Sunday, May 29, 2011

Swallows of the Cloquet River

I shot this while on a snack break during my ride today. It looks as though the swallows are on a snack break too.
It was a beautiful, but buggy day, so I was glad to see them helping to cut down the local mosquito population.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

One Thing Leads to Another

So I'm riding along, minding my own business, when I am forced to screech to a stop in order to get a picture of this happy family.

Follow the Geese
I backed up a little bit to see where they were going when I saw a bald eagle perched in a distant tree.

I would never had seen him if it weren't for the geese.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Weekend at Temperance

Just in time to set the tone for the Memorial Day weekend, I'm finally getting around to posting about our car camping trip at Temperance River state park last weekend.
We were debating even going as the forecast was calling for rain pretty much the whole weekend, but Temperance is a very hard park to get into, and we had a reservation, so we decided to just brave the elements and go for it.

Temperance Walk In
We got to our cart in site around 11:00 and, being the smart people that we are, decided to get the tent up right away before the rain started. It was an excellent site right on the lake, although a little greenery between the sites would have made it better.

Campsite View
The view was gorgeous, and we got to spend our night hearing the waves crash against the shore.

2011-05-21 Temperance
We were able to wander around by the lake for a little before the rain started.
Since we didn't think that the rain would be letting up any time soon, we decided to take a drive up to Grand Marais and check out the local bike shop. While we were there, we picked up a new collar for Loki, and I was able to obtain what I believe to be the only tin of proofide to be found in any bike shop north of Minneapolis.

Temperance River

2011-05-21 Temperance River
Although the rain never stopped completely, it did lighten up enough to allow us to take a short hike up the river. Thanks to the rain, we had the trails all to ourselves.

The wind had been blowing off the lake pretty good all day.

By the time we turned in, the wind was starting to calm and the rain had stopped.
We awoke early Sunday morning, and after a quick breakfast of eggs and sausage, packed up and headed for home. We had beaten the rain once again.

Despite the rain.....and wind......and cold, we had a really good time. We plan on stopping back again this summer, most likely for a day hike, although this would be an ideal base camp for riding the many miles of forest roads nearby. We can't wait.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Monday, May 16, 2011

Metric Century

On Sunday, as part of my "training" as I work towards my goals of a multi day camping trip and hopefully participating in this years Heck of the North, I went on my longest ride of the year so far. I left my house at 7a.m. and headed downhill toward Lake Superior. The temp was in the low 40's with a 20 mph wind off the lake.

This was my first view of the lake. I never tire of seeing it, or so I thought.

Seven Bridges Road
Going down Seven Bridges road was one of the highlights of my ride. It's freshly paved, has many nice river crossings, and no pedaling is required.

Decisions, Decisions............I think I'll take a right.

2011-05-15 Lake Superior
I didn't stop to take many pictures of the lake. The wind was so strong, It was hard to get going again. I was only able to average 11 mph on relatively flat ground.

I was curious as to why traffic was so light. This must be why. I passed a road closed sign a couple miles back, but I figured I had a pretty good chance of getting through.

I stopped at the Mocha Moose for a cinnamon roll and a monkey mocha. I highly recommend both. This is what made battling the headwinds worthwhile.

A couple miles after refueling, I was finally able to use the wind to my advantage. It helped me quite a bit in getting back up the hill away from the lake.
I love seeing the lake, but this scenery is nice too.

A Horses Life
It's been a good year for seeing horses. Or at least I'm just stopping to take more pictures than I have in the past.

Immature Eagle
This immature bald eagle seems to be enjoying the windy day.

2011-05-15 at 11-32-31
I'm getting close to home. This is another of my favorite regular stops.

The final tally. Since I was doing a metric century, I switched my GPSr over to metric units. I was hoping to be back home in under 6 hours, but the wind had other ideas.

Friday, May 13, 2011

At the Beaver Pond

After three days with no riding, I thought I'd better get out Thursday night before I forgot how. I rode around aimlessly for a half hour before deciding to stop at the beaver pond I visited on my Earth Day ride and get a shot of the trucker I didn't get to take then.

2011-05-12 at 17-44-40
You can't have too many bike pictures in front of beautiful scenery, right?

Lately I've been thinking about getting a frame bag to take advantage of the huge amount of empty space inside my frame. It would also give me easy access to my camera and even more importantly, the copious amount of snacks needed just to power my 270 pounds of man and machine across the countryside.

