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

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Along The St Croix

Prime seating
 I spent all day Sunday along the St Croix River with my Dad, Super"Y", and Big "D", doing various activities.  Lynn was gone on the "Bike Queen" challenge (look for a guest post soon), and "G" man didn't want to go with either of us and decided to hang out with his friend all day.
 Our first stop was for a train ride in Osceola, WI, on a route that headed south along the St Croix River. T-Roy (from work, and also of the Super Dads weekend), and his family invited us to go with them. As a rule, I don't really like hanging with people from work, either because I don't like work and they remind me of it, or they just don't do anything I think is cool. T-Roy on the other hand is cool and "lives life", his older daughter is also fun to have with on a camping trip. The rest of his family, whom I've not met until our ride were nice as well. Thanks for the invite G-Boo,   Sincerely:  Skip

 The train ride was a lot of fun, and more than what I expected. We got to hang out in a car with open doors guarded by four foot high prison bars, as shown above. It was apparent this was one of the best spots on the train, within seconds of leaving your spot near an open doorway someone would squeeze in to fill the void. We set up a bench in front of one of these spots and took turns guarding it. It was a perfect fall day with the changing leaves in "full bloom", warm temps, and low humidity.
Old building that housed bottling equipment 
 The ride itself was just right, not too long, not too short. It also helped that I loaded the boys up with pop, candy, and chips, before we left. It's amazing what a some hard candy can do to keep them occupied. I can also use the candy "G" Man missed out on as a little bit of leverage the next time he throws a fit and doesn't want to come along on one of our adventures. Good parenting right?
Keep hands and arms inside the train !
 After the train ride we decided to go check out whatever was on our way home. We ended up in Marine on St Croix for some rock skipping on the river and later at the worlds longest, highest, coolest, Stand by Me est, underage drinking by the campfire est, do bad stuff under the bridge est, train bridge over the St Croix River.
there is always time to skip rocks
 If you've ever seen the movie "Stand by Me" this is the bridge that's in it. It's a good movie but there is no way in hell I would go across it ( yeah right), getting arrested would suck too.
what are these guys up to ?

This is where I get all "Artsy Fartsy" so I can win some special award for my artistic vision

 After the bridge we headed over to Arcola Mills, its a mansion and old town site that was owned by two different rich families for over a hundred years. One a timber barron, the other, a family of doctors. On one of the plaques inside of the building was a description of the original owner. The first few words went something like, Mr so and so was a shrewd businessman,  that's when I stopped reading, in other words he was a rich prick :-), that most likely oppressed anyone who worked for him with low wages, long hours, poor and hazardous working conditions, and swift kick in the ass when their performance was not up to par or they got sick or injured on the job. The last survivor was a woman who died in 91' and gave it to the Minnesota Historical Society, in a dilapidated, ramshackle, decaying state. Since then it was fixed up and is as snooty looking as ever. It was pretty cool but looked like the inside of an Abercrombie and Fitch store, minus the underage models taking off their clothes with names like Chet, Zha Zha, Blair, Dirk, or Delphine.
Rich folk used to live here

Now it's used to house small tables for bird nests

When the kids dissapeared for a while, and gave my dad and I a heart attack, we found them here watching a movie
 It was a great day spent with the boys and my Dad, I did however miss the company of my #1 and my "Main Squeeze", Lynn. Next time we are all going adventuring together.          D. Rider, out
All we need are more rocks to bring home

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Gentlemen's Ride 2012

The two "friends" that left me for dead  :)
 It was a cold, windy, mostly cloudy, day. My body never seemed to warm up or have all cylinders firing. I was the only one to show up from our original roster that I submitted weeks ago. Half of the new, short-notice crew, ditched me when I got my first of three flats, at mile nine. I wasn't having the best day until....I reached the check point and dined on deli sandwiches complete with brie, and Dr Pepper. Having only about 35miles left has a way of lifting your spirits as well. I did have a great time riding with Ted Loosen and his friend Paul. Ted was part of our Gentleman's Team and  I really have to thank him for hanging in there with me. I was a grouchy, worthless, bastard, most of the day, and had no snap in my legs to do much pulling in the strong winds. I also have to thank Mason, whom I've never met, but hooked me up with one of those Park tire boots for patching the inside of a tire and a CO2 cartridge. I still owe you a lunch or dinner at A&W. I was planning on buying after the race, but the friend I rode down with had to be home promptly after the race. Also, thanks again to Skogen and crew for the fine eats and the effort put into making this ride happen. I have my tail between my legs now, but I'll be back for more in the spring.
there's sandwiches under that pop-up

I know it's not gravel, but it's the big hill after Forestville State Park where your legs feel like cement after a nice break at the check point.

