Part Two of Two: Letting go of a bike I’ve had for 28 years.

Part One of this series told the story of how a 1987 Specialized Rockhopper Comp came into my life, and then, somehow became an integral part of my life.

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The drop bar Rockhopper in the Spring of 2006 not yet cleaned up after it’s last winter commute.

In the Spring of 2006 the Rockhopper had been retired from commuting duties. I now had a Surly Cross Check doing my main commute duties. I would do most of my commuting from 2006-2014 on one of two different Cross Checks. The first Cross Check I kept until 2010. It was set up as a fixed gear in the summer and with a internally geared hub in the winter.

All of a sudden I didn’t have a purpose for the Rockhopper. It didn’t get ridden much after the Spring of 2006. I never considered getting rid of it. I had become very fond of it. But, I just didn’t ride it very often.

During the summer of 2006 we joined a local CSA. That meant we had to pick up a big bin of farm fresh vegetables once a week. I had tried to do it on a bike. It didn’t work very well even with several panniers. When you get heads of broccoli and cauliflower combined with big bags of greens and large summer squash, it was all too awkward to fit nicely in panniers. Susan had to pick it up with the car. But she never knew when her workday would end from one day to the next. There was a time window we had to make the pick up. It was a bit stressful for her to do. Yet I knew exactly when my work day would end, and I rode right past the pick up location. It made sense for me to make the farm pickup. Sometime in the summer of 2006 is when I first started reading about Xtracycle. A way to convert an existing bike to a long tail cargo bike. I began to realize the Rockhopper would be the ideal donor bike. An Xtracycle would be my answer to our farm share pick up dilemma.

During the late winter of 2007 I decided to make it happen. As long as I was doing the conversion I decided to make the Rockhopper all new again.

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April 2007. Getting the Rockhopper ready to be sent off to be dipped and powder coated.

It really needed to be freshened up. I packaged it up and sent it off to a industrial powder coater in Plymouth, Minnesota.

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In May of 2007 Jim Thill at Hiawatha Cyclery in Minneapolis ordered a Free Radical conversion kit for me. This was the unpacking when I got it home to Duluth.

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Some of the new parts acquired to go on the new build.

About a month after I sent off the frame, the finished product was shipped back around Memorial Day 2007. It had been dipped and chemically stripped, followed by a powder coat finish. It was looking really good! Nothing like the frame I had sent off.

In early June of 2007 I started building the bike when I had time. It would take me several weeks. I had multiple other home and work projects going on all at the same time.

This bike was long. I was building it in my basement and wasn’t sure if I would be able to get it out of the house because of it’s length. I was able to get it in and out of the house, it just took some precise maneuvering.

It’s now July 3rd and I’m just getting around to the final assembly.

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July 5, 2007 and I think it’s all done and ready to see if I can get it out of the basement.

July 5, 2007 the Xtracycle sees daylight for the first time. It felt like I was opening the barn door and bringing out Chitty Bang Bang for the first time. It just happened to be pick up day for our farm share. The first errand and the first ride is our weekly farm share pick up. It performed the task flawlessly

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Day Two. I went for a ride and took some photos of the finished bike. It gleamed in the summer sunshine.

Over the next seven years it became my new truck. The last vehicle I had owned was a blue Toyota truck. I told people this bike replaced that truck. Since it was also blue, I told people this was my new blue truck. I began calling it the Blue Truck/Xtracycle. I hauled everything imaginable with it. I hauled our farm shares, grocery runs, home center errands. You name it I hauled it.

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Hauling raspberry bushes.

When a co-worker offered to give me some raspberry bushes for our yard, I hauled them across town with the Blue Truck/Xtracycle.

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Trying out the wide loaders.

Lumber? Heck yeah!!

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Drop a computer off for repair. Of course.
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Haul another bike. Yep.

In July of 2011, I loaded up my backpacking gear, rode to a Wisconsin State Park, and backpacked into one of the backpack sites for a night. Hiked out the next morning and rode home. The Sate Park employees were very confused when I rode up on a bike and asked to register for a backpacking site. They tried to explain to me you can’t ride a bike to the backpacking sites. I told them I had a backpack. They eventually got it and let me park my the Xtracycle by the maintenance shed.

