Saturday, December 22, 2012

Yankee Springs

Back in 1996, I rode singletrack for the first time, barring times I rode my bicycle off-road as a child. It was this ride at Yankee Springs Rec Area where the cycling bug truly bit me. I utterly sucked, weighing well north of 200 pounds back then and having the cardio capacity of somebody that smoked for 80 years.  I actually did smoke cigarettes when I was a redneck punk.

It's always special when I have a chance to come back to Yankee Springs. The character of the trail hasn't changed at all in the last 16 years. It has evolved some, a little longer today, and some of the less sustainable parts have been re-routed. It was designed for mountain biking in the 90's and still serves the MTB community well for recreational riding and racing.

Most areas in southwest Michigan have no snow. Random bits have a trace to 2". There was just a tad of snow in the Yankee Springs area, but zero on the trail tread. The area is very sandy, and with no frost in the ground, the trail was in mint conditions despite the massive storm that just went through the Midwest. There were only a few nuisance blow-downs along the 13+ mile loop.

No studs or fat bike needed

To make the drive worth-while, I planned to do two laps. I went pretty easy the first lap, my legs reeling a bit from running the last two days in a row and running three of the last five days, a 200% increase from recent weeks. I did hit the second lap a little harder, not stopping to take photos. It's going to be a while before I can cross country ski, so I figured I might as well punch a few of the climbs a bit.

There are several sections of the trail that ride just like Tody's Tour or Tap and Die at the Northeast Kingdom trails. Buff, fast and fun.

Just like NEK...

I hope to hit two or three new trail systems while here. Just like in Kansas City and in the northeast, the Michigan mountain biking community is gaining trust with land managers to develop new trail systems. This seems to be a national trend. It is a good time to be a mountain biker.

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