The following is a true story, only the names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Let's Fight

Right now the Minnesota DNR has put out a weak plan for riding fat-bikes on state land. I would guess they have no concern or even knowledge of our desire to ride trials like the Arrowhead in the far north and Minnesota Valley Trail in the south metro. I know a lot of people from this state and around the world know about the Arrowhead 135, what will become of it if we don't speak up. Countless winter cyclist flock to the Minnesota Valley Trail from all over the Twin Cities metro....would you like this to go away?  Have you ever thought about a long trek up the Taconite trail to Ely, or hopping on the North Shore Trail for a Lake Superior sized adventure? ...that could be but an unfulfilled dream as well.   The Grant in Aid trails are officially off limits now, but that makes sense since the snowmobilers fought and paid for those. The many state trails on the other hand are paid for by you and me in the form of taxes. Every single one of them is open to bicycles and is clearly stated in the DNR's  A-Z trails list with a bicycle icon. Don't let them back pedal and remove us from these trails that are already open and belong to all of us tax payers.  Instead, send them an E-mail and let them know we want the trails open,  just as stated within their own website. The time to fight is NOW!!!!  
      Send your vision here ->  fatbikefeedback.dnr@state.mn.us 

This is what I sent ....it's a little choppy but I was pissed when I wrote it

Hello, I'm a concerned Fat Bike rider, I'm a Minnesota resident of 40 years and a fat biker of 10 years. I would like to suggest you review your stance on the state trails...it appears that there is a grey area in whether or not they are open to riding , and as far as I'm concerned if I see a bike symbol at the trail head or on the website, I'm riding it. It is apparent that the Grant In Aid trails are off limits but the state trails listed on your DNR state trails list has a bike symbol for every last one of them, allowing bicycles on those trails. Here is a paragraph of uses on STATE trails from the DNR website   Most state trails are open to several non-motorized uses by people of all abilities: walking, biking, inline skating, horseback riding, cross-country skiing. Some trails are also open to snowmobiling. Electric wheelchairs are permitted on all state trails. I understand that snowmobilers have worked hard to establish the GIA trails so I have no issue about staying clear of them. I am particularly concerned about not being able to ride state trails,that I fund as a taxpayer, specifically the Arrowhead, Taconite, Minnesota Valley, and the North Shore trails. I have spent countless hours riding these trails with no issues concerning safety or a conflict with other users. If they are truly off limits to all but snowmobiles and skiers then why is it they are used by hikers, snow shoers, and dog sleds in the winter...are you going to kick them out too? You talk about safety....isn't a walker or someone on snowshoes in danger on theses trails....oh please protect them by eliminating their access and save them from themselves. It would be a very underhanded act to all of the sudden close the state trails to fat-bikes that are already designated as multi-use, (including bicycles),just because you have no idea how to handle an expanding user group. If all you're after is to get your money grubbing government mitts on some more cash, then charge for a winter trail pass. I believe no rider, including myself, would mind chipping in for groomed trail access. Furthermore the list of trails approved  for riding is pretty weak, clearly, like many government agencies, you are out of touch with what people actually want. Does the Luce Line or Gateway ever really close? This leads people to believe your doing something when your not,accept maybe using them as a way to boost the perceived mileage.  Was it illegal to ride these well known bike paths before you made it OK?     In closing...... The snowmobile riders can keep their GIA trails that they fought for,  leave the state trails alone by keeping them open as multi-use, which everyone pays for with taxes, and if you feel so inclined to further raid the wallets of the people that pay your wages and have them buy a winter bicycle trail pass...go for it. 

My 2 cents      Thanks......D Rider      

Monday, December 15, 2014

Sandstone Ice Festival X


On Friday after work I drove north to Hinkley MN with my fat bike loaded with winter camping gear. This included my small canvas pyramid and my mini wood burning stove. I've been on a bit of a mission to prove this system's effectiveness at lightweight portability and the ability to keep me warm, so this would be another good test. From Hinkley I took the snow covered Munger Trail 12-13 miles to Robinson Park in Sandstone where the Sandstone Ice Festival was taking place. Although the festival is primarily about ice climbing it also was about winter camping and other winter activities, so I thought the fat-bike/hot tent would fit right in. My wife and kids couldn't go to the fest until Saturday anyway so it worked perfect for me to get a night out in the tent.    
Home Sweet Home


Yeah it's hot 

 You would think that it would be somewhat cold in mid December in northern Minnesota this time of year but it was very mild and didn't drop below freezing the entire time I was there. After arriving at Robinson Park I set up my tent and got my things situated before walking over to a nearby group huddled around a camp fire. I chatted with some people, shared some of my food and hung out until about 10 pm when I finally called it a night. I got a fire going in the tent and dried some gear mostly to justify bringing the extra weight. It was nice getting really warm before going to sleep.




Snowball fight 
 The next morning I awoke to warm temps and a hazy fog that would last the whole day. This would actually be a blessing, the ice was still good to climb and my wife and boys would not have to freeze their butts off while we all enjoyed a large portion of the day outside. Lynn signed up for the women's climbing clinic, and arrived about a half hour before the start time of 10am. While Lynn did her thing the boys and I had a snowball fight, drank hot chocolate and cider, talked with climbers and vendors, and explored the park. They quickly took to the remnant stacks of quarried stone that remained in the park from who knows how long ago. This occupied them for good portion of the day as they used the high ground for better snowball attacks from above and the many cave like pockets to avoid detection and dodge heavy fire from yours truly. By mid-day the boys were soaking wet and Lynn was done with her clinic. The boys retreated to the van for some snacks and heat.

