Sunday, December 30, 2012

T-Res Tour Winter 2012: Fat Bike Freedom


Fisherman's friends.  Claw your way to safety (as you float on your fat assed tires!)

Braap!! Braaaaap!!

This one is for Gaddo....

Stellars and Hoars....

No rocks are safe

Da boys

The moon
Elbow room

Sauna time.  No better way to end a perfect day on the bike
When I was 14 (and that was a long time ago) I bought my first mountain bike.  It was a Schwinn High Sierra.  Bad ass.  I truly thought I could ride anywhere and I tried to.  That bike broke every day.  I went to my local Schwinn dealer so much that finally at one point the owner of the shop had to sit me down and actually tell me that I COULD NOT ride anywhere.  Well that dude was wrong ( I thought so--gnashes teeth) and winter fat biking has proven that to me.

Total freedom on a bike is a heady experience.  It occurs to me that Fat Biking's dirty little secret is that you dont want a LOT of snow, what you want is a minimum of snow and lot of ice.  Endless miles of it.  Safe thick ribbons of it.  Slap about 3 inches of snow on that and you have wild riding at its best.

Have a foot of snow and your grooming.  An insane experience in itself, I think that the Marquette boys have this nailed, because they have would groom a ton too if you were getting a foot of lake effect snow a week as well.  But we are not.  Instead we are getting optimal conditions for unmitigated winter cycling travel.  Point and shoot.  I am cool with that, I will take mine fully organic if I have to.

It has been interesting to see the evolution of off road cycling over the years.  I am loving the fully dialed, pro built trails that are being created for summer use.  Places like Copper Harbor, or the new trail at Spirit Mountain.  Those trails are things of beauty, however I have to say it is so great to see that in the winter I am able to light off and ride nearly uninhibited, to go back to 14 and my first bike, to giggle like an adolescent getting away with something he shouldn't.

Thanks to Rudy, Eric, Carl and Tom for taking the time to ride today.  It was amazing, our tour had it all.  Huge open expanses on the River, plunging falls, hollow cracking ice (I, the camera man went through the most) and ripping single track at Tom's place.  Followed of course with a smoking hot sauna and a cold, cold beer.

  I have a ton of great shots of the day, it did occur to me that Rudy tends to get the most love from the lens, but I am realizing that it not just because Rudy is a killer rider, because Eric is as well, it more likely is that Rudy is a ripping rider who always wears bright colors!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Fat Biking 2012: The classic lines are taking shapes as we speak!

The fjords of the St.Louis Rivers

Frosted flakes

Hop hop hoppitty

Ready to rock
Endless riding in the Fjords

Home in time for the blue light
Tis the season.  Conditions could not be more perfect for fat biking in our region right now.  Cold nights have resulted in thick, hard ice on the lakes.  The rivers are not yet safe but the slow water is firming up nicely.  We grabbed a fluffy 3 inch lake effect snow that bonded well to the ice so traction is perfect.  High speed and endless ice riding, no trails needed.....  Some interesting riding is about to go down!

Mississippi River Backwater tour 2012: Fat Biking the Mighty Miss


Deep space ice
Part of our holiday was spent in Winona with my family.  The conditions for Fat Biking were amazing. Thick safe ice, just enough snow to get grip but not so much that you couldnt just fly.  Miles and miles of amazing scenery in the sloughs were just too easy to get.  I was so stoked to see the conditions were in.  I was able to spend some good hours zipping in and out of the maze of channels and cat tails.  A good thing too as the day I was able to get the ride in it started to snow and those perfect conditions were buried for the time being.

