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

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Easy Bake

A while back, while I was wrapping up my build on the portable mini wood stoves I executed a plan for a mini oven. I call it the 'Easy Mother Fucking Bake Oven' after the true Easy Bake Oven by Hasbro made for children. I desperately wanted one of these as a young kid but since it was targeted as a girls toy I had to put the dream aside.
As a comparison test I cooked two cinnamon rolls in my easy M F bake, and the rest in a real oven

virtually the same
  As far as my oven goes..... no one really needs anything like this but I wanted one so I built it.  The idea to build an oven was actually started on a trip I took last winter while I was trying to figure out a good way to cook some cinnamon rolls, the kind that come in a cardboard tube that unravels when you pierce the side. I've cooked these in the past over an open fire as well as the croissants that come in the same packaging with mostly poor results. They are not meant to be cooked this way but when I'm cruising the grocery store isles getting for a trip, particularly in the winter, they always seem to end up in the basket and somehow I believe I will have a way of cooking them properly. Well now I have a way.
Since I'm half Mexican, obviously  I cooked nachos for my very first test. 

Oven-----pan----aluminum foil filled with cooked nachos. What more could you want? 
  Although I have not field tested the oven it works very well on the gas range in my kitchen.  The oven is merely a thin gauge black iron box, with a hinged door to hold in the heat, and some rails on the bottom to keep the items being cooked, away from direct heat. I made a stainless steel tray that fits just inside with a removable handle. Is my Easy Mother Fucking Bake a Novelty ?.... Yes    Is it a  Piece of junk that plugs into a wall socket, using a 100 watt light bulb for heat, taking hours to make a couple of shitty cookies?...No.  Did I actually get to try an easy bake as a kid ? sucked.
As you can clearly see ...It really is called the Easy Mother Fucking Bake Oven...Yo

Monday, February 24, 2014

White House

The riding was good for a while, but when the snow plow stopped we had to walk

 It's been too long since I've spent a night in a snow shelter. The past few years here in the north land have been kind of light on the white fluffy stuff, this winter has been a completely different story. So as the winter is coming to close, at least by the calendar, I decided to build a shelter with the plan of an overnight stay. The site I chose is one that I used in the past,nearly fifteen years ago. I'm kind of creature of habit, as you might have noticed throughout these blog pages I tend to revisit places I've been and then add a little twist to keep it interesting. I also like bringing new people along for the ride,because if it was fun once it surely will be again.

   On Friday night, ArcFlash and I headed off into the night with our loaded backpacks upon or trusty fat-bikes. Mother nature had just dumped a good load of new snow the day before and the wind was blowing it around everywhere, the fat-bike was clearly the bike of choice. Although the ride was short, roughly four miles, it was plenty for an after work, late start, adventure. When we finished the riding portion, we had a short hike to the pre-built snow fort that I finished a few days before.
Steaming foot, and the front door

 .The first time down a week before was quite easy, but after the big storm the snow drifts had us struggling in hard pack well above the knee. This was made even more difficult by the big garbage bags full of wood that we were dragging behind us. The day before I had placed the two bags full of wood on my way home from work. I know it's cheating but I wanted to make sure things would go well and I knew finding dry wood in the fresh snow would be a bitch. I was also anticipating a larger group that evening, some of which only show up for the campfire/cookout portions of these micro adventures within the twin-cities.

home for one night
  The wood cache proved to be a good idea, as the snow was very deep, the wind was howling, the temps were around 6-8 deg and it was about 8 pm when we finally reached the snow fort. We quickly got the fire going and cooked our dinner over the raging pieces of hardwood that used to be skids for sheets of steel. We didn't last too long outside as the wind was doing it's best to choke us out with swirling clouds of smoke in our little hollowed out snowdrift wind break.
Bike cache

Winter wonderland
        A little after 9pm the two of us were busy fixing our sleeping gear and preparing for a cozy night in the shelter of the snow house. It was nice and roomy, I originally had planned for 3 but with only the two of us tough enough for a cold windy night we had room for all of our gear inside. Although it was substantially warmer inside I still slept like shit, my sleeping bag and it's exaggerated temperature rating being the culprit. Now that I think about it this was the problem on my last outing...time for a new bag. Fortunately I brought along an extra down jacket that I used as a blanket inside my bag. Morning came slowly, I was checking my watch throughout the night hoping the next time would be around 6-7am.....damn it's only 3am, back to sleep. When  it was finally time to get up we cooked our breakfast in the cave, AF exclaiming "It's not like we're going to burn this thing down". After breakfast It was time to head out, back to the locked up bikes, the ice covered roads and our waiting vehicles.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Weekend in Scony

