We warned Lori Hauswirth that I couldn’t handle a technical Trail, so she decided to do a short, simple loop to introduce me to the NTN Noquemanon Trail network, Marquette’s extensive mountain bike Trail network. She is the executive director of this route network that surrounds the city and offers more than 50 miles of singletrack, with the goal of building 100 miles by 2020.
We started from the hiking trail of the Tourist Park 550. It wasn’t long before I was above my head. The path narrowed quickly and fell along the shore. The rocks and roots made me wish I was on a bike with full suspension because they almost threw me off the bike seat.
My first accident occurred when my front tire came to a halt after hitting a large rock. The next fall came when I didn’t have enough speed and my rear tire was stuck between a root and a rock. He was the only one who scared me. Fortunately, I did not let go of the handlebars when I fell off my bike. That was a very good thing, because my feet were out of the way and landed on the steep slope to the water. The bike was enough of an anchor point to prevent me from sliding down and into the water.
After this spill, I decided that I would not be able to take my usual photos while driving. Before this round, I had developed a System to keep the point-and-shoot camera attached to my wrist and turn it into my Hand to get really good action plans. He did not go to work today. I needed both hands on the handlebars and tried to keep control. The camera would stay in my pocket until I am safe and usually out of the bike at a full stop.
It may have put me on the easy path, but it was difficult for a flatlander like me! Although I could follow her on some climbs, I knew when it was time to throw in the towel and push the bike on the way.
It wasn’t very far in the ride before I realized that I would use the smallest front chain ring for the Rest of the ride. Even with this “granny gear” I had to climb some of the steepest slopes.
The path led through many beautiful places, but I did not have much time to enjoy it. Kick as fast as I could climb, and hold with both hands on the way down. As I walked through narrow openings between the trees, my trekking Bars had only thumbs to resell. The false rearview mirror took several direct shots. It must be the reason why you never see serious mountain bikers with mirrors mounted on their bikes!
Lori stopped under a concrete bridge and signaled a very large wooden pipe he was carrying. It was built a long time ago to support mining, and there is still water flowing through it. I could see small streams of water emerging from many holes the size of a nail.
As we walked through the relay opening, she said that in winter time Trailmakers need to cut chainsaws to cut an opening so the bikes can get through. Which tells me that driving with big tires in the snow here is a serious matter.
When we arrived at the dam and waterfalls, we stopped to take more photos and breathe again.
Right after the falls, the trail made a 90-degree curve at the end of a large felled tree. It went on through a few centimetres of water and uphill again. When I reached the top, my heart was beating and I was almost breathless, I stopped. Lori said, ” Don’t worry, everything is downhill from here.”
Oops, I forgot about it. After a look, I jumped off my bike and started pushing. There is no reason for me to try it too! During most of my cycling years, I always told my colleagues, “I’ve never hit a hill or a mountain, I couldn’t push my bike.” Today I almost had to eat my words. It may have been just a” hill”, but it was the steepest I’ve ever pushed on my bike.
Thank God Lori had chosen today’s Route to end on a long descent. I could breathe again and had a huge smile when I returned to the starting point.
After the ride, Sandy and I stopped at the Lakeshore Bike because I had ripped my second leather strap from my bike cages during the ride. The young man at the counter was fascinated by my request. Matt, the owner, knew exactly what I was looking for. “They’re coming in nylon now,” he said.
After talking about bicycles in the good old days, he beckoned us to follow him at the other end of the shop. Along the rafters were a number of vintage Bikes, of which he had spent countless hours restoring, a Schwinn Paramount from the 1970s.
Thanks to Lori for guiding me safely through the most difficult mountain bike tour I’ve ever done. It was fun, and I wish I could stay and spend more time following in the footsteps of Marquette. Give me a little more time and a fully hanging mountain bike, and I will fall in love with these trails.