Our Michigan Trail Safari
Written By : Nick Sperduto
Ridden By : Nick Sperduto & Jim O'Brien
Hello dual sporters, if your looking for some adventure, the Michigan Trail Safari is for you. Michigan is proud to claim they are the home of the "longest permanently marked motorcycle trail on Earth". The adventure starts by joining the Cycle Conservation Club of Michigan (CCC) and filling out an application for the Trail Safari. In turn you will receive a map book which lists all the trails in Michigan and a passbook. The Trail Safari route is also known as the Michigan Cross Country Cycle Trail (MCCCT). It is the shape of a horseshoe. The starting point (or ending point) is in White Cloud on the Western side of the state. The trail runs north to Indian River, then proceeds South down to White Star. The other ending point (or starting point) is on the Eastern side of the state. Approximately half way up on each side of the horseshoe, the trail joins with a connector trail that runs East/West. It's known as the cross-state connector. All of the trails can be ridden either way. Michigan has three marked types of trail; ORV TRAIL, MCCCT, and ORV Route. The trails used for the Safari are the ORV TRAIL and the MCCCT sometimes they are the same route, sometimes they split, so you have to pay attention to the markers. The object is to ride the entire trail while collecting proof of your accomplishment. You carry the passbook with you and when you stop for gas/lunch/motel and get some kind of proof that you were in the town along the route. I used matchbooks and gas receipts, but you can also ask the owner to stamp your page with their bank deposit stamp. Basically, anything for proof is fine. When you complete the Safari, you send the passbook back to the CCC and they mail you a commemorative riding jersey. To qualify, the trip must be done within one calendar year. You can do it all at once or in pieces. I believe in the safari aspect of and completing it all at one time. In the original days, the first riders camped, but I can't imagine carrying camping gear. We opted for motels each night. Or, you can do it the easiest way and have a chase crew. After receiving all the necessary paperwork. Jim O'Brien and I decided to attempt the trip in May, during the week before Memorial Day. We prepped our bikes well with fresh oil, new tires, tubes and cables and we sorted out tools so we didn't carry duplicates. Packed our backpacks and mounted bags to our bikes. We also did not make any hotel reservations, figuring we would travel at our own pace and decide each day where we would stop. We were both riding 1990 DR350 S bikes with large tanks, rear fender tool bags, and front number plate bags. I packed a backpack with 1 extra pair of riding pants, 1 pair of jeans, two pair of shorts, and enough riding shorts and socks for 6 days and 3 nights, a couple of t-shirts and a couple of riding jerseys. On the bike I packed a pair of moccasins, extra gloves, two tubes, tools and a camera. I hung my camelback off the back of my backpack. I was pretty loaded down by this point. We also had helmet communicators which made things much easier since we could talk to each other from a short distance (like across a road) without shouting. We packed our stuff into my pickup truck and left New Jersey on Sunday May 17th, 1998 at 4 p.m. I drove till we crossed into Michigan and decided to get some sleep at a motel. We anxiously awoke Sunday morning, initially planning to start the ride on Tuesday. We got up and drove the rest of the way to White Cloud, arriving in town around 12:30 p.m. We found our friend's house where we would park my truck for the week and since it was early afternoon we decided instead of getting a room in White Cloud, we would just start out on the trail. There's not much to do in White Cloud anyway. Actually, there's not much to do in any of the towns we stopped in.
