Yesterday I wrote we had a break from the never ending Spring winds. The break was short. The winds were blowing off the lake at 20+mph again today. With temps having a hard time breaking into the 50’s, it was once again a cold day. It’s funny I can ride in the most brutal winter conditions in the lower 48 states all winter long, but a Springtime windchill has me wanting to stay inside. My thoughts have moved onto warmer weather. It makes it harder to enjoy the lingering cold. Thankfully the skies were blue and sunny. That’s what finally drew me outside for a late afternoon ride. I did a nice loop within the city limits that included some climbing, rough pavement, gravel, multi-use paths, woods, scenic vistas, and neighborhood streets. Here’s my route://ridewithgps.com/trips/8748118/embed
I rode on a quarter mile of the old abandoned Mission Creek Parkway to connect me up with the Munger Trail. I was surprised to see a brand new bridge and all the eroded path freshly graded. I believe this will be part of the Duluth Traverse Mountain Bike Trail at some point in the near future.
New trails going in everywhere in West Duluth these days. Gotta love it.
I had the day off from my day job today. It gave me the chance to work at home on my big bicycle related project. It’s been a week since we’ve had a day with sunshine like you see in the above picture. Sure there’s been partly cloudy days. Those included brutal winds off the big lake and temps in the 30’s and 40’s. By late afternoon I needed a break from the computer work and felt the need to get out in the sunshine. I did a short ride out to Bardons Peak. The exact same ride I did one week ago today for the sunset/full moon rise ride.
If anyone local is curious, Skyline Parkway west of Magney-Snively is now open for the year. It opened late. It was freshly graded as well. The surface is inconsistent and loose.
My ride took me past Spirit Mountain Ski Resort. I stopped to have a look at the last signs of winter. I’m already looking forward to next winter.
A ride in sunshine is just what I needed. I had planned to ride longer, but cut the ride short so I could be home in time to go for an after work walk with Susan. That was equally pleasant.
After two days of high winds, rain and cold temps the creeks are flowing high. I skipped a ride on a bike today for a 4 mile walk up the hill and along the roaring creek. Even though the sun came back out today, the winds remained high. Quite a chill in the air. I decided the walk would be more comfortable and enjoyable. Winds continue the next few days. Staying above 20 mph and as high as 35 mph. Temperatures looking like they won’t get much higher than the mid-40’s. That’s April in Northeastern Minnesota.
Yesterday’s ride (above) was a chilly, windy outing. I enjoy getting out in any weather, in any season. I tend to take photos in many of the same places. There are so many scenic spots in and around the place I live. Some I can’t resist stopping and enjoying the view whenever I pass by. I love to watch as the views change with the seasons. Here’s the same spot during the Winter of 2013-2014:
I’ve only recently started to learn more about the geology of Northeastern Minnesota. It’s land mass is part of Laurentia or The North American Craton. The Earth’s crust in this area has remained stable for 600 million years. It’s likely the rocks in this cut are that old. Some of the oldest exposed rocks on the planet. At least that’s the way I understand it. If there’s any geologist’s reading this and I’m wrong, please correct my numbers.
My bike almost blends in. Same color palette going on there with the blacks, grays, and silvers.
I rode by where they are building the trail extension for Duluth’s Cross Town Trail. This section will eventually connect the Munger Trail with Canal Park in the central downtown area of Duluth. The complete connection won’t be completed for at least two years and maybe as long as five years. There’s some major complications putting the route through West Duluth. This section is looking promising:
Last Fall they put in this bridge over a creek and a second one on the other side of the Interstate Highway 35 overpass in the picture above. In the last few weeks they have been working on putting in the paved multi-use pathway. I heard this will be done by the end of May. I’m very excited about this section. It’s one mile from my house. By taking the path from here it creates an off-street route for me to access the Munger Rail Trail. Avoiding the need to ride on a heavily used stretch of a four lane highway. Can’t wait until it’s done.
