3500 Miles of Mapped/GPSed Dual Sport Routes - 1200 Mile Sampler

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Cannonshot, Jul 19, 2008.

  1. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Just spent five days with two other riders (GasMich, R.Markus) doing a 1200 mile test ride of some dual sport routes that are about to be made available to DS riders to download for free. Had a blast! Pictures and story on the way . . .

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    (Action shot - note foot up in the air as he goes down.)
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    #1
  2. GalacticGS

    GalacticGS Motorcyclist Supporter

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    :lurk

    From the pics posted so far, it looks interesting...
    #2
  3. Gotlabs

    Gotlabs Killing with kindness

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    Those look awesome, can't wait for more.
    #3
  4. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    I have enjoyed some great long dirt/gravel/trail rides in Michigan over the past few years. Some of the long dual sport rides I have taken there include:

    Upper Peninsual Dual Sport Safari (1200 miles)
    Lower Peninsula Dual Sport Safari (1200 miles)
    Michigan Cross Country Cycle Trail (600 miles)
    Two CannonTreks (1100 miles each) in the Upper Peninsula
    In addition, I have enjoyed some other rides and events there on my own or with various groups (UP rides, several Six Days of Michigan, CannonTrek I).

    I mention these experiences as background for the opinions and comments I express about this Michigan ride. (More about that in the ride report.)

    Though I live in SE Wisconsin, I am a big fan of some of the dual sport riding opportunities in Michigan.

    The other day, I called 2TrakR, a member of this forum, to ask about any new motor vehicle use restrictions in the Manistee National Forest. I explained that I wanted to make a long dual sport and was heading for the lower peninsula. 2TrakR reminded me that the Great Lakes Dual Sporters had a project in the works to publish some dual sport routes in Michigan for people to enjoy. (2TrakR is President of GLDS.) He told me that he would use this as a reason to finish up the project. In return, I told him I would give him a test ride of the main loop route in the lower peninsula to proof it before he put it out.

    In the mean time I met up with 2TrakR at a ride in the UP of MI and he handed me this professionally prepared 60 page map book of about 3500 miles of dual sport routes.
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    Here is an overview of the routes. The yellow colored lines are main route loops. The magenta lines are alternate or more local loop routes. The program is designed so that you can either ride main long distance trip routes or you can set up in an area for a weekend and ride shorter loops that stay in one region. (Some of the CannonTrekkers might recognize the CT III route as part of the mix. I kicked in some tracks to the project as well.)
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    Here is a sample map page from the book. These routes are GPSed as tracklines. After the test ride, I have to say that this is a GPS ride. The maps are good for planning and overview, but the trackline makes the ride fast and the navigation easy.
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    By the way, many of the routes included in this product are taken from event routes that the club has developed in the past. This means that the routes are very well explored and well developed to maximize entertainment value. There are more frequent demands for technical riding skills than one might find on some other DS tracks. More about that in the report and pictures.

    2TrakR will be along to give more details about how to get the maps and tracks (downloads) for free from the GLDS website. I need to give him a couple of edits (land use changes) before he puts out the final product though.

    The web site for the Great Lakes Dual Sporters is at http://www.gldsmc.org/. (Membership is not required to be able to download the maps and tracks from the club web site. Dues are only $10 though . . . who wouldn't support an organization that puts out a product like this. . . plus members get access to an extensive collection of other archived DS routes.)

    I have been to a number of other states to enjoy dual sport riding. After testing this product, I can see Michigan as a destination for people to travel to for a very high quality and extensive dual sport experience. Take a look at the pix and the story and see for yourself.

    Many thanks to 2TrakR and the Great Lakes Dual Sporters for putting this all together and offering it to the public at no cost!!!!!!

    This report deals with the long loop we rode in the lower peninsula. If you want information about the loop in the UP, check out this report:
    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=352617
    #4
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  5. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    That's one tough way to get there... and looks like fun too :thumb
    #5
  6. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    I sometimes make these long rides solo. Makes for quick travel, but it is not nearly as much fun as it is with a group of good riders. As soon as 2TrakR assured me he would furnish a route, I contacted a couple of other riders that rode with me on CannonTrek II to see if they wanted in. Based on the 1100 mile CT II ride in the UP, I knew these guys would enjoy (and could hang in for) a similar long trip while camping off the bikes and riding in all weathers. Plus they are good riders with good attitudes - a real pleasure to share a ride with. Even without any details or route information, both of these guys immediately said they wanted in.

