SIX DAYS OF MICHIGAN 2003: THE BAKE LOG
By Brian Baker
A 10-hour drive seemed like a long way and I guess that is the main reason it is only my son and I that are taking the journey. My riding buddies wanted me to check it out and see if it was worthy of the long trip and week vacation. I told them I would take alot of pictures and record my six day activities in a log. I have always believed in following my dreams no matter what the weather, cost, etc. Hopefully, this will rub of on my son, because I have taken many a journey that I never regretted in which my fellow buds have stayed behind only to listen to my tails after the event was over.
Here is the log, question is ” Do I share it with them or make them find out for themselves”?
My main worry was passing the 94db sound limit. As I pulled up to the inspection tent the first thing they said was “Get out the sound meter, this guy has an after market exhaust”. I had just put on an FMF quiet pipe and it was not nearly as quiet as my buddies Honda 450F. After looking up my test RPM they put some gadget against my handlebars that read the RPM?s from the motor?s vibration. After the two guys argued a bit the main guy let me through with a sound level right at 94db. Whew, hopefully I won?t get pulled over by the DNR and I pass any spot checks they have during the ride.
Next hurdle is getting my son Austin through the State mandatory safety class and by the sound meter. After 4 hours of hands on “What to do and not to do on a motorcycle” he was ready to get inspected. Although my son was bored with the class as he has been riding since age four and felt he was a veteran at age 13 I think the class is an excellent tool to get young riders started off in the right mind set. ??hey, that loud muffler ain?t so cool.
Speaking of loud exhausts, that was our next concern. The kids didn?t need to have the street legal stuff because they would be hauled out to the trailheads, but they did need to have a spark arrester and meet the 94db maximum. I bought my son an FMF quiet pipe also for his 03 YZ85. It was still fairly loud and only a tinge quieter than the stock pipe. Without a personal sound meter I figured we would just take the test and do some McGuyver stuff if it didn?t pass. I saw many people at the local ACE hardware buying pipefittings and such to get thru the test. Austin?s bike was questionable also, but we got through the test.
First off I met John from London, England. John bought a used Honda XR250 over the Internet in Cleveland. He flew over, rented a truck and headed for Michigan. John was a schoolteacher and off for the summer with many exciting trips planned besides this one. On the way to the local Post office I had to tell John to get back on the right side of the road. He had also never driven a full size truck and was having ” a jolly good time” mashing the pedal to the floor on the big Chevy V8. It was cool having John around and my son was driving me nuts mimicking his British accent. John only road the first three days and then he was off to Spain for a Hang Gliding tournament.
It rained most of the night and I was beginning to worry about the trail conditions. Everyone assured me this was a good thing as the Michigan sand soaks it up pretty quick and it should help with dust.
Got to chat with Mark Hyde and we exchanged old Blackwater 100 stories. Also met Shane Nalley and he gave me a tour of the awesome Suzuki semi, very cool.
What a way to start out a six-day ride. After the gas stop it was mostly single track so I felt pretty safe as long as the first episode didn?t do too much damage. All along the way I was asking for Keihin main jets. I found a 426F guy that had some jets. I went thru them and found a 172. Better than my 170, so I changed it and moved the needle clip down a notch.
We ran into the kids ride and I stopped to chat with Austin. He was having a blast as Mark Hyde was riding with them that day. I managed to get a 180 main from one of the KTM dad?s so I put that in at lunch. Now the temperature was in the 70?s and I could tell the bike was running rich. These new 4 stroke motors are finicky, but man to they blow away the ol? XR?s.
Tried keeping up with Ed but it wasn?t going to happen and kept telling my self to slow down as this is day one of a six day ride and I already seized my scoot, no need to add injuries to that also.
I owe wrooster big time as he is probably the reason I made it to SDM. I have wanted to go on this ride for years, but could never get anyone to make the trip with me. The article he wrote about last years trip made me decide to go with or without my buds. After looking into the event I found out about the kids ride and that made it a ‘no brainer’ about taking my little buddy. Where else can you ride 6 days straight and not worry about your kid while your out on the trail?
