Ian, Adam, and I headed up to Eagle Harbor this afternoon after work to check out Brockway Mountain Drive. A lot of people venture to Brockway by car, and snap a few photos at the top of Eagle Harbor (it’s really shape like an eagle!) and the surrounding mountains. I’ve been to Brockway countless times. It’s typically windy, but the eagle-eye view is just incredible (are you catching on to the eagle theme here?). Although we didn’t spot any white-headed birds this time, we did make our way through one of my most favorite places in the Keweenaw, and we did so on bikes.
This is one of those “every Michigan cyclist must do” rides. Living in the Keweenaw, it’s almost shunned to not have at least attempted it. Some are brave enough to do this crazy mountain road after riding all the way from Houghton on their two-wheels. The three of us decided to throw down our first real hill session of the summer.
We started at the Harbor, and cruised past Lake Bailey to the east base of Brockway Mountain Drive. Once we got there, the hill seemed less than intimidating. It barely climbed for the first two miles, and I feared what was ahead of us. Sure enough, the climb began, and it didn’t stop for four more miles. We climbed nearly 1000ft in 2.5miles. Not too bad… except the hill seemed to never stop! We took a corner, and there was more climbing. Another corner, another hill. Sure enough, it wasn’t until I couldn’t see any trees that we had reached the top. Not too bad, my quads were burning, my lungs ached, but I knew we weren’t done. We then decended the rest of the way into Copper Harbor, where we stopped, juuuust after the Mountain Drive merged into M26, turned around and went back up.
The second time up was interesting. It started with a much steeper, much more difficult (15% grade) climb. We basically were out of the saddle and hammering away until we got to the crest. By the time we got to the undulating hills at the top, my quads were screaming barfies. Unfortunately, the road isn’t in that great of condition either, so the ride down would have been more fun had it been smooth and not full of pot-holes. It was alright, though. We dropped the hammer on the way back, too, and I think my spedometer read 35mph on a section at some point. Sweet! Check out the ride here.
We then proceeded to throw down a slow transition (hey, we had to change shorts!) and threw on our shoes for some “recovery” running. Luckily, I brought my new Brooks Trances and not only did I look good, I felt great! 😀 It was a nice, easy pace for the first half, through the Nature Conservancy trails near Eagle Harbor, which offered us a few more climbs. We popped out on the road and headed back towards Brockway, and at the turnaround decided to throw down some negative splits. My last two miles were 7:20 and 7:26, respectively, and I even told myself to slow down more on the last mile. Not too shabby. Not too much of a recovery run, though.
Check out the run here.
We then took an awesome ice bath in the Harbor, which is freshwater Lake Superior. I was surprised it wasn’t colder. I would say I was surprised at how warm the water was, but I can’t go that far. It wasn’t warm… just not 5C that I thought it was… We were hoping to get some grub from one of the local restaurants (Fitzgeralds), but by the time we finished running and were cleaned up, it was 9:30. Taco Bell sufficed!