Marji Gesick 2018: tips and tricks- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Marji Gesick 2018: tips and tricks

    well, its early to start this, but i have noted some of my experiences down on my blog in terms of what worked for me kit wise and what not which may help those planning for 2018. I know i wish i was going to be there...

    here you go:

    https://drj0nswanderings.wordpress.c...ical-elements/

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    Nice write up, thank you!

    Mike

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    Last year, I went to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to complete the Marji Gesick. It is a beautifully brutal event. With a DNF rate of ~70% last year, completing was not all that far away from a personal sort of winning. Some day, I will go back, armed with knowledge I might take an hour or two off my time, but I doubt I will ever get a belt buckle.

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    I was very proud to have an article I wrote about the experience printed in issue 13 of Cranked Magazine. This is one of the best - if not *the best* mtb magazine available. I cannot recommend picking up a subscription more.

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    The trails, people and town of Marquette are well worth visiting even if you do not ride the Marji. Awesome trails for days...

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    Missed out this year on doing this "race" but plan to do in in 2019. Please update this post before and after with your setups and experiences. I'm a XCO racer so doing one of the hardest 1 day marathon events I'm a bit out of my element. I have a lot to learn but at least I have 16 months to do so! Thanks
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    Hey Folks-
    I'm signed up for the 100, and I've never ridden the trails up in MQT. For those that may have ridden in Duluth or Copper Harbor, how do they compare to Hawk's Ridge, Piedmont/Brewer in Duluth or Red trail in Copper Harbor?

    Thanks for the info!
    Cheers,
    Gus

  6. #6
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    Marji Gesick 2018: tips and tricks

    Quote Originally Posted by GusM View Post
    Hey Folks-
    I'm signed up for the 100, and I've never ridden the trails up in MQT. For those that may have ridden in Duluth or Copper Harbor, how do they compare to Hawk's Ridge, Piedmont/Brewer in Duluth or Red trail in Copper Harbor?

    Thanks for the info!
    Cheers,
    Gus
    Red trail in Copper Harbor is actually pretty equivalent to the most challenging parts of the Marji course, such as: Jedi, Pine Knob, and Scary.


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    would have liked to get to Copper Harbour when I was there.....next time!

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    I've followed your blog posts, thanks for the great write up on the MG (and the always interesting other stuff)! I'm thinking 29+ suspended hardtail. Do you still feel the same way about FS / HT with more time to consider it?

    Thanks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by FishMan473 View Post
    Red trail in Copper Harbor is actually pretty equivalent to the most challenging parts of the Marji course, such as: Jedi, Pine Knob, and Scary.


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    Thanks for the info!

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    Quote Originally Posted by GusM View Post
    I've followed your blog posts, thanks for the great write up on the MG (and the always interesting other stuff)! I'm thinking 29+ suspended hardtail. Do you still feel the same way about FS / HT with more time to consider it?

    Thanks!
    thanks dude! I'm getting withdrawals as it comes closer...would love to be there again.

    29+ sus/hardtail will defo get the job done, and if you are used to long days on it it will be great. full sus would probably let you be less beaten up by the 80 mile point where a lot of folk tend to start really feeling it...

  11. #11
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    Marji Gesick 2018: tips and tricks-30183683188_a70ea9bcff_z.jpg

    alllllright. more light shone on the dark, deep rabbit hole that is prep for the Marji.

    read it here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dRjOn View Post
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    alllllright. more light shone on the dark, deep rabbit hole that is prep for the Marji.

    read it here.
    Nice quick read on your blog. Personally i would concentrate on more carbs and less protein and fat while racing and a few days leading up to the race.

    Everyone is different though...

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    What tires are people running this year?

    I am torn (no pun intended) between a few options as I want to have good sidewall protection. I have been running Racing Ralph's for two years now with the SnakeSkin protection. I have not had a single issue with punctures or sidewall tear and have ridden a lot of the Marji trails as well as up in Copper Harbor.

    I am thinking 2.35 Racing Ralph SnakeSkin front and rear. However, I have been looking at the Maxxis Rekon... but have never run them previously.

  14. #14
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    As a general rule I would say run tires you are confident in handling rough terrain rather than tires that roll fast.

    That said, I've been pretty impressed with the Kenda Saber Pro's 2.6 I recently picked up. I'll give them a few runs through our local tire-destroying trails, and if they survive that they may be my pick for Marji. Otherwise I'll go with Bontrager XR2 which were solid for me last year.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FishMan473 View Post
    As a general rule I would say run tires you are confident in handling rough terrain rather than tires that roll fast.

