Tuesday, December 25, 2012


We ordered a fat bike a couple of weeks ago. After proclaiming I'd never waste the money on one of these babies for the past five plus years, I called up Whitey at the Ski Hut and had him get us a 970. Since Sara and I need another winter bike and we can ride the same size bike, we decided to plunk down some $$$ and step into the cultish fat tire world. As every Nordic skiers knows, Duluth skiing has been deplorable at best the past couple of years and fighting out riding on a traditional 29er is a strenuous endeavor to say the least. I love riding ice and harder packed snowmo trails, but it gets so darn warm that even a bit of snow makes for a slow slog for the 29er. This is my first public admission of the purchase, but I just had to get it off my chest. Phew.

I gotta admit that I'd much rather classic or skate ski but mother nature is having none of that any more. Sara, Kiera, Cory $ Sophia Salmela and I skied at Giants Ridge on Saturday and Sunday and I couldn't believe how good the skiing is despite the dearth snow. Skiing at the Ridge is exhilarating because they've got so many good trails with longer climbs and descents. Furthermore, the girls got to play in the pool and run around the lodge.

Congrats to Josey Wiek on his impressive cyclocross result in Europe!

Saturday, September 08, 2012


Sara and I thought about recovering with the pneumatic recovery socks, but since we don't have any, we decided to tear out the chimney we no longer use. It took me about 12 hours with the hammer and chisel to get the thing down to the basement. Sara carried the bricks out of the house with five gallon buckets. Kiera even helped by cleaning up the yard of stray pieces of mortar, etc. that I tossed down from the roof. Water cannot get by the flashing anymore though!

I've said it before but I'll say it again: Maplelag is the must do race of the season. Sara and I have traveled the states to many race venues and haven't found anything as family friendly as Maplelag. Furthermore, the trails are second to none for stage racing (Jay Richards has also added bermed terrain to mix it up).

Sara, Kiera and I headed up to the Swanson cabin at Otter Tail Lake on Friday afternoon. We got there a little too late for Kiera to play with Stella so that was a bit of a bummer. The girls got to play a bit before we headed out for the Saturday time trial and short track though. Both Kiera and Stella are three and they get along really well. Stella is a full on dare-devil and Kiera is Ms. Cautious so they make a great pair. We are hopeful that Stella's Strider bike riding skills have inspired Kiera to ride hers or at least give the bike a go without the training wheels.

Once we arrived at Maplelag the race was on to find someone to watch Kiera. Thankfully, Maria and Meredith we up for the challenge :) Like always, the time trial hurts the most no matter how well or poorly the warm up goes. Both of us felt slow and flat but we did alright. The course was super fast and not a touch of morning dew could be found.

In the late afternoon we toed the line for the short track. If you're interested in seeing some great video footage, check out skinnyski Jay decided to mix things up a bit and tweak the course. During the warm up laps I didn't care for the new addition, but I liked it better than the old course once we started racing.

The women were mixed in with the comp men so it was the battle that I'd hoped to watch. Jenna got away when Chloe went down very early in the race and had a comfortable gap to the finish. Sara and Chloe rode together for much of the race until Chloe turned up the throttle and rode away for second place. It would have been nice to see a women's only race (all women in all categories?) because the race tactics would change. Maybe next year?

In the men's race, things started out pretty slowly and we had a large group. It whittled down as the laps ticked by and by the end there were four of us. I sat at the back while Brendan and Travis did all the work. I looked at Paul's rear wheel for most of the race and didn't have enough to hold on to those three to sprint it out at the finish. The skinnyski video has Travis winning by a decent margin.

The XC on Sunday went alright. The women rode one lap and they were all together at the start. Jenna went down early, Sara a little further into the lap, and Chloe also sampled the soil at some point. The ladies were all within a minute and a half or so of each other so it was a good race. Chloe ended up winning the overall but a smidgin over Jenna and Sara was further back in third.

In the men's race we did two laps. Travis busted a chain early on going up the steep, loose climb on the ski trail chasing after Brendan. I slotted in behind Justin for awhile before going by and settling into to second place. I was going a pretty comfortable pace for the first lap and Michael M., Justin and Paul were content to let me lead. As soon as we started the second lap, the group went by me when I had to stop to get a fresh bottle. I chased back on but he yo-yoing was on and Michael and Paul got away while I chased solo. I rode by myself until Sam O. caught me and pulled me in to the finish.

Racing was fun, but hanging out with everyone is the icing on the cake. Signe, Doug and Anne's 2 week old baby is a delight and super cute. Doug didn't have much in the legs but he kept coming back for more which is impressive considering Signe was just born.


Sara won in the smallest women's pro/exert field I've seen in a long time. Diana McFadden gets the tough as nails award for the weekend since she raced the day before in the WORS Cup.

I blew up pretty hard with a little over a lap to go and lost a good chunk of time and a few places by the end. However, I did squeak out a win over Brendan - less than 2 tenths of a second - and took home the State Championship Super D title!

