Saturday, September 15, 2012

2012 Stories

I hope that everyone has had a chance to recover and reflect on all the good times that were had. Just want to thank yall for all the kind words, and present some of my thoughts for what I would like to do next year.
First, while this is not a race, there is plenty of folks that wanted to go to the front and push the pace. Drew was chief among them, and was the first finisher on the first and last day.  His dominance was only interupted by my faulty GPS track on the 2nd day going from Bearskin to Ely.  Aaron Alto was able to capitalize on Drews detour, and was the first finisher on Saturday. I actually gave up trying to keep track of peoples times when riders started wanting to leave early and late, some staying on track, some taking more well established routes. Regardless, everyone got their monies worth.
Drew, Deathrider, Lisa, and Charly all have their own stories to tell, so I will let you check them out yourself.
After collecting feedback from the participants I think that we will make a few changes for next year.
  • Stage lengths are going to get trimmed.  I want these events to be a challenge to people, but I also have to recognize that not everyone is capable of averaging 18 mph, and having riders unprepared to finish in the dark was a little too risky. This also gives everyone a little more time to hang out and enjoy company. Expect to ride 60, 90and 80 miles next year, but expect a little more up and down.
  • The date is going to be pushed back one week for the sake of Ted Loosens marriage and so that there is a little bit of a break between the Dakota-50 and the GC. Next years date is going to be September 13-15th, 2013.
  •  The GPX and TCX files that you get next year will be the actual route that I have ridden, not a transposed version that I created in Bike Route Toaster. This is what caused the one snafu this year on the 2nd day.  If I feel the need to flag a route section I will use a VERY distinct type of flagging (like purple polka dots) or chalk mark the ground.
  • I am probably going to have a short list of things that I would like to see everyone carry (front and rear lights, a space blanket, etc)
  • We will be using plastic name plates next year.  They will be waterproof, rigid, and will make a nice keepsake.
I did encounter a problem this year that I really do not know how to get around, about 35% of the folks that registered did not show up.  This is nothing new, but it does present a problem when I am turning people away and telling sponsors that they will be getting a set amount of exposure.  What if I asked you to write a check for a nominal amount of money, and if you show up at the start, you get your check back?  If you withdraw 6 weeks before the event, you would also be able to get your money back (this period would also correspond with Bearskin Lodges cancellation policy). Let me know your thoughts in the comment section.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

New sponsor

Wanted to send you all a quick update.  After talking with the gents at Skratch Labs I am excited to tell you that we will have Skratch SDM available at the aid stations on course.
I have used SDM this past year and really liked the light flavor, and how fresh I still felt at the end of the day. Its pretty low calorie (ie less sugar, more electrolytes), and Allen Lim advises athletes to eat real food as a source of calories.  I will have Rice Cakes made and wrapped at the aid stations.

Many Thanks to all the people that have volunteered to bring items. We appear to be good to go on all the gear.
See you on Friday!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hey Crew,
Frank Lundeen of Cyclova XC put together a useful check list for when you are on the bike.  Cyclova XC will also have some basic bike consumables (tubes, chains, quick links, etc) for sale should you burn through your tubes on in the 1st day.

I also put together a short opus on using a GPS to navigate on the bike on my personal blog.

Water: Anytime you see a sign for a campground there is a good probability that there will be well water available.  I will always have at least 20 gallons of water and ice in the truck.

Aid stations: On stages 2 and 3 I will be on course near Isabella with all sorts of beverages and food. There is also the Trestle Inn on the last stage (just before you start heading up Heartbreak!).
Let me know if you have questions

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Route

If you registered you should have received 3 emails from me with the final routes as GPX and TCX files, and Cue sheets.
Below is what the route looks like from 30,000 ft.
Stage 1: Grand Marais to East Bearskin Lake ~50 miles

Stage 2: Bearskin Lake to Ely ~125 miles

Stage 3: Ely back to Grand Marais ~115 miles

I would also like acknowledge our newest sponsor: A-Train Cycles This event would not be possible without the generous support of businesses large and small. Thanks!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Final Recon

