What’s that in the air?

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I believe it would be Fall. That’s what’s in the air. The seasons follow a different calendar  here. Winter lingers late into Spring. Fall and winter come early. The days are getting shorter. The green foliage is fading. It isn’t turning yet, but it’s definitely fading. The mornings are cooler. It takes longer for it to warm up. The warmth of the afternoon sun dissipates quickly at the end of the day. It’s all signs that Fall is coming. Sure, we may still get a hot spell or two. But it only lasts a day or two.

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Today was one of those days were it started with a mix of clouds with foggy patches. Susan and I took a walk over to our neighborhood co-op for a bit of shopping in the late morning. The temps were still in the mid-60’s. With the cloud cover it felt like the temperature was going to stick there the rest of the day. I don’t mind. I’m not a fan of hot weather. And we don’t even get the super hot stuff here. I look forward to these cool days. In the past I tend to put more miles on the bikes in September and October then any other months.

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The north coast of Lake Superior.

Things changed around 2:00. Gaps in the clouds started to form. Then bigger gaps. And then this (above). You can’t see it in the picture, but there is still fog out on the horizon of the big lake. There’s also clouds behind me in the picture. I managed to get out at the perfect time of this day. A brief window where the clouds opened up and the temp struggled to pull itself up above the 70 degree mark. Only barely. The view of the lake always awes me. I took a circuitous route that had me riding high above the lake. On the return portion I rode along it’s shore for a close-up view.

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I had to dodge the hordes Pokemon-go (SP?) players in Leif Erickson Park. It was my first exposure to this. At first I didn’t understand what was going on. Why were there people standing together in the middle of the trail looking at their phones. And people walking about in patterns looking at their phones in all corners of the park?. Patterns that didn’t register as normal in my brain.  It was a bit bizarre. Oh well. It was the only place I encountered these game players on the entire ride.

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Old skis on a shed wall in Chester Park.

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The blue skies and blue lake made a great back drop to just about every picture I snapped today.

Looking forward to Fall, cool temps and many more enjoyable rides…..and hopefully some bike camping trips.
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Sunday coffee ride with Susan

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Susan’s Bianchi and my Brompton in Canal Park.

It happens between one and three times every year. Susan and I get out and ride bikes together. Susan loves to bike. She just doesn’t make it her top priority like I do. She has many other interests that keep her busy. When she does get out on a bike it’s usually with me. Not always. But we always have fun when it is the two of us. We had a relaxing ride with a coffee stop in the middle. We headed down to the Canal Park area on the lakefront. I’ve become so good at avoiding crowds sometimes I forget that Duluth is a huge tourist destination. Canal Park is the main tourist attraction. A former industrial area that has been turned into shops, cafes, restaurants, and recently micro breweries. It is peak tourist season right now. And Canal Park was bustling.

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Another purpose of this ride was to get some pictures of me with my Brompton. I’ve been asked to submit a guest blog post for possible use on another blog. A post about how I use my Brompton in Duluth.

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Since I normally bike alone I don’t have any pictures of me and the Brompton. Only pictures of the Brompton. It all went good except we somehow lost my camera. We split the picture taking between my iPhone and my Sony Elph pocket camera. Fortunately we still had some of the pictures that were taken on the phone. The camera is lost for good. I even went back down to look for it after we got home and realized it was missing.

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Despite the lost camera fun was had by all. It was fun to sit on the patio at the coffee shop on a beautiful Sunday morning and people watch. We just wouldn’t want to do it all the time.

A full weekend.

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Saturday’s quick ride.

We had two 90F+ degree days on Thursday and Friday. At 3:00 am Friday morning a devastating thunderstorm came through and caused much damage in other parts of town. Parts other then where we live. Straight line winds clocking upwards of 100 mph, that’s hurricane level winds, blew through the area. It left 1/3 of the city without power and knocked down 100’s of trees. Power is still out for more then 20,000 people as of Sunday night. Some people may have to wait until late in the week to have power restored. We were fortunate our neighborhood didn’t see any damage.

All that to say, it cooled down on the weekend. Ninety degree weather is very rare in these parts. Some years we never see a 90 degree day. Yesterday (Saturday) when I finally got out for a short afternoon ride it was 68F degrees. That’s what life by the world’s biggest fresh water lake is like. (Biggest by surface area, not volume.)

My weekend was very busy. Still working on the kitchen renovation. I manged to make progress on that and still get in a bike ride each day. Saturday’s was a quick ride. I tried to get in a ride before another round of thunderstorms hit. They ended up missing us and going east.

Sunday’s ride was way more enjoyable. I got out for a 20 mile spin with some climbing, some urban gravel, and lots of views. The route I took is here.I’ll make the rest of this post a picture post. Enjoy.

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Gravel, woods, and solitude.
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I came across more new mountain bike trails.

