Weekend report: Backpacking and bagging Minnesota’s highest peak.

Warning, no bike content whatsoever.

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Boundary Waters entry point, Eagle Mountain Trail.

My friend Jeff had contacted me a few weeks ago. He needed to get out on a overnight adventure. I seem to be the one he calls for bike and backpacking get-aways. This time he wanted to backpack. Plenty of backpacking opportunities in the region. For shorter overnights I tend to head up the north shore of Lake Superior and do a section of the Superior Hiking Trail. Jeff asked if I’d ever gone to, or knew anything about Eagle Mountain. Yes and yes. Eagle Mountain is Minnesota’s highest peak. At 2,301 feet above sea level it’s nothing to brag about. But, it can only be reached on foot. It’s located in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).

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Me at the Boundary of the Boundary Waters.

The BWCAW is a designated Wilderness and lies within the Superior National Forest. It is one of the most remote areas in the lower 48 states but is one of the most visited National Wilderness areas.  The attraction of the area is the hundreds of lakes contained inside this area that is on the border with Canada. The Wilderness itself is over one million acres in size. It can be navigated only by canoe through a system of portages that connect the lakes. A few hiking trails also give access. As a designated wilderness, no motors of any type are allowed into the wilderness.

The hike to the top of Eagle mountain is about 3.5 miles in length. The first three miles is mostly flat. The climb up Eagle mountain is not very steep and only gains about 500 ft. The most difficult part is the footing. The National Forest Service ranks this trail as “Difficult” due to the rough trail. Rocks and tree roots fill the trail the entire way. So a 3.5 mile hike with a 500 foot elevation gain sounds easy. It’s not easy, but very do-able for any one with some basic fitness.

There are two designated campsites by Whale Lake at the base of the climb. An overnight permit from the National Forest Service is required to stay there. We stopped at the Tofte Ranger Station for our permit. One was available. From there it’s about a 20 mile drive into the the Superior National Forest via gravel forest service roads to the Eagle Mountain entry point. Despite the hike to the campsite being only 3 miles, by the time you make the drive and walk in you are nearly 25 miles from the nearest main road and any services. It feels very remote. The Forest Service warns any rescue from this area is very difficult.

We navigated the rocks and roots and arrived at Whale Lake around 2 pm. Both sites were taken. That probably meant one group was camping without the proper permit. We didn’t try to “police” the situation ourselves. We were able to share the best campsite of the two with a father and his three sons (who had a permit). They were gracious enough to let us encroach on their weekend in the woods. After we set-up camp we decided it would be a good time to make the climb up to the peak of Eagle Mountain.

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The hike up was not steep, but very rugged with lots of rocks and a stream running down the trail most of the way. The area had received 2 inches of rain the previous night.

The mountain is mostly tree covered with a few openings in the trees near the top. The actual peak is hard to find if you haven’t read about it or heard about it from someone else. The trail that runs the last 100 yards or so to the peak is not marked (signage is kept to the absolute minimum in Wilderness areas) and is not obvious if you’re not looking for it. Here’s some of the views from the overlooks. All of these views are looking Southeast or East. Trees and lakes as far as you can see:

After marveling at the view we found our way to the summit. A geological marker and plague mark the spot.

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It says the rock composing the mountain is over a billion years old.
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Me on the summit.

I have to say how nice the weather and conditions were for this trip. Daytime in the high 60’s/low 70’s. Night time temps in the upper 50’s. It can get below freezing this time of year. And it probably did a few days before our trip because there was not a single mosquito around. Minnesota north woods with warm weather and no bugs is like heaven. And very rare. We did have a few clouds spitting rain at us during our dinner. But it was a minor inconvenience. It mostly cleared off by sunset. Sunset on Whale Lake was very nice. After dinner we assisted our campsite mates with their attempt to start a fire. Like I said earlier, 2 inches of rain the night before. It left everything extremely damp. We almost had a fire going twice, but eventually failed.  The family retired to their massive 6 or 8 person tent they had brought with them while Jeff and I sat at the edge of the lake until well after the sun was down. I snapped quite a few shots of the lake as the sun slowly fell below the tree line.

