Michigan Lower Peninsula Dual Sport Safari

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Cannonshot, Sep 5, 2005.

  1. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Just finished riding 1250 miles of a dirt and gravel dual sport route in Michigan.
    Had to take a ship to get there. This is a premium ride opportunity for dual sporters in the midwest. Takes 4-7 days to complete.
    Check it out!

    I live in Wisconsin. The shortest way for me to get to this loop was to take the ferry across Lake Michigan. There are two ferries on Lake Michigan. There is a new high speed ferry that runs from Milwaukee to Muskegon at 40 mph. I took the old steam driven ferry from Manitowoc to Ludington that runs 18 mph tops.

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  2. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    The Cycle Conservation Club of Michigan does some fabulous work for motorcycle folks in Michigan. They work hard to sustain and expand a huge trail system throughout the state. www.cycleconservationclub.org

    If you are a member ($30), you can participate in a variety of events they sponsor. The first thing you get when you join is a first class map book of ORV (off road vehicle) trails in Michigan. They also sponsor the "Six Days of Michigan" which is a great trail, dual sport, and road riding event. I attended this year and previously wrote a post about it.
    www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=89851

    They also offer two excellent dual sport rides that you complete on your own. One is the Upper Peninsula Dual Sport Safari (1200 miles) and the other is the Lower Peninsula Dual Sport Safari (1200 miles). You send in $25 and the CCC sends you a CD and a passbook. The CD has routes, maps, GPS info, hospital info, lodging info and the like. The passbook is for you to take on your trip to have it stamped by businesses along the route. This is a self guided event. You can do it all at once or do it in installments over several weekends. Once you complete the route you get a commemorative T-shirt and can order a jacket - both of which proclaim your achievement.

    In July, I was able to talk a riding buddy (rokklym) into making the UP Safari with me. https://rokklym.smugmug.com/gallery/1034044/1 and www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=87081 Being that I am retired, I have more opportunities for trips like this than those that are still working. However, it sometimes means that riding buddies are scarce. I ended up doing this one alone.

    Edit: Other Michigan Rides
    Michigan Cross Country Cycle Trail
    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=138402
    CannonTrek
    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=152283

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  3. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Like I said, the route is about 1200 miles. Most of it is dirt or gravel. There is surprisingly little pavement and that is limited to what must be ridden on to connect segments or go through towns. The CCC recommends that their dual sport safaris are seven day rides. Chad and I did the UP in four days and the LP only required four days on the trail. Realistically, this is a five day ride for a group of determined riders.

    Here is the overview map. I marked the spots where I camped each night to give you an idea of my movement each day.
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  4. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    The CCC also sponsors a 700 mile dirt bike trail that crosses the state. This is intended for off road bikes used for riding single track. The Michigan Cross Country Cycle Trail (MCCCT) is another ride you can sign up for with the club.

    The route is clearly posted as it crosses the state.
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  5. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Here is some typical single track from the MCCCT. There was very little single track on this dual sport safari, but there were plenty of opportunities to jump on a single track trail if you were so inclined (and you had the required Michigan ORV sticker available from the CCC or hunting license dealers throughout the state at a cost of $16.25)
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  6. rokklym

    rokklym one man wolfpack

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    Holy crap! I didn't know you were doing this now!

    I can't wait to see the pics!
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  7. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    I hauled my bike up to the Manitowoc area in the back of my pick-up truck. I parked and off loaded the bike to take it on the ferry. Round trip fare for me and the bike was $140.

    When you first pull up to the ferry area, you are met at a check in point. There you give you name, etc, and wait while a bomb dog goes over your vehicle. They also screen you for weapons. The dog must have alerted on my bike because I got a bunch of questions about possible causes. I acknowledged it was probably from a camp fire. Funny though, on the return trip (where the bike HAD recently been around campfires) the dog didn't say anything. I was ready too. I had a story worked up about how I had just been burning up the trails in Michigan . . .:puke1

    Once you get your ticket straight, the motorcycle people have to stand by their bikes nearby. The autos are loaded by crew members. The ship is 60 feet wide so they drive cars in forward and make a u-turn at the bow and line them up facing to the rear. Large machinery and semis also ride the ferry. It was originally part of a fleet that hauled priority rail road cars across Lake Michigan to avoid congestion in Chicago.