By now you are probably thinking, why did I sell this bike? After 28 years it became a part of my life, why sell it now?

The answer to that question I mostly answered in a blog post yesterday about my new bike purchase. The way I use bikes has changed since 2015.  Because of job changes and aging I stopped commuting by bike in 2015. After 15 years without a car, I bought a car in 2017 because my new job required it.  I don’t use bikes for transportation anymore. Any errands I used to do on the Xtracycle I can now do on my way home from work with the car. The Xtracycle just wan’t being used anymore. I think I used it three or four times each summer the past two years. It has become the bike I use the least.

Another reason is we have a small home with no garage. The Xtracycle took up most of the floor room in a small backyard shed. I have agreed to a home rule that says the max number of bikes I can own is five with a one-in, one-out rule. That means if I bring a new bike home, one bike has to go. It’s a good rule. Five bikes is too many to maintain anyway. Last summer I came to the realization the least used bike was the Xtracycle and I was contemplating my next bike purchase. In August I cleaned up the Xtracycle and started advertising it. I knew it might take awhile. I advertised it through the Fall and then stopped. Last weekend I posted it again at a much lower asking price and got two bites right away.

This past Thursday Andrew drove the 2.5 hours up from Minneapolis after work and took it home. There was a big “small world” moment when we started talking. I had written in the ad that the bike had hand built wheels. I told him Jim Thill, who used to own Hiawatha Cyclery in Minneapolis, built all my wheels for me when he had that shop. I had also purchased the Xtracycle Free Radical kit and many of the parts on the bike from his shop.Turns out Andrew knew Jim. They had gone to grad school together and Andrew lived near the shop and had been a customer at the shop also.

Andrew and his wife and kids are a one car household. Andrew plans to use the Xtracycle to transport his kids to their neighborhood school. I think it’s gone to a perfect home.

Part One of Two: Letting go of a bike I’ve had for 28 years.

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2007, the year the Specialized Rockhopper Comp was reborn as the Blue Truck/Xtracycle.

This past Thursday the Blue Truck/Xtracycle was handed off to a new owner. This was nearly 28 years from when this 1987 Specialized Rockhopper Comp was passed to me. Here are the last three pictures I took of it as it sat outside my home waiting for it’s new owner to arrive:

It’s my second oldest bike I own. I still have my racing bike I bought new in 1977. But, the Rockhopper has the most miles ridden by me, by far, than any other bike I own or owned in the past. It is the bike I have ridden each year for 28 years. My old racing bike hasn’t been ridden in two and  a half decades. The Rockhopper was my only working bike I owned and rode from 1991-2002, or 11 years.

The bike was purchased new by my older brother in 1987 or 1988. He was living in Homewood, Illinois.  A south suburb of Chicago. He mountain bike raced on it for a couple of years. I believe he finished second in Illinois State Mountain Bike Championships one of those years. In 1990 he bought a bike shop in Crown Point Indiana. He had tried to sell it as a used bike in his shop. When it didn’t sell he brought it to Minnesota where I was living when he came for a weekend visit. When he left he asked me if I wanted to keep it. No charge. I said sure. I wasn’t a mountain biker and I hadn’t ridden a bike since I graduated college in 1985.  1985 to 1991 was the only period in my life I hadn’t ridden regularly since I started riding bikes at age four. I didn’t think I’d use a mountain bike. Little did I know that this bike would be my introduction back into the world of cycling.

I don’t have any pictures of this bike prior to 2006. And only a couple prior to it becoming the Xtracycle donor bike in 2007.

Back to 1991. At first the bike sat in a corner of the hallway of my small one bedroom apartment in North St Paul, Minnesota, an older suburb of St Paul. I didn’t know what to use it for at first. All I had ever ridden were road bikes. It felt very foreign to me. At some point I realized there was a paved recreational path on an old rail line across the highway from where I lived. It originated from just north of the State Capital building in St Paul and ran northeast out past my apartment and ended a few miles further northeast near the junction of 694 and Route 36. It was called the Gateway Trail. In 1991 it was only paved as far as 694. From there is was dirt, tree covered and used by local horse owners and dog walkers. I started to ride out to the unpaved section and riding that. Within a few miles of my apartment I could completely escape the city. It became countryside very quickly.

