Monday, June 28, 2010

Biltmore and BioWheels

Today I spent much of the day at Biltmore. Bought my ticket online early this morning. That way, I saved $10 on the admission fee. It was a special for the month of June. Some motels had tickets (probably with a discount from the $60 admission.

I was the first "guest" through the gate. Stopped by to pick up my ticket and parked the car.

My ticket was for the first group. The tour is self-guided. If you want, you can rent an audio tour, I think the charge for that is $10.00. The thing that struck me was the size of everything in the "house". Large, even huge rooms. Ceilings that are 2 or 3 times the normal ceiling height. In the basement there was a pool, work-out room, 2 lane bowling alley, and more! A member of the Biltmore staff told me that with the guests of Vanderbilt, they needed activities to occupy their time. That's why all of the activity rooms.

From there I stopped in one of the gift shops. Did some shopping and had the purchase held for pick-up later. Then on to the Gardens.

First was the "Walled Garden". This was the most most striking garden. T spent a lot of time photographing flowers. Speaking of photos, there is no photography allowed in the Biltmore house. Even the outside of the building is protected under copyright protection. No commercial use of images of the building. I could not find any restrictions of photography of the estate grounds. Since this blog is NOT a commercial endeavor, I feel I can publish the HDR photo above. The photo to the right was of an arrangement in the Walled Garden (also HDR photo).

When I create the web site pages about Biltmore, the flowers in the Walled Garden will be featured prominently. Next to the Walled Garden was the grand Conservatory.

From the conservatory, I walked down to the Bass Pond. Along the path to the Bass Pond is its own "garden". a garden of various trees and shrubs. Then there was the Bass Pond itself with its boat house, dam, and "waterfall".

Then it was back towards the main house with the Shrub Garden and Spring Garden. By then, it was time for lunch. Had a burger, fries and beer at the Stable Cafe. Tried a pint of Cedric's Pale Ale - a amber colored ale. Quite good. Asked my server who Cedric was. Cedric was the Vanderbilt's Saint Bernard.

Before leaving the estate, I stopped by to tour Antler Hill Village. Asked about a nephew of a chaplain I severed with in VietNam. He worked other area of the "farm" and believed to be still on vacation. Left my card and a note.

From Biltmore, I went to BioWheels to check out places to ride. When I was talking with guys at the bike shop, another person chimed in about the local dirt trails. He commented that he builds trails - it was Ben Blitch, whom I have met in Rapid City and Little Rock. He happened to be visiting the shop, using a space to do some work. Small world! Left off my last two 2010 calendars. Could not think a better place to leave them.

Back at the motel, I collapsed! My legs are GONE from the walking. But, before that, I had seen there is a Dairy Queen 100 yards from my motel. With the heat and the walking today, I felt I had deserved a large Heath Blizzard. Damn, that tasted good!

This evening it time to decide my travel plans. I am thinking of passing Gatlinburg. First, the motel there requires no changes of reservations 48 hours before arrival. I don't like that requirement. And, the motel I am in is cheaper, I could just stay another day here. I have until 4pm tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Reunion Wrap-up

Saturday afternoon, it was time to finish repacking the bags. Took a nap, and prepared for the banquet.

The banquet was held at the N. Myrtle Beach VFW Post. Food was prepared by the folks of the post. Menu was stuffed chicken or stuffed pork, apples, carrots, potatoes, green beans, salad, cake, and ice cream. There was plenty of good food.

Guest speaker was the County Veterans Service Officer from a North Carolina county. (Sorry, I did not write down the names.) It was a very informative session.

No one offered to host next year's reunion. For now, we will see if something can be worked out for Columbus, GA (Fort Benning) as 2011 will be the 45th anniversary of the 199th formation.

The photo above is the group shot of the reunion banquet attendees. I am not in the photo because I took it (as the official photographer). I should mention I donated three 2011 "Bicycle Trails" calendars. Promising that the will be ready and sent September or October.

This morning, it was load the car and eat breakfast. Said the "good-byes" for the year. Was on the road about 9:30. (OH - and with all of the problems we had at the hotel, the knock off 2 night's room - that helped!)

