Saturday, September 17, 2016

Summer to Fall

Every summer there are always a couple storms that bring a few trees down. Whether it was the saturated ground or the shear strength of the wind, we had one storm early July that brought down nearly 200 trees, the time when we were in Iceland. The same storm took down probably hundreds of thousands of trees in northern MN. Some places worse such as the Hill City area. Two weeks after that big storm, we had a few more trees come down. The first time I was on the Laddies Loppet bike course after we were in Iceland, there were probably 75 trees down on the course. Not something you want to come home to when you are on vacation but better now than the day before the bike race or after 6" of fresh snow that has just been groomed out!

 I posted a ride on Strava with photos of the downed trees and within a hour or so, 4 people contacted me within 30 minutes offering to help. All were different days so it worked out perfect. We were able to clear all the trees in four days and can't thank Collin Gunderson (above) Steve Wenzel, Pat Crary and Ben Olson for their help.
Steve helping clear a big red oak. This is on new trail, big time mess some really nice trees coming down.

Ben helping clear the last tree on the fourth day!
Pat blowing and clearing sticks!
A few days later after we cleared all those initial trees, we had another storm blow down 12 trees on the bike course alone. Jens helped me clear all those trees. Jens a big help the rest of the summer doing dirt work and what not on the course.
I would like to say Hudson helped out but he was the usual side kick like always.  This is the last downhill on the Twin Lakes singletrack, took about 3 hours to clear this area.
Summer happenings.....Jack serving up a couple of fresh pizzas this summer. Jack worked at the pizza "shack" this summer, working at nights including a few days a week with the closing shift. That would make for a late night, sometimes not home until 2-3am. Now with school and cross country starting, just working on Sunday nights. Mom and dad proud of his commitment and dedication.

Jens carving it up on a still evening. Water skied more this year than probably any summer.

 Hit up a couple mountain bike races in August, including the MNMBS race at Spirit Mountain. Spirit hadn't been used in a few years but one of my favorite courses in the Midwest if not the country. Good old school mountain biking with sustained climbing and technical descending. Ben Olson and I raced together the entire time which was appropriate considering how close we are in fitness etc. It's been awesome to train with Ben once a week or so. His skill set and fitness level for only racing four four years is impressive.
Last year I did the Seeley Pre-Fat and had a blast so was on top of the list if it worked out. Scheduled allowed and Jonell and Jens came along. Rained all night and most of the race making for some good old fashioned mud, slim and drivetrain riding.
Last forest road pretty soupy. Not able to use the whole course with fears of damaging trail, good call, just made for more forest road than liked. All good.
Spend the night and next day in Duluth, checking out the tall ships and hooked up with Jake and his girlfriend Anna.

Sunday Jens, Jake and I look advantage of the lifts at Spirit mountain. First time lift service mountain biking. We had a good time and hope to get back this fall but not likely.

I said I would never lift service mountain bike!!

End of August Jon finished his training at MAP in the cities. Big shout to the Horsager family for hosting. His hand heeled up nicely and back to full on training and able to sneak in a mountain bike ride at home with Jake and I before heading to Sioux Falls fall camp with hopes to make the final roster cut.
Send off!
A few days later after Jon went down, I went down for the evening for a meet and greet with players, families and team personal.
Excited for this new opportunity for Jon, doing what he loves to do.

Labor day weekend was the 26th Laddies Loppet at Maplelag. It has become a very special weekend for us with so many friends made over the years and humbled by the loyalty of folks that keep coming back year after year. It is neat to see guys that now have kids, many in the mid teens ripping it up. With the Maplelag course being more "classic" or "old school" it is assuring to see the parents introduce and export them to this with the majority of new trail build being flow trail. The race weekend is always a nice time for most of the Maplelag Mountain Bike Racing team to get together. Keeps growing every year. Top notch people that do a lot outside of racing for the mountain bike community.

Jake was back for the week, mixing it up in the racing action, having fun with solid results both days.

If you read the Iceland post, you saw my excitement for the waffle station. It really was a hit to me so I talked to Jonell about doing it for the Laddies Loppet. We served up waffles to the longer races, thanks Deb, Amanda and Carlene and staff for a job well done.
Nothing is official until Jonell signs off on it! Jonell continues to go above and beyond making things work and top shelf.

The short track races on Sunday something always look forward to. Each race was exciting, especially the Sport, Comp and Expert races that had sprint finishes. Great stuff.