    That said, I've been pretty impressed with the Kenda Saber Pro's 2.6 I recently picked up. I'll give them a few runs through our local tire-destroying trails, and if they survive that they may be my pick for Marji. Otherwise I'll go with Bontrager XR2 which were solid for me last year.
    Thanks for the input.

    I just went into one of the local shops that sells Conti, Schwalbe and Maxxis and picked the brain of one of the mechanics there. He races, and wins, and is very familiar with the U.P. I told him that I would rather have a tire that I know is not going to let me down on grip and durability than a tire that rolls faster, but may not be able to handle all of the sharp rocks. We talked about the Racing Ralph's that I have been running and agreed that, when it gets loose and you turn hard, they break free.

    I ordered two Maxxis Ardents with the EXO. 2.4 front and 2.25 rear. I am going to run them for a few weeks and see how I like them. He told me they will not let me down in the durability factor, but I will need to see how they feel to really make an determination. If I dont like them, I will go back to the RaRa's.

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    Two weeks out!

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    Psychological elements

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    According to Wikipedia, Psychology is the science of behavior and mind, including conscious and unconscious phenomena, as well as feeling and thought.

    You are going to have a lot of behaviour, phenomena, feeling and thought going on over the at least 10 hours of the Marji Gesick.

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    It is 7 days until the 2018 version starts. I wish I was there. Truthfully. But it has taken many months before I can say that with no underlying doubt in my mind. That's a thought: doubt.

    Actually, doubt is also an emotion.

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    For many hours during the 2017 Marji, I had doubt. I was far from sure that I could keep on going. It became substantially worse when the sun went down and the woods became the silkiest, deepest black. Even with powerful lights, making my way on the tech, slippery trail was difficult.

    You will, I am sure, know that dotted around the course, there are little signs saying 'Blame Todd' or 'Blame Danny'. Todd and Danny know their psychology. The signs at once denote a more technical or difficult section of the course, but also remind you that if you are actually blaming Todd or Danny for your predicament, you are already half way to quitting.

    *You* got yourself into this and *you* need to get yourself through it: that is lesson number one of the Marji Gesick. Self reliance. Self belief and the ability to deal with and over come self doubt. Suck it up, buttercup. It *is* going to hurt.

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    The next thing I would advise when it comes to tackling this monster is to break the task down into small parts. If you try to fit too much into your mind at any given time after the reverb from the Star Spangled Banner fades, you are in trouble. The initial trails are cross country ski trails and they allow the bunch to start to string out and some passing, to-ing and fro-ing after the initial Le Mans run.

    Goal number one. Be honest with yourself on the pace you will carry and settle into it. At no point will you bottleneck. There is no need to rush unless you are truly at the pointy end of this. Relax, settle, feel your body function, breath and let the white noise in your mind dissipate.

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    The next goal might be north trails. Perhaps give yourself some hydration and feeding stages to go through. Maybe the next will be the connector between the north and south trails, the last section where you will be able to roll without too much effort and sort yourself out for the increasing work you are going to have to do.

    Read all the blog posts this week and work out how to split things up in your mind, tick off each stage you achieve and make sure to add in some reflective self care though them. 'I will hydrate and eat this much by such a time' 'I will recharge bottles (hopefully) by here' 'I will assess my energy levels by here' 'If I reach here, I know I am 75% through'. Whatever, but split this sucker into parts.

    The last thing I would suggest for finishing the Marji is to not at any stage accept that you are going to do anything but finish. It isn't even a question in your mind. Indeed, it is the only definite about the day.

    Re-read that and come up with some sort of mantra you can repeat to yourself in the cold and dark when all you want to do is to lie down and sleep.

    Stop moving.
    Stop hurting.
    Just stop.

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    For me, it was a strange little thing that made it's way into my mind. My daughter, Daisy, made me a wee folded paper puppy dog head before I left the UK and said she would like it if I took it with me during the race. I did this and sometimes when I grabbed something from my hip bag I would see it. The night before the race Daisy told me she believed in me: 'I believe in you, daddy'. I do not know how many times I repeated this to myself during the 17 or so hours I was out there. But it was deeply, emotionally powerful. If she believed in me I could damn well believe in me.

    Do not underestimate the power of this race. Scratching is the norm. To finish is to overcome, to transcend and I cannot overstate how much shaking hands with Danny on the finish line can elevate your self belief.

    Now.

    Go to it.

    I believe in you.

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  18. #18
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    Thank you for that post. I'm woefully undtertrained. But I will endure. Excited and scared. Yay!

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    The blame Danny or Todd signs mean down shift

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    This comes from a friend who has "spies" up in Marquette.

