Tuesday, March 26, 2013

More pics from the Past: LaGrave, France and skiing with the Doug Coombs show

My favorite car
The man the legend Doug Coombs
Per Pelle Lang, another Legend!
These photos bring back some bittersweet memories.  First happiness in the fact this trip was amazing and I am stoked to even have any pics of it.  This was a period of my life where I was still a point and shoot kind of photographer.  I think that John Zeigle took all of these except the Coombs shot.

 In any case of course the bittersweet part is that both Doug and Chad (also in above pic) lost their lives a few years later on this very mountain.

Ok I will stop with the retro photos now......

Monday, March 25, 2013

Duluth Pack Speaker Series 2013

Roof Hucking: Gaspe Peninsula.  Ember Photography Photo

Hauling Gear: Gaspe Peninsula, Ember Photography Photo 

I am the LAST speaking for the Duluth Pack Speaker series this Tuesday night at the Duluth Pack Store.  Its going to be a hodge podge of a slide show.  The good news is the gig has had me digging into a bunch of old slides and snapshots.  The two above were taken by Brian Mohr on a Gaspe Trip years ago.  Thanks to Brian for finding the files!

The talk on Tuesday night is one part life lessons and one part trip report about the Northwest Trail Bike ride we did in Feb.  So if you find your bored and need a place to get even more bored, come on by the store and sit in for a night of photos and stories.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

20 years of LOW: The Invisible Way on sale today!

Al, grabbing swag at OR

In 2006-2007  I had the pleasure to hang out with the Black Eyed Snakes and film a documentary about them.  It was an awesome trip.  I think all these years later I am still recovering from it (mentally and physically)!

 As part of the trip the Snakes played Salt Lake City.  It also happened to be the OR Show.  Knowing who I know, I was able to sneak them both into the show and also to get them set up for a pirate gig at the On-Snow Demo.  Super fun.  People would just stop and stare.....

Because of that relationship I was also able to meet and hang out with the rest of Al and his family and am better because of it.  I also produced a video for LOW for a song called Belarus based on time I spent with Alan and the Snakes skiing that winter.

Amazing to think that all went down.

Well today LOW (Alan's original band) comprised of Al and his wife Mimi Parker and Steve Garrington released The Invisible Way.  To rave reviews.

Totally stoked for them.

To look at their touring schedule it blows your mind.  All over the world, a show a day for many, many days in a row.

Walking down to the fetus now to show my support with my dollars!

Enduring the Six stages of injury: Pictures from an invalided athletes staggers


So here I am.  Dealing with the Six stages.

Stage one.  Euphoria.  Euphoria in that my injuries could have been way, way worse.  Shit, six weeks? Nothing, I am stoked to be walking bro!

Stage two.  Surgery.  Going under the knife.  Still happy to be alive, but now looking down the barrel of the gun.

One foot in front of the other

Stage three.  Pain.  Lots of it, but not to worried about being outside because your dealing with dealing....

Stage four.  Mobility.  What can I do?  Walk, walk a lot and oh yeah walk.  Totally determined to deal with injury holistically and as best as possible.  I can do it!!

Stage five.  Depression.  Dont EVER look at Facebook as your friends are all killing it and all over the world!

Hear ya
Stage six.  Insanity. Tentative exploration, possible forward momentum (most dangerous stage).

Home sweet home

Shuffle shuffle
Stage seven.  Back in the saddle.

I am about stage four right now and not looking forward to five, although with all the great snow I am starting to realize I am turning that corner already...

One stage at a time

Friday, March 15, 2013

Bell Built Numbers so far: What they tell us 2013

Coldwater, AL 29%
Burke, VT 29%
Corral, CA 19%

Rock Hill, SC 22%
Wolfes Pond, NY 13%
Bear River, CO 25%

Sandy, OR 36%
Zapata, CO 5%
Launch, PA 20%

So lets talk a little bit about numbers.  I used to hate numbers, I mean really, really hate numbers.  However later in life I have learned to love them.  To learn from them.  