Seemed that it took forever to get to Columbia, SC. Checked into my motel in Asheville about 4pm. After moving into the motel, headed to downtown Asheville for dinner. Looking forward a local brew and a burger, I took the desk clerk's advice and ate at the Bier Garden on Hayward St. Good food and good beer.

Was very happy to leave the heat and humidity of the coast. By the time I got to Asheville, it was marked cooler and threatening storms.

Plan for tomorrow is to tour Biltmore Estate and the Gardens. From there, stop by BioWheels bike shop to check out info for local trails.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Thursday was the golfing tournament. Before heading to the golf course, I went out for a short bike ride. First things I noticed was the computer was not working right. Someway, the wheel size got messed up. Tried to get it working, but no luck. Well, I had forgotten to wear my heart monitor, too. So, it was a short, easy ride. For logging purposes, think it was about 7 miles.

I went to the golf course to take photos of the group and tee-offs. Found out they had planned having me riding one of the carts. OK, will do that for a hole or two.

Well, by then, it was too far to walk back to the club house. So, rode the cart and shot some photos for the 9 holes the group played. Besides of the heat, I had a cart driver that smokes. Another year, if I ride with the golfers, will request a non-smoking cart-mate.

Didn't do much of anything else that day. Visited in the hospitality room. For "dinner", it was the "guys night out". We sent to the local VFW post for tacos. Was a pretty uneventful evening (except for getting lost). We caravaned to the Post. The lead vehicle did not wait for following vehicles that were caught at the light. Add to the confusion with conflicting directions - I was about to say "screw it" and head back to the hotel.

At the VFW, were were herded into the banquet hall. A couple of our group commented that we felt we were being segregated. So, was a early return to the hotel.

Played some dominoes (chicken foot), and started thinking of re-packing the room.

Friday was the shooting tournament. I thought about taking a bicycle ride before the group heads to the ranch. But, it is just too hot. I was not excited for standing around watching the guys (and gals) shoot, so just took a group photo in front of the hotel.

Another "do nothing" day. With the heat and humidity (heat index about 105) was just too hot to ride (even in the morning). Not really feeling like doing anything. Visited in the hospitality room. Wanted to do some computer work, but the internet was down here at the hotel. Word was that a power surge hit, and everything needed to be reset. It was finally restored late in the evening.

Alert: If for some reason you are thinking of visiting N. Myrtle Beach, I recommend the you stay away from staying at the Hampton Inn Harbourgate. We just had way too many problems with this hotel.

Later in the evening, grabbed the last bags out of the car to start re-packing for the return trip. Did more of that re-packing early this morning.

The fishermen (and women) were up early for breakfast. Visited with them, had breakfast, and took the group photo.

Three photos in this morning's posting: Top - Golfers, Middle - Shooters, Bottom - Fishermen (and women).

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sunset Cruise

Didn't do much of anything most of the day. Visited in the breakfast area. Went out to take some photos on the beach. Then more visiting in the hospitality Room.

Some were talking about going to Brookgreen Gardens. I was all for that, but the plan seems to had never gelled.

I heard someone comment it was too hot to got out. About 2pm, i went to the room and took a nap.

Many of the group are planning to take the casino boat. That was a 5 hour cruise that would not get back to the hotel until after midnight. Way too late for me. Several of us took a 1 1/2 hour sunset cruise. That was wonderful cruise. Just long enough. When we got back, the sun had set and there was a little coloring in the sky. Tonight's photo was taken on that cruise.

Myrtle Beach

Well, I have settled into the Hampton Inn - Harborgate in Myrtle Beach, SC. The hotel name is significant because of the problems our group has had. While the room air conditioning is good, the hotel air conditioners for halls and public areas (breakfast area, meeting rooms, etc) are not working. It has not been working for over 2 1/2 weeks (per those working at the hotel)!

One of our reunion organizers called Hampton Inn headquarters. Word is that the air conditioning is getting fixed this morning.

Backing back a little, I ended up taking the "scenic" route from Augusta. Road signs direct me (I think) a older route on 2-lane roads. Should have taken the divided highway.