This trail was only a few days old. They are building new mountain bike trails faster than I can keep track of it. This particular stretch starts on the south end of the old Mission Creek Parkway bridge. The bridge that crosses the Munger Trail. It’s mind boggling to me how fast the mountain bike trail system is growing. There’s not going to be anywhere in the United States that has anything like this once it’s done. An interconnected 100 mile system of trails all within the city limits.

In other news. My raspberries are doing fantastic this year. I love berry season.

This is bike related. How can a patch of raspberries be bike related you ask?

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That’s me in 2007 with my newly built Xtracycle carrying a bucket of raspberry bushes.

One of the first errands I did when I built my Blue Truck/Xtracycle back in the summer of 2007 was carry a load of raspberry bushes 10 miles across town. A co-worker of mine offered me the bushes. All I had to do was pick them up. So I did. And I did it on a bicycle. Her yard was being taken over by them. That bucket of bushes has turned into quite a nice patch that produces a lot of berries. Love those berries.

Braving the crowds.

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The A-train down by the lake.

We are now into week three on the kitchen renovation. Working on painting the cabinet doors. With limited work space I can only do one set of doors at a time. I put on a coat of paint and wait for it to dry. Repeat. Working outside hasn’t been an option with the frequent rain showers we are having lately. It’d be great if I could line up all the doors and paint them all at the same time. I’d be done by now if I could have done that.

I’ve been able to get in a few bike rides in between coats of paint. Yesterday I got out for a short ride late in the day. I haven’t been down to the lake front in awhile. I decided to head in that direction. I know Duluth is a tourist destination and the lake front can be swamped with tourists. I thought to myself how bad can it be? Turns out it was much worse then I expected. On the way to the lake front I rode past the Reggae Fest at Bayfront Park. The dog show at the convention center and the regular hordes of people around Canal Park and the lake front. An outdoor wedding had just finished as I rode through Leif Erickson Park. It was all a bit much for me. I retreated to city streets and made my way back home away from the hustle and bustle of the the lake front. Here was my route.

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Lake Superior.

Despite the crowds, the views of Lake Superior were nothing short of breath taking. This is what draws me to the lake. It is a constantly evolving canvas. It never looks the same twice. Today it featured mud colored water. The result of all the rain run off from the recent heavy rains flowing into the big lake. This view alone was worth braving the crowds.

Venturing across the bridge for more urban gravel.

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Riding gravel in Superior Municipal Forest. Not another soul around.

It’s the weekend, we’re having some of the warmest weather of the year. I felt drawn to cross the river into Wisconsin for some reason. Maybe the thought of crossing over the river on one of the local high bridges would seem cooling in our hot weather we’re having. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t able to get across the river by bike last summer because the bridge was being refurbished and the pedestrian/bike way was closed all summer and into the fall. I’m not sure what the pull was. It was strong enough to coax me across the river both days.

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Crossing the Richard I. Bong Memorial Bridge heading for Wisconsin and the City of Superior.
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The A-train on the bridge. Not only is this my all-weather commuting bike, it’s my camping bike, and today it’s my gravel bike.
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It’s rare to see a freighter this far up river from Lake Superior. It happens, but it’s rare.

Today’s ride was to be extra slow. The temperature reached an incredible 91F/32C degrees while I was out today. You have to realize how hot that is for us Duluthians. There are entire summers where the temperature never reaches the 90 degree mark. Just four days ago we had a high temp of 51F degrees. Forty degrees cooler than today. I acclimatize to hot weather very slow. But, I did pretty well in the heat yesterday when it was only about 5 degrees cooler. So I took it slow and drank water constantly.

My destination for today was the Superior Municipal Forest. I’m not sure of the history of it, but it appears to be older growth woods. The forest lines the bays and inlets along the St Louis River. There’s a nice gravel road that winds it’s way through the forest and in and out of the bays. Here’s my route for today: //ridewithgps.com/trips/9542772/embed

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Superior Municipal Forest.

This gate is usually open during the summer. The gravel road doesn’t look like it’s received any maintenance since winter. We’ve had a lot of rain. Maybe they’ve been waiting for it to dry out a bit before grading the gravel.

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What it meant for me was a lack of any other humans. Not a soul to be seen. It was almost eerie being in the middle of a city and not seeing another person. I felt like I was in the middle of a wilderness far away from any cities.

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Chunky.
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Bays were muddy with silt from rain runoff.

About halfway though the forest roads I started to feel the effects of the heat. I had to take the short gravel uphills quite slow to avoid feeling light headed. I slowed my pace and kept the fluids coming.

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My A-train all-rounder is a fantastic gravel bike.

Despite the crazy heat, I had a wonderful 20 mile ride. No traffic to speak of and very few people. Even when I wasn’t in the municipal forest.

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That hill in the distance is Minnesota. Yes. Minnesota has hills. Well, this part of Minnesota does.
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Low traffic roads…or I should say, no traffic roads.

With the exception of a couple of aggressive deer flies, I didn’t have to worry about bugs today. High winds kept the bugs down. Sustained speeds over 20 mph with gusts much higher. It was so high on the bridge coming back I had to get off and walk the bike for about a mile. I know from past experience it has to be over 45 mph gusts to get me to dismount on the bridge.

