Monday, May 31, 2010

Day 3 - BHFTF

And now for something completely different...

I took my time getting to the festival yesterday morning. The trail runners were just leaving - no time to get there to take photos. But, the group was organizing for freeriding.

We carpooled to Storm Mountain. The group started with hike-a-bike up the mountain. About a quarter up the trail (from one of the riders) I decided that was high enough, There was a good, rock decent there and 2 jumps.

Spent nearly 2 hours there shooting riders at this spot. The light played havoc with the camera light meter. Hope I can touch up a couple more of the photos.

Since I was in the area, and it was that time, lunch as the Gas Light.

Stopped HQ to checking my receipts and claim tickets for Beer-Muda. i was sure the Gas light was one of the sponsors, but they are not this year. So I only had the receipt for Friday lunch at the Firehouse.

Napped and did some stuff in the room. Then off the watch the Strider demo race. The Tri-athalon was just about to start at so stopped to take some photos of the start.

The Strider race was probably the highlight of the races at the festival. Big boys racing downhill on little bikes. The only way to describe the was by a photo.

The day ended with the BBQ. Grilled burgers of beef, venison, buffalo, veggy burgers, and chicken with all the fixin's. There was music and beer, sopped off by raffles.

A couple of glitches there. In interest of time, they started drawing winning tickets before everyone got their tickets. I was finishing in the food line when the raffle started. (I was fortunate to win cycling shorts - and they even fit me!)

Once I had some time to get over to get my beer (2 tickets came with your dinner), the keg was dry. Luckily, the Festival purchased a second keg. When I went for my beer, I took BOTH of my cups, lest they run out again. (They did but the party was almost done). When one of the workers of the festival said he was pretty sure the one group of raffle prizes were all there was, I was disappointed. There seemed to be more swag for the racers than raffle prizes. Alas, we were wrong there were another general raffle, Finally Beer-Muda Triangle raffle.

By the time everything ended, I was tired, cold, and my brain was fried from the noise. Took me some time to settle down to sleep.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Day 2 - BHFTF

Saturday was race day. I was thinking of riding the Fuel EX7 during the day. Dressed in cycling jersey and shorts. But, with race delays (The Super D start was delayed some 1 hour and 20 minutes). The hill climb held right after the end of the Super D.

I had a very good vantage point for shooting the Super D and Hill Climb. Normally, I would post a photo of one of the racers on the course. But today we had a trail pixie near me. Anna, who I met 2 years ago on the Centennial Trail ride.

By the time I got back to Headquarters, it was almost time for the Downhill to start. No time to stop by for some lunch.

As it turned out, the start of the Downhill race was delayed at least an hour. I was too tired from walking and climbing to go up the hill for a jump vantage point. Caught most of the racers as the get near the end of their race.

At 4pm. they were still racing - but I needed to eat before the Film Festival. Off to the motel, change clothes, and headed for the Gas Light. While up on the hill, knowing I would miss lunch, I decided it was a great evening to have a good dinner at the Gas Light (and they are a sponsor of the festival).

For those of you that have not attended BHFTF - you get chances to win swag if you spend money at one of the Festival sponsors. That's the Beer-Muda Triangle raffle.

Saturday ended with the BHFTF Film Fest, featuring amateur films, awards, and swag. (I think mountain bikers thrive on beer, bikes, and swag!) Special film was "Follow Me" - a freeriding film.

Black Hill Fat Tire Festival begins

For the BHFTF, I will be shooting normal exposures - no HDR exposures.

Friday morning I slept in. Needed the rest! Stopped in at the Firehouse for lunch (they are one of the sponsors if the Festival). Then it was to check in an get registration packet.

Bringing the camera, took a couple shots of the venue during set-up. Mostly spend the afternoon visiting with friends from previous BHFTF.

THOR friends - take a look at the trailer that the Black Hills Mountain Bike Association got this past year! The trailer is a great advertisement for the association and sponsors!