Monday evening was spent visiting. Tuesday morning I was out of the hotel for my bike ride.

Today's photo is of the Super T on the beach yesterday. Rode from the hotel, to the beach. Rode the streets along the beach to get the lay of the land, and stop in the Visitor Center. Wanted to pick up a bicycle map of the area.

Disappointed that several of the regulars are not able to attend. One of my buddies from Nam is supposed to come here Thursday. (See if he makes it -- have not seen him since the early 70s).

Most reunion weeks, there have been suggested sight-seeing places, some planned tours, etc. This year, those of us here for the first couple days are being left us to fend for ourselves - plan our own sight-seeing.

I guess one group went down to Charleston -I heard it last night. Was thinking of making the trip down there but its over 100 miles, over 2 hour drive, and not looking forward to that drive by myself.

Monday, June 21, 2010

FATS - Forks Area Trail System

The morning brought bright sunshine, heat, and humidity. Glad I was planning for a early bike ride.

I was at the trailhead about 7 am, ready to ride. The temperature was in the 70s already and about 100% humidity. No stopping me now - I stopped in Augusta just to ride FATS.

There is a large kiosk at the trailhead. Maps are available there. I headed down the trail. Soon I was at the junction of the trails. Well marked trail signs. There was also a map carved into a slab of tree. Also, a placard listing the organizations involved in constructing the trail system. Eventually, i will post photos of this on the web site.

On down the trail. A couple switchbacks to get down to the main trail. Again, at every trail junction there was a signpost. There is always a arrow the way to the trailhead and how far.

The trail was a mixture of sweet, flowing singletrack, a few short climbs, lots of rollercoaster, some roots, rocks, and armoring spots. A little of everything! The photo above shows one of the rollercoaster sections.

By the time I was getting near the end of my ride, I was getting pretty good at riding the rollercoaster. The only problem was a couple spots I had to get off the bike, not feeling comfortable riding a section. Mostly, I bombed down the trail.

That was until my legs started to get tired. I really need to get out and ride more trails like this one, to build up my stamina.

Had a great morning at FATS - wish I had more time to ride there. Showered, packed the car, and stopped at Denny's for a full breakfast (and to use the wi-fi). But, it is on to N. Myrtle Beach and my Army Reunion.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Battlefield Ride - Take 2

It was a foggy, damp morning this morning. I decided to ride the Chickamauga Battlefield tour route. Needed to ride this morning after the day I had yesterday.

I did not bring the battlefield map, so I only rode the tour loop, lest I get lost (since I have a date with the FATS Trail System near Augusta, GA). Felt good to be back on the road bike.

It was a busy morning on the battlefield roads. Many bike riders, runners, walkers, and folks walking their dogs. Even saw one guy blading with 2 large dogs. Looked like they were pulling him up the road!

The fog and heavy air made for a surreal sight. While i did not plan to snap any photos this morning, I could not pass up the lighting. I really like this photo.

After completing a lap (except for the spur to the Snodgrass House), I was feeling good, so headed on for a second lap. No pushing the limits (just a nice ride).

After 2 laps it was time to head to the motel. I ended up with 12.9 miles in 59 minutes. The speed maxed at 21.1 mph, with speeds on 18-19 at times on the flats. Average was just over 13 mph. That was the fastest ride on the road buke, the fastest ride for the year!

Most of the rest of the day today was just boring driving. After I got to Augusta, GA, I stopped by the South Carolina Information Area. Picked up more info and maps for trails and the Myrtle Beach area.

Checking into the motel and reviewed some of the into I had. Decided to drive up to FATS (Forks Area Trail System. I was originally planning to ride in the later afternoon but there were showers in the area.

Found the trailhead. the topology of the area was looking good for my riding style. Visited with a rides at the trailhead. His words were also encouraging. Picked up a map at the kiosk.

Looking forward to ride in the morning.

Tanasi Trails and Cherohala Skyway

Yesterday was a long day. Unfortunately, a somewhat disappointing day.

