Sunday, September 09, 2018

Laddies Loppet 2018

Labor day weekend at Maplelag marks the annual mountain bike weekend, Laddies Loppet. It is a weekend we look forward to each year as we have established some great friendships from not only the race but the years of racing mountain bikes and the people we met over the years.  As has been the case in recent years, Laddies Loppet is the only weekend we get to see some of these folks.

The first race was in 1990. I started mountain biking that year and got hooked. On days off from working as a cook for the Concordia Language camps in Bemidji, I'd come home and build singletrack, mimicking the trail I was racing on. Figured it would be good for training and skill building. That fall decided to put on a race and there were 29 people. Flash forward to 2018, we are now part of the Minnesota Mountain Bike series and over 300 riders compete over the two days.  .

Thursday night gathering with friends and family. The Matt Johnson family has been coming a day early and always nice to catch up with them in person. Matt handles all the sponsorship and promo work for me after volunteering a few years back and I am extremely grateful for his efforts.  John Wessling flew in from California to join us for the Wednesday night TT we had to pre-ride/test the course and gap student Livia helping out this fall. 

I've put a lot of hours on the leaf blower over the years and it was time for a new one so last minute pick up by Jonell and Meredith which turned out to be a good move. The new one works like a charm. Starts quick, clears everything in its path (relatively speaking) and makes for a sweet riding surface. 

 Blowing out singletrack.
 Best part....testing it later!!

Takes a lot of work and help to pull off the race. Good friend Denny who I've posted before about helping out the final week, day before and than racing as well. 69 years young machine!! Thanks Denny for all your help.

Of course Jonell taking care of many behind the scenes tasks. 

Most of the Maplelag team. We were very close in taking the team title this year but came a few points short. All good, great group of people and very proud of each and every one.

Good friend Steve Wenzel racing every Laddies Loppet since 1990.

Scott Olson out for a visit with his shirt from 1990. Always good to see him. Scott still riding, hasn't been on mtb for a few years but keep trying to get him out. Pounding miles on the road. All good.

One of the highlights of the weekend is riding on the course with some of the riders after it's all buffed from racing and trail work. Sweet ride with Calvin Sandberg, Ben Olson, and Tucker Hibbert.

Thanks to everyone that came, helped out and the sponsors of course. Recap on Thanks to Bruce for the great photos and behind the scenes tech work.
Keep the wheels moving!

Friday, August 31, 2018

Duluth Bike Festival Enduro/Trail Work

It looks like this summer will go down as the first one I haven't pinned a number on for a cross country race. I was really hoping to hit up the MNMBS series race at Cuyuna, but life came up. All good. The weekend before I did get over to Duluth for the Bike Festival there that was two days of downhill, Enduro, cross country and short track cross country.  Enduro has a feel of the old days of cross country racing but not the 2 hour steady suffering. The only time xc races haven't been sufferfests for me where the mud races. Those days appear to be long gone with the regulation of riding on wet trails stricter than the border patrol. I made plans to race the Enduro and it worked out to go so I went over late Friday night.
I didn't get a chance to inspect any of the courses the day before which was tough as two of the stages were gnarly rocky downhill tracks, including the techy rock face on "Calculated Risk". However, the way things worked out I was able to inspect the two super tech stages that were helpful but didn't get the confidence to try and clean the rock face on Calculated. Wrote a recap on if interested in more details.

Talking race strategy with Jake in between stages. More like, surviving on the bike. There is a good vibe in Enduro. Not super competitive and nervous energy like the XC races can get but more a camaraderie between everyone on keeping safe, clean and smooth.  

Riding clean through the upper Greenman run, crazy rock tech section, being hunted down by super fast Casey Krueger.
Jake launching off the rock face on Calculated. Jake would go on to take second to Sam Kemp who is a classic hard core fearless downhill dude.

After a full day of Enduro, we switched over to the XC bikes for the short track. I couldn't get out of the third gear but we wanted to support Mason Bacso and crew for the efforts they put forth to put on. Surprised not more STXC, especially in the cities. The Buck Hill series mimics the effort somewhat as STXC and hard to be equal to the goodness there.

Refueling at OMC Smokehouse with Anna after a full day of racing before heading home. Boy that hit the spot. Great place to check out in Duluth.
Another reason why I maybe haven't done any xc is the energy put towards trail work on the Maplelag mountain bike course. This summer has been great for trail work, especially when I get the kids to help. It is a total body workout and saps a lot of energy, especially when dew points are high like this summer.  Add horrendous deerflies and mosquitoes it takes a lot out of a person but I still love working in the woods.
We've also cleared more deadfall this year than other years, again boys have been great help.
We burned a lot of firewood last year so we had a lot to replace.

Cutting deadfall, dead trees and widow makers probably more a risk than regular planned logging. We've had many close calls, of course the two accidents with my dad, and can never be to careful.
Green truck taking a hit from a birch that didn't fall as planned.
Not a bad spot to split wood.
The tops of birch trees that are dead but have good bottoms for firewood are the most dangerous. If we left alone, they would eventually fall on the ski trail.

