12/16/2014

MN DNR Issues News Release on New Fatbike Riding Opportunities

Minnehaha Trail-Fort Snelling State Park
Image Credit: Bonnie Moebeck




The Minnesota DNR issued a News Release on December 15th that details the expansion of fatbike riding opportunities throughout the state.  These opportunities include 58 new miles open to fatbiking in Minnesota State Parks and on State Trails.  This is in addition to the 20 miles already in use at Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area near Ironton.  Minnesota State Parks and Trails has also implemented a Winter Fat Biking Pilot Project to assist in finding places to ride and they would also like rider feedback that includes comments, suggestions and ways to improve these new winter fatbike trails.

The Minnesota DNR has maps of these new fatbike-friendly trails available for download.  These maps clearly detail fatbike/multi-use trails from snowshoe/ski/hiking only trails through the use of color to distinguish use (see each map's legend).

Image Credit: Minnesota DNR

In Northern Minnesota, Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area has 20 miles of groomed trails, Jay Cooke State Park has added 5.4 miles of trails to be groomed and Split Rock Lighthouse State Park will groom 8.7 miles of trails for fatbikes and ski skating.

Twin Cities Metro Area fatbike trail opportunities include Fort Snelling State Park with 6 miles of packed muti-use trails, the Luce Line State Trail has 7 miles of groomed multi-use trails and the Gateway State Trail is plowed from Cuyuga Street to Jamaca Avenue opening up 11.9 miles of trails to all winter biking.

In Southern Minnesota there are 13 miles of groomed trails from Pine Island to Rochester on the Douglas State Trail and the Blazing Star State Trail/Myre-Big Island State Park has added 6 miles of groomed trails.

Image Credit: Jake Hawkes/IMBA

Other opportunities for fatbiking from the MN DNR include:

Winter fat biking is allowed on trails that are signed and identified on DNR maps as open to fat biking, such as:

  • State forest roads or trails that are identified as allowing bicycling, unless they are groomed and tracked for cross-country skiing or snowmobiling only.*
  • State park and state recreation area trails designated for bicycling, including some non-motorized multi-use trails that may be shared with skiers, walkers, or snowshoers, unless they are groomed and tracked for cross-country skiing or snowmobiling only.*
  • State park roads, where motor vehicles are allowed, except those posted closed for biking.
  • State trails, except those groomed and tracked for cross-country skiing or snowmobiling only.
*NOTE: Most ski and snowmobile trails do not allow other uses. Skier and snowmobiler user fees pay for grooming and maintenance.

Areas to avoid riding fatbikes from the MN DNR:

While groomed snowmobile and ski trails can be an appealing ride option, most of those types of trails are not open to other uses due to concerns regarding safety and trail grooming costs that are paid through user fees. Please remember to be thoughtful and courteous as you seek out opportunities to enjoy the sport of winter fat biking.
Winter fat biking is not allowed on:

  • Most snowmobile trails, including the grant-in-aid (GIA) trail system. As a general rule for everyone's safety, please avoid fat biking on any snowmobile trail.
  • Most groomed and tracked cross-country ski trails, which are for skiing only
  • Any trail that is not specifically identified as open for bicycling, including hiking or snowshoeing trails in state parks or state recreation areas.

For more information on where to ride fatbikes in Minnesota, contact the DNR Information Center at info.dnr@state.mn.us or 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Remember to always follow IMBA's Fat Bike Best Practices.

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12/14/2014

Gift Ideas for the Cyclist on Your List

The holidays are almost here and many of you have a cyclist to shop for.  I have compiled a list of  gift ideas for products that I use and enjoy.  There is something here for just about any type of rider and budget.

Fix It Sticks
($36)

The new Fix It Sticks Replaceable Edition is the ultimate compact multi-tool a cyclist wants with them for repairs or adjustments during a ride.  Its small size fits easily into a seat pack or jersey pocket and comes with 8 bits (2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm, Phillips #2, Torx 25) to handle most jobs.  Steel construction gives Fix It Sticks 40 ft/lbs of torque and the "T" configuaration provides plenty of leverage.  Available from Fix It Sticks and select bike shops.