After sunset we sat at the edge of the lake in near darkness for a while until the moon came up. It’s hard to describe, but we sat and listened to the sound of silence. The Boundary Waters is known as one of the quietest places in the lower 48 states. Quiet being defined as the lack of human made sounds, like car traffic for example. There are very few places left where you can experience this. Even here our silence was broken a couple of times by far off planes. It can almost be disorienting to try and hear something when there are no sounds. It was a still night with few animal sounds, so there wasn’t even the sound of the wind in the trees. There are three places I have personally experienced this kind of silence. Here in the Boundary Waters, on a backpacking trip down in the Grand Canyon, and on a backpacking trip in to the desert and Chisos Mountains of Big Bend National Park in Southwest Texas.

As always, I slept great in my tent. I tend to sleep better in a tent in the woods then I do in my own bed at home. I was anticipating the lack of bugs, or at least hoping there wouldn’t be many. I had heard a freeze had happened in this part of the state. In order to pack a little lighter I left the body of my tent at home. I only use tents for rain and bugs. If there’s no rain or no bugs I prefer to sleep under the stars, even in winter. But since we had a slight chance of rain I brought my ground sheet, tent poles, and rain fly. Without the tent body it’s more like a tarp tent then a tent. No bug netting.

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My tent off in the woods about 20 yards from the others.
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Morning at the campsite on Whale Lake. The family tent on the left, Jeff’s tent on the right down by the water.
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Morning light on Whale Lake.
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Good Morning Whale Lake.

I think I slept about 10 hours. Something I can never seem to do at home. We took our time with breakfast and packing up. Sometime around mid-morning we headed out for the rugged three miles back to the car. Our route took us about half way around the lake.

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The view from across the lake looking back towards the campsite we stayed at.
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Jeff up ahead navigating through the rocks.
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Beaver dam and pond.

It was a great overnight backpack trip. We drove a longer way out of the National Forest then the way we came. But basically it’s drive south till you hit Lake Superior, turn right and drive about 90 miles of scenic highway along Lake Superior to Duluth.

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A hint of Fall color in Superior National Forest.
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Sawbill Trail. This road goes thirty miles deep into the National Forest. It used to be all gravel. This summer they paved over nearly 10 miles of it. Nice road, but I miss the gravel.

Near Finland, Minnesota along the North Shore we stopped to check out the views from Palisade Head. Palisade Head is a 1.1 billion year old lava flow. It has some dramatic cliffs along Lake Superior. It was a perfect day to be up there. Quite a few rock climbers thought so too.

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Spot the rock climber! He’s wearing a yellow top and black pants. And he appeared to be climbing alone. No one at the top or bottom.

What a great trip.

 

 

Weekend report: Biking, hiking…..and canning.

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I’ll count my Friday evening post-dinner, pre-sunset ride as part of the weekend. It was another one of those beautiful late summer evenings. We were sitting on our porch when I got the itch to go ride about 30 minutes before sun down. I grabbed the Brompton and went. It’s really become such a great bike for this kind of last minute grab-and-go kind of rides. This time I was on a bit of a mission to turn down any alley or neighborhood street I’d never been on. Above is the alley behind the local snowmobile/atv/motorcycle/small farm implement store.  You can see the squiggly route I took here.

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Saturday was 100% about getting our “canning share” of tomatoes processed. Along with our weekly summer share of veggies from our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm, we order up a bulk share of tomatoes for canning. We’ve done this for 4 or 5 years now. That’s about how long Susan has been learning to can. And now I’m learning as well. I spent nearly 7 hours standing in one spot skinning, de-seeding and chopping tomatoes. While I did that Susan used the tomatoes I had finished to make salsa and pasta sauce and then canned those. It’s only one day a year we have to work on tomatoes like this, yet we reap the benefits of that labor all winter long. It is some good stuff. In paste years we received more tomatoes. So we’d make tomato-basil jam and can some plain tomatoes for making soups and stews.

No bike rides or hikes on Saturday.

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When we bought our house in West Duluth in 2003 there were no official recreational trails anywhere nearby. Since then the Superior Hiking Trail has been extended across the ridge above our house. It is now, as of this summer, a 300 mile trail that runs from the Wisconsin border with Minnesota all the way up to Canada. It follows the ridge of Lake Superior. It is a premiere long distance hiking trail modeled after the Appalachian Trail. As I’ve mentioned before in this blog, there is also miles and miles of mountain bike trails being built all over the hills above my house.