At the festival headquarters i learned that the bicycle trail from my motel to the social venue was clear (no flooding). I was worried about that since some crossing are underwater from the heavy rain Rapid City received Monday.

Nap time before the Welcoming Social.

The Social was hosted at the Chop House - same venue for the 4 years. It felt good to be on the bike. Rode the hardtail. Not that far - just about 3.5 miles. The hot day turned into a comfortable evening. Spend more of the time with friends that have ties to Omaha.

After the Welcome Social there was a viewing of "Woman of Dirt" showing at the Elks Theater. I was too tired, so instead headed back to the motel and crashed.

Badlands & Mt. Rushmore

Back to the travelogue.

Thursday I got up way tooooo early - at least for most folks on a "vacation". But you have to get up early if you want to get some of the best light of the day - sunrise.

For the first time on these trips, the sky was clear in the morning. A few clouds would have made more interesting photos, the the colors were good. My original plan was to drive the Badlands Loop Road again this morning to shoot with the morning sun. But with the construction on the road, decided to take a pass. Within an hour, I was ready to head back to the motel and pack up.

On over to the Black Hills. Drove down to Hermosa and West to the Iron Mountain Road. This is a favorite of mine - twisty, hilly road, some tunnels, and pigtail bridges. The tunnels all provide a view of Mt. Rushmore through the tunnel.

Along the iron Mountain road, don't miss the Norbeck Memorial Overlook. It provides 2 nice vista of Mt. Rushmore. The photo here is taken from the overlook. Processed HDR with the "grunge" effect. For those interested, these HDR photos have been processed with Photomatix Light. Check it out - at $40, its worth every penny!

Next was to Mt. Rushmore itself. Took some photos from the Grand Terrace. May go back Monday to take more along the paved trail there. Anyway, I was getting antsy to get my motel, but its a little too early. Decided to drive over through Hill City, head North to highway 44. I noticed a waterfall on my map. As I neared the waterfall, I found it is on a cave. i was not ready to stop to pay the cave tour so see the underwater waterfall.

I checked in the Days Inn on Jackson (same place I stayed later year). I like this motel with reasonable rates and about a block from the bicycle trail. And there's a grocery store next door.

After getting settling into the motel, I relaxed. Soon enough it was time to drive back to Mt. Rushmore for the evening lighting ceremony. Was early enough to take some shot of the Memorial in dusk-light.

Relaxed over a dish of ice cream then set up for the lighting ceremony. I was able to take some good shots of the Memorial and the state flags along the walkway to the Grand Terrace.

Finally, a tired photographer headed back to the motel and crashed. Tomorrow - BHFTF.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Rapid City Drivers

I am going to take a break from the "travelogue" of my trip.

Yesterday, I went to visit a friend at one of the bike shops. We had met at previous Black Hills Fat Tire Festivals. I decided to ride my bike - after all, i am here to ride my bikes.

The first 2 years, I stayed up near the interstate. When riding LaCrosse Street down to the bike trail, I had no problem. Last year and this year, my motel is only 2 blocks from the bicycle trail. Last year, I rode my bike almost every place I went.

Rapid Creek is out of its banks. Like other cities, the bicycle trail thought town is along the creek. With heavy rains like Rapid City got Monday, the trail become underwater. So, I took to the streets.

My 5 mile rides was the worst ride I have taken. I was operating all of the laws as a vehicle. I was wearing a bright color jersey and my flashing taillight was running. I generally stayed in the right lane. People were honking at me. One gay tried to engage me in a conversation from here car while I was riding through town.

Folks would follow me in the right lame for several blocks before they would pass me. No idea why the would not just pass because they had plenty of chances.

One guy in a big pick-up almost clipped me. He could see me well in advance, but he decides to come right up behind me,the passed me very closed - less than a foot between his mirror and my handlebar. I was wrong - I shouted at him about almost clipping me. He shouted some obscenity - like it was MY fault!