Fast forward to 1992. A personal vehicle crisis forced me to make my first true urban commute by bicycle (if you don’t count all the commuting by bicycle I did in high school and college). The car I was driving was a 1982 Toyota Corolla. It happened to blow a head gasket on a Friday and wouldn’t be usable for a week or more. I worked weekends as a Security Guard at a building on Hennipen Avenue in downtown Minneapolis. I needed to be there at 7 am Saturday morning. I opened the building on weekends. I had to be there. I had only moved to Minnesota in late 1990 and I didn’t have a network of friends I could call on to give me a ride. The weekend buses didn’t run early enough to get me from St Paul to Minneapolis. I was in a bind. I decided my only option was to ride the bike. I had no idea how long it would take me to get the 17 miles to Minneapolis or if I could ride the 17 miles back at the the end of the day. I packed a duffel bag which I threw over one shoulder and did the ride. I had a cheap battery operated headlight that didn’t really light up the road. But I did have one of the first LED rear blinkers made. That worked great. Somehow I made it there and back and then repeated it on Sunday. I wasn’t in shape. I’m not sure how I rode 68 miles in two days. Youth I guess.

I instantly fell in love with bike commuting. And in the process rediscovered my love for bicycling. Before the next weekend I had bought a cheap rear rack and some Schwinn branded saddle bag panniers to carry my stuff. I kept that weekend job until 1997. I rode most weekends during the three nicer seasons. However, I wasn’t yet a winter commuter. People may know the Twin Cities as a leader in bike commuting. This wasn’t so back in the early nineties. I rarely saw other bike commuters back then. Bike commuting in the Twin Cities is a relatively new thing.

In May of 1993 my weekday job was a working as a temp. I had a workman’s comp injury at one of the companies I was working for. I was told I could no longer do the manual  labor work I had been doing. I essentially sat home for the next 6 months, Monday through Friday. I kept working the weekend job during that time. But I didn’t exactly sit at home. A physical therapist gave me the green light to ride a bike. With nothing to do I started heading out each morning on the Rockhopper. I would spend most of the day riding around the country roads of Washington County, and Stillwater, Minnesota. I’d return home in the evening. I averaged 50 miles a day over that six months. Workman’s comp was only paying me $142 a week. I didn’t have any money to spend on anything. So I rode my bike all day. It sucked having no money, but I have very fond memories of that summer on my bike. The funny thing is the bike still had the original knobby mountain bike tires on it. I averaged 50 miles a day, on pavement, with knobby tires. Can’t even imagine doing that now.

When I returned to work in the Fall of 1993 I started my new career in human services, working for a day program as a job coach. The agency I worked for was only a half mile from my apartment. I could walk to work. Ironically after all that summer riding a new physical therapist I was seeing told me riding a bike was probably one of the worst things I could have been doing for my injury. She told me to stop riding immediately. I followed her directions for the winter. I didn’t ride in the winter time anyway. By Spring my injury was better and started doing occasional recreational rides. However, my main form of exercise to get me out of the apartment became roller blading for the next two summers. The Gateway Trail had since been paved far out into Washington County. I did daily skates on the trail.

Fast forward to 1998, I had been dating Susan for a year. We decided to merge our two households, and our pets, into one household. We found a nice private apartment in the St Paul Grand Avenue neighborhood just off of St Clair and Lexington Ave. It had originally been a servants quarters off the side of a large home. I once again had a decent commute. I didn’t care for the highway driving. I spent 5 years after college commuting on Chicago expressways. I didn’t like returning to that. I still worked out in North St Paul. I started using the bus system and in nicer weather bike commuting. I discovered if I used the Gateway Trail, more than half my commute was on a tree lined rail trail. The other half took me across the State Capital grounds, up Cathedral Hill and through the historic mansions of Summit Avenue. Again, I fell in love with my bicycle commute.I spent weekends exploring the many off street trails of St Paul and Minneapolis. It was amazing how far you could go around the cities and only had to minimally use streets. There was bike trails along both sides of the Mississippi River. Minnehaha Creek Trails could connect you from the Mississippi River to the Minneapolis lakes and all the trail systems around those. From Minnehaha Park you could connect to Fort Snelling State Park by trails. I never realized urban riding could be so enjoyable.

