Thursday, December 27, 2012

A cold night sleeping outside and a snow ride

Over Christmas while up in Fargo I decided to sleep outside to test gear in a safe but really cold place.  It was also nice to get out of the house for a while.

I slept in my REI half Dome tent.  I love this tent.  Cheap, durable, big, and works in a wide range of weather from very hot to very cold.  I didn't know how much to seal up the vents for warmth.  When it is this cold your breath create a frosty interior by morning.  Not a big deal in the back yard but a big deal on a multi day trip.

I also had my Therma Rest Neo Air pad.  It is not insulated but is very warm for what it is, packs very light and small and is the most comfy pad I have used.  I love that little black valve to help adjust the air just right while using it.

For my sleeping bag I used a -40F Western Mountaineering Bison bag my cousin Chip has lent/given to me to use.  Fantastic bag that I am a bit to big and fat to enjoy to its fullest because it is a bit tight.

On night one I put another 30F down bag opened up over the pad as a nice pad/floor covering.  I then opened up the -40 bag and tried to use it quilt style.  I got cold.  The wind and low temps combined to make any opening in the sleeping bag system cold enough to hurt.  At 4:30AM I switched to a zipped up bag and slept warm till 10am.

Night one was windy and the temp droped from about 3F to -7F when I got up the next morning.  Night two was actually colder going from -11 to -13 but the wind was minimal and I started out with the bag zipped up.  I was warm all night.

While trying to confirm the temps for this post I found it surprisingly hard to find temps from a few days ago.  I just found tons of applications for the future weather.  To get the temps from a few days ago I ended up abandoning the app world and using one of my favorite weather web sites.  It is called Weather spark.  Huge amounts of useful data presented in a linear fashion.  Hit the link to see what I mean.

This last pics and video are from a ride I did with Heath about a week ago along the Minnesota River from 35W to the old Cedar bridge where we had some lunch.  It was really fun to ride on the snowy single track and to have lunch at the halfway point.  I love my fat bike and riding in the winter.
 The new studs were not needed on this trail but did an unexpectedly good job of helping me get over a log I thought I would not succeed at riding.
 Here is a crappy 23 second video of Heath riding past me.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Grip Studs in Bud and Lou

I have been on the fence about studs in my bike tires for a long time.  They are an expensive experiment that I was not sure I needed or even wanted until I crashed hard the other night.  The 45nrth Dillinger which is the only prestudded fat bike tire made is $220 per tire.  Even at this price it quickly sold out all over.  The Dillinger has 240 studs per tire.  
The grip studs I purchased are the only real quality option I am aware of for doing it myself.  They are an obscene $1 per stud.  I only purchased 100 studs and wondered if I was a complete fool.  Remember the Dillinger have 480 studs per pair.   Above is the tool for screwing them in.  It has a screw driver handle.  The studs weighed 65 grams per 100 count and have a carbide core.  If they stay in the tire should wear before they do.
 I put 60 in the front tire and 40 in the rear.  They need a lot of tread depth and am not sure I would feel comfortable putting them in my somewhat worn husker du's or old endomorphs.  New Bud and Lou's had plenty of rubber.   
 This shot is really just to show off my new mud shovel fenders.
The rear looks pretty sparse with only about 40 studs.  The studs go in very quickly and are not frustrating to deal with at all with the exception of being afraid I would drop and lose the expensive little guys.
 I test rode them for about a half hour tonight at 17F, front tire at 7lbs, rear tire at 8lbs of air pressure.  I am about 250lbs.  I rode flat smooth ice, overflow like uneven ice, dirt, gravel, asphalt, concrete, rock garden, grass and snow.  They worked great and did much more to prevent slipping than I expected.  I will not be ice racing on them but will not hesitate to ride any ice.  Great confidence on all the ice I rode.  I can hear them tapping on the bare pavement but still had great traction and none came out during my short but varied test of surfaces.
Other benefits I see to my Bud and Lou Grip Stud method over the Dillingers include being able to take the studs out this summer and being able to keep the superior flotation of my 5 inch now studded tires as compared to the 4 inch Dillinger   Bud and Lou just became a little more studly.     

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A fat bike dream

I stole these great pics from sryanak over at MTBR Fat bikes.  He describes it as "Perfect crust at Portage Glacier"

Of course if I rode this I would get 10 miles in then the sun would warm the crust making it a waist deep bike carrying death march out.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Maah Daah Hey is on my mind

Heath,our father Howard and I had a great trip out to western ND to ride the Maah Daah Hey trail last June.  
 We planned to ride much of the 100 mile north end of the trail.  About 25 miles a day between each camp site.    
Although we had great fun the trip was a total failure in terms of actually riding the Maah Daah Hey.  It rained some every day turning the trail into a mixture of peanut butter and Crisco.  We did not get to ride even one mile of the actual trail.  
 Instead we did a bunch of sight seeing and short rides on gravel and a road that was closed after being washed out by rain.
 These are some cannonball concretions we saw.  I keep thinking about the trip and have become increasingly agitated about our failure.  I plan to go back this summer to do it right.  Heath sounds like he is in the same boat.  Howard? any one else?  Who's with me! Maah Daah Hey! Maah Daah Hey! Maah Daah Hey!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Ground Beef

One of my favorite things about my KitchenAid mixer is the power takeoff on the front.  You can grind meat, make sausage, roll pasta, shred or slice veggies and a bunch of other things with the right attachment.  I have been grinding much of our hamburger for years now.  It is great knowing exactly what is in my ground meat.  It also tastes great, is cheaper, contains as much fat as you like, and makes me more confident about cooking a burger to medium rare .  

