Holiday hike, no bike.

Temperance River along Lake Superior’s North Shore.

Monday, yesterday, was Memorial Day Holiday here in the States. Susan and I decided to break out of our usual weekend routines and do something together. Hiking is one thing we’ve always done together. Heck, our first date 19 years ago was a hike. Since 2011 we’ve been members of the Minnesota State Parks Hiking Club Program. It’s an informal club. The challenge is to visit every state park in the state with hiking trails and walk a trail that has been designated a Hiking Club Trail. The trails range in distance anywhere from one mile to seven miles. Not to demanding. Since 2011 we’ve only done 16 out of 65 state parks, as of yesterday. We’re off to a slow start. We were concerned the challenge would be too easy with the shortness of the hikes. We’re finding the logistics of visiting every park is harder than we realized. We have to be very deliberate in our planning to get out. But we’ve also learned the challenge is taking us to small out of the way parks we would have never visited if it weren’t for the challenge. There are some real gems in the State Park system. Yesterday we decided to visit two nearby parks that we’ve been to dozens of times but have never hiked the Hiking Club Trail in each park. To keep you honest and show you have actually hiked each Hiking Club Trail, a password on a sign post is placed somewhere along the trail. You have to find that sign and record the password.

An added incentive to get out and hike in State Parks is the 125th Anniversary of the Minnesota State Parks system being celebrated this year. They’ve made a 125 mile challenge for this year. Hike, bike, or paddle 125 miles in state parks this year and earn a 125th Year Anniversary Certificate. We decided we could use the extra incentive to motivate us to accelerate our Hiking Club challenge.

Temperance State Park

We started our day by heading up the North Shore of Lake Superior. Our goal was to complete Hiking Club Hikes in two State Parks, Temperance River State Park and George Crosby H. Manitou State Park. Temperance River drops dramatically through a narrow gorge carved in 1.1 billion year old lava flows before reaching Lake Superior. The Hiking Club trail follows the river upstream for a mile and then returns. It’s short, extremely scenic trail easily accessible to day hikers and tourists. Considering it was a Holiday Weekend it wasn’t terribly busy. Here’s the highlight pictures:

George H.Crosby Manitou State Park

After we finished this hike we ventured inland on some gravel National Forest Service Roads through the scenic Northwoods to George H.Crosby Manitou State Park. This a unique park in the State Park System. The land was donated to the State with the condition it was to be left wild and undeveloped. There is no Park office, no facilities other than vault toilets, no running water. Just a gravel entrance road, a small parking lot, and a picnic area. There is a system of trails and rustic backpacking sites. Back in the 90’s when Susan and I were living in the Twin Cities and learning to backpack, we camped at this park. The trails are rugged and can be a bit challenging. The Hiking Club Trail follows the exact 4.2 mile loop we did as a backpack overnight loop back in 1999. It may sound short, but it is rock and root filled with constant elevation change. Lots of small ups and downs. It is much more difficult than the mileage would indicate. It could be the most challenging 4 miles of all the Hiking Club trails. We were pleasantly tired after finishing up this trail. One highlight, among many, is the gorgeous Falls on the Manitou River reached only by a rugged footpath. No flip flop wearing tourists at this waterfall. Here’s the highlights:

The weather was fantastic. One day only, it was in the mid-70’s, dry with moderate winds. The bugs were surprisingly low. However, we each got a couple of black fly bites. Back to work Tuesday today was a completely different picture. Highs in the mid-40’s, blustery, and rainy. I love it when holiday weather combined with a nice get away work out so great.

Getting out for a ride always makes me feel better.

Freshly paved trail extension in West Duluth goes over the new Keene Creek Bridge. It then passes under IH35.

I’ve written recently about the new trail extension in West Duluth that I am so excited about. In the past week paving has happened. It’s starting to look like a real urban trail at this point.