SORBA (Southeast Off-Road Bicycle Organization) Chattanooga Chapter rode the Tanasi Trail System. My plan was to ride with them. I met a couple of the members (and President Jeffrey Schaarschmidt. While waiting to drive to the trails, Jeffrey discussed the local trails systems and expansion plans.

When we got to the Ocoee Whitewater Center, we joined up with addition SORBA members. There is a $3 parking fee at the Center, which is in the Cherokee National Forest. The Center was a venue for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Talking with the members and the trails, they advised me its about a mile+ climb until the trail settles out as rollercoasters. I started the climb ahead of the group. Soon the passed me. In the photo here is at the Bear Paw Loop intersection.

On up the trail I went walking my bike. Sometimes the trail leveled out and I was able to pedal a little. Anyway, after almost a half hour. we reached the other trails. At this time, I was beat. it was time to head down to the car and spend the rest of the day on a driving tour.

Thanks Jeffrey and the SORBA members for putting up with me. It was a pleasure meeting with you. Happy Trails.

Stopped around the car to take some photos of whitewater rafting groups. From there, time to drive up to Tellico Plains and the Cherahala Skyway. Stopped at the Visitor's Center and some lunch at the TelliCafe. I are at the cafe as recommended. Food was very good, service could be better. Basically disappeared during eating my meal (when i wanted some more water).

Anyway, on to the Skyway. At the visitors center, I found out that Hwy 129 is closed in one section. So, there was not chance i would be able drive to Robbinsville and then up the Tails of the Dragon and then north to I-75. just ride the Skyway and return or down to Chattanooga past the Whitewater Center.

While contemplating this, I drove. Saw that Bald River Falls is only 6 miles off the Skyway. Glad I did because the falls was the highlight of the drive.

There were a LOT of bicycles on the Skyway. Even saw a "caution - bicycle" sign. At one of the rest stops, I asked about it. Its the Ride the Sky tour. A century ride - ALL hills. Lots of 9% grades.

The rest of the drive along the Skyway was uneventful. The scenery, I called "underwhelming".

Never even made it into Robbinsville. Turned around a little after the Skyway ended. Headed back the same way. From Tellico Plains, found the most direct, fastest way back to Chattanooga. Back at the motel a little after 7pm.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Ruby Falls

So, after the "warm" ride this morning, it was time to do something cool. How about tour a cave!

Yesterday, when I purchased my ticket for Rock City, I got the "double play" ticket - Rock City and Ruby Falls. Its not easy to find Ruby Falls from the back side (from the battlefield). Most signs are to point from the Interstate.

Eventually I found the route, and parked at Ruby Falls. The falls is underground - some 260 feet down. An elevator takes visitors to the cave. Once in the cave, its an over 2000 foot walk underground to the waterfall.

During the tour, the guide and signs point out special features of the cave. I shot a good number of photos during the hike.

While the cave was interesting, it was nothing like the waterfall at the end of the tour. The walk/hike was worth it. The waterfall is incredible!

The hike back was uneventful. After the tour, I at the snack stand - was getting pretty hungry. Then time to call it a day, and head for the motel. From the ride and the hike, I was tired.

Riding in the Battlefield

It was getting "warm" and humid when I got to the Chickamauga Battlefield Vistor Center. The Visitor's Center opens at 8:30. I wanted to get a map. And, I was running late.

It was near 9:30 by the time I was ready to ride and starting to get a bit warm. They have a tour route, mostly on one-way paved park road. The tour clocks in at a little over 7 miles. Figured start out with riding that, then see how it goes.

The route is pretty flat, except for the spur up to Snodgrass Hill. I had to walk the bike - and in the heat it was starting to get to me. When I got back down to the main route, I was OK.

When I completed the tour route, I wanted a few more miles. Re-rode some of the route. Ended up with just over 11 miles in an hour (riding time). Stopped to take a few photos - even some the bike got in!

When I got back at the Visitor Center, i changed clothes (my jersey was pretty wet with sweat). Grabbed the Canon DSLR to get a couple more shots that I had seen on my ride.