Super mom

Women's clinic in action


The scene....hazy 

Although I brought all of my ice climbing gear I was not sure if I would be able to get any climbing in. There were lots of people and ropes hanging from every good line, the clinics taking up most of the really good, fat stuff. I brought a rope and all the gear to set something but didn't really have the time to break away from the boys. Without setting up my own line and sharing, I feel like a chump asking to get on someone else's rope. Alas, there was a short break in between the morning and afternoon clinics when I was able to seize an opportunity to do two routes.



Warm enough for shorts 

teacher----student 
.I haven't climbed much in the last several years and have done even less ice but it sure felt good to get after it. Even better was getting G Man on the wall. Lynn's boots fit him and the axes don't have a size accept that mine are out-dated and are a bit long and heavy for him. I didn't think he would get all the way up but I wanted him to at least try it out, he made it about fifteen feet and was done, right as the climbers from the afternoon clinic moved in. Shortly after the climbing we packed up and grabbed a bite to eat at the local cafe. I  got a ride back to my van and returned to gather my camping gear and bike.




I had a fantastic time camping out, meeting some great people, and spending time with my family....we look forward to it next year.    Thank You  Sandstone Ice Festival X

Monday, December 8, 2014

Lumens

Living here in the north land with very short days during the winter months a cyclist is bound to ride in the dark. It's been going on long enough already this year that I'm kind of getting sick of it. Riding at night is fun but I still prefer the daylight. Even worse is gathering up all the batteries, lights and do-dads to attach all the crap to your helmet and bike.
The box was built from scratch out of 18ga paint grip. It contains two, 4 gang steel electrical boxes that were spot welded in place. It's about the size of a steel box that would typically house a sawsall. Ideally a steel porta-band box would be best for a family sized kit.

I chose to paint it orange and navy blue just because the colors looked good on the shelf. I raided my wife's sticker collection to give it some pop. 
  Recently in the midst of getting all this junk together for a ride I forgot to charge the cells the night before and brought them to work in the morning. I get all my lights on ebay from China/Hong Kong but I don't trust charging them when I'm not at home (fire). The output is fantastic and run times very long but after a warning from a similar manufacturer I am weary leaving them anywhere that might start a fire.  Bringing them to work was a mistake.....later that evening when I went to grab the batteries that I'm sure I put on the front seat of my van, is when I realized I left them at work when I detoured to take a piss before heading home. They were sitting safely in the rest room the next morning, but as a result I was forced to ride with an extra light I found in the van. I was very agitated before the ride and crashed a couple times due to lack of light.
It's finished off with some hardware found at any home improvement store....and more stickers  

I mostly use "high quality" Solar Storm, Cree, lights found on Ebay directly from China.
      As a result I decided to build my own set-up, a light charging "station" where I could keep all my lighting stuff together in a non-flammable metal box. I'm not the only one in my household that rides at night so I made it (almost) big enough for all our stuff. The boys don't typically ride at night in the winter, but during the car camping months of spring through fall they are out ripping around the campgrounds into the wee hours of the night. For this purpose I made it portable to plug-in where ever. Also, in the off chance Lynn and I do more 24 hour races the self contained kit will come in handy.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

All Terrain Vehicle

I love my silent sports as much as the next person, but I have no hang-ups grabbing hold of the handlebars of a motorized vehicle. In the early fall my youngest son Big D, and two other friends did an ATV trip on the north shore of Lake Superior.    Note: pics are out of chronological  order....sorry
Schtave' stuck ...Soo Pits



Lunch at the pits

End of the line
  We started near Finland, making use of the Moose Run ,Moose Walk , and Red Top Trails. We were very fortunate to have good weather the first day of riding, cold and rain are not ideal. Our plan was to ride all day, grab some food in Silver Bay and be back to camp with enough time for dinner and a campfire.
Almost got suck here a couple years ago when the water was higher


Schtave'

De-Rocker

A long day on the trails

Red Top Trail overlooking Lake Superior 

  Long ago (2007) when my oldest boy was about five, he and I did a similar trip as father and son. We didn't do too much riding, so I was excited to see how much trail the area had to offer. Having a couple others along was key to have a better time...... more people= more fun. We had a fantastic day covering a little more than 90 miles with out doing too much of the same trail twice. We got back around dark and had lots of time to chill out at camp ,eat, and stay warm by the fire.
Bean Lake 

Near Silver Bay

Slick rock ?

Unload

No.....he's not going to drive his own 4-wheeler


 .The next day the weather was looking cloudy and was forecast for rain. Since we had already ridden pretty much everything we wanted too, we decided to head south to Moose Lake. This would not only give us a chance to ride more ,but it would get us a little closer to home so the final push would be shorter. We started out with the Soo Pits and moved on to the Soo Line Trail headed south. Our furthest point was where the Soo Line crossed the Kettle River. We took a short ride to the banks and headed back to the pits for more fun.
1st stop along the trail



Lunch in Silver Bay....Gas station fare 

De-rocker's mojo 

This hill is waaayyy steeper than it looks

     Big D and myself had an excellent time four-wheeling with our friends Schtave' and De-Rocker. Unfortunately my boys are getting too big to ride on the wheeler with me, so it may be the last trip of it's kind...