All together at the lake cabin before everyone was went on their way to Fall happenings. The time together was short but always good.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Iceland Summer 2016

For my 46th birthday this year in March, Jonell got tickets for her and I to go to Iceland this July. As things played out, Jake and Jens went along with us as well. I got very interested in going to Iceland after seeing the incredible scenery from increase travel in recent years. There were also some very cool mountain biking shots that looked absolutely stunning. Also, our friend Steve is now living in Iceland with his partner Hekla and has been bugging us for years to come over and visit. It was hard to narrow down select photos and capture the scenic beauty which was almost overwhelming.
We spent the first few days in the capital city of Reykjavik taking in the sights, sounds and smells.
And enjoying the world's best hot dogs!!
Ready to head out for a point to point mountain bike ride with Jake.
Incredible lamb dinner at our host family. The food was incredible. There is very little processing and handling with all the meats already organic, grass fed etc. There isn't labeling or special notice for it. It just is.
One of the most noticeable things was light 24 hours a day. It was hard to go to bed when it was still light as we felt like we were going to miss something. Than it would start getting brighter around 2:30am. Never really adjusted. We would be up til 2am, maybe not up until 8 or 9 keeping on track with US time.
One of the many beautiful waterfalls.
Jonell obeying the rules near the hot springs.
Staying in front of the weather on the point to point ride.
Natural flow trail!

Group hike up to Esja Mountain.
Jonell taking in the scene.
Halfway point.
At the top! Incredible weather for Iceland, no winds and temps around 60.

Getting a drink on the way down.

Old time groomer on the way to the WestFjords.
After Reykjavik, we made our way to Steve's town, taking the back roads more or less, enjoying some incredible scenery and beautiful views.
Side stop at the Dynjandi waterfall.

Midnight driving under a sun that never sets! Some sections of the road were single lane and exhilarating.
Incredible scene at the waterfall.
Rare moment of calm in the fjords?
Arrived to Steve's around 2am. Isofjord. This time of year the moment when the sun is pretty much neutral and getting ready to rise again.
We only planned to ride when we were in Iceland, never more than a couple hours at a time. About a month before Steve said there was a race near his town the time we were there. It was 150th anniversary of Isofjord and the national cycling organization decided to designate the national marathon championships for this race which was called Vesturgaten in a village called Thingery. A 43 mile loop climbing up to a mountain pass, back down than around a finger dividing two fjords.
Rollout start.
It was hard to know what the weather was going to be like when we climbed up and were a bit overdressed. Had to stop and take a layer off.  I talked Jake into doing the race and we agreed to take it more like a ride. I've never taken photos during a race but the scenery was too incredible not to during this ride.
Couple switchbacks to go before the top.

Up at that top. It was hard to only stop for 10 seconds. Fjords in front, fjord behind and snow fields.
Riding back along the coast. Not efficient to stop on a downhill but could't pass up this scene without taking it in for a moment.
After the race they had a food tent and walked in and they were making fresh waffles with all the fixings including fruit, whipped cream and Nutella.
Iceland's National Champion. Had a chance to visit with him for a bit. First Icelander to compete in a World Cup earlier this summer. Quite a story having been hit by a car last November, prognosis wasn't good but full recovery and doing quite well.
After the race we went to a local cafe which was one of just a few businesses in the village. That didn't mean the food wasn't outstanding. Fresh fish soup, bread and more waffles and eat in a bus.

Back at Isofjord that evening. I was expecting wind during our visit. I guess we lucked out with some of the nicest weather of the year.
Street dance that evening under the lights. The sun that never sets lights. The last band was done at midnight and seemed odd when it was still light. Photo above taken around 11:30 pm.


Local bakery goodness.

Fishing supporting the economy in Isofjord. Number two port in Iceland.
Trip up to Bolungarvik. Clear day like today you can see into Greenland.
Beauty even in the harshest conditions.
On the edge of Bolungarvik cliff.
Back down visiting the secret forbidden beach.
Bolungarvik harbor. Another calm moment.
Next morning we rode back up there. Around a 2500ft climb. Descending.

Before leaving we checked out the Nordic Center just outside Isofjord. 

Singletrack riding near another waterfall.

Look out Steve! Steve was great host, filling us in on facts and fiction of Iceland. Thanks for the hospitality Steve.
When you look out the window at 2:25am. Hard to go to bed when you love nature and don't want to miss the sunset, or sunrise.
More tasty fresh fish soup.
Last ride near the Blåfjell area.
Rocks galore.
Harpa cultural center in Reykjavik.

100's of thousands of drying fish heads near Blåfjell.
PB at Blåfjell alpine ski area.
Espresso machine at Palmé's house.
Final good bye at Palmés. Thanks for your hospitality!