Monday, August 13, 2012


Sara's arm after tangling with a guy at the start of the race. Incidentally, a front spoke snapped in the crash and she lost plenty of skin on her left leg/thigh, but I'll spare you the jpeg details.

Race start


The time has come for point-to-point races to have a separate women's start. MN and WI do it for the shorter races and Iceman pulls it off too. The current system of a men's race thrown in with some women is unfair for the women. Why? Oh, let me list the ways. 1) It is difficult to know where other women are with hundreds of men around
2) Women are competing for position against riders that are meaningless in their race(place wise) for the ENTIRE race distance
3) The men provide a great draft (as do the women) but since there are so many more men, if one of the women gets away with a great group of men, she can punch her ticket to the finish line if she can hang with the group.
4) Often times the guys that finish with the top women are stronger on the flats and sometimes the climbs, but cannot descend as well and slow the women down in areas they should be resting
5) Women get in the way for those guys battling it out for top 50 spots (even though these women may be fighting tooth and nail to see who is going to win the women's race).
6) The men's top finishers aren't disrupted by other bikers, so why should the women's be?

Even though Sara doesn't have much of an opinion on this topic, I certainly do. I watch the women's race play out every time I give feeds in these types of races. Sometimes the men in the race help her win or do well and at other times they cause her great difficulty.

That said, Sara is pretty happy with her day at Ore2Shore since she was able to catch up to Chloe and Jenna after going down hard at 20 mph. She obviously had good legs for awhile and but ended up blowing up around the halfway point. To say she is disappointed with her day is an understatement, but she's competed long enough to know it is only one race. The hard part for her is that she feels she had the legs to compete...

Great job to Chloe on the win and to Jena for nabbing second. Those two were way off the front and able to battle for the entire race which is quite an anomaly at longer races like this.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Great Hawk Chase

Sara and Jenna Rinehart go 1 and 2

Brendan taking the top step (like usual), Jesse Rients (2nd) and me (3rd)

A confidence building weekend for the KJs. Sara has been on and off this spring with race fitness but it appears she is coming around. She can go really fast, and I mean really fast when we ride in Cable, Duluth or elsewhere, but then come race day, her legs will feel sluggish or she just doesn't feel like she can "give it" for whatever reason. Obviously, that wasn't the case yesterday and she was able to push pretty hard from start to finish in what turned out to be a very hot day by our standards (even if it wasn't bad according to Brendan or other central/southern folks' opinions:) ).
Sara and Jenna took off from the start and they entered the first section of single track with a gap. Sara entered first, got a gap, pegged it, and slowly increased her lead. Sara sure enjoys racing with Jenna because if she can race with her, she knows she is going good.

Thanks to Jesse for leading out the train all the way to first section of singletrack. I was happy to sit on Devin's wheel for most of the trip up and then jump around him and Jesse to follow Brendan into the singletrack. I had false hopes of riding with Brendan but he is so strong that he easily rode me off his wheel on the set of three punchy climbs. I had to slow down to recover and Jesse rode back up to me, said we had a gap and to keep going. Jesse is also quite strong and it took everything I had to keep him within site on the climbs. For the first couple of laps I would lead on the downhills and Jesse would set pace on the climbs. I started to cramp a little early in the third and could no longer match Jesse's pace. I knew I had to to work as hard as possible though on the last lap because Luke Nelson (4th overall) was behind me. Luke flew by me at Mankato earlier in the year and I figured he was planning to do the same here.

The 2.0 XR1 tires worked perfectly, squealing on many of the rocks and bridges. I also ate a ton of Hammer Endurolytes along with adding a the Endorolytes Fizz to each bottle.

Thanks to Dean Gies from the SKIHUT for doing hand-ups and to COGGS for putting on a great event.

Up next: Buck Hill

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Warm Up for Great Hawk Chase

I am busy getting the roof back in shape after the Memorial Day hail storm. Charlie Farrow helped me tear it apart on Tuesday, which just happened to be our hottest day of the summer so far. Today we will begin putting shingles down. Thanks to Mike Haag from Haag Built Fine Carpentry, I am able to tackle projects like this with his help. Plus, Mike is always good at getting me good and tired before hometown races.

Sara and I rode a couple of laps on yesterday and the trail is in great shape. In fact, it is in better shape than before the deluge. New bridges have been installed, the trail is weed-whipped and now has some moisture in it, allowing the tires to grip nicely. In addition, for those of you south of Duluth, it sounds like you will be able to race in KUHL conditions and escape the heat this weekend if you make the trek up to Duluth.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Chariot Adventure

Sara and I threw Kiera in the Chariot and headed to the Hut, Co-op, Northern Lakes Smokehaus, Amazing Grace and the toy store in Dewitt Seitz. It was nice to get the whole family out of the house and go on a little adventure. We started in the rain at 10:30 and got back at 4:30. Sara packed the Chariot full of books, toys, snacks and water so Kiera was quite content.