I had a bad night of sleep due to some intestinal distress. Perhaps a gluten reaction of some type. Sometimes I’m not sure of the cause. I felt equally icky most of the day. By late afternoon I was feeling better and itching to get out on a bike. Despite the less than perfect weather, like we had last weekend, I managed to get out for an hour long ride. Since the perfect weather weekend of last week, we’ve had temps in the 40’s and 50’s, very little sunshine, and periods of fog and rain. This is normal. Fog and rain in May happens.

The second new bridge built for the trail extension.

The reason I’m so excited for this new trail section is because it allows me to totally avoid a busy four lane main artery when going from my house to the Munger Rail Trail. It’s only slightly longer than a mile in length, but totally transforms that ride for me into a pleasant wooded trail corridor completely out of sight from the urban development surrounding it.


The eastern entrance to the trail on North 63rd Ave West at Green Street.

My only disappointed is at the western end of the trail. They stopped paving where the new trail gets to the back of the Zoo. They put in a new compacted path that leads about 100 yards to the back of the Zoo. But didn’t pave it. The new paved section essentially ends in the middle of nowhere and doesn’t connect with anything. I’m hoping that they’re just not done paving yet. But all the paving equipment is gone, so I’m wondering.

This 100 yard section was left unpaved. This would connect the western end of the trail with the Zoo and the Munger Trail.

Anyway, it was great to get out after a day of not feeling to well.

May sunset, full moon rise, overnight camping trip.

Taking the scenic route.

This past Saturday was a full moon. The folks over on the Steel on Wheels Forum scheduled a Sunset/Moonrise Virtual Meet-up event. Jeff and I participated in the April edition. For the May edition we decided to do it as an overnight bike camping trip. Three weeks ago we reserved a walk-in campsite at Jay Cooke State Park. It’s a 16 mile bike ride from my home. Jeff lives another 11 or 12 miles further.  The long range forecast was looking very bleak at first. May can be cold and rainy. Or it can turn out to be possibly the best weekend weather of the year. It turned out to be 80F degrees, cloudless, and extremely dry air. So dry the humidity was down around 15-20%. That is desert dry. And a challenge to stay hydrated in. The low was in the mid-50’s and Sunday it was sunny, dry, and 71F.

Not only was it warm, but the leaves were out. There has been many Memorial Day weekends here in Duluth where the leaves are just starting to come out. It was amazing to be outside this weekend with perfect weather and early leaves.

All but the first two miles was on the Munger Trail. We were able to take our time, not worry about traffic, and enjoy the scenery. We even took time to stop and watch some baby geese.


Here’s our route on Saturday. We took a three mile round trip detour into Carlton to buy some snacks: //

A rare picture of me.

We checked into the park campground, set up camp, and went down to the river to scout out our options for sunset and moon watching.

Jay Cooke State Park’s iconic Swinging Bridge over the St. Louis River.

Since the river runs through a small valley I didn’t think we’d have a good vantage point for either the sunset or the moonrise. Turns out it was better than I expected. With the help of some apps on our phones we discovered the sunset would be slightly off to the right of the river looking upstream and over the tree tops. The moonrise would also be off to the right looking downstream.

Looking downstream. We learned the moon would rise over the treetops to the right.

We headed back to camp for some relaxing and dinner.

Jeff in maximum relaxation mode.

Our dinner and clean-up ran late. We thought we might have missed the sun dropping below the treetops. By the time we reached the river we noticed sunlight still on the south bank.

Sunlight still shining on the south bank.

We raced up the river bank to a bend in the river and were able to catch the last of the sun just moments before it dropped below the treetops.

Interesting rock formations and driftwood high up in trees.

This month the moon was up 15 minutes before the sun set. However it would be nearly 90 minutes before we would see it rise above the treetops from the our vantage point on the river. We spent the time climbing and sitting on the strange rock formations. Jeff found on his phone that the rocks we were sitting on have been exposed for 1.1 billion years. We sat and pondered that for awhile. It’s amongst some of the oldest exposed rock on the planet.

