Friday, December 16, 2005

Ski-biking fun this Saturday

Forwarded by a friend ...

Come one come all to a day or an hour of fun at the deer pen.

Saturday Dec 17th we will sled and ski bike at the deer pen (the deer pen is the name they call the area below the minnehaha falls by the V.A. hospital) the time is High Noon (so about 12:30) it is fun for the whole family or just one person in the woods however you want it just show up and have fun hope to see yall there.

And I assume they're not talking about mass-production ski bikes either. To see what I mean, read this announcement from a similar event in Feb '05. Here's a video clip pulled from surlyblog as well.

Guess I know what I'll be doing between now and then - snagging some junk skis at goodwill, and figuring a way to lash 'em to my mtn bike. If I can't get that to work, I'll probably just show up with a sled instead - anything to have some fun sliding down the hill.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

It was bound to happen

Ever since the roads got sloppy around Thanksgiving, I've been riding my mtn bike (which, for the record, is nowhere near as much fun as the fixie for street riding!) I'm running 2.1" rubber on the mtn bike, and it feels SO sluggish. Plus, I think the stem on the mtn bike is a little too long for me, and it's never really felt dialed for me.

But anyway, the roads were clear of ice, snow and slush this morning, and a Big Snow was predicted for tonight, so I took the opportunity to ride the fix in to work today.

Just as I was leaving home around 7:30am, I realized I had taken my bike repair kit out of my messenger bag when I packed the bag to head to Duluth for the weekend. I was already out the door when I realized this, and in a lapse of judgement I decided to go without for today. After all, I've been commuting on the fix off-and-on without incident for several months. Surely today would be troublefree, like all the others, right?


The ride in to work was great - it was so much fun to be on the fixie again!

The ride home from work started out great as well, until I flatted just north of 50th St. Without my repair kit, my options were pretty limited. So I started the ~ 2 mile walk home, though Linden Hills and on to Uptown.

There used to be a bike shop in Linden Hills - where was it now that I needed it? They closed a year or two back, as I recall. I think there's some sort of health club in the space the shop used to occupy.

The walk home actually was fine - almost enjoyable - weather was pretty mild. I did have better things to do with my time, though. By the time I got home, dried off the bike, fixed the flat (removing the small shard of glass), ate a little dinner, and rode to While Foods for some groceries, most of the night had slipped away.

I lost one of my tire levers a while back, so I only have two - it makes a huge difference. Getting the bead off the rim with only 2 tire levers was a real struggle. Note to self - get more tire levers.

So here's hoping that I can go another few months without flatting - and that I'll be a little wiser next time and not leave my repair kit at home!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Winter Camping - Gooseberry to Split Rock

Kat planned to visit friends in Duluth this weekend, and also do a little winter camping to try out her gear, and she invited me along.

Friday night was fun - while Kat visited w/a girlfriend, I had a chance to have dinner and catch up w/my friend Heidi, who I had last seen Grandma's marathon weekend. We met at Fitger's Brewhouse, and I enjoyed one of their great Blueberry Porters - yummy.

Heidi told us about a huge sale going on at Granite Gear in Two Harbors, so we stopped in on Saturday and snagging some incredible deals (I got a steal on an ultralight backpack, and also picked up a pair of super warm mittens that should be perfect for winter camping and winter riding - I don't think my fingers will ever be cold again!)

By the time we parked the car at Gooseberry Falls and hit the trail, it was a little later than planned - I think we got started around 2:30pm under overcast skies. It was fairly warm though, 20 degrees or so - pretty nice, actually. Plan was to hike northward to the Split Rock River.

Gooseberry river and falls were totally frozen over - very pretty.

Surprisingly, there was little snow, maybe an inch or so - definitely less than in Mpls. Despite this, trail conditions were still challenging in spots. There was just enough snow to conceal icy patches, which were frequent and often unexpected. We both fell down/over on numerous occasions - my backpack definitely saved me from a broken tailbone on at least one occasion.

Took a little over an hour to reach the first campsite, at Blueberry Hill. We debated pitching camp there, but I suggested we push on a little further, since I thought there was another campsite between Blueberry and Split Rock. We made a friendly wager on whether such a campsite actually existed ... and I lost. Hiked the remaining 3 miles to Split Rock without coming upon any other campsites :-( Light was fading fast, and even though the snow reflected available light and our eyes adjusted fairly well, we hiked the last 1/2 hr or so with our headlamps. Kat was a good sport about all of this - she had been looking forward to an easy hike/camp just to test out her gear, and she got more than she bargained for with me pressing to hike onward.

Once we hit the river, it would have been another 2 mile hike upstream to reach the first campsite, so we instead opted to pitch our tent out on the frozen river (but only after testing the ice to ensure that it was plenty solid - river ice is always questionable and can be thin in spots where the water rushes beneath it.) This is also a no-no since we were inside the State Park boundary, where camping is allowed only in designated campsites. But we rationalized our actions be telling ourselves that we were causing no damage to the soil, flora or fauna by pitching camp on the ice - no harm, no foul.

Cool ice formations at the few spots of open water

Ferns and moss clinging to rocks, still green despite the freezing temps

Pitched the tent, fired up the stove and fixed ourselves a bottle of hot chai, and crawled into our sleeping bags for a light dinner of jerky, trail mix, and tea. It was still so early! One thing I love about roughing it is the heightened appreciation for little things - like warm tea, good conversation - things that are so easily taken for granted during the hustle and bustle of the normal day-to-day.

Camp on frozen Split Rock River

Goose down is our friend

We both crashed, and I slept like a baby until around 5:30am. Kat noticed that the sky had cleared and the night sky was now full of stars, so we unzipped the bottom the tent door, poked just our heads outside (the rest of our bodies still toasty warm in our sleeping bags) and gazed up at the stars for a while. I really wish I could identify more constellations - for me, it's the Big Dipper, maybe the Little Dipper as well on a good night.

Breaking camp

Broke camp around 8, and hiked out to Hwy 61. Kat's plan was to start walking in the direction of Gooseberry while trying to hitch a ride - a plan that probably works quite well if you're a lone woman, but not quite as well when you have a dude with you. Quite a few vehicles passed us before a kind woman in a minivan picked us up.