Last month a new section of hiking trail was opened on the ridge above us. This section created a loop trail when combined with the Superior Hiking Trail. It is now known as the Brewer Park Loop. I had planned to take a fairly long bike ride Sunday to take advantage of what could be the last shorts and t-shirt weather rides of the season. Turns out it also makes for great hiking weather. I asked Susan if she’d like to check out the new loop trail. Well, I didn’t need to twist her arm. The official trail is 3.4 miles in length when hiking it from a local parking lot/trail head. We chose to walk from our house and enter the loop from another direction. Thusly adding a few miles. Our hike ended up being 6 miles in length. The first and last mile were road walks. Here’s some pictures from this hike that lays completely in our neighborhood. Or at least above our neighborhood. The ridge line is too rocky and rugged to build on. It is mostly wooded open space:

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Keene Creek as it cascades towards the St. Louis River and eventually into Lake Superior.

It was a spectacular hike. It’s hard to believe this is a urban hike we can hike anytime right from our front door.

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Blue Truck/Xtracycle at work.

Today was farm share pick-up day. Lots of fresh goodies from the Food Farm. As always it’s the Blue Truck/Xtracycle that gets the call to carry the farm share home. This picture was taken behind our local coffee shop, Beaner’s Central. They allow the Food Farm to use some inside space for the share pick-up by farm members. This is an alley side seating area the coffee shop built. I like the bicycle wheels incorporated into the overall design.

That’s it for now. Keep riding.

Late weekend report: A hike and bike weekend

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Bringing the Pugsley along to do a hike.

It was a three day

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Tower Overlook with a view of Lake Superior in the distance. On a really clear day you can see the Apostle Islands and the Bayfield Peninsula of Wisconsin across the lake.

holiday weekend here in the states. We spent Saturday volunteering on the Superior Hiking Trail. It’s our 15th season as Trail Section volunteers. As a Trail Section volunteer we are asked to walk our section of trail once in the Spring and once in the Fall. We then fill out a report for the Maintenance Supervisor and do any trail work we feel comfortable doing.

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Cramer Road (Cook County Road 1) near Schroeder, Minnesota. It’s hard to see in this picture but Lake Superior is in the distance down at the bottom of this ridge.

After more then 30 times walking our section we have the routine down. I drop Susan and our gear off at the starting trail head. I drive to the trail head we will finish our hike at, take the bike and ride back to where I left Susan. I lock the bike in the woods and pick it up later after the hike. An added plus is a nice, mostly gravel, and mostly downhill bike ride.

We carry saws, lopers and an axe. We clear the trail best we can. We leave the really huge trees that have fallen on the trail for the chainsaw crew. Above is a before and after shot of a couple small birches we cleared.

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The Falls Campsite. Break spot number 1.

When we arrived at this campsite there was a young couple on a three day backpack trip. They were drinking wine out of stainless steel packable wine glasses. Turns out he had just proposed to her at the waterfall right below the campsite and they were celebrating. She said yes.

It was great to be out in the woods hiking together. We have not done enough hiking this summer. Our section of trail, much like the rest of the trail, is very scenic. It follows the Cross River as it cascades down the ridge towards Lake Superior. There is only one place on this section that has a view of Lake Superior. It’s one of the pictures above and is called Tower Overlook.

On Monday, the Labor Day Holiday, I went for a 20 mile ride to the west of my house. One of my regular routes that I like to ride when I don’t want to be around cars or too many people. It is mostly gravel and rail trail with maybe 1/3 low traffic roads. If you’ve read my blogs in the past you’ll recognize some of the shots. I was feeling quite sad after the news of Danny Chew being paralyzed in a bicycle crash. I stopped for a long while and sat on the wall at Bardons Peak to think. Riding my bike helped. Here’s some of the pictures:

 

Danny Chew, the best cyclist you’ve never heard of, needs our help.

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Danny Chew

When I decided to write this post I didn’t know how to describe Danny Chew. The title fits. Danny is one of the best at what he does, ride a bicycle, and is an inspiration to many. Including me.

Danny was involved in a crash on his bicycle yesterday, Sunday, September 4, 2016. He was doing what he always did, another 100 mile bike ride. He became dizzy while riding, veered off into a ditch, and sustained a spinal injury. It has rendered him paralyzed from the waist down. Here’s one of the articles describing what happened and what we know up until now.