This evening I was planning to ride my bike to the Welcoming Social. Since i will have to ride the streets (last year I rode the bike trail to and from the social).

Jerry, you have some very rude drivers here in Rapid City.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Wednesday I headed out for the Black Hills Fat Tire Festival. On the way, I decided to detour into Mitchell, SD. Had been a while since I had been to the Corn Palace. Shot a few set of photos. Processed them as HDR photos.

From there it was on the the Badlands. Basically, my shots that day were run as sets in 3 for processing as High Dynamic Range photos. Construction on the Badlands Loop Road slowed me down some. I bypassed many of the view points.

Checked into my motel. Problems connection to the internet. There seems to be there was a problem with the motel's router. Got some "heartburn" about it. The desk clerk was worthless for that. The only way I got ANY internet access was by "borrowing) the signal from a neighboring motel. With a very low signal strength, it was very slow and dropped often. Next time - I will NOT stay the Wall EconoLodge.

Ended the day with a shoot for sunset. The sunset was disappointing.

Ride at Manawa

Monday I decided to ride at Lake Manawa. For one reason - it was windy. another - I had not ridden a Manawa in several weeks.

The West side (short side) was all rideable. Do need to clean up the "fence" that someone had constructed along the trail. From the flood - its trashed the trail. Everything went well on the long side until the "black pipe". As you can see from the photo, there is still water and mud in the ditch there.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Another Bike!?

I have been thinking of getting a road bike. Last year I was pounding the pavement a lot. Started looking at a different ride than the Trek FX (hybrid).

This morning I rode from Xtreme Wheels to Margaritaville on the hardtail. On the way down the hill, I decided to talk with Blaine about a road bike. He had a Gary Fisher Rail in my size (55cm).

Now, I had never ridden a road bike. Once again, the shifting is new to me. It will take some time to get used to it. But, nothing I can't master. The great part of it was the bike geometry was perfect for me.

I felt very comfortable in the riding position. Actually can see better and puts less strain on my neck than the hybrid.

We got down the nitty-gritty. I asked about the components of that bike based on my weight and riding style. Blaine recommended that I consider a shifter upgrade with the miles I put on a bike. I requested a triple ring gear, because with the 3 ring gear "grandma" is a little too fast.

So, I now have a road bike on order. Its not a "Trek" but in the Trek family. White Fisher Rail Super T. The only color is comes in is White. So I will HAVE to ride the same color Fisher bike as Zach! A small price to pay for a bike that fits me to a "T".

Speaking of bike rides

Last week I rode over to check out the new South Omaha Bridge (Veteran's Memorial Bridge). From the Iowa side, its looking nearly completed. They are pouring the decorative red concrete in the median. i have heard that one of my cycling friends has ridden across the bridge.

The new bridge has a bicycle/pedestrian lane on the North side. This will then give us another safe river crossing.

There is still a section of the Veteran's Memorial Trail from the levee to the motel that have not been completed.

While riding one day this week, I started thinking about how many miles I have ridden in the less than 5 years I have been riding. Thinking that it has to be near 10,000, I totaled it up. I am at about 10,600 miles! Some time last Fall I hit the 10K - no fan fare, just pedaled past it.

Yesterday, I attended the THOR Trail day at Lewis & Clark Memorial. Taking it easy, I took photos and procured refreshments. Check out thee photos at

News on the cancer front

A little over a week ago I completed my chemo treatments. On the way out they gave me this little cake in celebration. Then I rang the "Cancer be Gong".

This week, I had my CT scan. The tumor on my shoulder blade is almost gone. The doctor said it may even just scar tissue that shows up on the CT. Of course, we still have the issue with the lungs. The nodules there don't seem to be getting a larger.

