Monday, September 2, 2013

Beach Ride

The Beach

Clark County Beach?  Well, not many and too small to qualify as a suitable location for a beach ride.  I’ve always been a bit envious of the fatbike stories I see about riders who maybe live close to Lake Michigan or Superior and have the opportunity to roll along for miles on end on uninterrupted sand.  Ironically,  located 150 miles from the nearest great lake, we actually have miles of uninterrupted sand as well.  So it’s not a beach, and there is no water edge, but we do have sand, the Clark County Forest ATV trails with no shortage of motorheads churnin up the soil, produce gobs of it.

Although the locals here call Levis Mound home, we do venture off singletrack from time to time to explore or at the very least,  have a change of scenery.  The subject of a “beach ride” came up over a few beverages and since fatbikes are our ride of choice, it was a perfect match.  Back in the day, we used to organize a mountain bike century-the “Quad Quiver”, but now, ATVs have the old trails tilled up into miles of deep sand-unrideable for normal mountain bikes.

Being fairly smart-the plan was to get onto the trails early in the morning (ATV riders seem to sleep in) when traffic is low and temps cooler.  Our jumping off point being Rock Dam, north west of Neillsville and ATV central.  Good friends and fatbike fans Dan and Laura happen to live there and with their Pugsleys,  and a quick dip of tires on the public beach, we headed out.  It soon became apparent that even in deep powdery sand, the big treads float very well and we could make our way smoothly down the white ribbon of trail.   The forestry department if often awarded ATV maintenance funds from the state gas tax, so in some parts of the forest, the “trails” are very much like gravel hiways.  Here, the terrain is fairly flat, so the natural sand, a few inches below the top soil, is what makes up a majority of the riding surface.  Our itinerary was to ride a 5 or 6 mile loop in the Rock Dam area to see how we felt.  The wheels rolled along well, and soon we passed by our return loop and ventured further-why not, the fatties were performing great in the loose sand.  Dan had ATV’d some of these trail many years earlier and there was some uncertainty as to exactly where we were.  Some east and west power lines and north and south forest roads helped with dead reckoning luckily.  We stumbled on what may be the only “waterfall” in Clark County-a little gem on the South Fork of the Eau Claire River.  A perfect place to just relax for a while and debate where we were. 

Knowing we needed to head south to return, we followed a forest road-fresh with skidder and logging truck tracks into a huge oak timber sale.  The road dead ended with no clear way out, so reluctantly we reversed course until hitting the powerline again, and decided to bushwack down that-luckily, the fatbikes handle about everything and we were able to mow down tall swamp grass and hidden ruts and make our way back to civilization, a few miles from our starting point.  Riding a bit of pavement back set our tires buzzing we rolled into Rock Dam no handed and feeling good after the three hour adventure-our first “beach ride” a success.  Nothing wrong with a little fatbike exploring and getting lost for a spell.  As J. R. R. Tolkien  said: “Not all those who wander are lost.”  I couldn’t agree more.

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