Ode to a ski god: Kare Anderson seeks deeper slopes in Asgard

This ones for Kare
Kare Anderson
Not sure how to write this post as whatever I write will never do Kare justice as his life was an awesome one.  For me it all started when I worked at Garmont Ski Boots in the early 1990's.  I was the king of the junk jobs at that point in my life.  A junk job being anything that fell between the cracks and yet needed a fairly educated hand in control.  One day while waxing skis in the back room my boss waved me over telling me he had a job for me to do.  He handed me 20 bucks and said that a guy named Kare was coming to visit and ask for some support for a ski race that he was putting on at Bromley Mountain.  It was explained that Kare was a Telemark skiing evangelist and that I should listen to what he had to say.  Sure enough, Kare showed up in full force his trademark Norwegian Cake and his smile in hand of course.  We toasted a bit of Aquivite and ate Kare's cake. The whole business shut down for the ceremony.  Then we went out to lunch.

While eating I learned some of Kare's story.  He has lived all over the world, grew up in Norway and lived in India as a tailor to the elite.  He skied in Kashmir and his stories were wonderful, they inspired me and made me dream and still make me dream.  Of course we donated product to Kare as we knew that the money it made went directly to teaching people how to tele ski, Kare truly created life long skiers who were passionate about the sport.

I had the pleasure of being present at many, many more Kare cakes, some at Garmont, some at Rossignol and some at Karhu.  All of them were special and all them were looked forward too.  I also got to ski with Kare on a few occasions and I wish I could remember all the great comments he had as he skied as they always drew a smile on my face.

Kare's friends are all getting together this week to celebrate his life.  I can only imagine the names and faces that will attend that party, I truly wish I was there and could attend, but since I cant, I will settle with a quite moment and crank a few turns to his memory instead....

Xmas images 2012: Margs return from Thailand

Future so bright....

Space travel training

Aunt Margaret hom from Thailand!

Elmo skiing at Wirth

Silent night

Nice cold mornings

Tae and his new foot rockets
Marg made it back from Thailand!  Thank goodness.  It has been a long stretch of being a single parent, work and the holidays, so look for a glut of posts coming soon!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

"Friendraising": Thanks to Greg Maino for the Clif Bar Prize

Photo by Greg Maino
So while working at IMBA I have often heard the word "Friendraising" tossed around versus "Fundraising".  Meaning that is most often relationships that raise money for your cause versus knocking on doors.  I have seen this in action many times in the last four years but the last version was pretty awesome.  Greg Maino is a person I met years ago while I was working for Current Designs as he was an employee at Downwind Sports in Houghton, MI.  Greg had already been in photography when I met him but his skills have grown a lot since then.  Thus the above shot.  This shot won the Clif Bar Meet the Moment Contest.  The prize for that win was a $10,000 donation to the Outdoor Cause of his choice.  Greg spotlighted me and the work that I have done in conjunction with the Copper Harbor Trails Club as the reason he chose IMBA as the recipient.  In addition Clif was so impressed with the story that they donated another $1,000 specifically to the Upper Midwest Region.

It has been great to watch Greg's work improve but it has also been fun to watch where he is living.  Greg and his wife moved to Burlington, Vt and he is actually working with the Outdoor Gear Exchange.  This is great because he is basically tracing my footsteps!  I lived for 9 years in VT and used to work and play a ton with the Outdoor Gear crew and was around to witness their first stores.  I get homesick every time Greg slaps up a shot of Mt. Mansfield, Stowe and anything in the region!

Thanks again Greg, keep up the great photography and have a great time in the Green Mountain State and I will keep doing as much as I can with the Keweenaw and off road cycling!

Of course huge thanks to Clif Bar for the cash and the donation as well.  It is because of visionary companies like Clif that we as mountain bikers continue to flourish as a usergroup.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

B-Grade: 2012 Photo Retrospective

Jan:  Winter Fly-Fishing Southeastern, Minnesota

Feb: Mike Reimer changes a tire.  Thomson, MN 

March:  BC Big.  Love at Whitecap Alpine

April: Talons of an Osprey, Cuyuna Lakes, MN

Aaron Peterson on a stroll:  Copper Harbor, MI

My neighbor John during the Thomson Flood:  Minutes later he was pulled out by the copter.  I fled out the back way.

