Monday, December 27, 2010

Totogatic Ski Trail

Janice and I have the week off from work, so with the sun shining bright and the temperature near plus 20F, I went for a ski this morning at the Totogatic Ski Trail a couple miles north of Minong WI.  This is a trail maintained by the Washburn County Forestry Department and if you need to know the trail conditions, it is on their website.

I think they only groom one track so people can use the un-tracked side for snowshoeing, although there were no snowshoe tracks today.  I know people have mentioned they had been snowshoeing here and there are signs that say "No Skating," which makes me think the other side is for the snowshoe. 

The trail  conditions today were excellent.

The last time out the camera battery was dead, so I took them with the cell phone.  I did the same again today, but from now on I am going back to using the cheapo camera I have.  I didn't pay much for it, which is why I like carrying it on my little outdoor exploits, but it takes better pictures than the phone. 

I skied the outer loop here today which in total nears the 12k mark.  The A and B loops have some Red Pine plantings along with some Oaks, Poplar and a few pothole swamps consisting of Spruce, Balsam Tamarack and some Tag Alder.  The C loop is mostly hardwoods with some good sized hills...up and down.  I liked the D loop the best as it crosses a nice sized Tamarack swamp along with a mixture of everything.  I think all the trails have some large White Pine and Red Pine, but I took no pictures of them. 

Smack in the middle of the trail system at the junction of the B and C trails sits this shelter.  It has benches around three sides and is a nice feature to trail system. 

Trail D comes alongside a creek for a short distance.

Back on to trail B here with a gentle climb to get back up on the flatter terrain.  Mostly Red Pine, Jack Pine, Oak and Poplar with a few swamps mixed in up on the top.  

This system has added some trails since I was here last.  I couldn't say for sure though because the last ski I did here was a couple years ago in the darkness of night.  The outer loop nears the 12k mark with a mixture of everything and as a bonus,  it is far enough away from roads, snowmobile trails and such which makes it a very quiet experience. 

If you are going to try cross-country skiing, start with a small country.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

First Ski of the Year

I ashamed to say that today was the first x-country ski of the season.  There is not an excuse for waiting this long.  We have a very nice snow base and I am willing to bet most all of the trails in our area are in excellent condition.  The trail I went on today was the Tomahawk Lake Trail located in and maintained by the Township of Barnes WI.  It is about 25 miles from our home, but well worth the trip.   

It is free to use, but I think if you are using the trail and can spare a couple bucks, you surely should make use of the donation box at the trail head.

If you notice in this photo, it is not tracked which made wonder if I should use the trail today.  After pondering it a bit, I came to the conclusion that they pull the tracker with a snowmobile so my ski tracks should do no harm before they get the tracks set.

I have skied here before, but it has been a couple years, so naturally I took a wrong turn right out of the box.  It is a one way trail system, so I back tracked and made the right turn.  What started out to be a 7k ski ended up to be an 8.5k, which was a good thing.

The last time I skied here, this warming shelter was surrounded by large trees.  Some of the area has been logged, but I knew that before I came out here, because my son had set up the timber sale and so graciously told me before I left the house for the ski.

I took all these pictures with the cell phone, so the quality may be questionable, I will tell you these are some nice trails.

At near 20F with an overcast sky, it was better than sitting in the house...or using the exercise room indoors.

They have a lot of benches along the way...and now that I look at this picture, I should have taken the time to clean the snow from them. 

The tracker and the drag sat at the beginning. 

When I arrived back to the parking lot, people had come to ice fish Tomahawk lake.

On the way I back home I went by the shoe tree.  They don't show up well with the snow on the trees, but there are shoes hanging from the trees.   A while back there was only one tree here loaded with shoes when someone complained of it being an environmental issue.  Mind you the tree was bordering the road in the middle of a very rural area.  Complaints were made and shoes removed.  Next, the road is trimmed of brush and trees near the road...and said tree is removed.  The people from the area have reclaimed what looks like two trees.   OH  OH ! ! !

Aerobics:  a series of strenuous exercises which help convert fats, sugars, and starches into aches, pains, and cramps.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Bright Night Ride

I rode for about an hour last night on some deserted roads near the house.  Not one car did I see in that hour.  Oh, I take that back...I did not see any that were driving but I did see three vehicles parked at the local bar I rode by, but two belonged to the owners.  I had changed the rear cog on the fixed gear from a 16 to 17 tooth.  It makes a noticeable difference and I liked the change for the road conditions last night.  The back roads around here are now covered with a layer of ice with a layer of sugar snow on top of that in some places.  In all likely hood, they will stay that way until spring.  Good for studded tire riding.   

I was out an hour and it was a great ride at +12F or about -11C which comes out to near 262 Kelvin.  About global warming, Jimmy Kimmel once said we can lower the temperature dramatically just by switching from Fahrenheit to Celsius...So there ! !

