In its third year, the Michigan Mountain Mayhem is really picking up momentum. Yours Truly was present on the very first edition of the endurance leg-killer, as a soggy crowd quietly dispersed without hullabaloo (or the lead car) out onto the roads around Boyne City. Two years later, 1,500 riders will make a similar trek in much better (and larger) company.
After selling out the capped 1,000 rider limit in a week, the MMM will re-open registration to allow more thrill seekers and madpersons to partake in the ultimate test of endurance. MMM offers 100k, 160k and 200k routes to chose from. All of these options live up to the mountainous promise that the name of the ride states. While Michigan may not be home to anything like the Alps, it is home to numerous hills, which are backed by more hills, and behind them, even more hills. And when race promotor Paul Nichols sets out to create a climbing endurance ride, you can be sure he has hand-selected every terrible, towering climb in the surrounding counties, and will send up up the biggest ascents on more than one occasion.
Is it a race? No. Sure, there’s results and professional timing chips. More than a few riders will collect into pelotons and groups of more than a handful in order to share the work load. But it is not a race, and the majority of the riders will be on the course in ones and twos, often no more than five huddled together against the wind, weather and fatigue. It is no race, but it definitely has all the elements of survival.
Upon finishing, the brave and weary souls may clamber from their bikes and enjoy some Red Mesa Grill cuisine, or pizza if they so choose, to replace the thousands of calories they’ve burned up along the roadside. If they are still cogent, they may reflect on the beautiful vistas and peaks along the course. They may also curse “The Wall”, which is exactly what it sounds like, and comes within the last few miles of every routes’ finish. The climb looms around a corner as riders begin looking down at their computers, guessing the end can’t be too far off. In the 2010 edition, I surprised myself (pictured above, with fraternal cohort) by being quite fresh on the climb, a feeling I was happy with until I crest the top and began seeing stars.
For more information on how to join the lottery and become on of the lucky 386 riders to get in on the MMM fun, head over to the MMM site on how to sign up.