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

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Arrowhead Last Minute Prep 2012

I've been getting ready for this thing since last year. It seams like all I do after the arrowhead is think about next year. I figured I would clear my head a little and go for creek ride on Friday. The spot I chose is one of my favorite places to visit, it's not very well known and rarely have I seen anything but foot prints. I ended up riding two different creeks both of which were in prime condition for the bike and also across a lake.
       Saturday was a different story, instead of an easy spin or just taking it easy doing nothing, I raced at the Penn Cycle Fat-Bike race at the Eagan shop. I was in charge of the set up of the course and due to the low turn out I felt obligated to race it. The plan was to "just ride it" but when I here GO I can't help myself. The race was only 45 min long and it felt good to get the blood flowing. Jack Hinkens won,which was no surprise, he's a pro MTB rider and a top notch guy, I was second and Mr. Gross came in third. I'm hoping for snow and a bigger turn out next year.

This is NOT Minnehaha falls

Huh ?

Hoping for a bigger turn out, I had my "race bike" on display 

One of three swamps the course went through

Jack exiting swamp 1

Cory collecting 3rd place $
       Headed for International Falls in the morning, Death Rider signing out....................................

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Chain of Lakes

The creek ride on Friday was so fun I wanted to go back on Saturday and ride it again with my BFF, Mark. We started out on Lake Nokomis to take a quick look at the Pond Hokey Championship (boring). From there we jumped on Minnehaha Creek. On our way up the creek we came up with a new plan. We decided to Circumnavigate the Minneaplolis chain of lakes, and  to also throw in a ride at Theo Wirth Mtb trails. From Nokomis it's about a three mile ride on the creek to Lake Harriet. After crossing Harriet it's a short bike path ride to Lake Calhoun. The channel from Calhoun to Lake of the Isles was a little scary since it was open water just a couple weeks ago. Next was another channel to Cedar Lake and finally to Brownie Lake where we jumped on another bike path to access the single-track at Wirth. The trails at Wirth were in great shape and a lot of fun. The route back was not quite as fun, the wind really picked up and was directly in our face the whole ride back. Crossing the wide open lakes had the wind cutting right through our jackets, we decided to just shoot straight across the lakes and leave the circumnavigating thing to another ride or a different lake. (Lake Minnetonka maybe?) It was nice to get back to the tree-lined  shelter of the creek. What was supposed to be a short ride turned into a four and half hour mini adventure. Rides like this seem to be a theme that goes with the fat-bike, once you get moving it's hard to stop having so much fun.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Winter on Minnehaha Creek

It's been two years since I was able to ride Minnehaha Creek. The first story/trip report I wrote on this blog was of the ride on the creek. For those who don't know Minnehaha creek, it's an urban creek originating  from Lake Minnetonka at Gray's Bay, west of the twin cities. It's approximately 22 miles in length traversing the twin cities metro area suburbs and ritzy neighborhoods. Near the end it topples over a large water fall before emptying into the Mississippi River in Minneapolis. Last year the creek was either not good, or safe enough to ride, or I just missed it. Fast forward another year and it was prime for riding. The water levels were really low with very little flow and not much open water. Very different from this past spring when it was above flood stage for several weeks and I could not stay away from it with my kayak.  here

Steve smashing ice off rims with a rock

This is one of the deeper sections of slush/water , also the spot I lost my hat

That's my new hat

good shot of my new super cool FAT-BIKE .COM sticker
     Steve would accompany me for the ride that proved to be one of the better rides I've had for the season. We started in a neighborhood near the falls and headed upstream. The temps were around 5 deg f and light snow was falling. Perfect!  Initially I thought we would only be out a couple hours. A couple hours turned into 5, as we attempted to ride all the way to Gray's Bay. We would not be able to make it in the time allotted, I had to be home by 5 to pick up the kiddos from day care. Six miles short, we ended up with a excellent ride of 31 miles nearly all on the creek. Most of it was frozen solid but several sections had water flowing over the top of the ice, one of which I dropped my hat into and had to purchase a new, dry one, at a nearby gear shop.  The water froze instantly to the bikes which made for more of an adventurous ride and an extra ten pounds to deal with. I'll be heading back soon to take advantage of the conditions be fore it gets too warm.       

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Miles Cave

The group before going in
Randy  helping out on the rope
There is a bat in the top-center of photo
Saturday, the kids and I were in need of some adventure, we joined in with a group of fellow cavers from the MSS.(Minnesota Speleological Survey)  As part of the Kaving with Kandy monthly outing, we headed a little south of the twin cities to check out  Miles Cave. Although Kandy set up the trip, Tim really knows the cave, (has done a dig project inside), and acted as trip leader. With the close proximity to the city and the large amount of hikers in the area, and the fact that anyone can go the cave at anytime, I was surprised to see it in such good shape. There were some broken bottles and a small amount of trash inside, but small, natural features were still mostly intact. The cave has 800 feet of passage, a lot of which is a belly crawl. I believe the crawling part is what keeps most people out of the areas that are still in good shape. I'm not exactly skinny, I would say average, but I had to jam myself into three different spots and wiggle my way through. This is something I would not have done before I ever joined the MSS and got comfortable with things of this nature. It still freaks me out sometimes. The plan was to check out Miles Cave for a while and then move on to another cave in the area. It was damn cold that day and while I messed around inside the crawl, the kids went ahead with Tim to the exit and got really cold.  Everyone else was cold, including myself, and decided to "bag" the next cave and hit up the Perkins instead. Tim showed me how to get to the other cave, which I am planning on checking out soon.
I am thinking of doing a bike ride to the cave and sleeping inside for the night sometime this coming spring.  

