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

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Family Fun Ride

Stone Arch Bridge, St Anthony Falls in the background
I've been gone quite a bit lately and felt like getting out on the bikes with the kids. Being gone all day Saturday to race the Chequamegon 100 only confirmed the need for such a ride. We have done rides in the past on paved bike paths and call them Family Fun Rides. I call them family fun rides, the boys don't know their dad is a dork. I've even thought about getting t-shirts made with the catchy title, mine would also say dork on it, with an arrow pointing up.  Typicaly we bring a lunch and snacks, stop for swimming, hiking, exploring, or ice cream. we could not get out of the house before lunch on this day. Lynn (mom, wife) was gone racing her mountain bike in Eau Claire (finished 9th OA Cat 2), so we decided to meet up in the late afternoon when she was on her way home and we could all ride around for a while and have dinner together.
Keep that front end up !

 Before meeting up with Lynn, the boys and I bummed around the St Anthony area, checking out the Stone Arch Bridge and the falls. After some rad jumps, we headed over to the U of M campus for some more urban assault. These are a couple of my favorite places to ride through, and it was really fun sharing it with the gang, I think they enjoyed it as well.
The falls were raging !

"I don't think so"

 Later on, when mom showed up, we took her back to see the falls and check out an area that we are planning to fish, for "river monsters" at a later date. Dinner was at Tuggs, and ice cream was at home (much cheaper). I can't think of a better way to spend a perfect, summer, Sunday afternoon.

We don't call him "Big D" for nothing


Monday, June 25, 2012

Chequamegon 100 (K)

Who's the fat guy in the green jersey ?
 Saturday was the third running of the Chequamegon 100. This year they offered the option to race 100 kilometers. Having done the first Cheq 100 (miles) I knew what to expect, and having the registration months ago with the Arrowhead 135  fresh in my mind, there was no way I was signing up for a hundred miles, so I jumped at the chance to do the 100k version. Now it feels a little like a wuss move, but 62 miles is nothing to sneer at and plenty long for a race on single-track. I finished 3rd overall and felt pretty good at the finish. I'm not saying I didn't give it my all, but at 5 hours and 46 minutes, I was well within the range of what I've been training for, or suffering through as of late.
State of the art timing, I love it !
 I won't bore you with every detail, but it went somthing like this. The first three miles were a gravel roll out, which Drew dominated. This left my legs screaming and me trying to catch up to Maury (2nd OA), Joe Meiser and Drew Wilson  (1st OA). It took about ten miles before I felt good and started making up some lost ground on the three ahead of me. I caught them in heavy traffic around mile 20 and could not make their break-away off the front of the large pack of 100 mile riders I was stuck behind. Around mile 30++ Mieser was off the side of the trail with a flat. I was in third now, after witnessing  Mieser and his raw power on a bike in other endurance events, I knew if he got his shit together quickly I was toast. This gnawed at the back of my mind for the entire race but he never appeared.  This left me alone until mile 44-46 when I was caught by another rider. I was not having this. He caught me on a stretch of gravel and by the time we got to the next section of single track I punched it. Within a minute or so I couldn't hear him behind me anymore. I was still running scared and did not let up one bit, I had not gone this far to be taken in single track.  Of all the talent I have lost, ripping single track is not one of them. The last hour and a half seemed to pass quite quickly as I set my mind free and got into a nice rhythm all the way to the finish line  
Farrow, DBD hero......Where the heck is Big Buff, Pramann, and Kershaw ?

Sauber, super tough, riddler extraordinaire 

3rd, 1st, 2nd
I would like to say thanks to: The whole Salsa Cycles crew and family, Milltown Cycles, Lakewoods, and CAMBA for putting on this event. Brett, Don, Larry and Troy for sharing a room. Troy for the motorcycle ride back to my van, Curtis of Milltown for doing a great job at the finish, Joe Meiser for not coming back from his flat and bumping me from third place, The Rivers Eatery for the awesome pizza and hospitality. Jon Friedell for graciously letting me pass him in tight single-track, and my wife and kids for letting me "do what I do".

