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Singletrack BC: our Mid-Michigan style

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  • Singletrack BC: our Mid-Michigan style

    Thanks for this Forum! [I posted this already in the "rugged touring" thread but several replies suggested I should repost here, so I am. --JP)

    Here's my huge intro to our mid-Michigan scene: We do the "rugged touring" but with fewer linked turns. Let's see if you think it can fit in here...

    We're mostly skiing singletrack. Skiing what we ride in the summer. Our method is: fast, light, far.

    We're into the Epic side, but even short is great when you're on singletrack. It's about ski-handling for us. But mostly in terms of kick'n'glide. The new midlength skis in 55mm widths plus the lighter NNN-BC boots are AMAZING for how well they kick'n'glide AND ALSO turn in technical terrain. We can link fairly well with them but even more so we can line the twisty singletrack descents. Our outings range from 10-40 miles and they aim for the hilliest, most challenging terrain in our region (including all of Michigan).

    We are also considering the overnight angle (no proven solution there yet for us).

    We have about 30 of us who are into this style locally here. I'm sure there are many others elsewhere. The "real" nordic skiers seem uninterested and are apparently addicted to their grooming. Yet with the shaky winters their options can suddenly become limited, especially for the weekend racing they're into. Their races are frequently cancelling in recent years. But we Singletrack Skiers can always find some fairly nearby part of the state that DOES have nicely shaded trail. And our scene has zero overhead. We drive over then ski all day, for free.

    We have about 50 miles of singletrack right in our county. And zero grooming. So all our local skiing is "backcountry trail" skiing. The grooming is more of an upnorth thing. So the downstate grooming addicts don't ski locally much, and they drive a lot. (There are basically 2 downstate groomed places.) Recent seasons have been light on snow. Even so I get out about 50 times locally and could care less about grooming.

    As for skis... Rossi EVOs are big with us. And Fischer Spyders. I still love a nice waxable Fischer Touring BC full length ski. I can handle them and they perform TWICE as good as the midlengths except when the ups'n'downs get on the tighter side. I like regular NNN just fine -- very light and good control. But the Rossi BC X5 is a popular NNN-BC boot: light yet even better control.

    PART TWO... We also are bigtime into our secret powder stashes. Then we like to bring out the Karhu Guides (and such) and beefy plastic boots and tele-bindings. After a 12" dump (huge for us!) we'll call in sick and "earn turns" all morning in a 10-acre shady bowl, following the sun-shadow and enjoying a perfect uptrack. Each run is 12" over from the previous one. All snow used. "Mind your margins." The key to joy in this regard is the AUTUMN FOREST PREP. We find our pitches then clear away dead brush. OK, we sometimes remove sapling and whippers. If someone didn't know what they were looking for, they wouldn't notice these prime ski slopes we create. Oooh, we have some good terrain. All top secret. When we're skiing if we see other people on nearby trails we'll put a tree between us and them and gradually scootch our way around the tree as they pass. And we try to keep the signs of skiing a bit removed from view of any regular trail. ...It's a great fun scene.

    PART THREE: "Backcountry" magazine has never seen fit to reply to our letters or respond to our requests that they start covering (or giving respect to) the hardwoods, non-mountainous, wonderful BC ski scenes such as the Midwest offers and so many other places. Mountains are such a small part of the snow world. But, who knows, maybe they do cover it from time to time.

    I'm hoping, and have fingers crossed, that our Singletrack BC style can find a home or be included here. If this isn't a good place and you know of another, please share. Thanks.

  • #2
    Thanks Jeff....sounds like fun. Keep it coming!
    Yay!...(Drool)


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    • #3
      PS: Now that I did the repost, here are a few additions... A couple folks already asked to see pics. I dunno the best way to do that, but I've posted a few articles at my own blog about our Epic Singletrack BC Days. Here's a link to one report with funsy pics: http://outyourbackdoor.com/article.php?id=1876

      PPS: We're trying to grow our Singletrack scene. Unlike a fresh powder stash in personally groomed hardwoods, a trail can handle a LOT of fun-hounds. No secrecy needed. So far we've only been able to attract mtbikers! Ain't that funny? It almost seems like it's an education/PR challenge. The public just can't PICTURE it. Singletrack skiing is free and easy and expresses the coolest ski handling fun. Sure, it takes skills but so does skateboarding and thousands do that. And why we can't get NORDIC skiers to join us is just bonkers. They're so addicted to grooming that it hurts. What about no overhead, free, sustainable skiing? Why be addicted to the groomer? Lastly, people don't appreciate the greatness of today's light touring gear. A midlength ski and NNN-BC rig give great kick'n'glide AND great control. Light'n'cheap'n'durable. C'mon! Yet "nordic" skiers consider touring skis to not be "serious." ...If it doesn't take an hour of fluoro-waxing and base-grinding it's not a real ski to them. Actually, we've been calling it "Backcountry." Maybe "Singletrack" would be catchier. Our goal is to get people to see there's a huge world of skiing BEYOND the grooming! Indeed, none of our local trails are groomed. But Nordies shun 'em anyway coz they might scratch their pricey fragile little twig skis... And they say such trails aren't good for TRAINING. ...Ugh! What about partying? Where did the fun go? (XC needs some help...)