This is what a lot of the cave looks like

Big "D" was really cold and took my jacket

The kids having fun exploring

Friday, January 13, 2012

Eagle Creek

On a ride to further my knowledge of the river bottoms a couple of weeks ago, I went in search of Eagle Creek. I've driven over it on a roadway about 1000 times, but never actually followed the creek out to the main river. It was a surprisingly easy ride with a trail leading right to it. It is a designated trout steam and the water that flows through it is clear and clean, at least it looks clean. I brought my family and a couple other families back for a hike and a little lunch out in the woods a week later. We had a great time. The weather was exceptional for January, at about 45 deg. Upon searching for the right picnic area, we found a hollowed out tree that all the kids (6) got into at the same time. I cooked the hot dogs while the kids went exploring, thankfully no one fell in. Adam found some tree steps,no doubt someones hunting perch, and could not resist going up for a better look.  

Monday, January 9, 2012

Swamp Maze

At this very spot in June, I broke my kayak paddle when the log I threw out of the tree snapped it in half.  I was climbing it to get a better view from above so I could find my way through the snarled mess of vegetation beyond  
 A couple weeks ago when the temps were cold enough to make some ice for a couple days, I thought it would be a good idea to checkout (solo of course) a route through a local swamp that I paddled in the summer when it was flooded. What I found was a really fun and sometimes scary, maze, zig-zaging it's way in every direction. The large amount of beavers at work in the area created large "safe" pools to ride over. Immediately following the dams were smaller channels of fast moving open water. These channels would be frozen a little further down stream and made for some fast single track type riding, until you hit a area of thin ice again and break through or stop just in time. There were also some channels that were obviously man made as they appeared to be dredged, running in straight lines. these were the safest routes as they had no activity from the large rodents. I ended up breaking through about a half dozen times and going over the bars once at full speed but I never got wet! I did however get covered in those cattail puff-ball thingys. I'm trying to  make the most of/take advantage of, our winter so far without much snow to play in. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Lots of mud for the initial ride out, at nearly 40deg F
 My yearly tradition of a short, hour ride, with camping gear to an undisclosed location and spending the night, goes back about eight years. Typically it's been done on January 1st. This year the 1st didn't quite work, so I rescheduled it for the next weekend. We lost one guy from the original list but gained two. I was stoked, everything came together nicely, the weather was going cooperate and be quite warm without the fierce winds of last weekend. In past years, I've been out when it was 10-15 below zero, which is normal for January, but is not super enjoyable, especially in the morning before the fire warms everything up. The crew that joins in the fun has been different every year. All of this years group were first timers for this trip, but are experienced campers and cyclist.They included none other than "The Legend" himself, his man servant Neil, Steve P, Steve S, and yours truly Death Rider. We all had fun, listening to Steve's phone playing blues music, and eating snacks. Morning came and with it breakfast (oatmeal and Monster for me), before heading out. I decided to ride further down the trail,(Arrowhead ultra training) bidding farewell to my homies. I ended up with a four hour ride and forty miles, lots of mud and sunshine, not bad for the first part of January.          
Neil's pop-can stove was a big hit

Home Sweet Home

I took a little time to check out one of the many sand dunes along the way

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cave Men

 The last day of the year was spent underground, at Spring Valley Caverns, not that there is really anything special about the last day of the year. "G" man, my brother Adam, Steve S, a guy named Wayne and our trip leader Brian did a tour of SVC 1,4,and 5. The caves are all joined together underground as one, but each section has it's own entrance due to the fact that the connector passages are really tough or very tight and /or muddy or filled with water. SVC 1 has it's own building above and is the one most frequented, so that's where we started. My brother was along for his first caving trip, so I was pretty excited to let him get a look underground and get a taste for some real caving, minus a tour guide flipping on light switches and telling you to watch your every step. We messed around this cave for about two hours before heading up top for a lunch break.

After lunch we headed to SVC 5,this entrance was a 44 foot drop straight down a ladder to the bottom. The adults in the group have no problem navigating the ladder, but I made "G" man put on a harness while I belayed him as a backup in case he slipped. This cave was shorter at .55 miles of known passage compared to the previous cave, at 1.25 miles. The entire system all added up is 5.65 miles and would be nearly impossible to traverse in a day. The cave had some nice features and large rooms including a large amount of old trash (broken bottles,cans, tires) that washed in through a sink hole from above.

Coon Crack


This was just below Ooh -Ahh , It looked like little, rock, bearings floating in water 

Frankenstein! use your imagination 

Looks like something from the movie "Alein"

Are we there yet?
Lastly we headed down another ladder, only 25 feet, into SVC 4. This cave seemed a little more interesting, with features such as Bone Dome,which had a pile of old cow bones washed into a neat little pile.Angel of Light was a really cool stalactite that seems to have been a stalagmite that was broken off and reformed to the ground, off kilter, defying gravity. The Multicolor room was interesting, in all shades of rust from who knows what, an old pipe or just naturally occurring iron ? Frankenstein was our last stop, at a distance the wall seems to have the silhouette of the monster's face.