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  1. #1
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    Pontiac or Poto for Beginner?

    I am a new rider this year. While my skills have improved quite a bit this summer, I am still carrying a lot of extra weight (currently ~285lbs but improving), so anything more than a short hill tends to kill me. I have heard great things about Poto and Pontiac Lake, but would like to know if they are way above my skill level. I would hate to get 2 miles into a long loop and then figure out that I can't make the whole thing. The maps seem to make it look like once you are on the loop, you pretty much have to finish it. Are there any "wimp out" short cuts on those trails if I feel like I can't do the whole thing? Or what sections would you recommend for someone that can handle beginner with some intermediate mixed in?

    I am in Kalamazoo, so I can't just stop by easily and look at them first.

    Thanks for any advice.

    Tron

  2. #2
    crashes alot
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    personally i found poto to be less "technical", but kicked my ass due to longer trail (the 17mile loop) and lot of climbing. There are a few short cuts, and u could take roads back if needed. Pontiac lake has some climbing but not near as bad, but the downhills are more white knuckle for me since they are rutted all out which makes it fun.

  3. #3
    tl1
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    There are "opt outs" at PLRA

    At the "campground road" (Maceday Lk. Rd.) you can go to the left to Teggerdine Rd., left there to Gale road and go left there which will take you back to the trail head. You can also go right on the campground rd. down two miles make a right on the trail back towards the trail head and cut out the whole back loop.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by slothy
    personally i found poto to be less "technical", but kicked my ass due to longer trail (the 17mile loop) and lot of climbing. There are a few short cuts, and u could take roads back if needed. Pontiac lake has some climbing but not near as bad, but the downhills are more white knuckle for me since they are rutted all out which makes it fun.
    Slothy nailed it. Poto is easier techincally, but longer. Pontiac's 9 mile loop is harder but shorter. Consider Highland, which has four (A, B, C & D) smaller loops and is somewhere in the middle technically speaking.
    Stinky DeeLux / IF Steel HT

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by TronCarter
    I am a new rider this year. While my skills have improved quite a bit this summer, I am still carrying a lot of extra weight (currently ~285lbs but improving), so anything more than a short hill tends to kill me.

    I am in Kalamazoo, so I can't just stop by easily and look at them first.

    Tron
    I wouldn't try either yet. Since you're in Kzoo, stick to Fort Custer until you get better, then when you can do Yankee Springs without much difficulty, you'll be ready for Pontiac and Poto.
    Wanted: broken Titec 2 bolt seatpost, any size

  6. #6
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    Ok, cool. I have only been to Fort Custer once and it was tough. I haven't been to Yankee yet but have heard that it is more difficult with a lot of up and down with sand at the bottom of every hill.

    Have you been to Al Sabo? What do you think of it? I ride there every chance I get because it is close. It still challenges me if that shows you where me fitness level is.

  7. #7
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    if you ride el sabo then you could easily do at least the yellow trail at custer and much of the red trail if you cut off grannies and take shortcuts around the crazy beaver loop.

    you ever been down to TK Lawless? easier than custer or yankee. http://www.mmba.org/trails.php?trail=36

  8. #8
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    No, I haven't been to TK Lawless before, I have only seen maps. Maps are a great help, but they usually don't show elevation or difficulty and I am apprehensive about trying trails that I or my limited set of riding buddies have never been to before. I guess I should just suck it up and try something new. It is also nice to go to a new place with someone who has been there before and can show you around and lead you out when you are tired. The first week I was on a bike I went to Al Sabo by myself because the map looked easy enough to follow and I figured that all of the trails would be clearly marked. I quickly found myself lost and was ready to call it quits after doing Moab (again, it was my first week) and ended up doing Lookout as well because even though I had a map, I had no idea where I was on the map at any one time. Eventually I made it back to the start of Moab and recognized where I was and made my way out.

    MMBA does not have a working map for TK Lawless and the only one I have found is on Village Cyclery (Three Rivers) website. The map says "Advanced Skill Level, 10 mile loop". That doesn't sound to easy to me. Are they wrong with the skill level? Are there any shortcuts if I decide I can't do the whole thing?

    http://www.villagecyclery.com/maps.htm#

  9. #9
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    i don't know if there's any shortcuts but i really think designation of "advanced" is a huge stretch of imagination. if you've done custer, then you've really got nothing to worry about.

  10. #10
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    The next time you go to Fort Custer, ride the Blue loop. It is more technical than the Yellow loop, but is easier than the Green and Red loops. The Fort is a good place to work both your bike handling skills and your fitness, because it gives you everything from fairly flat two-tracks to technical singletrack.

    There are always people leading up group rides and willing to help out beginners on the MMBA forums. http://www.mmba.org

    Post up there and I'm sure plenty of people will step up and show you some of the trails.

    Another good easier trail is Island Lake State Rec Area. It may be a little drive for you, but it is closer than Poto or Pontiac Lake. It can get crowded on the weekends, but you will like it.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by tl1
    At the "campground road" (Maceday Lk. Rd.) you can go to the left to Teggerdine Rd., left there to Gale road and go left there which will take you back to the trail head. You can also go right on the campground rd. down two miles make a right on the trail back towards the trail head and cut out the whole back loop.
    If you've made it to the "campground road" the most difficult portions of trail are now behind you....

  12. #12
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    Poto/ Pontiac

    Ride Pontiac! But take it easy. Next spring or on a good day this fall try it, If you can ride Custer you can ride Pontiac Lake. I've taken several new ( as in first time on a MTB) riders out there and they were fine. Just don't try to break the speed records that you've heard everyone talk about and you'll be fine.

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