Saturday, March 8, 2014

A Fat Ride Before Thaw

My fatbike makes winter fun.  With several 40 degree plus days in the forecast, I felt the need to get some snow time in.  Nothing special, just a ride along the Minnesota River Bottom.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

An Adventure?

By nature an adventure entails risk and the possibility of a misadventure.  Regardless we drove North East of Park Rapids to the Paul Bunyan State Forest despite a dangerously cold  forecast.  Below is a screen shot of the actual temps.
We parked the car, donned our snowshoes and did our final staging before walking into the forest.
 The bright setting sun made each bare tree cast long shadows in the deep sugary snow.  Only animals had preceded us on this trial for some time.  We worked hard breaking a path.  

 Jared used his pulk sled to haul his gear and my bulky -40 sleeping bag.  His large snowshoes and trailing wake made him easy to follow. 

I took my turn leading too.  My smaller snowshoes and pack made my steps plunge a little deeper. 

Finding a spot  somewhat out of the wind we began to dig in  and set up camp. 
 With the extreme cold and with darkness coming we decided to skip making a hot meal.  I munched cheese curds, a granola bar and a few fun sized candy bars for supper.  I looked forward to snuggling in my bag and watching "No Reservations" and "Top Gear" on my phone, but dozed off.  I woke up about 30 minutes later to twigs snapping as something walked through the snow about five feet from my head.  I'd guess a deer, but the snow didn't allow distinguishing tracks to form.
 About an hour later the cold really settled in.  We made the call to pack up and head in for the night.  This, however, never felt like failure.  It was the right decision on such a cold night.  We had a great car ride,  snowshoed in an amazing forest and spent time in the woods with the animals.  Once out of the woods we drove to our cousin's cabin, made a late night pizza and slept well.  Yes, our adventure turned into a misadventure, but that doesn't mean it wasn't well worth doing.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Fatpacking the Minnesota River Valley.

Jared and I decided to escape for an overnight bikepacking trip.  The picture below is of my bike pre-assembled on my porch prior to leaving.  I'm trying some tweaks on proven gear systems.  I have my bivy and zero degree F. sleeping bag mounted to a second stem under my handlebars.  I'm using a single Thermarest Ridge Rest pad attached to my seat post rack for the first time.

 Below is my bike ready to leave Jared's just after 9pm. 31 F. made for a warm ride to our camping spot.

Jared's Moonlander with orange and yellow and my Pugsley with blue and green during a break.  The trails were soft and took some work to ride.  Better after we both lowered tire pressure; plodding might describe our progress.  Not out for speed; we enjoyed a warm night.
I took a picture of Big Foot behind Jared.  Too bad the photo is grainy: you can just make out his outline.  Warm weather must have lured him out.  I rode for some time without hat or gloves.  Not bad for a mid-January night.
 We camped in a sheltered spot surrounded by brush and small trees.  In the Minnesota River Valley.
 Pictures, above and below, show the location of my bivy for the night.  Billowy snow, still soft after being stepped down, helped me sleep well.  The single pad, bivy and sleeping bag all worked wonderfully.
 We woke up to temps.were in the high teens around 8:30 am.  These small trees sheltered us from a stout wind.  Jared's Moonlander unloaded with his camp set up behind him added color and contrast to a white and gray landscape.

Here's Jared's view of my campsite
 We decided to eat a handful of nuts instead of heating water for our oatmeal and coffee, packed camp and were riding by 9am..  Soft snow, a big climb out of the valley and a headwind had us questioning our meager breakfast choice an hour later.