Take the numbers above.  These are the mid-term numbers from the Bell Built Grant FB Contest as seen on their site.

Keep in mid that these early numbers will be more reflective of the hard core rider and advocates in the mountain bike community.  These are the people that are paying attention.  

There will be a more broad based marketing push for the contest in the future and I believe we may see a lot more folks who participate who are not as tied into advocacy and or keeping their eyes on the better riding out there.  That is awesome as maybe they will start paying attention now, but they will overwhelm the numbers eventually.

So the beauty of these numbers as they stand now is that they are the voice of a very discerning crowd.

Braaaaappppp!!!!! Copper!
There is an award of about $30,000 plus thousand dollars within each Bell category.  

The Categories are Flow, DH and Pump Track (Bike Park).  

Over 100 clubs from across the country applied for the grants with prospective projects in all three categories.  12 were chosen out of the original 100 and now they are in mortal combat on Facebook. 

The numbers above are the percentages of votes so far for each finalist and category as of March 14th 2013.

En Garde'!  Davenport, IA
To me these numbers speak volumes.  

First off Midwest IMBA Chapters are either leading in every category of the contest, or are within a percentage point or two of being first.  They are competing.  

That is unprecedented , Midwest clubs going head to head with the mountain states in categories that most folks assume cant even exist here, let alone thrive here.  Nice work Brown County, Copper Harbor and MORC!

These numbers tell me that as a region we are becoming united, communicating and working and sharing together and that our vision and strategy to bring world class riding to the Midwest is effective and viable.  

Certainly it also means a lot to me as well because I really feel like the work we are doing at IMBA as an organization (and thus regionally) is working and again we see that in these results overall.

Braappp!! Duluth!
People are voting with the searing memories of modern, world class riding experiences in their heads and are passionate enough and willing enough to step up and voice their opinions because they are directly seeing the benefits by doing so.  Lucky for us, many of those searing memories are coming from the amazing work our IMBA clubs are doing here in the Midwest! 

Braaappp!!! Crosby!
The other cool thing is that the majority of the highest scoring projects are all based around newer, more modern flow based and machine built trail systems.  It proves to me that folks are riding these systems, valuing these systems and asking for more.

Mountain Biking is seeing a revolution in trails development and much of that rebellion is happening right here in the Midwest and these numbers are the proof in the pudding...

Ta hell ya say???
Get out and VOTE if you have not.  

Your clubs and your riding spots will appreciate it!  On top of that, join your local club, join IMBA and get on board because the bus is rolling and we are having a good time on it.........

Brown County Shout out: Bell Built 2013

B-County Terrain:  Not your average Indiana.
So here we are in the middle of the Bell Built contest.  I have two horses in the race (MORC and Copper Harbor) but a third that is close to my heart.  Brown County, Indiana.  Maybe its because I loved riding there, but maybe its also the Midwest chip I have on my shoulder as well.

I take a deep satisfaction in places like Brown County.  Most folks would discount Indiana as the last place they would want to ride on a mountain bike.  Then bam, Brown County kicks those folks straight in the face with huge climbs, long down hills and amazing vistas. No doubt Brown County crushes the Midwest MTB stereotype like a bug.

If this grant is truly about impact and truly about using these funds to make a difference in our sport, then Brown County is the place that deserves your vote in the Flow Category in this contest.  This place truly exposes the core of our country to the positive aspects of off road cycling, its creating new riders and thus new constituents in what most folks consider the flyover zone.  As our sport grows, those new riders will be integral in gaining the political momentum for more access and more funding going forward.

Aaron Rogers and I rode Brown County a few years ago and I grabbed a few snapshots.  Not my best photos, but we were to busy riding to stop and shoot!

Brown County rock
We liked B-County so much in fact that we hit it twice.  Once on our way down to GA and again on our way home!

There is some stiff competition in the Flow Trail Category and it wont be easy for Brown County.  I have lived in VT and I know all about Burke and the Kingdom Trails, an awesome spot for sure.  However, professionally, thinking of "impact" on the sport I would say Brown County needs your vote and thus this grant more than any of its competition.

