Thursday, June 30, 2011

The search for the 20 inch fish back yard fish.....

So my fishing partner and I have a new quest this summer. To catch a 20 + inch Smallmouth on the Thomson Res. behind my house (with a fly rod). Not a bad mission to have for back yard water!
Its that time again...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

IMBA Midwest Spring Campaign 2011

Joey Kleins note and evidence of his stay in Duluth, MN

I arrived home late in the evening last Sunday night from the Midwest Mountain Bike Festival in Davenport, IA.  It had been an 8 plus hour push after a long four days of the festival.  As I pulled in the driveway I had a sense of relief, sort of like that last day of school feel.  I had literally been on the road since late April.  Nearly every weekend an event, a political meeting, a fundraiser you name it.  I immediately realized that I could now finally clean out the IMBA Roo.  Yeah it had been that busy, instead of removing things from the car, I would just leave them in there, why not?  I will just need them next weekend.

I stumbled into our Sauna/Guest house and dumped some items from the car.  While I was in there I saw that Joey Klein had left me a note and some gifts while I had been away.  Funny thing is that Joey was here some time in early May, its is almost the 4th of July.  This stuff had been sitting there for over a month and I was just finding it now.  However that said, it struck me just how much I have done since April and I should most likely recap that in some way.  So here goes, the simple laundry list with a few comments.

It all started out with the National Bike Summit in March, in Washington, DC.  Then it went to the Wheel and Sprocket Sale in Milwaukee, then to the Wisconsin Bike Summit in Madison the next week, that rounded out April.  

A few short weeks later I found myself with Joey in Duluth marking out the tougher sections of the Duluth Traverse Trail with COGGS.  Overlapping that I had another Trail Solutions employee, Steve Mullins working both in Rippon, WI and also Tofte, MN and in Woodbury, MN.  While that was going on, I headed to the Door County Bike Summit in Sister Bay, WI.  Thanks for the bed Freddie!  

Then things got busy.  Along with Aaron Rogers, I put on the Great Lakes Bike Summit in Copper Harbor, MI.  This was in conjunction with the Ride the Keweenaw event.  A great event and a huge success.  Thanks to all that attended.  I had very little time to celebrate.  As both my boss, Mike Van Abel and my compatriot Chris Berhardt hopped planes to head to the next events they had, I took the time to get ready for the grand Opening of Cuyuna and the first IMBA Ride Center in the country.  But oh, yeah first I had to head to the CAMBA festival of trails.  Not a hardship by any means but hey it all starts to add up.

Cuyuna blew all my expectations away.  To see the transformation over the past two years was literally astounding.  I can honestly say that of all the myriads of folks there that weekend, there were only a fistful of us that had the depth of satisfaction that I felt.  On that note I can also say that only a few people really see the change that Cuyuna is going to create both in our community of MTB activists, but also in the sport itself.  I see a future blog post in that realm coming soon as well.  Suffice to say, things will not be the same after Cuyuna.

I took a few days to rest and then loaded up to meet Steve and Morgan of the Trail Care Crew.  They met me in Duluth and we had a cup of coffee and plotted our next round of attack.  The USFS and the Boy Scouts of America and the local IMBA Club, the Superior Cycling Association were gathering to build single track in both Tofte and Grand Marais, MN.   We hosted a trail school and then helped the USFS organize the 140 or so Scouts to begin the build.  

The build I am told went well, however I was not there, and either was the TCC because we had headed out to go to the Midwest Mountain Bike Festival in Davenport, IA.  My second regional summit.  Like the Great Lakes Summit we had a great cross section of clubs.  10 different clubs, 50 folks on Friday at the Summit and easily hundreds more at the Festival itself.  Thanks FORC!

Now I am looking forward to slowing down, seeing some summer, playing with Tae and giving Margaret some relief.  The spring campaign is over and the fall campaign is in the future.  Thanks to all those who supported me and IMBA over the past two months and thanks to all those that will support us in the future and of course, thanks to Margaret and Tae for allowing me to have a dream job that helps change communities and lives in a positive way.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Proving the fallacy of flatness: Midwest Mountain Bike Festival, Davenport IA

Slyvan Island, IL 

Great symbol for the Midwest MTB fest!
Never give up hope

Skid contest
Amid the ruins

No more war

Ken B.  Rocking as usual

Nuha nuhna nuhhhhhh
Jousting?  Really?  FORC for sure....

Congrats to FORC and all the folks that made the Midwest Mountain Bike Festival possible.  The Summit on Friday was well attended.  I think we had about 10 clubs in attendance and it was great to have all that experience in one room and to pass ideas, challenges and dreams around the room.  The Festival itself was a great time as well.  I enjoyed riding Sylvan Island, Scott County Park and Illiniwek, or course the Bent River Brewery was awesome too, as well as all the cool company!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Friday, June 17, 2011

IMBA Trail Care Crew in Grand Marais: Minnesota's future single track capitol

Local food

Local food being consumed

Pedal Blender

Fording the River Brule

Feeling like local food...

It aint single track but it will do!

Perfect finish

 This week we have the IMBA Trail Care Crew in Grand Marais, MN.  There are some really solid plans in place for single track here.  Although there is not a lot on the ground at this point, Morgan, Steve and I still had a great adventure ride within 9 miles of the town yesterday.  This is a great place to ride a mountain bike and it will only become better in the near future!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Cuyuna Mountain Bike Festival (Ripping with Hans Rey)

The highlight of my weekend and perhaps my tenure with IMBA was on Sunday.  