I was surprised when I got in the car - the thermometer showed 79 degrees. Not that really hot -- but it was very humid. The 11 mph speed isn't to bad, considering I was stopping to take photos and had to walk that one hill.

Gonna keep this ride in mind for a early ride Sunday before I head to Augusta, GA.

See Rock City

On the road again. Wednesday I drove from home to Paducah, KY. Yesterday, it was on to Chattanooga, TN. Drenching rain between Paducah and the TN line. Had plenty of time for go some sight-seeing when getting in town.

Decided to start my tour of Chattanooga with Rock City. Most of Rock City "tour" is walking the trail with the various rock formations. The trail winds you thought the rock and man-made structures to Lover's Leap. There you can see 7 states.

More view-points, rock formations, to the Fairyland Caverns. The grand finale is Mother Goose Village. It was interesting, some pretty good photos. A little more than just a "tourist trap".

Weather was threatening, and time to check into the motel. Got hit with a storm by the time got to the motel. Spent time getting settled into the room. After some food, I hit East Ridge Bicycles to check out the trails, places to ride. Chris Dodd gave me a very good "lay-of-the-land". I returned the motel armed with recommendation for riding dirt and pavement. Thanks, Chris.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tour de Bluffs

Yesterday I took the new road bike on a tour of Council Bluffs. Wanted to show the bike were it will be riding lots. (Maybe the bike can then help me get home at times.)

The first stop was the Indian Creek Bridge. This is a common rest stop, and conversation stop. Just before hammering up Indian Creek Trail (or battling the wind).

From there, on over to the Western Historic Trails Center. Here, the bike could learn all about Lewis & Clark and the exploration of the Missouri River.

Then, on over the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge (the Bob Bridge) to Omaha. Turned around at the Lewis & Clark Landing.

A regular stop on the "Tour" is Big Lake. The city parks has done some great work on this lake.

Finally, I stopped in at Jennie Edmundson Hospital to visit with the Cardiac Rehab and Advanced Wound Center. Sorry, the bike had to stay locked to a rack while at the hospital.

Finished up the rode up Harry Langdon, past the Mall of the Bluffs, back to Xtreme Wheels. Just short of 30 miles. Was a good ride.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My New Ride

Made it back home yesterday afternoon. Went to the bike shop to see my new bike. At the shop, they were planning to get everything on the bike for this morning. Discussed what "extras" I wanted (computer, pedals, mirror, etc.)

This afternoon, I was time to check everything out. Did some adjustments, paid for the bike, and headed out for my ride.

The mirror needs some adjustment. Did not see how to change the mount to see better. When back, Zack figured how to re-position the mirror.

Several times the saddle moved on me. Stopped to re-adjust and tighten the mount. Back at the shop Zack put a torque wrench on the mount bolts. Hope that does the trick.

The first thing I noticed, it take a lot less effort to pedal for the same speed. What I called the speed to effort ration. Now, over the 20 miles ride I averaged about 11.4 mph, no great pace. But, I did a lot of coasting, checking out the bike handling, slow pedaling because of saddle issue, etc. My heart rate never even hit 100 bpm.

It just felt that it was much easier to ride - 12-14 mph into the wind, with the wind 16-18 mph. Another thing I noticed was the road bike is more "skittish" than my hybrid. All-in-all, I was pleased with the performance of the bike.

BTW - the new bike is a Gary Fischer, Rail Super T. Pretty bike, eh?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Festival of the Trails - Last Day

Today was the last day of the Festival. Sorry to see it ending. But, before that, I had another trail to ride this morning.

Taking Bill's recommendation, I headed up to the Wilson Lake trail head. Weather was very cloudy with a threat of rain. When I reached the trail head, I checked in by signing the roster and headed up the Patsy Lake Trail.

At first, I was riding a bit "tentative". Soon enough, I got the rhythm of the trail. The trails is a relative new trail - from when I could see. As a contour trail, the climbs and descents are short. The photo here is of the Patsy Lake Trail.

I was feeling pretty good riding this trail. Most of the trail is singletrack. I gained my confidence and start riding better and faster. At the first control point, I consulted my map. Decided to ride a section of the trail against the normal flow. This would get me to the punch (to verify my tally card).

