Friday, October 02, 2015

The Duluth single track Goods...right now, fresh, tasty and in limited supply!

And we shredded while the rest of the world sat in the morning commute just below us

The fact of the matter is that Winter is coming and its coming in fast.  Now is the time to play, hard and ride a lot.  The trails are ripping fast and tacky.  The temps are absolutely perfect, the trees works of art in themselves and the sun is warm and friendly on your face.  This is fleeting, this is temporary and this is the gift we are given, right dang now.

This weekend will be the perfect Duluth MTB weekend.  If you have heard the hype or you have thought about getting North to find the goods, there will be no better weekend conditions wise to do it.  Spirit Mountains gravity party is on the hook for Saturday and plenty of group and personal rides going out all over the weekend as well..........Get some!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Fall 2015 and why I missed the GGG....

Cast and Blast 
I learned long ago that conditions dictate everything in being outside.  While most folks call our outdoor activities "Sports" I call them tools for living.  Meaning that when conditions dictate, I pull out another tool and go to work.

When it rains a lot, I move quickly away from the bike and the trails here in Duluth.  Not only is it destructive to our tread, its just plain not fun.  So its to canoes, kayaks and fishing or this time of year hunting.....or all them together!

So that was the call this year.  With nearly 4 inches of rain in three days it was obvious that the DT was going to be a muddy assed mess.  Andy K. and I have been hitting the Bigfork area every season for four seasons to hunt ducks and we had planned to both hunt and ride this year.

However with the horrible wet weather, we realized that it was time to make lemonade with the lemons the week had turned out to be.

First I had the pleasure of capturing some great images of the D-town Creeking crew hitting the Lester for a rare fall runoff event, that was a great way to start the weekend.....

We hunted close to home and camped out over night to boot.  By morning we were feasting on Duck and Crappie, all while sitting in our blind peering through the fog to see anything that might be flying.

It was pretty amazing, sitting with your gun on your back, fly rod in hand catching Smallies and shooting and Mallards....Cast and Blast ala Montana style.

After a super fun morning both Andy I packed it up and headed home.  Andy to go to Ryan Mallek's wedding and me to get in a quick fish with Dave Dawkins on the Louie.

Double D laying it down for the Smallies 

At the end of the day we headed for Bigfork and the Fairview Cabin.  Life was sweet up there.  We paddled a ton, hit a huge amount of wild rice and shot a fair amount of ducks.  The numbers though were way down in the rice, we had to work hard to find them but when we did it was super fun and we both had our fair share of shooting.

We also hauled the boat along and hit some fishing and after some work managed to find where the Crappies were schooling and added some panfish to our Duck dinner once again......

I returned home totally beat.  I think I am still recovering.  I am super thankful to have found a good hunting partner in Andy.  I have always been about the hard work of the hunt and its rare that you find other folks that are willing to put up with it.  On our last day alone we paddled close to 20 miles of jump shooting.  It was amazing to see and experience but we were worked at the end of it.

Thanks again Andy.  The numbers were not as large as previous years but we worked hard and delivered!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Sun-flares and Silhouettes: DT 2015

Hopefully these shots don't burn your eyes out.  I know I pretty much cooked mine taking them.  The DT continues to move along nicely and with that come some of the best damn sun rises and sunsets in the country.

Many thanks to Andy K.  Spencer Johnson and Justin Martin for getting up on Saturday morning after a night of drinking on the Friday Night Ride to be my models.  For sure the portfolio is now full of some Duluth sunrise awesomeness!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Salsa Ride Camp 2015: A new role in the Feast of Valhalla

This weekend was an interesting one for me.  For the first time I was invited to attend an event as a "photographer".  In the past I have attended cycling festivals as the "IMBA" guy, as a presenter of a trip or an adventure have taken but in this case I was invited to coordinate a photography seminar.  Certainly it was a minor situation, however it did strike me as the first time I have been described or defined that way.

The event was the Salsa Ride Camp.

