Monday, December 29, 2014

A New Toy for Christmas

Lots of kids get bikes for Christmas. It's almost an American tradition. This year, I gave myself a new bike for Christmas, and it is a blast!

In the previous post, I described how I have become enamored with "fat-bikes", like the Surly Pugsley I spent most of the fall season on. In late October at the Winter Camping Symposium in Sturgeon Lake, MN, I got to ride a Cogburn Outdoors CB4 for more than a cursory demo, and was more than impressed; I was sold. Despite having the same tires and front fork as the Pugsley, the Cogburn is a totally different animal. It's lighter, handles more crisply and is more responsive to the rider. It is actually designed for hunters, and comes in several different patterns of Realtree (tm) camouflage, as well as Forest Green. No, I did not get the green one. Like my Volcanic mountain bike, I went with white, sort of. My color choice was Realtree Snow camo. It is one sharp bike.

Next summer, in addition to a planned missions trip to the Spirit Lake Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, on which I will as on all missions trips ride Discovery, I am planning a trip back east to the western Adirondack Mountains. It was in the Old Forge area at Adirondack Woodcraft Camps in the summers of 1964 and '65, that the seeds were planted that led to my being a park ranger today. It was also the area where, in the early 1980s, I was a New York State licensed backcountry guide.

In August, it will be ten long years since I was home last. Ten years is too long. I am planning to come back to New York, take the Adirondack Scenic Railroad from Thendara to Big Moose, then ride my new Cogburn fat-bike from Big Moose to Stillwater Reservoir, then from Stillwater to Inlet by way of Carter Station and Rondaxe Road, past (and visiting) Adirondack Woodcraft Camps. The second half of the trip will be from Inlet to Indian Lake via the Moose River Plains. I will have to get a non-resident fishing license and catch some trout. (The Moose River is where I learned to fish, 50 years ago.)

I will be traveling with some of my NY SAR and bike patrol friends and maybe my cousin's husband and son. It will be more than an adventure. It will be a Great Exploit!

Proceeding on,

Friday, October 17, 2014

Discovering the Joy Again

One weekend in September a friend of mine, who is a veteran bicycle tour leader, suggested that I take my Surly Pugsley fat-bike on my planned bikepacking trip instead of my mountain bike. I did, and it changed everything. With the exception of several events that took place in the weeks that followed that required my MTB, I was scarcely been off the Pugs when riding. I did a number of fall colors rides, explored some cool trails in a nearby state forest and even rode some volunteer trail patrol with a bike that I had previously relegated solely to winter use. Those rides became fuel for some overnight trips the following spring, and those photos become the illustrations that I hope will inspire you to go, and see what's out there. Initially, the fat-bike’s claim to fame was it’s ability to ride over snow and sand. But then somebody, or somebodies came to the realization that it could do so much more; that the fat-bike was indeed, the perfect off-pavement, backcountry expedition bicycle. I am now one of those somebodies, The fat-bike, in it's 60-plus brand names, is changing the face of backcountry travel, and like many others I have been swept up in their success. The fat-bike takes me back to when I first started riding a bike as a kid, and experience the sheer joy of riding again.

Proceeding on...
2WX - The Two-Wheeled Explorer

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Beautiful Day After a Dark and Stormy Night

Originally, I had planned to camp out the night before, but we had heavy rain, thunder and lightning and hail. I have weathered storms like that in a tent before, but it really didn't fit into my plans for this trip. I got up early the next morning, and headed north to the trout lakes of the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area near Crosby, MN. It was a beautiful day, cooler and dryer than recent weather had been, thanks to the cold front that came through with the storms. I was going to chase rainbows...and brookies.

Cuyuna, as it is known in the mountain biking community, is somewhat of a phenomena in the Minnesota State Park system. It was one of the very first "Ride Centers" designated by the IMBA, the International Mountain Bicycling Association, and enjoys very high visitation from mountain bikers, as well as fishermen (and women) who ply it's many lakes in search of muskie, walleye, bass...and trout. But I wasn't there for the mountain biking this time. Don't get me wrong, I like riding at Cuyuna. It is one of the few places I can mountain bike anonymously, without the red jersey or the front plate of the bike patrol. or my DNR uniform. (Yes, I have and could still "patrol" there, and I always carry a first aid kit and other gear when riding, but I don't have to. Cuyuna has their own patrol, and a great system for dealing with emergencies.) Besides, I wasn't there to ride the MTB trails. I was there to fish, and ride Discovery to various spots I had chosen on a map of the Rec Area, and basically "get away from it all" for a day. I had my collapsable spinning rod and a box of lures, (My replacement collapsable fly rod would arrive on my doorstep while I was away.) and a 27-speed, GPS equipped tackle box to take me there.

I had chosen three lakes, one at each end of the park and one in the north middle section, all of which had been former iron ore pit mines years ago. (You can still see evidence of the mining on many of the MTB trails.) but are now prime fishing spots, and also popular with kayakers and SCUBA divers. The lakes on the ends were connected by the paved Cuyuna Lakes State Trail, and the Overburden Road, a red dirt, sand and clay road that goes into the lakes in the northern section.

Long and short of it, I didn't catch any trout or anything else. I had a couple nice looking brookies follow my lure at Yawkey Pit, and a couple light strikes, but no real takers. But that's okay. I rode almost 16 miles on my favorite bike, through and around some very pretty country, and in the backcountry, there was nobody out there but me. That is what I was really searching for. I am looking forward to doing it one more time before stream trout season closes in mid-September, and taking that new rod with me. That time I'll head into the "real" backcountry of the Chippewa National Forest. It will be wonderful.

One down side, I did lose one of my favorite lures. Oh well.

Proceeding on...