Back to the control point, I was faced with - "which way to head back to the car". I opted to riding with normal traffic flow. This part of the trail was overgrown doubletrack.

Some doubletrack spots, I few down hills. The computer showed I maxed out at 14.6 mph! Didn't know I could "fly" through the woods!. A great ride - Thanks for the recommendation, Bill.

After a stop at the hotel to pick up my raffle tickets (it started raining on the way to the motel), I was off the the closing cook-out. Here, we turned in our ride and special events tally cards.

Every participant had been given one ticket at registration. Now, those tickets were exchange to your choice of grab-bag items. I selected a t-shirt.

The weather was cool, overcast, and occasional shower during the cook-out.

From tally cards, everyone receive some number (I got 13) tickets for the "general" raffle. There were things from sports watches, to a bike repair stand, cassette set, trainer, and more. I did not win anything there.

The main raffle featured a Trek Fuel EX8 full suspension bike. I did not win any of the 5 big prizes, either.

In the next week, I will put together my thoughts about the Black Hills Fat Tire Festival and the CAMBA Festival of the Trails. For now, I am planning to skip BHFTF next year in favor of the CAMBA function.

The last photo here is one of the participants riding the tall teeter-totter on the Test de Trails course.

Festival of the Trails - Day 2 - Part B

Last night was the film fest. As mentioned in last post, it was held at Rivers Eatery, in Cable. Rivers Eatery is basically a pizza joint with a large selection of beers. Pizza crust is formed by hand. All are 8" pizza cooked in a brick oven.

Anyway, the feature film was Klunkerz - a history of mountain biking. The film was introduced by none other than Gary Fisher!

Was looking to ride the Namakagon trail for a last ride of the festival. Bill (that rode with me Friday) had completed riding all of the trails on the tally card. Watching my riding skills, he recommended the Patsy Lake Trail. Said I would enjoy it more than the Namakagon trail.

Long evening - it was 11pm or later when I got back to Hayward.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Festival of the Trails - Day 2

Its National Trails Day. Hope you are doing your part. Get out and enjoy our trails.

This morning was Technique de Trails, honing your skills on a mountain bike. The clinic was broken into 3 sections. The session was held at Gravel Pit Road Trail Head.

There was a section about riding over logs and obstacles. This one one thing i wanted to learn, but did not try it. There were 2 of us groups mixed doing different things. That, and the 2 instructors were talking at the same time. My brain could not process that much information at once. That, and the smallest log they had was taller than I had ridden over - so did not feel comfortable riding it. The instructor said to only ride over what you felt comfortable with. Did not hear much of what he said as showing/telling us how to ride.

The next skill I did better. We were up on the hill away from everyone else. This was riding figure 8's around a ring on the ground. The idea was to ride as lose as you can to the ring.

Final skill was riding lines. there were ropes on the ground - the goal was to ride close as possible to the rope. There was another riding between two straight line ropes. Finally, riding decreasing width planks. I did reasonable well with this lesson.

From there, it was on to Taste de Trails. Here, various local eating establishments set up booths along the trail. You stopped along the trail to sample their food.

Here, two riders are on the trail just after the food stop sponsored by The Brick House. We were treated to breakfast burritos and juice. I know there was coffee and sweets by Mooselips Java Joint, and sandwiches by Lakewoods Resort. Sorry that I missed the other food providers.

There was a food stop or two that I missed. Ended up with riding just over 4 miles with the skills riding and Taste de Trails.

From there, I went back to the Mosquito Brook trail head. Got more punches for the trail I rode and for the Taste de trail. Visited a couple minutes. Then on to the motel for a rest.

One more photo before I sign off for dinner and film fest. Thanks again to Bill for taking this photo on my camera. And, yes, I knew enough to try to smile this time. The photo was taken on the Makwa Trail.

Tonight the film fest is being held at Rivers Eatery, in Cable.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Festival of the Trails - Day 1 - Part B

The Meet and Greet was held at Hatchery Creek Park. Snacks and beverages were provided by CAMBA and Angry Minnow.

