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

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Triple Play

Where's the beer ?
Back in November, I spent an awesome day with my boys, a long time friend and his son, and T Sten, exploring three short underground passages. Two of the three passages I had already been to, one with Super "Y" and Big "D", the other with super adventurer A.F.. It was nice to put them all together in one trip  for a daylong outing.
This is one of the clean areas in the "mine"

Group shot gone crazy
All the credit has to go to T Sten for this trip, if not for him I would not have even known of the existence of any of it. Last winter he pointed me in a general direction in which I was not able to follow up on until this fall. After telling him of our success in locating the cave when the boys and I went searching, he was eager to get back down there himself just for the fun of it. Consequently another caving trip was planned. T Sten was also able to get permission from a local land owner for us to access a mine last used as a beer cellar known as &%^$*%@ Mine.
The bones are around here somewhere 

Artifact hunting, I think this is a real Native American torch
Just before the trip, I called  KK to see if he and his boys would like to join us. His oldest son thought it would not be "cool" enough, a decision he would later regret, so it was just KK and "Biscuit". We were pleased to have them along, and show them just how much nervous yelling it would take to get four youngsters safely down a cliff face and into a cave without getting hurt.

Coming down this cliff involved a lot of yelling at anxious boys :) 
First up was %*&^$#@ Mine. This place was not that nice, it was filled with trash and broken glass, and parts of it were caving in. We didn't spend much time there, but it was good to check it off of a list of places I've been,but won't necessarily return to.
Biscuit and KK

G man, Coming out of a small passage
A short drive, and a short hike had us at the mouth of a small historic cave. Many years ago,as the territory was being discovered, so to was the partial human remains of two individuals in this very cave. Years later that discovery lead to an archaeological dig in the cave, turning up evidence of early human inhabitants to the area. The cave is definitely not the way it was hundreds of years ago, unless the native people had the ability to manufacture beer cans and plastic bottles and have nowhere to throw them other than the ground. 
The group
Lastly we went to the cave that was explored by my boys and I just two weeks prior. This cave is quite a bit larger than the one we were just exploring and shares similar features. They are at roughly the same elevation  and are about 1000 feet from one another. It has two large rooms and a third one between two separate openings in the cliff face. We spent the most time here exploring and just fooling around. The cave also has a small crawling passage at the back of the largest room that appears keep going if you are the size of a raccoon or Big "D".  He neither had the desire, or permission to check it out :).
It was a great day with friends and family exploring and having fun. I hope to get back out adventuring with KK and his boys soon, as well as T Sten, with his vast knowledge of caves and fossils.      Thanks Guys

P.S. I'm not telling you where this stuff is, but if you do a little research you might be able to find it, or you could just ask me in person and I will take you there...... D Rider

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Back in Milwaukee

G Man into the pit
 A couple days before Christmas, Lynn surprised the family with an announcement of a hotel reservation in the proximity of Ray's Indoor Mountain Bike Park in Milwaukee WI. I knew about it a two days before the boys so was already stoked. The boys on the other hand were not that excited... wahhh? They knew it was a long drive and were looking forward to some down time around the house. We had to sweeten the deal by reminding them of the swimming pool at the hotel, and allowing them play their DS games on the entire drive, with no time limits. Yes, like all parents, we had to blackmail them, but it worked :).
That's their mama !

Big "D" and I just chillin' before dropping into the big jumps
 This is our fourth family trip to Ray's, so once we got in the door it was down to business. Everyone gears up and heads to their favorite area. We all warm up on the "sport" section jumps, and skinnies. After that Lynn spends must of the day on the expert jumps. I alternate between the cross country loop and the expert jumps. Both of us take turns checking on the boys who are riding a little bit of everything, and are always asking to accompany them to the foam pit. 
Lynn on the first jump of the exp. line

Super "Y"  The boys have to pedal up the jumps here so it's fun for them and a little scary 
 After seven hours it's time to head home, we are all spent, and fortunately uninjured. I'm not sure if we will make it back again this year but there is a lot of winter left and Lynn is addicted to the place, so there is a good chance it will happen. We really wish we had one here in the twin cities, it's a ton of fun, a really good work out, and a great way to polish or learn new skills.
This is why Lynn and I don't like the pit so much, it's a ton of work getting them out