The blown out road has helped us realize it's not so bad to take Kiera on Skyline and through town. Cars were pretty courteous and the Chariot is okay going off road too.

We plan to do the same thing tomorrow!

The city awarded RJS Contractors the bid and the fellas are already getting busy

They've started by bring in lots of gravel and fill to prep for a new culvert

Sara pulling the Chariot down Michigan Street near the Duluth Grill

Off-roading with the Chariot. We are climbing up old HWY 61 I believe (either that or it was old Cody Steet).

The creek that blew the road apart is back to its normal trickle

The Stover boys have now dug out steps into the ravine

The rope in the background just in case it gets greasy again

Kiera is now able to traverse the ravine on her own. And people think we are stranded:)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Great Aerial Footage from KSTP

Check out this 20+ minute video of the flooding around and in the Duluth area:


On my way home from mtb camp today I got passed by the political motorcade coming out to see our hole in Skyline Road. The cameras were flashing and the video cameras rolling. It is hard to believe so many people would stop to look at this small problem when other areas in the city are completely destroyed. Would it be great if we could use our cars to get places? Certainly. However, when biking around and seeing so many with so much loss, the lack of using a car means nothing to me. I still cannot believe there hasn't been any reported deaths.

Mayor Ness, Senator Klobuchar, Senator Franken, Rep. Cravaack along with County Commissioners checking out the damage.

Mayor Ness, Senator Klobuchar, Senator Franken, Rep. Cravaack along with County Commissioners checking out the damage.

This is Fond du Lac. Sara's up to her waist. These folks need all the help they can get. We can wait.

In the past two days I've pedaled for 16 hours. It has been a ton of stop and go to take pictures, but riding has become a necessity to get food, go to work, etc.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

More Photos

Couldn't stop taking photos of the lake today. I've never seen it so full of clay or other debris. Logged over 10 hrs on the bike today since I had to commute to mtb camp, do mtb camp, and ride with Sara once I made it home.

My coping mechanism is to try to do everything I normally do and pretend nothing has happened. It is working so far.

"The Puker" backyard regular

Mission Creek Trail or 7 Bridges Road - summer/winter beauty

Mont du Lac access under water

210 - Favorite road ride...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Biblical Rains Part II

Sara and I rode/hiked out our door down to Fond du Lac this afternoon. We attempted to ride down Ghost Town trail to get there, but either Mission Creek or mud slides have washed the trail away. We were up to our knees in mud and dragging our bikes through creeks, trees, etc. It reminded me of hacking our way out of the BWCA 4th of July straight line wind storm we enjoyed a number of years back.

Between Mission Creek running wild and the dam being opened up a couple of times over the past day, Fond du Lac is destroyed. It was heart wrenching to see the water running through people's homes, garages, cars, etc. We spoke with a handful of folks that live there and they said it sounded like electrical transformers were exploding all night long (turns out it was from the trees falling during mud slides). These people also mentioned that Highway 210 through Jay Cooke is gone. Mid slides/water has destroyed much of it. There was helicopter flying about, assessing the damage the entire time we were in Fond du Lac. We tried to get to Brad and Susan's house at 23 and 210 but it was impossible. A city crew was driving around a hover craft and that appeared to be the only way to get around to check on people. Mission Creek was still pretty high at 4:00 pm and we still three blocks from Highway 23 where the deep water of Mission and the St. Louis River meet. The wreckage is indescribable and very disturbing.

We ended up riding 23 into Duluth, checking out all kinds of damage at any and every creek crossing.

Duluth will never be the same after this 500 year flood.
Culvert leading under Becks Road and Skyline Parkway intersection

Mission Creek and Ghost Town - new intersection

Mission Creek taking over more trail

Ghost Town trail used to go that direction

Mission Creek taking away Seven Bridges Road

Seven Brides Road completely washed out thanks to the mighty Mission Creek

Sara and I had to hike in waist deep water to get out of Fond du Lac. This is a small street a block or so on the high side of Highway 23.

Highway 23 blocked off

Highway 23, east of Fond du Lac before the water gets deep

This is a downstream from the zoo

We can no longer leave our house by vehicle. Hike-a-bike or nothing.

Biblical Rain

It's a good thing Sara and I are able bodied. I'm willing to bet it will be a handful of days before the city of Duluth will be able to repair Skyline Road and make it structurally safe enough to handle the weight of a vehicle. I wouldn't dare walk on the ribbon of singletrack right now because it is so unstable...

Mountain bike camp went off without a hitch until today.

I wonder if it will ever stop raining. I had to resort to making little dam out of my old cedar siding to keep the water out of the basement and garage. 99th gravel is taking over the blacktop driveway and I shovel more today than I did all winter. If only we could have gotten this kind of precip this winter in the form of snow :)

This is our road at 7:00 AM - 99th Ave West

99th again

Skyline Parkway a few feet west of 99th

Skyline Parkway

Skyline Parkway

Skyline Parkway

Skyline Parkway

This creek (usually a trickle) doesn't have a name it's so small

Skyline Parkway