Sunday, March 27, 2016

Ride at Dawn

Bay County Railtrail, Hampton Twp, MI

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail - A Rail Trail in Progress

Bay County to Saginaw County Connection

Bridge over a Saginaw River tributary near Stony Island.

The Bay County to Saginaw County Connection, part of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail, starts from Bay City's west side along the Saginaw River toward Zilwaukee, or Saginaw County. The trail begins as an overgrown two track path instead of the expected abandoned railroad bed with an occasional railroad tie poking up through the dirt. Bushwhacking through the thick weeds, branches and mosquitos finally takes you to a river crossing over a refurbished trestle. After the trestle, the trail continues over freshly laid gravel and on to a second river crossing near Stony Island where the historic Skull Island Massacre took place just to the north.

The beginning. A rail trail?

The connection transforms through various stages.

Or a path?

Two track. And plenty of Stealth Camping opportunities...

Freshly laid and rolled stone. Progress.

Turns back to two track.

Wildlife abounds.

Approximately halfway through the connection the trail peters out. From here the trail is incomplete and I followed the alternate route - if the proposed rail trail along the river is not secured. Hopefully the alternate route won't be used since it is simply a utility road through a wildlife refuge. While riding on this straight two track I came upon two hunters who were sighting in a rifle along the path and I feared getting a stray bullet in the head...

Alternate route through Crow Island State Game Area.

The alternate route isn't very scenic - hopefully the connection will follow the rail line along the river. 

The connection ends near the Zilwaukee Bridge seen in the far distance.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

More Bike lane issues

Two days ago, December 9th, I received confirmation from The City of Bay City that they completed my request to clean the bike lanes which I submitted on, wait for it... November 13th.

So yesterday I decided to check up on this progress, since I use the bike lane four or five times a week, and saw what is seen in the top photo.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Bike Lane Issues

The Saginaw River separates my hometown of Bay City, Michigan and four draw bridges allow access to the east and west banks of that river. Problem is, only one of those bridges, Liberty Bridge, has a bike lane and the city has a very low priority of keeping those two lanes clear from snow, broken glass and all other sort of debris, despite the growing number of year-round cyclists.

Although the city has a webpage to report such issues within the community, it took exactly one week and three separate requests before the city responded to clean the bike lanes.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Overnight Bikepacking to Big Mud Lake

"Pics or it didn't happen" is a popular catchphrase these days. Well, that may or may not be the case, simply because I didn't make any new images after shooting much of the same route two years earlier.

Leaving U.S. Bicycle Route 20 (USBR 20) northward, I traveled about five miles over gravel roads to the Mud Lake rustic campground as a destination for an overnight bikepacking trip

Located on the wooded shore of Big Mud Lake in Clare County, the campground overlooks the 230 acre lake featuring eight camping sites, potable water from a hand-pumped well, vault toilets, and fire rings.

With roughly equal hours of day and night this time of the year, I forgot to plan on coping with a solid 12 hours of looong tent time. Don't get me wrong, I was plenty tired after carrying all of my gear 75-miles from home, but I wasn't 12 hours of sleeping tired if you get my drift. After arriving all I wanted to do was to hop off the saddle, eat and drink something, and walk around a bit to try and soothe the monkey butt before setting up camp.

Looking back, Mud Lake isn't a "destination" for a solo bikepacker in my opinion.  If I'd brought along some fishing gear I'd definitely try my luck for the bass, bluegill, crappie or northern pike. A boat would be a nice thing to have here. For other recreation there is the Green Pine Lake Pathway to consider, but after seven hours in the saddle, a nine-mile hike to Pike Lake probably ain't gonna happen. For these reasons I found little to do.

For a cyclist traveling USBR 20 from A to B, I think a better option may be to find a spot alongside the route and "wild camp." My visit took place after the summer's school vacation ended and before the deer hunting season began and I had the entire place to myself, so I can't comment on the campground's atmosphere during peak times. The water well is definitely a plus for the campground since the nearby towns are small and water and food not always available.

Highlights of the trip include near peak fall foliage, plentiful wildlife including deer, turkey, and howling coyotes at night. After straying from USBR 20 west of Clare (that's code for making a wrong turn after attempting a shortcut) I rode past a family of Amish girls playing a game of baseball in their front yard with a tennis racket instead of a bat while their parents watched from chairs behind "home plate" - it was a Sunday after all, so no work was to be done.