    Course intel: Mile 97, the trail stops at a lake. The perception is we have to cross the lake, however, there is a hidden trail to the left around the lake.
    FYI: There will be another GPX coming out.

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    Passing the lake is no problem

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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by noremorse1 View Post
    This comes from a friend who has "spies" up in Marquette.

    Course intel: Mile 97, the trail stops at a lake. The perception is we have to cross the lake, however, there is a hidden trail to the left around the lake.
    FYI: There will be another GPX coming out.
    I thought thats why we need our bathing suits and arm floaties?

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    LDC is ded,deth by trollz
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    Rupps5 knows whats up, he was 3rd last year. On bald tires. Haha. Dr. Jon thats a sweet blog. Wish you were here this year, Marji is made for people cut from same jib.

    Good luck to everyone out there. Quitting sucks, yoi think about it for a year. Guys on mtbr make fun of you lol. I think its going to be a good experience for everyone. Without oppressive humidity, you can push a little harder. That means you can also overcook yourself too. Be smart. See you in Ishpeming.

  24. #24
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    I finally finished writing up my race report from last year. Its wordy, but the blow-by-blow might help some of the #freshmeat out there get a better idea of what they're getting into. Editing it certainly refreshed my memory:

    Frank On A Bike: My 2017 Marji Gesick Experience, from the back of the pack.
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    Great write up! Thank you!

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    40į at the start 63į for a high. Not bad weather for an all-day ride, but now Iím wondering what to wear. Leg warmers for sure at the start. Can you wear arm warmers under a long-sleeve Jersey? I guess the better question is whether you can get them off under a long sleeve jersey.


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    great write up Frank - good luck this year! and thanks Lane - defo wish i were there! the humidity and temp were hard so it would be interesting on a different weatehr day!

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    Quote Originally Posted by FishMan473 View Post
    40į at the start 63į for a high. Not bad weather for an all-day ride, but now Iím wondering what to wear. Leg warmers for sure at the start. Can you wear arm warmers under a long-sleeve Jersey? I guess the better question is whether you can get them off under a long sleeve jersey.


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    SS base layer (merino)
    ss jersey
    wind vest
    arm warmers

    dont do long sleeve anything till the nighttim, and then i would just go back to above setup. You arent out there sitting still.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by FishMan473 View Post
    40į at the start 63į for a high. Not bad weather for an all-day ride, but now Iím wondering what to wear. Leg warmers for sure at the start. Can you wear arm warmers under a long-sleeve Jersey? I guess the better question is whether you can get them off under a long sleeve jersey.


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    I was thinking leg warmers at the start also. Planning for warm layers to be available in my drop bag for the evening cool when my furnace can't stoke like I'd like anymore.

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    Good luck to all you crazy mofo's this weekend! Enjoy the adventure.

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    Thanks everyone for all the information and tips! My time was sloooowwww (21.5 hours), but I stuck with it and finished!


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    Quote Originally Posted by GusM View Post
    Thanks everyone for all the information and tips! My time was sloooowwww (21.5 hours), but I stuck with it and finished!


    Click image for larger version. 

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    Nice work!!! Awesome you stuck with it, thatís a long time in the saddle. Regardless of your time thatís huge and something to be proud of! When you have time to recover and reflect, Iíd be very interested in reading about your experience, lessons learned, etc. I have my eyes on MG 2019.

    Congrats man!!!
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    Congrats! I could not imagine having the mental strength to continue on those trails in the dark as the temperature dropped. Bravo!

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    Quote Originally Posted by GusM View Post
    Thanks everyone for all the information and tips! My time was sloooowwww (21.5 hours), but I stuck with it and finished!


    Click image for larger version. 

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    Awesome Gus!!! Already decided Iím going back for round 2 next year.

    MI-XC - if youíre thinking about it, sign up. It was an incredible experience. I have a lot of work to do to get ready for next year. Learned a lot this past weekend...

    Mike

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    Man what an awesome race, i just love those trails! All ready excited to sign up for next year.

    Life really got in the way of the past 2 months of training, then a hurt rib that was threatening to make me not even like up. But i did with full intention of pulling out of the race if the rib got really bad. Started off slow and settled into fun quick group ride pace and just had a blast all day. After the 2 months i had, i was just feeling very blessed to even get a chance to ride my bike all day. I love that race, so much fun.

