Posted by Bobkie on April 22, 2016
The designated day that opens the season. Bringing new opportunities and refection of what went down last year. Baseball, cost trout opener, tadalafil walleye season… they all have their designated day.
But not mountain biking. There isn’t a “designated opener.” It happens when it happens for each rider. That first time out for the season when things click back into gear.
That day happened for me this year on Sunday, April 17 on the Marquette South Trails doing two laps up Benson Grade descending on Down Dogger, finishing with a hot lap on the Grom loop.
The NTN Singletrack post reported that those jones’n for an early season session were advised to seek south facing trails, avoid the mud, and Down Dogger was on the hit list with a disclaimer that the trials have not been cleared and beware of preseason hazarders.
Sounds good to me.
So I stopped by the storage garage with all the pre-season tools to get the rig out of hibernation and loaded it up.
The warm-up for Down Dogger is climbing the Benson Grade, which is a sustained climb, esp. earlier season. Although a stop at the dual slalom course midway was needed to just lower the heart rate.
Short reminisce of Pipe Dreams, an aquifer drop that was first revealed back in the the 1990s when Benson Grade was excavated. That drop lead down and through the remaining pipe below the dual slaloms course.
Snow/ice pack was still a hazard on the climb.
Topping out was like shaking hands with an old friend. Across the valley Marquette Mountain still had skiable snow pack and I was about to drop in on the first line of the season. First lap.
Staying high on the berms was the choice line. I wasn’t the first and for sure wasn’t the last of the day. Down Dogger held together well over the winter with very little erosion and drainage that was working well. DD is best described as a pump track on a downhill course. Not much pedaling, minimal air, and working a rhythm that takes a couple laps to tune into.
On the second lap up, I was passed by Greg who told me at the top this was his first climb on Benson for the season. He was stoked!
I asked him to lead out. He obliged. The rest is history. The 2016 is under way. Think Dirt!