CAPTAIN'S LOG- STAR DATE Monday May 18th, 1998 : DAY Map pages 1 and 2We got suited and all geared up and I realize that I left my favorite vented riding jersey at home in NJ. The temp at 1:30 p.m. was 80 degrees and humid. If anyone has ever been to the Michigan woods, they know that heat and humidity are almost non-existent. The temperature was running about 15 degrees higher than normal. The lady in the gas station told us that at this time last year, they had snow. We found the beginning of the MCCCT at the parking area on M-20 just outside of White Cloud. We started out on the trail which started as a forest road and soon turned onto the single track. The single track was sandy (actually, most of Michigan, except for Drummond Island is sand), but not that deep annoying, "help, I can't keep this bike going straight" deep sand. The trail was wide enough for a quad, it rolled up and down over small hills and around trees with beautifully formed high berms and occasionally traversed over some whoops. It took a little while to get used to all the extra weight we were carrying. It was a completely different feel to go around berms and over whoops with all this extra weight placed so high on the bike. When trying to throw a bike into a bermed turn, all the weight wanted to throw you right to the ground. Actually a couple of times each day it did. Were proud to say we took many soil samples this week. It also didn't take long to remember that all the trails are two-way traffic. We came across one quad, but we both saw each other in time and it wasn't a problem. I radioed back to Jim through the helmet communicator that there was a rider coming his way. This is another great benefit of the communicator. We kept following the trail markers, which consist of orange triangles nailed to the trees with a picture of a motorcycle and MCCCT printed below it. The first decision we made by looking at the map and taking advice from other riders, was to take the short way around the "BIG-O" loop and head towards Baldwin. If we were energetic, we could ride the long way around on the way back. We decided to follow the current trail until we intersect the BIG-O parking area and then follow the short side of the loop, the LITTLE-O section. We got lost and using the map and some black top, we found the BIG-O / LITTLE-O trail junction. We knew it was the junction because of the map posted at the trail crossing. We studied the map for a few minutes before we realized that the position it was posted in was not the way we were looking at it. Kind of trying to read a map upside down. We finally pointed ourselves in the correct direction and headed off again. All I could think of at this moment was "I hope it doesn't go this way for six days". We rode more twisty, sandy single track, but with more whoops in this area, it was not very fast. It was definitely a worn in trail and wasn't hard to follow. We rode for a long distance crossing roads that we didn't know what they were. It was getting late when we finally came to a paved road crossing and determined from the map that it was Carps Road; since it was 7:45 p.m. already, we decided to make it a modified LITTLE-O loop and ride the blacktop into town. According to the map, Carps road would take us right into Baldwin, so we headed towards town. Then we ran into a problem, Carps Road eventually turned to dirt and was closed. We wandered around for about 15 minutes and finally found our way into Baldwin and wandered around for another 30 minutes before we found the motel. We get to the motel, the kind of motel that has individual buildings with a couple of rooms each. We check in and the owner appears to be half soused. He says, "I'll put you in room #9", then we have small talk while he's doing the paperwork and he says again. "Hey, I think I'll put you in room #9." Then he starts telling us how there were thousands of bikes there the previous week for a bike blessing and he sold out all of his 12 rooms and he could have sold 50 more at $100 a room. Then he says again "I think room #9 would be a good spot" So I ask him. "Where is room #9 ?" He points straight out the door and says "Well, the first room in that building is #1, so # 9 must be at the end of the row" So I walk out the door and he stops Jim before he goes out and says "No, wait. What room did I put you in ? Room # 9 ?. Oh that's behind us, in the back" Then we asked if there was a good place to eat in town. He says, "No, they're all pretty lousy" Anyway, we get to the room, had to pay an extra couple of dollars for two beds. Every motel owner wanted to sell us a room with one bed. We shower and make our way out to a bar on the other side of town on a lake. We found it while we were looking for a motel. We had dinner and it was ok. When we got back to the motel, the owner let us put our bikes in the garage and lock it, so that was a plus. Finally went to bed at 10:30 p.m. Total miles today 80, about 65 of trail.