Pattison....... one tuff dude.

Gear-bags, now I can get home 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Really Fat Tires

There was a lot of water !
 A few weeks ago while messing around in my shed I noticed that the four-wheeler was lonely, it hadn't been ridden in a while, except for the hot-laps around the yard to tear up the grass. I came up with a scheme to get out and ride it. At the time I was planning the Isle Royale Trip with "G"man so it was only fair that I plan a trip with his brothers, each one getting a father/son trip of their own. I chose to take Big "D" on this trip since he really likes riding the wheeler. Super "Y" will be going on a trip of his own later in the summer, I'm not sure where just yet, but I'm thinking something with a canoe.  

 We left for Moose Lake on Sunday morning. We would have left on Saturday afternoon, but I rode the Dirty Benjamin that day and was too tired to drive north for a couple hours. It turned out to be good decision since it rained the whole night anyway. Sunday was perfect, with great weather, lots of sun and not too hot. The area has had a lot of rain lately, as you can see from the pics there was a lot of mud and standing water. I'm not the type of ATV rider that seeks out mud, mostly because of the cost of repairing seals and bearings, but it was unavoidable this time.
This is the Soo Line Trail , from here you could go to Lake Mille Lacs to the south west, Leech Lake  to the northwest, or Superior, Wisconsin to the northeast.

Bridge over Kettle River

 Moose Lake also is the Lake Superior Agate capital of the world.. The main area that we were riding was a prime location for agate picking, called the Soo Pits. We took a nice break there for snacks and some "picking".  We didn't find much of anything substantial, only small peanut to almond sized fragments. I've been collecting agates for years and have fantasized about finding big ones the size of a softball, today would not be that day. We did a little better when we went for a longer ride down the Soo Line Trail and took a spur to the Kettle River. Right on the trail were several of the walnut sized "gems". The mosquitoes were so bad we were forced to retreat back to the wheeler and ride out of the swampy, muddy, insect haven. This is where I almost got the wheeler stuck, I thought I could make it all the way down to the river when I ended up in a bottomless mud hole. With the front differential lock engaged, and the throttle pinned, I manged to rock it back and forth, making my escape as the mud was flying. We were not doing anymore of that!   
Break time at Soo Pits

We live in Minnesota, we have to fish!
 Later in the evening we tried our hand at fishing with no luck. Back at camp (Moose Lake State Park) we had just enough time to grill our dinner and get a fire going before it started raining. We thought about going home but decided to sit in the van and watch a movie on the worlds smallest DVD player. We also slept in the van. The next morning it was still raining, so we headed home, taking the back roads and checking out points of interest  and other areas for future outings.   Disclaimer; At no time was Big "D" riding the four-wheeler by himself.

"Movie night"

Museum in Moose Lake. This was in a train station that survived the fires of 1918. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Westside Dirty Benjamin 2012

Third times' a charm. I've been signed up for this race three times, this year was the first one I could make. From the race reports I heard about this race I wasn't sure what to expect. I was told, it was flat and not very scenic. My expeience was much different, and a positive one. From the start I was really into this race, it was raining, and right away we were on a two-track in the woods of the Minnesota River bottoms. While trying to pass some other riders on the left side of the double track, I got tangled in an overhanging tree branch and was on my ass before I could say "shit". I think I was breathing harder from laughing at the situation than pedaling. 
Mark flatted before the start, and four more times throughout the day