    Cannonshot (Bryan) DRZ-400S
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    GasMich (Greg) DRZ-400S
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    R.Markus (Mark) KTM 640
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    The DRZs fit the ride pretty well and other bikes of similar size and configuration would be a good fit. There is some tight single track as part of the route and some other terrain that is best tackled with medium sized dual sports. Bikes need to be pretty trail worthy. The 640 seemed like it might be too big of a bike for this run. Mark did some amazing stuff with it on the single track and in the sand though. I don't see this as a good ride for a KLR type bike.

    More later. Tomorrow - day 1 of 5.
    #6
  7. RockyNH

    RockyNH Older Than Dirt!

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    Having been born and raised in MI, these routes have a special interest to me though I am not experienced enough to handle (nor is my bike) what I see in these photos''... looks great though!

    I am impressed at the map book project and that they are releasing it to the public... That is one of the things I find tough out my way, finding good listings of similar routes here..

    Pat in NH
    #7
  8. dentedvw

    dentedvw Where did I put that

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    It's almost like you are trying to convince me not to move out of Michigan.
    It won't work I tell you! :evil

    Great gads man, that looks like fun, and an extremely long trip if one were to attempt it.


    And why not on a KLR type bike?
    #8
  9. 2TrakR

    2TrakR Been here awhile

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    Mostly it's due to sand. As these routes are right from our events over the last 10-15 years, we have a decent handle on what works and what doesn't work as well. We do have big bikes on our routes and routinely have bikes like the 650L with experienced riders who have an absolute blast.
    #9
  10. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    This is a map of the 1100 mile lower peninsula loop were are riding over the next five days.
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    Here is the segment we rode on day 1. It is about 275 miles. We had about 11 hours of travel - of which about 9 hrs 50 min was moving time. Even though we rode pretty aggressively, we still only managed about 28 mph moving average on this segment.
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    Greg and I were riding this segment together. We were scheduled to meet up with R.Markus at the White Cloud City Campground later that night. After breakfast, we hit the trail.
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    (Smugmug is still having problems. More later.)
    #10
  11. Gasdoctor

    Gasdoctor .......

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    NICE!! Keep it coming Bryan!!:thumb
    #11
  12. skeeter

    skeeter Captain Safety

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    I recognize the bike in these 2 pics. I can't remember ever seeing Bryans bike napping like this before. There must have been some tough areas.
    #12
  13. jzee

    jzee John Z

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    I was thinking the same thing!
    #13
  14. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    I figured you guys might be amused. :lol3
    (One tip and two tumbles on this one.)
    #14
  15. R.Markus