Jeff climbing on the 1.1 billion year old exposed rock. Waiting for the moon to rise over the tree tops to his right.


We watched Jupiter rise. It was the first bright “star” in the sky. When the moon finally came over the tops of the trees we spent about twenty minutes trying to get a decent shot. Here’s my best attempts:


The bright star to the lower right of the moon is Mars.

We eventually headed back to our campsite. Our site was in the woods enough we couldn’t get an unobstructed view of the moon. We had bought a bundle of firewood and sat at the fire until midnight. I forget to get the obligatory fire shot.

Sunday morning was cool, but calm. We had a leisurely breakfast and then packed up and headed back to town. I was home by 11:00 am.

All in all, it was a successful overnight bike camping trip. And, it was my first bike camping trip of 2016. I’m already looking forward to more.

Salty Pedaler Grand Opening Special


To celebrate the Grand Opening of Salty Pedaler I’m offering a special. Get 10% off your first order through the Memorial Day Holiday, Monday, May 30, 2016. Use coupon code GRANDOPENING when you check out to get the special.

I’ve had a plan to open a bicycle related store for more than ten years. The term “bicycle related store” has included everything from a brick and mortar retail store to this lower start-up cost e-commerce site called Salty Pedaler. I have a blog on that site. I plan to update it about once a week. The first blog post, titled “Bicycles are Freedom” is up now. It will be less personal then this blog. It will cover more bicycle lifestyle or store related topics. But they will be written by me for now.

I am starting out offering bicycle themed t-shirts and coffee mugs. More products will be added over time. The design ideas are mine. Here’s the first design I came up with:

american apparel__brown_wrinkle front_mockup

Stop by, read the blog post, check out the store. Feedback is welcome.

Rohloff Hub Spring Maintenance.

The silver oil drain screw in the hub shell facilitates the changing of the hub oil.

Rohloff Internally Geared Hubs run in an oil bath. The only regular maintenance that needs to be done is to change the hub oil every 3,000 miles or once a year. If you ride in harsh and/or wet conditions you should stick to that schedule, or you can change it more frequently. Since our winters last almost 7 months, I make a point to change the oil in the Spring time regardless of the number of miles since the last change.

The first step is to remove the oil drain screw and add cleaning oil to the hub with a syringe.

Cleaning oil on left, SPEEDHUB oil on right. Syringe, and oil change tube with threaded nipple.

Then you need to circulate the cleaning oil in the hub to loosen old oil. You can do this by turning the cranks with the bike in a bike stand for 5 minutes. Or you can simply take it for a ride. Given we were having one of the most glorious Spring days of the year so far, it was a no brainer. I took it for a ride.

I like this kind of maintenance work.
A tour boat on calm waters passing beneath Duluth’s iconic Aerial Lift Bridge.

After circulating the cleaning oil, you need to drain all of the old SPEEDHUB oil and cleaning oil you added. You achieve this by threading in the oil change tube and letting it drain overnight.

Oil change tube on the underside of the hub. Cup will catch drained oil.

The oil is black in color. This means it was definitely time to change the hub oil. Grey colored oil is good. Black is not so good. The hub is so tightly sealed it is quite difficult to get the oil to drain since air needs to displace the draining oil. Air needs to get in through the oil change tube. I think it would be good to have two drain holes. One to drain the oil and the other one on the opposite side of the hub to let air in. Then you wouldn’t have to let it drain all night. It would come out all at once.

Tomorrow I’ll add new SPEEDHUB oil with the syringe and oil change tube, replace the oil drain screw and the job will be done. This is so much easier than doing maintenance on Shimano Nexus or Alfine hubs. I’ve done both. It requires totally dismantling the hub and pulling all the “guts” out of the hub shell. It’s not bad once you’ve done it a few times. But simply changing the hub oil on a Rohloff is incredibly easy in comparison. You don’t even need to remove the wheel from the bike. I don’t miss the Shimano IGH days.