Tuesday, September 30, 2014

COGGS Gitchee Gummee Galivant 2014! Duluth does dirt!



Beer stop #2

Advanced crew, on BOB

The kissing booth!

I have so many blog posts I have to get up but the way my day is going today I figured I would start with a quick one.

This Saturday we had the GGG here in Duluth.  What an awesome ride.  It started with around 70 people and since this ride is in town it grew and shrunk as people rode the sections of DT that they liked the most.

This is my favorite ride of the year.  Awesome people, awesome route and awesome time.  There were for sure a lot of new faces on the ride this season and it was great to see their faces as they rode the new trails!

The weather was perfect, if not too hot, which is a big deal this time of the year up here!  The advanced crew did a mini enduro on the ride and hit the Kissing Booth and BOB as part of the route.  The colors were amazing as I rode roll down after roll down, drop after drop and watched endo after endo on BOB!

Thanks COGGS this is the best ride going in the region right now!

Monday, September 22, 2014

A great weekend, full of fall fun and being a Father....

As an advocate for the Outdoors, conservation and recreation, the most powerful influence you can have is your children.

You can see the future in those eyes, in how that little mind grinds to comprehend the wind and the trees and the rivers all the myriad of things that live in them.

The bigness of it, the scale, the ways things interconnect.

Tae has certainly had that influence on me as a father.  Often as I sit in meetings or am thinking of a trail system, a place or an experience, my brain leapfrogs 40 years down the line and I think about what it would be like for Tae at that point in history and what I can do now, personally to make that experience be the best it can be, fully understanding all the external forces that are going to negatively influence the outdoors in the future.

Margaret was in Utah last week learning and seeing her sister in Salt Lake.  I spent the time with Tae and we ended spending most of it outside.

Its a confusing time of year for the outdoors enthusiast.  You have the best riding ever right now, the fishing is awesome, the hunting has started, paddling is still fun....holy smokes its hard to choose!

So as always, we decided to double and triple stack.  We hit the water in the canoe and paddled to some fun fishing, then hauled out the shotgun and walked a nice walk for some grouse.  Tae was asking questions like 10,000 miles an hour.  We spent a lot of time catching frogs (which were everywhere), poking things with sticks and going over our rubber boots in the mud.  We even hooked into some smalls and Tae got to see what a 12 gauge can do to an old beer can (as the grouse were not in cooperation yet).

Many times as a fun hog and adrenaline junky it is easy to get caught up in whats next on the agenda and not relish in what is either going on, or just went on.

This weekend I found myself completely happy to live in the moment, to enjoy the questions of a six year old and to watch his face when picked up a tiny turtle, or watched a flight of ducks or hooked into a nice fat smallmouth........we won't have that time again and because of that I will cherish it forever and forever fight to conserve places for recreation so Tae can bring his kid there when I am gone.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Two weeks out of the tumult, two weeks into the maelstrom.........

Adam's big laugh!

There is blog life.  There is real life.  When the shit hits the fan on real life, blog life takes a solid back seat until the dust settles.

Suffice to say rolling over from my old gig at IMBA, to my new gig at the Minnesota Land Trust has been eventful.

Change is always rugged, but in this case change is more than just occupational, its cultural, its environmental and its personal.

That all said its going well.  The learning curve is steep, the stakes are high and the possible return on investment higher.

Where else would you want to be in life?

I have to say I have been recreating more in Duluth than I have in the past six years.  I have been spending a lot of time with Margaret and Tae, even got them out on Mission Creek last week for their first rides (they loved it).

My first real challenge in the new role was organizing and guiding BIKE Mag across Duluth for five days and that was really special.  Good guys, they were stoked to see the progress and were obviously impressed with the project.  Of course we drank beer, we talked shop, we talked turkey, we saw music and we enjoyed Duluth..........something that in my former, travel laden job was tough to do.

I am not going to disclose what we did and where we went as that is part of the story that they are going to tell.  I can say that we put together a pretty sick adventure for them when they were here.  It was replete with high drama, multi modal transportation, dirty needles, NIMBY's and Candylands.  Even Loki himself showed his face in the dark.....