Big Blue Frame
Of course if I did that I wouldn't be able to get shots like this.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


This past weekend Trish and I went on our first bike camping trip together. We had a site reserved for Saturday night at Jay Cooke State Park, which is about a thirty mile ride from our house. Thirty miles seems to be about the perfect distance for an overnight trip. I guess the only real drawback with going a shorter distance is finding a way to kill time before leaving. I think we actually got more tired from futzing around while we waited to leave than we did from the ride.

Packing for the trip wasn't that difficult. We pretty much just packed the same things we would take on a backpacking trip. We are by no means ultra light campers. Including the weight of the panniers, I ended up with just under 40 pounds of gear, distributed evenly front and rear. Trish carried about 25 pounds on the rear. We would love to be able to get the weight down a bit, but we do want to be comfortable. Replacing our 8 pound, 4 person tent would probably be  a good start. I'm sure we'll get more ideas on how to save weight as we do this more.

On the Road
We left a few minutes before noon Saturday. The temperature when we left was in the low 50s, and we had about a 10mph tail wind to help us along. It didn't take very long to get used to riding with the extra weight, although I did have a little bit of heel strike on the rear panniers.

American Bittern
Our first bit of excitement on the trip was getting to see this American Bittern just off the side of the road. We've seen and heard one before from a distance, but have never seen one up close. They blend in very well with their environment, and will stick their neck up and sway back and forth just like the reeds they spend much of their time in. 

About to Butt Heads
We passed a couple of houses with some very cool art in their yards. These two guys along with three others nearby were in a field along the road.

Thompson Reservoir
Once we got to Thomson, we stopped at house having an outdoor gear sale. The owner let us ride up an access road that went across his property to the east side of the reservoir. If only we had our kayaks with us.

Red Squirrel
One of the locals.

We arrived at our campsite around four. It turns out we didn't have to reserve a site as the campground was mostly deserted. Better safe than sorry.

Swinging Bridge

St Louis RiverAfter setting up camp, we went down to the park office to get some firewood. But before picking it up, we had to stop and take the requisite swinging bridge and raging river photos.

This is where I planned on putting the picture of me carrying the bundle of firewood on my bike had we done that. We had done enough riding already and just decided to walk and carry it.

One of two fires that evening. It started to rain around dinner time, so we took refuge in the tent until it passed.
We turned in about nine and slept relatively well. The temp got down to about 40 degrees, which is what my sleeping bag is rated to. Trish was warm in her bag, but despite my being head to toe in wool and wearing a jacket, I was a bit chilled. You'd think living in northern Minnesota I would have a warmer sleeping bag. I was going for light weight when I bought it. I may have to rethink that.
We woke up before 6:00 and after having a quick breakfast and coffee, packed up and headed for home. 

The Way Home
This is the trail that connects the Munger Trail to the campground. It's about a mile long and is pretty much all uphill on the way out. It was the only section of trail we rode on the whole trip.

Other than a little shortcut we found, we rode the same route home as we took to the park. The scenery was still just as good.

Friday, May 6, 2011


I took this with my phone, so it's not the best picture, but I just needed to document Trish's LHT while it's clean, as it only happens a couple times a year. I started out just cleaning the chain, but then one thing led to another and here we are. The entire bike is sparkling and well lubed…… least till tomorrow.
One down, two to go.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Riding on Air

Most of my life I've had trouble controlling my weight. I think part of the reason I started biking in 2009 was to help me slim down. I was pretty successful early on.
When I started, I weighed about 290 and quickly lost around 25 pounds during the first few months. After the initial loss, I hit a plateau and my weight fluctuated between 260 and 270 over the next year and a half. I had no clue what I could do to start losing weight again.
Then last December I came across this post, where Jim Thill of Hiawatha Cyclery explained what he had done to lose weight. Rather than just rehash what he said, just go ahead and read his post. This type of diet is actually very easy to follow, although I do tend to overindulge on almonds, and I must eat almost a pound of dark chocolate each week.
My blood pressure is down to normal for the first time ever, and I rarely feel tired or shaky. I lost 26 pounds in the first two months, 39 pounds total, which is just a few pounds more than what my Long Haul Trucker weighs. So it really is just like I'm riding on air.
Another good way I look at it is that when I go bike camping, I'll weigh less fully loaded than when I rode with nothing on the bike last year. This theory will be put to the test this weekend when we ride the Truckers to Jay Cooke State Park for an overnight stay. I probably just jinxed the weather by mentioning the trip here, but I'm sure I did that just by making the reservations.