    R.Markus Damage Addict

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    That's better than my 85 tips and two tumbles. :lol3
    #15
  16. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Greg has a cottage at Higgins Lake so we based our trip out of there. We joined the trail nearby at this ORV trailhead.
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    Lots of trails in the area. The GPS trackline kept us on course.
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    Speaking of following tracklines. . . Greg, Maynard, and I were riding the Six Days of Michigan together a while back when they first started offering GPS tracks in addition to the roll charts. I snapped up the tracks while Greg and Maynard went with the roll charts. After seeing the ease of navigation with the tracklines, over time Greg sidled over to the GPS side, asking a few questions, etc. Now, if you give him a trackline he is on it and gone. And here he goes . . .
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    ORV trail. Lots of fun.
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    When we ride in Michigan, both Greg and I use the ORV/Snowmobile maps from VVMapping. I used to use Garmin Topo but find that the features in the VV maps make the ride much easier. First of all, ORV trails are built in as part of the map - really handy when you need to see where some single track goes as it lets you jump on and off as you please. On this trip, some of the route is on designated trails so it works well for clearly seeing the route. It also used a layer that clearly shows the demarcation between private and public land. This was useful when working go-arounds to figure out if the roads/trails were public or private (and the detail shows some pretty obscure paths). Gas stops are also on the maps. Being in the boonies this was particularly important and saved me a lot of recon time. Also, the forest roads are properly identified on this map (unlike my topo) making navigation easier. Another feature I use is that the motor vehicle use maps, for the forests that have them published, are built into the maps so I can tell if a road allows ORV use or not as I plan a ride.
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    Fun ORV trail. You can really get a nice twisty ride on these trails.
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    A lot of two-tracks on this ride. Very fun. I was amazed at how "clean" most of them were - not a lot of stuff down on the path.
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    On a snowmobile trail like this, we could make some good time.
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    It was pretty safe to ride the center of the two-tracks. No real obstacles hiding there. If you did that in northern Wisconsin, you would likely meet a big piece of granite.
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    Some lines on the map that appear to be straight sections of road, are really something more like this.
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    I might as well make this clear right now: there is a lot of sand in Michigan. It varies in depth and other characteristics, but it is there. You need to be able to ride in sand to make this trip as it turns up, sometimes unexpectedly, everywhere from time to time. Don't let that keep you away though, just get on the trail and learn to ride it. On stuff like this, I find that I have great stability and control at about 40-45 mph. On tighter stuff, doing about 25 keeps you on top. Of course, the trick is to get up to speed.
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    More two-track.
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    Tipped it the first morning on an easy log crossing. Went up on the bank, back wheel slipped down, started to tip and it was too far of a reach to touch with my foot. Oh well. Funny how sometimes the easy stuff trips us up.
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    Dim two-track.
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    When Greg takes off on that trackline, he goes like heck. If I stop to take pictures, I have to really move to stay within range. We would change the lead when one of us would miss a turn and the other would take over. Even with the GPS we missed turns. Usually it is because we were having so much fun we weren't paying attention, or it was because we were wrestling the bike in the sand and couldn't even glance at the GPS until we got to a more stable section of trail.
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    #16
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  17. GasMich

    GasMich Been here awhile Supporter

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    I was on gold medal until the last day when I dumped it in the sand while going one handed giving directions to Markus. I couldn't even hide it as I dumped it right next to him. One dump for the week, but a whole lot of oh -----'s! Not an easy ride at all for sure.
    #17
  18. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Speaking of one handed, my one handed picture taking on the fly was somewhat curtailed on this trip - too much hanging on to the bars with both hands to keep control. The sand could be tough and go on for a long way sometimes. By the end of the week, our hands and fingers were pretty stiff and sore from keeping such a tight grip on the bars for such a long time. I didn't realize how bad the hands were until I went to pick up some coins with my fingers and found it didn't work too well. I had to force my fingers closed to make a fist. I think if we had ridden this for another week my forearms would have grown to look like Popeye's. :lol3

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    #18
  19. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Hammering down the trail.
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    Really scenic riding in the forests. We also jumped a lot of deer and turkeys on the way.
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    A swing through the Lansing Motorcycle Club grounds.
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    They are about to run the Jack Pine Enduro again. Dirtbiker magazine recently named it one of the top ten off-road events in the history of the sport.
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    We rode a bit of the course.
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    Fun, twisty, banked stuff.
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    Some forest roads had washouts. Going uphill they were easily detected. Coming downhill, you sometimes got greeted by a sharp drop into an erosion ditch that could wreck you. Where it was sandy, you sometimes had to fight some angles and lines to keep on the uphill side of the trail to avoid getting pulled into one of these. Some were pretty severe.
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    Sometimes there were trees across the path that you couldn't hop.
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    When we had to go around, we always made it a point to tread lightly and not tear things up off the trail.
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    From time to time there were water holes to deal with. Most were OK, but some had some unexpected deep spots (ruts and gouges not visible under water) so we learned not to trust them. You can see some of the potential underwater hazards that could lead to a get-off by looking at some of the pictures we have of the holes when they are dry.
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    This road was firm sand, but had water running on it for a bit.
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    Some of this was fast and fun.
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    Greg.
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    One of a variety of markers in use. Michigan is very ORV friendly compared to many states.
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    Much of this route goes through working forests. The smell of fresh cut pine logs is pretty nice. Log trucks work the back trails. The nice thing about log trucks is that they leave deep ruts in the sand. The bad thing about log trucks is that they leave deep ruts in the sand.
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    #19
  20. Monty_Burns

    Monty_Burns Excellent.

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    Does that look like a blast or what! Great report, Cannon and others! :D
    #20