CAPTAIN'S LOG- STAR DATE Tuesday May 19th, 1998 : DAY 2 Map pages 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6We awoke around 8 a.m., got suited up in our riding gear, packed our bags and bikes, stopped at McDonalds for a bite to eat and rode the blacktop out of town around 9:30 a.m. It was 80 degrees and humid at 8 a.m.; another hot and wet day. Just think, I was worried about snow when I picked the time of year to do this ride. We traveled the blacktop through Baldwin and over to the Little-O ORV parking area on 32nd Ave. The trail here was still sandy, a little deeper and full of whoops. Actually, it was miles of whoops. I fell over a bunch of times. I was still having trouble with the top heaviness in the sand. One time when I fell over, I snapped my mirror. I was using one of those foldable mirrors that I've had for 2 years and never broke. I must have folded it wrong, because it snapped off at the pivot point. When we crossed into the Lincoln hills parking area, we were about 15 rough, sandy, whooped out, single track miles into the ride. (Notice to the left of me looking at the Lincoln Hills map, there is a stop sign in the trail. It takes awhile to get used to stop signs in the middle of the woods)
At this point, my camelback was dry, it was extremely hot and I needed a new mirror. We took a break and I checked on the map for our location. The map showed that about 10 miles south on M-37, there was Peacock Ltd. A store for off road stuff. Not wanting to ride the road sections the rest of the week and needing a break for water, we decided to ride down to Peacock. At Peacock, I bought a new mirror, actually, the only one that they had in stock was a nice shiny chrome one. I always heard chrome parts makes your bike faster. I pulled out some tools and installed it in the parking lot. We headed north on M-37 toward Lincoln Hills, stopping in Wolfe Lake for water and lunch. At this point, it was very hot, it was 86 degrees and humid, and we were a little tired, so we decided to bypass the rest of the Lincoln Hills loop. Opting to continue North on M-37; then east on Luther Hwy; through the town of Luther; then north on State Rd, picking up the MCCCT trail crossing State Rd from East to West, just at the end of the Lincoln Hills loop. It was about 17 miles of blacktop, long enough to cool us down. The trail continued to be severely whooped out for approximately 12 miles until we crossed M-55, where a parking area gives access to the local loops. After that, if was fast two track and snowmobile trail for a good 15 to 20 miles. It was very fast and tons of fun It was a welcome sight. A lot of the trail in Michigan is awesome. The scenery is beautiful. They have what I think were man planted forests for logging. The trees are pines but the branches don't grow until about 20 feet up. The trail winds through the trees and along them. With the trees whipping by, it give you a feeling that you are going faster then you really are. Since the branches are not on the lower part of the tree, it's like riding between telephone poles. All of the turns in these types of forests are bermed nicely. In some areas, there is a complete covering of the ground with green moss and one single track going down the middle; it's like a dirt track across running across carpeting. We followed that till it combined back with ORV trail just North of M-113. We rode more single track, but not as whooped out as earlier. We rode the trail acrossM-186 about 3:30 p.m. and decided to ride road over to M-131 and ride that North for 14 miles into the town of Kalkaska. On the way into town, I ran out of gas twice and was bouncing up and down on the bike while travelling 55 mph, trying to get some of the gas that was left on the one side of the tank. We finally rolled into town and I ran out of gas for the final time rolling into the Amoco station. We passed the motel on the way to the gas station, so we knew where to stay, without wandering around town. We asked the station attendant where a good place was to eat. He said, "there are none". I starting to see a trend here, maybe I should move to Michigan and open a good restaurant. On the other hand, after the 100 people in town eat, I'll probably be out of business. We checked into the Motel, paying extra for a first floor room with two beds. The room definitely wasn't the Holiday Inn, but it was acceptable. The trim board around the shower was rotted and had about 2 inches of it missing and it looked like they just kept painting over the rot. At least this place had cable TV, we could watch the weather channel to see when the hot spell was going to end. We had dinner across town at Kevin's Diner, which closed at 8p.m; this is a happening town that were in here. On the way back to the motel we stopped for gas and a couple of bottles of beer. We arrived back at the motel at about 8 p.m., with enough daylight for me to work on my bike. I had caught a stump with my brake lever and it bent around my foot peg. I fixed it temporarily in the woods, but now I had to fix it better. It was bent in a way that every time I kick started the bike; the kick-starter would get hung up on the brake pedal and not return. The male hotel owner decided he wanted to help me fix my bike. He was so bombed, that he almost fell over on my bike. His breath was so bad; he was almost making me drunk. I see another recurring theme here. It took me longer to fix my bike with his help than it would have by myself. While we were working on the bike, he told us how he used to ride and one day he crashed his bike and got knocked out. While he was knocked out, his leg was pinned beneath the exhaust and it pretty much burnt in half (so he told us). That's why he now has a fake leg. A leg burnt in half is not something that I needed to here a description of just after diner. The night time weather was a welcome sight. I emptied my camelback twice today and didn't go to the bathroom once. We went to bed around 10:30 p.m. after relaxing in bed watching TV having a beer. Total miles today 145. One note here. When riding through logging areas, it seems that the machine that cuts down the trees leaves about a 6 inch stump that eventually gets covered by ferns. These stumps like to grab toes, so be careful.