A virtual ride was proposed on the Steel On Wheels Forum (S.O.W. Forum) for the Full Moon on April 22, 2016. You were to ride out to a local viewing spot, watch the sunset, followed by a full moon rise. Then share it on the forum. S.O.W. members are fans of coffee and food outside. That means packing camp stoves and enjoying a hot beverage and a snack mid-ride. I decided to give it a go when I saw we had a favorable forecast. It was calling for partly cloudy skies, highs in the low 40’s, falling temps after dark with moderate to light winds. I invited my friend Jeff to come along. Sunset was to be at 8:07 pm with a moon rise at 8:40 pm. The plan was to leave West Duluth at 7 pm. Pedal 7.5 miles west to Bardons Peak overlook. Our route would grind uphill one mile to Skyline Parkway. The rest would be all on Skyline Parkway. About 5 miles of the 7.5 miles would be uphill. The last 1.5 miles is gravel. West Skyline Parkway is closed in the winter. It typically opens to car traffic on April 1st. We discovered it wasn’t open yet and the normally hard pack gravel was muddy and soft. Here’s a video from my Cycliq Fly6 showing the rear view of the last 10 minutes of gravel and our arrival at Bardons Peak Overlook.
This will be a picture heavy post. Friday started with dense cloud cover. By noon I was sweating the fact it may not clear off. By 12:30 I started to notice breaks of blue sky in the clouds. I texted Jeff celebrating the fact the clouds were beginning to break. It took all afternoon to see the clouds dissipate. By five is was looking like they were getting thicker again. It all turned out fine. By sunset there was practically no clouds left in the sky. We left West Duluth at 6.55 pm. Giving us plenty of time to reach our destination by sunset. We arrived at 7:35 to discover two things. First, despite having 32 minutes until sun down, the sun had already descended below the treetops and the peak of Bardons Peak. Second, the orientation of the sunset and then moonrise was a little different then we had thought it would be.
That meant we had to climb up the rocky knob of Bardons Peak to catch the sunset. It’s an easy 50-60 ft rock scramble.
We also noticed the temperature had already dropped into the 30’s and Bardons Peak is exposed to any wind movement. In other words we were getting cold very quickly.
We hurried to put on our winter gear we brought along. Jeff even brought a sleeping pad and a sleeping bag to crawl into for warmth. We were prepared.
It felt like winter camping.
As the sun went down and the last light of the day faded, we boiled water on our stoves. I had tea and muffins. Jeff brought along hot chocolate and a backpacking scrambled egg breakfast. We huddled up against the rock wall trying to stay out of some of the wind.
As we finished up with our beverages and food we started to see the first glimpses of the full moon. We arrived thinking it would come up over Duluth and Lake Superior in the distance to the east. In reality it rises more from the east southeast. Which meant from this vantage point it would rise over the St Louis River and Wisconsin on the other side of the river. I also discovered I had no clue how to take a decent picture of a full moon with my point and shoot camera. It took me all evening to finally get one good picture. That would be the last one I took and the last one in this post. In the meantime I froze my hands trying to get a shot. Luckily before I left the house I remembered at the last second to grab my Gorilla Camera Tripod. I missed most of the first 20 minutes of the moon fiddling with the camera.
We watched it for an hour before deciding we were getting cold enough. We started the ride back towards Duluth.
This is when my favorite part of the evening started for me. We warmed up as soon as we started riding. We were riding along the ridge on Skyline Parkway through the woods. On our right the entire way we could see the St. Louis River down below with the Full Moon over it. It was spectacular. We stopped twice along the way to enjoy the view and try to get pictures.
At this point I wish we had decided to camp out somewhere. It was great being outside. I always think about getting outside for a full moon, but never do it.
A member of the Steel On Wheels Forum suggested a Virtual Meetup for forum members. I don’t know why I never thought to blog about it. I think it’s a great idea. The local weather seems to be cooperating for tomorrows event, so a friend and I are taking part. Here’s how it was presented on the Forum:
A Virtual Meetup 4/22 for a moonrise/sunset ride.
As adventurepdx illustrated so well for us, a ride to take in the moonrise and sunset from a strategic spot can be great fun. I was so inspired by his example, I decided I’d pursue this form of micro-adventure for myself.