    As I watched them load, I saw them back two semi loads of coal into the ship and dump it into a forward compartment. No diesel here. This is the only coal/steam powered passenger ship running in the US.

    This is a picture of the vehicle area. Notice that the bikes are tied down to steel grates on the outside edge of the cargo area. You are required to bring your own tie downs and load and tie down your own bike.
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  8. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    This ship is about 400 feet long, 60 feet wide, and is over 100 high.

    Despite having been a paratrooper and pilot, I am still afraid of heights. Hell, I don't even like being 6'2".:cry Anyway, when you are looking down over the rail, you are up there pretty high. Adds to the adventure I guess.

    I scuba dive on a car ferry similar to this that sank in a storm off Milwaukee many years ago. They believe that the rear gate (pictured) failed causing the ship to fill with water and go down quickly. It is now in about 117 feet of water and is still full of railroad cars. Gets you thinking about what it takes to sink a ship like this.

    It would be a great trip for a few Wisconsin riders to take the ferry over for a weekend of riding in the Manistee National Forest. Maybe I can get something like that organized next year. For this year, this is my last big ride of the season. I soon change over to hunting, fishing, and trapping.

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  9. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    I guess I should have told you that the crossing takes 4 hours. I checked on my GPS and we ran between 11 and 18 mph. Most people lounged around in the cool sunshine on the front deck. On board they have sattelite TV, a theater, a museum, playrooms, restaurant, bar, snack bar, cafeteria, and a gift shop. The trip is still about two hours too long. It was a smooth and quiet ride through.

    There are between 50 and 60 crew on this ship each sailing.

    As we approached Ludington, the Coast Guard sent a boat out to escort us into the harbor. I guess all commerical vessels get an escort now as part of homeland security.
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  10. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    I took the 1300 (CT) ferry over and got to Ludington about 1900 (ET). My plan was to ride about 50 miles that evening and get down the trail a ways and camp. I headed out as the sun was getting lower in the sky. Pretty soon it was getting pretty dark in the woods. Here is a shot of some of the route I was on before it got too dark to take pictures.

    Well, a couple of navigation errors (not using GPS yet) and I found myself on a single lane snowmobile trail (a seasonal road that is part of the route) heading through the woods in the dark. Pretty soon I run up on a huge porcupine in the middle of the trail. This truly was the biggest porcupine I had ever seen - although I am sure that there was a magnification factor of being in a strange place in the dark in a woods that seemed like it kept closing in more and more.
    Porcupines pretty much go where they want at the pace they want (for obvious reasons), so I just stood by until he got clear.
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  11. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    My first camp was in a federal campground called "Bear Track". There was one other vehicle there and they were asleep inside their trailer. I set up camp and just sat in the dark and relaxed and enjoyed a cigar. About 2300 the coyotes started up. They were howling from three different directions. Someone's dog somewhere was barking trying to elbow in to the conversation but I guess he didn't speak the same canine dialect.

    I slept on top of the picnic table. It was cool and there were no bugs. At about 0300 I instantly woke up (wide-awake) when I heard something scratching it's way up a tree within 20 feet of me. I listened for a bit and heard all kinds of crunching and jacking around on my site. I figured (hoped) it was a family of racoons. When it didn't stop, I finally sat up and said "Hey, I'm trying to sleep here!" Instantly the noise stopped for good. Previously I spent some time with a buddy backpacking 222 miles in the arctic. In our 18 day trip we had four grizzly encounters (and a black bear and cub). Since we were not on top of the food chain there, we got conditioned to sleep lightly when outdoors. I guess that is why I woke up with the scratching. Anyway, that was another trip . . . http://canoltrail.tripod.com/much.htm The reason I bring this up is that the solution to sleeping soundly is to wear headphones that you can just barely hear music through. Screens out all that other stuff. At least it works well for me.:bore
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  12. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Here is the Michigan coast line near Ludington.