CAPTAIN'S LOG- STAR DATE Wednesday May 20th, 1998 : DAY 3 Map pages 6, 7, 8, and 9We awoke about 8 a.m. again and after suiting up and grabbing a snack at the gas station, we were on the blacktop and riding by 9:30 a.m. We traveled M-131 north and picked up the trail a couple of miles outside of town. It was crossing M-131 from West to East. For the next few miles, the trail was very hard to follow. It seems that this part of the trail system rarely gets ridden. At points, you'll come to a field with a marker on the last tree on this side of the field and it will be pointing straight ahead, but there are no tracks to tell you which way to go across the field. You sometimes have to ride around the perimeter of the field looking for the marker going back into the woods. After a couple of confusing fields, we rode about 15 miles of awesome single-track trail with uphills, downhills, no whoops and huge berms. It now begins to dawn on me that the MCCCT that is also part of an ORV loop is usually whooped out, but the MCCCT that is only MCCCT is in great shape because it doesn't get ridden as much. About noon and 30 miles into the day, we stopped in Starvation Lake at the Hide Away inn for lunch. From the décor and maps in the bar, this is a huge snowmobile area. Instead of heading West back to the trail we came off of, we decided to cut a small section out and headed east on Starvation Lake Rd, turning north on Lake Road. This turned out to be a mistake. On the map, Lake Road looks like a small road and if we follow it until it crosses the lake (the map shows the road going directly to the lake on both sides), we would catch the MCCCT crossing. We followed Lake Road, which was a dirt road about 2 car widths wide to the lake, then it proceeded to go directly to the shoreline, turn right and become a single-track trail. We followed the trail counter clock wise around the lake until we found a road leading back out. After riding a few miles we realized we were on the wrong road and had to make our way back to the lake and again turn right, continuing counter clockwise further around the lake. This time the single track actually went through part of the lake water. It was after this that we found the continuation of Lake Road. Now I know why it's called Lake Road. There's no way this could be a continuous road for a car. About 2 miles north of the lake, we finally picked up the MCCCT crossing Lake Rd from west to east. So much for saving some time by cutting a piece of trail. Now we were riding a bunch of fast and fun grassy snowmobile two-track trail, I love this kind of stuff. The trail was mostly snowmobile trail, including about 5 miles of blacktop on M-131, which we realized the trail was on the side of the road, but it was so overgrown that we didn't see it. After M-131, the trail consisted of dirt county maintained roads until we crossed Camp Ten Road. Here is where the trail changed. We rode about 8 miles of trail from Camp Ten until Slashing road. It was awesome. It was woods and dirt, not sand. The ground was all covered with leaves, it was kind of like riding at home in the fall. It wound in an around a small section of woods located in some hills. After Slashing Road, we headed North towards Indian River, our next stop. This part of the trail consisted of single track, two track and county roads.
We got a little lost when the trail combined and crossed with an ORV loop just before Indian River. Since it was 5 p.m., we headed over to M-68 and rode into town. We stayed at another "motor court" the motel owner was not very friendly and since I had been to this town before, I didn't bother asking him about a place to eat; I already knew where to go. I guess the owner wasn't too friendly because he was too busy trying to keep his elderly mother from taking all the stuff off the desk in the office and putting in her pocket. We decided we like the drunken motel owners better. The room was old, but very clean. The carpet was dark green and the walls were light green, and a brown/orange chair. There was also a separate little kitchen room in the front with one of those old refrigerators with the big pivot handle that acts as the handle and lock for the refrigerator. It was in a room with a maroon lineoleum floor and the old style chrome table and matching chairs.
