Sunday, November 15, 2009

Break TIme

There is a time and a place for everything. Yup. Sure is.

I'm taking a break from this blog to work on my Apostle Islands Bike Expedition.
This is where the blogging will take place from now until post-expedition as all my adventures now considered "training".
Check it out,

Seldom Seen Ledin

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Butt City

Butt city, that notoriously notorious city if nights and the Senator (Butthole Johnson), is still in shambles. God help us.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


My buddy Nick found this place out in Portland...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

North Shore Loop '09

My dad and I went out for our annual trip and ended up on the North Shore of Lake Superior once again. This time we got a ride in a boat from Bayfield, WI. to Gran Marais, MN. and rode down to Superior, WI. 120 miles, three days, and two bikes later we had another successful trip in the can. We left Washburn on Friday afternoon and drove the old blue truck to Bayfield where we parked about three miles out and biked into town. We swung by the Bayfield Bike Route on the way through and then...headed for the docks.

We put the Alpacka Rafts aside for this one and hitched a ride on a boat straight across the big lake. Thanks to Randy at C&W trucking for hooking us up with the boat ride. Here is the gargantuan boat we rode in with our bikes strapped to the back.

Thats Oak Island on the right and Manitou on the left, American flag front and center.

Two and a half hours later we approached Lake Superiors' North Shore. It's a grand spectacle. Fog and cliffs. The south shore of Lake Superior is mainly sandstone cliffs and sandy beaches. Once you get north of Duluth it turns to hard granite, cobblestone beaches, and old volcanic rock. It is a site to see and a joy to cyclo-tour.

Gran Marais harbor. What relief this harbor must bring to those seeking shelter from the massive swells and storms that blow across the lake throughout the season.
We quickly docked. My dad and I jumped off the boat, eager to put aside the noisy gas engine, loaded our bikes and pedaled away. We grabbed a bite to eat and soon we were on our way down HWY 61 and south bound. Destination for the night: between Tofte and Shroeder, MN. aka. Temperance river.

Beer can wind screen around Esbit Stove and cast iron fry pan. I was a little skeptical of using the Esbit stove to cook sausage. It worked, but it used about 4 of the fuel tablets. My usual stove of choice for extended trips is my Whisperlite, but it's currently on loan to a friend. Last year we used a two person tent. This year we used two one man shelters. My dad had the Black Diamond Bivy Shelter I used my Hennessy Hammock.

The North Shore is lined with amazing rivers. It seemed every time we passed one, which was about every 7-10 miles, it was a gorgeous gorged out river valley with water falls, whirlpools, and cliffs. I neglected to take any pictures of these though. I am sure there are enough on the Internet already.
Temperance river campground is the most strict campground I have ever been to. I guess it's just a sign of the times, and the location. I am not going to list off everything that irked me but here is a sneak peek: Each campsite was fenced in. Otherwise it was a nice spot. I was told from a local guy that if you biked inland six miles up the Temperance river there was free camping.

Our second day was one of the most intense days of riding I've experienced, as far as head winds go. Our destination was Two Harbors, 60 miles away. This trip was my first single speed tour. I rode my modified Surly 1x1 with an Epic frame bag and gas tank, a lite rear rack, and Surly's Nice front rack. My ratio was 34x18.
I like the Surly Nice racks, especially the front one. It provides many options for lashing bags to it, a high and low spot for panniers, and when you need to remove your front wheel, the rack holds the bike in a firm and stable position, excellent for guying out a tarp. Not to mention the things bomb proof and works on just about any bike.
My dad rode the old Trek 520 as a 1x6 with rear panniers (Ortliebs with Arkel mounting hardware) and a Jim Blackburn front rack.

Father and son at Palisade Head. The road leading up is doozy. After Palisade, we headed off towards Two Harbors. We arrived, exhausted from battling a headwind all day, and the campground was full. We tapped into last years trip knowledge and stealth camped at a super secret location right on the lake.

Early morning departure from stealth campsite in Two Harbors, MN. I did not notice at the time of taking the photo, but take a good look at this one. Peace! Our next stop was to be Grandmas for the annual Bloody Mary in Duluth.

We made great time cruising into Duluth the next day and were soon waiting for the doors to open at Grandmas. We got our bloody's and jetted off towards Superior, WI. Believe it or not, biking from Superior through Duluth is a piece of cake, not to mention the view from the Bong bridge.

This railroad pivot bridge was rather anti-climactic. A siren goes goes off, followed by a huge fog horn, then an announcement to be aware. It makes one expect fucking fire works to go off, sky ablaze with submarines and massive jet powered lift bridges shooting into the air, making way for the Yacht of the Century, possibly even the ghost of the Titanic to come hovering through. And then, ever so painfully slow, the bridge begins to turn, making way for one little power boat and a 30' cruiser.

Figure it out...

Another great trip with my pops and another year gone by. I highly suggest the North Shore for a good short tour. There are a few sections off road paved trail, most of the highway has a wide shoulder, but there are few narrow shouldered spots. If you go, don't be afraid to stealth camp. There are alot of developed spots and people everywhere, but mother nature protects those who protect her!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Round two...

I went out and tried the paddle from
Washburn to the beach, a five mile paddle I had tried earlier
this month. Last time, I was turned around by the wind.
I was feeling optimistic about this trip. I thought I might make it to "the beach" early and ride the Pugsley down the 3 miles of loose sandy beach were I was going to camp. My Epic frame bag fits both my 20" Pugsley and my Modified 1x1 so I swapped it over and strapped a dry bag to my custom Pug-sized rear rack. These bags held my camping gear, food, and bike tool kit. My backpack held all the rafting gear: packraft, patchkit, inflation bag, paddles, life jacket, and throwbag.