So vote for MORC, Copper Harbor and Brown County if you have not done so already!!!!


Lots of water

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Bell Built Grant: More Reasons to vote Copper Harbor, MORC and Brown County

Nose bleeds in the flat lands of the midwest

T-Bone threading the needle
As long as the Bell Built Voting goes on I am going to keep posting random and little used shots I have taken in Copper Harbor to keep pushing votes toward their great trail system as well as MORCs and Brown County's.

I have been shooting in Copper Harbor pretty seriously for about three years now. Not a huge amount of time compared to some of the local photographers up there.  People like Greg Maino, Steve Brimm or Aaron Peterson.

However enough time to get some decent shots and a fair amount of them.  A lot of my A-grade stuff has been used in other venues but I do have some fun B-grade stuff and I will keep pulling those out during this contest.

Another cool link to check out is this interview with Reed Smidt of MORC on Mountain Bike Radio .

Even a four year old can rip the creamy goodness of Woopidy Whoo!!

Curruptive Splendor: A blast from the past!

Being broken I have been putting more time into a couple of projects that I have been procrastinating on lately.  One of these projects requires some old photos so I have been digging into the dusty brown boxes down in the basement.  You know, the ones full of all your old photos?  The PAST?  Man it was like re-living my life, only at warp speed.

While digging I ran into this picture of me skiing in Utah.  Ironic as now here I sit, old and broken from a jump!  Wow.  This photo also emerged on Facebook recently from a friend of mine (Miah) who also found a copy in one of his old brown boxes.

Gotta love the fact that I have knee pads on, and basically ONLY knee pads.....

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The gig is up: Duluth, Minnesota is mentioned in Outside Magazine April 2013

Spotted in Outside Magazine
Oh damn.

For years I prided myself in two things.  First that my town was NOT in the Outside Magazine Top 10 Dream towns. Secondly, because my job was NOT in the top Dream Jobs!

I had always assumed that the nuance of both these things would never trip the main stream outdoors persons radar.

For me Duluth is by far the most amazing outdoor place and community that I have lived in. Mainly due to its accessibility. I have lived in the west and I have lived in the east and I have lived in Europe, but Duluth (believe it or not) has been the place where I can literally step out my door and access the majority of my outdoor passions. Of course I can also afford to live here, not compete with others for space and still maintain an existence that is simple and midwestern.

However for the average reader of Outside, I have always wondered if they would get the genius of this place.

In reading the blurb, they come pretty close to capturing it.  "Runner Up Best Outdoor Adventure Hub."

The info however,  is not totally correct.  There are already nearly 40 miles of Single track in the city, with 15 miles of new trails on deck for the spring.  As to the "81 miles of running and hiking Trails" not sure where they get that.  Of course the SHT and perhaps some of the Single track were used for that figure, the reality is however that as runners and hikers there are literally hundreds of miles of trails going on in the city limits.

Outside got it half right on Spirit Mountain.  IMBA helped with one of those trails, and it is longer than 500 feet, the other trail was built by Glen Olson at Spirit, but I am sure he is not going to worry about it, who knows, maybe there will be more by next fall?

The reality is that there is a mole among us here in Duluth.  Not sure who it is, but we will need to be ever vigilant just in case, the LAST thing we need is the word getting out about this place.........and I certainly hope they dont hear about my job!

Man Down!!: Hitting the bench for a few weeks.

Well Friday was a bitter sweet day.  It was sweet in the fact that I had one of the best days on skis with Tae so far.

We hit a bunch of fun runs.  His skills are progressing extremely fast.  We skied trees, we skied bumps and of course we ended up in the Terrain Park.  The Big Guy park as Tae would say.  It has been years since I was in a Terrain Park and I was totally pumped to see how it was set up.  The upper hits were pretty much no brainers.  Go for broke, fly over the table top and land on an awesome transition.  They were perfect for Tae as well since they were set up for coming up short.  We session the jumps for 5 runs in a row and I have to say it was so freaking cool to see that little kid rocking it.