Its gonna hurt.
It is finished. Under 300 miles. I have a route put together and will have GPX, TCX, and cue sheets out to you by the end of the week via email.
Few Details: Hwy 1 is still closed and is nowhere near being completed.  I rode through trespassed the construction zone on Friday and almost got ran over by several 60 ton Terex mining dump trucks that were positively flying.  That was the most scared I have been in quite a while.  The official Hwy 1 detour would subject you to about 40 miles of narrow pavement, and I was not thrilled about that prospect either.
So I spent some time evaluating the prospects of routing on "unimproved routes" that connects Tomahwk Rd with Spruce Rd by the Kawishiwi River.  This would totally bypass all the construction and still spit you out on Hwy 1 about 8 miles south of the airport.  I rode the route, found it to be very acceptable, and then marked it with yellow fluorescent tape to aid with navigation since there are no road signs.

Another flat, but I catch this one early, and manage to nip it in the bud.
I only had 1 tire plug and thankfully it held.

140 strokes with the floor pump to get to 35 psi

I managed to get about 125 miles over the weekend, and I can say that I would not be afraid of riding a mountain bike on this course.  There is only about 10 miles that would require you to be super careful on a cross bike with 35c tires, but there is a lot of piece of mind rolling on bigger tires.  It allows you to look about and be negligent with your line choice.  If you intend to SS, please choose a conservative gear ratio (no more than 60 gear inches) and be prepared to do some walking on the last day.
My trusty steed.
Northern Culture on the Skids
Let me know if you have questions

Friday, July 20, 2012

It's a Free-for-all

Just got off the phone with the Grand Marais Police after talking about parking, and this was the first thing the jumped into my mind:

So You can park on-street pretty much anywhere in GM (hence the Free for all).  You can also park at the Artist Point parking lot (Which is also where I will have the truck and where we will roll out from on Friday).
I would encourage you to utilize the on-street parking since Artist point can get really busy.  Just remember to make sure that you hide all your valuables. 2nd - 5th streets are quiet and residential.

If you have not made accommodations in Ely, you had better jump on it.  They have got events going on in town that weekend, and space may get tight.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Fed and watered

I have been plotting and planning and wanted to see what most of you wanted to do for Dinner/Breakfast when we are on the Gunflint (ie the first night).
You can eat dinner at Bearskin Lodge, but its fine dining, pricey and only seats 20.
There is also the Trail Center Restaurant a couple of miles from Bearskin.  Its pub food and does not open until 8 am so you will not be getting breakfast there.

Few options that came to mind
For dinner we could:
  • Have pizza delivered from Sven and Ole's (in GM) and also do Salads,
  • Grill out: Burgers, dogs, pork loin, Veges, chips, beer...
  • Pasta Feed with Salads
I can make any of these things happen, I just want to get an idea of what most folks would be interested in.  I used to manage the logistics for a outdoor adventure company so if nothing else I can make sure that everybody gets fed. Cost would be about 8 bucks/person for the latter 2 options, and probably a little more for the pizza since its such a haul from GM. I would take care of all the plastic ware and other stuff.

For Breakfast:
I would line up 2 turkey fryer burners and keep water boiling from about 5:30 til 8am.
this would let you do the following:
  • Oatmeal
  • Rice cereal
  • Grits
  • Bagels w/ Cream cheese
  • Fruit
  • Omelets in a bag 
  • tea and coffee
 Cost for breakfast would be about 6 bucks.  I will take care of all the details.
So.......Let me know in the comments if this meal plan would work for you, and if so state your dinner preference in the comments section.  The most dinner votes wins.

All other meals are on your own.

Beer and soda:  I did my best to secure a beer sponsor, but that did not happen.  So, bring a six (or 12!) of whatever you like to drink, and we will keep it on ice.  I will have Chocolate milk for Dennis Grelk.
I also need a few volunteers to bring some med/large coolers for us to use. You will get then back.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


That will be the least of your worries

I mean, you have rollers to contend with

And moose that run like a camel

And aquatic moose
So last weekend I went up to finalize some of the routing that I had initially planned on paper.  Throught the MN State bookstore I had purchased the county Highway maps to use as a base. and make sure that google maps was not totally full of crap.  Most of the "roads" that google lists in this part of the state are usually private drives.   Well, I can attest to one thing. If a road is listed as unimproved, it means that someone might have skidded some logs out of the general vicinity about 25 years ago.  I spent several hours chasing roads that just did not exist.