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View of the Bong Bridge from the Wisconsin side. Rough, muddy waters today.

I’ll leave you with another picture of my A-train on a fishing pier in Superior, Wisconsin.

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Riding through a severe thunderstorm.

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Bam, there it is.

After a week of rain, fog and cold, I was happy to see the sun today. Sun and cloudless skies this morning. I checked the weather to see when I could get in a ride today. Despite the deceptive cloudless sky, it was calling for a thunderstorm between 1 and 2 o’clock. I thought I’d better get it together and get out early. Early for me is 11 am. Leaving at 11 the clouds were slowly starting to build. I figured I easily had two hours before any storm hit. I planned a 30 mile route in my head.

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Stopped to watch three families of Canada Geese.

At 12:15 when I was 16 miles from home I noticed the dark clouds building more. I checked the weather on my phone. All of a sudden it had gone from a calm sunny day to a Severe Thunderstorm Warning. I turned for home and was hoping to get home before the heavy storms reached me. I finally determined the storms were moving very fast and I wasn’t going to make it home. I wasn’t too worried. I came prepared with a rain jacket. I planned in my in my head where all the possible places I could take cover were. Mostly underpasses or picnic shelters along the way. As I passed one of the spots, it started to rain. A few minutes later it tuned into a deluge. I was completely soaked within minutes. There was very little lightening with the storm. So I wasn’t concerned about that. The amount of lightening often diminishes as a storm approaches Lake Superior, for some reason. Ten minutes later the wind started to gust to 40 mph. The temperature dropped quickly. From 74 degrees to 54 degrees in the matter of a few minutes. And then, it was over. 15 minutes later, as I approached home, the blue sky returned. That was one fast moving storm.

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Blue sky returns only minutes after a severe thunderstorm blows through.

Getting close.

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Recreational trail connection through West Duluth is looking ready for paving.

Two things are getting close I noticed on my Sunday ride yesterday. The new trail near my home is about ready to be paved. And the trees are starting to leaf out.

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This was full of mud holes and ruts from illegal ATV use.

I enjoyed a leisurely ride around the area and on this somewhat loose gravel base. This 1.5 mile new trail will make a big difference in the way I get around the area.

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The new trail simplifies getting to and from the Munger Trail.

The map above is from my ride yesterday. The long straighter section is the new trail being built. The zig-zag route on neighborhood streets is the way I’ve been taking to get to and from the Munger trail. The Munger Trail starts at the bottom left of the map near that water inlet. Hwy 23/Grand Ave is a busy four way county highway. I’ve ridden the highway many times. But it no longer was an option last year or this year due to major reconstruction of the roadway. Last Summer and this Spring/Summer it’s down to one lane in both directions. Once the trail is paved my route will be 100% quiet neighborhood streets and trail corridors. I’m looking forward to that.

Now, let the Spring commence.

Sunday ride pictures.

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Crossing the Bong.

I headed out this afternoon to take a longer ride. It was such a nice sunny day, although a bit cool with a wind off the big lake, I ended up only riding 17 miles. I crossed over into Superior, Wisconsin. My rides don’t take me over there too often. I did a little bit of exploring today and did some picture taking instead of a long ride. It was most enjoyable. I’ll leave you with the pictures. Here’s my route: //ridewithgps.com/trips/8872499/embed  I couldn’t figure out what was going on with the elevation profile when I crossed the bridge. It showed a drop in elevation when in reality I climbed up the bridge. Turns out it recorded the elevation of the river and not the bridge deck.

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Crossing the Bong.
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Old buildings.
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Old Soo Line Superior Depot.
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The (HE)RBERT C JACKSON getting a new paint job at the Fraser Ship Yards. They can dry dock a nearly 900 foot laker at this shipyard.
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Tugs
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Before the high bridge was built this was the main road to the swing bridge that connected Duluth and Superior. Now it’s a hard to find dead end with a mix of industrial buildings and private homes built in the late 1800’s. There is harbor access off both sides.
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Steel hulled boat. You had to be a thin person to get into to that cabin door.
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The Blatnik.
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Cats.
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Avoiding the highway, picked up a couple of Wood Ticks in the grass.
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Abrupt end to the Osaugie Trail.
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The inner harbor near Barker’s Island.
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A ship as a museum. A rare flat bottom Whaleback.
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Duluth as seen across the Harbor.

Brrrrrr, the wind is back.

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I call it the “Castle Bridge”.

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

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Northeastern Minnesota gravel.

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.

Can’t resist stopping and enjoying the sights.

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Dramatic cuts in ancient rock.

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:

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A beautiful snowbike ride on a bitter cold day, 02/02/14. The freshly groomed trail was set-up so hard it was like riding concrete.

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.

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Ancient rock juxtaposed with some of the finest stainless steel tubing modern metallurgy has produced.

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:

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One of two bridges built in the Fall of 2015.

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.