Tuesday, December 27, 2011

How The Ice Stole Chrismas

Let me kick this post off with the correct mood, I don't like X-mas. If Christmas was a sport, it would be the Warrior Run because your not going to get to the end without taking some lumps. In the end you wonder what you accomplished and why. It all seams meaningless and the only thing moving me forward is the march of time and the ability to cowboy up and pretend to like some of it. This years Run wasn't expected to be any different...I'm kind of a Grinch.

Friday I went for a bike ride starting about 9:30am. I had hoped to get 30 miles in but I ran a bit short on time and ended at 25. The ride was really peaceful and it felt like I was the only one out enjoying the blustery conditions and biting wind. This ride really helped cheer me up because I didn't want xmas to arrive.

See NO PEOPLE! <I'm real happy>

I have family obligations and other distraction over the next day or two but I find a few hours to hide in my workshop building a bench power supply for my electronics hobby. I enjoy being in my workshop, its where a Grinch likes to hide so they don't hear all the Christmas cheer.

Enclosure and high voltage side is complete.

Monday some buddies and I go out to Minnewashta Lake for an ice dive. Water clarity and bottom composition make for poor dives but we find a pressure riff and jump right in! Terry was on a dive at the time and comes up for a look. It's good to have friends and it's better to have so many that your ice hole gets crowded! Maybe this is what Xmas is suppose to be about, I mean it has all the normal Holiday activities?

Company arrives to celebrate the occasion

There is not enough room for everyone but you squeeze in.

Everyone wants to smile for the camera
Emotions are high while unwrapping all the toys!

Everyone leaves. Xmas 2011 is in the books

 I guess I was wrong, I like Christmas. I like it in my own way.

And what happened then...?
Well...in Who-ville they say
That the Grinch's small heart
Grew three sizes that day!
And the minute his heart didn't feel quite so tight,
He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light
And he brought back the toys! And the food for the feast!
And he...
The Grinch carved the roast beast!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dry Caving!

I know I should probably not blog twice in a day but I've been dieing to Blog this since it happened in November. I've wanted to go caving for at least a decade and as it happened a guy I connected with on a Fat Bike ride happens to cave and was nice enough to invite me to join him(Josh) and his wife. I was so excited to go it was like being a little kid on xmas eve.

Not having any experience in a cave other then public tours and the cave diving (scuba) in Florida I had no experience to draw on so I just went simple and tried to not be a nob. That means I didn't bring a camera and had to hope I'd get pictures from Josh. I didn't know about water and mud and didn't want to destroy a camera.

I had a great time and it was everything I hoped for. The passages at times necked down to tiny belly crawls for 100's of feet opening to rooms and more passages. Some passages were so small you had to keep your head sideways because the passage was less then one foot high and fortunately a skull is thinner sideways and allows for forward passage. I though I might get the creeps about worming under small squeezes but I liked them for the first few hours but then started to enjoy being off the ground because your knees and elbows take a thrashing. I guess everything in moderation applies to caving as well.

Anyway, I need to post a huge thanks to my buddy Josh for making this happen for me and I'm encouraging readers to Follow This Link to his blog for photos and a second storyline. I'm looking forward to my next trip with the The Minnesota Speleological Survey

Me in a large crawl. Photo credit Deathrideradventure

A Bike In A Pipe

Last night I got invited to a clandestine bike ride in subterranean pipe(s). We could ride for miles. It was surprising how much architecture there is to see.

Large terminus stairs leading to other levels.

The stairs lead up to other levels. Some are large and wide but others are tight and come off the sides of the mains. I didn't follow any up very far. There are many flows in what could best be described as crawls. Obviously we didn't enter them but our lights would go a 100 feet or more and then dim out to black.

side passage stairs

As you would expect the sound of water is only attenuated by great distances so you are always moving away from one and into another grand sound of falling water.

Another end

Like a Ship In A Bottle, the first question is "How did you get in there?" and just like the craftsman of the ships, we don't really say.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Long Ride (Gone Bad)

This ride was suppose to be a 40+ mile buddy ride. We all have fat bikes and our minds set to start rolling the longer miles. The idea was good but doomed. Pete conflicted with x-mas prep, The sun burst into a heat wave making peanut butter of anything but stone and Duane suffered a massive mechanical that tore the rear derailleur off his bike. We still do not understand what demon stick pushed it into the spokes.  It was literally dragging on the ground (or peanut butter by this time) when I returned to find him. He looked confused like the idea of breaking down this badly was beyond reality. We were 14 miles from the cars and 3 from 169.

We removed the derailer and stowed it.  Using a chain breaker, we spliced the shortened chain using my spare quick link to make the best aligned single speed but the repair was rubbish. It tossed the chain every 100 yards like a child having a bad day. With no way to tension it and without a slider "drop in" it looked hopeless but we stopped many time to rethink the design to no end.

We covered 3 miles in about 30 minutes for a spouse / broken cyclist recovery. While waiting, I re-spliced the chain. Having nothing to lose now that we where roadside, I pined the chain a tiny bit short for the best sized cog and removed the wheel, chained it and then stretched in into place. It worked perfect! The chain was tight but tracked and spun well. The only thing we'll never know is how long the reused pin was going to hold. If it blew out (in the field), the chain would be too short to reuse and we'd have to push.

The Nates hooked up in the slop real nice but I still had to eat dirt twice on my solo return . First I hooked a tree with the bar ends (think bull horns) and took it to the ground so hard my hip fused hydrogen. I'm very bruised on the right side. The second serving of karma came at a log jam and a muddy tire skating out and leaving me to clutch a tree on the way to the ground like some drunk monkey. When the curtains closed on that crash I has laying on a pile of brush with a stick in my hand and happy to not be in the peanut butter.

 I wish I had better pictures for this ride. I'll promise to do better in the future but I'm happy it's over. We also missed the 40 mile goal ending at 35.07 miles. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cross For Tots Race

I went to my first real CycloCross race today. Jay (Hollywood) put on a race to raise cash and toys for Toys For Tots this morning. The first race starting at 12:15. I raced in C (30 minutes) and was considering racing B (45 minutes) after. I probably would have enjoyed that but passed because I was hoping to catch some buddies out ice diving. My wife Kristen came out to watch and take the pictures.

I love races, the energy at the start is like launching a rocket. Everyone is twitchy and ready to power out hard. Then the gun goes off and we blast out fighting for spots and not create any contact or cut someone off and make a problem behind. I don't know the full count or my time but I came in about mid pack from what I could tell from the preliminary list. I'm real happy with that for my first Cross pushing a heavy full suspension and thick Racing Ralph tires. But I'm hooked and Hollywood Cycle will be hooking me up with some new hardware.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

First ice dive of the season

This Sunday me and some buddies got on the ice and went hunting for lost anchors. This is one of the best winter activities. To me and my buddies, it's the Norwegian Caribbean.  Let me explain; first the algae is dead so visibility is very good. No boats to worry about zooming about overhead without regard to the laws of diver flags. You get to enter directly over your dive site using GPS or the best bathyspheric maps available.No sand, no luging gear to the waters edge and you don't overheat getting geared up for the 36 degree water.
Terry tells 'Polar Bear' how well things are going.
Hydro about to go under
Hydro under about 6 inches of good ice.
3 of my 8 finds for the day. 20 for the team.
The drag to shore
A sled of gear. It's about 400 lbs

More photos.