Thursday, October 16, 2014

Wood Truck

There are three different back woods mechanics in a 15 mile radius we use for older car auto work. Often times I will either drop a car off and ride home or ride and pick up the vehicle. Last week I had to pick up one of the cars in the Rochert area. The mechanic said the keys would be in a certain location in the "wood truck". After a nice fall ride on the Mary Yellowhead road and along the refuge I pulled in to the repair place.

The wood truck.

 The essentials.
 Just in case.
 Custom wood splitter. Back saver. The hydraulic boom with claw.
Ready for winter.

One of the best falls for riding in recent years.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Busy Boys

 Couldn't of asked for nicer weather last weekend to enjoy the beauty of fall. Jens had three friends over and the days were spent fishing, playing football, scavenging through the woods via bike and just being boys. A close call on making a trip to the ER after a digger on the dirt jump track which made the weekend a success not making that trip. I rather see kids out doing stuff instead of worrying about things that can get them hurt or sick. I think the over protection tends to more misfortune than protection.
 The past few Sunday's, Jack has had some cross country buddies come out and ride on the mtb course, introducing some new kids to the sport. Always good seeing new shredders.
 Filling up on the Sunday Smorg!!
 Trail work has been full on, sanitizing the ski trails digging and moving rocks and clearing leaves off the trail. The new mtb trail I've been working on is different than the usual stuff out here. It will be a fun mix of pumpy flowy stuff with some hand built tossed in. Should be fast, tight and a different type of technical. I was going to start on new trail over by Bullhead lake but instead utilizing the nice terrain over by Wavy Gravy.
 Bob was around a few days, digging out the bigger rocks and filling in some low areas. Bob hit 12,000 hours while he was here on his current "cat". When he got his new cat above, his first job was at Maplelag. A lot of the rocks around Maplelag have been moved by Bob.
 It's a good day if you don't get stuck like 8 years ago when Bob discovered the oyster stew wasn't sitting the best and had him off his game. Amazingly, the cat came through just fine after getting pulled out by a local logger that just so happened to be skidding out trees to the north.
 We got out for our first duck hunt of the year on Tuesday with Coop, Jon and I going out. The wind was ripping pretty good and blowing the wrong direction to head out to Island, our regular spot, so we took the duck boat out to Bullhead bay. Hard to have ducks decoy, it's more pass shooting. Saw some ducks, got some looks, a few buzzes but no shots. Still nice getting out.
I took post more to the east watching things. I don't think I would of taken a shot if the opportunity arose as it would of been pretty hard to find something.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

NAHL Showcase

Last weekend Jon participated in the NAHL Showcase for the second year in a row. The NA Showcase is one of the largest hockey events in the world. Five days with games from 7:30am to 11:30pm on 8 sheets of ice all under one roof at the Schwan's Super Rink in Blaine. All the teams in the NA play four games in four days. The high school fall league Jon is playing in played three games over the weekend. There are other leagues there, u16 and u18 divisions. The PHL and NAPHL leagues. All the leagues are confusing and I am just starting to figure it out. I think. 

Another weekend wedding kept me close to home but his second game wasn't until 9:30 Saturday night so made the trek down with Jens. We were hoping to catch some bits and pieces of the NA games but the timing didn't work. We did catch some other UMHSEL games which included Shattuck participating for the first weekend. Some great hockey and a lot of really good players.

 Jon facing off in game vs Team Wisconsin. Wisconsin is leading the league right now.
 The Sunday morning game saw the stands full. Quite a few scouts watching.

NA team Aberdeen Wings loaded up and ready to "fly" home.

The week before the bike race I was watching the weather. Every weekend since then I have done the same. Thankfully we were able to have all three ceremonies outside. Last weekend was nip and tuck but after a rain shower it dried just enough to have outside. I've still found the Intellicast site to be the most useful for forecast models runs 2-6 hours out. The phone app is really good and quite accurate historically since I have been using it in the spring.

Big thanks to Kriston Wenzel for helping out the last three weekends!

Jack is nearing the end of the cc season but doesn't seem like it with the weather getting warmer each meet!

 Finishing strong.

 Most recent meet in Fergus Falls providing a nice post race refresh.

The colors hit their peak this week. Leaves really dropping fast the past few days but should have another few weeks of some color. Finally got out working on some new trail and getting easier to see through the woods.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Splash Magna

The past few weeks there has been a lot of stuff on the side of Richwood Road with a "free" sign next to it. I don't think you could go five miles without seeing something someone else wanted to get rid of without the hassle of taking to the dump.

 Just outside Richwood last week was an assortment of items including three bikes. It was hard not to notice the bikes with the bright colors.
I had to stop and check it out. I could not resist grabbing a bike with the name "Splash". I know Jonell would not be happy but it's second life is calling out to be a lake jumper. The rear wheel does not move at the current moment but it will be a good bike for possibly Jake to get the wheels moving again.

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.