In early 2001 Susan and I quit our jobs, got out of our lease, put all our belongings in storage, including the Rockhopper, and spent 6 months thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. Fourteen states and 2168.1 miles later, we returned to Minnesota. But rather than return to the cities we went north and landed in Duluth. We both managed to get jobs. Mine was a 4 mile commute. After spending 6 months walking over 2,000 miles, I continued to walk. A four mile walk to work was nothing. I found myself walking and sometimes taking the Rockhopper to work. I didn’t miss driving while I was on the trail. I preferred being out in the fresh air everyday, even after I returned to the real world. My truck sat idle most of the time. I really liked my truck. I just didn’t use it very often.

In July of 2002 I came to the realization I was spending money on regular maintenance, insurance, and registration on a vehicle I rarely used. It was a very hard decision, my truck was (and still is) my favorite vehicle I’ve ever owned. But I made the decision to sell it and see if we could live with one vehicle for the next year. That one year ended up turning into 15 years. Susan worked for a local Hospice. She did home visits covering a 50 mile radius from Duluth. The one car we had left would be for her use. I would need to get around in other ways.

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My 1994 Toyota Hilux Truck. I loved that truck. This picture is from the day I sold it in 2002. Take note of the color. It provides a hint to why I named the Xtracycle what I did.

Toyota trucks are always in great demand. It sold very quickly, just days after I put a For Sale sign on it. I didn’t even have a chance to list it or advertise it before it sold. It sold with just a For Sale sign in the window. This was a bit of a problem. I had a part time job one day every weekend that I had to get to. Why is that a problem? It’s because the job was in Two Harbors, Minnesota. Exactly 33 miles one way from my house. It was like the security job all over again. Sure, Susan said I could take the car, but that would leave her without her one mode of transportation one day every weekend. I was determined to get around without a car. That was part of my experiment. I decided to pack up the bicycle and ride. I was in good shape for walking and for riding short distances. But I had no idea if I had the endurance built up to ride a 66 mile round trip bike commute, and work an 8 hour shift in the middle. I struggled through that first long distance commute. I soon made it a routine. I ended up doing that commute every summer, one day every weekend from May to October, for the next three years.

After the first couple of long commutes I decided I needed a drop bar bike to do this ride. The route took me up the windy shore of Lake Superior. Depending on the weather I could have a strong headwind for an entire 33 mile distance going to or from work. Some days it seemed like I had a headwind going both directions.  I hadn’t bought a new bike since 1979. I didn’t know what to buy. I rode the Rockhopper into a small neighborhood shop in Duluth a block from where I worked. It was called Boreal Bike Works. I told Bryn, the owner, I was looking for a good drop bar commuting bike. Maybe something used. He looked at the Rockhopper and said I wouldn’t be able to find anything better than that. He said he could convert it to drop bars for me, put some road tires on it and it’d work great. I took him up on it. And it did work great.

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My drop bar mountain bike commuter in 2006.

In the winter of 2003-2004, I was determined to ride through my first winter. I bought a pair of 26 inch studded tires from Bike Nashbar (they were Kenda tires branded Bike Nashbar) and my first winter commuting bike was born.

In the fall of 2005 I bought my first new bike for commuting. I bought a Surly Cross Check. I asked Bryn to set it up for me as a fixed gear. I didn’t like all the maintenance and cleaning required to keep the Rockhopper running during the winter. I wanted to retire it from winter riding. I thought a fixed gear drive train was the answer. And it would have been if I didn’t need to get up the Duluth hills. It was fine in the summer. But when the road was snow or ice covered I couldn’t get up the hills with the fixed gear. The Rockhopper was called back into winter duty for one more winter. The picture above is one of it’s last winter commutes. My solution for the next winter was to put a Nexus 8 speed Internally Geared Hub on the Cross Check. That solved my winter issues and the Rockhopper never had to see winter again.

After the winter of 2005-2006 the Rockhopper didn’t get much use. That is until the summer of 2007.

Part Two will be about the birth of the Blue Truck/Xtracycle.

My new Jones, and why I bought it.

