Weekend B&B, IRONBULL style, Berries and Biking, of course!
Most people would consider a weekend B&B trip to be lounging in PJs while sipping coffee, but our B&B is a little different. To us, B&B is for all the berries and biking we enjoy each trip to the Keweenaw Peninsula.
The last few weeks I described races from a different lens and this week I experienced this destination for the first time with children. Although I spent the better part of my four years there as a college student and we like to try to make the Keweenaw Peninsula a destination every summer, we haven’t been able to make the trip as often over the past years with having three children over the prior five summers. To pull off the feat this summer, we teamed up with another couple, trading off watching the five children we have between us, ages 1-5.
To kick off the trip, we started at a park to get the kids’ energy out. This park, Chutes and Ladders, is appropriately named after the children’s boardgame we play as a family. Although I have been there numerous times as a college student, it was my first time on the playground. The slides felt like waterslides, cruising down blindly curving and dropping. Each time I got down I said that would be my last time as I dizzily stumbled after the kids at the bottom.
After wearing everyone out, we hopped on singletrack at the Michigan Tech Trail system. Every time I head to the “Tech Trails”, I am just in awe of the trail system on campus. Most of my college years I was a couple minutes’ walk from the trails and I sure was spoiled. Although I skied on them almost every day, I only biked on them a handful of times. The trails are well built and marked, with a variety for all levels. While my husband and I biked, our children daringly took on the 10-foot-high features on the pump track – features that I often bail on.
Our feature destination was Copper Harbor, an IMBA Ride Center, just like Wausau is building up to be. Even though Copper Harbor beyond “the end of earth”, a town of just 100 people, with no cell phone service, and literally at the end of the road (US Hwy 41 ends here going another 1,990 miles to Miami, FL), the town thrives on its outdoor recreation resources, drawing in 20,000 bikers in 2015 with its 30 miles of singletrack. Copper Harbor isn’t resting on its laurels either, it plans to add another 15 miles of trails at a cost of nearly a half a million dollars.
Central Wisconsin Offroad Cycling Coalition (CWOOC) has 60 miles of maintained singletrack on six trail systems along with four winter fat tire trail systems. Wausau is ideally situated - it is at the crossroads of two major highways, the 4th most trafficked intersection is the state. This means Wausau’s potential to draw people to its trails is huge!
The trail building legend, Aaron Rodgers, with Rock Solid (not the Green Bay Packers), hasn’t just designed and built trails in Copper Harbor but other epic trails in Bentonville, AR and Duluth, MN. One of the most recent on that list: Wausau’s own Sylvan Hill downhill trail system located minutes from downtown Wausau. If you haven't checked it out yet, what are you waiting for?
Copper Harbor’s Point Trail is named for its destination – the eastern most tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula, which is breath taking (see picture above). However, even if there was no epic destination, the rest of the trail is full of awesome singletrack, utilizing natural rock features, skirting ridges with beautiful views of lakes, and oodles of berries for snacking. We had the trail to ourselves nearly the entire time. We often rode on rocks that formed a natural rock road as if we were riding the back of a dinosaur. One section is the longest boardwalk I’ve ridden on, even longer than the epic Stairway to Heaven. The first time we rode it we must have commented on this a half dozen times before finally reaching the end!
As we headed back, I was pleasantly surprised that the fun downhills were almost equally fun in the other direction – a testament of meticulous trail design. In fact, I hardly even noticed the climb, except at the very end. But that was alright since it allowed me to enjoy the views of the ridge that we were on that I hadn’t noticed on the fast ride down. In fact, this trail was probably the best designed trail I’ve ridden regarding using natural features to naturally maintain your speed on fun downhill sections not even requiring any braking.
We made a lot of stops on the way back, picking both blueberries and thimbleberries. It gave us a on-the-go, all-natural, organic pick-me-up loaded with antioxidants – it doesn’t get much better than that. I had to remember to scooch off the trail in case another rider was passing by (there weren’t) since the berries were an arm’s reach from the trail.
As I transitioned from biking to running, I put on more sunscreen and grabbed a garden cucumber for the run. I soon found running on technical singletrack while eating wasn’t the problem, it was trying to chew and swallow bites of cucumber while climbing several hundred feet of elevation – something I’d need to get used to on the 12,000 feet of elevation gain at the Marji Gesick 100 in just a couple of weeks. With every bite something went down the wrong tube.
Later that day we took the kids on an adventure foraging for thimbleberries. The kids often disappeared in the berry patches reappearing with a mouth full of red juicy berries. But the best of berry picking would be on our way out of town. There we would be able to rake 40 pounds of wild blueberries in just an hour. Now we’d be able to enjoy a little bit of this summer weekend every time we’d reach in the freezer.
Next week I’ll dive into where summer preservation all began – homemade pickles. What’s your favorite summer food that you can never seem to get enough of?