Life is changing, and as it has in many ways, this blog will reflect that.  I am committed to it though so please be patient as all of this evolves and for sure get out and enjoy the fall because it feels like another big winter is coming close behind it.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Copper Harbor Fat Tire Festival 2014: Beers, Bikes, Bandages and Bluegrass..............

The peoples choice

End of the Harbor

Man what a crazy assed August I just survived!  Trek World in Madison, BWCA, Duluth Bike Fest, IMBA World Summit in Steamboat and finish it up with the best Copper Harbor Fat Tire Fest I can remember......non-stop insanity for a good solid month!

I stepped off the plane on Saturday, got in the IMBARoo for its last gig on Sunday and rocked CH until Labor Day.

The mad craftsman himself

Wonder twin powers

Getting there

And the winners are....
Ask any competitive racer what they covet the most in prizes at Copper Harbor and they will mention "the wheel".  These prizes go to the overall winner of the long and short xc races.  These things are truly works of beauty.  Spun out of Keweenaw Birds eye Maple, spoked and outfitted with disk brakes and coated with Lake Superior rocks for tread they are truly pieces of art.

I have always wanted to see how the wheels were made and this season I had a chance to shoot John Meilahn as he built the 2014 Grand prizes.  John does this as a volunteer and it truly illustrates how passionate people make a place and an event like the one in Copper Harbor special.  John has created 20 of these wheels in the last five years and puts 50 plus hours a season into creating them.  Amazing work for sure!


Tae picked the clothes.... to match his bike
Tae stoke
The best ride of the trip, and most certainly the season was with Tae on Bullwinkle and Garden Brook. Margaret, Tae and I shuttled up to the Mountain Lodge and then descended back down eventually to Copper Harbor.  Tae killed it on his single speed coaster brake bike.  It was pretty amazing what he could get up and down comfortably.  The only drama on the whole ride occurred when Tae blew over the top of a berm near the terminus of Garden Brook.  It was the classic crash, so many of us have had when we are over heating a berm.  Too hot, too fast and full eject over the lip.  Tae however, feet off, cowboy style rode it out for about 30 feet in the woods.  Eventually he came to a halt and looked around in amazement that he was still in one piece.

Still life Belle Vista #8

Fall is here
Last Enduro Climb up to Overflow


Waiting my turn on Dowtown.  Hardest line on the hill.  Waiting in the rain, listening to the hundreds of people roaring for the crashes and close calls below was a bit nerve racking!
Eventually the town of Copper Harbor started filling up with people and the quiet little town started to really bustle.  No longer were the trails all to ourselves and the fishing all our own.  However that is not a bad thing, it just creates more excitement and brings more old friends back into out lives.

I decided to race the Long Enduro as it was the final race in the Lake Superior Gravity Series.  I was lucky enough to have raced the May CH race, the Duluth Bike Festival Race and wanted to finish out the season with the fall finale.  However, unknown to me the final points race had to be the long race, not the short.  That meant I had to hit Downtown, a trail I had never ridden.

I sessioned Downtown on Friday after hanging with the family all day, and in the dry conditions I was able to ride about 90% percent of it.  Enough to warrant signing up for the race.

Race day however proved to be extremely wet and because of that my time and the times of all the racers were much, much slower.  My ultimate goal was to finish in one piece, especially on Downtown.  I ended up racing much slower than expected but cleaned Downtown and in those conditions that is saying a lot!

A sucker is born every day

The annual Dan Wissman memorial dock jump was held on Saturday as well.  There were a surprising number of takers, despite the 63 degree air temps and the 52 degree water temps, but then Mountain Bikers are not known to be very tuned to numbers.....

My annual b-day party followed the dock jump and I have to say thanks to all the folks that came and especially for the many presents I received, pretty stoked to have such amazing friends around myself and my family.

Unfortunately the Kids race was scheduled at the same time as the DH race so I was not able to shoot much of the drama.  That being the bummer of Phil Ott taking a crash on his second run on Overflow.  Phil crashing and losing is a rarity but I was not privy to it as I was watching a bunch of 3-6 six year olds teetering across an open field.  You cant have it all, but I do hope next year there is some separation on these two key events!

