Thursday, September 08, 2011

Fat Biking Fun-Times: Part III (Tour Of Northfield)

Okay.....yesterday I left off with our Tour Of Northfield at the point where we had dropped off of St. Olaf's campus and we had gone back into the streets of Northfield. We weren't really going anywhere in particular that I could tell, but I'm sure Ben and Curtis knew what the plan was. So, I didn't worry and just went along for the ride.

Sessioning some railroad rails
Eventually we ended up coming down the hill towards Northfield's downtown area. As we did, Ben spied something, started talking to himself, and walked away.

At first, Curtis and I were content to wait and see what he was up to while we chatted a bit. Eventually, Ben was getting far enough away that I became curious, so Curtis and I remounted and gave chase.

Ben found a bunch of rails for the railroad lying alongside the tracks. He was eyeing them up, as if he had a plan to ride them. At first, I thought he would try them as a skinny, but he had other ides, and not so dangerous and difficult.

Instead, he wanted to have me try and capture the tire deflection as he rode over the rails. The big fatties would also show how they could bridge gaps just fine without any real efforts, which smaller volume tires would have troubles with.

I didn't get a "perfect shot" of this, but if you click on the image to enlarge it, and pay special attention to the back tire, it might give you some idea of what Ben was after here.

We hit the down town area for a quick pint of beer and then headed back out again. 

Big Hill, Big Tires, Big Blue Sky!
We somehow made our way to the southeastern side of town, and left via a bike trail to Dundas. This was a little town that is just outside of Northfield a few miles or so. Here we decided to go back to the North and hit up the big hill on Cannon Valley Road.

I like gravel, and big, winding climbs on gravel are fun. I was sure wishing I had my Black Mountain Cycles "Monster Cross" rig right about then though! The weight of the fat bike could seriously be felt here, but with a set-it-and-forget-it attitude on the cadence, I was able to suffer through to the top, winded, but satisfied that I could push the Snow Dog up such a steep, long climb.

After we topped out on this climb we noticed an area where it looked like there was an ATV trail coming right off the gravel into an open area behind a new development. Here we took a hard left and dove in.


The ATV trail sort of dead ended at the development, so I went right and along the back end of the properties, heading towards a large pile of sand, dirt, and gravel that was about three stories high and quite long. Unfortunately, I couldn't see any way up on to it.

We continued on a wide, graded out pathway through a corn field to a "T" intersection. We took the left way, towards town, which dead ended into a cul-de-sac. Obviously, we had found a very rudimentary street layout. Curtis and Ben remembered that there was an aborted attempt at putting a development in somewhere in the vicinity, and we all guessed we had found it. Seeing as how we could go no further towards town, we were obliged to head back to the gravel road, and then we turned back to the north.

By this time we were getting really hungry! So we made a plan to head to Mike's Bikes and see if we could roust somebody up, either Mike hisself or Stuart, his son, for some grub. When we got down there, I was really beginning to bonk pretty hard. I could have rolled up onto the sidewalk, curled up in a ball, and slept for hours! However; that wasn't what happened.

Outdoor eatery or bike shop?

We actually got ahold of Mike, who came down to join us. He had recently broken his arm in a fall right there in front of the shop one day. So, he was banged up, and had a sling which held his right arm. The break was up near his shoulder joint, so a cast was not practical.

After Mike showed up, Cody came around on his bicycle too. He's a youngin' that is amazingly good on a bicycle and was riding around for fun on his cyclo-cross bike. He was a bit bunged up too, nursing a knee injury along, but you'd have never known it by his riding!

Cody was essentially doing BMX street tricks on his cyclo-cross bike, fooling around on Ben's Mukluk, and generally impressing me with his awesome bike handling skills.

Then the pizza came! We had chairs and a large wheel box for a table set right in front of Mike's shop. Okay, I was really hungry, so I got down to business. Then, we sat back and soaked in the awesome weather and scenery. Chatting with Mike, Cody, Ben, and Curtis was a great break in the action. We even witnessed a Bald Eagle flying over the shop. Cool!

I didn't know if we would be going out again on the bikes, but Ben and Curtis were soon talking about more "points of interest" that I needed to see yet, and Cody thought of a couple more himself. It wasn't long before we were putting chairs away and preparing to head out one last time to finish off the "Tour Of Northfield".

We went through to some play ground areas where we were looking to find more structure to bounce around on when we came upon a little open area. This area had a bicycle path around it, and was approximately the area of one city block in size. Well, Cody and Curtis were feeling a bit "spicy", so they sprinted off on a lap of this area at a high rate of speed.

Amazingly, Curtis was keeping pace with the cyclo-cross bike, and was even in the lead coming through "Turn Two" when he got a little loose. This caused him to bobble coming out of the corner, and with Cody right on top of him, Curtis lost control, wiped out, and his bike clattered to the ground.

Ben and I cut across to see what had happened, since Curtis popped up looking as if he was in a bit of pain. Fortunately it was just a bit of road rash, but the blood made for a spectacular display! The bike? It was fine!

We rode onward then, only to find our destination overrun with little children. So we passed on that, and rode through a newer, expensive neighborhood. Then on to a water tower hill, and then towards some cemeterys.

The sun sets, but we weren't quite done yet!
We sped around the cemetery roads which were twisty-turny and up and down. The light was failing fast by now, and it was getting really hard to see. We exited the cemetery and headed into some fast single track above Carleton College again, which was getting pretty sketch for myself in this low light!

Then we headed back into downtown where Cody took his leave of us, and we hit the "Contented Cow" for some post ride refreshments. It was a long, long, super fun day. I got to see almost all of Northfield from just about every angle you can imagine and it was great fun.

It all reminded us of when we were kids, bombing around on our bicycles, looking for adventure. We sure found it that Sunday.

Finally, after a lot of scheming, dreaming, and regular conversation, we were going to go back to Ben's place where it all started back around noon that day. Going back in the dark without lights was, well.......interesting to say the least! That said, I made it in one piece.

The next day I got up early with Mrs. Guitar Ted in tow and we bugged out for home. It was a fantastic weekend with more that went on than I told here, and we cherished every minute of it.

I really needed that tour! Thanks Ben, Curtis, Cody, Mike, and all the rest of ya in Northfield Minnesota. It was good. Now, I have to ready myself for the big Lost Wages trip......


Wracher said...

Man that reminds me of being a kid. What a great story. Thanks.

Captain Bob said...

Great reading. Thanks for the post!

Errin said...

Great story. Thanks for sharing!

Fat Pugger said...

At this point, which do you prefer; Riding all those uber chic carbon steeds or the fatbikes?

Guitar Ted said...

@Fat Pugger: Well, a few thoughts for ya...

-First, I don't get to ride too many carbon fiber rigs.....yet! Maybe that'll happen.

--I like bicycles. Period.

---And fat bikes are a barrel-o-fun. No doubt, I'll be spending time plunking around on my Salsa Mukluk and soon......a titanium Mukluk! So, yeah. I like them a lot.