Marji for Dummies

Marji for Dummies

I can say my Marji experience started in 2015.  In 2015 some riding buddies mentioned they were participating in a race called the Marji Gesick, a 100 and 50 mile option race.  I can tell you I was intrigued with the 100 miler because who does 50 mile races!  Those yahoos (Marc, Jack and Kris) went up and did the race.  They came back stating how difficult, remote, full of gnar the race was and they only did the 50 miler!  I did not do the race because of work obligations at the time, but I can say it was my first Marji experience through the eyes of Marc, Jack and Kris. I was hooked and waited the year to see if the Marji would come back for 2016.

For 2016, I signed up for my first Marji Gesick 100.  I wanted to see what it was all about.  My racing and riding experience in Marquette County were through the Ore to Shore Hard Rock from 2001 to 2015 and bikepacking through Marquette County in 2013 and 2015 so I was not fully acquainted with the “Real” trails of the area. I am not a cliché type of guy, but I will say “I was a fish out of water!” in 2016.

Fast forward to post 2019 Marji.  I am 0 for 4 when it comes to completions of the Marji.  I am the most prepared 4 time quitter of the Marji according to Todd Poquette.  Ha!

This is a learning application, call it Marji for Dummies.  What you are about to read will not apply to everyone or to certain areas of your prep for the Marji, but I will tell you that once you do Marji, it lives rent free in your head (until you finish it!).

2016:

  • Did not finish the 100 miler, only 90 out of 103 miles
  • Ore to Shore Hard Rock was the only baseline for MQT trails
  • No preriding of Marji course
  • No night riding experience on RANGE/RAMBA trails
  • 29+ hardtail, 34×10-44, no dropper post
  • Walked steep uphills and gnar downhills with carbon racing shoes
  • Chased the Buckle
  • No core strength training/GYM work
  • Full on self-support mode with large Osprey pack

Lessons learned

  • Preride parts of the course
  • Night ride gnar sections
  • Lower gearing to avoid walking
  • Do not chase the buckle
  • Unofficial aid stations, maybe less fuel if aid stations available in 2017

2017:

  • Did not finish the 100 miler, only 65 out of 111 miles (Onset of heat stroke)
  • 29+ hardtail, 32×10-46 no dropper
  • Walked steep uphills and gnar downhills, Pine Knob added using carbon racing shoes (Started thinking about non-racing shoes)
  • Did not chase buckle
  • No core strength training/GYM work
  • Increased night riding on home trails

Lessons learned:

  • Combat heat, improve hydration
  • Rode gnar consistently due to preriding earlier in summer

2018:

  • Did not finish the 100 miler, only 92 out of 105 miles
  • Prerode Harlow Lake loop
  • 29+ full suspension with 30×10-50, no dropper
  • Rode with a group of friends
  • Walked some steep downhills and gnar downhills using non-racing shoes for walkability
  • Increased night riding on home trails
  • No core strength training/GYM work
  • Do not chase Buckle

Lesson learned:

  • Do not ride with friends/individuals
  • Next Marji; no walking uphills or downhills
  • Consider dropper post for downhill gnar
  • More preriding of gnar trails (RANGE/RAMBA)
  • Full suspension was key for 2018

2019:

  • Did not finish the 100 miler, only 65 out of 105 miles, crash earlier on knee stopped me
  • Consistent riding from start to 50 miles, focused on riding all uphills and gnar downhills
  • Marji Camp-Rode RANGE/RAMBA trails with Mark Kransz
  • Prerode Pine Knob, Gurly and Scary successfully
  • January started core strength training and other GYM work specifically for Marji
    • Lost 20 pounds
    • Gain strength to combat gnar
    • Hill repeats started 6 weeks out from Marji
  • Added a dropper post to full suspension bike to ride gnar successfully

Lessons Learned

  • Have consistent speed
  • Preriding the gnar diminished the apprehension of riding gnar
  • Marji Camp lectures and preriding were valuable for knowledge
  • Dropper post assisted with the focus of riding the gnary portions of the course such Pine Knob, Scary and Harlow Lake trails
  • Core strength training/GYM work increased ability react to gnar/choppy/rocky terrain
  • Hill repeats increase capacity to climb all areas of the course

Overall lessons learned:

  • Preride the course or key parts of the course
  • Night ride gnar sections (Get familiar with your light system)
  • Lower gearing to avoid walking
  • Do not chase the buckle
  • Do not depend on unofficial aid stations, but you can carry less as a risk
  • Stay hydrated.It might be cool (2018) or hot (2017)
  • Get comfortable at riding the uncomfortable such as Scary, Pine Knob and heck, all of RAMBA/RANGE trails
  • Do not ride with friends or make pacts with individuals
  • Focus on climbing all the uphills (Off season training) and riding all the gnary downhills
  • Consider dropper post for downhill gnar
  • Sign up for Marji Camp! Camp will familiarize you with all aspects of the race
  • It’s never about the bike, but a full suspension bike is a great option for Marji to keep you fresh over time and soak up the gnar
  • Pace yourself with consistent speed to save some for the end! The last 20 miles are the hardest, yes, the hardest
  • Core strength training/GYM work increased ability react to gnar/choppy/rocky terrain

It’s all about community.

While a lot of races out there are run by for-profit companies, that’s not the case for Marji GesickPolar Roll and The Crusher. All of our events are productions of the 906 Adventure Team, a 501(c)3 whose mission is to empower people to become the best version of themselves through outdoor adventure. We don’t have a large staff of people (two, to be exact) or significant overhead, and that enables us to donate a significant portion of race revenues in two ways:

  1. Since 2015, we’ve given back more than $110,000 to the trail-builders of RAMBA, NTN, Sisu Dirt Crews, WinMan and the DCNT.
  2. We also support youth adventure programs in three communities, investing over $35,000 this year alone in equipment, training, and gear to remove barriers for all kids. Our summer and after-school programs now have over 350 participants, and spots fill up as quickly as Marji Gesick. There is a need we’re trying to fill: to connect kids with their communities and get them off devices.