After Hans and John did a technical trails clinic at Yawkey I took them and Josh Abrahamson on a tour of the trails around Pennington.  Hans has been pioneering the idea of "Flow Country" trails for a while now.  The idea being that there are different types of flow trails and that Flow Country trails are gravity based.  Hans was interested in seeing if any of the Cuyuna trails would fit this designation.  

After seeing the smile on his face and hearing the whooping he was doing coming down Sand Hog I got the feeling that yes, it did.  It was a really fun ride.  

The cross country race was due to start, so the trails were actually closed and because of that we had a sense of urgency to get Hans on all the key trails before we lost the ability to access the runs.  So I was forced to give an off menu tour and use my memory on how to most efficiently combine the ride to hit those trails.  It was a fun mental exercise on my end and a great quick ride on theirs.  We ended up hitting, Screamer, Endo Ally, Sand Hog, Chute, Ferris Wheel and Roly Poly all in the span of about an hour.  The stoke was high by the end of the ride.  Hans, John and Joshe's because of the great trails and mine because some great riders were so so happy to be riding at Cuyuna!

Flow Country!

Cuyuna Mountain Bike Festival (Hans "No Way" Rey is in the building)

Saturday was the start of the first annual Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Festival.  

Hans Rey came thanks to the financial support of MORC, QBP and IMBA.  We are extremely grateful that he came to the event.  His demo on Saturday night was outstanding.  He and John Gaddo a local MN trials rider lit up the crowd with some great riding.  The spectators were mainly kids from the area and I am positive that due to both Hans and John, they are already begging their parents for bikes that they can take to the now world class trails in their community.  

After both John and Hans's performance we had a night ride the took place at 10pm.  We had nearly 40 folks who attended that ride.  We hit a solid portion of the lower trails at Pennington and at one point we used our lights to highlight some of the b-lines so Hans could rip them in his typical effortless style.  All that attended arrived back at the cars in one piece...

There were also Wood tick races going on!

Zen master, zenning


Another satisfied customer (note the red dust)


Johnny G keeping it real


Its the faces to look at

A well organized night ride

Smoke em if you got em

Cuyuna Mountain Bike Festival (Ribbon Cutting)

On the second day of my visit to Cuyuna we had the official ribbon cutting.  Jim Oberstar joined a host of other state and local dignitaries in thanking those that have made the new trail system that is the now being called the IMBA Cuyuna Lakes Ride Center possible.  After the ribbon cutting we once again hit the trails and I had pleasure of riding with my boss Mike Van Abel on some of the Yawkey Trails.

Maya the 9 year old trail builder and ribbon cutter with Jim Oberstar

Weather kept us in the hockey rink for the speeches but it somehow felt right..

Boss enjoying his Friday at work

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Cuyuna Mountain Bike Festival (worker bee day number 1)

Does something look a bit odd to you here?

Nick killing it on Rori's bike (Note tire positions)


I spent the Thursday before the Grand Opening of Cuyuna working with Nick from the Cuyuna/MORC Club getting the trails ready for the race coming up this Saturday.  It was awesome.  Perfect day, lots of folks riding and lots of world class people watching.  I have to say that if the goal of these trails was to bring in new riders and influence young people to ride (which it was) then we have won the war for sure.  I saw Jr. High kids killing it on Huffy's and 3-Speed bikes they obviously knicked from their parents.  I saw my first broken frame in Yawkey, I saw folks looking at maps and riding on trails I have in the past only seen one or two of my closest friends or workmates on.  The sounds themselves inspiring. Crazy hoots and hollers were sounding from all areas of the system.  Today I really loved my job.....

Monday, June 06, 2011

Spring sliding into Summer: A NE Minnesota outdoorsman's sigh of relief

Last friday I awoke to the sound of a loon on the lake.  It was about 5am and the loon was in full on howling mode.  I slid from the bed and while my family slept I loaded my bike and rode off to one of my favorite fishing spots.  It was cold enough that I needed a hat and a wool sweater.  Clouds threatened but the day was calm.  Perfect for a morning of fishing brookies.  My first fish was the biggest fish I have ever caught in this stream.  It was truly a wonderment.  As I release that beautiful fish, the storm that had been rumbling the distance finally unleashed.  Lightning and thunder raged and I was forced to sit under an upturned White Pine's rootball and watch the rain come sheeting down.  It was the storm that brought the heat from the southern part of the state.  It went from 50 degrees to 70 in a matter of minutes.  Spring had transitioned to summer.  As I watched the skies clear and the sun beam down a white tailed deer wandered into the stream below me.  I did not have the lens to truly capture the shot but I tried anyway.  As I watched the deer I flashed back to my first deer hunt and instantly I had the realization that I have been haunting streams like this for literally 30 years.  At that moment I can honestly say I felt true to who I am as a person.  One thing in 30 years has not changed and that is my love for being outside and I guess that is not going to change in the next 30 years.....

Wally the wonder trout...

Beavers and Brookies

Back cast?  What back cast?

Still growing

Stream buddy

Hunting bike turned fishing bike

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Great Lakes Summit in Copper Harbor: Huge success

Thanks to Aaron Rogers and the many folks of the Copper Harbor Trails Club and the Keweenaw Trails Alliance, we had a resounding success with the Great Lakes MTB Summit.  It was an all star cast including 8 clubs from across the region, Mike Mercuri and Ron Ritzler of SRAM and also Mike Van Abel (IMBA Exec. Director), Chris Bernhardt director of Trail Solutions.  Here are some shots from the Mayhem (I am still licking my wounds from both the day and the night).
Keep it on the straight and narrow

On the Edge

Trail Genius!!

Endless turns in Copper Harbor!

Pete is not afraid...

Pete and Rudy hanging at the AM session

Adam Sundberg wonders just how well the trails drain 

The Jam Pot (Heavenly tastes)