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

Friday, December 30, 2011

Two Thousand Eleven

January    "G" Man, his friend David, David's dad Adam, and myself ring in the new year camping on the north shore of Lake Superior
 2011 has been a great year! Since "G" Man was born back in 2003 the previous seven years have been a blur until 2011. Not that I don't absolutely love my kids and wife, it's been really hard to try and be a good dad and husband and have to fight the burning desire in my soul to get out and explore. I have done a lot in the past few years (more than most married dads I know) but this year it really came together with the whole family. I felt like my old self again, only better, by sharing it with the kids and Lynn at a high level of activity. These are the highlights of the year for me month by month.There are many other day trips and after work hikes, bike rides,  swimming and general messing around that tied it all together to make it an incredible year. Thank You, Lynn and my boys, who all make life so exciting, and also to my fantastic group of friends who are always up to having some fun.
Febuary    Arrowhead Ultra, 4th Place. Pictured with Dan Ditmer 3rd, Jeff Oatley 1st, and Jason Buffington 2nd  

March    The Man Trip, I live for this trip ! Water fall on the Devil Track River. Pictured with Mark and Cory

April    Grand Canyon, Buckskin Gulch, MTB riding in between hikes,a months worth of activity crammed into a week, with  Dale and Chris

May     Mountain biking at Levis-Trow with the whole family and friends. Also first trip in new camper.

June     High water on Minnehaha Creek gets me out for four separate trips. Pictured, Lynn and Ray

July     10 day trip to the U.P. of Michigan with family and friends. Lots of swimming,kayaking , riding and  goofing off.
Please, no fat jokes!

August   Me and the boys spend a weekend down at Beaver Creek State park.  Half our time is spent in the water swimming or riding

September    I had great day riding the Gentlemen's ride with my homies  
October    BWCAW, Had an excellent time with three other father/sons on a long weekend of camping ,canoeing ,hiking,shooting and general shnanegans
November   Thanksgiving weekend was a blast! It lasted five days. I did Three big rides, a kayak trip , caving and climbing, and even spent a couple nights out in the tree house with the boys. 
December    I love Christmas, not so much the prep for it but the day itself. I got out for several rides, solo and with the boys, and spent  lots of time with  family. The kids even got me a Barbie doll from the thrift store. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Holiday Weekend

 Apparently the ice on the metro area lakes is thick enough to support a bike and rider. Saturday was spent hopping on and off the frozen swamps along the Minnesota River bottoms trail for about four hours. I was pretty nervous crossing the first swamp. I was intermittently following the tracks of a trapper and his sled along the edge of the reeds and cattails. The tracks looked pretty new but with the warm weather we are having lately I was on high alert for thin ice and open water. The couple times I've fallen through the ice have been in swamps. Most of the time the water is pretty shallow but it scares the hell out of you.

Not sure why this hole is here,but I was on the lookout for others like it.
 On Sunday after opening presents from Santa, Big "D" and I went out for a short ride around the Bass Ponds in Bloomington. It was really warm and a perfect day to get outside. I found a nice little spot of snow covered ice for him to try out on his bike.The snow frozen to the ice has a good amount of traction. He did well at not crashing so we made a little course about 100yards long that we rode back and forth several times. Riding the ice like this is really fun and unique, it doesn't happen very often and it's good to ride it while you can.

 Monday was another nice day,about 50 deg, but a little windy. "G" Man and I headed down to the Louisville Swamp for a short ride. I wasn't planning on riding the ice there, but we found a really shallow area that I'm sure was frozen solid to the ground. We played around there for a while, eyeing a small rock outcropping island about a quarter mile out in the middle of the swamp. We rode out a couple hundred yards when the inner voice of MOM got the best of me, so we turned back. We continued onward, riding a small loop out on the prairie past the Jab's Farm before one last spin on the ice,and calling it a day.  

Thursday, December 22, 2011

3 Sewer Tour

I thought of the title for this adventure way before I ever convinced a couple friends to join me on it. Four of us assembled Wednesday evening to ride 4 different drains. In the end we would leave the fourth for another adventure. The first drain is really basic, and a good primer for what to expect in the others. I was glad to have done this most basic one first, as one of the guys in the group decided to bail out soon after exiting.
 The second drain is one that I have not been to in about 8 or 9 years. Some of the artwork I saw way back when was still there, intact and still quite vivid. Krylon must be some good paint. The ride was a little over a mile, about the same as the first one. We spent about an hour inside taking photos and exploring side tunnels before heading out.