So far, so good...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Bike to Work Week

This morning Council Bluffs Mayor Hanafan and Omaha Mayor Suttle proclaimed Bike to Work Week May 17-21. The Mayors arrived at the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge riding a MAT bus. Their bikes were on the rack on the bus.

While both cities have been celebrating Bike to Work Week for about 5 years, this was the first time the two Mayors held a joint rally. New commuter maps were available. Blue Line Coffee supplied coffee and muffins before the ride. On the approach to the bridge the proclamation was read and the Mayors lead bike rides to their prospective offices.

There were 22 riders that headed over the Bob Bridge onto the streets of Council Bluffs. There was a short reception at Bayliss Park at the completion of the ride.

From there, Zach (Xtreme Wheels) and I rode up to Big Lake. From there we rode the Iowa Riverfront Trail to Riverside Grill (where we had parked). Great ride. Just short of 15 miles with temperature about 65, bright sun, and no wind.

In today's photo, Omaha Mayor Suttle and Council Bluffs Mayor Hanafan with their bikes and the bus that brought them to the rally. (So the bus ride was a little hokey, but it illustrated the point of hybrid mode of transportation in the Metro.)

My photos of Mayor's Bike To Work Week ride are on my photo site.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Festival of the Trails

I am a little sorry that I already sent in registration for Black Hills Fat Tire Festival. Was holding the weekend of June 5-6 for opening of Adams Park. But it looks like that will be later. So, I am looking at attend the CAMBA Festival of the Trails in Hayward (NW), Wisconsin.

Of course, that means consecutive weekends of dirt riding festivals. And they are over 700 miles apart, both over 500 miles from my house.

Now, I have attended all 3 previous BHFTF in Rapid City. That festival has become more and more race oriented. Matter of fact, I was not going to attend BHFTF this year, but decided I need to get out of the area for a trip.

CAMBA Festival of the Trails is riding trails, food, beverages, riding trails, video fest, riding skills workshop, riding trails, raffle, and swag (Did I mention riding trails, No Race?). Sounds like a nice weekend.

Oh, yeah, and June I head to South Carolina for my Army Reunion. Opportunity to check out the SouthEast trails.

On the other side, what the hell, I have earned it. Since my last trip over Thanksgiving, I have been in the hospital twice for biopsies, over 7 weeks of 5x a week radiation treatments, and when done, 11 weeks of 1x a week chemo treatments.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Lake Manawa Clean-up Day & Trail Report

THOR members were amongst the over 400 folks that attended the Lake Manawa Clean-up Day. The weather was great - for most of the afternoon. After 2 hours of picking up trash (this photo is of the trash picked up in the mountain bike/river dock area).

During the prize raffle, some rain came up. The wind kicked up and the temperature dropped. Three of us THOR members were going to ride the trails afterward, but the weather change caused us to scrap the plan.

We walked most of the east side trails. Most of the trails are in good shape on that side of the parking lot. Today (Monday) I rode the trails, starting on the west (short) side.

The west side is all ridable. There is lots of debris that floated up during the flood. It was very easy to see the "high water" mark.

Most of the East side (long side) trails are dry and debris free (thanks to earlier trail days). The one spot I encountered was at the black pipe. There is about a foot of water in the ditch there.

More photos are on my facebook photo album.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Swanson River City Shootout

My photos of yesterday's Psycowpath race at Swanson Park are posted on my photo site.
Photo files are $5 plus tax. You will receive the file via e-mail. The files are for your personal use - no commercial use. Print as many as you want.

I will do any touch-up needed before sending you the file.

Thanks to the folks at Edge Physical Therapy for providing the burgers and chips.
Unforunately, I forgot to take a photo of our burgermeister.

Was a long day - did not stay until the end of the race day. Needed to call it a day and rest.

Today having coffee at Panera Bread, then a trip to the hospital to change the dressing on my burn. This afternoon is Lake Manawa Clean-up Day. Finally, planning to ride my bike at Manawa - check out the trails.

Have a good day.