Monday, June 25, 2012

Fall tour in the north woods, Sept 23-30, you're invited

Last year's SW Wisconsin tour was an idyllic week of bike riding, exploring, and camping for the five cyclists who participated. The whole idea was to provide a moderately structured itinerary and guidance for people who are interested in bike touring, but perhaps lacking in experience and confidence to set up a bike tour from scratch. To that end, and also in terms of FUN, the trip was a huge success.

This year, I'd like to build on last year's success with another tour, this one in the North Woods of Wisconsin and possibly venturing across the state line into Upper Michigan. This one will be on as few paved roads as possible, making use of the vast network of state and federal forest roads in that part of the world. A casual look at a detailed map of that area reveals hundreds of mostly undeveloped lakes, streams, and a spaghetti-plate of inviting back roads. Because we will generally confine ourselves to rustic roads, speed and daily distance will be very modest, and there will be plenty of opportunities to hike, fish, swim (if warm enough), and just generally enjoy the wonderous thing that is the north woods in early Autumn.

If you enjoy going camping "up north" and surrounding yourself with nature, and you also enjoy bicycling, then you're a perfect fit for this trip. The cost is FREE, except for expenses related to getting there via carpool, food, and camping fees. I predict that this will be a great adventure, and I hope you can start planning NOW to come along with us.

For more inspiration, check out the blog about a similar trip from our friends at Bike Jerks, here, here, here, here, and here. Also here. Those dudes drink more beer and take more dramatic photos than I'm envisioning for the trip I'm planning, but the scenery will be similar.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Brewfarm Classic this weekend! Last chance! Shop closed on Saturday!

I'm re-posting this to put it at the top of the blog feed. Please consider joining this if you haven't already. Since we'll be riding our bikes on Saturday, the shop will be closed on Saturday, June 23. Here's a comprehensive document that explains everything you need to know to participate CLICK.

Save the date of June 23-24 for the 3rd Annual Dave's Brewfarm Overnight Classic. You're invited! We'll ride our bikes to Dave's Brewfarm in Wilson, Wisconsin for food, drink, merriment, and camping (leave HC at 8am, about 70 leisurely miles each way). If you haven't been to the Brewfarm, it's a wonderful place, owned by wonderfuller people. This is truly the highlight of the summer. You'll have fun, I promise. Oh, and bring the kids. Family friendly. Also bring a potluck dish, if you want to. There will be cars taking camping gear, food, etc, so you don't have to carry it all on your bike.

This was initially a cycling-based event, but riding 140 miles over a weekend isn't for everybody, and lots of friends were not terribly interested in the bike part. Just to be clear: We welcome all modes of transport, so if you prefer to drive out to the Brewfarm, it's cool. Some people drive out early, but bring bikes to ride around in the countryside. That's good, too.

Anyway, we get to the Brewfarm on Saturday, June 23. We set up our tents for camping. We hang out in nature's splendor, we eat, we drink, we make and/or hear music, and for heaven's sake, we enjoy the great company and the magical atmosphere. Optional: I'll wrestle any one of you into a painful submission. Then, by our chosen mode of conveyance, we go home the next day, Sunday, June 24.

If interested, please email for details and to RSVP.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Photos from the Rivendell Rally of 2012

The 2012 Midwest Rivendell Rally is over, and nothing remains but the suntans and the stories. All in all, it was a glorious adventure with perfect weather and excellent company. We had, at different times, 12 participants with four Rivendells among them. I don't currently own a Rivendell, so next year it'll be a "country bike rally" to be more inclusive of the other great bikes that people ride in adventurous mixed-terrain settings. Anyway, here are a few pics.

An over-the-shoulder shot of Ted riding the strada bianca on his "travelo".

Ted again, after crossing the gate into the wilderness.

I've been leaning bikes against this tree in Cannon Falls since 2005.

Jim M and I found an unofficial campsite above Red Wing. This was the view from near the spot where we slept.

And an accidental flash photo of the campsite that turned out interesting.

Twilight clouds as seen from my tent.

Day 1 of the rally included this road near Maiden Rock, WI, which is one of my favorite cycling roads of all time. These guys are working hard because the grade is steep.

I read maps a lot, which gives me lots of ideas about where to ride.

The city of Wabasha let us pitch our tents in one of their parks, which was partly flooded. The flood waters rose overnight, but none up us were swept away.

My trusty steed (Curt Goodrich All-Rounder). I've tried to sell this bike in the past, but had no luck, so I had it powdercoated and put a SRAM 2x10 mountain drivetrain on it. It was perfect on the sketchy gravel climbs and descents even with most of my stuff crammed into a pair of full-size Ortlieb panniers on the front rack. I really like it and I'm glad nobody bought it from me when it was for sale previously.

Day 2 of the rally was more fun roads, but on the somewhat more settled Minnesota side of the river. Instead of the thickly vegetated, rocky bluffs and canyons of the Wisconsin side, we enjoyed the winding country roads on the Minnesota side.

This is a neat surprise view of Lake Pepin from several miles away and hundreds of feet above along CR10. The man in this photo is exceedingly desirable.

More gravel fun.

The locals.

I guess this is pumpkin country, within which my bike performed flawlessly, with me riding it.

The last major accomplishment of the day was Hill Avenue out of Frontenac. This road features one of the most thrilling descents on loose gravel that I've ridden. This time I passed a guy on a Harley on my way down.

In Red Wing, most of the remaining riders scattered in the wind. Jim M and I found a campground overlooking the Cannon River a few miles up the trail near Welch, MN. The campground didn't seem fully operational, but it didn't seem abandoned either. Nobody was around, so we procrastinated a bit before setting up our tents. Rain spatters forced us into our tents shortly before 9 pm. I fell asleep pretty quickly. Around 11 pm, the proprietor of the campground kicked us out because he apparently lost his license to operate the campground. Jim and I were not bothered by the licensing issue, but the guy had some suspicions that we were undercover agents who would get him in even more trouble with the law. Reluctantly we rolled up our wet tents in the middle of the night and made off down the trail in a drizzle.

During our time at the campground, I noticed that my drivetrain had lots of white dust on it.

Jim and I settled in under a picnic shelter in Cannon Falls just after midnight. Of course, camping in such a public place is asking for trouble. Accordingly, the local police visited us at around 4am. We assured them that we were just there for the night and were not planning to permanently reside in the picnic shelter, and tried to get another hour of sleep before sun-up. We were the first customers of the day at this nice little coffee shop/deli. I left town feeling good about Cannon Falls, which had never impressed me much before.

Back up the road to Minneapolis.

I hope we can do this again next year.