Bikes, Bikes and More Bikes

I have been meaning to write and share this post for a while but it never came to fruition. I guess being home and sick for the past three days is making me dream about feeling good, adventure, riding bicycles and thinking about bikes.

As of yesterday, it was exactly 6 months since I left QBP, my former place of employment for the past 25+ years. One of the reasons I left was to prioritize myself and my well being and to hopefully regain my fitness. I’m happy to say that all of those things are in process and I have one added benefit that wasn’t on my original list; I have re fallen in love with the bicycle and all things bikes.

My purpose in leaving Q was not specifically to find my passion for bikes again. It was really more focused on health and well being. However, I quickly became consumed in building bicycles, riding them and photographing them. I sold a bunch of my old stuff and purchased some new stuff. I often rode alone as I worked through changes and focused on building up some fitness and mental toughness. I also had a blast riding with friends. In the past 6 months I have spent a fair amount of time on the following bikes.

  • All-City cross & gravel road bike
  • Salsa Cutthroat drop bar mountain bike
  • Salsa Horsethief mountain bike
  • Knolly Cache gravel bike
  • Ibis Ripley Carbon mountain bike
  • Surly Wednesday fat bike

I also found that selling my old Q branded bikes helped me with closure so I sold both my Salsa Cutthroat as well as my Salsa Horsethief, two bikes I really loved. I also have two new bikes ordered to come in and build sometime in 2022. I’ll reveal those as they get built.

While my fitness is taking longer than I hoped to regain, I am once again in love with the bicycle. Honestly, for me, nothing even comes close in freeing my mind and helping my body feel freedom like a bicycle does. True freedom. Nothing helps me work through challenges and problems like a bicycle does. Nothing helps me focus my energy and thought like riding a bicycle does. Nothing helps me feel better about life and myself like a bicycle does. Hard to believe, but after 40+ years or riding bicycles, I still feel like a kid pedaling my 1st, 20″ wheeled, red Schwinn around the family farm.

And with that, here are a quite a few pics from last 6 months of riding my bike. No particular order to this gallery. Just pics as they appeared in my digital catalog. Click on any of them to go to slideshow mode! Enjoy!

What is a Cycling Photographer?

The other day someone asked me What is a cycling photographer? Does that mean you just shoot cycling?”

Well…No. I had to think about that a bit. Just what is a cycling photographer? I like cycling. I shoot cycling. I shoot while cycling. I cycle to inspire me to shoot photographs. I photograph cycling experiences and events. I photograph bike races. I photograph bike rides. I photograph cyclists. I capture cycling moments, both in victory and in defeat. I photograph cycling in hopes of inspiring others to get out there and experience the world by bicycle. I’d like to think the definition of a cycling photographer is all of those things.

The road to Wonder Lake, Alaska – That’s Denali in the background – 1995 or 1996

That image above was taken by someone at a campground on the road to Wonder Lake, in Denali National Park on my bike tour from Alaska to Utah. My friend and tour mate John made it the Eugene, OR while I travelled all the way to Moab, UT to meet some friends and do a Canyon Lands bike and 4×4 tour. It was on this trip that I married carrying a camera with me while cycling.

To help define and answer the original question, I want to share a number of images that I have shared on Facebook over the years. I have thousands of images from around the globe like these in my catalog. These are low res, un edited from how I shared them originally so I apologize that they are not a uniform set. I think they will help add some definition and support what I am trying to say. For me, seeing this stuff together cemented the definition of a cycling photographer. I love cycling. I love photography. I love anything that puts those two things together. There are 50 or so of them so I hope you enjoy the slide show and then head outside to ride your bike or book a trip to plan your next tour or ride.

Click on any image below to go toea Lightbox Slide Show Mode!

Morning miles and found treasures

Friday morning miles were back in the cards for this week. While I wanted to ride dirt, the monsoon like weather here in the midwest has kept me off the trails quite a bit and with several inches of rain throughout the metro area the previous two days,  all of our local trails were off limits. No worries though right? I have other bikes and off the country I went with my All-City gravel rig.

