you more as he talked to the crew, but I think they saved about 75% of their transportation costs for this segment by using the ferry instead of going around the lake.
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    Waiting to board. The fare for bike and rider ios about $118.
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    While we waited we were treated to an air show from some aviators that were practicing for an event on the weekend.
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    Inside the car deck where the trains were stored.
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    On this ship you must supply your own tie downs. On the Lake Express out of Milwaukee, they supply the tie downs. The Lake Express has free motorcycle transport early and late in the season.
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    Bikes are stored along the side of the ship. The ship doesn't move much (unlike the Lake Express) so two tie downs are sufficient.
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    Our flight was delayed due to messing around trying to squeeze these tower trucks in.
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    Clearances were tight.
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    It all worked out.
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    While you are waiting to depart, you might see the submarine USS Cobia moored nearby. During WWII they used to build submarines in this town. The Cobia has an interesting record. During one attack it was depth charged 20 feet into the mud on the sea bottom.
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    We had an experienced crew of 40-50 on the ship.
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    Things to do during the voyage.
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    Or you can get a stateroom and sleep. This ain't exactly a cruise ship.
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    As we got close to the Michigan shore we were reminded that we would be riding in sand a lot.
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    They do some really elegant moves to swing these ships into position to back into the dock. The ramp on the left is an old loading ramp for autos. When the railroads were still running trains across, they took passengers and their autos too. The cars were put on the top deck.
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    Control room at the back of the ship for connecting to the dock.
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    The source of our delay with the sister ship (SS Spartan) to the SS Badger moored in the background.
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    #4
  5. Lutz

    Lutz Killer Rabbit

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    I like the looks of this...
    #5
  6. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Super Moderator

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    Someone asked me to compare this new adventure trail with the Upper Peninsula Adventure Trail I put together in the UP.

    The primary UPAT route is intended for small-medium dual sports. On that one I was able to put in some go-arounds that allowed for larger adventure bikes to enjoy the trail. There are also a lot of points of interest and historical information associated with the UPAT.

    On this ride, the WMAT, there are no provisions for big bikes. The rider should also carefully evaluate the weight and characteristics of the bike he or she intends to ride on the WMAT since there is a lot of sand and true trail to deal with.

    Here is a map with most of both rides displayed. The UPAT loops the UP, the WMAT loops the norther part of Lake Michigan. There is a small amount of overlap between the routes.

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    #6
  7. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Super Moderator

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    Once we got clear of the ferry that evening, we planned to ride about as far as Wolf Lake. We got a late start.

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    We were ready for some riding.
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    To get out to the trails, we took a scenic run down the shore and then inland. We passed the Ludington Pumped Storage Power Plant. This involves a lake up on a hill and some generator/pumps on the shore of Lake Michigan.
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    This hydro plant was completed in 1973. At the time it was the largest operation of this type in the world and it got an "Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award". It is kind of like a giant storage battery. At night, when demand for power is low, the reversible turbines pump water from Lake Michigan up the hill into the 1 mile by 2.5 mile reservior. When the demand for power is high, this facility serves as a leveler for the nuclear plants. By releasing water from the storage lake, it can begin to produce power within minutes as demand peaks on the grid.
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    There is a fish net surrounding the intake region to keep them from pumping fish through the turbines.
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    I think it is an 800 foot drop through the penstocks. This place produces enough power for a community of 1.4 million people.
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    The run along the lakeshore is fun with twisty pavement along the way.
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    Eventually we head inland to pick up the trails.
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    It was getting dark. We had a later than planned start from Ludington and we made a side trip to visit 2TrakR at Whiskey Creek. I lost out on the opportunity to photograph some fantastic stuff on some trails carpeted with pine needles the wound through the hills.
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    I think we got to Wolf Lake at about 2230 hours. It was pretty deserted at that time. We got a room and got settled in. Dinner ended up being a granola bar and half a soft drink as we didn't have enough change for two. We were pretty happy though as the riding had been great.
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    #7
  8. condor-machinist

    condor-machinist el dirt hombre

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    Great pics, grew up a little south of Ludington. I go back every summer and ride around West Michigan. Lots of tight single tracks throughout the area. Did Manistee Forest around Caberfae last year, FUN. Yes there is some sand around there.

    Have fun.

    :clap
    #8
  9. tommo2

    tommo2 Michiganee

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    Good pix. Wow. Info-laden. Paint job on the Peterbilt, a gift. thanx
    #9
  10. Critic

    Critic More or less!

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    great job Bryan! I would have enjoyed this one. Congrads on the state position!:D
    #10
  11. MeefZah

    MeefZah Curmudgeonly

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    Subscribed! :freaky
    #11
  12. Klay

    Klay dreaming adventurer

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    :lurk
    #12
  13. WIthumper

    WIthumper The 610 guy

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    :lurk
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  14. freeflow

    freeflow get in or go in

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    The delivery crew for the wind turbine main posts said that delivering them over the road thru Chicago would have cost about $12,500 in fuel, tolls, permits and escorts per truck....the ferry fee for one truck was $2,800 +/-. The figured they have about $6,000 all in per truck for the delivery to one hour east of Ludington.