Our third endeavor was one that I have not done before so I was really stoked. I wasn't even sure I was at the right spot. I had scouted it a couple weeks ago on foot and noted where the best place would be to try and find it at night by bike and also to bring a short piece of rope. The down climb was a little tricky with the penalty for a slip of the foot being a swim on a frigid night. Not knowing if this was the right spot that I was looking/planning for and also the pain in the ass it would be to lower the bikes, we decided to walk it. Fifteen minutes of fast walking to the point of running would reveal this was the place I was looking for. The route is colorfully decorated by graffiti some of which is very artistic and very well done.  There were also cave-like formations of rock solid sand bars running perpendicular to the water flow, creating little dams along the way, up to a foot deep in spots. These look like a fun challenge to ride.  On my way out I was already planning a future trip back with my bike. It was nearly 10 pm upon exiting  and we decided to leave the fourth exploration for another night. Until next time...................................

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mole People

Steve coming down a "practice" chimney
 A couple of days after Thanksgiving.... Lynn, Steve S, and myself, headed to southern Minnesota for some caving. We met up with several others as well as our "guide", Al at the entrance to the cave. We had to wait for the whole group to assemble and as a result got a late start which sucked. Steve and I were really anxious to get in the cave. Lynn on the other hand is not super into caves and  I'm sure would have rather spent the day at a coffee shop or at home relaxing. Being the wonderful husband that I am, I dragged her along so we could spend "quality time" together. She did have fun anyway, although she did hurt her knee and was on the brink of a nasty cold.
Steve and Al and cool feature above

Dave, Steve, Me, Al in the Hanging Garden Room
The large group split into two groups and we were off. Once inside we preceded to get lost and left our cave packs behind at the start of a tight crawl. This led to a fun adventure off-route as we tried to find a different way back to our packs. Al is a experienced leader in this cave, we really weren't lost per say, but did end up seeing some areas that were unexpected, such as Timber Hall and an old dig site.The area around Timber Hall is a long, very tall "hall way" which if not for all the chock stones wedged in what we used as the floor would be a straight drop to the river below some thirty feet or more.

 After we got back to the packs we were very close to the entrance and voted to have a pee break top side, instead of  using our pee bottles underground and have to carry them around with us for the remainder of the trip. We had lunch with the other group who had enough caving for the day. They were mostly first time cavers led by Dave G. After lunch Lynn wasn't feeling up to any more caving so Al, Dave, Steve, and I headed back in for another hour and a half for some more exploring before we all headed home. PS anyone interested in caving in Minnesota should check out the Minnesota Speleological Survey. It's cheap to join (20$ per year, per family) and the only way your getting into stuff like this.
Lynn, in Timber Hall

This is a large crawl 

Proof I was there

Before heading out  (clean)

Monday, December 19, 2011

December ?

Note large hive, moments before being blasted by a  barrage of large sticks 

The boys and I took advantage of the warm temps this past Sunday. Our plan originally was to finish up Christmas shopping, but it was so nice I thought the day would be better spent riding our bikes on the river bottom trails. We left from the 35W bridge and headed east. This is a fun and flat area that they all could enjoy. "G" man was off like a shot with Super "Y" right behind. I held back with Big D on his little 16" wheeled single speed. I was proud to see all of them ride the drops into the creek crossings with ease. We made a couple of stops to check out the "dinosaur grass" (horse tails, aka the chive forest)and to knock down a large bee hive directly above the trail. We ended up with about five miles of riding and a couple hours of fun.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Fat-Bike Addiction

Maiden Voyage 

The Thrasher is still my favorite. There is no place I won't go with this one.

Arrowhead Race machine. I made this one too nice to beat on. I also need to rely on this one a lot more

I suppose it's better than being addicted to crack. On Thursday I picked up my third fat-bike; the Moon Lander. I was more excited for this bike than any other bike I have owned; including my first real fat-bike and my first 29er way back in 02'. The first ride was on Saturday at the river bottoms but not before making a few changes. The saddle, seat post, stem, and bars were replaced. I had to rob a few things off some other bikes which drives me crazy but I didn't want to wait to ride it and I figured they won't be used until spring which is plenty of time to put them back. I really like the bike mostly because it's just obscene. There is no snow here right now so it's hard to judge how it will ride, but it is quite slow. The heavier rotating mass is noticeable over the standard 60-80 mm rims with any of the 3.7" tires out there. The bike seems to bounce a little more and requires more upper body strength to boss it around on the trails. After a three and a half hour ride my arms and shoulders were sore, something I have not experienced in the last three months of riding skinny 3.7" tires. Right now I love this bike and I'm looking forward to riding some packed snow.