That said I had a really fun crew of about 16 people.  I have never instructed a photography course and it showed for sure.  The range of abilities was from rank beginner to semi-pro photographers.  That in itself was challenging so in the end I had to really pull back and almost talk more about artistic process in the early start of the weekend and then move to setting up hands on shots and working with each photographer to help them grasp the concepts as we moved on.  I know for a fact the more advanced shooters learned something, I would not be surprised to hear the less advanced shooters learned less, but that is the challenge of setting up the course that way I guess.

The whole weekend was a pretty plush assignment I have to admit.  Salsa used the Birkie Ridge property between Cable and Seely with sweet access to the CAMBA Trails and all the gravel roads.  They had every bike in the line for demo, fed you three times a day and had awesome speakers and music at night.  Amazing.  We heard the incredible story of the Great Divide Race from Jay Petervary and also heard about the insane Alaska "Ring of Fire" Expedition that Bjorn Olson and Kim Mcnett did this summer.  On top of that was the truly inspiring music of Ben Weaver.

The shots that the Photo Class took over the weekend were run behind the music to create a fun finale for both he event and the class.  I am sure some folks in the audience were shaking their heads at a few repeats of me and of Pete Koski as we were both used as shot dummies for the course so there were 16 folks all shooting the same shot to "learn" it.  Regardless it worked amazing and I am really proud as to how my role played out.  However I will say I set a new PR in editing as I had to pile through a couple thousand images to select then edit them before the slide show that evening....

I personally learned a lot.  I was forced actually to NOT shoot a lot as I was constantly teaching others to do so.  I did shoot at the "Camp" a bit so most of the images here reflect the down time, versus the riding itself, which thanks to CAMBA was amazing.

It was also really inspiring for me.  It is always good for your mind, your heart and your soul when you meet other like minded and inspired people and hear about their trials and tribulations.  To hear them presented is one thing but to sit around a fire late at night is the other and I was really, really stoked to get to know, even a little bit Bjorn, Kim and JP.  As well as hang with the Salsa Crew who are hard workers, deep thinkers and celebrators of life for sure.

In the end really that whats its all, living it as much as possible and the Salsa Ride Camp was that, it was like the feasts of Valhalla...

Of course I have to thank Mike Reimer and Salsa for having me at the event.  I have had a lot of really great partners in the cycling industry for a variety of things.  Salsa however has been the biggest partner in my photography.  They have pulled me in for a variety of campaigns and have been extremely encouraging in helping me forward, so I have to not only thank them for the event and the chance to learn from the people in the class but also to challenge myself to better understand my own process, but also to keep on shooting in general.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

A simple, silent visit to Copper Harbor, Summer 2015

Casey K doing what he does best, shredding the Keweenaw Point Trail 

Tae throwing out the big money 

Old Number 8

Friday, September 4th was a crazy day for me.

For the first time in 10 years I was driving away from Copper Harbor for a Trails Fest Weekend versus towards it.

I was getting crazy arm waves and texts asking me what was up?

I guess I just have to sum it up this way.  11 years ago when Margaret and I started heading to CH every season, we really felt a connection to the quiet and the solitude of the place.  We also felt that same serenity and calmness to the people who reside there.

At that point we were not coming only for Trails Fest and I did not work for IMBA.  However the IMBA job and the work I was doing in CH with the Trails Club made it a mandatory event for me on an annual basis, on top of the already numerous trips I was taking.  One summer I spent 21 days in the Harbor as the club was moving towards it Ride Center Status.

Once I quit IMBA I realized that I did not need to be in CH during the Trails Fest and that possibly, we could still visit that awesome place, and have it all to ourselves again.  So this year we decided to give it a try.  We are planning on coming back to Trails Fest again next year but this season we rolled the dice for family time and quite honestly, we won for sure.  It felt like some of my initial times in the place and those, to say the least were very special times.
Early to rise, early to see the Ferry getting ready to leave!

