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

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


75 plus riders at the start ?
 Homie Fall Fest was just this past weekend. A lot of people in the twin cities know about this ride, but those not from the area must likely have never heard of it.
My kind of ride

familiar spot

Feats of strength
  Back in the late nineties, when the single speed movement was just getting off the ground some of the local "personalities" got this rally going.  Back then you didn't dare show up on a geared bike, and if you did, you must likely would have a broken derailer by the time the dust cleared from the derby circle.
Lots of fire-works this year


It was cold as hell under this bridge, the fire we made later was well deserved
  Fast forward about fifteen years and about a third of the bikes were geared, and no one was trying to destroy them. One thing that has not changed is all the swilling and safety meetings, people getting crazy on their bikes and a large fire at the end of the ride.
cooking some wet shoes and feet

  If you've never been, you've got to make it at least once before you die.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Fat Bike Adventure Ride 2013 Report

With the Fat-Bike A R a week behind me I thought it was about time to get some photos posted along with  a few words. For the third installment of the F-B A.R. we had 14 riders show up to give their bikes and bodies a good thrashing.
The top of a parking ramp is the best spot for the beginning of a ride

Not far from the start we are already getting wet

looks safe

Bike shoes and slippery logs don't mix well
 . This year we saw the return of several guys from the original group but the rest were all newbies. I was sad not to see some of the guys I have become friends with because of this ride, but welcomed the chance to meet some new faces.  The weather was a lot better than last year and a few really wet spots were taken out of the route so the bikes didn't get as muddy as they could have.

tunnel entrance

tunnel exit

About 30$ grand hanging on the fence

Creek  # 2
  This year we covered a lot more ground as I wanted it to be more about riding with the challenges spaced further out along the route. The ride was long enough this year that we had to skip a couple sections due to time constraints. It's not like we really had a time limit, but when you start creeping up on the six hour mark most people have had enough.....including myself.

Creek #3

Infamous mud hole 

Getting closer to the city

  At this point I'm not sure there will be a Fat-Bike Adventure Ride  #4, unless I come up with a whole new route.  I don't want to things to get stale, there is only so much you can do to keep it fresh.
15 minute train ride back to the start

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Mineral Center
 Several weeks ago during the three day Gravel Conspiracy, Laurential Divide I decided to take a detour on day 2. The detour was part of a plan I cooked up days earlier when I realized my body may not quite be ready (back injury) for a 200++ mile race. I felt bad about not being able to ride the whole thing but not as bad as I would have felt had I not shown up at all. I was able to ride the first day of the journey without pain and kept a good pace on the Krampus. On day two I rode out of Grand Portage with the group for the first 10-12 miles, flated, and veered off course some miles later.

this was like a dock that just fit the boat
 It was a beautiful fall day, and I was having a great time riding by myself but with a few butterflies in my stomach.  As the narrow gravel roads turned to double track and then to barely visible ATV trail my nervousness stared to bump up a few notches. I was truly in the middle of nowhere, my friends and family had only a rough idea where I was going specifically, and I was about to air-up my pack-raft below a large and loud waterfall. As I approached the falls I was surprised at the amount of flow and the thunderous sound coming from it. 

the glance backward
 Amid the mist and the noise I began to look for a safe place to put in from the overlooking cliff above. The bottom of the falls and river is walled in by stone on either side but has relatively easy access down near the plunge pool and one perfect spot to launch. I inflated the boat, brought it to the water, and began taking "parts" down to it's parking spot, as there was no room for my pack and dis-assembly of the bike all in the same area. I was trying not to think about all the shit that could go wrong here as I became increasingly more on edge. I wasn't sure I should be here, if it was ok to paddle this river, if the decent sized rapids I could see just down stream got any bigger, or if my exit strategy on the bike was on the up and up. I was also thinking about the gash in my tire that was patched with a piece of duct tape, the fact that my one extra tube was used up and the slash in it's predecessor too big to fix, and the matter of not being able to find the repair kit for my boat should the need arise.  I put it all out of my mind and focused on what I had to do at the moment, sliding down the slippery slab of rock to my fully loaded raft and pushing off.

  I didn't even feel like snapping any picks just before and after I got on the water  but that would have been a huge mistake, as A.F. and I often put it "if you didn't get a picture of it, it didn't happen". As it turned out the rapids were pretty mellow accept for the several ledges I dropped off of initially. These weren't  even that bad and I would have gladly gone back and done them again if I didn't have a bike strapped on the front of my raft and if I had a companion. In all reality none of this is out of my skill or ability level but going into the unknown, especially solo, makes me uneasy. Once through the rapids the river was calm, peaceful and for the most part shallow. All I had to do now was keep an eye out for my exit. In just under an hour I was back on land and getting the bike back together. Somehow the chain got all twisted up and became sort of a Rubik's Cube of a puzzle to untangle. Not having a leatherman with a needle nose pliers was my down fall, as simply taking apart the chain would have fixed the problem in a few minutes. Instead I had to remove the rear derailer, and the cable. A frayed cable can be a total bitch to put back in the tiny hole for 20 minutes. I wasted about an hour here and had no extra time to check out the area more thoroughly.

damn fine sandwiches inside

     Relieved that my bike was  back in working order I calmed down and just pedaled. It would be several more hours of awesome gravel and scenery  before I was back in Grand Marais. I was feeling good and as I got closer to my destination I worried less about the slash in my tire. I stopped off at a little deli in Hovland to refuel before making the 19 mile slog in a headwind to finish out the day. I was the last one in on day two, I felt good and I was pretty sure I could have done the 85 miler that the others did for the actual race. I rode 68 miles on the Krampus and was out for a good 8 hours. I was happy with my decision but a little guilty too, hind sight is always 20-20. After the ride I cleaned up at the municipal pool and enjoyed an extended dip in the spa. Later I met the whole gang for dinner before a having a camp fire cut short by rain. I went to bed plotting and planning other adventures that would piggyback the one I had done this day, as well as one that I would attempt the following day from recon obtained on my ride into Hovland.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Gravel Conspiracy , Laurential Divide