I had a “new bike day” the week of Thanksgiving last November. I haven’t talked about it much because I knew I wouldn’t be riding it until Spring time. I have my winter bikes. They are the only bikes I use for winter riding. This one was never intended to be used for winter riding. The only reason I bought it in November is because I didn’t know if this particular bike would be offered or still in stock come Spring time. It’s a Jones Plus SWB Complete. Jeff Jones dances to his own tune. He builds and designs bikes of his own design without a need to follow what other builders or bike companies do. He is known for his Space Frame designs with truss forks and handlebars unlike anything anyone else makes.

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Jones Space Frame

I first ran across Jones Bikes in 2007 when I was searching for an alternative to a flat bar handlebar to use on my Surly Pugsley I had bought in 2006. I was training to do my second Arrowhead Ultra 135. I have a history of tendonitis in my elbows and the flat bar positioning caused massive flare-ups. I found Jeff’s H-bar handlebar to be the solution. I’ve had his H-bar handlebars on two of my bikes since 2007. I use them on my Pugsley and my Xtracyle.  Up until last summer you had to order a custom build if you wanted a Jones. He worked with titanium and steel, and did small runs of production frames in both titanium and steel. They were expensive. Last summer he released a production bike that was affordable at $1799. Although there is no way to get it for that price because you can only buy it directly from him. Shipping cost around $160. The real price of the complete bike is closer to $2,000 when you factor in shipping.

My riding habits have drastically changed over the past four years. Up until 2015, when I left a job I had been at for 14 years, I used bikes for transportation everyday. I didn’t own a car for 15 years. If I wasn’t riding for transportation I was doing long leisurely rides on pavement. Then I changed jobs, started to feel my age, developed a fear of the modern motorist and their inability to focus on driving, and stopped riding on pavement as much. Then in 2017 I bought a car. A requirement for a new job I had started. All my rides turned into leisure rides. I did very few rides for transportation. I started to ride the Pugsley for rides in the summer. It was my only “off-road” bike. There was an explosion of mountain trails in Duluth with multiple trailheads built only a mile from my house. I also had access to unofficial trails, old ATV trails and gravel roads near to my house. My road bikes got used less. For the first time since owning the Pugsley it became my go to bike all year round. Then last year I realized, “Hey, I have a car.” I can drive my Puglsey to one of the nearby National Forests, pack it up and do some bikepacking. I loved that. It wasn’t an ideal bike, but I love my Pugsley. It is sooooo familiar to me after years of extreme adventures.

This Fall I was contemplating replacing the 12 year old Pug with a modern fatbike. The Pugsley doesn’t go around corners on the local singletrack very well. I wanted a bike I could take bikepacking, ride singletrack, ride gravel, and just do it all. I wasn’t interested in a full on squishy mountain bike. I don’t like to ride singletrack everyday. I like to mix it up. I came very close to buying a Surly Ice Cream Truck. I really like the redesign they did last year. I was planning to buy a second wheelset so I could ride fat in the winter and plus size tires in the summer. That way I’d use it for summer bikepacking and gravel and singletrack. All the stuff I ride these days.

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The Jones Plus SWB Complete in the work stand ready for final assembly.

And then I starting reading up on the Jones. This is a mountain bike that can do it all. It ticks all the boxes for the bike I wanted. Plus, I’ve always wanted a Jones. I’ve always had the Jones Bars. Now I have the bars AND the bike that goes with it.

It arrived nicely packed. They recommend you have a certified mechanic do the final assembly. I’m very confident in my mechanic skills. So I did the assembly myself. Checking every bolt and nut. It only took me about an hour.

The same week it arrived Cedaero packs announced a 25% off any custom frame bag special for one day only on Small Business Saturday. Since Cedaero is local for me, I was already planning to have them do a custom fit frame bag for me. My plan was to buy everything I need to pack this bike up for bikepacking before Spring arrives. A frame bag would be the first purchase. I took the bike along. They took measurements and pictures of my bike, took an order for what extras I wanted and said it’d be done in a couple of weeks.