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Real Tree Year

This year will be the first year in a long time that we have had a real Christmas tree.  I cannot say I am a fan of the real tree, but as you can see here, it has made some in our household very happy.  I will admit that it was fun going out in the middle of a snowstorm with snow building up and the wind a howling, and here we are trying to pick out a tree, but we were together...outside doing something.  It was much better than setting in the house.

They pick the trees...I cut'em down.

Here is one of the pride and joy's of my life...and even though she is soon to be 18 years old, she is still in my eyes Daddy's little girl.

I have been doing my riding indoors since the end of last week.  First was the the weekend snowstorm and right after the snow moved out, the cold moved in.  It has been -22F the last two mornings, and although I can ride in the cold, I have chosen to use the mini exercise area I have made in the basement. 

 It's all good here and we hope it's all good for you too.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Can't change the weather...Enjoy it ! ! !

It was probably about three months ago that the front derailleur broke on this road bike.  This is the bike I use as an all around beater.  I ride it in the rain, when I know the conditions may be rough, on the trainer and I have used it to pull the B.O.B. trailer on bicycling camping trips.  It is not a spendy ride, but it suits me just fine.  I put a lot of miles on this unit.  As with a lot of things in life, it need not be expensive or top of the line to enjoy.  There is an old saying down in Tennessee, well probably, I know it's in Texas, that goes something like this "Fool me once"... It doesn't matter how or if you voted, there is some humor right there.  OK, I digress...what I meant to say is "Sometimes the best things in life are free."  The bicycle can cost $15 at a garage sale, or be a $5000 fancy ass carbon thing, or free.  It doesn't matter as long we are enjoying the ride.  I enjoy this ride.  We are expecting a storm moving in early Saturday morning.  They are saying 10 to 16 inches of snow along with some hefty winds bringing the wind chills down to -35F for Saturday and Sunday.  Early next week they say the temps will be near -20F with out the wind.  bbrrrr 
It was for that reason I needed to get this bike fixed and back on trainer.  I changed out the derailleur and put the trainer tire on, so for me it will back to the inside brick tomorrow.  Elliptical and bicycle trainer.

So even though the weather may be different the next few days, we will still get outside.  We are going to cut a Christmas tree, do our outside chores, carry in wood to keep the fire stoked, but I will ride indoors. 
So back to another cliche, someone once said "Don't be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of."

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Driving on the Ice? ?

We were in Rice Lake WI today when we bumped into one of my cousins who had said he was ice fishing Saturday night.  I asked him how much ice was on the lake and he said 4" but then he added, "There was a guy driving out there."  When we left town I thought we would take a ride down around the lake and sure enough, he hadn't drown yet.  So one may ask "Just how smart is this guy?"  I think it would be safe to say most people would say "Not very."  Now let's add one more detail and lets keep in mind that this photo was taken with the zoom.  He still isn't that far from shore, maybe 3 to 4 blocks.  So rather than sled his stuff out that 3 or 4 blocks, he drove, but that's not the kicker.  The kicker is...I think he had TWO kids with him! ! !  Now just how smart, and apathetic one might add, is this guy?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Back on

Thanksgiving week is no time to be riding a bicycle in the woods of northern Wisconsin during daylight hours, as this is the Whitetail gun season.  So, I take a couple weeks off the bike around Thanksgiving every year.  I blame it on the hunting season, but that is a lame excuse.  There is no reason I could not ride at night these two weeks, PLUS...the second week the hunters are fewer and also a little more sane, as it is the muzzle loader season the second week rather than large gangs with rifles like the first week.  People with the "Brown is down" attitude worry me.  I do have to say though, this was one of the more enjoyable deer seasons I have experienced in a long time.  I did not shoot a deer, but I say it was more enjoyable because there were fewer hunters around our home.  Suffice to say, that is because there are fewer deer in our area this year.  If it stayed this way, I would be a happy camper.
Now, on to tonight's ride.

Tonight was the first time on the bike in two weeks.  It sure felt good to be back riding!  I put in an hour on snow/ice covered roads at +15F and it was EXCELLENT! ! !  For those that live in this area, better get out there and enjoy it, because it will be spring before you know it.  You snooze, you loose.
Tonight is also the first time I have used the coast side of the flip flop hub on the fixie???not a fixie tonight I guess.  It took me nearly two years of riding this bike to find this out, but I now know the coast side works, so it will be back to the fixed side tomorrow.  Call me trendy or whatever, most likely whatever, but I just like the fixed gear.   

