Friday, January 22, 2021

Traveling to Bike.

I finally did it, drove to Crosby/Ironton and rode the Cuyuna Trail System. I actually wanted to ride gravel around home but the winds were already high and the temps were dropping all day.  The temps dropped 23 degrees while I was riding Cuyuna!  I was actually watching the temp before I left.  It was at 31 in Cuyuna.  I waited a bit before heading up so the temps could drop.  The trails are closed above freezing.

I started riding a bit before 10.  It was 30 degrees.  The trails had been groomed the night before and that morning.  The trails that were recently groomed were closed to allow time for them to set up.  Overall the trails were in really great shape.  But take that with a grain of salt.  I'm used to riding at Sand Prairie, the land of frozen foot prints.

I don't get to Cuyuna much.  It's been a year since I've biked there on dirt and two years since I was there on snow.  Thus I don't know the trails super well.  Not sure if it's a new trail but Winze was my favorite.  I don't think I've ridden it before.  The best is how well it flows once up top.  I'd like to hit that up in the summer.

Temps dropped but the sun came out.  Great day of riding.

The Ride.

I stopped off at Red Raven for a coffee and headed home.  I'm glad I went but guessing I won't be back again this season.  Maybe if our snow continues to suck at home.

Current temp is -1.  With a feels like of -11.  I'm guessing this is the coldest I've ridden in this fat bike season.  We just haven't had many cold day.  After a day of riding smooth single track I figure I'm due for some Sand Prairie bumps!  Snow is forecasted for Saturday.  Amounts are a bit all over but 2-4" seems to be the most consistent.  I'll take!  More too, but I'll be happy with anything.  

Happy Weekend.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Crashes and All.

 Both Monday and Tuesday mornings were spent on the Mukluk.  Monday was the River Bluffs, Field of Dreams, Plum Creek, small section of the North Loop and Friedrich Park.  Tuesday was all at Sand Prairie.  With the new trails it's pretty easy to spend 2+ hours down there.

With that being said, I understand Sand Prairie isn't for everyone.  It's rough, especially the new stuff, and really doesn't flow.  For whatever reason I really like it.   I'm ok with low mph averages, falling down, and doing multiple loops.

See, I fell down yesterday.  Pedals got stuck in a bunch of grass.  
It was a comfortable spot.  And it was snowing!

Today Harper goes back to school, hybrid learning, for the first time in a long time.  Still debating if I will head out for a short ride after she gets on the bus of if I will wait for after work.  It's in the single digits now but rising all the way up to the mid to upper 30's.  

My time is running out to complete my 200k virtual Fat Pursuit.  I had hoped we would have had more snow by now so I could incorporate some snowmobile trails in my route.  That's not looking too promising anymore.  I have other options as well.  We'll see what Saturday's snow does.  Last ditch move would be to do the Dirt Bag course with some extensions added in to get the needed distance.

Mid South, big gravel event in Oklahoma, made the decision to go virtual this year.  The event is in March.  This has me wondering about Unbound, formerly Dirty Kansa.  Interesting year so far.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Toby's Trail.

 Friday stayed warm all day with the occasional wet snow falling.  Once again Toby and I headed out to Sand Prairie.  I used snowshoes, still not needed, and pulled a sled filled with bricks.  First, hats off to all the athletes that do the winter races I do on foot pulling a sled.  That's not easy!

While pulling the sled was hard it made for a great trail.  It was warm so some spots were slushy.  These would later turn to ice sections.  Toby and I made laps for 3 hours.  Snowshoes, wet snow, and pulling the sled left my knees unhappy.  But we had the makings of a solid trail once it cooled off.

That afternoon I headed to the basement and the rower.  This time I hit 15,000 meters.  That took a bit over an hour.  The idea of a half marathon is somewhat intriguing.  That would be about 6000 more meters.  A full marathon still seems unimaginable. 

Saturday the temperatures did drop so it was go time!  After getting Avery to gymnastics I headed down to Sand Prairie, starting at the North entrance.

I was greeted by this.  Are you kidding me?!  I was pretty pissed.  
There is no fixing this until we get more snow or another warmup. Luckily they only
went about 1.5 miles on the trails.  It's a pretty gnarly 1.5 miles.  Studs recommended.

