#TEAMTERAVAIL STORIES - ADAM GOES BIKEPACKING
August 22, 2023
Hey everyone! I’m Adam, Teravail’s Brand Marketing Manager and novice bikepacker. Like many of us, I fell in love with bikepacking during the pandemic in the summer of 2020. Also like many of us, my wife and I got pregnant with our first kiddo that same year…COVID babies, amiright?! After a few incredible solo adventures, the reality of becoming a father started to hit me, and that meant my free time wasn’t quite as free. Above all else, I just want to be a good dad, and as much as I’d like to be that guy adventuring with my infant daughter, I’m just not (and I don’t think she’s quite ready for that anyway).
Lucky for me, my wife can tell when I need to get away, and every now and then she tells me to get out of her hair for a few days and go “howl at the moon.” One of those green lights came last fall and she didn’t have to tell me twice. September in Michigan means a long, cold, dark winter is right around the corner, so I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity for one last hoorah!
With only a day to plan my trip and a weekend to execute it, I did what anybody should do: I searched Bikepacking.com for a quick adventure in my area. The Manistee Overnighter looked perfect for me: it’s only two hours from home, and bikepacking.com made it easy to plan with a GPX file of the route and all the information I needed.
Reading comments about the route made it clear that, like many Northern Michigan routes, sand was going to be the most challenging obstacle. Fortunately, I’m surrounded by tire experts at work. The team recommended Sparwood for this ride because it’s wide enough to handle the sand, super durable, a fast roller, and can put down plenty of grip for any gnarly spots. I went with 29 x 2.2'' in the Durable casing, set ‘em up tubeless, and my Surly Bridge Club was ready to rock!
I’m not the lightest packer, especially with the weekend’s chilly, rainy forecast. I went with a Surly 24-Pack Rack on the front and loaded that up with my tarp, a dry bag with my zero-degree sleeping bag, and my tent. I also attached Salsa Anything Cages to my fork and filled ‘em up with my camp stove and food. In the rear, I filled my seat pack with clothes (I was pretty stoked I opted to bring all my rain gear), and some camp shoes on my rear rack.
Day one was absolutely incredible! I parked at Nordhouse Dunes and rode the forest roads up to the beautiful Lake Michigan town of Manistee, where I stopped at North Channel Brewing Co. for lunch and a beer.
From there, it was off to find a campsite somewhere along the Little Manistee River. Camping next to the river is only permitted in designated National Forest campsites and they are all first-come, first-served, so I needed to hustle and find a spot before it was too late. As I rode toward the river, truck after truck loaded up with camping gear passed me — it felt like a race to find a spot. I was starting to get desperate when the final campsite I checked was miraculously empty! I had found my slice of paradise!
After setting up camp, I made a dehydrated meal (Backpacker’s Pantry Chana Masala is my go-to…it’s incredible, especially rolled up in a tortilla) and feasted on the edge of the river while watching the salmon swim upstream. I didn’t realize it on my way out there, but this was prime fly-fishing season, which is why finding a campsite was so difficult. I wasn’t there for the fish, but I’ll never forget watching them fight the good fight upstream.
The morning of day two, I woke up to a steady rain that continued the entire day. I was thankful to have my rain gear with me and certainly put it to the test. In the midst of feeling pretty miserable slogging my way down muddy backroads, I hit the absolute best part of the whole adventure: The North Country Trail (NCT)! This short but magical section is the only singletrack on the route and it’s worth the wait. I thought I might have to go around the trail due to the rain, but the beautiful thing about our sandy Northern Michigan trails is they firm up and get even better when wet.
After the NCT section, I was back on the muddy roads to return to my car. The final 10 miles were the most mentally challenging of my life. I was wet, cold, hungry, and slow. I was ready to be home. To put it in perspective, I have been vegan for seven years, but when I came across the E-Z Mart off of Forest Trail Road, I housed a few pieces of gas station pizza, and it was glorious!
Reaching the Nurnberg Trailhead was the type of feeling you get only by achieving something you weren’t sure you could do. On paper, this route was a piece of cake, but the mud really made things slow and grueling. I was happy to be done and ready to trade my helmet for my Girl Dad hat!
Being a parent is challenging in ways I never could have imagined. It’s mentally, physically, and emotionally draining, and it requires our best every single day. Bikepacking has become my way of recharging the batteries. While the ride can also be challenging, it’s a pretty straightforward challenge: ride from A to B and don’t die. It’s the stuff between A and B that puts air in my metaphorical tires and helps me return home as the best version of myself for my family.