First Harbor Ride... ever!

Adam and two of his good buddies had their hearts set on riding Copper Harbor mountain bike trails today, and I decided to tag along. It was my first ride up in the Harbor, and all the stories and legends I’ve heard over the years about riding there were put to the test. I've been told its not a place for those who aren't comfortable with steep decents, big rocks, loose rocks, shale rocks, bridges, cliffs, bridges-on-the-sides-of-cliffs, narrow trees, and so on. In other words, the rocky, undulating trails are not necessarily the place for a beginner mountain biker. But I have been riding my steel hard-tail (Jamis Dragon Comp) for over a year now. I decided it was time…

Did I mention it's not the place for a hard-tail?

Anyway, the commute to the Harbor from Houghton typically takes 45minutes, but we stopped in Calumet for some energy drinks along the way. I went with the tried-and-true Red Bull Cola. Once we arrived in Copper Harbor, we pursued the long, steep road climb up Brockway Mountain to venture down one of the newest trails- the Brockway Mountain Trail. Once we hike-a-biked to the actual trail from the road, I was surprised that I was able to maintain speed around the undulations and switchbacks. The trails were beautifully laid out and mostly dry. Eventually, the network of trails began- some were smooth and fast, others make me wish I had a full suspension. It was a lot of work but a lot of excitement. I’m not sure I had a favorite, but the trail Stairway to Heaven was beautiful (although I’m a little less than good about riding bridges on the sides of cliffs) and the west side of Garden Brook offered some fast terrain for a hard-tail ride. I was jostled, bounced around, and tired by the time we returned to the truck. My hands were numb from the vibrations. My legs were tapped from the climbing. And my psychological well-being was over the point of stressing out about running into a tree or falling down a ravine. So I shuttled the more experienced gentlemen on two runs to the top of the mountain (via Keweenaw Mountain Lodge). To think: Some people ride these trails with single-speeds or fully rigids. Yikes.

But then, my legs were feeling pretty good all of a sudden after the last shuttle, and I decided to follow through with a brick.

I threw on my Adrenaline 8s and some new running clothes from Brooks Running Company (the Equilibrium tank and long-sleeve and the team boy shorts) and headed out for a trail run around Lake Fanny Hooe. It felt good to be on my feet, and the clothes were so comfortable. Although I typically don’t like too short of bottoms because of chafing, the boy shorts were fitted really well and felt refreshing. I will definitely be using them for trail racing and half marathons this summer. The Equilibrium tank was a little sweaty from the riding, and I thought it would give me a chill as I was running at a slower clip, but it was surprisingly well-wicking. My heart rate monitor fit well under the built-in bra for the entire ride/run combo (over 4 hours total) and I didn’t have any chafing or uncomfortable spots. The small may have been a little snug around the built-in bra band, but it wasn’t too bad (especially during the ride). I’m actually becoming less of a fan of built-in bra tops, only because I feel constricted- but I was surprised that this top had a higher neck and didn’t make me feel suffocated! I think it will be great for road-riding and triathlons, because it is not baggy around the neck and will keep my aerodynamics in check.

And what about the Equilibrium long sleeve? SO nice. It was beautifully cut, fitting me snugly where it should, and long. The seams were not noticeable at all, and the fabric was smooth, wicking, and super-lightweight. It felt as though I wasn’t wearing a long sleeve, but it still cut the breeze from off the lake. When I got into the shade, it kept me at a comfortable temp, and in the sun I really felt like I wasn’t even wearing a shirt at all. I’ve always been a fan of Brooks shorts (I have exclusively raced in a pair for all three of my marathons thus far), but the shirt was hands-down the nicest long-sleeve running shirt I’ve ever owned. Two thumbs up!

So, my first ride in the Harbor was a good one, and I'll definitely be heading back again soon. The intimidation factor of riding the trails is over, but I think I'll stay away from Paul's Plunge... at least for the time being :)

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