Overall I was pleased with how the trails rode.  We definitely would benefit from more snow to smooth things out but I'm weird and kind of like that rough and slow riding on the fat bike.

This is a new reed section.  It's the area that will benefit the most from more use and more snow.

After 3 hours of Sand Prairie I went up to the North Loop.  That is running very well right now.  But again, studded tires are recommended, or extreme caution.  
Several sections are like this. The trail was snowshoed while wet so this is the aftermath.

The prison has decided this is a good spot to push the snow from their parking lot. 

From the North Loop I took the crossover to Friedrich Park.  That was still very wet and not frozen.  I did hit it back up on Sunday and it's froze now.

The Ride.

Saturday night and even early Sunday morning I contemplated about hitting up Cuyuna.  But as I do so many times I pushed that aside for local trails.  I get hung up on the extra time required to get there and back.  So back to Sand Prairie!  Oddly it seemed to be riding a bit better.  Again I hit up all the trails, some more than others.  This time I started at the main entrance and left from the North entrance.  At hwy 10 I went straight across and bushwhacked to Friedrich Park.  There were a few groups of people walking with their dogs so I kept it short and took the now frozen crossover trail to the North Loop.  Did a mini loop and headed home.

The Ride.

That afternoon Toby, two of the girls, and I went back to Sand Prairie.  We hiked the short loop from the North entrance. 
Toby leading the way.
Brinna and Harper.

Overall it was a great 4 days out at Sand Prairie!  I'm really hoping for some more snow to improve the ride.

Last week I was down in ride time, 15 hours.  But I was up in snowshoe and rowing time giving me 25.5 hours on the week.  So far my goal of not "just" biking is working out.

Happy Week.

Friday, January 15, 2021

I wish it was a little bit colder.

 Skeelo fans may recognize the title of this blog, albeit the words are changed up a bit.  If the past 24-36 hours would have been 10 degrees cooler I'd be much more happy.  But instead we have been hovering around 34 degrees for much of that time.  Yep, it's kind of gross out.

Nonetheless I got out yesterday morning with Toby.  We went to our spot at Sand Prairie.  I strapped on the snowshoes knowing they weren't needed but hoped they would help pack the trail for biking, once it cools.  Honestly I think hiking this section with Toby is one of the funnest things I've been doing lately.  That dog is just so damn happy running all over and I enjoy it too.  At the end of 2.5 hours and almost 7 miles we were both soaked from the the fat, wet snowflakes falling.  I have standing water at the end of my driveway like it's spring, ugh.

Oh well, not much I can do.  The snow overnight has started to stick so at least we got some.  When all is said and done I'd be surprised if we get more than 2-3" of heavy, wet snow.  Good for packing trail however, so I'm guessing Toby and I will head over to Sand Prairie at some point today.

My original plan yesterday was to snowshoe the trail in and ride it in the afternoon.  That's when I thought a cold front was supposed to move in.  But instead it got warmer and damn sloppy.  I headed to the basement to row instead.  I made it 10,000 meters without dying!  Maybe a half marathon is in my future?!

I'm working for an employee next Sunday so he's working for me today.  I went in last night and got some stuff done, namely putting out payroll.  I have some orders I need to finish too but then it's play time!  Maybe I can drag a kid out with me too.

Happy Weekend.

Let it snow...for real.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Busting Trail.

 Both Monday and Tuesday mornings were spent on the Mukluk.  Monday I hit up the River Bluffs and Tuesday it was Sand Prairie.  The warmth and sun is doing a number on the exposed trails at Sand Prairie. Fingers crossed we get snow Thursday and Friday this week.  

Riding through the reeds on the swampy sections of Sand Prairie I was paying attention for any open water sections.  I usually bust through once a year in these spots as it's a swamp with constant decomposition, thus warm water.  Add in the warm air and sun we've had I was on alert.

And there it water, with dead tadpoles.

