Thursday, September 18, 2014

September Nice

This week was about as good as it gets for September. Cool nights, warm and pleasant days and dry weather. 

The frost last weekend kicked the fall color in to a high gear and things are really starting to change fast. One of the best times of the year! 

Last Thursday Jack had a cc meet in Little Falls. There were a ton of schools there with over a 1000 runners!!
I remember running there in high school, we did just one meet there. Some kid thought it would be funny to move the markers during the race and make things interesting. We never went back.
Jon played in Grand Rapids last week with his Great Plains team in the HS Elite leagues. We had a wedding going on at Maplelag but the second game wasn't until 8:30 on Saturday night and I was able to sneak away after the ceremony with the Scamp. We spent the night in the fairgrounds area. Nice spot.

Facing off vs Team North. Great hockey vs northern and outstate kids. The Grand Rapids arena is a southern range/northern classic. Great lighting, fantastic seating and sight lines. Other than the tender having a off day, a great game.


Jon setting up goal from the corner.

Before the game, snuck over to the Legion trail right next to the arena. Only rode about 20 minutes but a sweet trail right in town and definitely the closest singletrack to any arena I have been to in MN.

To make sure the car engine stayed warm, we went over to Duluth on Tuesday to bring a car for Jake. Jake and I rode a couple hours, hitting up my favorite trail in the Midwest, Piedmont and the new track at Brewer Park. After a hour or so, we went over to Hartley Park where I fielded off a bonk and exhilarated myself following Jake's wheel. Damn that kid rides smooth. Piedmont is classic old school mountain biking. Love it. Brewer Park is machine built, pumpy flowy stuff that is fun to ride. Pumps and berms in between the rocks. I was impressed they had trail open just days after building it. Seems like most trail won't open up until months after and it not good form to post pictures of people riding but say not open.  

Rolling a large rock.

Ready for a day of trail building.

Wednesday was the annual FFA Fall Rally day at Maplelag. 400 kids learning about Ag related occupations. We have been doing this for 15 years and have to say this year the kids were incredibly well behaved and hardly any garbage left behind and kids climbing on cabooses like some years. Great leadership is key.

20 school buses and the 52' food semi truck coming in as well. All coming in and turning around etc.with no paved road or parking lot. Nice work drivers.
Jens and I have been fishing at nights whenever we can in the old duck boat, with the no cover old Johnson 5horse motor.  Haven't caught much but nice to be out enjoying the sunsets. We're gonna catch a wall hanger before the lake freezes over!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Summer to Fall

Summer has passed and fall is here in full force. Certainly feels like it this week with temps not much above or below the mid 40's. Might even see some frost the next few mornings which always is a good reminder winter will soon be here. A few maple trees already hitting their peak and leaves falling to the ground....

Before school started for all the boys, Jake was back for a few days before the bike race. Hasn't been many family gatherings of just us six since Easter. Always plenty of laughs and good times. Once camp closed it was busy getting the resort ready for the fall including the big Laddies Loppet bike race and the wedding season. 

Snuck away for the day, finally getting to a race this year, first one of the season, hitting up the new trail at Mission Creek just south of Duluth.  (Todd Bauer photo) The course for a race was a bit disappointing personally, other than the last twisty sandy downhill segment which I hear is now laced with pavers.  Don't get me wrong, it is a super fun trail to ride and a total work of art, built ultra professionally. Having raced in Duluth at Mon Du Lac and Spirit Mountain, I always looked forward to racing on those trails with the rocks, roots and terrain that challenged not only the skill set but the fitness as well. But mountain bike racing is changing. The XC courses are softer and if you want to race on the tech stuff, it has to be either in an enduro or downhill, at least in the Midwest. I know the Duluth courses weren't rider friendly for all and it makes sense to make this transition to appeal to more riders. Talking to many folks who felt the same way as I do, there seemed to be a consensus that a mix of trail would be good, especially for the expert race. I know some area riders did try to suggest this but were "tongue lashed" which is sad to hear.  

 I hate to be negative and critical of any trail as there is a ton of work that goes into building but people are getting paid to do it as well. Of course there are many volunteers that put in some hard sweat hours but having built and maintain trail myself, I do it because I love to and most people that volunteer are in the same boat. It's isn't a personal statement against any group or individual, just an opinion and observation. There is a lot of tax money used to build trails which is generally a good thing unless you own a business that has seen taxes go through the roof the past 6 years......
 The final weekend of summer, Jens and I snuck over for a race at MB Johnson Park in Moorhead. The weather had things right on the edge but it turned out to be a super fun ride and race. Jens and I rode as much as we could before the skies opened up and made it a total greaser. I love the effort the FM guys have put in to having something local for the FM area.
 Labor day weekend marked the 24th running of Laddies Loppet at Maplelag. We really look forward to this weekend as it is the only time of the year we do a big mountain bike event and so many people coming back year after year, like a big family reunion. Everyone is so friendly, positive and we are really fortunate to have such a great group of folks come play in the back yard. Mountain biking has been such a big part of my life and thankful to have the opportunity to try and give something back to a sport that has helped me keep the wheels moving!

With the longest loop ever, it took a bit more trail maintenance but with nice weather, it was great being in the woods tuning the trail. The short track races are always the most exciting and this year was no exception. Big thanks to Denny Barry helping with trail blowing the two days before and to Matt Johnson with his help in sponsorship and the leader jerseys from Podiumwear.  And a huge thanks to everyone who came up and raced, watched and helped out! All four boys participated in some shape or form which was awesome. Hard to believe next year will be the 25th! Some new changes on tap to mix things up and try something different. Stay tuned! 

 Jens in the short track.
 Jack, err Horse biker leading out the kids race.
 Jake railing on twin lakes loop in the singletrack.
 Jon didn't officially race but rode the citizen race with Jakes's ski mate Calvin and playing to the camera guy on Suicide hill. Bruce came up a day early, getting a bunch of tech stuff fixed and adjusted and once again did a great job covering a lot of the course on race weekend.
 Jonell does a ton of work for the bike race getting a lot of the logistic stuff dialed in and right after bike race weekend, it was getting ready for wedding which was a short two days later. 
 School in full swing and Jack's cross country meets. Running in the heat at the home course as family cheers and Cooper wheels.
Jon has started fall league, playing with the Great Plains team in the HS Elite league.  The first weekend started out well with a win, loss and tie. The team has many kids he has played with over the summers and the chemistry seems to be better than the metro teams. The GP team might not be as skilled as the city teams that are stacked with this years powerhouse hs teams Edina and Lakeville North but the GP team will hold their own. There is some incredible talent among all 8 teams that play each weekend and really good hockey. (sport nGin photo)

Fall is one of the best seasons with great sunsets, still hints of summer now and than and the excitement for the soon approaching winter. 

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.