There was a time when I would hop in the car and drive as fast as possible to the nearest snow, ski my brains out (nordic, tele, depending on where I lived and what my jones was) hop back in the car and go home. The formula was that I had to ski in hours more than my round trip drive. Well, that time has changed and for many reasons.
Now I find myself less defining myself by my activities and more by my attitude. I NEED to get outside everyday. What that "tool" is to get me outside does not define me, but allows me to get my fix. One day it might be skis, it might be a bike, ice skates, Kites, climbing boots, paddles, fly rods, guns you name it. The key is being able to learn to do all these things and then understand when conditions are perfect for each of them. I am done picking one sport and rising and falling with its current conditions, I applaud all the dedicated ski folks out there no doubt. My father and his crew are actually pioneering their own snow making in Winona, MN to satisfy the needs for that areas skiers and that is pretty amazing, but I have to say while I was down there I had some of the best bike rides of my life while the guns were blowing and the folks were waiting ptex in hand.
It does occur to me that right now in my area, it is the perfect Snowbike time. Any more snow (yes we have a little bit) and I would have to rely on some sort of packing to ride a trail etc. Any less snow and I would not be able to hit the ice. The ice is nice and thick and the rivers are freezing to the point where I can ascend/descend right down the falls and rapids, now frozen solid into perfect ramps. I am riding areas I have only dreamed of hitting on anything, let alone a bike, and that has my attention, my rapt attention as this could change tomorrow and my tool could then change, and it might not be as free or as fun as the tool I am working with right now.
The ice is the key. It is like new roads where I have never had one. Certainly being safe, checking ice depths and knowing the water I am riding over is key and I recommend using this simple guide if you go. Once you know what is safe and where you can ride, it is insane the amount of terrain it opens up to your imagination and fat tires. However, watch that weather report, who knows it might actually snow and screw it all up.....
A great visit with family and friends this week. Lots of cookies and other things to totally ruin any fitness I thought I might have had! Of course the bike or the skis are always along to mitigate that damage and this year it seems it will be the year of the bike for me. I strode out to Wirth today on my Pug and had a really fun time. I was doubly lucky on my ride as I ended up meeting and riding with Mike Riemer of Salsa and that was a real treat as I had many questions on how to tweak this beast for maximum fun time and he certainly had the tips that is for sure.
Incredibly, riding home with a smile on my face, I heard my phone buzz in my backpack and of course ignored it. However once I stopped for a drink I pulled it out and saw this. COGGS has secured a very substantial grant from the State of Minnesota for a trail system of regional significance. Damn, no doubt, the Duluth Traverse will truly be something to behold. It is great to see that off road cycling has become a movement about creating better communities, we have stepped out from singly pushing the "trail" and are now pushing "Trails" plural and how they can create positive lifestyles and change lives. Good work COGGS, it is great to see that it is happening in my community and we all need to get on board to help with the heavy lifting to make this a reality.
Sunday was a great day. I was able to get up before the sun, ride and shoot my camera. My friends Matt Evingson and Ryan Marshik joined me for a session just above the Fond Du Lac dam. It was a great morning, challenging photographically for me, however Ryan stuck it and grabbed these really solid shots. Thanks guys for taking the time to head out! May there be many more outings to follow!
I spent a week of vacation time hanging at the Briggs family farm in Winona, MN. The next bunch of posts will be about that week. They may not be for the faint of heart as this is deer hunting, a dance of life and death and ultimately nourishment for me and my family. I take pride in the fact that we know where our food comes from and that my hand had a role in harvesting that food. So although to some it may seem harsh, in reality I feel extremely holistic about this process and do not take it lightly, so hopefully you enjoy the shots.