Bottomed Out

While in Minneapolis this weekend, I finally got a chance to ride the Minnesota River bottoms on the Ox.  We’d ridden hard at Carver Lake the day before, so our Sunday morning ride was all about mellow cruising and basking in the warm November sun.

We started at Sibley House and rode the trails southwest along the Minnesota River, then crossed  the river on the Hwy 77 bridge and rode back northwest to the trailhead on American Blvd. From there, we took the LRT to 46th St and rode to Angry Catfish for coffee and bike-nerdery. After that, we rode the paved and unpaved trails through Minnehaha Park back through Fort Snelling and crossed the Mendota Bridge on the MRT to get back to the car.

The entire ride was, in a word, sublime. It’s a fat-biking paradise.

Only an idiot would thinking paving any of this a good idea.


Northwoods Sojourn

It’s pretty hard to beat fall in the Wisconsin Northwoods–and we seem to make a trip north about this time each year to visit the in-laws and get outside in the crisp, mosquito-free air.

This time, I took the Pugsley and squeezed in not one but two different rides.

On Saturday, after a stop for lunch and a growler at the Great Dane in Wausau, I headed out on the Bearskin Trail to ride from Hwy K to Minocqua and back. I’ve done this 36-mile round trip in as little as 2.5 hours on the fat-bike in the past, but this time it was simply too beautiful to go that fast. A combination of a leisurely pace, some exploratory side trips on various snowmobile trails, and plenty of stops for photos meant that it took me nearly 5 hours. The ride started out drizzling and wet, but then the wind shifted and the rain stopped, making way for some dazzling late afternoon sunshine.

And yes, I do ride the Bearskin nearly ever time I go to the farm. But it’s easy to see why.

On Sunday, we woke to frost and clear skies and very little wind. Couldn’t ask for a better day to ride around in the woods, so I visited another of my favorite trails at McNaughton Lake. These are primarily ski trails, so there’s no single-track. Essentially, they’re perfect for off-road fat-bike touring in the woods. And they circle not one but three lakes, all of them undeveloped. I rode three laps in order to make sure I took in all of the trails at least once; only on the last lap did I see another human being.

There were at least a half-dozen perfect places to stop and make coffee–but alas, I forgot to bring my coffee-outside gear. Photos and water-gazing had to suffice.

New Bike Day: All-City JYD

Well, it took me just about a year to build it up, but the All-City JYD is finally on the road.

2015-10-11 11.24.12-1

I’ve only ridden it a bit around the neighborhood. I’m really liking it so far, though the front brake still squeaks (either the pads aren’t toed-in correctly or I’ve got the straddle wire too high–or both).

Not too many good photos yet, so go check out the full specification in the meantime.


Despite my best intentions, there just hasn’t been much bike camping this year. There were plans for weekend tours, a week-long tour, and any number of other things. But they weren’t to be, for a variety of reasons (often lameness on my part though).

This is just what the S240 is for. Little planning is needed, time isn’t hardly a factor, and risk is low. The planning for this weekend went something like this, on Thursday:

Nate: You want to camp this weekend?
Me: Yes, definitely.
Nate: Cool. But I have to do something after the coffee ride on Saturday.
Me: That’s ok, we can leave later and go to Lake Kegonsa.
Nate: Right on.

So we went on the coffee ride as usual, then I went home to put the low-riders on the Troll while Nate went off to do what he needed to do. Then we met back up later in the afternoon, stopped for supplies, and rode the 13.5 miles to the park.

After that: fire, wine, conversation, sleeping under the stars, fresh coffee in the morning, easy ride back to Madison, more coffee, brunch.

Not even close to 24 hours.

Lake Kegonsa SP

For anyone who might be interested in camping at Lake Kegonsa SP, I can’t say that we’d recommend it. The campground is crowded and much to close to Door Creek Road and the interstate, making it noisy. Most of the other campsites were filled with camper trailers; there are no walk-in sites.

We went there solely because we were getting a late start and it’s the closest campground to where we live on the east side of Madison. And neither of us had camped there, for the same reason. Lesson learned.

2015 Powderhorn 24 by the Numbers

Once again, we drove to Minneapolis to ride around in squares for 24 hours. I didn’t take any photos during the race, so here are the numbers.*

Miles: 101
Laps: 20
Beers: 23 (+/- 3)
High temperature: 97F
Low temperature: 76F
Bottles of water: 7 (+/- 2)
Burritos: 3
Cups of coffee: 2
Footlong hotdogs: 1
Ice cream sundaes: 1
Hours of sleep: 2
Times sprayed down with water by spectators: > 25

If some of this seems kinda lame to you, well…I was riding solo on the fat-bike and we left with 3.5 hours of riding time left, drawn by the siren song of more cold beer, hot showers, and air conditioning.

* Many of these numbers are approximate. Sleep deprivation, heat, fatigue and beer will do that.


Quaffing my Friday morning coffee and reading feeds, I run across the weekly photo dump from Surly.

Normally, it’s stuff recently submitted to their Image Dump, but this week it’s single-speeds in honor of this weekend’s SSUSA (hosted in my home state, at Levis–no, I’m not going).

Scrolling down, I find this:

Yep, that’s the Ox in its Mk1 single-speed configuration. Also perhaps one of the better bike photos that I’ve taken. Maybe.

I’d forgotten I’d submitted to Surly.

A new (to me) road

It’s new to me, anyway. And ever so close to town. I’ve ridden past it countless times, but never had reason to check it out.

Features include: corn, soybeans, cranes, a hog farm, and some of the smoothest rolling pavement around.

It looks like it was repaved last year sometime, and still hasn’t succumbed to the depredations of winter and truck traffic.

Too bad I didn’t notice the cranes in the field until I’d put away the camera. They were about as close to the road as they ever get.