Danny has a personal website dedicated to his life’s goal of riding one million miles. Danny has spent his entire life working towards this goal. He is around 800,000 miles right now.

Danny is a two-time winner of RAAM (Race Across America) and an 8 time finisher. His best time clocked in under 9 days.

Danny is the Director and one of the creators of Pittsburgh’s Dirty Dozen Race. A race up 13 of Pittsburgh’s toughest climbs including Canton Street with a grade of 37%.

I had the pleasure of racing with Danny and doing some group training rides with him when I lived in Pittsburgh way back in 1977 and 1978. When my family  moved away from Pittsburgh in 1978 I was 15 and Danny was 16. My older brother knew Danny much better than I did and rode many miles with Danny. When I recently re-connected with Danny on-line he asked me if I was Pete’s little brother. Even back then Danny was a unique individual with his own ideas. He rode huge miles even back then. I learned a lot watching and racing with Danny and his older brother Tom Chew. Back before anyone knew who Davis Phinney was, he was 19 years old, penniless and sleeping on the Chew’s couch and racing those Thursday night races with us. Those were the days.

There is a website set-up by Danny’s nephew for donations to help cover medical costs for anything his insurance doesn’t cover.

Help send positive healing vibes to Danny. I definitely am.

Perfect ending to a very long day.

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My day started at 3:30 a.m. I was asked to do the extra early start at work today. I’m not a morning person. Three-thirty I don’t even consider morning. That’s the middle of the night as far as I’m concerned. Here’s the flip-side. I finished work at 11:30 and was home before noon. AND, it was a gorgeous day. I napped and accomplished a few things around the house.

Around 7-ish in the evening I started to get a second wind. The dew point and temperatures were dropping, and the air was still. Frankly, it was a perfect evening. I felt a need to get out for another evening bike ride. The Brompton has become my favorite grab and go bike for these summer evenings jaunts around my neighborhood.

Def: Jaunt  :to make a usually short journey for pleasure.

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The short, new section of the Cross Town Trail.

I had no route planned when I left the house. I ended up down by the St. Louis River on the Western Waterfront Trail. The Brompton made a suitable trail bike a a few miles of hard pack trail.

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Western Waterfront Trail.

My timing was not intentional, but I arrived down by the river as the sun set for the day. It had already dropped over the hillside to the west, but I was there for the official sunset at 7:50 p.m.

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With few clouds and low humidity, the sunset was not particularly colorful.

I experienced the “Blue moment”, that time of day moments before last light where everything turns a shade of blue before slowly fading to black. I rode home in the dark. Thankfully the Brompton has front and rear hub generator powered lights.

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It really was the most pleasant of endings for a very long day. I shall sleep good tonight.

My route for the evening.

 

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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Rememberances of Stevie 26 years later. 

I’ve been to hundreds of concerts and have seen hundreds of bands playing in bars and nightclubs. Of course some of those performances stand-out in my memory. One in particular I can’t forget. It was at Alpine Valley Music Theater in East Troy, Wisconsin. It happened 26 years ago last night, the 26th of August. My friend Mark and his wife Lisa were there with me for an amazing triple bill that included Robert Cray, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Eric Clapton. It was a night to remember. For more reasons than one. Stevie died in a helicopter crash after the concert not long after midnight on the 27th while leaving the venue.

The sadness still lingers 26 years later. Over the years I’ve watched many performances of his on YouTube. I’ll leave you with one of the better ones. Unfortunately it ends in the middle of a song. Here’s a link.

Update. I originally posted the above partial concert video. I have since found bits and pieces from the same concert and they are posted below here:

Five distinctly different bicycles. 


I own, try to maintain, and ride five bikes. I am limited to five by available storage space in our garageless house. My finances, income and willingness to maintain more than five bikes also limit me to five. I often wish I had fewer. Having said that, if I had more income and more storage space I’m guessing the number of bikes I was willing to own would increase. I love unique, handcrafted bicycles that are expertly engineered and aesthetically pleasing to the eye. 


All five of my bikes get used. Each has a purpose with not a lot of overlap between bikes. I go more in depth on this in the link to “My Bicycles” in the drop down menu or link above on this website. 


