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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Strada Fango Spring Classic




I haven't gotten around to finishing up a Ragnarok 105 report just yet, the week has been busy. I feel it's necessary and urgent that I fill you in on some details regarding next Sunday's Strada Fango...

As Guitar Ted has reported, this has been a tough year for the gravel grinding folks in the midwest. Many of the early spring classics have had some horrendous (read - "epic") conditions, and many are postponing or even cancelling! Well...yesterday I was contacted by the race director for the Strada Fango. He is very, very close to cancelling as well, but still insists that THE SHOW MUST GO ON!

I was asked to whip together a quick gravel grinder in The Blue Hills. Having considered hosting a gravel grinder of my own, I had an assortment of courses and rides that I've done in the past ready to throw on the table. There's an alternate course at hand. After some scouting this weekend, and a strong possibility that THE SHOW WILL GO ON, I assure you folks...The 2013 Strada Fango will not disappoint. 

Stay tuned...

Friday, April 12, 2013

Running Mad

From the depths of the Blue Hills and my quest in search of the elusive Wood Tick, I am finally once again emerging from the forest. Why I chose to pursue the foolish idea of tracking and photographing a Wood Tick is still beyond me. How do you catch that which catches? How do you hunt that which hunts? How do you attempt to trap (for a photograph) that which traps? Quite simply, you can't. At least, not always via bicycle. In this conquest I spent the entire summer sequestered away from riding friends and training buddies, exploring each and every intricate nook and cranny of the Blue Hills, mapping from corner to corner a sort of 360-degree virtual Google-Street-View-type map in my mind. Yet, I seem to be hoarding most of it to myself, sharing very little of this tremendous "playground for big kids" with others. That will change, my friends and readers.

I've covered the gravel. The jeep roads. The two-track. The ATV trails. The creek crossings. The creek bottoms. The hills. Seriously though, at this point it feels as if I've covered nearly every road and trail in the surrounding 5 counties. When riding from my home, I've essentially run out of new places to cover in one day of riding. Yet, still no photo.

It felt like hours upon hours, days upon days, and weeks upon weeks in search the perfect photograph. Once I ran out of trails and roads to explore, I needed to get in the thick of it. If I was going to capture the ultimate photo, I was going to have to get crazy. I'm talkin' mad dog crazy. I would have to assume some sort of alter-ego in order to blend in with the woodsmen. When the trusty and reliable Soma Juice would no longer do the job, I would throw on the full length cloak made of beaver pelts, and my Davy Crockett hat, and attempt point-to-point bushwhack trail runs from Murphy Flowage to Imalone. This is madness. Running? Running is madness!

I had somewhat found a new obsession. Or, it was ‘different’, at least. This whole "trail running" thing seemed to offer a strange, sort of eerie, yet very primal feeling. One feels as if they are some type of ancient hunter or gatherer winding and twisting through the wilderness, whose only means of transport is their own two legs. No skis, wheels, dogs, machines, or any tools for that matter to make this self-propulsion somewhat easier. This, it seems, exemplifies the concept of "human powered" in it's most pure and simple form. I’ll give you that, my fellow runners.

While never successfully capturing that perfect picture, and having taken a long hiatus from the bike, I had the tremendous idea to use this new found obsession to my advantage. I would try to redeem myself from a horrific attempt on a vintage 26 inch Schwinn Paramount mountain bike at the 2009 "mashed potato" Tuscobia 75 mile Ultra. Although biking is my preferred poison of choice, I would use my knowledge, experience and training acquired from my quest to attempt the 2012 35 mile Tuscobia Ultra…this time however, on foot...

Stay tuned. Upcoming posts will include a short Tuscobia 35 recap, and details on tomorrow's Ragnorok 105....which, looking at the weather conditions, cross training this past winter could end up serving me quite well. Onwards and upwards!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wood Ticks

The weather over the past few weeks has permitted some phenomenal riding out in the Blue Hills. My older brother was visiting from Chicago around Christmas, and for roughly 2 years now I've been meaning to take him off the beaten track to the center of the Blue Hills, in search of the elusive Wood Tick.

Now, when I refer to Wood Ticks, I'm not referring to the small Northern Wisconsin arachnids that survive by feasting on your blood. Those wood ticks can be found in abundance between the months of May to September, whether you'd like to find them or not. Nope, I'm referring the sampling of characters that can sometimes be found on the trails out here. Typically, this is a poor place to interact with anything other than nature. A 3 to 4 hour ride is frequently without cell phone service. In fact, contact with other humans in general (aside from the occasional trapper, bear hunter, gravel road grader, or ATVer convinced they are the sole owners of public land) is either non-existent or few and far between. Burly, rugged looking beards, greased and weathered flannel shirts, Carhart overalls, blaze orange and Elmer Fudd hats are the name of the game out here. These men are the true Wood Ticks, not the small arachnids, and this is where they come to play.

Sightings are rare however, and the opportunity to interact with one of these creatures is nearly impossible. Conversations are short and brief, usually ending in estranged looks at one another from both parties. They aren't used to seeing spandex clad "trail fairies" riding a bicycle through the middle of their neck of the woods. Over the past few weeks, my friend Brent and I have been attempting to capture a photograph of one of these elusive creatures, but without success. They are a transient bunch, and might not respond very well if they become aware that you are photographing them. So, here are some other photos to tie you over while we continue on our quest.



Surprisingly we're still riding gravel in January.
The Gary Fisher Superfly seeing some snow.
More excellent gravel.
Mid-ride IPA stop.
Brent enjoying a post-ride Recovery IPA. Necessary for rebuilding damaged muscle tissue.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Contour HD Video Camera

A good friend of mine gave me this awesome gift for standing up in his wedding. I've read nothing but great reviews, and from what I've seen so far it takes some pretty awesome videos for such a little camera. A helmet mount is in the mail...so I'll be uploading some videos soon, hopefully adding a nice spin to this blog.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Danny Macaskill - Industrial Revolutions

I hate to be the blogger who simply regurgitates videos posted by others, but this one has to be worth sharing. Incredible.