Friday, September 29, 2017

Waterfowl Opener

Waterfowl season opened last weekend. Saturday morning Jens went out with some buddies for a field hunt west of here, where the forest ends and the prairie begins. Known as Callaway but the exact location not revealed.

Between the 11 of them, they harvested 36. A mix of mallards, wood ducks and a couple teal. They cleaned the ducks and ate them either that night or freeze for later. It's great to see youth in the area hunting. They spend a lot of time scouting and setting things up, getting permission from farmers etc.
Sunday morning Jens and I went out on Maplelag property, under very warm and humid conditions. It had been cool the night before so I expected the same Sunday morning but it actually warmed up during the night and the dew point followed making for humid conditions. We had to hike out on bog with gear, making sure not to fall into any beaver runs. When we got to the canoe, we were drenched in sweat. Not what you think of when duck hunting.

Watching for birds after setting up. Jens on the call.
A set up shot.
Light rain was okay as it was so warm.
Dead calm conditions.


If they ever open up a season for swans, they will never fly directly overhead like they do now. Someone asked me why would someone want to shoot a swan? I don't know for sure, but I am guessing they taste pretty good. The swan population has exploded in recent years and many opinions on both the positive and negative effects.
More water on water lilies.
Mosquitoes late September?!?!

We ended up with three, a couple winged we couldn't find. Coyote or critter food. For our location which is better earlier and later season, we saw quite a few birds and had good action. I told Jens I still haven't made the adjustment from lead shot to steel shot. All good, best part for me is being out in nature.
Heading back out on trail. Fall colors in full swing.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Milaca Mega Meet

Last Saturday was the Milaca Mega Meet. Jack has run in the event 4 years but I have never been to it before. It is a slated as must attend meet simply because it is supposedly the largest in the country. That alone is a spectacle.
Knowing there would be a lot of traffic, I drove around Milaca, coming in from the west side on a county road. Jonell recommended I bring my bike to get to the start. The buses lined up were nothing I have seen before. They were stretched out for nearly a mile, and the road was closed to other traffic and opened for walkers and golf carts that were transporting people with suggested tips for shuttling.
Parked on the edge, ready to ride to the start. Having the bike was great not for only getting to the start but getting around the outside of the course for maximum viewing.
The JV start was the largest on the day, with no classes like Varsity that had four. Jack said he couldn't hear the timer call out the start, they just took off! Probably didn't help Jack's team was off to the right and the starter was at the left. Lots of kids!! (if looking at this on laptop, click on photo for full perspective)
Pre race motivator ritual. Jack leading the charge. 
Finish area.
If you have been to the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival, you might recognize this guy. Gaylon Morse does the announcing for Cheq and was filling in for a friend that couldn't dj for Milaca.
String of runners.
Jack in the mix.

Bridge crossing. Great course overall.

It was a warm and very humid day. After the race, the tent area smelled and felt like one big locker room. Overall a awesome event, fun to witness and appeared to run to a T.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Blacks Grove Group Ride

Every Wednesday night, pretty much year round, the folks responsible for building and maintaining the Black's Grove mountain bike trail system hold a ride. It is a "no drop" ride, meaning the pace is low key with focus on helping out new riders and working on skills etc. The ride is one lap which is around 8 miles. The first half of the trail is some of the most technical natural hand build trail in the state. Next month they will be hosting a race which will include a trail run.  
I try to get over at least once a year and the week after the bike race at Maplelag, I finally made it over. There were about 20 riders with a mix of male and females, ages and skill ability. Pretty typical each Wednesday.
Before I met up with the group, Ben Olson and Isaac Hale and I hooked up for a lap.
One of the quick drops.
In the very tight and twisty with Isaac and Ben. You find out real quick if your handlebars are wide.
Isaac cleaning a tight corner.
Isaac's dad Todd showing the kids how to ride a log.
Isaac had it the first lap, just missed the second time. Good stuff. Lots of laughs, no ego in this group and many of the group on the Maplelag team.
I've done the race a few times, hope to make it back this year. It's a tough course to race but always a good time.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Laddies Loppet 2017

This past Labor Day marked the 27th Laddies Loppet at Maplelag. I was 20 years old in between college years working as a head cook at the Concordia Language camp in Bemidi when I started mountain bike racing that summer of 1990. The first race I did was at Quadna mountain and I was hooked, this blog has a lot of bike posts because mountain biking has been a huge part of my life and the reason why I started it. Anyways,  I thought it would be fun to have a race at Maplelag. On my day off each week I'd come home and build trail similar to what I raced on, thinking that would be good for training and be good for a race. The first Laddies Loppet had only had a little bit of singletrack and mostly ski trail. There were maybe 60some people with both winners coming from Canada. Since than, more trail has been built and the race grew hitting a high point, attendance wise, earlier this decade. It's all good as it is one of the weekends I most look forward to each year.