The parts to the grinder include the big chute, corkscrew thing, a blade that kind of looks like a nija's throwing star, two grinding plates for fine or coarse grind and the cap to keep it all together.    

 Here is what it all looks like on the machine.  Very easy to assemble and clean.  I like to keep everything very clean and cold if possible.  I will often keep the 2 bowls in the freezer until needed.  

A chuck roast is great to use but really most cuts with a little fat in them can work.  Each time I am at the grocery store I keep an eye out for any meat that has a good marbling of fat like the roasts above.  It also has to be $2 or less a pound.   

To start I partially freeze the meat or in this case partially thaw it.  This makes it very easy to cut  into even strips that grind well.  It also helps keep uncle Sal Monella from coming to dinner.  

The whole process goes very fast.  I use the big hole grinder plate for the first pass of the meat and the smaller hole one for a second pass of the meat.  This is where two bowls come in handy.  Remember to keep things very clean and cold if possible.  If you wanted to make sausage at this point you would run the ground meat (likely pork) with the some spices mixed in and without the grinding plate or blade on.  Instead you would have a pointy funnel like thing in its place to help drive the meat into a casing.   

I usually pack the meat into one pound balls and freeze.  You could also make up patties for easy grilling.  
 Putting what it is and a date on the packages comes in handy when you find it at the back of the freezer in a month.
I like to do a lot of make at home kind of things.  Most are just fun to try or so much work I only do them once in a while.  Making my own ground meats however is so fast, so easy and so much better than what you get at most stores I do it whenever I find meats at my $2 a pound price point.  

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

A months worth of posts all in one

At Disney Land I some how turned off my instant upload of pic's to Google.  I suddenly could not upload from my phone from a regular computer without minor inconvenience.  That and being kind of busy has equaled poor posting habits.   I am back at it like it or not. 

  At Halloween I kept seeing cool pumpkin carvings.  We were throwing out this one that was about the sized of a baseball so I gave it a go.  Harder than I thought but also more fun.  Would be a great way to learn how to carve stuff.
 The girls didn't have school yesterday so we went to the Mall of America to ride some rides.

 We ate lunch at Tiger Sushi.  Being located in the hallway of a mall it is unexpectedly one of my favorite sushi places.  Midori's floating world cafe being my favorite.  The girls tried a lot of wacky stuff.
 They like to take pics in front of stuff.
 The fog a few day's ago was pretty but I am rather mad at not having a winter last year or yet this year.
 On December 1 Heath and I rode with 50+ other fat bikes in the Global Fat Bike Day ride along the Minnesota River.  With another large group starting at a different spot on the same trail it is estimated 80 people were on Fat bikes on that trail on December 1.   It was started by a simple suggestion by a guy in England in the MTBR forum   People from Australia to Finland participated with Minneapolis being the largest group of fat bikes to ever ride together.
 First pic is under 494 on the south/east side of Minnesota River.  The tree pic is from a part of the trail Heath and I had never been on between 35W and Cedar Ave.  This trail is close to the river and avoids the nature area further inland.
 Panoramic just before crossing Cedar.  I really liked the Fat bike folk we met and rode with.
 Crappy pic of my first try at a spiral tree light.  Ella and Maya keep shaming me about not having better lights and a bunch of lit up figures in the yard "like every one else has."  
 I made my own energy bars and am really happy with how easy and cheap they are to make.  I guessed it was basically just a rice crispy bar with other stuff in it.  I toasted 4 cups oatmeal and some sesame seeds.  I then mixed that with 2 cups of rice crispies,  some flax meal, chia seeds, dried blueberrys  a little cocoa and some walnuts.  Instead of just marshmallows and butter for the sticky part I substituted in some coconut oil to keep them chewy and to use less butter and some honey in place of some marshmallows to keep it soft.  Melted the sticky stuff stired in the dry stuff and spread it in a 9 by 13 pan to cool.  Vacuum sealed them to preserve them.   They are high in good carbs and very high in fiber.  I may add more nuts or almond butter next time.

 15 people and 5 dogs at the house for thanksgiving.  Great time and only 2 pee's and one poop out of all the dogs.  Barkley is Krisy's dog and is very hard to photograph
 Shelly and Mike have the loveable Miles
 John and Vic brought cute little Sammy a Havanese. 
 Mazy was a very good host.  All the dogs got along great.
 Lynn and ArNetta brought Tiny the ity bitty poodle.
 My Moonlander got some new Bud and Lou tires.  The biggest most bad ass tires ever made for a bike that is.  So far they roll great off road.
 Heath and I went riding down along the Missisippi.  The fat tires rolled great over all the surfaces from sand to big slate rocks.  Found some rocks with fossils.

 I went to a class at the Midwest Mountaineering expo taught by Ed Bouffard of  I learned how to make my pulk in what I was told was Ed's last class he will ever do.  A pulk is basically just a sled you pull stuff in but Ed has developed a system that is very well thought out simple and effective.  His sleds have been to the poles on actic expeditions.  I hope to use mine with snow shoes to pull Maya to make a track that I can then later back country ski on and fat bike on.  

 With my La Cruz Cyclo Cross bike taking up all the road and gravel duties and my Moonlander being used for all offroad and snow my El Mariachi was left without a purpose.
 So I decided to make it a grocery getter of bikes.
 The thought of figuring out bags, lights, special ridding clothes etc before using a bike to do in town errands has been a major deterrent.  "I'll just drive." 
 Not anymore.  Day or night this bike is ready for errands without the need to find a bunch of stuff or change clothes to ride.

 Lastly have I mentioned how much I love all my girls.