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    My 2018 50 Mile Experience

    2019 Signup starts October 13th at 12:01 AM. Donít miss the fun

    My 2018 50 Mile Experience

    Background
    A few local guys have done the 100 mile race for a few years so I knew a bit about it.
    It is easy to click the signup button in the Fall when you can imagine all the hard training and miles you will put in NEXT year. Trips to Marquette to practice on actual trails, etc.
    Since I was turning 50 I thought clicking the Signup button on the 50 miles sounded like a good idea.

    Training
    Rode my bike maybe 600-800 miles in 2018. No trips to Marquette to preview trails
    Lots of 20 mile town rides at easy pace.
    One 80 mile road ride in June.
    125 Miles at Cuyuna in 3 days in August.
    4 or 5 20+ mile MTB rides in the 2 weeks leading up to race.
    Hill repeats a 100ish step hill near work a few times a week for 3 weeks before race.
    2 Rounds of Pullups every Morning
    Arm Dumbbell workouts as I walked the dog most mornings.

    Logistics
    Drove 300 Miles from Eau Claire to Marquette on Friday.
    Did the packet pickup and ate some supper on the way to Rippling River Resort at Marquette Mountain.
    Had a tent campsite and finished setting my tent at Dark. In bed by 9pm.
    Up around 6am. Dark and Chilly and still had to add all my gear to my bike.

    Rippling River Resort at Marquette Mountain
    Great place. 1 Block from 50 mile start
    They have 6 to 8 showers. Campsites for RVís, 8ish tent sites, and Mini Cabins
    The finish is 17 miles from the start so make sure you can bum a ride back to Rippling River.

    Gear
    Giant Anthem 29er Full Suspension 2x10. 24 F and 36R
    Maxxiss ICON 3C/EXO/TR Rear - Tubeless
    Specialized Butcher Grid Front -- Tubeless
    Gravity Dropper Seatpost -- Installed day before
    Flat Pedals and fiveten shoes
    Tube, Multitool, pump, patches, chains links, etc.
    70oz Camelback
    Granola Bars, MMís, Dates, and a few Gels
    Lezyne GPS - Not very useful for .gpx files
    Phone with Trailforks and OsmAND. If required.

    Race
    Perfect weather this year. Start of race was 50ish with highs in mid 60ís
    Start was 2 blocks from Campsite

    1st 19 Miles to Jackson Park 2:31 -- 2:31 Ride Time
    Pedal up Marquette Mountain. Actually I pushed quite a bit of this.
    Bomb down the Mountain back to start line and then under bridge and across road.
    Turn on GPS so you get the added challenge of adding 3 miles to all readings for the rest of the day.
    Stop to put seat back on because you are an idiot and didnít get it tight enough to start.
    Settle into all day pace and eventually you get matched up with people of your speed and talent.
    Mostly rideable other than a few punchy rocky rooty climbs.
    Stop to adjust seat front downwards because you are an idiot and made last minute changes to your bike.
    6 to 8? Miles of road, bike path etc.
    Arrive at Jackson Park. Refill water on bike, eat bacon, waffles, bananas, etc. Use Porta Potty

    1st 20 Mile Loop Out of Jackson Park 7:11 -- 4:40 Ride Time
    Fun and Games is over, or Just starting
    Lots of short impossibly steep for me climbs with rocks to roots.
    Wind your way uphill for 30 minutes and bomb your way to the bottom in 3 minutes.
    Grind your way back up a similar hill and repeat.
    While pushing your bike decide you donít want to do this in the dark. Make up your mind to finish in Daylight.
    A few stretches of road/trail but mostly steep twisty singletrack
    Arrive Jackson Park -- Go through camelback and bike storage. Purge extra weight. I only refilled Camelback to 1/3rd water, got rid of unnecessary food, etc. Added small light in case plan to finish before daylight was challenged.

    2nd 13/15 Mile Loop Out of Jackson Park 10:21 -- 3:10 Ride Time
    Donít get bonus mile or 2 because you are an idiot and go out on the 1st loop again and think maybe they just moved some tape to change the route. 2nd loop leaves from other side of park.
    Repeat of 1st loop with a few hills on roads/trails that are unbelievable steep. No matter how many pictures you see you wonít believe that a hill this steep could be a road/trail.
    Same as previous loop but now your more tired and racing darkness. People are pretty spread out so not a lot of company.

    Finish
    Push your bike up the final hill and get token. Take picture of sign. Mostly downhill to finish.
    I finished in 10:21 and 100th out of 153 finishers and 206 starters.
    Get a picture
    Drink a beer
    Make sure you have a ride back to your car/camp.