Since we've been travelling north, it's now starting to get cooler. I think we even put some heat on in this room. We went out to eat at the Trading Post, also fueled up and picked up a quart of beer for the evening TV watching and some snacks for the morning. Went to bed around 10:30 p.m. I'm starting to be pretty tired at the end of the day now. In the cabin next to us were some Nuns on a vacation. They were very interested about our trip. During our trip we did get a few "wow, your butts must hurt, riding them bikes all the way from NJ". I guess when they saw what we were carrying, and our license plates, they figured we rode the whole way. Today's total mileage was 106.
CAPTAIN'S LOG- STAR DATE Thursday May 21st, 1998 : DAY 4 Map pages 9, 10 , 11, 12, and 13We awoke about 8 a.m. again and it was downright cold. For the first time, I "needed" a jacket. Since we had food in the fridge and had gassed up the night before, We were on the road by 9 a.m. We picked up the trail about a mile away on the eastern side of I-75. We're now on the Southward part of the MCCCT heading toward Mio (pronounced M-eye-O, not Mee-0 or M-ten). The trail was open and nice for about the 1st 45 minutes. At that point, we were cruising along on a forest road and came to a large beaver dam that had the entire road covered in water.
Since it was about 40 degrees outside and we had no idea how deep the water was, we decided to tough it out on some pavement and avoid getting wet. After some backtracking and map studying we were able get onto M-33 and ride that into Tower. We then picked up the MCCCT on a Center Line Rd and head south. We rode about 8 miles of county road before the trail went back into the woods. The trail was great in some spots and whooped out in others. At about 105 miles, we stopped in Lewiston on county road 612 for gas and lunch. After lunch, the trail went from sand whoops top more dirt and mud single track in the hunt creek loop. We continued on to the Mio loop and through a spot on the map labeled "black yukkies". Since it's been so hot and dry out there, this section was not a problem. It was a bunch of small black mud holes. I'm sure they are pretty rough in normal weather conditions. After the "black yukkies" the trail crossed M-33 and we decided to cut out early because we were so tired. Part of the trail today wound in and around a power line for miles and it was excellent non whooped terrain. The last section before Mio (the Mio loop) was technical and fun. That section would have been a real blast if it had been morning and we weren't so tired. We bunked in at the Mio Songbird hotel that I've seen advertised in every issue of the Great Lakes Trailrider newsletter. The hotel owner was sober and friendly and she said there was a good restaurant in town. Wow, we hit the jackpot this time ! The Songbird is a classy place too, they use bathroom towels for curtains. Heck, we're real off-road riders, we don't even need curtains. This motel caters to off road riders, it's the only motel in town that you can ride from the motel parking lot to the ORV trails on a non street legal bike. In Michigan, you need to be street legal to ride the Safari because of the road sections, but for the trail, all you need is an ORV sticker and pass a sound test. Today's total mileage 146. While in Mio, we made a hotel reservation in West Branch at the Motel 8 for the next night. We were concerned with it being Friday of Memorial Day weekend; we may not get a room.
