Every fall, we trek up to the Straits of Mackinac to little-known Bois Blanc Island (Boblo in local parlance). We go there ostensibly to close up our family's tiny lake cabin for the winter, but really, to pack in some late season fun. This year, the fun came in a fat, double package.Now, I'm not much of an off-road biker. When I was considerably younger, Chris and I did some off road trips out west, and in the UP, but while I did pretty well on the climbs, I wimped out on the descents, and the more daring sections of rutted and rocky single track. So it was not without some trepidation that I mounted the Surly Necromancer as we set off on our Boblo adventure.
To be fair, Boblo is relatively flat, but the gradual, rolling ridges that one must climb to access the island's interior are littered with boulders, gravel, sand, slippery leaves, and transsected by projecting roots and fallen logs. So although the topography is not necessarily very chalenging, portions of the trerrain are quite technical.
The first pleasant surprise came as we ascended our driveway to the main road which circles the island. It's unpaved, and covered with thick gravel. On a standard mountain bike, one is hard-pressed to maintain a solid footing. The monster, nearly 4-inch wide low-pressure tires of the Necromancer, mounted on 82mm rims floated effortlessly over the rocky surface, and instead of tensing my shoulders and tightening my grip, I could ease up, look around and actually enjoy the scenery!
About a mile up the road, we turned onto an ATV trail, and began the slight climb into the interior. And that's when we ran into a few puddles. Man-eating ones.
I've encoutered these puddles on Boblo before, and I've never in my life ridden through one. Many of these are actually year-round ponds in the middle of ATV trails, teeming with amphiblian life, abuzz with mosquitoes, their murky surface concealing underwater ridges and traps. So, on my first approach on the Necromancer, I limped through the puddle with one foot on the muddy egde. But after emerging unscathed on the other side, I thought, oh what the hell!
The ride was exhileratingly fun! Floating on fat air balloons, I stopped worrying about gripping the handlebars or putting my foot down in fear of obstacles, as I picked my way deftly over and around roots and boulders, and even hopped an occasional log. The puddles changed from a challenge to an enticing treat, as we rode through them with a splash that muddied us from shin to shoulder, and left tell-tale streaks on our backs.
After a couple of hours of knocking around the central ridge of the island, we dropped back down to the trail that hugs its northern edge, where we got a few good glimpses of Mackinac island. We poked around the rocky Lake Huron shore looking for a suitable picnic spot.
After a glorious day of riding we built a fire in the clearing overlooking the lake, rested, and enjoyed some smoked Polish sausages that we brought with us in happy anticipation of such an opportunity.
PS. In case you are curious, here's the approximate route we travelled, marked in green (click map to enlarge).
The blue line indicated the route we took the following day, when we went searching for the mysterious giant boulder that sits on the island, and accidetally discovered a secret road that took us back to Lake Mary.
The end (sadly).