January 2012 Archives

That's what it means when I come in 47th at the Noquemanon Snowbike World Championships, right? 

So yeah, it's a good thing my folks came into town to say hi, otherwise I never would have made it past L'Anse. Apparently they got pounded with nearly 18" of snow the night before. 

What? No, I would not have skipped a bike race to go skiing!

I, um.... don't like to drive in the snow.  Yeah, that's it.  

But hey, it was cool to say hi to all the Marquette peeps and check out all the snowbikes.  Lots of stock Mukluks and Pugsleys, but also a lot of cool, customized rides. Even amongst the horribly uncool folks like like me without a totally custom setup, it's nearly impossible to find two bikes alike (check out my red cables, yo!) 

But hey, it's race start time- everybody line up! 

Now ok, I'll admit it. I'm not really very good at this snowbiking thing. I'm totally squirrelly. I spin out a lot. I go shooting across the trail in weird directions without warning. I like to crash a lot.  And I'm slow. Real slow. 

So I took a nice conservative spot towards the back and didn't dive into the melee at the start. Which is a good thing. Because we immediately started making sharp right turns before getting to a stretch of ungroomed soft snow.   Where we all had to jump off our bikes and start running....

...and running...

...and running... 

...I guess it's a bike race in that, yes- I am pushing my bicycle. Nobody ever said anything about riding it. 

There was one stretch that wasn't so bad, but man- nearly the entire first half of the course was basically unrideable. But hey, it was beautiful day, and we got to hikeabike past some stuff that looked like it might be good fun to come back and ski.

But then, finally- the course went from unrideable to perfectly groomed, nearly entirely downhill racetrack, packed in even more by the 50-odd people in front of me. 

Holy man. It's a good thing those ski trails are wide, I was going faster than I'd go on my mountain bike in the summer. I went flying past maybe 6 people in the last 7k and finished just behind a 7th for 47th out of 67 people.   And I thought I'd never use the big ring on my Pugs... 

Hung out at the finish hoping to score a new set of tires in the raffle, but no dice. Had a couple hours of daylight to kill on the way back home, so stopped off to check out a potential route into some new ski terrain we've been eyeing up and get my favorite kind of fatbiking in- exploring new territory while taking in the natural beauty of the UP.

Making sense of the essential futility of life.

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First fatbike race, coming up this weekend!

And that's pretty much how I feel about. 

The concept of a contest of speed without irony on a fatbike is, well, rather comical.  But they sure are fun to ride in groups and it beats sitting inside. So that's why I do it. 

But it does not beat good skiing though.  Introduced a few friends to the secret Twin Lakes stash. They made it look easy.  

But I think I crossed some kind of skiing threshold this weekend.  This whole "season" I've been amped up like some kind of crack addict looking for a fix.

Dawn Patrol!
Scrape every last inch of powder off the local hill!
Backcountry tours!
XC skiing like it's a methadone hit!
Ski 'til you DIE!

Saturday night, I barely had the energy left to drink a beer before hitting the sack at 9pm. And then getting up and skiing all day Sunday.

Well, the monkey has apparently been fed.

4-8" of heavy fresh snow last night and I went home and shoveled my roof like a motherfucking adult (well, OK- I forgot my kneepads).

Another 4-8" of lighter powder overnight and I wasn't racing out the door at 5am to dodge trees in the dark.

I raced out the door at 6am instead to get to work early so I can leave early (lifts don't start until 3pm anyway...).

Progress, not perfection.

Tele 'til yer smelly!

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So last weekend, after avalanche training we went out to check out our secret backcountry stash.

Turned out to be in pretty good shape with several inches of fluff on top of a very solid base. 

Hills were climbed.

Turns were had.

Refreshments were served.

One of the nice things about the aforementioned secret backcountry stash is it's proximity to the Parkview Inn in Twin Lakes. So we stopped off just in case the previous refreshments didn't take. 

So we're hanging out, doing the bar thing, talking about how awesome it would be to have one's own personal Tucker Sno Cat. Some waitress looks over at us, and immediately starts heading our direction, talking about how boring the day has been and she should maybe just sit at the bar and have a beer.  She gets within a couple feet of us, ready to saddle up at the bar and then just turns around and leaves.   Tele 'til yer smelly. 

At least the bartender said we were "civilized".   

Area Skier

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*)How many G.N.A.R. points do I get for this, anyway? I hope enough to cover my awesome yard sale moments after that first picture.

Getting Fatter!

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Hola, amigos. What's up? I know it's been a long time since I rapped at ya, but things have been pretty crazy around Rancho BDB.

See, after my crash, the combination of lack of daylight and shitty weather was keeping me from getting out and doing much at all. The cabin fever set in bad. Worst case I've ever had in years.  On a trip downstate just before thanksgiving, I actually paid $80 for a new cassette for the Hoss just so I didn't miss an opportunity to ride Hanson Hills.  I was positively climbing the walls. I even booked a trip out to Utah for Feb. just so I had an opportunity to get out of the house to look forward to. 

Late November and early December continued the trend of crappy weather conditions. Never really made a complete transition from fall to winter. I was able to feed the monkey a bit by getting out on skate skis for some XC action, but honestly- I'm just not that excited about skate skiing anymore. Not really a whole lot of new things to explore or adventures to be had. It's always the same trails, all the time.   But damn, it's a hell of a workout. And the hills on the tech trails can be pretty fun when trying to tele-turn a pair of skate skis.  

But without any crazy weekend adventures, the cabin fever continued unabated.... 

Until a lot of my friends started buying fat bikes. I've always wanted a fat bike. Stuff like this and this and this do absolutely nothing to discourage me.  But the $1600 price tag always did.  

Well, after it became readily apparent we wouldn't have any good backcountry skiing until the end of December at best, I just decided to hell with it. I would get a fatbike, no matter the cost.

Conveniently, a friend was upgrading to an even fatter bike and had a barely used one for sale. Still the most expensive bike I've ever purchased, but much less than $1600. 

And let me tell you, if you ride bikes off pavement at all and have any taste for adventure riding- go buy one NOW.  Don't make excuses, rationalizations, or what have you. It's a real game changer for winter exploration. Stuff that has been out of reach during the winter is now accessible. And plus they're just silly fun to ride no matter what.  

In the past few weeks we've been riding the bandit snowmobile trails around Calumet, the XC skiing and snowmobile trails of the Porcupine Mountains, doing 30 mile treks along the edges of the Huron Mountains and even riding up (mostly) frozen rivers in Duluth. 

Crazy, crazy fun. I almost don't even care that the backcountry skiing has been almost non existent as of late.