Another fallen oak. Day before Laddies Loppet bike race. Should of been taken down earlier but missed this one. Bottom two thirds cut up into blocks, firewood for the winter.

Thanks  for the great help this summer boys!

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Boston/Chowder Cup

Mid July Jens had the opportunity to go to the east coast with a hockey team for a week compete in the Chowder Cup. He participated with the group earlier in the summer at a tryout camp for a new Academy team starting in Alexandria, MN. Hockey is a crazy world now days and to explain the process, the leagues, division etc. would be complicated. Like every sport now, even mountain biking there is so much more focus and options which seems to be both good and bad. 

Since it was a off weekend at the resort and we were able to find super cheap fares to Boston,  Jonell and I were able to sneak away for the weekend and watch 3 of the 4 games.

The team he was playing for was part of the FCA group. They would take a knee to pray after every game. The last game the opposing team joined in.

Jens second to left with a few of the team mates.
In between games, Jonell and I tried to get around the Boston area a bit in not fun traffic.
Fun sign that you might see at Maplelag.
Last meal before flying home. Some great small restaurants, fantastic eats.

We drove down the coast a bit and found a secluded park which was a nice break from the crazy traffic out there.

Clam bake.

The last game was 7am in the morning which allowed ample time to check out Boston a bit before flying out later in the afternoon. Stopped at the John F Kennedy library. Was interesting, nothing noted about Marilyn Monroe.
Chilling at the harbor, listening to Beck do his sound checks. Fun quick trip.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Fourth of July 2018

The Fourth of July is always a fun time for family get together. Every year is different, particularly in recent years with the kids older and everyone doing different things. With the Fourth being during the middle of the week plans weren't as concrete like other years with people working. 

The actual holiday was about ideal as far as weather goes. Kids enjoying the growing in popularity game of spike ball at the lake cabin.
Twin Lakes was maxed to the gills once again for the Holiday.
The picture perfect turkey compliments of Mom's favorite.
Sisters on the pontoon.

The gang. Great to see everyone together. Missing is Jack who was in the middle of a six day workathon at Hotel Shoreham pizza shack.

Cheezin' on the Fourth.
The rest of the week we had our niece Claire. Jonell really enjoyed having her help do homemaking things.
Also visiting over the Fourth week was my uncle Stan and aunt Ginger. Jens in deep conversation with Stan.

We had ice in town and hockey camp was going on for the week. Open hockey one night and the above cousins all skated together for the first time.

Post dinner visiting. Fun having former staff member from summer language camp visit.
Fun times at dinner.

Happy Independence day!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Iceland 2018

Two summers ago, Jonell, Jake, Jens and I took a trip to Iceland to visit Steve Gromataka who worked at Maplelag for a few seasons and his fiancee Hekla. It was a awesome trip and I wanted to go back someday. Steve and Hekla made an announcement in the spring they were finally getting married and set a date for June! We didn't think we would be able to make it but the pricing was incredibly low so we couldn't pass it up. Jack was up to head over and made for a great senior present/dad son trip. Jack couldn't take too many days off from work and same for me so we made an extended weekend out of it. 

Checking out the scene seaside the first day.

The day we arrived, there was a midnight sun longest day of summer run. Steve said a bunch of people were doing it so we signed up. Running is not kind to my body so I tried to run 2-3 times a week a month leading up. It never was comfortable running but the race was fun and a great atmosphere. There were close to 3000 runners with almost half from other countries. A bucket list run I guess. It was also Jack's longest running race as the cross country races are 5km.

Downtown Reykjavik before the race. 

Had to visit the hot dog stand post race. The best hot dogs in the world! Made with lamb of course. 

The World Cup of soccer was going on and everyone was in to it, of course, with Iceland playing and just the general interest in soccer and Nationalist pride.
Every town and small village had a soccer field. Most of the larger towns had indoor facilities as well.
The next day we visited some of the area attractions including the Gulfoss waterfall.
Jack digging the jacked up off road vehicles.
Icelandic meal.
Wedding day! It was great to witness a Icelandic wedding. There were fun "events" during the reception with lots and lots of laughs. Everything I expected at Steve's wedding, and more.
Met some new folks including the baker from Isofjord. A avid, skier, mountain biker and general outdoor enthusiast.
We took a few hikes in the spare time. The landscape, scenery is simply awesome.
Cod heads drying. Kinda spooky.
More soccer fields.
Photo booth fun at the wedding.
Jack at the lighthouse on the far most western south point in Iceland.

Strolling through downtown Reykjavik at 11pm. It's a crazy feeling having light all through the night. We kept on Minnesota time, staying up to 3-4 in the morning than getting up at 9-10am. 
View at top of state church.

Short hike in the mountainside.
At the base of the Espers hike.

Turned out to be a very wet hike as it rained the entire 3 hours. Still a awesome views. Thanks for the fun trip Jack and Steve and Hekla for having us at your wedding.