My friend and coworker Kelly Mac sent this image to me this week. It made me smile. It was taken in the final hours of the Salsa Japan Tour 2012 while out walking in Tokyo. That’s a chocolate covered banana on a stick! Oh….and a cold Asahi. I loved every minute in Japan.
Enjoy your weekend. I plan to ride my new bike…….
Last evening was the last game of the spring season. Both my kids were in soccer. I am so proud of both of them. It was so fun seeing them, and their teams, progress this year. It is amazing how much faster each year gets. I did not have time to go through all the pictures. I just grabbed one of them for today’s post. That’s my boy playing midfield and moving the ball up the field. This post isn’t about the image or the words. It’s about being a proud dad. I’m so thankful that I get to go see these events and support my awesome kids.
Yesterday, I got some saddle time at Murphy with Benton. We met early (6:00AM) not expecting to see anyone. I figured we’d be doing the cobweb sweep. Thankfully someone else was crazy enough to be hitting dirt at 6:00AM and he rolled out a few minutes ahead of us clearing the trail. It was a sweet morning.
I’ve written previously that I have been struggling to get consistent ride time in. I’m trying to get back on it with some consistency. Riding my fat XC bike has been great. I’m loving it…Except for when my body feels like crap. Yesterday was one of those days where I just didn’t have the strength to get those fat wheels spun up. It didn’t help that Benton was on his Spearfish 1 either. Regardless, I could have been on any bike and I would have felt slow yesterday. Thankfully, we just cruised, snapped a few pics and chatted away.
Even though my body felt like crap, at least I got out and at least I got to experience a beautiful morning with a friend. There aren’t many things as good as that and I am thankful. I’m hoping to get out both Thursday and Friday this week as well so this will be a good week for me riding wise.
Speaking of riding on Friday. Friday is the coffee ride. We are heading out of Farmington Dunn Bros at 6:30AM. I’ll be there at 6:00 if anyone wants to join me for coffee before the ride. Otherwise, be ready to roll at 6:30. I’ve got a nice loop planned and you should be able to make it work at a fairly early time.
Lastly, I am not sure I can get it finished, but I may be on a new bike by Friday AM. We’ll see if I can get one of the two new bikes I’m building finished. If not, I’ll be on my trusty Fargo. See you there.
Kind of a crazy afternoon yesterday. I submitted 3 photos to www.stevehuffphoto.com as part of his daily inspiration series. Since I have never really shared my photos other than here, I was a bit nervous. Within minutes of submitting, I got this note back from Steve Huff himself.
These are great! I will post them soon.
Shortly after, my site traffic went up quite a bit. I looked at where traffic was coming from and it was from Steve Huff’s site. Thank you Steve. I can’t believe I made your site from my little place here on the internet. My 3 bicycle travel inspired photos were posted as Daily Inspiration #360. Thank you Steve Huff Photo. See them here.
If any of my bike geek friends need any motivation to check out his amazing photography site, one of my photos is new work from my recent trip to Japan. It’s the first time I’ve shared it so make sure you head on over there to check it out.
For all the photography folks that landed here from Steve Huff Photo, I just want to say thank you for visiting. I hope you enjoyed my site while here. Also, thanks for the words, the critiques and the encouragement in the comments over there. I can’t thank you all enough.
Somewhere along the way, I have lost my path. While I still feel I’m moving forward, I somehow feel it’s not the intended direction. I sort of feel like I’m going down a gravel road on my bicycle with a very, very strong side wind and rather than fight against it, I’ve let it push me. I am not going off the road, just veering from the packed gravel tire track. I see this going on in many areas of my life right now. In some ways, I feel like that I have let the worldly ways chart my course. As a result, I’ve found myself not as happy as I can be. I have wavered. I have wondered. I have not been true to myself.
Today in church service, we heard a sermon about David and the lion’s den. I won’t go into the message of trust, grace and love as I believe I heard something different than what was preached. I heard that I have not been true and that I’ve let the world around me dictate my choices and my direction. If my life, thus far, has taught me anything, it is that this is not the way to live nor the way I am most at peace.
In high school I wrote a poem called A Redwood Tree in an Apple Orchard. Through my many moves since then, I have no idea where this poem has landed, but I remember parts of the poem. It read as follows. The other trees tear at my bark saying I do not bear fruit as they do. Later on it read I will stand strong and one day in a storm they will seek shelter under my branches. I was reminded of this today in the sermon. I need to stand strong and not let the world impact me the way it has been. I need to trust that I am on my path.
My whole life I have stood for what I believe in. Yes, I have wandered a bit here and there, but I have always got back on my own path. I need to do that again. I need to be a great father and husband. I need to stay true to my values and stand up for what I believe in even if it is hard or has the appearance of settling. I need to pursue my passions of cycling and photography. I need to develop my skill set, relationships and experiences to support my future vision of retirement. When I have focused on those things, my life has always fallen into place. Time to get moving and get to work.
In the coming weeks, I am committing to simplifying some of the things in my life. Focusing on the things that get me to where I intend to go. I am stoked.
Well….I think I started something new today. I’m calling them the coffee rides. Ben Witt and I have talked about it before and today we made our inaugural attempt. What is the coffee ride? It’s a casual early morning no drop group ride that starts and ends at a coffee shop and could involve making coffee somewhere. Pretty simple. Today we started at the Dunn Bros in Farmington, MN and we did a pavement, gravel, dirt, mud, and grassy two track route. Nothing too hard. Nothing too long. We had 5 folks total. It was a great ride and a great way to start the day.
Here is the recap in images. Just fun stuff here. Nothing too serious and certainly not my highest quality work. Hope you enjoy. Better yet, join us next week. I plan to make an announcement next week for our next coffee ride. Tentative date is next Friday. Stay tuned for more info.