Once we got onto the gravel it was game on, I got into a strong group that was nipping at the heels of the lead group when Mark and I flatted at the same time. Mark and I usually do these rides/races together since we train together are are roughly at the same fitness level. It's good to have your friends around when things don't go as planned. It's even better to ride with Gravel Royalty when Chris Skogen rolls up and takes a break with you while changing a flat, and then shoots the breeze for the next ten miles until you flat again.
Mark and Mr Skogen
The second flat was not as comfortable. The mosquitoes were so bad I had at least forty of them biting me at the same time. I'm not exaggerating, the swarm was so bad I contemplated throwing my bike in the ditch and running for a main road to hitch-hike anywhere but there. I thought about taking a pic, but it was hell and I could not. I also had to deal with the valve stem that just broke off the new tube when I removed the CO2 inflator. I only brought one tube of my own, and borrowed one from Mark, I was f@#ked now, fortunately "The Mayor" came along and set me up with a tube and more CO2 cartridges.     
Break time at the checkpoint
The rest of the ride went without any more incidents other than riding my legs into oblivion on my own for 65 miles. I couldn't find a group to ride with and was really happy when I finally caught up to "The Mayor" with about twenty five miles to go. Together we managed to catch, and pass a few other guys, chatting the entire time and forgetting how bad we were hurting. The lack of hills were a real lifesaver, and the lush, green, rolling cornfields were plenty scenic. My only regret was missing the first two WDB races.
Thanks to all that helped me out. Extra special thanks to the race director and all the volunteers for putting on such a great event.     

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Isle Royale

I've had this trip on my radar so long that the map I bought years ago is out of print. It still worked just fine for the short route "G" man and I did on his first day of summer vacation. It was actually a four day weekend as the trip length is dependent on the schedule of the ferry service. It took me 37 years to get there. It took "G"man only 9, he celebrated his birthday out on the island on our third day. I did not have a gift for him since I didn't want to carry anymore than I already had in my backpack, so he ate lots of candy instead. For those that don't know, Isle Royale is the largest island in Lake Superior and is approx. 45 miles long by 9 miles wide. It is closest to the Minnesota border in the United States but is officially part of the state of Michigan. It was developed in the 1800's for logging and mining, but became a National Park in 1940

Just like his mom, doing handstands for a picture.
The night before we got on the boat, "G"man insisted we have a fire on the beach just like the "Man Trip"

We caught the ferry early in the morning out of Grand Portage and arrived five hours later at our camp site. The island is only about twenty miles out but we had to stop at Windigo to let some people off and do a short orientation of the Isle Royal National Park back country rules. From there we traveled another three hours north east up the northern shoreline. The boat only goes about 14 miles an hour, but is fun to travel on.

We were dropped off at McCargoe Cove and stayed the night there in a three sided shelter with a bug-proof screened front. This was quite luxurious compared to a tent and was no additional cost to stay in. They are first-come, first-served.
These shelters are what we stayed in the first and last nights

This is one of about 40 frogs or toads that were captured during the trip
After setting up in the shelter and eating, we decided to take the .8 mile hike to Minong Mine (copper) and check it out. The mine has been closed since the late 1800's but had lots of tailing piles to wander through and some shafts and adits to check out
Small piece of copper found at Minong Mine

From inside Minong Mine adit
The second day we actually had to do some backpacking, 5.6 miles to be exact. Our planned route was to cut across the island the short way. The short way is only ten miles, the long way of the island is a little over 40, way more than we were up for.We got to Lake Ritchie early and had time to swim and get to know our neighboring campers.
That is one huge leaf !

Boardwalks or bridges were common in the low swampy areas
The third day was a little shorter at 4.5 miles, and deposited us on the shore of Lake Superior at Chippewa Harbor. In it's day it was a commercial fishing village. Remnants of past goings-on were apparent.  A small building still remained and is called the "School House" although it was not actually school house. Along the shore is lots of broken pottery, glass, and random pieces of rusted steel parts. We also saw the remains of a series of docks.
The "Schoolhouse"

The last night out
The Voyaguer II picked us up around 9:30 am Tuesday, we had a really good time but were ready to go home. We still had a five hour ride back to Grand Portage. The scenery was awesome but the water was rough compered to the initial trip out to the island, I sat in the back the whole time to keep the horizon in sight and avoid getting sick. G man did fine with the rough water and even got a nap in.
Bring us home

On the bow

Kurt, blowing chunks on the way back
Not wanting to waste any opportunity, upon landing we took a tour of the fort at Grand Portage and also the High Falls on the Pigeon River before going home. We both had a great time and look forward to more high adventure trips.
Grand Portage

High Falls on the Pigeon River