Friday, August 16, 2013


As the billboard from Bike Jerks calls out a Cyclocross bike race broke out last night. Me, 3 buddies and about 100 others that just love bikes showed up for a good ol' boy bike race. It's wild in so many ways. Wild woods full of abandon hobo homes. Wild bike designs from custom builders. Wild people that live lives so different from what I understands it's like a Elise Island. Wild course with even less organization but we lead in with Bandit. It should be obvious we are not LifeTime and none of us want any part of that mess.

The best way to lay out the story starts a year ago when I went to a Bandit with Blake. Having no clue what would happen or if I'd get yelled off the school yard by the cool kids for being a nerd. My bike nerdyness was just enough to get me a few laps and a little fun so this year I recruit some buddies and try and help them understand that it's just a circus of bike geeks. Look at the hardware these riders are packing. Let me lead you in the right directions, think street credit plus graffiti plus lean mean speed.

After a generous amount of beer and a party is a field a race spontaneously erupts about an hour later then the billboard hailed so we quickly jump on bikes and race off down a trail as about 10% of us finish the last of a beer.

Some race others ride but I race one lap, stop take some photos, ride some more, stop again, hand the camera off and reride so in total I raced 3 of the 5 laps but we all had a blast getting our wheels dirty.

Bandit is show up and ride, have fun, be cool, and love the biking community.  Doesn't matter if you're a nerd or a bike geek so long as you have fun and ride like you own it.

Bandit Cross is awesome and in the famous words of John Belushi, don't cost nothin'

Friday, August 9, 2013

Disk Go

I've been playing Disk Golf, Frisbee Golf, or DG on and off for about 15 years. It's an inexpensive way to enhance a walk in the woods. The metro has many courses and I'm told the AMWorlds 2014 will be played here and 700 PDGA players come to town to compete. Yes, that's a little funny, like a Pro Frisbee player gets any respect versus an Amateur.

A few weeks back, the wife and I are looking for something to do that doesn't commit us to a lot of time between other domestic chores and I propose we go play DG and she agrees to give it a go. I have 20+ disks so we chose some stable ones to load her Golf Bag and off into the woods we go. Strong players throw over 500 feet. I throw about 350 with the lucky 400 foot toss. 

Holes are mixed length just like regular golf from 150 to 600+ feet depending on uphill, doglegs and water holes with par 3's and 4's dominating. We label the disks like clubs, Driver, Fairway, Approach and a Putter.

They all have flight characteristics like Overstable, Understable and Stable as well as Power (aka. airspeed). On top of that they have magnitudes of stability like +5 Overstable meaning it breaks very hard. Terms like Hyzer and Anhyzer describe the release angle. Forehand and backhand throws reverse the break making the disk turn right or left at the end of flight. This means at any time, you can throw any disk and make it do anything your want, or don't want. You can slice it into the trees, pull-it into the brush, get it high into the winds or worm burn it. All the ailings of regular golf but it costs about $10 a 'club'. My bag and disks retail for about $200 but I carry 14 or more disks. A beginner can easily get a fairway and putter (Shark and Aviar) and get paying for $20 or less.

Courses have all the components of regular golf but without tee times unless you go to Como. Most are free to play and you don't have much of a crowd but others are swarming with young people like Alimagnet. Some have a pay to play for the day. $5 gets you a little elbow room and a more mature crowd as well as better fairways. No reason to play an overgrown course and lose gear and get frustrated. If you're new to the game, chose a free, easy, municipal course at a school (northview or garlough) or pay the $5 and play something not overrun like north valley or oakwoods (free).

You're going to hit trees. Everyone doinks trees. The trees have taken an awful beating in the years. You can see the damage over time. It's like the trees pain is expressed in the bark. Look at that tree and tell me that isn't the tortured sole of nature. All it did was grow in-line with the tee shot but it lives a famous life as "that damn tree" and gives it's pain back to players in extra strokes. Look and you'll see faces heckling, "Dork's going to doink!"

It's not alone.

So go get a disk, put on your hiking shoes and go doink some trees in the name of fun.

Disk Golf, still better then Mini-Golf, those people are dorks.
<he he he>

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Coldwater Cave

Yesterday, the Iowa Grotto opened their doors, er holes, to anyone that wanted to go swimming in the dark ice cold water of Cold Water Cave.  I was excited to get into a new cave and being half filled with water made it even more exciting. This is 'wild caving' meaning you are not on a tour per say but you are guided by an experienced caver with knowledge of the cave. You need to bring skills and gear commensurate with the caves severity. Common gear list includes, Multiple lights, Helmet, Coveralls, knee and elbow pads, snacks, and in our case full 7mm thick wet suits, neoprene gloves and boots. You need to be able to take care of yourself and protect the cave from damage. As a rule you don't need to touch anything, it's better to fall down then to touch something that could get damaged. This is a very strong rule but we still need access and we have to walk but we try and walk where we have the least impact. Low Impact Caving.

96 feet down this pipe is a small platform over a river. Looking down, Looking up, and the exit.

With a river we get near 100% humidity trapped in the cave and the wet suit holds a ton of heat if you're not in and out of the deeper water a lot. It isn't long before you're steaming. Everything steams. I steam, you steam, we all steam in the cave stream. This makes photography difficult because you must use flash but all you see it water vapor.

I start thinking back to when I took photography more serious and even developed and printed my own images and it wasn't long before I realize how it is to be done. POW! Below is the same picture as above right. 

This is the platform at the bottom of the pipe over the river.

The main passage flows on like this for miles as side passages drain into it.
Formations improve as we move down stream.

I'm well in front of the main group looking back.

The cascading formation on the right has lost it's source of water (died) and became stained with manganese.

Might I remind you again, we are about 100 feet underground.

This is from a 'smudged' wet lens but if nature spent 65,000 years making it, I'm printing it.

Formations have names, partly so we can talk about them but also for navigation, this is called "Big Bertha"

Above is the entrance to a side passage called Cascade Creek. It's a long narrow, hell hole that makes you regret having bones as you bash into every freaking rock. It's flowing strong with ice water that numbed everyone's feet and hands but it all pays off with a fantastic keyhole passage that goes on for ever. I regret I didn't get a picture. I was too wrapped in the moment of adventure to remember to take the time and capture it.

Back on the surface we have some last shots of the relics of years ago. This is rescue gear from 1970 (I'm told).

Below is the bunk house for weekend long caving trips. Put together by the good will of fellow cavers of the 40 years it's been accessible.

They even have technology in the form of an old manometer (like a barometer). I'm kidding of course, this too is a relic of the old days of weather forecasting. The last thing you need in a cave is a lot of rain near by.

That's the end of the pictures and the end of the post but a restart of this blog from its stale state.