Tae at 5 hitting the big ones at Spirit
 It was like watching a snow flea zipping across a cornice.  He would come it super hot and because the lips were so steep by the time he hit the top he had just enough speed to clear the lip and land on the other side.  It took guts for him to do that, but he was so pumped every time that of course I had to start hitting them too!  After our five runs I finally decided I wanted to hit the next progression, the bigger jumps.  Well, I hit it all right.  I had just enough speed to clear the gap and make the transition but the tails of my tele boards just barely caught the edge.  Just enough to flip me forward.  Classic tele crash, over the bars and on my shoulder on super hard packed ice.  CRACK and I knew it was all over for the season.
Bummed for daddy
Bummer!!!  I hate to think that I am missing but it is A LOT.  First off my trip to ride the citizen Tour of Flanders with my brother and father.  Something I will still go watch, but will not ride.  Secondly, all the awesome crust cruising that we are lined up for here in town.  The snow just keeps coming and eventually it will be the perfect freeze thaw and that will be good for both bikes and skis.  But alas, I will not be the one to enjoy it.

I hope to focus on my photography, get some more work done and also do a bit more blogging so stand by for that!

Deep snow spring means crust cruising!

Friday, March 08, 2013

More press for Copper Harbor!!: Trek Web site 2013

Copper Harbor on the Trek site!
Check it.  Arog on the Trek site, ripping the Flow Trail!

If you have not done it yet.  Click here and VOTE on the Bell Built Grant for Copper Harbor, MORC and Brown County!

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

IMBA Bell Grant Competition 2013: VOTE MORC and Copper Harbor Trails Club!

Shandro voting with his wheels
This is not about good versus evil.  Or about us versus them.  Norwegian versus Swede or even 29er versus 26er.

This is about shrugging off a wet heavy stereotype.  Like pulling off a rain drenched cycling jacket after getting caught in an unexpected maelstrom 2 hours into a six hour ride.

I hear it all the time.  Mountain Biking in Minnesota???  Wow, what do you guys ride around in the cornfields??  UP?  Where is that?  The moon?  Must be flat too huh!?

My clubs work hard to do one major thing.  To improve the quality of the lives that they lead.

Its not about the next "big" trail or the cool amount of miles, its about quality.  Its about giving your kid a place to grow up where he or she can learn the simple pleasures of riding a bike off trail.

Its about clocking out from a 9-5 job, five days a week and pealing off those layers of stress and responsibilities and pulling up to the trailhead where your buddies are getting ready for a ride.  Then of course its about losing yourself on sweet single track, or Flow Trails nearly out your door and without passing a single person along the way.

While the rest of the mountain bike world wrings their hands about the amount of vertical, or the length of trail and run or the next mega ski area event, Midwestern Mountain bikers are living the off road dream and even re-defining it one trail at a time.

The Copper Harbor Trails Club system is a prime example of that.  Mind blowing.  Does not matter if your Andrew Shandro or  Joe Blow from Antigo.

MORC?  They make living in a CITY awesome.  It does not matter what part of the Twin Cities metro you live in, because of MORC you have a killer off road experience to ride on.

T-Bone railing Flying Squirrel
If there is one thing that I have learned in this job it is that as mountain bikers in the Upper Midwest region, we are all connected.  We have local riding and we have destination riding.  Each needs the other.
We need to grow better and more diverse riders where they dwell and we need to inspire them to leave the box and travel and to dream.  MORC needs Copper Harbor and visa versa.  If we can build a great bike park in the METRO then those riders will eventually want to travel to Copper Harbor to utilize the skills that they have learned.  So as a region, we need to support all of our big projects and when a chance like the Bell Grant comes, we need to get out in force and vote to bring home the bacon to our scene.

Ya der
The next several weeks we are going to be pumping the heck out of the Bell Competition and we are going to be pushing hard for Copper Harbor DH and for MORC and their Elm Creek Bike Park project.  In fact we are also going to be pushing hard for Brown County and their Flow Trail project as well.  We are all in this together and together with all of our votes, we are going to pound another nail in the coffin that is the midwest mountain bike stereotype........

Pass it on