I was able to leave work early yesterday afternoon so I took Toby back out to Sand Prairie, starting at the North entrance.  We connected the trail we started last week with Bumpity Bump.  I brought a handsaw this time and spent a could amount of time cutting downfall and head level branches.  We also put in a trail that connects with the swamp trail.  So basically we added a big outer loop to the existing Sand Prairie trails.  It needs a bit more work and use, but mostly it needs some snow to smooth things out a bit.  Plus it may be a bit hard to navigate without snow right now.  I am excited to get back down there and try it out but I'm waiting till tomorrow.  It's warm and low winds this morning so I'm taking the Cutthroat down 8.  Tomorrow and Friday are slotted to be windy so I'm saving the Mukluk for then.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Weekend Fun.

 I got a later start on Saturday as Brinna worked and I had to get Avery to gymnastics.  I got out around 10:30.  I explored a bit more of the Beaver Island area on the Mississippi before making my way back down to Sand Prairie.

Saturday was the last day of fog and Hoar Frost.  The St. Cloud Prison
is in the back ground.  The old water tower is visible.

From Sand Prairie it was the North Loop and Fred Park.  About 3 hours.  The more fun was later that afternoon when Jen, Toby (our dog), and I went back to Sand Prairie to snowshoe.  We used the North entrance.  It's an odd entrance as there are really no trails from it.  I don't think many know about it as I never see any cars there.  We snowshoed a bit over an hour.  The goal is to make a connector trail to Bumpity Bump.  We almost made it before running out of time.  There are lots of down trees that need to be moved or gone around but lots of potential.  Sand Prairie is 700 acres!  Most of which is wetlands so only accessible during the winter.

Sunday I met Charlie at the Soo Line Trail Head near Royalton.  We have a loop we like to do but never got a chance to do it last year as we had too much snow or it was too warm.  The route heads NE on the trail a bit till we hit Skunk Lake.  
Skunk Lake.

We jumped on the lake and make our way to Skunk River.  The going was slow but manageable. The river was more of a creek than meandered like crazy.
Skunk River.  We did an out and back.

After out little jaunt out and back on the Skunk River we made our way over to the Platte River and took it back to the trail.  It's about a 2.5 hour loop.  While I'm not a fan of driving to a ride it sure was nice to change it up some.  Very fun ride.  We did hit some slushy spots that gave us a bit of a scare but all in all it was good and safe.

Last week I rode all 7 days for just under 20 hours and 159 miles.  Fat bike miles sure do not add up fast!  I also hit the rower up 3 times and snowshoed once, plus a few walks with Toby.  Not a bad first week of the year.

Friday, January 08, 2021

Into the Fog.

 Pretty much all week as been covered in a blanket of fog and hoar frost.  Turns out it's a bit unusual for that to happen in January due to the usually cooler temps, wind, etc. but here we are.  Nonetheless I like it.  Kind of like riding at night, the fog and frost make the same old trails feels different and new.  Plus the hoar frost clings to everything making it pretty dang scenic.

Yesterday started foggy and ended foggy.  Not much reprieve at all.  I headed out on the Mukluk around 9.  I did a couple laps on the Race Track, some laps on a tiny holding pond/swamp, and decided to check out the river and the Beaver Islands.  I followed foot prints most of the time.  I also stuck to the eastern channel and didn't venture to other islands or channels.  Maybe later in the year if we get some deep freezes.

The end of the road.  This is the furthest South I can go on the river.  
Even in really cold years this is open.

From the Race Track I took County Road 8 to Island View Park.  Did a lap on the trails and headed back down 8 to Sand Prairie.  I spent most of my time at SP, doing laps on all the trails.
Eventually I made my way back up the Prison Hill to the North Loop and Friedrich Park.  Despite the warm up and no new snow all the trails are running very well.  It's been a super fun week on the fat bike!

The Ride.

I also started using our rower this week.  Just a couple times.  I plan to keep it to 2-3 times per week.  I've tossed in some core stuff too.  It's that time of year to work other muscles besides just the legs.  I hope to get out cross country skiing some too.  But I'm a fair weather fan at best with skiing so I'll wait for some more snow.  Yes, more snow!  Snowshoeing is a blast as well and my Hok Skis.  

Let it snow!