I’m at a comfortable place with the bikes I currently own. I enjoy riding each of them when used for their intended purpose. Each one of them stands out when used like this. 


When one bike gets neglected for a period of time I find it extremely refreshing to get back on it. My Ellis is a recent example of this. I call it my “go fast” bike because it has the skinniest tires (700c x 32mm) of any my large wheeled bikes (as compared to my small wheeled Brompton folder). The Ellis is my summer fair weather bike as well. I avoid riding this in wet conditions. We’ve been having an unusually wet summer. I’ve been riding my A-train with an all-weather belt drive/IGH drivetrain more lately because it requires no cleaning or lubing after wet weather rides. This past Sunday it was a deliciously cool, dry and low humidity day so I took the Ellis out for a ride. After a month without riding this bike it was like falling in love all over again.  The ride of this custom frame built for me by Dave Wages back in 2008 is silky smooth and very responsive. It’s a joy to ride. The time away from this bike made it so very clear. 

The wonderful thing is this happens with all my bikes. I miss them when I haven’t ridden them in awhile. I’m very lucky to have each one of these five bikes. 

TBT: 1978 Chicago Tribune Boul-Mich Bike Rally, Chicago, Illinois.

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Poster artwork for the race was done by famous artist Leroy Neiman.

In August of 1978 I was 15 years old. My family had moved to the Northwestern suburbs of Chicago from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I left behind a supportive racing community in Pittsburgh and was struggling to find a replacement community in Chicago. Soon after arriving in the Chicago area I learned of a big race scheduled to take place on the streets of downtown Chicago and Grant Park on September 4th. My age placed me in the Intermediate Boys age group. At the time the United States Cycling Federation (U.S.C.F.) governed all racing in the U.S. This was amateur racing. All racing in the U.S. was amateur at the time. The age group you raced in was based on your age as of January 1st of the current year. Since I was 14 years old on that date I raced the entire year as an Intermediate Boy, ages 12-14. The Boul-Mich did not offer a race for my age group. In a case like this a person was allowed to move up in age groups. I was allowed to race in the Junior Men’s race. Junior men’s was for riders age 15-17 as of January 1st. Intermediate Boys and Junior Mens had restricted gears. Even though I was racing with the Juniors I had to use Intermediate Boys gearing. That was limited to a gear no larger than 89 gear inches.

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I look like I’m about to puke.

My dad took a few pictures of the day. The picture above is at the start line. I am in the 2nd row middle wearing the red and white jersey and “hairnet” helmet. This race drew a huge field of big names. On the left of this picture is Jeff Bradley in the Kretschmer Wheat Germ jersey. He is a future 7-11 team member. He is the current U.S.C.F. Junior Men’s National Road Champion in this picture. I’m not sure why he’s not wearing the National Champion’s jersey. Back in July he had nipped Greg LeMond at the line to win the National Championship Race in Milwaukee, WI. Greg had been the defending National Champion and would win again the next year. I was in Milwaukee and got to see the Junior Mens race. Also in this race is future Giro d’Italia winner Andy Hampsten. He was lined up on the first row just out of this picture on the right.

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Starting lap #2. I’m in there somewhere.

The race started out fast. I was hanging on quite nicely. I had finished 13th in the final sprint in the Intermediate Boys National Championship Road Race back in July. So I had the speed to hang with the big boys. I ran into a small problem on this course. The roads were rough in down town Chicago. The potholed streets were causing me to drop my chain. I dropped it twice on the first lap. Both times I was able to reach down and put it back on and then chase back on to the back of the pack. What was causing my chain to come off so easily? Well, back then the five speed free-wheel was the available gear set-up. In 1978 the 6-speed freewheel was just around the corner. Imagine six gears on one hub? When setting up my bike with the restricted 89 gear inch sized gearing I noticed there was a lot of gear overlap on the traditional 10-speed set-up. I did something really radical for the time. I eliminated one of the front chain rings and ran my bike as a 5-speed. That’s right!! I was running a 1x drivetrain way back in 1978. The problem was a lack of any type of chain keeper on the front to keep my chains from dropping off the chain ring. Unbelievably I had not had a single issue with dropping a chain the entire season. Not until this race.

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Racing by Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park, Chicago Illinois. It’s blurry, but I’m on the right in the red jersey with white stripe going down the side.