    There is about 6-800 of the tower sections built and being stored in a gravel pit area north of Manitowoc. Awaiting delivery. The delivery crew guys were from Florida. wondering if it will ever warm up near the lakeshore :lol3

    :lurk
    #14
  15. azduster

    azduster Been here awhile

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    Subscribed!!! Nice picture of freeflow going over in the sand. Ive seen him do that in Baja a few times.:rofl
    #15
  16. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Super Moderator

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    We were up bright and early the next morning ready to ride. The gas station in Wolf Lake was not open yet. We decided to just run about 7 miles south to Baldwin to get gas and breakfast. We didn't have enough gas to get to the next refueling point anyway.
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    Instead of running late after the ferry ride, it might be better for some riders to get a room in Ludington and start out the next morning from there. There are motels around Kalkaska that might be in the right place at the end of a full day's ride.

    By the way, if you need to pick up something for your bike, this will be the last chance for a while. Peacock has a multi-brand dealership north of Baldwin.
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    Back on the track heading north.
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    Lots of sand roads around. Some are solid and some are sugary. Hope for rain at night to firm up the sand.
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    You might want to space it out a bit to save on air filter maintenance. I carried a spare filter element but didn't need to use it.
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    Many of these spots are pretty obscure.
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    Some are very obscure. One has to adjust their risk management profile.
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    Best to ride with a buddy on the WMAT.
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    Beautiful cool forests. Cool temps that day too.
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    We saw a variety of wildlife. Lots of deer, porcupines, a couple of snakes, lots of grouse, and a couple of big birds that got "caught" under the tunnel canopy over the trail and had to fly down the trail with us. This fawn crossed in front of us.
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    Bike packed for a five day trip. High loads made the sand riding more difficult than usual. Also the bag on the back limited my ability to slide my weight way back when I needed to in order to float the front wheel even more than usual. No big deal, just makes it more work to ride sand.
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    Lots of single track segments on the track.
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    In this area they are from the Michigan Cross Country Cycle Trail - a motorcycle trail that traverses the lower peninsula.

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    Some of the woods single track.
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    Some of the forests glowed with the tall trees.
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    Pesky sand. It will get you sooner or later.
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    All better now and ready to ride on.
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    Gas stop in Boon. Good cold sandwiches.
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    #16
  17. Midwestspeedster

    Midwestspeedster Adventurer

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    Cannon,

    I just did a lot of this ride over Memorial weekend. I had a blast. The bit me in the ankle on the last day

    -Tim
    #17
  18. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Super Moderator

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    Tim, I'm glad you got to enjoy the tracks. I've updated them to make a few required changes that I'm sure you guys came across. Snowdave was out on the old tracks as well (riding solo). We came across some tire marks both for he (solo) and for you and Zed in some remote spots. I figured it was you guys as it was very unlikely for someone to be in a few of these spots without being on these tracks. Always happy to hear from other satisfied riders!
    #18
  19. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Super Moderator

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    This map uses Garmin Topo as a background. I use the topo to illustrate terrain when I post maps in the ride reports.
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    When I did this ride (and most of my Michigan rides), I use the background maps from VVmapping for both Michigan and Wisconsin. The VVmaps don't show elevation, but they have features that work well for me, especially when I am scouting new segments. They have detailed markings indicating public land so I know where I am at with a new track. The National Forest Motor Vehicle Use Map info is incorporated in the map so I can check to see that a road I want to use is open for ORV travel. The roads are pretty current and detailed. Although I mark relevant gas stations with waypoints to confirm they are in operation, the background maps have known gas stations embedded into them as well.
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    The most important feature of the VVmaps that makes this ride a lot easier to navigate is that trail maps are embedded into the background map. The track runs through areas dense with ORV trails. Sometimes the track takes the trail and sometimes it takes the nearby two track. Without the trails being embedded into the background map it is easy to make a few wrong turns. The other thing great about being able to see the trails on the map is that you can see where they go allowing you to free lance by jumping on and off the trail as it crosses your path. If the trail is good, you can stay with it longer. If it is bad, you can get off quicker.
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    More single track in the woods.
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    Lots of these entertaining roads around.
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    Single track.
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    Two track.
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    I bogged in the sand here and scrubbed down into a bank.
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    A sharp edge on my luggage rack painfully pinned my ankle into a depression.
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    Things were twisted and pinned in such a way that I couldn't exert any force to get free. Instead I just kneeled in an odd position counting ticks and trying to keep out of the poison ivy while I waited about ten minutes for freeflow to come back and get the bike off me. Life's little inconveniences. :lol3
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    This is that green smelly stuff that is very warm if you get into it.
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    Bogged in some sand.
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    My friend Jeff's next bike will probably have an electric start.
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    You need to understand the markings you see. "No ORVs" can mean that a street licensed vehicle is permitted. Sometimes "licensed by the Secretary of State" is used in Michigan for "street licensed".
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    This vehicle is street licensed but also has an ORV sticker which also allows it to use ORV trails.
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    Downhill.
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    The last time I followed the trail through this pine plantation, it was clear sailing. It has since grown in and now sweeps you like brushes at a car wash. Nice tick transfer station. By the way, I sprayed my riding clothes with permanone prior to the ride. I had no ticks on my body even after brushing a lot of grass and branches. I did find a dead tick or two on my bike so I assume the spray on my clothes did it's job and killed them.
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    There are several brands of tick spray. This is one. Spray your stuff and let it dry. It lasts weeks and some washings. Kills ticks.
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    #19
  20. Utah Bones

    Utah Bones Gas X ready!

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    :lurk Great stuff!
    #20