Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Final Adieu to Winter???

This past weekend ended up being one of the nicest weekends for riding all winter. The recent freeze thaw cycle with cold temps up north created phenomenal riding conditions. If we had the typical 40(F) March weather 90% of the route I chose to ride would have been unrideable mush.


Both Saturday and Sunday were bluebird days in the Northland and I enjoyed every minute I could on the bike. I know I won't get back up here until after the thaw. The next time I ride these gravel roads and fire trails they will more than likely be wet and muddy.


There is still plenty of snow in the woods and it will likely remain there well into April if we do not get a prolonged warm-up. Without any thaw periods all winter long the snow just kept accumulating. Also, with prolonged cold the frost has worked its way deep into the ground in some areas. This means that once the frost does start coming out, the ground will be soft for awhile.



If you look at a road map of northern Minnesota you will see mile upon mile of gravel forest road. The roads form a network of routes that extends to the Canadian Border, Voyager's Natn't Park, the BWCA, all the way east to the North Shore of Lake Superior.

"Into The Next County"




This endless network of roads is connected by sections of paved highway and is a veritable untapped area for those liking gravel and having the willingness to get out and explore.


This is my escape from the stress of everyday life and living in the city. I'm never more relaxed than when I'm  here on a bike. Be it winter, spring, summer, or fall there are not many places better than this to ride.





Throw into the picture hundreds of minimum maintenance roads and trails and you have plenty of opportunities to explore and get lost..."Adventure by Bike" opportunities.


A week ago a young man at one the Twin Cities bike shops asked me where I was going to ride. He was somewhat taken aback when I declined to divulge my riding territory. I equate it to being like a fisherman not wanting to give away their honey hole. I've never run into another person on a bike on any of my rides up north and I hope that will continue well into the future. Unless of course I invite you to come along. So my answer to many, when asked the question, "Where did you ride?" is of course, "Just north of town."






Very soon it will be gravel season and I'll be riding these same roads and trails along with others along the North Shore of Lake Superior and within the Superior National Forest

 "Into The Wild"

Until Spring...
I may be posting from Arizona in a week :)


Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Walk In The Woods - Day 2


I spent another absolutely beautiful day snowshoeing at Elm Creek Park Reserve. It seems like when you think things can't get any better they do. In all honesty I think these were the two best days of winter thus far and neither one involved a fat bike. It felt good to get out and do something different for a couple of days.



 





 











Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Walk In The Woods

Thursday night "Mother Nature" hit us hard with heavy wet snow and 40 mph winds. It seems to be a theme that is repeating itself. With none of the fat bike trails groomed as of yet I took to the snow shoes on what was one of the most beautiful days of winter. Elm Creek Park Reserve is definitely a gem.








"I go among the trees and sit still. All my stirring becomes quiet around me like circles on water."
~Wendell Berry

 "A Message For Patti"


Saturday, February 1, 2014

January's Final Breath

The final Saturday of January brought with it picture perfect weather, but more snow, wind, and sub-zero temps were on their way in for Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.


Once again I rode the multipurpose trails at Elm Creek Reserve and they were in near perfect condition.


 

Some areas were still drifted, but riding was firm and it would be down hill as far as the conditions go from this point on.



Making tracks through a wintery landscape.


Saturday night brought more snow and Sunday the winds arrived. By the time I was done riding the wind gusts were near 40 mph and temps were plunging rapidly.


In a matter of one hour after the big winds hit parts of the trail were blown over. Tracks I had laid 45 minutes previous were literally gone.




By Sunday afternoon much of the single track, which is about two miles from this site, was buried under drifts several feet deep. It would take days to get the single track groomed only to be buried once again on Wednesday night by six more inches of wind driven snow.

 
 "Wind Driven Snow at the Trailhead"

Monday and Tuesday brought -20 (F) temperatures with -40 (F) wind chills and school closings, so it left me with days off and time spent working at home and venturing out to enjoy the weather.

 "Monday Morning"

 "-20(F) -40 (F) Wind Chill"

 "Bike Trails Vanished"

Tuesday brought with it more cold temps and I took out the snowshoes. It was awesome to get out and do something different. I'm looking forward to getting my running program going once again.





With January taking its final breath it will be interesting to see what February has in store for us.