Last weekend Big D and I headed north, while Lynn, Super Y and G Man headed south. My trip...for racing and having fun, theirs for gymnastics competition and having fun. I pulled Big D out of school early Friday so we could make the start of the Bike Across the Bay , fat-bike race in Ashland Wisconsin at 6pm. This was the first year for a fat-bike race that is piggy backing off the super popular Book Across the Bay ski race. Both are held at night and cross Chequamegon Bay of Lake Superior from Ashland to Washburn.
From the Chequamegon bay Hotel

Desolation....the race course 
The ski race is like a huge party after 10 k's out on the lake. The fat bike race was little longer at around 12 miles. The blowing snow just before the race detoured our course mainly on ice roads. I was cool with that since the small amount of riding on the original track was super soft and slow...besides that, how cool is it to be fat-biking on Lake Superior in the dark? We did have a full moon on the night of the race and when it got up off the horizon we hardly even needed head lights.
Start line

 The pace was fast and the race was over for me in about and hour. The temps had dropped substantially from the time I had suited up until the time I actually finished chilling me to the core. I was very thankful for a massive heated tent to warm up in and a hot meal to enjoy with my son and friends. Thanks to..... Marry for watching Big D. After the race we headed south to the Legend's cottage near Cable to stay the night and prepare for the bar stool ski races in Drummond the next day.
The big tent and Big D

Some of the "stools" from the unlimited class

Spidey riding the more common "classic"bar stool with skis 
  I was not racing but Big D and I along with Marry were going to watch. The race is simple with one person pushing at the start and the other riding to the finish line. The Legend going as Evil Spiderman would be the pusher of the bar stool while regular Spiderman would be the driver/rider. We had a good time people watching as well as race spectating. After a few hours Big D and I were ready to warm up and got invited to another cabin for a sauna. This one belonging to another good friend of mine B-dale. I hadn't been to his new place since he built it so it was nice to get a tour and defrost at the same time.
Jamaican bobsled team was there, and as usual....losing 

starting gate
Later in the evening we all met back up at another cabin for dinner. It's kind of crazy up there as it seems everyone from the twin-cities has a place in the Cable/Hayward area. I wouldn't mind my own place but for now I'll just have to visit. By Sunday morning school and work obligations had us packing up and driving home. Big Thanks to Mr and Mrs The Legend for a warm bed to crash on as well as the tasty breakfast, B-Dale and Kim for the sauna, Big D for finding a huge piece of icicle,and the Spidey family for the big group meal in a luxurious cabin.
Vintage sleds are always cool

Sunday, February 16, 2014


Last Friday I put out the call for a fat-bike ride on the snowmobile trails headed out of Shakopee. I knew it was short notice but I figured a couple out of the 118 members of The Imperial fat-bike riders would show. I was wrong, the only one to join me was Best in Schow. I was cool with that, he and I have done many death marches down on these trails and it was a homecoming of sorts. Back in the day before fat-bikes a hand-full of us would gather in the late spring on our regular MTB's with the widest 2.1 tires we could find and proceed to destroy ourselves for hours on end.

  The ultimate goal....make it to Belle Plaine and back. I believe I only made it to Belle Plaine first or second time, I can't really remember it was a good ten years ago. It was such a horrible experience I never made the whole thing again. Don't get me wrong I love to bring myself all the way down to the darkest place and crawl my way back out, but this is like smashing your hand with a hammer....   It's always bound to happen again , I just choose to let it happen in different places.
The kabob's were clearly a better choice than my "soup in a bag"

 The plot for the day's ride was not one of pain or suffering, instead we kept a pace that afforded conversation without pausing to take deep breaths. We also brought along lunch and planned for a trail side campfire, approximately an hour in we did just that. It was cold day around 12-14 deg F, but still much warmer than we had been experiencing, so it was very enjoyable. There was no wind so the fire did a great job of keeping us warm and cooking B in S's kabob's..... I settled for soup. On the way back we took a little longer route with a side trip and ended the day a little shy of 25 miles.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Playing Hooky