An old railroad grade leads to a hike in point that I decided would be a bit more adventurous to take. A few locals commute by bike on the trail, so it is in pretty good shape. I cruised at a good clip and reached the giant ravine I was going to hike down in a matter of minutes. Later that day on the ride back, my dry bag came unlashed from my rack and rolled into the bushes. As I unpacked my gear I thought about how I had really gotten this "going light" thing down. Why didn't I just put the raft stuff on the rear rack? It's seems wierd I didn't even use the rack. Oh shit, that's because there was a dry bag there earlier.

y Pugsley awaits me and my backpack at the bottom of the ravine. I had to carry the bike down first and then climb back up to get my backpack.

lambering over the beautiful sand stone, lichen coated boulders. The small valley was hot and humid and full of mosquitoes. I was being whipped in the face by pine saplings and poked in the eye by sticks. Falling in the mud from slippery rocks, and stepping in stagnant sinkholes. The hike in was taking a lot more effort than I had anticipated.

After about 45 minutes I reached the
put in point. I relaxed for bit, soaking up the scenery and eating some granola. Once the raft was inflated and packed up, I began wading through the inlet towards deeper water.

t was a calm day. Or so I thought. Once again as I rounded the corner the wind was just as intense as before and waves began piling up. "Here we go again". I got the hint, turned around, and headed back. No use beating myself up over something I can bike to in 15 minutes.

he inlet I left from on the way back. I decided to get out at a different spot than I got in. I didn't want to have a repeat bushwhacking session if I didn't have to, and I knew of a point another mile up I could get out at.
Here's where it got interesting. As I approached the rock that was my get out point, totally pooped and hungry as hell, I began to notice there were people on it. As I got closer I recognized the flesh tones of bikini clad women. Yes. 6 of them. I was tired as shit but I managed to straighten up my spine, puff out my chest, and come paddling up to that rock like I was the world champion packraft/ bushwhaking/ bike man from Timbuktu who had everything these chicks wanted, including welts from saplings, mosquitoe bites, and sun/ wind burn. As I climbed up onto the rock I was welcomed with wine and fresh veggies. Was I hallucinating from fatigue and too much sun? I can't quite remember...

Learning Curve

I took the Alpacka Raft out on the Big Lake for the first time a couple a weeks ago.
This was the first of three attempts to paddle a five mile distance along the shoreline. My destination being a beach were I was going to camp, and then pedal the 10 miles to work the next day.
I used my modified Surly 1x1 for the trip this first time. I've found that singlespeeds and packrafts go hand in hand. The more gear I am hauling around with me the simpler the bike setup needs to be. That's a wetsuit hanging from the seat...

I reached the lake and I should have known better already. My direction of travel once on the water was to be East out of Chequamegon Bay and once around the corner of Houghton Point I would be traveling Northeast.
he NOAA called for northeast winds. The lake was already a bit choppy. I thought if I stayed near the shore, I could paddle with less effort by using the land as a wind block. This worked until I rounded Houghton Point. The waves then increased to about 2-3 feet and I was a human bobber in a little blue raft... with a bike.
Here you see Houghton Point. Once around here it was fighting gusts of wind on open water. The raft doesn't sit low in the water, the wind likes to push it around. Every 10 feet of travel a gust would blow strong and I was pushed back 5 feet or so.

This continued for another twenty minutes. I passed an on looker standing on a dock. They seemed a bit concerned, yet totally amused. I waved to say "I'm fine".
Now I was feeling the earliest stages of fatigue and knew that must turn around and head back. The rising moon re-charged my spirit and I cruised with a tail wind back around Houghton point and to the beach were I had started. I packed up and rode on home, contemplating my next move, taking mental notes on packing, mistakes made, and paddling techniques used.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Water Retain-ology techniques...

Living on the worlds second largest freshwater lake, Lake Superior, can get a person thinking about water. Amongst the other things that we are addicted to here in the western world, water ranks up there with all the rest. There is no denying our need for the H20, we must have water to survive. Whether it's through direct consumption of liquid H20, eating fruits and vegetables, or drinking beer, we need it.
When your riding your bike, or paddling on a lake, or running, etc. you usually carry around a water bottle with you. You exert yourself, you become thirsty. Maybe your not even thirsty. Maybe you just have that cotton mouth feeling and need to pacify it with a nice cool gulp of water. You reach for your conveniently placed water bottle and take a swig of that lovely liquid gold. mmm...
But what do you do when you don't have much water left? Or you don't have any water? Or when the next town is still 60 miles away? Why not make what you've already got in you last the whole way? Yeh, it's possible. We all know that. But just because your out of water that doesn't mean you need to make the next 60 miles a cottonmouth induced dry throat choke fest. (even worse in the Mexican back country)
Most of us breath through our mouths all the time. Our mouths are always slightly open. This is even more common when riding a bikes or during physical activity. Shut your mouth. That will help keep your mouth moist. Better yet, find a smooth small rock to clean off and put in your mouth. You don't even have to suck on it, just have it in your mouth. You'll salivate as your body tries to digest the rock, keeping your mouth moist and you'll still be able to breath. If your working so hard that you just can not handle breathing through those tiny holes called nostrils for just another second:
Let the rock sit on your tongue in the middle of your mouth. Now, when you breath through your mouth the air your breathing out will have to squeeze through the gap between your mouth and the rock, forcing the air and the moisture in it (the air) to condense in your mouth.
This technique has worked for me numerous times while back country riding and hiking. Although your not adding more moisture to your body, you'll be retaining a whole lot more than you normally would when your huffing and puffing with your mouth wide open.
Oh yeh, careful not to swallow the rock...