Splake search zone

The crowded beaches of the Keweenaw 
We spent a HUGE amount of time, swimming, boating, riding, fishing, hiking and hanging out with great friends who in the past we have had only fleeting time with.

The cruel irony of all the hard work I put in at IMBA and with all my clubs and the Ride Centers in the region is that they all need trails built and my buddy Aaron Rogers is now building them all!  So we did not get to see Aaron as his family as he is out creating the trails we all planned for and dreamed for...many of them here in Duluth!  So that was a bummer, I always look forward to fishing and hanging with Aaron in the harbor.

That said, I was able to hang out with John and Donica and do some fishing with him as well.  The two of our families had some great dinners together and the kids loved hanging out, it was fun to see both "only childs" get out of their shells and ham it up.

We also were able to get to know a bunch of other locals who we had only met briefly in the past.  I was also able to really sit down and talk with Dan K. on his "Claiming Iggy" film which I think is such a cool story.

There were also some Duluth families on the scene with kids of similar age to Tae.  It was super fun to hang with the Salmela family and the Heydts as well.  Life is so busy at home these days, that it was great to see them in a place where we could just chill and hang with the kids.

Blood moon over the Harbor

John and the sunset fishing session

Bday Ride on the KPT

The spirits, flying above Fort Wilkens 
The new Keweenaw point Trail is amazing.  Seriously it has to be the most scenic and pretty trail in the central US right now and I don't see that changing as it continues to grow.  The Keweenaw Point trail is a much needed trail in the CH system right now.

It gives the die hard XC fan a place to ride without fear of being bombed or run over while climbing on the central system where everybody is shuttling.  Its also consumable by the masses.  Tae at seven was loving it, Marg as a cautious intermediate was loving it as well.

Personally I was captivated by it visually and I put some camera time into it.  I also dedicated my annual Bday ride to it.  I started there and rode the basic outline of where it will go in the future.

I quite literally rode all day and then came home to an awesome bday party at the Belle Vista, which then rolled over the Ziks for the closer.

Tae throwing down on the KPT
Splake, its not just for dinner anymore
We also hauled our small fishing boat up to the Harbor this year and docked it.  Every evening and every morning I grabbed either a coffee or a Gin and Tonic and headed down to the boat and went searching for Splake. Those who know me, understand that I have a constant inner battle over fishing or riding and the reason I love CH so much is I can scratch both those itches.  This season though the fishing was really slow.  The hot weather and warm water temps were most likely to blame.   Regardless I went endlessly searching for the mythical Splake.  I had a myriad of folks hope in the boat with me and we struck out every time.

That is until the LAST morning, where I ended up catching a few fish, only one of which was over the 15 inch minimum.  Needless to say that fish went to breakfast with me.....

A special thanks to John Manders who helped me install my first depth finder and also gifted me his un-used trolling motor.  It was like getting eyes and camouflage all at the same time!

The Marg shredding on the KPT

A satisfied set of legs 

Perhaps the longest bridge in the Midwest??

I love the lush greens of the Keweenaw

Casey K and his Keweenaw Airplane turn 


The shire 
One of my favorite nights of the week was with Casey K.  He is in CH working on a sweet Salmela Home.  Casey is core, he busts his back all day working construction but still gets on the bike at the end of the day to shred.  I really wanted to shoot a good rider on the Keweenaw Point Trail and Casey was cool enough to take an evening to do it.  It was a fun night, we took the time to really look at some shots, set em up and I think for the small amount of time invested, we got some great images.  I donated all of them to Sam at the Keweenaw Adventure CO and the Trails Club, so hopefully they can use them.

Overall I have to say that I fell in love with Copper Harbor again.  I felt that familiar release, that sigh that I get when its really silent, when nobody is chattering at me, when I can dig deep into my creative and physical side.  I was also able to completely dedicate myself to Margaret and Tae and do it in a place that I know blows Tae mind and hopefully keeps him interested in being outside and enjoying a sense of place that only Copper Harbor can supply.

We are already looking forward to next year and mourning this years end.  Heres to you CH and to all that make it what it is........