 Oh well, we were back at Jared's a few minutes before 11am.  Our trip finished with a drive to Wampach's Restaurant for onion rings and the Monday meatloaf special.   Loads of fun and a little adventure packed into a 24 hours.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

First Ride with Q and his Green Ops. Pugsley

November ended with a beach ride along the Mississippi River near Hidden Falls Park.  40+ temperature competing with the ribbon of ice forming on both sides of the river channel.  We rolled rocks, floated over sand and did hike-a-bikes around fallen trees.  Jared started fat biking in 2009 when he purchased the Pugsley in the  foreground that I now ride.  His Moonlander sporting Bud and Lou  is to the left.Q's Black, green, Ops Pugsley on the right is a brilliant bike.  It was fun to ride fat with him for the first time.
Jared's flat ended the day.  Our only spare tube, a 2.3" downhill tube, was not up for the job of filling Lou.  We pumped it up, but it died whining .  Jared hiked up to a road while Q and I rode to the cars so we could drive over and pick him up.  All part of the fun and adventure.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Bike Packing Along the Minnesota River Near Chaska

 Jared and I left his house about 5pm Saturday riding toward the Minnesota River.  After a climb out of his neighborhood, we had lots of fun downhill rolling.  We camped quite near where we overnight-ed last winter.
 This is the first outing with my new sleeping bag, waterproof compression sack and double stem front mounting system.  Every thing stayed brilliantly solid without issues.  
 Dinner was outstanding.  I made instant potatoes with bonito flakes for a bit of smoky umami.  Jared's angel hair pasta with olive oil and campfire toasted berbere spiced pine nuts won the backwoods culinary award of excellence.  Even cooler is the fact that he cooked the pasta on his homemade alcohol stove.  
 We gained an hour setting our clocks back while we were out.  Morning was a relaxing slow wake event.  A bowl of oatmeal and a cup of  instant coffee mixed with hot chocolate boosted my homeothermic system in the same way laying on a warm rock stirs a reptile.
 Jared is snug in his Mount Laurel Designs tarp tent.  I'm not sure of the temp. upon waking but the white in the background is frost.  My bivy/tent below had ice crystals on it when I crawled into bed.  Once again I was quite pleased with my sleeping bag.  The ground was soft, so I didn't take time to inflate my pad relying instead on my bag's insulation below me without the r4 of my insulated air mattress.
 Jared's tarp and bike below.  My bivy and bike above.
 Final shot of our loaded bikes as we were ready to ride out of camp after a night out.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Paul Bunyan State Forest Grouse Hunting

Tom and Tom and I enjoyed some North woods time last weekend having a perfectly wonderful time getting skunked while grouse hunting.  We saw  a fair number of birds, but they warily flushed far out of range.

Always great to walk in the woods this time of year where the dropped leaves unveil unexpected rewards like this twisty, blazing fungi.

 Weather was overcast and threatening rain while we spent time walking the woods on Friday and Saturday.  We stayed dry and enjoyed the hospitality at Tom's cabin.  His daughters aged 9 and 11 kept us entertained with handstands and giggles.
 A couple of years ago I helped move this vintage outhouse to its current location.  Seat warms up nicely after a few seconds.  I was hoping to shoot some black powder, but things became too soggy.  The gun was fun to look at in the tent anyway.
 Sunday's weather changed frosting my tent with a layer of snow.  The cold and a new sleeping bag which kept me warm on three cold wet nights has me me excited for weather to come.  
Even managed to put in the boat, dock and boat lift while visiting.  No need for grousing on this trip.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Fall Tour 2013: Bikes, Food and Rain

 Steve's Gunnar looking at the rear end of my Long Haul Trucker.
 Jared's Salsa ready to take on anything.  Wins prettiest bike of the weekend.

Sean's Cannondale CycleX with Nob Trailer
 My Surly in the sumac.
 carnage and beans
 carnage and fire
 The wet ride home
 Q riding the single speed Surly Cross-Check like a Train.
A great trip; so glad we didn't let wet weather dissuade us.  Minneapolis to Carver Park 57ish miles round trip.  Lunch at Maynards in Excelsior, groceries in Victoria.  While in camp we shot sling shots grilled and hung out.  Q made us "mix tapes" or almost 39 gigs, and Sean had trouble with his zipper.  Very wet on the ride back.  10 miles into the return breakfast at McDonald's hit the was perfect.  I ended each day wanting more riding which is a hallmark of a brilliant trip.