I intended to do the full route I have in mind for the Fargo Adventure Ride Reunion on Friday October 28th. As Ben and I pulled out of Northfield both of us were a bit apprehensive as it was gloomy and had started to mist. With not quite the right clothing, we set out anyway. We parked in Nerstrand, MN and I hit the Track button on Blackriver to track my route and share for the Fargo ride.

As we rolled out of town on stunningly beautiful roads in a cool morning mist, I had asked Ben to stop so I could fiddle with my camera for a moment. As we were coming to a halt, Ben noticed a small gravel parking lot with a sign for public land and no motorized vehicles. I’ve been down this road about 10 times in my life and Ben had probably been hundreds. Neither of have ever noticed this before. Ben said, “let’s turn around”. Huh…A small lot and a No motorized vehicles signt and what appeared to be two track.

Well, you probably know what occurred next. I shut my blackriver app off and off into this area we went. Wow. Did we find something incredible and yes this will be on my ride in October. While we got wet, bushwacked, and crashed (Only I crashed), we found something truly stunning.

Click on any image below to go to slideshow mode.

After exploring for some time, we headed back. No full recon route today. The full Fargo route is getting revamped. Time for some Nerstrand Meat Market beef sticks and a road side find…….What a morning for finding a couple of new treasures.

Roads like These

It’s been a tough several weeks for me. Thankfully I got out for some good quality me time. Just like old times, I left in the dark seeking some real peace and alone time. Time for the “I”in my Meyer-Briggs. Alone time to process some serious thoughts and to find that energy I needed for the coming days. I got it.

I didn’t stop much. I was working through some stuff. I also needed to get home at a decent hour so I pushed through the soft, wet gravel on this route. I don’t do power meters but I can tell you I put out a lot of energy pushing through the soft soil.

In the end I got what I wanted. A perfect morning on the bike on some of my favorite roads. Roads like these. Click on any image to go to slideshow mode.

Yep, this is one of my favorite routes and as I shared in my last post, I am logging these routes at http://www.blackriver.cc. Go here to see the route and find out a bit more about my route. I call this one the Empire Corn Crib route, named after a corn crib that I am slightly enamored with and have been photographing it for several years.

This ride prepared me for this week. Roads like these do it everytime. I am already looking forward to this coming weekends ride to prep me for the next.

Pictures. Words. Now Routes & GPS Files?!

This past week a new mapping technology came to the market. And while this new website is far more than just a mapping site, this electronic dolt, has been living in the dark ages for some time and ignored everything electronic for my bicycle and avoided anything with GPS, GPX, Garmin, Strava, etc. You see, in my freetime I like to just go ride my bike and take pictures. I like to go explore and get lost. I like to just see where the road takes me.

If you’ve followed me here at the ImagineGnat blog for any length of time, you might say this has treated me well. I’ve gotten along just fine so why in the world do I want to add anything at all to my rides?

The answer is simple. You!

I get so many questions about the route, or my routes. Can you give me your route? Can you tell me the road where this picture was taken? Where on earth is that road? I have an hour, can you give me a gravel route south of town?

Thankfully, now I will be able too because I will be using the blackriver app to capture, map and share all my routes at www.blackriver.cc. Not only will I share the routes, but also a few words and some images from the route. It will take some time to capture all my routes using BlackRivers app, but I will do it.  I captured my first route yesterday, the Northfield, MN Valley Grove Church Loop. You can find the route, some pics and some words here.

ImagineGnat’s Northfield Valley Grove Loop

Blackriver isn’t going to be replacing my blog. It will however add to my blog because whenever I post a story of a great ride, I’ll link up the route there and give you all the route info, pics, words, notable landmarks, ice cream & coffee stops, donut shops, etc.

Now…I  have no vested interest in Blackriver. I do however, know the folks behind it and believe in them. Congrats Eric, Tobie and Blackriver team. I’m impressed and thankful for you guys and gals that have brought this to life.  Sincerely, thank you.

But…Here are a few pics from the ride. As always, click on any of them to go to slideshow mode.  If you want to know more about this route, head on over to Blackriver and download the route to your electronic device.