One of the biggest reasons I was intitially drawn to Michigan Tech was the good reputation of the trail system on campus and others in the surrounding area. They absolutely did not disappoint. I spent as much time as I could out riding, mostly after class and on the weekends. The strong local support for trails and maintenance really shows in the quality of the riding and number of users on the trails.
Michigan Tech has done a lot to improve the trails as well, including the addition of a new flow trail this summer. It's the first flow trail I've experienced, and it's a huge amount of fun. It's built so that beginning riders can ride the trail with no mandatory jumps, but there are gaps as large as 20-25 feet for the brave and experienced.
The Michigan Tech Trails as a whole are a blast. I was able to improve my riding a lot with the huge variety of trails and features. Considering the relatively small amount of land that it takes up, it is an amazing place to have a few minutes from the dorms by bike, with many levels of trails, dirt jumps, and a dual slalom course.
Collegiate mountain bike racing includes categories for cross country, short track xc, downhill, and dual slalom. I competed in a short track race, but most of the pictures I took were of the regional dual slalom competition. Dual slalom is a fun event to watch, with the excitement of jumps and berms combined with head-to-head racing. I want to compete in this next year after I have a chance to get some practice in. The course is only about 200 yards long, but packed with features.
I bought a new bike during the first week of school. It's my first 29er and the only singlespeed mountain bike I've ever owned. It turned out to be a huge amount of fun, although for racing it wasn't ideal. I rode it hard and in all kinds of trails with very few issues. Having no suspension really forces you to choose good lines on technical trails and use your body to absorb bumps.
One of the most fun cycling club events I made it to was a guided ride of the trails of the Greenland Adventure Mine, where the Miner's Revenge xc and downhill races happen every year. The trails blew my expectations out of the water with how fun, technical, and spectacular they are. The section going through an old mine shaft was cool, but the trail system as a whole is what makes it. It's one of the best riding spots I've ever been to.
I was very happy to make it up to the Copper Harbor trails on several weekends with the cycling club. After all I'd heard about them, it was amazing to actually be there and explore the place. The riding is awesome and definitely lives up to the hype. I can't wait for next season.
Overflow, the new downhill trail built this summer is insane. I hope next year I'll be closer to being able to ride all of it. The wooden gap over another trail in the above picture is beautifully constructed and terrifying. I want to do it someday but not until I feel a little bit more comfortable with the idea.
One of the most spectacular features of the Overflow trail is a rock face known as "Man Pants" shown above. It is truly intimidating in person. I would like to try it next year, but we'll see when the time comes.
Copper Harbor and all of the other trails systems in the area makes this a mountain biking heaven in the warm months. It's worth a trip for any mountain biker and I absolutely love it.
After many bittersweet goodbyes to friends and favorite places, I'm finally on my way to Michigan. My friends, Bury the Moon, wrote a great song about this moment. They probably don't appreciate me posting this old, impromptu recording but that's really too bad for them since they have yet to release a newer one.
I'm a little nervous but mostly excited to explore and meet new people. I'm sure I'll keep busy for the next few weeks.
Last week I helped out with the 27th (mostly) annual Timberhill Harriers running camp. I loved my two years as a camper and was more than happy to come back and join in on the fun. The camp started with an interesting new twist—most of the runners dropped off their bags and ran to camp via a 9 mile route through McDonald Forest. On a later long run we encountered an uncooperative skunk and a couple of elk. Unfortunately I did not bring my camera for the week.
As always, it was a great experience with a beautiful setting, good friends, games, excellent food, and—of course—lots of running. I managed to put in 60 miles in five days after a pretty lazy summer. It made me wish I was doing Cross Country this year at Michigan Tech. I tend to forget how much I love running.
The day after running camp ended, I left for Waldo Lake with my family for a short vacation. We carried all of our gear in canoes and camped around the shoreline at undeveloped sites.
It was incredibly relaxing to be away from civilization for a while. The only disruptions were the occasional distant train and jet contrails. Sometimes being out in the woods makes me wish we lived in simpler times.
The weather was spectacular and the mosquitoes fewer than feared. In addition to canoeing, we ran/hiked short section of the Shoreline Trail and crossed the headwaters of the North Fork of the Willamette River. Someday I will have to come back and run or mountain bike the spectacular 22-mile trail encircling the lake.