    Hype
    It is as steep as they say. Gears, Gears, and More Gears
    Super well supported if you are done in 12 hours and weather is nice.
    Trail is marked excellent. No GPS required in daylight. If you are 100 miler and in the dark and exhausted I could see more value.
    I bought the Lezyne GPS and it seemed pretty worthless to get .gpx loaded and displayed.
    When you leave Jackson park the sign says 15 miles to go. Actually was closer to 13 so that was nice. Amazing how slow the miles tick bye on the last loop.

    What Worked
    Aggressive tires. I moved my Ikon from the front to the back. Added aggressive tire up front.
    Dropper Ė Some of the down hills are insanely steep. Some are sand troughs at what seem like 60 degrees down. Between the dropper and front tire I rode down almost everything. Things I have never ridden before. As Dustin told me before the race a lot of it is easier/safer to ride than walk.
    Smartphone and OsmAnd mapping app. Someone referenced this in a Marji post. Useful offline mapping app easy to load GPX files.
    Flat pedals and FiveTen Shoes. Not sure how many times I was on/off bike but in the last 2 loops you never knew if you should get back on or keep pushing. Many times you would look out over the area, swear you were at the top of the hill pedal 50í around the next corner and see another 25í of rocky rooty climb going straight up. If I would have been clipless I wouldnít have ridden the downhills as much and likely would have fallen over on a nice soft rock.
    Proper attitude, determination not to quit, and willingness to ride the down hills.
    Bike Ė No mechanicals other than the loose seat.

    Definitely pack warm clothing options in your drop bag. Even with the nice weather this year you will need a coat at the finish line. The 1st 19 miles are pretty easy so you can get to your bag quickly in case you need to make changes to your outfit.

    What I would do different.
    Assemble bike and test before 6am on the morning of the race. Seat came loose coming down Marquette Mountain. Added a bit of excitement.
    Gears, Gears and More Gears. Donít underestimate the steepness of the climbs. My Lowest was 24/36. There were long hills on the 2nd loop that I pushed because I didnít want to blow up my legs. I could pedal them at 4ish MPH or push at 2.5 MPH. If I would have been 20% lower geared I would have pedaled quite a few more. Same for the last loop but halfway through that I rode more hills cause I knew I would finish.
    Donít get bonus mile or 2 because you are an idiot and go out on the 1st loop again and think maybe they just moved some tape to change the route. 2nd loop leaves from other side of park.
    More core exercises or practice pushing bike. Back got pretty stiff for last loop. Donít know if it was the riding, pushing or secret combination.

    Final Thoughts
    50 miles is doable by average biker.
    Not as many giant rock downhills as I envisioned
    Donít stop moving. Get in and out of Jackson Park quickly. 100 milers that stopped had a hard time going out for final 15.
    Proper attitude, determination not to quit, and willingness to ride the down hills. Some 50 milers and may 100 milers pushed almost all of the last 13 miles. That would take incredible grit and determination. I canít imagine how sore their backs and elbows were. Donít give up because you think next year will be easier, do it now while you youíre here.
    Weather could be a factor. This year was perfect but the next day it was 45, misting and windy. Wet rocks and roots would be even more fun.
    Lots of local support on a 65 degree sunny Fall day during daylight hours. Not sure what would happen if it was 35 degrees and raining sideways.
    Donít carry more than you need. Plenty of food and supplies at Jackson Park and likely many spots in Between.
    There was a Brownie and Coffee aid station on the last loop. Best chocolate Brownie ever. Nice coarse salt on top of it.

    Training is good. Next year Iím gonnaÖÖ..

  37. #37
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    200 mile out and back option next year...Ishpeming-> Forestville ->Ishpeming.

    Oh boy.

  38. #38
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    @w32514:

    Thanks for the write up, Iíll be signing up for the 100 miler in 2019.
    2018 Scott Spark RC 900 World Cup | ďIf youíre not first youíre lastĒ

  39. #39
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    w32514 - how many tokens were there on the 50? I stopped at Ishpeming, wondering if I missed them...

    Mike

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    3 Tokens for 50miles. 4 Tokens in 100 miles. Don't think there were any in the 1st 19 miles. Giant banners warning Tokens ahead then buckets of Tokens attached to Trees. Hard to miss.

    Though to be honest I did ask other racers if they had any Tokens when there were none in the 1st 25 Miles

  41. #41
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    w32514 - did you pick any up before Ishpeming?

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    I don't remember any in the 1st 19 miles to Jackson Park. I think the 1st one was on the side of a gravel road on 2nd loop. 3rd one was a mile or 2 from a finish. Up and Down a steep Hill. 2 way traffic.

    There was a 6' banner announcing the Tokens so hard to miss, at least in daylight on the 50 miler.

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