Ross, back in the UP

The Vet

Fire Dancers day job
The XC race was fun to watch.  It was much less eventful than last season, but then again how can you beat the drama of a technical XC race in the pouring rain?  Jan Roubal, continued his bad luck streak with a flat early on in the race, but rallied back from 10th to second and kept us all on the edge of our seats.  One day I hope Jan's luck will all pull together, I mean shit dude, we are not getting any younger here.....

Burhito showing the love

Full circle
The awards were complete with booze, photo opps and props.  It was great to see so many locals and especially Duluthians heading up to receive recognition.  There are a lot of dedicated and talented riders in the region and they were put in the spot light in a special way in the harbor.

Bluegrass and bandages

For sale: Did not win race.....

2am light show

The peoples choice logged out for the eve

As is expected, the awards ended and the evening erupted into drinking and song.  There was a killer blue grass band, tons of friends lot of stories of wonder and woo and plenty of bandages to go around.  Thunderstorms were on the horizon most of the night but held off, being just a wonderful light show.
Eventually it all devolved around a campfire and we all stumbled off to bed.

I awoke groggy the next morning, loaded of the Roo and headed for home thus closing a chapter of my life that I will always cherish.....

Until we meet again

Sunday, August 24, 2014

IMBA World Summit 2014 Steamboat Springs: Passing the torch.

Ryan D practicing for the Enduro X
It was an emotional bookend to a sweet and successful six years with IMBA.  However hard it was it was great to head to the IMBA World Summit to have one last rousing time with my co-workers, co-advocates and fellow dirt warriors.

There is a lot that was accomplished and a lot to do.  Advocacy is a family and you never really leave it and that sense was palpable.

It was also amazing to see how far we have come, how big IMBA has grown and it feels like as I leave, things will only continue to get better for the organization, longevity and momentum were thoughts I had frequently.

Mark Eller happy and stoked after finishing the new IMBA Bike Park Book, Hans Rey reviewing.
The riding at the Steamboat Springs Bike Park was super fun.  It was like Spirit only four times longer. Steamboat is a great example of what Spirit could be, Duluth for that matter in general.  Riding the lifts at Steamboat it was the first time in six years that I felt I would want to load up my bikes and actually head to CO for a bike park vacation.  The trails were not the best I have ridden, but they were by far the longest and the most continuous and that was really, really fun in itself and I can only bet the riding will continue to get better and better there.

Off to Copper Harbor for my last IMBA gig and a final farewell to a phase and a period of time in my life that can only be called amazing......
Monsoon season in Steamboat

Awesome folks, awesome time Randy Spangler and Anna L.

Night ride


Vote with your dollars

Going home

Monday, August 18, 2014

First Ever Duluth Bike Festival 2014!

Future bike terror
Bling bling!
This did not end well

Boys at the end of the Enduro 

Joe V pleased with his day

The bell says it all

Take some time and look at every face in this photo.  Different strokes for different folks!
Young bucks


Kids Race Mission Creek 

Mission Creek XC Race

Turn and Burn!

The weekend had it all.

Thrills and spills, laughter and tears.......What an amazing experience.  So many cool riders from all over the region.  I was so busy racing the Enduro and participating that I did not have a lot of time to shoot much.

I have been to a ton of MTB fests in the last six years but I have to say this was a special one for a lot of obvious reasons.  Perhaps the biggest thing for me was the inclusion of Gravity riding in the festival.  Having Enduro and DH takes the MTB fest experience to a whole new level in my opinion.  The crowds were thick and the drama was intense.

The XC race on Sunday was amazing in its own right.  The Mission Creek Trails were nearly perfect.  Tacky and fast!  It was so fun to see the racers just grinning ear to ear and by all accounts people absolutely loved the trails.  My hope is that each and every one of those folks goes home and talks about how nice the trails were and how fun the festival in itself was.

Many thanks to COGGS and all the volunteers that made this festival happen.  Also even more thanks to Kraus Anderson for their volunteers and the marketing and the partnership.  Even in its first year it was so successful and of course with some tweaking it will be even better.

Of course thanks to all the folks that came and raced from all over the Midwest!

I cant wait for next year!  But until then, get geared up for the Gitchee Gummee Galivant!  It will be the best ride of the year in my humble opinion..........