We've made some great friends over the years and it's like a family reunion. Many return, some new and some come back after a 3-5 year hiatus. One family we have bonded with is the Johnson family. The last few years Matt has helped out with the sponsorship, lining up the posters, shirts and media stuff. Big thanks again to Matt and his family. We had them for dinner Thursday night and a nice way to kick off the long weekend.

 Denny Barry heading out to blow trail Friday morning. It had been dry all week and getting dusty in spots.
That all changed Friday afternoon when the forecasted .10" of rain turned to 1.2" of rain. With the first leaves coming down around Labor Day, we try to blow off the trail right at the last minute. This year meant blowing in the rain and big thanks to Denny and Ben Olson for doing that Friday afternoon.

 Saturday morning the skies cleared and a beautiful day was on tap. The track was a little greasy but all things considered it turned out pretty good. Better for the later races for sure. Love the scene above...

Scrapping "baby poop" of the low areas on the singletrack early morning. Did a bunch of drainage work this summer but with 8" of rain in August, the ground was pretty saturated and takes a while to drain off.
Jonell and crew at registration. Jonell has done so many little things to help make it such a great event. Every Monday night we write down things that could be improved and enhanced. Always appreciate the feedback and take note of it.
Charlie Ramstad and Steve Wenzel were two of the rider that competed in both the first Loppet and the one this year. Good stuff.
Elite winner Jeff Hall with son Owen that won the Kids Comp. Owen is 14 but Jeff knows not to rush into higher classes. Have fun and gain experience. Someone asked Owen after his race if it was muddy and I said "that's the wrong question to ask a Hall"!
Jake ripping it up in the cross country. Jake raced hard Nordic and MTB growing up and into college. Enduro has been his call this summer. Good job Jake going cc. Jake said I need to race next year. It would be fun but it's fun having the role I do on race weekend.

Steve Wenzel still cranking it 27 years later.

The only weekend we have camping at the resort. All part of the fun.

We served up fresh waffles again post race. Kate, Ethan, Anna and Jake. Thanks for your help over the weekend!

Natural bike rack.
Erik Tonkin from Portland, OR made an appearance on the way to Duluth. Erik came to the UCI race we hosted in May of 2007
After the racing people were scattered playing games, swimming, lake jumping..
...and playing "International" ping pong.

Kasey Bacso sticking a nice and clean back flip.
Mike Hall and Sam Oftedal have done a ton of work for the Minnesota Series. Thanks guys!

It's been fun seeing all the families grow up over the years. Many of the adults above didn't have kids when they first came, now in the teens and ripping it up. Awesome!

Big thanks to all the sponsors and the Bacso family for the nice cork Mapleaf gift (very nice) and thanks to all that came that made it another great weekend.

First day of school on Tuesday after the weekend. Jack big Senior and Jens the freshman. Keep the wheels moving.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Off to College

Last weekend Jonell and I went out to Troy, NY to help Jon settle in at RPI. Jon had been out there since August 8th to meet up with the hockey team. They didn't have official practice but captains practice along with working out. The week before we came, the team was in Canada for a team building trip.  He moved into the dorms before we came so there wasn't much moving in but a couple trips to the local stores for dorm supplies and some TLC from mom to get things in order, for how ever long that will last. 

 Jon had orientation on Friday and Saturday and there was also parent orientation. There seems to be a shift at some colleges for parents to have orientation. The sessions were informative and it was nice to see the whole campus.

 We caught part of one of the captains and able to check out the arena. They play in the Houston Field house which was originally built as a hangar and a warehouse for the US Navy. Very neat building and appears to be a great place to watch.
 Front entrance of arena.
 Most of our orientation sessions were held at the EMPAC building. A very cool media arts center that opened in 2008.

 The acoustics, as expected, were awesome and a very comfortable place to listen to people talk. Hoping to catch a concert or performance there in the future.
 Campus shot.
 Jonell and I walked around downtown Troy quite a bit and also took Jon out for a few meals. Awesome old buildings. Troy on a bit of a revival recently.
 Busy Saturday morning farmers market.

 Lunch at Dinosaur bbq, right on the Hudson.
 Campus structure.
 Walked around downtown Albany a bit, checking out the capital.
 One afternoon we had time to drive into the Adirondacks and got a nice 2 hour hike in, making way up to MT Hackensack.
 Fantastic view at top and awesome weather to boot.
Heading back down. Yes, I was thinking how sweet it would be to ride down. No bike on this trip! All good.

 Last moments in dorm before heading out.

All the best Jon!