Friday after work multi-surface fatbike ride.

Wow, I didn’t realize it’s been three months since my last post. It wasn’t intentional. Sometimes I need a mental break from sharing my life. It’s nice to ride and not think about my next blog post.

In terms of riding bikes, this summer has been different than any summer prior to it. I’m no longer commuting by bike. It’s still a hard adjustment to make. I loved my daily bike commute, in all weather. My rides now are almost all leisure rides. The past two months I’ve ridden only three of my five bikes. My Pugsley, my Brompton, and my Xtracycle. With the abundance of new mountain bikes trails being built in my neighborhood, I’ve been learning to be a mountain biker with my fatbike. Riding after work I much prefer to be out in the woods on the fatbike than riding in traffic on the roads. It’s so much more relaxing.

Friday evening Susan had other commitments so I had the evening to myself. I wanted to go ride some trails. The mtn bike trails weren’t really an option due to all the rain we’ve been having. We didn’t always have mountain bike trails in my part of town. This has only happened in the past 1-5 years. There’s always been lots of unofficial trails in the open spaces and woods in town. Many of them have been there for years, are hard-packed and more immune to rainy periods. I decided to string together a loop containing a mixture of rail trail, abandoned railroad right-of-ways, gravel roads, and neighborhood trails. The pictures are in order, but I didn’t stop and take pictures of everything.

Crossing Kingsbury Creek on a snowmobile trail bridge.

Riding the abandoned DWP railroad right-of-way. If you know Duluth, this rail line parallels the Munger Rail Trail a little further up on the same ridge line.

IMG_3458_LI (6)
Heading for Ely’s Peak and the tunnel under it. The arrow points to where the tunnel goes through the rock hillside.
The trail curves to the right in a horseshoe fashion eventually leading to the tunnel under Ely’s Peak.

Ely’s Peak tunnel eastern end. The tunnel is 520 ft long. It curves so you can’t see the other end when standing at the entrance.
I’ve been coming to the tunnel for 12 years. It used to be spooky because I never used to see anybody here. But it’s become more popular as more people learn about about. I’ve never saw anybody else here until two year ago. Now I see several groups of people every time I come out to it. Eventually it will become part of the local trail system.

Inside the tunnel approaching the west end.

A DWP rail trestle west of the tunnel. It is extremely rough due to years of ATV traffic. At one time some one nailed down strips of plywood in the middle to try and smooth it out, But the plywood has deteriorated.

The DWP rail corridor west of the tunnel.
This intersects Skyline Parkway where it meets Beck’s Road. I turned onto Skyline and headed back towards home. The western portion of Skyline Parkway is gravel.

Skyline Parkway at Bardon’s Peak. The body of water you see is the St. Louis River about 7 miles before it flows into Lake Superior.

Another view from Bardon’s Peak looking towards Duluth and Lake Superior beyond.

This is a snowmobile trail in the winter. It connects Magney Snively park to the DWP and Munger Trail. I took it back to the DWP.
Once back on the DWP rail corridor I took it back east through Spirit Mountain Resort and then home. Here is a link to the route I took.

It was a nice way to end a Friday. Only the first mile and the last mile were on paved roads. It was a 17 mile loop done completely within the city limits of Duluth.



Photos from the week.

It’s been an unusual September when it comes to the weather. I generally look forward to September because the weather can be some of the best of the year. Dry, cool, windless days with brilliant blue skies. This year we’ve seen little of that. It’s been cloudy with chances of rain more days than not, and windy. I’ve been less motivated to get out. Sunday, after being inside all day I forced myself out the door for a bike ride around 4:30. That’s late in the day even for me to get going. It was well worth it. I did some exploring of the old industrial river front. It’s mostly abandoned, polluted super-fund sites nowadays. Duluth was established as a town to support the mining and logging industries. These and other heavy industries spent the next hundred years using the harbor and polluting it. It is slowly being cleaned up and areas, like Canal Park, are now tourist attractions. Here’s pictures I took during this ride:

A picture of a bridge from a bridge.
The Arthur M. Anderson off-loading a load of what I think is limestone.
Another shot of the Arthur M. Anderson. This is about as far up the river these large freighters travel. It’s almost 5 miles up river.
It’s a half mile to the river down this stripped piece of industrial land between two boat slips.
This is on the corner where the boat slip meets the main shipping channel of the St. Louis River. Minnesota is on the right, Wisconsin on the left.



The half mile long slip for a very large boat or two.
An old mail car. I’m guessing one of the two historic railroads in town has plans to restore it.
Signs that Fall is fast approaching.

Thursday I was motivated to get out for a late evening ride. After a week of clouds and rain it managed to clear off about 5 in the afternoon. Seeing that crisp blue sky is all I needed to get me outside. It’s also the night Susan is gone to St Paul for a night class. I was free to stay out as long as I wanted.  Here’s a few pictures from that ride:

It’s almost too bright to photograph.


A father and son using the mountain bike trails. Trails with a view. This section of trail was built in the summer of 2015.
Glorious late in the day sunshine.
Last light of the day looking south over the Keene Creek ravine towards the St Louis River and Wisconsin.

Today, Friday, I was off from work. It was another cloudy, windy day. No rain though. It took me all day to get myself outside. When I finally went I decided to walk some of the trails near my house including some of the Superior Hiking Trail. According to today’s DNR report our Fall colors should be in the 50-75% range.


Some places it appeared this was accurate, other places it didn’t.

Keene Creek
Keene Creek

As always, once I get myself out the door I rarely regret it. This is a lesson I learn again and again and again.