This also forced me to make the decision that we will not have any "unimproved" course sections.  Unless I required everyone to use a GPS with mapping capability I just would not feel comfortable.  The roads are just too poorly marked, and most of these sections are also better suited for a MTB as opposed to a CX bike.

I was on the Lima Grade and South Brule by 0630 on Sunday morning and over the next hour I saw 2 moose (above), a black bear, and a wolf.  Just about soiled my chamois.  I think that yall are gonna like this.

When I hit Devil Track on the traverse to Ely, I could have sworn I was in Alaska.  As soon as you see it in September you will know exactly what I am talking about. The traverse route finding will be relatively simple and straightforward. I foresee less than 20 turns on the day.

However, I did run into a major snag.  Hwy 1 at New Tomahawk Rd. is currently non-existent.  According to MNDOT construction will be completed in Mid August, but it is currently closed to automobiles.  The detour is all the way around Birch Lake through Babbitt (and its lame on a bike). It adds about 15 miles to the day.  I am going to keep pretty close tabs on this, and keep you up to date.

I also managed to shred a new truck tire when I was on Tomahawk (expletive).

Registration Closes on the 15th.  We still have 25 spots open.  Once registration closes, the name plates are going to print.  Please let me know ASAP if you are backing out.
I will also have some demo gpx and tcx files for you all to play with if you are using a GPS to navigate.  In addition I should have the cue sheets finalized around the same time so that yall can do some route creepin.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Might be slow getting back with you this week

Last night I was finishing getting the tomato plants set in the garden, and I encountered this really tough root.  It took a couple rounds of jumping on the shovel to punch through it.  Turns out it was my cable internet line.
Sooooo ...... since I cant check email at work and the internets are a black hole at home don't expect any rapid responses.  Wednesday I leave for Pennsylvania for Dirtrag Magazines DirtFest.
So bottom line, keep the entries flowing in, but don't expect a super rapid reply from me.
As of last night, there were 8 automatic entries left.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The glass is half full

And so is registration.  Now is the time to stop being a pansy, and submit your registration.  15 more spots get automatic bids, then it goes to the lotto.  Entry into the Lotto ends June 1st. Registration must be finalized by June 15th. Meaning, if there is not an "A" between your hometown and your email address in the roster you are not in. 
Deep breath, collect yourself, and finish (or start) your registration.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The North Woods Adventure

It's Back.
September 7th-9th, 2012
Price: Free
75 Co-Conspirators will depart from Grand Marais, MN for 3 days of gravel and dirt road bike riding through the beautiful Superior National Forest, skirting the southern edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Each night will be spent at a resort, campground or public house.
Your gear will be hauled to each nights stage finish in a Box Truck.
Accommodations can be as extravagant or economical as the entrant desires. But you have to get there on your own power.

There is no sag, there is no support, no one will come to get you if you get a flat. At times you will be 40 miles from the nearest gas station.
You could get eaten. Bugs. Bears. Cougars (not the sassy, middle-aged kind either).
We would be sad, but its a reality that you have to face. This endeavor is not to be taken lightly.

The Route
Each Stage will be between 60 and 120 miles, and will consist of predominantly Forest Service and logging roads.
The First Stage will end at Bear Skin Lodge just off of the Gunflint Trail.
The 2nd Stage will end in Ely, MN
The Final Stage will bring riders back into Grand Marais.

My experience has been that too often in one day events, you get to ride with and meet a lot of really interesting people, but as soon as the race is over everybody climbs into their cars and goes home. I wanted to put on a low key, challenging event, that gave riders a chance to hangout in a beautiful locale, after a full day of riding.
Yay bikes!

Sound Great? Good!

Registration will open May 1st. All the details are here.

Got Questions? There is a good chance that they will be answered here