Did I make it appealing enough? Come join us next Friday AM. Location TBD. Time? Early. When I say early, I mean early.
I posted earlier in the week that the Gnat family was in North Dakota. We were back for a special reason, that being celebrating my wife’s parents 50th wedding anniversary. It was a special surprise mini family reunion. Celebrating a 50th wedding anniversary is special and every member of the immediate family made it home. Seeing the entire family together really added to the feeling of significance and awesomeness of 50 years together. 50 years deserves celebration.
I took the opportunity to enjoy myself and challenge myself to take some event photography. Since we had a family portrait earlier in the day with Otis and James Photography I didn’t take too many family photographs. I focused my time on some of the event details. Here are a few of those photos processed in a vintage cream tone.
Here’s t0 50 years of memories and to an amazing family.
All of these shots were shot with my Sony NEX7 at ISO 800 with either the 24mm f1.8 or 50mm 1.8. All were shot natural light and shot wide open. I wish I would have pushed that last shot to ISO 1600 to get just a bit more speed and sharpness. Overall though, the NEX 7 was wonderful with the small size and wonderful focus peaking.
Some of you know that from time to time my wife, kids and I get back to North Dakota to visit with family. This was a special trip, one I’ll share a bit more about later this week. Every time we go back, I try to bring a bike and I try to get out and ride in the big, big country of North Dakota.
Having grown up on a farm, land and open space have special meaning to me. I love the feeling I get when I am in it. I think that is why I probably ride gravel and dirt roads so often. Even though I ride often in the country, the land of North Dakota holds a special place in my heart and gives me a different feeling than what I get riding from the big city of Minneapolis out into the country.
A lot is going on in ND right now. It’s been a while for me since I have gotten out into the country of ND. Since my last big exploratory ride in ND, the state experienced massive flooding that changed the face of the community of Minot and surrounding areas. The Souris river valley that I like to ride and explore was essentially wiped out. What would remain? Couple that with the oil boom going on and the influx of people into the region. What would that bring? It was also earlier in the year than we usually go. What would I see? I was eager to get back to ND to see for myself. It did not disappoint.
I did not spend time taking pictures of the remaining devastation. It’s been over a year and it’s still obvious. Piles and piles of junk and recycling. Homes stripped to the studs and frames. Boarded up homes. It’s not all terrible though. Signs of hope and determination were everywhere with hard working folks rebuilding and reclaiming the land. The oil boom is for real. Huge trucks were everywhere. Housing is short and what is available is costly. Hotels are hard to book with new ones going up as fast as they can. It is a different world right now in ND.
All that said, I still found myself getting lost with only 2 cars passing me in my entire journey. Once you are off the main roads and into the country, it is still big county. It’s been some time since I’ve seen a spring in the country. Color abounded everywhere I looked. Greens. Yellows. Blue. Fresh. The land was alive. It was stunning and beautiful and just what I needed. The following pictures probably look a bit fake to some, but in reality, this is what my eyes saw. A highly saturated land. Hope you enjoy the pics. One day, I also hope that you get to experience the big country.
I ended up riding my Vaya Ti. I had planned on my Fargo, but honestly it still needs work after my Japan trip. I took the the bike in my quiver that is functioning perfectly and loaded it up on the car. On some portions like the trail above, I sure wish I had my Fargo, but if I just keep going slow and steady, I can ride most things put in front of me with my Vaya Ti.
It had rained heavily the night before. With constant 20 mph winds with gusts up to 30mph, the ground was soft but it did dry out pretty darn fast. The sky was very cloudy when I started, but there were no real signs of additional rain. I just pressed on and other than a really scarey dog chase, the only other things I saw were cows, farms and horses.
Eventually, the skies started to open up a bit. Larger patches of blue were on the horizon. I just stopped here to take it all in. I’m glad I did because I got to see this by complete accident.
As I was looking around, resting, eating and drinking water, I saw the smallest little bambi I’ve ever seen in the wild. It was pretty obvious to spot given it was walking across a black field. I did the 360 immediately and saw no mama dear. When it saw me, it crouched down flat on the dirt. I put the camera up to my eye and snapped a pic. Given, I shot this with a 75mm equivalent lens, you can see I was pretty darn close. Very cool.
I was zig zagging up & down and back & forth through the Souris Valley. The Souris Valley is a national wild life refuge. I sure wish I could ride past these gates. The paths look incredible. I did not though. Instead, I turned back and rode right back up the road I came on to find more roads. The gravel roads are endless up there just south of the Canadian border.
I eventually had to turn back south and whoa, was that tailwind incredible. I was spun out and rolling through the countryside. Loved it. It made every pedal stroke into that wind worth it.
Here’s a shot of the valley. Just over a year ago, where I was standing to take this picture was entirely under water as was that little house/shack down by the river. It’s amazing how people and nature adapt, recover, and find ways to preserve and prevail.
As I snapped that last shot, I thought of my friend Eric Benjamin, the Adventure Monkey. This image made me think of him and I spent some time thinking about him, his talents and his situation. He’s an inspiration to me, and others, and I’ve been too busy to tell him that. Eric, if you see this, know that I am thinking of you. I don’t know why, but this image made me think of you. Rich color. Rolling hills. Big country. Well, I guess that explains why I thought of you. Thanks again for your continued inspiration.
Anyway, lots of thoughts and images from my big ride in the big country. I’m glad I’m home now, but I can’t help but dream of more riding up there. It truly is an incredible area to explore and experience by bicycle.
Lastly, for the photo geeks, all shots were taken with my Sony NEX 7 with either the Sony 24mm f1.8 or the 50mm f1.8. I really do love this combo and for such a light set up, it sure packs a punch.