I was told today I’m not needed at work on Monday. My current job is a part-time position. I work when they need me. With the day off I made some camping reservations for Sunday night. I’ll be doing an overnight bike camping trip. Really looking forward to it. It’s will be only my second bike camping trip of the 2016.




Days like these.

City of Duluth mountain bike trails built and maintained by COGGS.

Yesterday I started work at 5 am. An unusually early start time for me. The good news was I able to get in an 8 hour work day and be home before 2 o’clock. Hmmm, what to do? Bike ride of course. I had enjoyed my trail ride on my Pugsley earlier in the week so much, I decided to try that again. I lack any serious mountain bike skills. I can count on my two hands how many times I’ve ridden summer trails on my Pugsley. My only “mountain bike”. Well, I do have the 80’s Specialized Rock Hopper Comp. I don’t normally think of that bike as my mountain bike because I’ve used it for just about everything but mountain biking over the years.

I decided midday and mid-week biking on the trails would allow for the least amount of run ins with other bikers. I ride really slow and they always catch me. Then I get self-conscious about my lack of mountain biking skills and do something really embarrassing like riding off the trail or not making it up a tiny little rock without putting a foot down.

Turns out I didn’t see any other bikers, or hikers for that matter, at all. I really enjoyed the trails yesterday. I think I might try riding them more often. The trail you see above is a mile and half from my house. It was built in late 2014. In the next few years an access trail from neighborhood is supposed to be built through a new park at the end of my block. So I will be able to ride these trails practically from my front door. I don’t think the Pugs is the best tool for this job. But for now I’m having a great time learning to ride some of this fantastic local single track on it.

Fat tire on very old rock.

Today I was able to get out again in the late afternoon. This time is was a quick out and back on the local rail trail. All but the first and last mile was on a paved trail.

Riding the rail trail.

It wasn’t a perfect day because it was slightly on the hot side for me. But it was nearly a perfect day for being out on a ride. It wasn’t energy sapping hot and not humid at all. In fact I felt surprisingly energetic. I felt like I could have ridden a few more hours if time wasn’t an issue.


I’m glad I got out and enjoyed the beautiful summer days the past two days. Once we’re in the middle of the warm season, it’s easy to forget it doesn’t last long in this part of the country. Most of the year it is a rare thing to be able to get out and be able to stop during a ride and not get cold. Looking forward to more days like these over the next two months.


One of those perfect days for riding a bike.


There are a few days every year which seem about perfect. It happens most often in the late Spring or early Fall. Today was one of those days. Weather has a lot to do with making a day perfect. Maybe today seemed extra perfect because yesterday was far from it. It was rainy, foggy, and windy. The temp clawed it’s way to only 51F/11C degrees and stalled there. Today started out looking the same. It was 47F/8C degrees with dense fog on my way to work. But then the fog started to lift and break up. By 2:30 pm, when I got off work, it was cloudless with a crisp blue sky, a light wind coming off the very cold Lake Superior, and 71F/22C degrees. I rushed home, turned around and went back out for a leisurely ride. I tried to soak up as much of the bright sunshine as I could. It seemed so incredibly bright today. Perhaps it felt that way because yesterday was so dark and rainy.

It’s hard to put it all in words. So I’ll share the pictures I took and the route: //

The route included rail trail, gravel,  paved roads, two fairly big climbs….and all was within the city limits of Duluth.

Abandoned Mission Creek Parkway.
St. Louis River and Wisconsin on the other side.
Old (recently refurbished) stone arch bridge over Stewart Creek.
Last big climb of the day.

I normally shoot all my pictures with an old Canon Elph pocket camera. Today I took all the pictures you see here with my iPhone. I haven’t taken many pictures with the smartphone. This was the first ride I shot entirely with the phone. I kinda like the way they turned out. Again…..perhaps it was the perfect day.


This view never gets old!


The title of this post came from a comment on the above picture from a long time viewer of my Flickr account. I have to agree. If I were to dive into my archived pictures on my computer over the past 12 years, I would most likely find 100’s of photos taken from this spot. Far more than any other spot I took regular pictures from. For 12 years it was on my route I took to and from work. This commute was done by bicycle everyday, in all four seasons for all of those 12 years. I can tell you from experience, “this view never gets old”.


It never looks the same. The colors change with the weather. The water changes color with the seasons. The sky never looks the same two days in a row. Even the fog looks different from day to day. The view from this spot would routinely stop me in my tracks. I would always pull out the camera to try and capture the moment as it was happening. Once I got home and uploaded the pictures to my computer, they would never look quite the same as they did in person. I would be disappointed over and over again when I realized the photos didn’t capture what I had seen in person earlier in the day. I learn this lesson over and over, again and again.

Darn finger in the way again……

This is no longer on my commute to work. With a change in jobs came a change in my route. Yet, I am still drawn to this spot even though I have seen this view from the seat of my bike twice a day on 3,000 previous days. Yesterday I headed out for a short ride on a nice day after getting out of work early. Where to go? I let the day and the bike decide. I ended up here once again unable to ride by this spot without stopping to take in the sweeping view and snap a few photos. Hoping to capture the view I was seeing in person.

Sweet Sunshine

Riding some in-town gravel.

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.

Sunset/Moonrise Virtual Meetup is tomorrow 4/22

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:

Finally a fog-less day 008


I do my best thinking when….


….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.

The Munger Trail.

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.

The ski hills on Spirit Mountain are still snow covered.
Patches of snow can still be seen here and there.