The trail was real sandy single track with whoops in every straight. Whoops usually don?t bother me, but these were lined with pine trees waiting to bite you if you didn?t keep it vertical. I also learned real quick that riding the edges made it a lot easier as you wouldn?t go all the way into the deep whoops. This worked great until I found out that the edges were also lined with tree stumps cut off at about six inches. After a few bucking bronco rides thru the bushes I swore to never go anywhere covered with ferns as it usually was hiding a stump. We ran one section that was fresh black dirt thru a bunch of pines. It doesn?t get any better.
Kids ride = 15 miles
Austin was riding and hanging out with Mike and Jeff?s boys. Jeff and I exchanged Black Water stories and said all the island needed to match the BlackWater 100 was a couple river crossings and the bogs.
We had a laugh when I stopped for pics and found a toad that ended up in Mike’s shirt. You never saw anyone remove their gear so quickly after being told they had a poisonous frog down their shirt. We all had a good laugh?except Mike.
Ran into John from London on the trail and he crashed and cut his shin. I think this day was a bit much for most people, but I?m glad I made it and I felt I would sleep well tonight. Hopefully tomorrow is much easier.
Kids = 50 miles
Awesome trail, best so far. To much road, but worth it. Started out the day riding with Dan, Jeff, & Mike from day 2 but at the first break I hooked up with Chris & Josh from B&B cycle in Lancaster, Pa. Chris was fun and Josh was fast as can be at age 16. The first section in Kinross was great. Rode for a bit with Mark Hyde, Jeff Fredette, Shane Nalley, and Mike & Tom Webb. Hard to keep up with that group. They disappeared once we hit the road section. Found out later they kept riding the same section as they had the inside skinny knowing it was going to be the best section of the day.
Talked to them about the next town gas stop and where the best place to eat would be. They said we just passed a great place about 2 miles back on the water near Marquette Island. Since gas/food was only 3 miles ahead we turned around to test the local fare at the marina. Food was great and so were the views, Marquette Island in the background and hot girls in the foreground. Like they say “The Ultimate Trail Ride”.
Made it back in time for a great dinner and a chat with the Suzuki guys. Tomorrow is our day off/move day and many are talking about riding. I think I will pass and give by butt a break. Thinking of finding a hotel, sneaking in and finding a comfortable seat in front of a TV in the lobby. Hmmmmm??..
DAY OFF/MOVE DAY
Austin and I made a decision to try and go to Mackinaw Island after I couldn?t find any hotels with TV & Beer. When we got to the ferry I asked a local what was really over there and did it require expelling energy.
He told us it was a bunch of shops filled with things you don?t need and horse?s poopin? in the street. And yes, you will be doing some major walking. With that said and finding out the ferry ride was $16.50 a head we decided to do something saner like parasailing. By the time boy wonder got the courage to go we found out they were booked until 5:30 pm. So we passed and went to the house of mirrors instead. Saved a bunch of money and kept the calorie burn to a minimum. Even bought the misses something for the anniversary I wasn?t going to be home for. I?m always looking for new ways to test my marriage. She?s a beauty and I love her dearly, after all she gave me the best riding partner I?ve ever had.
Kids = 54 Miles
The new campsite is awesome compared to the fairgrounds we just came from. Clean showers, swimming pond, and a river running right through camp. You can even rent a tube and they will drop you off up stream.