    Yes, that is sand. More to come on that later. . . :D
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  13. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Since I was riding alone, I had to do a little risk management planning. This is one reason I decided to go on the Labor Day weekend. I thought there would be other ORV people out in case something happened along the trail.

    I also decided that I would take it easy and not take too many chances as I rode (but no so easy as to take away the fun).

    I really don't recommend riding this thing solo. You end up in a lot of spots where nobody is likely to go for weeks or months.

    Here is a picture of a fire department response to an ORV accident that must have been pretty serious. I saw that the Conservation Warden and Sheriff were also on the scene.

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  14. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    I finished this ride without a scratch, bruise, blister, pain, and even without a sore backside. I never dumped the bike or even tipped it over. I was pretty proud of myself considering I rode a lot of sand and some tough spots for over 1200 miles. This is not to say that I didn't have a few close calls. The trail tried to get me a few times early on, but I held on each time. It seems like it takes a half a day to get back in the groove.

    I was thinking about this. I rode hard at the Six Days in July and ended up tearing a hole in my boot and breaking a bone in my foot. This time I rode more sensibly and everything was fine. In fact, I didn't wear riding gear (armor, boots, etc) as I was trying to stick with my usual theme of staying cool, dry, and comfortable.
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  15. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    The course seemed like it was mostly two track seasonal roads. A seasonal road is usually a one lane path that gives forest access that often becomes a snowmobile trail in the winter. There was some gravel - mostly 1 1/2 lane roads - and some full size gravel roads. I can't say there was typical two track. There was a hell of a variety.
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  16. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    I can say that I was very content riding down the trail. I never had a bad day. I just cruised along and took in the scenery. Where it was difficult I rode hard and where it is easy I relaxed and cruised.

    I averaged over 300 miles a day. On some days you were slow to map progress on the overall loop because of tight trail riding. On other days you traveled more across the state. I usually started riding about 0800 and rode until close to dark. I took my time, took breaks, took pictures, etc, but generally kept moving. The miles stack up fast.

    Two hours before dark I would start looking for a campsite on the map. I just went until I ran out of time, I didn't really set goals since I planned for five riding days for this trip. I circled all of the campgrounds in my DeLorme Gazetteer so if I checked two hours out I would easily be able to locate one within reach.

    Some people ask how you can ride that bike for 12 hours or so. Heck, basically you are just sitting on your ass. I can do that easy enough. Some people I know do that for a living!:rofl
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  17. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Speaking of sitting on your ass all day, I have to put in a plug for beaded seats. They are cool, dry, and comfortable. I love mine.
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  18. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    So, I am banging down a trail through the woods, working pretty hard and having a great time. Eventually I empty out onto a gravel road. I figure it is time to relax for a bit and pull out a screw top soft drink from my vest. I unconciously open it up to get a refreshing drink and :doh I am suddenly getting sprayed with caramel colored carbonated water (at least it was sugar free). I forgot about the paint shaker treatment it had been getting.
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  19. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    At one point I had to climb a steep hill that consisted of deep sand. I went for it and found that I had to balance spinning the rear wheel between slowing down and stopping (I would be dead) or spinning it too fast and digging it in and stopping (I would be dead again). I managed to climb it out but on the way I smelled burning rubber. This was a new phenomena but I figured it made sense. About an hour later a guy at a gas station pointed out that I had a big branch stuck in my rear wheel. I wrestled the branch out and found that it was neatly routed and planed by my rear knobby. That is where the burning rubber came from on the hill. How it got in there I can't figure out. It caused me to lose a screw later on so I ended up taking the chain guard off and packing it as cargo.
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  20. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    There must have been two guys ahead of me (days perhaps?) that were also riding the LPDSS. I say this because I kept seeing their tracks in places where bikes otherwise would not have been. Plus they were missing the same turns on the route that I was and I kept seeing their turn around tracks.

    Here is one of those road sections, eventually impassible to autos, where the only traffic (until deer season I suppose) was LPDSS folks.
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