NCT: TC to Petoskey

“Why a fatbike?” they ask.

That’s why.

Starvation Lake

Two weeks ago I rode this route southbound. This time headed north, I hit the trails that I missed then, and linked up some additional dirt roads.

The kit L to R: snacks (granola, nutterbutters, dry-roasted peanuts), a 15-liter pack, power brick, Gorillapod, Asstroglide, bluetooth headphones, phone loaded with Gravity’s Rainbow and Spotify, alarm clock set to 4:20, Revolt headlamp, Crank Bros m19 tool, tire lever spoon, medkit, clothes (gloves, Craft windbreaker, OR Voodoo pants, poly LS, Pearl windvest, leg warmers, armwarmers, Thermarest Neotherm full length, brain bucket, reflective vest, Patagonads puffy, Miguel’s Pizza tank top, booty shorts, non-slip waitress shoes. (No sleeping bag because the low was 60, and I ditched the pack by tying my clothing stuff sack along the toptube with a 27.5 tube).

I also took the Grand Traverse Bay shoreline from Petoskey to Wequetonsing, which proved to be the most fun riding of the trip (video above). Between rocks, sand and hub-deep water, I channeled my inner Curiak and really gave Ophelia a chance to flex her fat.

Are those siped knobs on your tires or are you just happy to see me?

Day One started at noon from my house in Traverse City. Three miles of pavement led to the Vasa Pathway doubletrack, which eventually turned into alternating sandy dirt road and singletrack (Iceman Cometh course). Thirty miles later, in Kow-kaska (home of the Blazers, tee hee) I snagged some calories for the road.

The locals were amused by the sight of me sitting in the dirt outside an Arby’s an eating a pizza. I ate two slices and brought the rest for dinner and breakfast.

From there, I turned on some Mendelssohn and floated through some dreamy single track.

The trail riding in Northern Michigan has proved to be fairly homogenous so far and maddeningly flat (1000 vert in fifty miles), but still fun regardless.

After Starvation Lake, I hit up a local bar for the obligatory sending fuel (PBR). I walked in expecting to get vibed by the locals, but they were quite tolerant. In the biggest non sequitur of the month, the background music of this redneck bar in the middle of Bumfugg, MI included Souljah Boy.

Yoooooo, crank that Souljah Boy.

I grabbed a PBR for the road and spun some more single track as the sun set. Unfortunately, the can fell out when I went over the handlebars. NB for bottlecage usage: metal on metal, plastic on plastic.

This Milwaukee classic became trail magic for someone. My beer booty count is now back to even after losing this one — I found an unopened Coors Light at the bottom of a river on the Black Canyon Trail in Arizona last year.

I heartily approve.

Wild and domestic life was abundant: plenty of dawgz, three porcupines, wild turkeys, deer, a couple snakes and some funky cattle who will most certainly be reincarnated as gotez.


Just call me Steven Wilson

At 23:30, I finally hit Pinney Bridge State Park and slept on top of a picnic table. It was a bit chilly for not having a sleeping bag (same as two weeks ago, go figure).

The next morning I got up at 04:30, ate my last slice of pizza, and launched into some formidable hikeabike. The trail was more rooted than a comp-sic major’s phone.

After a while, just as I was starting to lag from calorie deficit, I ran across some trail magic — road apples (not from horses).

Away with ye, medical professional!

Eventually I hit pavement and rode to Boyne Falls, where I stopped at McZargalds and pounded an obscene breakfast (four McGriddles, hash browns, Vernor’s and coffee). Then I caught the bike path to Petoskey and slogged through a heavy thunderstorm while listening to Megadeth. I was starting to get cold, so I fortified my innards with the nectar of the immortals.

Half a pint down in five mellow miles of beach cruising.

At this point, I happened to notice a staircase leading down to the rocky beach. I took it, intending just to grab a few photos, but then ended up riding the entire shoreline from Petoskey to Wequetonsing. It was classic fatbiking. The holiday crowds were out in force, so I made several stops to explain fatbiking, bikepacking and to take shots of Fireball with deserving individuals.

At last, I hit the family cottage in Weque and jumped in the lake to celebrate. 62 miles yesterday, 75 today. Then the eating began in earnest. As of right now, I’m at 8500 calories and 2.5 gallons of liquid for the day.

It’s nice leaving tracks wider than your shoe.

The next morning, I spun forty-five miles on pavement and lakeshore to Mackinaw City. With her tires at max PSI, Ophelia floats.

In town I had a top-notch cheeseburger and waffle fries. I got a double order of bacon ala carte for the frambag and busted down the NCT back towards Petoskey.

At the risk of uttering blasphemy, I will venture that these are the best w-fries I’ve ever had.

Somewhere I took a wrong turn and ended up doing a few extra miles of dirt and gravel to Cheboygan. It was a serendipitous mistake, however, because I got to see …

Somewhere along the way to Indian River I rode across a fifty foot bridge. After checking the water level below, I jumped off three times. My camera died midvideo.

The way back was mostly cruiser crushed limestone. I found a novel invention:

In Alanson, I stopped at the Cross in the Woods shrine and spent some time meditating on the redemptive suffering of Christ, which is the only thing I’ve found that makes sense of the existence of pain in a world full of strife. I also threw down the gauntlet and told God that if he wanted to make me a pastor by age forty as per the original plan, he’d have to seriously get his divine shit together and help me reach metanoia or stasis.

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