Thursday, August 14, 2014

Copper Harbor

Last week Jake, Jon and I took a three day trip to Copper Harbor, Michigan. When we figured out dates when we might be able to take a trip this summer, we looked in to going back to Cooke City, MT like we did two years ago but we didn't have as much time and I kept on seeing and reading about Copper Harbor as the place to mtb in the Midwest so decided to go there. Picked up Jon after work in the afternoon, drove to Duluth, picked up Jake, had supper than drove to Copper arriving at 3am local time.  450 miles, 9 hour trip one way. Once we arrived, it was eat, ride, swim, eat, ride, swim eat and sleep.

Classic Copper.

Scamping. We all slept inside. Just enough space. The outdoors the playground, living room and kitchen.
  Lake Fannie Hooe just below camping spot.
 Ready for a day of shreddin'! Perfect weather all three days.
 Infamous "On the Edge" bridge section. Lots of bridges everywhere. For the most part, well placed. A few spots not and some close calls that had my shiverskaking. Having gone off the edge a few times racing, my deal with bridges is that they have to be built with full on race speed in mind, especially the bridges that turn. Build, test ride at full speed and make adjustments as needed. Mother Nature is what it is but if you build something, it should be spot on.
 Jon was rolling the fat bike and impressed both Jake and I, putting in some big miles. Jon raced bmx when he was younger so the jumps and berms came relatively natural.
 Jake cashing in on the dirt jump skills. Watching the boys come down the dirt jump trails was like seeing them jump on a trampoline except they were moving forward!
 Near the top of On the Edge.
 Sunset swim in the big lake. The water was surprisingly warm.
 I am sure Jon ripped the "Flow" trail like no other fat bike has before I am sure. 13 minute downhill! Fun stuff.
 Tech section on Downtown trail.
 The only trail we did not ride but checked out parts of was "Overflow" Had some big jumps. I can't imagine more than a 100 people or so riding this during the year. Maybe not, but the three days we were there, we didn't see anyone on it or the other jump trails we rode.
 My favorite trail was the "Red" trail. Good natural singletrack with plenty of skillset challenges.
 Going downtown, trying to fine clean lines.
 Flying high on Danimal.
 Bonked. Around 75 miles in the three days.
 One last swim.

Thanks boys for the awesome trip. Doesn't get any better. Can't wait to go back some day.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Junior Hockey

Jon did a handful of USHL and NAHL Junior tryouts this summer, wrapping up the last one in Bismarck last weekend. It was great hockey to watch and a good experience for Jon to see where he stands among players at this level. There were very few whistles during the games making for fast continuous play. The ages of the players ranged from 16-20. The older guys were trying to make the team trying to extend their hockey career before moving on and calling it. It was spirited hockey and no side show drama and quiet spectators in the stands. Typical tryouts were 3-4 games than an all star game the final day. Jon played some good hockey and had the opportunity to go the junior route for next season but made the decision to stay and play high school another year.

Fargo Force camp.

Each tryout had 5-7 "imports" with players from Europe. It was fun talking to them and hearing their journey. Kid above was from Latvia and made the roster for the Fargo Force. Each team is only allowed a certain number of imports meaning either guys tryout for another team or head back home.

Heading to the rink for a morning game on the birthday.


Beer for sale at the Bismarck tryout.
Ref pulling double duty.

Visiting the Pryzbilla family from the Detroit Lakes now living in Bismarck.

In Bismarck I checked out some local trails in between games. Hit up the Sleepy Hollow course right in Bismarck. Great course right in town.
Prairie riding in Harmon lake park. Nice 8 mile loop around a reservoir. There were a couple other areas I wanted to check out south of Mandan but didn't have time. Obviously its different riding but I really enjoy it and love the vastness feel of the prairie.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Northern Exposure

 Last weekend Jens was asked to play with at team based out of ND called the North Dakota Blackhawks. This time of year, lot of people are tired with summer hockey and rather be at the lake or enjoying summer activities so many teams are looking for players to fill open spots. Jens schedule has been pretty light so we decided to do it and thought we would make a trip out of it, taking the scamp since we hadn't been on a proper camping trip with it. Last year Jon played in the NX Tourney and out of all the spring/summer tourneys we have been to, this one ranks at the top. Very well organized, the officiating is good and fun to check out all the different arenas and the fact Jake is in town makes an added bonus.
Jens first game in the old DECC, squaring off vs a team from Omaha. Team was called the tropics. I didn't know there was palm trees in Nebraska.

The goalie on Jens team pointed out there were 64 total teams in the tourney and their team was one of four not to play in the new AMSOIL arena which is home of the UMD Bulldogs. Pretty nice facility for 8-15 year olds to play in, the summer no less. Crazy.

