Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Great Job Claire!

Very proud of Claire.  She placed 28th out of 50 varsity skiers at the Classic Suburban Conference Ski Race today.  Not bad for the only 7th grader racing in a high school meet!  Her hard work shows.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Snow Again Ride

Too warm of weather followed by too cold of weather hardened the Twin Cities into ice.  More of the too warm stuff was forecast for today.  What a difference a degree or two make.  Instead of freezing rain, three inches of choice snow fell.  I went for a ride, groomed my ski course and didn't even mind shoveling when I returned home.
 I intended to take pictures of the beam cast by my new headlight.  The streaking snowflakes shooting across the pictures ended up being much cooler.
 Again wanting to show off the light cast by my headlight, I ended up with a better photo of the lights on the Mendota Bridge.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Winter Bike Packing: Comfort in the Cold

With the coldest temperatures in 4 years predicted, Jared and I decided it would be a good time to go bike packing along the Minnesota River.  We often spoke of taking a trip like this on the warm summer nights riding in the area.  It was fun to do it.
Accusations of insanity were most people's reaction to hearing we're going.  Just the opposite is the case; this was a very comfortable trip.  I did not so much as shiver once.  Good gear and experience that comes from practicing in the backyard on cold nights made this drama free.  The whole experience was exceedingly more pleasant than tenting out on a warm buggy night.
These screen shots show the weather conditions upon waking up cozy and warm inside my sleeping bag on Monday morning.
Here we are getting ready to ride from Jared's.  We have good gear for the trip, but it is not expensive.  The red jacket I'm wearing worked perfectly.  I paid $1.50 for it in Taiwan several years ago.  I love it because it both blocks wind and breaths.

The ride away shot showing our backpacks holding our -40F sleeping bags.  This bag gives me the confidence to go out in any weather, as I know I can hunker down and be warm and safe in it.

More about gear, I have my three season, one-man tent strapped to my handlebars in front.  Water bottles do little good once they turn to ice, so I'm carrying fuel in my bottle cage.  The back rack mounts to my seat post.  My trusty old Nashbar panniers go on the rack.  The left side carried extra clothing and the right side held food and my stove.  My sleeping pads worked well.  I wanted to use two layers of the foam pad, but couldn't find the other.  So I substituted a self-inflating pad.  Notice the small piece of pad on the back of the blue pads.  This is a wonderful piece of kit that I used, to sit on, stand on and as another layer of insulation under my sleeping bag.

A shot of home for the night.  We camped in a a patch of tangley sticks which provided us with shelter from the wind and ample firewood.  In the summer this area will be too wet and buggy.  Note my black pad near my cooking stove.  Instant coffee mixed with hot chocolate along with fig newtons warmed us as we set-up camp.  Later we had beef stroganoff and more coco.

Jared played around with his homemade super cat stove with mixed results.

We sat around the fire warm, full and comfortable until around 9 pm.  I snuggled into my sleeping bag and watched The Dark Knight on my phone.  I was able to use whorish amounts of phone battery because of my New Trent portable charger.  It is about the size of a cheeseburger and provides 6 charges of my phone.  The picture above shows the hoarish frost inside my tent and on my glasses.
 Here we are geared up for the ride home.  The temp was down, so I donned more clothing.  The whole trip was pleasant and not very hard thanks to a few key elements of gear and experience. No we're not "crazy."

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Gearing Up For An Over Night Bike Packing Trip Tomorrow

Jared and I are only going to be gone for one night, but I feel that I need to tap both my winter camping and bike touring experience to get ready. The temperature is supposed to be quite cold.   -14F with wind chill temperature down to -35F are predicted.  The challenge is staying warm and comfortable without over packing, as space is limited on a bike. One small luxury is The Dark Knight loaded on my phone.  When things get cold and dark, I'll hunker down in my - 40 degree sleeping bag and watch a movie before going to sleep.  

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Claire Skied Well Today

Claire had a chance to compete with other middle school students from our conference.  She worked hard and placed 2nd overall.  Way to go!