At the last minute I chose to ride the Krampus, it/I did very well at keeping a good pace and was a joy to ride the whole weekend.....especially for what I had planned 
 A couple weeks back I headed to Minnesota's far north for the forth time in four weeks to participate in The Garvel Conspiracy's  Laurential Divide  race/ride. To say I was a little burned out on traveling is an understatement. It's not being away and in the moment that is hard, it's the unpacking and packing during the week that's a bitch. If I could, I'd just stay up there for an extended period with my wife and kids and play, but work, bills, and chores demand that I come home in between the fun.
rolling out of town

Flat, a bunch of us decided to wait for him to change it and take a little break
 September 2013 was the second running of the three day stage race that pivoted on the small town of Grand Marais Minnesota. Last year was such a great experience I knew I would be back for more if Mr Stamper was so inclined to host the event again. This year was a week earlier which can make a big difference in weather (cold) when you go that far north.  It was also the same weekend as the Chequamegon 40, which pales in comparison in difficulty, scenery, and solitude. Like last year the race started and ended in Grand Marais, but that would be the only thing that stayed the same. The routes were different and thankfully shorter at  52,85, and 62 miles as opposed to 47, 125,and 115 miles.
One of many overlooks on the way

  The first overnight was spent at the hotel/casino in Grand Portage. The second night was back in Grand Marais with most of the group staying at the municipal campground. Each night after the ride the whole group of 20 something gathered for dinner. Due to a broken pipe or something of the like, our first dinner was outside at the casino RV campground. Most of us were a little pissed after descended upon the restaurant, mouths drooling with visions of heaping plates of food filled from an endlessly supplied buffet line, only too see the RESTAURANT CLOSED sign. Plan "B", everyone go to the only other food source in town, and stock up on anything and everything for a gas station pot luck. This turned out to be one those times when we metaphorically made chicken soup out of chicken shit, it was perfect. We had every manor of junk food, 3-2 beer, energy drinks, steaks,carrots, hot dogs, and a nice camp fire.
Gas station pot-luck

Just my bike and shadow to keep me company the rest of day 2
 The next day was set for a nice 85 miler. I rode with the group for the first 10-12 miles and flatted. This is right where I wanted to be, alone. I like riding with old, new and potential friends but sometimes it's nice to be by yourself, undistracted, free from chatter, outside thoughts and gossip. I typically ride by myself, not by choice but situation, (family life... you take what's available). This solitude for me is about reflecting on life, rejuvenation, and letting my mind run free to plan and create new ideas I would like to accomplish. I not only cherish this time I need it or I get grumpy. Enough with all the deep thoughts shit....  At the point of the last rider passing me is where I took my detour from the written route. I was not going to complete the Gravel Conspiracy ride this year and I knew it from the start. I've been nursing a back injury/sciatica all summer, as a result I have not ridden any long rides and have done the shorter ones with a great deal of pain before, during, and after. When I signed up for the GC in May or whatever, I completely thought my back and leg would be good to go, I was wrong. Just a few days before the ride I could barely walk without shooting pain in my leg after I got done with a shake down ride. I really hate bailing on a free race when I know the guys putting them on bend over backwards to do so. After that ride I knew I would still head north and take the line but with plan "B" tucked neatly into my drop bag. In the back of Mr Stamper's truck, was a packraft headed for Grand Portage. The DETOUR will be covered later, but I did end up with 68 miles for the day and returned to Grand Marais long after the last rider was in. Strangely, my leg and back were a non-issue the day before and I was only feeling a little pain start to build towards the end of my ride the second day. I popped a few Advil for good measure and decided not to ride the next day at all for fear of sending my healing progress backward. That evening we all met up at the Gunflint Tavern for the most expensive (19$) burrito I've ever had the displeasure of waiting an hour and a half  for. I was in good company so it was a little easier to take.
sneak peak at The Detour

Lake Superior in site
 The next day was a little chilly at the start and I was feeling even better about my decision not to ride. After watching the group ride away I was off to my second detour of plan B. This one didn't go as well as the day before and I had to get back to GM to pick up my friend and car pool-ee by 2 pm. Before we headed home a few good-bye's and hand shakes were in order, as well as buying Mr Stamper lunch as a thank you and just because he's an overall good guy. Check this out for next year, as I know the gears are already turning for the planning and evolution of this great event.
Day 3, the group getting ready to go,  I decided to sit it out and take it easy

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Fat-Bike Adventure Ride Update

As of today the route for next weekend's (10 -12-2013) F-B A Ride III is set and ready to go. I've been hard at work with some help from the Mayor to get everything dialed. Why would someone have to get a route ready for and adventure ride you ask ? Because I want to ride more than walk and would also like to keep my eyes from being poked out while doing so. I've been busy moving logs, cutting back buckthorn and other nasty sharp vegetation. This is not a ride at Murphy,Leb or any of the other local trail systems. For the most part, anything off-road will not be on any designated trail that most of you would recognize as MTB routes. There will be some road/bike path riding to link all the shit together. I'm not exactly sure of mileage but I'm guessing in the neighborhood of 35-40. Hope to see a big group this year.... D Rider out  
Log crossing, obviously

Giant swing, time will be spent here for you to push your sweetie

Of course there will be mud