I picked it up three weeks later. It made for a nice 30 mile drive up the North Shore of Lake Superior to Two Harbors, Minnesota. Cedaero is part of three businesses, the other two being a bike shop, Spokengear, and a coffee shop called Cedar Cafe. I picked up the frame bag, browed the bike shop, and had a great cup of coffee in the cafe. One of the extras I paid for was to have screws to mount it to the downtube bottle mounts. The Jones has two bottle mounts on the downtube.  One is a three hole mount. It’s a nice clean way to mount it to the bike without the use of straps on that tube.

Then the bike sat for the rest of the winter.

The first ride happened on a Thursday just over a week ago. The snow is mostly gone, but the trails are mud and ice. The first ride was all on roads. I knew the Jones would feel and ride different than any bike I’d ridden before. And it did. You sit very up right. The bars are wide and feel very close to you. It’s odd at first. But after a while I started to get it. The amount of control you have is astounding. There is no twitchiness to the steering or handling, but it is very precise. It inspires a great deal of confidence. I’m really looking forward to trying it on some local singletrack once the trails dry out.

I have a habit of changing out parts when I buy a bike “off-the-rack”. I told myself I would give this bike at least a few hundred miles before I changed anything. But the seat that came on the bike got swapped out after the first ride. My saddles of choice are mostly WTB saddles or SDG saddles. I happened to have a brand new SDG Bel-Air saddle that I swapped for the saddle that came on the bike. Huge improvement. The saddle on the bike had a strange boxy shape to the rear end of the saddle that just didn’t agree with my backside.

I took advantage of a few deals and coupons from REI to start acquiring gear for bikepacking with my Jones. I was looking for a good dry bag to use on my forks. Revelate Designs just so happened to release a brand new dry bag in February that met my requirements. It’s called the Polecat. I bought two and some straps from Revelate Designs. I plan to mount them to the forks with Problem Solvers Bow-Tie Strap Anchors.

Last summer I bought a handlebar harness from Revelate Designs to use on the Pugsley. I liked it a lot. But decided I would like to have a dry bag up there. I bought their Salty Roll Dry Bag to go with the harness.

The second ride on the Jones happened a few days after the first ride. The bike was already feeling better. The “oddness” of the seating position was fading and it was starting to feel “right”. I’m looking forward to getting in a lot more miles and a lot more adventures on this bike.

Stay tuned.

 

 

BWCAW Winter Camping January 2019

I haven’t kept up my blogging like I had intended this year. I’m posting a mostly picture post of a winter camping trek into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness we did back in January. I’ve taking many winter treks like this but it’s been more than a decade since the last time I’ve ventured into the wilderness. The past few years my friend Jeff and I have tried to get out on a winter overnight at least once every winter. I thought it was time he experience a wilderness trip where there are no road crossings, no cell service and nothing but frozen lakes, rivers, trees, and snow. And, no other people. We had planned a two night trip. We ended up cutting it short after one night. The snow depths on the lakes and rivers were deeper than I’d ever experienced. This caused some unsettling slush conditions to develop between the snow cover and the lake ice. The energy output required to keep moving forward was greater than expected. To put it simply I was exhausted after day one. We made the right choice and ended the trip early. Regardless it was magical to be moving about this beautiful wilderness in the middle of winter.

Seasonal Transitions

Two weeks ago I was convinced we’d have rideable snow well into April. And then the weather turned. Our snow is virtually gone except for a lot of piles.

Over the weekend the studded tires came off the A-train. Looking back through last years pictures I discovered the studs came off two days earlier than last year. Back when I used to commute daily all year round I’d need to keep the studs on until mid-April most years. That’s when morning temps would get above freezing and stay there for good. Prior to that there is ice in the mornings from the previous days snow melt.

I tried out a new saddle bag this weekend. I’ve never used this type of bag. It was different. Not terribly stable. I finally looped the flap straps through my rear rack to stabilize it better. The bag itself is a very nicely made bag from Ellum Bag Works and sold by Hobo Pieces.

I rode on Skyline Parkway with overlooks of Duluth and Lake Superior. I had a view of the second Great Lakes freighter to leave the port since the shipping season started Friday. A Coast Guard Ice Breaker has been clearing shipping lanes. Ships on the move is a sign of Spring here on Lake Superior.

Snow is hanging on.