Hey Joel 

Thursday, September 20, 2012


While preparing for the Fat-Bike Adventure Ride yesterday, I found the Swiss Army knife and my small first aid kit I had in my pack prepared me for some amateur, in-the-field surgery.
This hurt so bad I had to take a picture.
  I was using a fist sized rock as a hammer to break off a piece of steel I was cutting with a hacksaw. When the rock glanced off the piece of metal, it shifted my thumb in such a way that a vertically pointing broken-off stick impaled a large splinter under my cuticle. This wasn't just the run-of-the-mill splinter you get under a finger nail, this was on the top side of the nail where it grows out of your finger. I could see it was about a quarter inch wide and about an eighth inch thick, I wasn't sure how long it was, but it made my thumb look bigger, it was also broken off right at the edge of the skin so I could not simply pull it out. My immediate thought was "Fuck, why wasn't I wearing the gloves I had sitting right next to me". I needed dig that thing out, but I really needed an x-acto knife or a large needle. Going to the emergency room would be costly and I would not be able to get anything done, I would have to do it myself. All I could find was my trusty Swiss Army knife. When I first started jabbing at it, the splinter went in even further, this made my heart race and my stomach turn. I had to take a little break and asses the situation and stop shaking. After three more tries, and the pain being great enough to make it numb, I got it out. That's when it started to bleed. I cleaned it out as well as I could with alcohol and covered it in Neosporin and a band-aid. The best part is I was able to continue planning and working on the adventure route well into the darkness.
I recruited the boys to hep me last weekend. 

We had lots of fun looking for frogs and finding fossils and other interesting rocks

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fat-Bike Adventure Ride II

If you made the ride last year you know how much fun it was, I had a blast and would like to do it again on October 13. I've already been hard at work getting the route together for this year with a few changes. There will be no ropes, due to the large amount of time spent last year. However there will be plenty of water, mud, sand, boulders, creeks and hobo camps. What ever foot wear you decide on, should be suitable for short hike-a-bike sections up steep hills, and rock.  We will NOT be swimming, but be prepared to ride axle deep water. Clear your schedule for the day, as the ride will consume most of it. Ride time will be from 4-6 hours moderate to easy pace. This ride is for anyone with a fat-bike and a good attitude, women are not excluded, but know this... there will probably be a bunch of fat-bike dorks geeking out over each others bikes. Please don't show up with a skinny 2.1" MTB trying to prove something, we all know, any bike will make it through anything, if you carry it. The plan is to not drop anyone, but if your way off the back we probably won't notice your gone, so either keep up or speak up if your falling behind. Don't ask for a map, there isn't one, it's an adventure. All of the route will be in St Paul and Mpls so finding your way back will be easy if I get killed by avalanche, monsters, lightning, Napoleon Dynamite, tornado, hurricane, killer bees, or head hunters, or all of the above, or if you decide to bail. We will take breaks so bring food and water. Dress in earth tones! I would recommend Nates first, then Huskerdus, or Larrys at  a minimum. Endomorphs suck for this type of ride, and if you don't know what any of these are you shouldn't show up at all. I've planned the start and end of the route to be near Lucky's 13 bar/grill in Mendota and intend on stopping there afterword if anyone will join me. Ride will be rain or shine but if it's raining super hard you will have to make your own adventure ride without me. Rain date will be the following day Oct 14th. Also, for my north and south brethren, I have room in my basement and tree house for you guys if you would like to do the ride and stay at my place on Friday or Saturday night. This means you...Tri, J-No, Scott*, Skogen, Farrow, Big Buff, Kershaw, Finch, Jo-Boo.  Almost forgot.... No Kooks!   Check here for more info and pics of what we did last year.
Details: Start Time and Date,  Saturday, October 13 2012,  9:45 am, rolling by 10am
            Start Location,  Pilot Knob in Mendota Heights  Acacia Blvd and Pilot Knob rd

So Let It Be Written...... So Let It Be Done.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Gravel Conspiracy, North Woods Adventure

Artists Point, Grand Marais MN
On the last day of registration, I submitted an email for my name to be thrown in the hat, for the North Woods Adventure. My wife gave me her blessing and with a couple clicks of the mouse I was in. The race/ride/tour laid out by Gravel Conspiracy was a three day stage covering 290 miles.The organizer,Super Man Extraordinaire, Josh Stamper rented a delivery truck and hauled our gear from stage-to-stage. For me, this was going to be a dream come true, or a nightmare, what happened over the next three days was a little of both.
Mr Stamper   M.C.

