5/29/19 – 5/30/19
Our friend Paul pre-rode The Crusher 225 course this week and has some enhanced gravel notes for your training plan. And in case you think “I can do better than that” you should probably look at Paul’s recent ultra endurance experience:
- 2016 Tour Divide Finisher
- 2016 Sturgeon 100
- 2016 Marji Gesick 50 Finisher
- 2017 Arrowhead 135 Ultra Unsupported
- 2017 Sturgeon 100
Take it away, Paul:
I pre-rode the Crusher 225 and will break this description into three parts:
1). Copper Harbor to Houghton. 74 miles, 3374 vertical gain, 9hrs
2). Houghton to L’anse. 83 miles, 4040’ vertical gain, 10.5hrs
3). L’anse to Marquette, 82 miles, 4736’ vertical gain, 11hrs
“I finished the Arrowhead 135 Ultra Unsupported in 2017. Arrowhead is a great event, and regarded as one of the top fifty hardest endurance races in the world. Crusher 225 was harder, and deserves to be added to the top fifty list. For most people it will be the toughest ride of their life due to remoteness, distance, mosquitos, wild animals, and limited resupply. Enjoy the ride!” – Paul
1). Departed Copper Harbor at 6:00am. The weather was excellent with temps in the high 40’s and slight variable winds. The route began on about three miles of blacktop road then faded to a two-track logging gravel road. The gravel road surface is firm with spotty mud puddles and potholes. At about 15 miles in, the route goes to blacktop for 3 miles then back to gravel. The gravel may be a little soft in places but is overall good.
At about mile 34, the route is goes back to blacktop with a long grinding uphill (550’ vertical) to mile 36. This climb accounts for 4% total vertical of the entire ride.
Miles 38 to 44 are on a snowmobile trail which is a little bumpy. US 41 is crossed at Cliffs Drive. The route continues south to Seneca lake and then takes a right onto a rough single track for 1 mile. From here, the route is on snowmobile trails (abandon RR grades) and crosses US 41 two more times. The trail surface is mostly firm with a few soft sandy spots.
When arriving in Hancock, please heed the stop signs as high traffic roads are crossed. Riders can resupply at Hancock Holiday gas station (you must buy water it is not available at the soda fountain) and at Houghton Roy’s Pasty (free water at soda fountain).
When departing Houghton, ride through the camp ground near Chutes and Ladders then then cross Canal road to a snowmobile trail for 1 mile. The trail connects back to Canal road, onto Coles Creek road, to Covered Road, and then into Freda. The route surface between Houghton and Freda is about 8.5 miles of blacktop with 5.5 miles hard gravel.
2) Freda to Toivola will be peaceful meandering two track ride. The Mosquito Inn in Toivola is about the 100 mile mark and can be a resupply point. From the Mosquito Inn to highway M-38 is about 20 miles, with 500’ elevation drop, a lot of downhill on firm gravel.
After crossing M-38, there is mostly firm gravel road surface to L’anse. Resuppling in L’Anse can be done if riders arrive before the following local businesses close: Subway & Burger King close at 11:00pm and the Holiday gas station closes at 12midnight.
When departing L’anse, the route will be blacktop for about 5 miles. Then the fun begins! The route surfaces vary from firm gravel to mud.
3) Miles 170-176 is the 1,000-foot accent to the summit of Mt. Arvon. This climb accounts for 8% total vertical of the entire ride. It’s definitely a grind! I viewed large, fresh wolf tracks in the mud. (Note: we are not alone out there!).
The route descends very steeply down the east slope of Mt. Arvon with up to 25% decline for 3 miles; therefore, check your speed and watch for hairpin curves that can be difficult to navigate even during day light.
The next 20 miles consist of a good two track. The nastiest portion of the route comes at about mile 200 – the Mulligan truck trail – which is 3 miles with 500’ vertical gain.
After crossing the Yellow Dog River, the route ascends 500’ over the next 3 miles of rocky, washed out road. From about mile 203 to the finish line, the route will be sandy to firm two-track gravel. The finish line crossing is at the NTN Base Camp.
For most of you, this will be the toughest ride of your life due to distance, remoteness, mosquitos, wild animals, and limited resupply.