CAPTAIN'S LOG- STAR DATE Friday May 22nd, 1998 : DAY 5 Map pages 14,15,16 and 17We left Mio about 9 a.m. and decide to take black top about 10 miles over to the ORV parking area in Luzerne. We figured that the ORV trail leading out to the MCCCT would be totally whooped out since it was the main route into and out of town. While travelling M-72 West toward Luzerne, we were pulled over by the local Mio police. He walked up to us and I said "Hi, what's up ?" He immediately apologized and told us that Jim's plate is blue and he automatically thought it was a Michigan plate since they are blue. When he ran it, he got an invalid plate back. Jim's plate is mounted on the piece that hangs down from the fender like it's supposed to be. On my bike, I took that extension off and mounted mine to my rear fender. My plate is the newer white NJ plates and since it was covered in dirt on a white fender, he said when he didn't see a plate on my bike. Then he said, "well, while you're here, let me check out your info" He went back to the car and by chance, faintly through our helmet communicators, we could here him checking us out against NJ to see if we had any warrants or anything. Then he came back and told us that since the trail system around there is so big, they have a big problem with kids blasting up the road on their dirtbikes. Then he sent us on our way and told us to have a nice day. We found the ORV parking area and rode the ORV ROUTE till it connected with the MCCCT. It was more sand and whoops until the MCCCT, then it flattened out. We rode the trail, which combined and crossed with the ORV trail a bunch of times, so you had to stay on your toes to follow the correct markers. Most of the ORV trail was whooped out, but the MCCCT was fairly nice. We are back in all sand again. After passing the cross state connector trail and riding 50 miles total, we gassed up in West Branch and decided to check into the motel, drop all of our gear and get some lunch. It was excellent to hit the trail without 30 pounds of crap slinging off the bike and ourselves. It also gave us a chance to make quick stops in the woods and take pictures. We left West Branch at 2 p.m. The town claims itself to be a friendly town and the water tower is painted bright yellow with a smiley face. We rode more sand trail, single track combined with two track, on and off ORV loops again till we hit M-30. The trail markers were sparse in this area and the markers that were up, didn't match with the trail drawn on the map. We made our own way by looking at the map. At this point, I wanted to quit, but we were close to the official end of the MCCCT and I damn well was going to get to the end. I found out later that it was the week that they were rerouting that part of the MCCCT and everything matches up now.
The last trail section was very tough; it was full of whoops and very deep power robbing sand, with a couple of mud holes mixed in. I'm sure if I were on a light two-stroke moto-crosser instead of a 300 lb dual sport bike it would have been more fun. We finally made it to the end in the parking area on M-61.
It was starting to get dark so we took our pictures at the "END" sign (Notice the orange markers over the end sign. One reads MCCCT, another ORV ROUTE and the other ORV TRAIL) and hit the blacktop for the 35-mile ride back to West Branch. My bike ran out of gas about the 100 mile mark, mainly because I had to use extra gas in the deep sand and I fell over so many times. We arrived at the motel 9:15 p.m. Total miles today 176, it was a tough long one. We have now officially finished the Trail Safari. It's 110 miles back to White Cloud by pavement so we decide to run some of the MCCCT backwards and use the cross-state connector. We showered, went to dinner in front of the motel. I had a hard time keeping myself from passing out at the dinner table.
CAPTAIN'S LOG- STAR DATE Saturday May 23rd, 1998 : DAY 5 Map pages 15, 21, 20, 19, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1We left West Branch about 9 a.m. for our last day of riding and the trek back to the start. We attempted to travel blacktop North to St Helens and pick up the cross state connector, but somehow I got confused and we wound up riding away from St Helens and picking up the connector above Roscommon. This section of the MCCCT was excellent and we were surprised. It was Saturday of Memorial Day weekend that the trail was empty. We saw one guy and his son. About half way through the West Higgins loop my bike started to hesitate and act up and break up. We made it to a parking area and I decided to try and work on the bike. I took off the seat, side panel and air filter cover. My K&N filter was so full of dirt; I don't know how the bike ran at all. I started the bike up with out the filter and it made no difference. So I whacked the filter against my hand to knock some of the dirt off and put it back in. The bike was blowing black smoke out the exhaust and running like the carburetor was flooding out with gas. So twice, I crimped the gas line, ran the