The weather has turned. It’s attempting to shift into the Spring thaw. This past week we had temps rising above the freezing mark and heavy rain on Wednesday. I figured the rain ended any chances of riding snow now.

After a night of lows in the teens I figured I needed to get out and see for myself if there was any rideable snow.

I discovered some spectacular riding. I was out before noon and before it reached the freezing mark. If you wait until it gets above freezing with the snow depth we still have, it becomes unrideable very quickly.

Only a half mile into this ride I stopped at the edge of the groomed trail to let a snowmobile go by. As I put my foot down on the snow just on the outside of the groomed part of the trail my foot punched through the snow and into a water filled ditch. I was wearing a low gaiter which prevented my boot from instantly swamping. But I didn’t get out without my boot getting a good soaking. It was only 29F degrees. Needless to say I chose to cut my ride short so as not to turn my foot into an icicle. I did stay out for an hour though.

Get out there and ride.

Pictures from the weekend.

This is what our front yard looked like as I was shoveling the latest 3 inch snowfall off our sidewalk. Our front yard is level with the sidewalk.

On Saturday I got in a nice ride on the local trails before the snow arrived. The temp was 34F degrees. It was the first day the temp had risen above freezing in more than two months. The trails were rapidly softening up.

With all this snow, I’ve been thinking we’d be able to ride the trails until April. All of a sudden the extended forecast is calling for temps in the upper 30’s with heavy rain midweek. Yesterday’s ride may have been the last ride on the trails unless we get another cold spell.

I’ll just have to wait and see what the weather brings.

Get out and ride.

Best Snow I’ve ever Ridden

I worked a half day today because I scheduled a plumber to come over and fix our basement sump pump. He was in and out in an hour. That left me with a free afternoon. Free to go fatbiking I say.

We had a record month for snow in February, 36 inches. It never really firmed up all month and was difficult to ride. On Sunday I rode the singletrack on the ridge above my house. The conditions were beginning to improve and was it was almost rideable.

With a winter storm coming this weekend I wanted to get out and ride today before the trails get buried again.

I don’t know what happened in the last four days, but the trail conditions went from fair to the best conditions I’ve ever ridden. That’s saying a lot because I estimate I’ve ridden 12-14,000 miles on snow on a fatbike over the last 13 winters.

Sunday I felt like everything took a huge effort. I had to push the bike up small rises and bumps. Gradual inclines were a struggle to keep moving forward. Today? Everything was effortless. The conditions were unusually fast. I rode every single inch, every bump and every hill. The first time for me on these trails. I never touched a foot down. And I rode twice as far with less effort.

I love March riding. It will change this weekend though. High winds and 6-9 inches of new snow are forecast. We could easily be riding snow into April.

Get out there and ride.

Snowy February.

So far in the month of February we’ve had two and a half feet of powdery snow fall on us. It has created conditions that are quite difficult to ride in. The groomed trails aren’t firming up, leaving a sugary snow that offers little traction. Sunday I tried to ride the Mission Creek Trails but made it less than one mile before taking a hard fall and bailing out on the nearby snowmobile trail. The snowmobile trail weren’t much better. But still, it was nice to be out in the sunshine.

Monday I was off for the Presidents Day holiday. I tried the Piedmont trails. They were just barely firm enough to ride. The day was sunny and felt warm with light winds blowing. It was great to be out again.

Keep on riding.

“On This Day” Picture Gallery

I still use a desktop computer for some of my computing needs. The computer shows me pictures “From This Day”. I like to click on it and see what I was doing on this day in past years. I specially enjoy pictures from the winter months. The computer has several thousand pictures that I’ve taken over the years. Mostly pictures of my bikes in beautiful surroundings. Here is a sample of what popped up yesterday for the date of January 21st.

Enjoy.

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Arrowhead 135 Ultra training ride on the new Pugsley in 2007.
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-20F degree commute in 2011.
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“Shards” of ice on the Lake Superior Shore. 2012.
my new brompton s6l 007
First Pictures of my new Brompton S6L folding bike. 2013
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Lake Superior Sunrise on a bitter cold morning bicycle commute in 2014.
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Winter commuting set-up on my Custom A-Train Cycles Ultimate-Winter Commuting Bike 2015.