A little bit of rain.
The first day, Friday, was the easy one. We left the parking lot of Artists Point in Grand Marais a little after 1 pm. It was raining just a little bit, which didn't matter since we only had about 50 miles to do that day. The ride proved a little harder than I expected. We experienced several rain showers and a stiff headwind,the route also seemed to never stop climbing. The group I stayed with secured a room at the Bearskin Lodge, with a hot tub at our disposal, it seemed like cheating, but it sure was nice.
Lisa, Day 1

Mr Tri enjoying a book near the hearth.
Saturday would be our long day, at 125 miles I admit I was a little nervous. Having done Almonzo, Rag, Dirty B, Gentlemen's, and The Heck several times each, I know how f@#ked up I can get after 100 miles of gravel. I didn't sleep much the night before thinking about this.
Day 2, J-No 

No rain yet.
If Friday was having my dream come true, Saturday had nightmare moments. I rolled out with Tri, J-No, Ted Loosen, Dennis Grelk and Drew Scott*. Initially the sun was shining, but soon we were pedaling under dark clouds and the rain started. Grelk, Loosen and Scott* peeled away from us shortly before the rain came down at about mile 35. It was cold and the prospect of gutting it out in the rain for another 90 miles was not something I was looking forward to. Only a few miles later we ran into Ted and Dennis changing a flat. Ted was without a rain jacket so I gave him my vest. Fortunately the heavy rain didn't last long and we were at the checkpoint around mile 70. This is when I hit my dark,ugly, place, something I would describe as an Arrowhead 135 moment. I've gotten used to these, but don't like being there. I was really cold and tired, I wasn't bonking but the weight of the loaded down Fargo was staring to get to me after riding a much faster pace than I had planned for the beast. I'm thankful my buddies didn't leave me behind and encouraged/forced me to go on with them. It wasn't long before the sun was back out and things were looking up, for a while..........
Check point day 2, it was much colder than it looks in the pic

Spirits up, over half way and planning what is for dinner

Is this dude cool or what ?
We were having a great time riding, talking and joking, for the next 35-40 miles. Around 107miles our GPS navigation took us deep into the forest on an ATV trail, down an animal trail and into a bog. There was no trail or even a remnant of a trail. After about an hour of wandering around we decided to head back to the ATV trail and find a different route to HWY 1 and Ely.
On our way to getting lost in the bog

Where the hell is the trail?
On our way back out to the ATV two-track, we encountered most of the other racers who had caught up to us, stumbling through the woods looking for the mythical trail, much like we had been doing earlier. A couple times we were following their voices so we could get back to the original trail, and on to our new course. Once again, Ted, J-No, Tri, and myself along with Grelk were pedaling hard on or way to Ely, trying to beat the setting sun. We made it in before dark and headed straight to the Ely Steakhouse. We had no access to our dry clothing and gear on account of Mr Stamper being alerted to the route discrepancy, and heading out on the course with the delivery truck to make sure everyone made it out of the woods that evening. Drew Scott* was also with Josh, he finished the ride before anyone else and was assisting with the "rescue". Our group of five, enjoyed a good meal in cold, wet, stinky, cycling gear, I'm not sure the other guests enjoyed the smell. Our waitress assured us it was acceptable due to the proximity of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and all the fine folks emerging from the wild in a similar fashion. Our saving grace was the sauna at the Paddle Inn, which we had to ourselves, three stinky cyclists in chamois, it was a sight to behold. Just before 10pm we all got our gear and took showers before going to sleep. I was so tired that night I couldn't think about the 116 miles I would have to do the following day.  
The moss around the bike is so thick and soft I wanted to take a nap here.

Nothin' better than hanging out on the porch.

Getting more instructions before heading out. We were promised pizza.
Day three was awesome. I felt like shit that morning and would have loved a car ride back to Grand Marais. That would have been a HUGE mistake. Sunday's route was one of the best gravel rides I have ever done. Within a dozen miles the legs were feeling good, the sun was out and I was in the great company of Ted, J-No, Tri, and Yo-Eddie. Drew and Dennis were with us briefly but soon peeled away so they could duke it out on the gravel. Ted definitely could have gone with and given them a run for the money. He stuck with us and did more than his fair share of pulling at the front, Thank You.
2 bad-ass mo-fo's

a game of tether-ball anyone?