carburetor out of gas and whacked the bowl of the carburetor with the handle of the screwdriver. There must have been a piece of dirt lodged in between the needle and seat because this seemed to fix the problem. Not wanting to take a chance, we picked up blacktop where the MCCCT crossed 13-mile road. We traveled blacktop through Morrestown into Lake City and stopped for lunch. At lunch, we decided that the bike was ok and we would take a little more blacktop and pick up the MCCCT on the other side of Cadillac. So, after lunch, we traveled M-66 over to M-55 through Cadillac and picked up the MCCCT going south towards White Cloud. This was an excellent piece of trail on the way out. At one point on the trail by Cadillac, I was stopped and taking off my jacket and I saw another rider. He stopped and asked me if I was ok. Then he said "I know you, you've ridden the 6 days of Michigan ride" which I have ridden 5 times. I didn't recognize him since he had his helmet on. It's pretty weird to be in the woods 800 miles from home and have someone recognize you. We rode the fun part of the MCCCT south till just North of Luther. It was here where we left the dirt for the final time and rode about 25 miles on pavement back to White Cloud. I was never so happy to see that nice wide bucket seat in my truck. Today's total mileage 178. In summary, here are a few notes on the trip. Total mileage for the ride was 831. Other than my dirty carburetor problem, probably caused by running out of gas. The bikes performed flawlessly. This ride could easily be done on a big bore 650 bike. If I were to do it again, I would take more time to do it. My stopovers would be. White Cloud to Baldwin, Baldwin to Kalkaska, Kalkaska to Indian River, Indian River to Lewistown, Lewistown to West Branch, West Branch to White Star (taking the road back to West Branch for the nights stay), then the cross state connector back, possibly even breaking the connector into two days. Next time, I would like to have a support truck to meet us each night and probably camp. If not I would try to pack lighter. I wouldn't bring the moccasins; it's not fun or smart trying to kick-start a four stroke in those things. I had to do this each day when we went out to eat. I also saved up my worn out socks and after each ride, I threw the socks out. So the pack got a little lighter each day. The reason I mention all the towns and roads is if anyone reading this decides to do the ride, you will have specific reference points of time and distance. If you ever do this ride, make sure everything you pack is individually wrapped in zip lock bags. They will protect it from rain as well as dust. Each person on the ride should carry a copy of the map. We water sealed ours and pack the current days sheets in a zip lock that was easily accessible. Make sure your bikes are in perfect working order and carry tools/parts. We also had along a towrope , extra brake and throttle cables. The ride was truly an adventure and we had a blast. Make sure you pay attention to the markers, your map, and carry a compass. All the markers are orange triangles; the ORV markers have a quad on them and say "ORV TRAIL", the MCCCT markers have a bike on them and say "MCCCT" there are also "ORV ROUTE" Markings. You will want to follow the MCCCT marker to where it joins ORV trail and then follow the ORV trail markers until it splits again, then you follow the "MCCCT" markers again. If the trail is ORV/MCCCT, every couple of tenths of a mile, there should be a MCCCT marker with the ORV marker. If you've gone a few miles and only have seen ORV markers, you've probably gone the wrong way. Often on a tree, there will be both markers, with ORV going one way and MCCCT going the other way. Make sure every so often you stop and regroup with your riding partner. On our trip, the second guy had to hang back because of dust and a couple of times, Jim was leading and missed a MCCCT marker and I didn't so I wound up ahead of him. We would stop every 5 to 8 miles and make sure we were still together. If this ride is too much for you, at the end of July or beginning of August, the Cycle Conservation Club runs their Six Days of Michigan Trail ride. It started about 15 years ago with a group of guys organizing and riding the trail safari together. Now it has grown to their biggest event. Drawing close to 300 riders and support from all the big makes and becoming a National Suzuki Dual Sport Series ride. They've been known to ride trail in the upper and lower part of the state. Each day is a new trail starting from the campground and returning back. Camp moves a couple of times during the week. Each night there is also a planned activity. They run a single-track route and a dual sport/two track route. If you ever get the chance to do it, go it's a blast. I've ridden the Six Days ride 5 times and plan on going again in a couple of years. If you have any questions about the Trail Safari, Six Days ride or club info, contact Bill Chapin. If you want to ask me about it,you can send email to Dirt Rider