Monday, October 06, 2014

Summer Flashback Part Two: The Upper Peninsula

It was heard that people from Michigan travelled over 10 hours in state to get to the Upper Peninsula's northern most upward pointed thumb.  Makes 30 hours from Arizona not seem so bad, especially considering two rides in Colorado for training.  All race associated events will be mentioned only in text for lack of photographic evidence.  No one is sure this really happened.  The Single Speed race was laced with shenanigans from the start.  As expected really.  However those not expecting this behavior were the citizens of Copper Harbor.  The town is nearly all summer resort at this point and has no police, so when an officer in a ride reminiscent of Starsky & Hutch era enforcement showed up the people of the town were uneasy.  He did little to curb the drunken behavior and prolific lawn wrestling; he just walked around and made his presence.

The race brought out the costumes and flair associated with such a gathering, from both racers and spectators alike.  I had never formally raced a single speed race before, and couldn't imagine too well before hand how a pack of riders presumably with similar speed capabilities would pan out.  A long road separated the group and I found myself amidst the group I would be riding with.  This spot on Lake Superior is surprisingly rich in topography and the trails feature numerous wooden planks and intermixed rock gardens.  The riding was way better than expected.  We got to a downhill section known as Downtown and to my dismay I was forced to a stop aboard a wooden plank structure with no room to pass.  This is completely unacceptable.  When the dirt resumed I found myself more off the trail than on passing people in the foliage as it brushed by.  People walking, braking, and doing anything but handling their bike.  It was as thought the competition had flashed back to the '80s and were taking the Tom Ritchey approach to down hilling.  At one point near the bottom people were actually marching in a line like ants with their bikes on their shoulders.....DOWN A HILL!!  I looked to the right down a steeper line that cleared through what I would consider a moderate move and never thought twice.  Nine ants squashed....until the work of climbing the next hill is to be done.  Apart from a mostly fun course, some bacon and whiskey as per tradition, there's really not much else to say about the race.  My Flagstaff contingent shared sentiments about the Downtown section.  We all made the line to the right and were proud to be goats.  Most notably Judy who surely gave plenty of dudes a bad day and encouraged at least one teenage heartthrob from an on-looker.  Moustache Rides...others walk. Judy takes third on the ladies podium.  Second place was a dude!  Shame on all you who think of yourselves as mountain bikers and walked a downhill in Michigan.

We had really come to the race for the in hosting rights, and were looking forward to the late day competition.  The afternoon brought a water race beer chug relay with a shootout....well until the canadians complained that they don't have guns and the coloradans were too lousy of a shot to warrant another round of BB gun range.  We goats faced off against North Carolina and defeated them easily...we do pride ourselves in the chug.  And onto the second round.  That night showed us an event unbeknownst to anyone in the audience save for Mr. Reno himself, bringer of the train tramp game of Bucket Wrestling.  Opponents faced off hands and knees locked sitting on adjacent buckets.  As I understood the first to lose seat on the bucket loses the match.  Maybe it was the first to the ground, but we'll never know.  A series of no shows set us in good position for winning.  Much chaos ensued.  Commotion.  People feeling left out.  Missouri even had two teams.  We defeated one of them and found ourselves in the final against a very drunken Wisconsin.  Well it turns out that goats are not the best of bucket wrestlers in the end, but the Shindaggers do put on a hell of a show, enough to draw out three Starsky & Hutch police cars.  

Turns out that the after party the following day was the real reason for coming to Michigan.  Great times with friends from a time past.  Bike rides.  Porch Sitting. Bike rides to lakes.  Bike rides on trails; real fun trails.  Porch Sitting.  Sponsorship Beers.  Fly Swatting.  Shootouts.  Bike rides to badminton and berries.  Swimming.  The weekend spent in Copper Harbor, Michigan can best be summed up with the pictures below.  All told, our host EP put on a hell of an event, but trumped himself with the afterparty.  Thanks Eric and Alicia!

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