      PPPS: Any breakthru ideas for overnighting while also going fast and far? I figure there might be a groovy innovation there that I'm missing. ...Can a sled be used for singletrack? Or would it inevitably tip over, slide sideways downhill off the trail, whack into trees around corners, etc.

      PPPPS: Check out this superfun "Striding Doublepole" technique not taught in any book or class. We love it for our Singletrack action. Regular doublepoling only works on fast groomed trails and not with a pack. SDP works everywhere! I know that many folks have done it, maybe accidentally, since it's so natural, but I'm PROMOTING it, and want to make sure it's ADDED TO THE CANON. Everyone should be taught it! Why, I might name it after me, after all. Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPC8HJJjH6g
      Last edited by JeffOYB; 5 December 2013, 01:47 PM.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by JeffOYB View Post
        ... A couple folks already asked to see pics. I dunno the best way to do that...
        See the Sticky at the top of this sub-forum (Backside Bar & Grill) on posting photos. If you have 'em on your computer somewhere, it's pretty easy to upload and display here and frankly, we'd all prefer not to have to navigate somewhere else unless it is absolutely necessary (YouTube etc.).

        BTW - one of the scariest backcountry tours I ever took was in the woods of Michigan following a rolling singletrack at night W/O a headlamp. Silly, crazy, stupid stuff, but fun!

        ain't no turn like tele!

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        • #5
          Yeah this is my favorite stuff! I spent countless days in the Escanaba State Forest on Fischer Boundless skis with 3pins and leathers grabbing 10 turn runs. Just had an interview in TC... cross your fingers for me.

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          • #6
            Sounds like fun to me!

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            • #7
              Thanks, for posting Jeff. I was born and raised in the hardwood forests of the Great Lakes and your photos and videos bring back good memories. I would really like to see some photos or videos of mid winter skiing on the single track you describe.

              CH good luck with your interview I know you have always wanted to return to that area. I like it here but if you sent me a spring or fall pic of those forests it would hit me straight in the heart.

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              • #8
                Yeah, CH, good luck on the job interview! You're in Parker, CO if I remember correctly?
                Yay!...(Drool)


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                • #9
                  Parker for the last 6.5 years now.

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                  • #10
                    Sounds like fun to me. I think most of our local singletrack trails are a bit steep for this, but you have inspired me to try it out. Will report back after the weekend.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by James View Post
                      Thanks, for posting Jeff. I was born and raised in the hardwood forests of the Great Lakes and your photos and videos bring back good memories. I would really like to see some photos or videos of mid winter skiing on the single track you describe.

                      CH good luck with your interview I know you have always wanted to return to that area. I like it here but if you sent me a spring or fall pic of those forests it would hit me straight in the heart.
                      James, everything you say in this post exactly applies to me as well. I grew up in the country in those Great Lakes forests and spent lots of time roaming around in them in all seasons, sometimes on skis. Our relatively mild winters here in the southern half of the PNW make me miss those real winters of N. Illinois and S. Wisconsin of long ago.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Hindfoot View Post
                        N. Illinois and S. Wisconsin of long ago.
                        I am from Lake Forrest and spent a lot of time in N. Illinois and Wisconsin and some time in Minnesota and Michigan.

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                        • #13
                          I grew up in the countryside outside of the town of Barrington. We used to go up to Wilmot, WI all the time to ride the rope tows and ski down the hill at the ski area. 200, maybe 300 vertical feet, as I remember. Now they have a bunch of chair lifts! When I went off to Colorado for school, I was in ski heaven, and took full advantage. Lift ticket at A-Basin was $3.50 then.
                          Last edited by Hindfoot; 6 December 2013, 02:46 PM.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Hindfoot View Post
                            I grew up in the countryside outside of the town of Barrington. We used to go up to Wilmot, WI all the time to ride the rope tows and ski down the hill at the ski area. 200, maybe 300 vertical feet, as I remember. Now they have a bunch of chair lifts! When I went off to Colorado for school, I was in ski heaven, and took full advantage. Lift ticket at A-Basin was $3.50 then.
                            Damn you're old. That is all.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by James View Post
                              CH good luck with your interview I know you have always wanted to return to that area. I like it here but if you sent me a spring or fall pic of those forests it would hit me straight in the heart.
                              Like this?


                              March 2012 at the In-Laws'


                              Just down the shore


                              But then there's this (Marquette winter '06):


                              while cold and ostensibly miserable, winter is also amazing and the Great Lakes have it like any other place.

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