Plan today was to get out early as I thought it was going to be dusty and my old eyes give me fits. Ran into Mike and Glen from Jersey at the riders meeting so I decided to ride with them. They always had something funny to say or complain about at the riders meeting so I thought I would give them a whirl. I told them I wanted to stay out in the lead pack to beat the dust so I said I would meet them at the first trail head after the a section of dusty road. I was the first bike there and waited for almost 30 minutes before they showed. Said this other guys XR 650 wouldn?t start. Finally we got going and Mike was in the lead. He went straight when he should have turned (think he was gazing at the KTM girl). He went right past the big “W” (wrong way) sign and kept on motoring. I chased down Glen and told him his bud made a wrong turn and we should wait. After noticing the sweep riders taking down arrows behind us I decided to put the zoom on and meet back up with these fine Jersey riders at lunch. Rode some awesome single track with major deep whoops but was able to catch Mike & Dan from day 2 & 3. I got into a zone and really started haulin?. I figured out how to read this Michigan sand, if you see a large berm it means it will most likely mean it?s a 90% turn and you better put on the skids. I really thought I was fast when I came up behind this guy with Fredette on his shirt and was actually able to keep up. Popped my bubble when I discovered he was the sweep rider for the kids. Did manage to speak with my son and he seemed to be having the time of his life.
The Golf course Gas/Food stop was the best yet. Imagine the look we got from the local retirees as all these Moto geared dirt bikers invaded their pride and joy country club. The people were very friendly and glad to have our business. They had a buffet style lunch set up for us that was very good after about 50 miles or so of riding.
On the way back I hooked up with Jim, Ed, and John from day one. I was able to keep up with Ed a bit better as I was getting used to riding the sand and the 250F was better than his KDX in the 3rd gear stuff. I did have to stop and make some carb changes as my scoot was now running rich. Half turn on the pilot screw made all the difference in the world. Made it back in time for a dip in the pond before the rains came. It poured most of the night and I figured dust wouldn?t be a factor in the morn.
At the evening riders meeting they had a tire-changing contest and Jeff Fredette won with a time of 2 minutes 37 seconds.
Today I was signed up for my required ride with the kid?s day. If you have a son/daughter in the kids ride, you must ride one day with them. That was cool and I was actually looking forward to it.
I sure picked the right day as the nightlong rain and morning thunder storms had even the adult ride delayed until 10am. At 10am they had all he parents vote on whether to go out or not. I spoke to my son before the meeting to find out what he wanted to do. He told me “We came here to ride” and that was all I needed to hear. I voted yes as most parents did. After about an hour on the trail the sun came out and all was cool. The heavy rains made great traction in the sand and some water was standing in the whoops. If this had been Ohio clay it would have been ugly. Many people made the wrong move and didn?t ride that day.
We made it to the lunch break and we all ate sandwiches and juice after role call was taken. Two bikes were loaded on the massive trailer being pulled by the CCC Kids bus. Another unfortunate young pilot had his throttle stick just after lunch so his fun was also shortened by a ride back on the bus.
After lunch Lou sent me out to scout the trail and mainly look for a short cut road as we were running behind schedule due to morning storms. The main concern was to get the kids back in time for dinner. About a mile after I left the bus I saw some long skinny black thing cross my path that looked like an anorexic cat. I stopped to take a better look and I saw a brown mink hanging on the side of a tree about 10 yards away. I went for the camera, but she wasn?t in the mood. I was the first tracks on the trail after the hard all night rain. After remembering I?m in no hurry and the sooner I get there the longer I will wait, I slowed down to a snails pace and took in the beauty of the deep Michigan wilderness.
Today we were riding Tomahawk loop “C?. The best day so far. Not only was the trail awesome, but also I had the best riding partners anyone could ask for. I rode with 60 yr old Rich from Jersey. Rich rides approx, 30 enduros a year and is good friends with people like the Lafferty family and Roger DeCoster. My other partner was by far the best I had all week, my 13 yr old son, #29 Austin Baker. I looked at the trail map the night before and noticed we would only be riding about 2 miles of dirt road to get to the trail and no gas stops would be needed. I pulled Austin from the kids ride and told him he was going with the guys.
I think he impressed a lot of riders with his speed and smooth style as I let him set the pace and we passed many. Rich said he was faster than the Lafferty boys when he used to chase them at that age. Who knows, maybe I need to go see a KTM rep?..
#29 did manage to tag two trees so I started leading to slow the pace a bit. All I needed was to make a trip to the hospital on the last day of the ride. At the end of the trail it was 4th gear whoops with huge berms in the corners, All we needed was some jumps and it would have been just like the MX tracks I used to ride in Fla.