A couple weeks ago I made the now or never decision to visit the sea caves in the Apostle Islands with my fat-bike and a small group of friends. Before that... I vowed to my kids and wife that I would plan a trip there for all of us as soon as it was safe to travel.
The long walk

This boy always finds a sick that he can not live without and therefore must take home with him, we are a mile out on the lake and somehow he finds this to play with

  We had all gone to a seminar about the sea caves back in November at the Midwest Mountaineering Expo and they were pretty stoked. I felt guilty for leaving them behind on the first trip but it was such short notice that I knew another more accommodating trip would be in order. So this week we all piled into the van after school and headed for Ashland to stay the night.

How do you motivate three kids to follow you around in the cold? ....give them candy
 The next morning we got up early, ate breakfast, and made the short trip to Meyers Beach where we began the 1 mile ++ hike on the lake out to the caves. It was damn cold and windy but on the plus side we all got to skip a day of work and school. The crowd was small too, around 20 people when we left and maybe a hundred as we were headed back. This was nothing compared to the 5-6 thousand that visited the weekend before. In that respect we kind-of had the place to ourselves. We spent about three and a half hours out there exploring, a lot of which we simply rolled past on the previous trip.

If I took my jacket off and exhaled I would have fit through this....real caving 

      I was glad for my boys curiosity to stick their heads into everything they could possibly find and thoroughly check it out. This in turn got Lynn and I to follow after them (safety) and really see every nook and cranny. I was so glad we all could share in the spectacular beauty of this place together and that mother nature would hold out long enough to make it possible. It had been 10 years since I had been there last, I'm hoping it will be a lot less time for a return trip, to think that my boys will be adults by then is a sobering thought . If you have the chance, the ice is still safe right now.........GO !

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Fat-Tire Loppet

Last Sunday was the Fat-Tire Loppet held in Minneapolis. It's part of the City of Lakes Loppet, primarily nordic skiing. In addition to all the ski events are two bicycle races, an ice race on Saturday and a Fat-Bike race on Sunday,both sponsored by my team's shop Penn Cycle. Although I would have loved to do the ice race, I had other plans with my family on Saturday. I had to settle for only one race this weekend, waaaaaa.
Fat-Bikes everywhere
 The race wasn't until 2pm after all the nordic events were over so we wouldn't potentially ruin the trails for skate skiers. Unlike last year we were actually allowed on the ski trails instead of just the lakes, which made for a much more exciting and challenging race. The first third of the race was very hilly and had me at red-line, even though the course was hard packed and very fast. I started strong but soon faded as the hills were punishing me, I went from the front to somewhere around 20-25th place. Just as things started to flatten out I stopped and aired down just a little, as the tires were just breaking through the crust enough to make the going slow on the flats and twitchy on the descents.
Check-in,  yes boring pic but I didn't have a lot to choose from...I was racing not doing a photo shoot
  About this time I got my second wind and began picking off riders as we neared the finish. I was glad to be out of the hills but the miles out on the open lakes into a strong headwind were a challenge all their own. I had broken away from two separate groups before hitting the last lake and was paying for it. They were all able to draft each other and if the race had been a mile or two longer they definitely would have caught me. I was relived when I took the last turn off the lake to the finish chute. It was different than last year and came up much sooner than what I was budgeting my legs for.
Start Line
 When I made the last steep little bump a woman at the top was shouting my place and cheering. The finish was one of the coolest ones I've ridden through, it had a short but really steep downhill that allowed for some effortless high speed and a sharp turn at the bottom. It felt good to come in "hot" through a large crowd and coast to the actual finish line instead of dragging ass, ready to puke, and slogging along at a snails pace like I was just before the last little climb. I was quite pleased to have  finished 8th overall and I'm not ashamed to admit 7th was a woman. She was damn tough and I was not able to hang with her in the hilly sections at the start. Congrats to my team mates who finished 2nd, 13th and 14th.    
Team mates, Best in Schow and Moto Guse.....   The fat guy on the left is me
        Until next time....... D Rider, out