Saturday, December 22, 2012

North Shore Trail

The North Shore Trail stretches 146 miles from Duluth to Grand Marias, several miles inland from the shore of Lake Superior. The trail is primarily for snowmobiles, but other forms of travel such as ski, foot, and bike are acceptable, Chris and I chose bike!
This shelter was awesome, I wanted to stay
Several months ago, while enjoying an evening campfire after the North Woods Adventure, the wheels were set in motion. Mr Finch told me of his plan to ride the entire North Shore Trail in the winter. I agreed to his idea, and over the next couple months we  recruited several others to join in, but when push came to shove it would only be the two of us. Chris' wife was kind enough to shuttle us up to Grand Marias early Friday morning. From there we would simply ride back to their house in Duluth.
first night
Our goal of riding the 150 miles was not that lofty since we planned for three days of winter bike-packing. Fifty miles a day should be easy for a couple of Arrowhead die-hards, right? Wrong! The unseasonably warm and snow free winter has made the trail hell. We were unwilling to start right in Grand Marias, but instead left from Pincushion Mountain Trail head. No one (snowmobile) had even been out on the trail for the year yet, and from Pincushion we still had to push our bikes up hill for a good mile, at which time we finally got to groomed trail. That was kind of a wuss move but the first few miles would have been pushing up hill and we were eager to get to some trail we could actually ride.
Even the groomed stuff wasn't that good. By the time we got rolling at 9:30 am the temps were already around 30 deg F and the trail was soft. It appeared the groomer had been out the previous night and trail had not really set-up yet. If it were not for a single, twelve inch wide ribbon, down the center of the trail, where the grooming apparatus left a hard packed track for us to float on, we would have been S-O-L.
Crash on a down hill when I just slightly came off the sweet spot
Once we got into the rhythm of "reading the trail", and finding the perfect hard packed line, the miles were ticking off........ slowly. By mid-day I started having doubts about achieving 50 for the day. By 3:30 pm we had a ride time of five hours and only 30 ++ miles when we arrived at a very inviting shelter. Our plan was to camp at shelters along the way, the next one, twelve miles down the trail was our target . At our rate of travel we would have another 3 hours, based on the tortoise-like pace the trail had afforded us on the last seven. We were here to have fun, at the moment we needed food and the thought of slogging for another three plus hours had us saying "F" it, were staying here for the night and having a good time.
I was pleased with our decision  I think Chris was too. We set up camp before it got dark (at 4:30 pm), built a big fire and feasted on all manner of dried, salty, and sweet, food.
Energy Snowcone
The next morning the trail was even softer than the day before, but the center, hard packed, ribbon of solid rideable snow, remained. We were both in good spirits and had a much faster pace than the day before. Our new plan was to make it to Finland for dinner and stay at a shelter a couple miles out of the small town.
Chris is holding his tooth/crown in right hand, which just fell out. He is also enjoying an energy snow cone
Our hopes were dashed when the sleet started coming down around 1pm. It appeared to be snow as it fell, but when it touched our clothing it melted instantly. Within a half mile or so, my whole jacket was wet. At 34 deg it was miserable, and if this continued it could be dangerous. Fortunately the next shelter was only a few miles ahead. When we got there our goal was to start a fire and get warmed up. Everything was soaked, even the tiny branches under the pine trees that are perfect for starting a fire. I grabbed a bunch of these and enough Birch bark to fill a five gallon bucket. The bark was soaked too, and after about ten attempts to get it burning it finally went.
Now that's a porta potty
When the sleet turned to rain around 2:30pm we were trapped in our little trail-side shelter. We decided to stay put for the night when our only option would be to ride to Tofte, approximately ten miles, and stay the night at a hotel. We could have made it, but the only thing we could have accomplished would be, lightening our wallets on lodging fees, and further relegating ourselves to whimpdom.
Second night, home sweet home
The extra cloud cover brought nightfall sooner, and by 4:30 pm it was pitch black. All we had to do now was cook and eat, and keep the fire going. It was a really enjoyable night shooting the breeze with Chris, snacking on food reserved for our big ride that was now shattered, and taking turns running out into the rain to gather firewood.
This is really fun to ride in
The next morning the trail was complete mush. There would be no riding today except to get off the trail and down to Hwy 61 to the town of Tofte. We had to push the bikes down hill to make any forward progress, with almost no riding for the first few miles. As we neared the lake the snow became less and less, with virtually nothing left right near the lake.
Airing-up in Schroder before we ride the road to Tofte
Although it was a cloudy windy day and we had just bailed out on or mission, my spirits soared as we reached the lake. The North Shore is one of my favorite places on earth and being near it has a way of erasing those negative thoughts. The last four miles of riding pavement up the shore were very enjoyable, it didn't hurt that we were also going three times faster than we had been going the two previous days. I'm not a fan of averaging 6 mph.
Yes we are happy and i made him put his hands up 
In the end we ended up with one third of our 150 mile goal, I'm cool with that, I still had a great time. Thanks  Chris, for including me in the ride, and the hospitality. Big thanks to Vi for the van ride up and back. Extra big thanks to my wife and kids for allowing me time to pursue these adventures.     Chris' ride report, check it out, he also has some great photos in older posts
When I find it, I'll post the pic of me doing the same pose with a different bike 12 to 14 years ago at Father Baraga's Cross