The evening session featured a demonstration of trails-side bike repairs. Topics were repairing flats, broken chains, what to carry on you, and broken spokes. Thanks to the wrench at New Moon Ski and Bike (I ended up with a free multi-tool - Thanks!)

Didn't get to much time to meet people because the demo took up all of the time. But, did take time off to walk over for a couple beers and some snacks!

By ride time, it was getting cool. Grabbed my cycling jacket and signed up for the ride. It did not take me much time on the trail before I knew it was something that was over my riding ability.

Its a whole different thing riding at familiar trails. Add in under lights, had not ridden single track with lights in some time, and the trail is just at the limit of my riding ability in daylight. Decided to bail on the ride to ride another day. Let the folks at the trail head that I had stopped and is back.

Visited a little with the TREK rep. The demo truck and trailer are at the Festival.

For something different, this evening's photo is of dinner - the pork tenderloin sandwich and potatoes at the Angry Minnow.

Festival of the Trails - Day 1

I awoke this morning to the sound of rain. It rained steadily mostly all morning. The first photo show what the weather looked like out of my motel door. Looked like it was gonna be wet riding this afternoon.

Headed out to Hatchery Creek Park for registration. Unloading the bike off the car, I met Bill (of Minneapolis). After dropping registration packet stuff, Bill offered to ride with me for a while. I really appreciated him riding with me. We had a really nice conversation (his wife is from Omaha).

We headed up the Hatchery Creek Trail. Not sure how far I would ride, we stopped at the first control point. At one mile (basically) I was feeling good enough to ride to another point. But, at H22 I was sure it was time to turn back. Bill headed on up the trail to hammer the trail.

Second photo is of me at H22. Sorry I have such a sour look on my face. I really am having fun!

On the return trail, I was surprised how fast I rode back - and mostly downhill. I had not realized just how much we had climbed on the way up.

When I got back to the Trail Head, I learned that had I ridden with Bill, I would have reached the punch for validating my ticket. The CAMBA member I was talking with (about a sign down) went ahead and punching mine, anyway. I HAD ridden the trail - just not far enough. I hope they allow me to do that other times, since the distances in these trails are a little too much for me.

Now, I was riding on wet rocks and roots, damp ground, and through water puddles. Thinking I am doing pretty good - for my riding. There was a couple spots I had to walk to climb and sometimes to bring down my heart rate.

Thankfully, this trail has short hills, Just a couple rocky spots that I did not feel comfortable riding. Feeling good. I celebrated with food and a beer at the Angry Minnow. Then a rest before evening festivities.

This evening is the Meet and Greet, a session of Trails-side Repairs. Then at 9pm, a "twi-night" ride (ride with lights). Not sure how far I will ride under the lights, but want to tackle it.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

CAMBA Trails - Telemark

Today was the first day of scoping out the CAMBA (Chequamemon Area Mountain Bike Association) Mountain Bike Trail System. The CAMBA trails area located in NW Wisconsin. The Trails System boasts some 300 trails, utilizing paved and grave, roads, fire roads, ski trails, single and double track bicycle trails.

The trail system is divided into "clusters". A cluster will be comprised of a couple of trail heads and the trails emanating from those trail heads. The clusters are located near the towns from which their names come - Hayward, Seeley, Cable, Drummond, Delta, and Namakagon.

Before coming up here, I checked out the web site. Here, you can view and print trail maps. However to ride these trails, I recommend buying the CAMBA Map packages. These maps will be MUCH more readable than the ones coming off your printer!

For a first look at the trails, I selected the Telemark trails of the Cable Cluster. The main reason is that there was no parking fee at that trail head. There is a $5 parking fee at Sawyer County parks trail heads.

Yesterday I stopped by the Hatchery Creek trail head (a Sawyer County park). There you see a location with envelopes and a drop-box for paying fees. The envelopes showed monies went to a ski group and a $10 fee. For me, that is a bit high. So, i stopped in the Hayward Lakes Visitors Center. They called the county and told me the fee is $5. But, this weekend (Saturday/Sunday) all trails in Wisconsin are fee free (guess because its National Trails Day).