Then I thought it might be fun to invite all my Steel on Wheels Forum buddies to join me…from where ever you are. On April 22, the full moon falls on a Friday. So those of us with a typical work week might find it more practical to get away for the evening.
The idea here is that who ever is interested in participating will do their own thing…in their own location…in their own way, and follow-up, posting here about their experiences. Simple…and potentially amusing. If my schedule allows, I might try for a practice run on March 23. But the virtual ride meet-up is scheduled for April 22.
Anyone out there want to join in?
We are planning on a spot in West Duluth called Bardons Peak. Should be a nice spot to view both the sunset and moonrise. Here’s a picture from last September from the same spot:
Two days in a row on the Ellis. Life is good when that happens. It was mostly sunny and warm for April. I couldn’t resist getting out for a slow ride around town in the sunshine. I took time to stop and take pictures, or simply enjoy the sights and the day.
People were out everywhere enjoying the day the same as I was. I’m out all year round. Six of those months I don’t see people outside of their cars very often.
My Leisure Consultant Pondero has been setting an example of how to properly enjoy a bicycle ride. It involves biking on quiet roads or paths, finding a place mid-ride to enjoy a hot beverage and treats, and then continuing on your way until you eventually find yourself back at home. He lives in a more rural setting than I. Although I do have access to country roads and parks without having to venture too far from my home in town.
We don’t live in the same climate either. We have harsh winters which makes stopping something to be avoided unless you bring along several extra layers of arctic outerwear. Not complaining, I enjoy winter. But now that our typically late Spring weather is starting to show itself, bike rides that include a stop are possible.
I took the Ellis out for the ride today. It’s the first ride of the year for it. I call it my “skinny tire” bike. It’s got 700c x 32mm tires. If I don’t count my Brompton, it’s the skinniest tires I ride. It’s always a bit of a celebration for me when I finally get this out on the road in the Spring. It’s such a wonderful bike to ride.
I ventured south out of town on the Munger Trail. My destination was Jay Cooke State Park. I figured a picnic table next to the River would be a good lunch spot at around 15 miles. I stopped to listen and watch some frogs. Every low spot with standing water along the trail had croaking frogs in it today.
Eventually I made it to the river and then the park’s main visitors center area.
I had a nice leisurely lunch within sight of the river and the parks iconic swinging bridge.
After eating and finishing my tea, I packed up and headed back towards town. It was so nice to be able to sit outside and not get cold. The temperature was around 60degF/15degC with light winds. Very pleasant indeed.
….I’m outside moving under my own power. It’s when my best ideas percolate to the top. It’s when I can sort things out in my head without really trying too hard. It recharges me. It’s meditative. It doesn’t have to necessarily be on a bike. It can happen while walking around my neighborhood or hiking on the trails near my house.
Today I worked a half day. Came home. Worked on a project for while. And ran some errands related to the project. By late afternoon I was back home. The sunshine was calling to me and I found the need to get back outside. After a snowy week last week, the weather has finally turned the corner towards Spring. With the temperature creeping up above 50, I really had to take advantage of it. A ride in the sunshine would help me sort a few things out concerning my project. When I want to ride and think and not worry about traffic and intersections etc, I head to the Munger Trail. It’s 2.5 miles from my house and heads south for 70 miles. It climbs slowly out of Duluth on an old railroad grade and is nicely wooded. I can ride and let my mind wander. When I feel like it’s time to head back home, I turn around and it’s a gradual downhill all the way back. Now that I have a smartphone and have been using the app, Ride with GPS, I discovered what seems like barely any climbing on this route in reality is a quite dramatic change in elevation.
I did nearly 1500 ft of climbing without ever feeling like I went up a hill. It’s so gradual.
That may explain why this rail line which the Munger Trail crosses uses extra engines to push trains up this grade. I once read this rail grade is the steepest active railroad grade between here and the Pacific ocean. That includes grades in the Rockies and other western ranges. These two engines were returning back to the Lake Superior basin after helping to push a train up the grade. They were coasting downhill hill here and were nearly silent. On my return I watched another train going up.
Of course we have no green signs of Spring yet. It’s another month before things start budding and leaving out here. We still have reminders of winter, although fewer than normal for this time of year.