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Winter Bike Expo 2012

The Legend speaks
 The second annual Winter Bike Expo took place this past weekend. I rode down to the show with Vandy to check out all the fat-bikes, visit with friends, and listen to "The Legend' speak about the Arrowhead 135. I was also looking forward to riding the race course that was a ton of fun the previous year.
The unveiling 
 The Legend put together another great, informative, program. It was educational and entertaining for the newbies and previous racers alike. At the end of the program we were treated to the unveiling of a brand new frame design as well as the birth of another fat-bike company. The bike is called the "Murphy", named after the place in which it was conceived by Kevin and Aaron. The new brand is called the Minneapolis Bike Co, and will be made right here in the great state of Minnesota. The frame is all carbon and has elevated chain stays. this is an awesome idea since it brings the q-factor back down to a standard, knee-saving width.  
 Next I tried to move to the back room filled with all the bikes, but stopped about every five feet to catch up with friends, it took a good half hour to make it fifty feet. Once inside, I was in fat-bike heaven, the bikes, all the gear, and accessories were packed wall to wall. The back room was nearly twice as big as last year and had lots more to offer in the way of frame bags, multi-colored rims and the latest offerings from 45North.
Vandy tries out a Krampus
 I finally got to throw a leg over a Krampus and take it for a test ride on Hell Track. I'm glad I did, for now I know which size to order.  :)
Wheels... pick your flavor
 Riding the race course was bitter-sweet, for I would not be able to stick around and race that evening. The Freewheel crew did an awesome job, the course was even better than last year with a huge ramp-bridge thingy about eight feet high. The addition of a large wood berm and more jumps made the course action packed.
Dude, what are you looking at?
 I can wait, but I'm looking forward to next year already.
Yours truly, on one of many passes over the ramp. I want one at home.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Old Skool

To start, we get a short ride on this trolley to the edge of town
 This past weekend, Lynn, my mom, the boys, and I, were kickin' it old skool in Shakopee at The Landing. The Landing was formerly know as Murphy's Landing up until several years ago when Three Rivers Parks took it over and dropped the "Murphy's. I've been to The Landing quite a few times from when I was a kid until now, and I have to say Three Rivers has done a great job making the place better.
The kids learned all kinds of stuff, like getting sticks for a Christmas gift if your naughty

This was a fur trader's out post with lots of cool bush-craft type items 

The boys were put to work hauling wood at several homes
 Normally there aren't quite as many people reenacting the 1840-1890's period that the area represents, but currently they are having "Folkways" for the month of December. All of the buildings were open and warm, with people playing the role of the particular heritage they were representing. It was a lot of fun and took way longer than I had planned for.
No, he's not chasing him with an ax, T\the guy just chopped wood for Big"D" to haul inside

Chickens,we love chickens!

Guns are cool too
 Each house, store, church or school had a fireplace going, and would routinely recruit the boys to help haul in fire wood. Most of the homes had people cooking in them, they smelled so good we were all hungry after visiting only a few.
This woman played the part of the teacher so well I was afraid of her, "G" Man also got in trouble with her .

"G" Man practices an old superstition of floating a walnut boat to tell the future for the coming year.  

Super "Y" has to resist eating the sweets in the Norwegian house 
 If you get the chance I  recommend getting down there with your family and checking it out during the month of December. You could even go with your significant other and call it a date or a learning experience or whatever excuse you like, its well worth the 5 $ entry.
A game of checkers in the mercantile, the stove behind them was awesome.

I wish I had taken more pics of the outside of the  buildings, I guess  you will have to go for yourself and check them out