In between games the first day, met up with Jake and we rode at Piedmont which is currently my favorite trail system in the Minnesota if not out of all the trails I have ridden in the country and few places in Canada and Norway. Jake took me to the opposite side or south side which just opened up some new trails. Super, super fun stuff. Has a bit of the flow mixed in to some raw, super technical sections. More photos and full report in next weeks skinnyski report.
 Sunday Jake and I rode with his buddy Peter to Cloquet for Jens last game. We went through Jay Cooke State Park which is still closed for repairs from last years big rains but passable via bicycle. It was an awesome road ride and hardly any traffic.
 The Blackhawks won their first three games to get to the semi final. Last a super tight close game 5-6 and earned a game vs the Machine Black for the third place game. Before the game, Jonell and I figured between Jon and Jens, they have played almost 300 spring/summer games and first time one of them has faced off vs the Machine. The Machine typically field some of the best teams in MN, picking the top players in MN. Very fun to watch and Jens said best players he has ever played against. Great experience and held their own despite losing 0-5 and getting outshot 56-14.
 After the game we drove up to Cascade State park just south of Grand Marais. It was a great location and a nice break from the campground we were in south of Duluth (Indian Point) which was jammed pack with campers attending the Reggae fest. I think the cousins of the Wailers and their cousins and their cousins were right next to us. Pulled all nighters both nights. Anyways, good to be in a more peaceful area.
 Had a nice hike in Cascades on a beautiful summer day.

Taking it all in.
The next day went up to Grand Marais and spent final two days up there. I went up to Pincushion to check out the new mtb trails in the morning than early evening, back up with Jonell and Jens to ride a lap. Jonell did great and was fun riding. Again, full report in skinnyski recap but a nice mix of old school singletrack, flow and rocky north shore stuff.

Taking a dip in Lake Superior post ride.

 Absolutely stunning the last morning we were in Grand Marais. Hard to head home!

 Before we rolled out, hit up the Mexican joint Hughtos. Looking at this makes me hungry. A Indian frybread type taco. Great stuff. Had two, should of had one....
 On way back to Duluth, stopped at Britton Peak to check out the trails there. Not quite as polished as the Pincushion trails and didn't appear to see much traffic but some fun stuff back in there. More deciduous type forest.
 Jens was pushing 8 hours of riding over three days. Riding a rigid bike (no suspension) and clipless pedals for the first time. He did awesome and was so much fun seeing him get in to it so much.
  Living in the country back home, it was nice to be in near a town and be able to ride downtown and check things out. If we lived anywhere remotely to town, I can't imagine our family not transporting most of the time with a bicycle.

Overall a great trip and some fun times and memories.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mid Summer

Hard to believe we have already reached the halfway point of summer. Sometimes it seems like it has been long if you look back to May but most people say it has gone by too fast and "where has the summer gone". It's not that long to begin with and record cold temps like we had the start of this week had it feeling more like end of September! Just like in winter when season starts out slow, you never get those days or weeks back.

I thought I might swing over to  Duluth to see Jake and race in the Minnesota series race last Sunday but the timing and scheduling did't pan out. Had a nice day with Jonell, just her and I up at the lake cabin. Hasn't been many days alone there the 25 years we have been going there. Beautiful day, eerily quiet for mid July.
I rode from Maplelag to the cabin, taking some new forest roads I hadn't been on before. The total distance was around 38 miles, pretty much deep woods forest riding the entire time with no pavement, no cars and some errant critters.  

 The high water hasn't affected the trails too much other than a couple spots. You can tell from the marks, my first attempt I tried going but turned back around. Stood the bike back up on the rock and decided to go for it. The water depth was well over all the hubs and bottom bracket, over my knees but I pedaled through and no problems.


Jake racing on Sunday, waving two flags. Solid top 10 finish among a solid field of 50 riders, top half strong! (Todd Bauer photo)
 Monday we took Jack to Italian camp. This will be his fourth year, this time going for a whole month. He will be in the credit program, in effort to earn a high school credit. A bit more intensive with 5 hours of class a day but some fun programs to make it interesting.
 No worries for any potential high water. The place of residence the next four months.
 Espresso machine.
 The temp struggled to get above 50 the first part of the day, nice fire going in the nurses cabin to take off the chill.
 Colorful paddles.

This week I finished a new section of singletrack off the Twin Lakes main loop singletrack. Started last fall and thankfully the temps were cool and no bugs so to speak when I worked on it this summer as I never got out in the spring like I wanted. The distance is less than a mile but has some fun flow and should be a nice addition to the main loop. The section is name "Pete's Porkie". Named after our neighbor who harvested a porcupine 350 yards away with a black powder rifle during a "drive" during deer season. The soil over there is nothing like I have seen over 650 acres at Maplelag. Really nice material with sand/gravel/clay mix. Did a bit more digging and shaping than than usual and lot of digging and spreading the material under the duff on the track.

 Super thick section, bit spongy but the gravel on top makes it more ride ready.

Think there were more days so far this month of windchill than heat index! Couple mornings wind rolling off the lake making it feel closer to the lower 40"s.

 A lot of the rocks I dug out I put on the side of a small drop for support near south twin.
This new section is a bit more tame than some of the earlier stuff. With the majority of new trail in the country being machine built with sustainability and "purpose" in mind, the thinking is new trail should be like that. But I'm still an old school guy when it come to trail. Does this make a trail "unsustainable"?  IMO, no. Actually I think the purpose built trail is more susceptible to erosion due to the added exposure. Anyways,  this article on skinnyski  I highlighted in the mtb report has some good points.

My Aunt and Uncle from NY,NY in town visiting. Came back from a morning in the woods for Jonell's kick butt brunch and a proper send off!

Tuesday was the opening night for a play (Sound of Music) my sister is directing through the Gooseberry Park Players. Great show and she did a fantastic job putting it all together with a solid support staff.