Telemark has been a Nordic ski resort out of Cable, WI. Recently the lodge was closed. But the trails are open.

The directions on the CAMBA map is easy to follow as far as parking. I had some problems making sure where the trail starts. I had decided to ride the "Out and Back" trail - a short trail to check out the terrain. The photo above is of "Out and Back".

The topology of the region gently rolling hills. No "mountains" here, but some good climbs.

The trails is a combination of bike trail down ski trail and singletrack. Most of the trail I was able to ride. I should have been able to ride all of the section I rode, had my legs a little weak from the pavement ride a couple days ago. That and not sure were I was going as I was riding on unfamiliar trails.

Telemark trails has ATV, ski, and bicycle trails. Each group going their own way. I started to understand the signage, but did not to go too far. Headed back to the motel after a paltry 3 miles.

Nap time (I had not slept well last night) then dinner at the Angry Minnow (a sponsor of Festival of the Trails). The Angry Minnow is on Hwy 63 about 4 blocks south of junction of 63 and 27. Its an old lumber company office building. The lower photo is of the Angry Minnow.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Midtown Greenway

No blog entry yesterday - I was on the road. Packed up the car and drove from Rapid City to Minneapolis (actually Minnetonka). A long day on the road. That was not helped by me not having reservations. I was going to took for one of the chains I usually use - Choice Hotels or Wyndham. Holiday inn as a back-up - mostly by using points.

At the information desk at the MN state line recommended drive up through Mankato - its shorter and faster. The wrong decision - you don't have all of the options to stop at to get a reservation down the road. I was going to just log into the internet for find a motel - gut neither South Dakota nor Minnesota rest areas have wi-fi (like we do in Iowa).

Anyway - found a Holiday Inn Express in Minnetonka, MN near the bike trails. About 9pm I checked in.

This morning I NEEDED to ride. I rode over to the Minnesota River Bluffs LRT Regional Trail. Lots of climbing to get over to the LRT trail.

Started riding that trail from Rowland Rd (near I-494) East. For the first 2 miles, the trail surface was crushed stone. In Hopkins, the trail turns into the Cedar Lake LRT Regional trail. By then, the trail was paved.

There are informational kiosks along the trails. Someplace I read than they are generally spaced every 2 miles. The top photo is of such a kiosk.

At Cedar Lake, I accomplished my first goal - riding the Midtown Greenway. Riding right on heading East towards the Mississippi River. All this way I was riding in an old railroad right-of-way. Some places, the trail is along active railroad tracks.

I had heard the Greenway described as a bicycle expressway. In a way it is - at least a "limited access" trail. Where the trail grade separation is above street, there is a fence. All along along of the Greenway you find "exit/entrance" ramps. The above photo shows one of such ramp.

Like auto expressways, you will also find police patrolling. If you look closely - in the third photo you see a "Black & White" watching the trail. Of safety, there are also emergency call boxes along the trail system. Literature about the trails say there is no speed limit on the trails - but I thought I saw a sign about the trail rules, setting a limit of 15 mph.

On the Greenway, I realized I was at over 10 miles. Feeling pretty good, I set a new goal - Mississippi River. A cable-stay bridge spans Hiawatha Ave. In the photo of the bridge, notice the lane markings. Trail users obey these markings. A short detour off the old railroad right-of-way, then back up to the river. There, the Greenway unceremoniously ends. From there is a down-ramp to the trail along river road.

At the river, I was debating the head back the way I came or a different route back. another route would add miles and I was already at 15 miles. At a 30 mile round-trip, it was the longest ride of the year.

I opted to back the way I came. As I headed back, I realized I was facing a headwind - light as it was. With that and at about 20-25 miles I was really starting to feel it. The hills along between the trail and my motel was gruesome. I had to walk most of them - just not enough in the legs, yet.

That, and there was an approaching storm - I was happy to get back to the motel. Shower, food, a couple errands, and a nap.

One more photo of the Midtown Greenway. This one was processed with "grunge" effect.