July:  Marg and Tae in the BWCA

August:  Tae, pumped for a fish fry.  Round Lake Cabin, Big Fork MN

September:  Bullwinkle Trail.  Copper Harbor, MI

October:  Playing amidst the debris.  Destruction of the Swinging Bridge Jay Cooke State Park

November:  The kill zone.  I waited for hours for something to walk here.  Briggs Farm, Winona MN

December: Another great Park Point Beach Ride.  Duluth, MN
My buddy Gnat has inspired me to do a 2012 Photo retrospective.  So I went through my year of photos (extremely quickly thanks to Lightroom!) and picked some shots that were basically B-Grade.   One shot per month, a challenge in itself and I also tried to use shots I had not blogged before.

I looked for interesting shots, not quite the best, but still pretty fun. I also picked shots that illustrated some of the fun things I did over the last year.  It was quite a year, from a horribly warm and unseasonable winter.  To an insane BS Pow trip, to mountain biking with Shandro and LaRoque to Floods and on to a busy yet fun summer.  This fall has in itself been notable as well with some great hunting in Winona to lots of time with my son Tae while our "mamma" hangs in Thailand. So enjoy and thanks Gnat for the inspiration.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Minnesota Highway 210 Bridge comes full circle: Thomson, MN Flood 2012

Ruins of 210 Bridge, June 2012
Well things came full circle today.  On a dark and gloomy day we had a celebration.  The highway 210 Bridge between Thomson and Carlton, Minnesota was officially opened.

Why such a big deal?  It was a big deal for a bunch of reasons, not least because about six months ago, it and our town were nearly wiped off the face of the earth because of record flooding.  However for me it was a day of emotions and reflections as this event was pre-empted by the terrible tragedy in CT.

I spent the full day with my son preparing for the 210 Bridge Celebration and it was an emotional roller-coaster.  Joy because we are finally starting to see some normalcy around here, joy because I am truly blessed with a wonderful family and an amazing child and yet terrible sadness because of what went down in Newtown and also a sadness and reflection because of what my town had to endure (and for some still endures) in June.

Big spoons yield big results

Loons, snowflakes and gingerbread men
Because of the up coming party at the Thomson town hall, Tae and I decided to make Christmas cookies to hand out.  We made the dough, made the frosting and we talked about the flood and about where we live and our neighbors.  It was a pretty cool afternoon.

People make it all happen

Big scissors, big results

Linked back to services and to Carlton
I thought it was important for Tae and I to bring something to the celebration.  To give of ourselves especially to people who have taken a big hit this year but also to people who have worked so hard to fix our town.  We are an all volunteer city government and there is no doubt a lot of stress and strain on those few who were on the city council have dealt with on the recovery.  Plus we have gotten to know our neighbors through this tragedy and they are truly good people, much deserving of gifts of sugar and flour.  There is also I think a catharsis in creating something and then giving it away.  It reminded me personally of the feelings I had during the flood, that nothing is permanent and that material things came up with no value compared to the feelings I had for my family and for the people in my town.

The ribbon cutting was great.  A lot of folks showed up despite the rain and the sleet and the river looked complacent and depleted compared to how it looked in June.

Severed ties

The St.Louis River, pissed off and redolent, June 2012

The celebration in the Thomson Town hall was amazing.  The place was full and there was cake and coffee (and of course cookies).  A local resident Bruce, who lives on Vermillion Street, one of the worst hit sections of town during the flood, came with a bunch of his musician friends and played for the town.  It was cool to see that others had come in a giving spirit as we had and I hope that Bruce felt as much weight unfold from his shoulders as I did.  Hopefully the whole town did because certainly having the bridge back on line feels good, it feels like home is back from its wanderings.

Friends filling the Thomson Town Hall with music

People, getting together, getting stuff done and celebrating the good times, after dealing with the bad

Life is really simple