On lap 2 I lost the chain again. It was getting harder chasing back on. The pace at the front was high. I ended up eventually having to drop out of the race. The chain continued to come off and I was getting cooked having to constantly chase back on. It was very upsetting not finishing this race. Although I wouldn’t have finished high up in the race, I knew I had the speed to race with the Juniors. I was bummed.

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Still in there somewhere.

After my disappointing race we stuck around to watch the main event. The Senior Men’s race. It featured a field of top racers in the U.S. I can’t remember all the names but I know Dale and Wayne Stetina were there. It was a thrill to watch them race. Dale was the reigning Senior Men’s National Road Champion and Wayne was a previous National Champion. They were very dominate on the national racing scene in that time period. And they were mega-stars to me. It was a thrill to watch them race in person. I had watched Dale win the National Championship title back in July in Milwaukee. It wasn’t my first time seeing them race.

I only raced from 1977 to 1980. That short time and all the experiences I had during my racing years really shaped much of who I am today. I lost the desire to train and race over the years since. I never had the competitive fire or genetic make-up needed to go much higher in the sport, but I’m grateful for the experience.  To this day I love the sport of bicycle racing even with all its problems and issues. It’s a beautiful sport when it’s pure.

 

 

 

Bringing back childhood memories while riding a bike.

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Short path near the dog park.

 

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Taconite pellets all over the ground between the rails. The trains spill them on their trip down the hillside to the harbor ore docks.

Summer evenings. The time between dinner and sunset. When the sun fades and the heat of the day lingers. A hint of cooler air appears in pockets of air as you move about. As a child this time of day was spent outdoors. Friends and neighborhood kids would be out too. We’d spend this precious time running around, playing, and riding our bikes. Burning off that last bit of kid energy before bed time. There was a sense of freedom and being totally in the moment.

Some how I lost that feeling, the ability to enjoy the moment. It was around age 13. I had started taking my bicycling to new levels. I was spending my summers training and road racing. Evenings became the time for recovery and sitting around. A week ago my wife and I were sitting on our porch enjoying the evening. A thought popped in my head. I looked at my wife and announced I was going for a bike ride around our neighborhood. I only had an hour before sunset and it was a beautiful evening. I didn’t change into “biking clothes”, I didn’t fill my water bottles, I didn’t put on cleated bicycle shoes. I didn’t put together a repair kit and pump to carry along in a bicycle bag. And here’s the big one, I didn’t grab my cell phone and shove it in my pocket. I simply got up, walked inside grabbed my Brompton and went.

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Logs stacked down by the paper mill.

I rolled away from my house with no destination in mind. I purposely tried to take the quieter streets, or streets I don’t normally take. As a top priority, I took any paths I came across. I’d go down paths just to see where they took me. Every neighborhood has hidden paths that connect streets to other streets. Some are dirt, some are paved trails. Paths can only be found and used when on a bike or foot. Growing up my neighborhoods didn’t have alleys. Alleys can be a great way to get around a neighborhood. My neighborhood I live in now has alleys.

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A little known, and little used, bike path. Paper mill on the right, creek on the left, Irving Park straight ahead.

I had so much fun that night I decided to do it again last evening. Although, I did take my phone so I could take some pictures this time. Here’s a link to the route I rode: //rwgps-embeds.com/trips/10542401/embed

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There’s nothing better than a path through a wooded ravine with a creek next to it. I remember thinking as a kid that these kind of paths were secret. Only kids knew about them.

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Seen from the bike path, Moline Bakery Equipment manufacturing plant.

The Brompton is a great bike to bring back this kind of feeling. Although it’s an “adult” bike, the small wheels remind me of bikes I would have ridden as a kid.

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The main drag through West Duluth at sunset.

Last evening I did something I never do as an adult. When I reached the main drag through West Duluth I rode on the sidewalk. I never ride on sidewalks. At this time of the evening I had the sidewalks all to myself. I looked into the windows of closed shops as I rode along. I rode with my eyes wide open. I noticed little businesses I didn’t even realize were there even though I’ve ridden down this street a thousand times on a bike and in cars.

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The main drag is quiet on a Tuesday at sunset. The overpass in the picture is Interstate Highway 35.

I felt like a kid again. It’s a shame it took me 40 years to slow down and feel this way. I think I’ll try to do this more often.