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fat Tire Build

I know there are some fat tire snow bike fans that occassionally stop by the blog, so I am going to throw this out here.  It is looking like a group of us are going to build up some fat tire bikes.  These will most likely be of the non-offset version.  We do have the ability to make adaptations to some of the issues that arise.  We will most likely be building everything from a single speed to who knows what.  We have had discussions of single speeds to multi speed hubs from Alfine to Rohloff with chain OR belt drive and on to the 1 x 9 up to the full 3 x 10.  For me, a straight single speed will be out of the question.  I intend on riding this ride some in the summer as well winter.  We all know everyone has different ideas that work for them and may not work for the next person...i.e. saddles.  So, please do not be shy as any ideas from handlebars and gearing to geometry will be greatly appreaciated. 

Any advice out there?
Anything that turns your wheel?

We would like to hear it ! ! !

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"The Ultimate Battle"

This is a video I stole from You Tube that should serve as a reminder to us all of just how fragile life is.  This very fine young man at an age of 24 is now gravely ill.  He is the son of a co-worker.  This co-worker and I have been friends for about 30 years as he and I share the same duties at work.  The immense struggles they have endured and how they cope should be an example we can all learn from.  I have witnessed this the last 3 years and I cannot begin to put into words to describe how wonderful this family really is.  I think some of us take life for granted sometimes and when something like this comes along, it is a sober reminder of how life is.  We sometimes let little things bother us a little more than we should, when if we just take a second to ponder, most things really aren't that big of a deal.  This young man enjoyed baseball and lived his life around it.  So get out do the things you enjoy, for you and I and the people we surround ourselves with could be gone in the next minute.   

Edit: RIP in Adam

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Heart Attack Snow

We awoke this morning to a small layer of snow.  It continued to snow all day and is still snowing yet tonight.  We have had about 6 to 8 inches of wet heavy heart attack snow.  It is the type of snow good for making snowmen.

With the snow coming down, I worked on the fixed gear in the garage.  I changed out the chain and rear cog, put the studded tires on, mounted the lights and put a rack on it. 

The tires are directional and I mounted the tire for the fixed side.  It has a flip flop hub, but I have never used the coast side.  I am going to try it out sometime.

I went for a little ride the truck.

These are some of the gravel roads I ride in the summer.  This is Road 4 which in December will become a snowmobile trail. 

I snapped the snow photos for the benefit of some that don't get snow. 

A snowbike is in my future.  These are some of the trails I will be riding.

I had planned on posting this much earlier, but we were out of power for a few hours today.  The heavy snow brought down trees and power lines. 

So after the power come back on, the DSL decided to take a break.  The net was down something like 5 or 6 hours this evening. 

 These little trees came in naturally after they logged it a few years ago.  It doesn't look like it in this picture, but this stand of little Jackpine is about a mile square of some very thick and tough walking when there is no snow.  A sane person would not want to attempt walking it on a day like today.

All of these pictures are just a short distance south of our home. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Another Night Ride

I asked the guys at work what I could do to get some more time from the headlight. Eric, who built the light, and Brandon both thought a 20 watt bulb rather that the 30 that was being used would be the way to go. Brandon was nice enough to donate one to the cause, so I put it to the test on another night ride and I am pleased to say I got a solid 90 minutes from the headlight.  Now I need to learn how to dress again...too warm tonight.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Day into Night

Daylight savings ends so that means back to riding in the dark during the week.  I had an hour and fifteen minutes of daylight when I got home from work and I chose to sit on the deer stand.  After sitting on the stand, it was on to the bike for an hour.  I need to work on my lighting.  I have a very good home grown bright light for 45-60 minutes.  I need to find a way to stretch that out.  Stats for tonight...saw 1 little deer on the stand and 5 while riding the bike...and two cars.    

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Lost in the Forest

It was during the recent wedding weekend that I headed north of Rhinelander WI to ride the Smokin Spoke mountain bike trail system in the Tesomas Forest.  It was worth the drive up there as the trails were in great shape and some features that made this a lot of fun.  I don't know how many miles are in this system, but I rode for over 3 hours and I am sure I didn't hit any trails more than once.  

I am sure some of the trails I was on were not on this map located at the starting parking lot off Crystal Lake Road.  Study this map well because the trails were not well marked and it didn't help that the first area I went through was being logged.

The trails were in excellent condition and as you can see in the above picture they were recently raked.

Some rocks and some hills.

Nothing too technical, just single track fun for the most part.

I came across two of these.  They did have a bypass if one desires to take the easy way.  I came up to this one kind of fast, took the go around, looked it over, back tracked and went for it...twice.  It was a fun little feature.

There was some area on what I think was the west end of the trails that wasn't raked yet.  Rocks and other inconveniences hide very well in this amount of leaves.

The trails pass through some very nice northern Wisco scenery.

As I said at the beginning...bring a map or allow extra time to find your way back.  I snapped a picture of the map at the parking before I went on the ride.  It helped, but I am sure many miles of trails are not on that map, as I was lost in the forest for sure.  Well, maybe not lost...just didn't know exactly were I was.  Besides, as I look at the above picture I conclude, there are not many places nicer than this to be lost.