The first 50 miles to the truck/checkpoint went by very quickly. The remaining 65 miles took a little longer since we stopped for pictures, food, pee breaks, Mt Dew at the Trestle Inn, and a quick game of tether-ball. I was looking forward to the last seven miles of all downhill. I made sure I left a little in the tank so I could ramp it up and finish strong. We caught five riders on our high speed, down hill frenzy and finished the day with big smiles and large appetites.

This hill wasn't that hard, he's smiling.
Huge Thanks to Josh Stamper for putting together this incredible ride and your dad too for helping out. Thank you Cyclova XC, Salsa , A-Train Cycles, and Three Stars Cycles for sponsoring the event. Big Thanks to Ted for doing so much pulling and being a really cool guy with a good attitude, Charlie Tri for always having a joke and a good attitude, Jason Novak for being good company and a strong rider to lean on when the going gets tough. Ed Karow for being an all around good guy and having arms big enough to scare off all the guys at the bar that would have beat us up for being cyclists. Lisa for being super nice, tough as hell and always smiling. Dennis Grelk for strange stories of life in rural Iowa, and the recumbent craze. Drew Scott* for getting me hooked up with lodging for the weekend, and a great story teller with the inside track on everything bike related in the local scene, congrats on the WIN Drew ! Thanks to everyone else that I hung out with that made the long weekend memorable, Chris F, John K, Tyler, Robin, Kieth V, and the Cyclova dude who's name I forgot. Extra Super Thanks to my awesome wife and kids for letting me do what I do.      *Wilson*     

Left to right...Ted, D Rider, Yo-Eddie, J-No, Tri, Stamper

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Boiling Spring

Mike and the gang
 A couple weeks ago my neighbor/friend/my kid's friend's dad, tells me about an odd place not too far from our houses that has quicksand and a strange boiling spring. He tells me he has known about this place only in legend since he was a kid, and now he has met someone who will take us there! Upon hearing this, I instantly conjure an image of myself in full khaki attire, with lots of pockets, a pith helmet, little, round,tortoise shell spectacles, sporting a cane with a sword hidden in the scabbard, and being accompanied by Gilligan, from Gilligan's Island. "I'm in", I reply.

The two separate springs are apparent in this pic
A few days later Mike and I round up the boys, and some snacks, and set out on our adventure. We meet a woman that Mike works with, as well as her two young children, in a nice suburban neighborhood. Her son, age five, leads the group of eight right from their house. It's a long, two block walk down a mowed trial to a primitive trail along a small creek. Eureka, we've found it ! In a large shallow pool are two springs, which every so often appear to boil. The pool is only 6-8 inches deep and sandy. The water is very clear and cold. The springs can be approached to within 12-18 inches of the suspended boiling sand/water mixture, and is quite firm until you hit a definite drop-off point

We all have fun playing in the creek and trying to figure out just what is happening here. It's obviously a spring , but how deep is it, can we swim in it, and why is there no cloudy sediment coming out of it ? We agree to come back at a different date with "equipment".  On our first outing,  we also try and locate the fabled quicksand, to no avail. We now have two reasons to make a trip back.

The boys checking what is in the tin can.


Hand crafted testing devices.
 About a week and a half later we come back with equipment, and  re-enforcement's, my Dad and Randy, as well as the original crew. Mike has constructed a device which will take a sample of sand directly from the center of the spring. It's super high tech, made from a tin can, and attached to the end of a metal pole. He has also constructed a deep spring measuring device, a 12" spike tied to some twine. It's twenty-five feet long, and did not hit bottom when we tested it.
The log test

This was about as big as it gets.

I want to swim in this, it feels weird.
 We did not find quicksand like Gilligan would have fallen into, but located another "boiling spring", this time in the middle of the creek. The other two springs we found were in a tributary to this creek, and seemed to dam up a pool of standing water from the sand it was spewing forth. This spring was not as noticeable from the creek bank, and I'm glad we didn't let the kids play in the water before we found this. This one too seemed bottomless, based on probing and dropping of the twined spike. The water in all three of the springs was very cold, further indication that it was coming from deep within the ground. I found it interesting that there was no sediment clouding the creek down stream of the spring, the sand was simply suspended in the rising water and falling back into itself. No doubt we will be back, either to swim in it, or later in the fall when the vegetation has died back we can go looking for more oddities in the area.
The way out.