CatEye Strada Smart
($80/$140)

New this year is the CatEye Strada Smart which brings together a cycling computer and Bluetooth accessories (Speed/Cadence, Heartrate and Power) with your smartphone.  Works both in Mirror Mode and Sensor Direct Mode. 


Data summary from the CatEye Cycling app can be uploaded to Strava, CatEye Atlas and Training Peaks.  App works with iPhone 4S (IOS 6.1) or later and Android devices with Android 4.4/Bluetooth 4.0.  Available in Strada Smart and Strada Smart Package from Penn Cycle and other fine bike shops.

CamelBak Podium Bottles
($9-$25)

The CamelBak Podium line of water bottles has been a favorite of cyclists because of their innovative design and high flow spill-proof Jet Valve.  They come in a variety of models that include the Podium, Podium Chill and Podium Ice in sizes from 21 to 25 oz. depending on the model.  Chill and Ice models are designed to keep your water cold longer in warm temperatures or slow down freezing in the wintertime.  Available from Camelbak, Penn Cycle and other fine bike shops.

Banjo Brother Frame Pack
($33/$35)

The Banjo Brother Frame Pack is a favorite of commuters and gravel grinders alike for its convenient 2-pocket storage with easy access.  It comes in two sizes, small (70 cubic inches) and medium (102 cubic inches) that fit sloping frames down to 15".  Keeps snacks, spare tubes, keys and wallet close at hand and the medium pack is large enough to accommodate a 2L (70 oz) hydration bladder.  Available from Banjo Brothers, Penn Cycle and other fine bike shops.

SKS Airchecker
($25)

The SKS Airchecker is handy little digital tire pressure gauge that works with both Presta and Shrader valves.  It has a swivel head to make seeing the large digital readout easy at any angle and switches from Bar to PSI with the touch of a button.  Accurate readouts for low pressure fatbike tires to high pressure road bike tires with measurements up to 144 psi are what makes this a versatile multi-bike gauge.  The compact size fits in a seat bag without taking up too much space leaving room for other things like a tube and tire levers.  Available from Penn Cycle and other fine bike shops.

Finish Line Super Bike Wash
($9-$13)

Cleaning your bike and keeping it looking new is easy with Finish Line Super Bike Wash.  This safe for all surfaces, non-toxic and biodegradable product can be used two ways to remove dirt and grime with little or no scrubbing.  Spray it on and wipe it off or hose it off allowing you to clean your bike inside or outside.  Available in 1 Liter ready to use spray bottle, 1 Liter refill and 16 oz. concentrate at Penn Cycle and other fine bike shops.

Quad Lock Bike Kit
($70)

The Quad Lock Bike Kit is a lightweight and strong bike mount system for your smarthphone.  For those that like to use their smarthphone with ride tracking apps or for navigation, this kit is the way to go.  The Bike Mount attaches easily to the stem or bar with rubber O-rings or zip ties for a secure fit.  The dual action locking mechanism allows quick attachment or removal of the phone from the bike.  Quad Lock has models for Galaxy S4, Galaxy S5, iPhone 4/4S, iPhone 5C, iPhone 5/5S, and iPhone 6.  Available from Quad Lock and Amazon.com.

DeFeet Woolie Boolie Socks
($13-$25)

For the cold weather cyclist, any one of the DeFeet Woolie Boolie socks would be a great addition to their cycling apparel.  Made from American Merino Wool, Nylon and Lycra, this sock line is warm, comfortable, doesn't bunch up and is not itchy.  They come in heights from 1" to knee high in men's and women's sizes.  Available from DeFeet, fine bike shops and Amazon.com.
  
Scosche boomBOTTLE
($130)

The Scosche boomBOTTLE is a rugged IPX4 Splashproof/Weatherproof Bluetooth connectivity speaker designed to fit in a water bottle cage or cupholder.  Skip the earbuds and enjoy listening to podcasts or music while riding and still be able to hear approaching vehicles or passing cyclists.  With a 10 hour battery life and rich loud sound this speaker will keep you entertained on those long rides.  Available in a variety of colors from Scosche, Amazon.com and other online retailers.

Park Tool Chain Checker
($30)

Chain stretch can cause sloppy shifting, uneven drivetrain wear and premature cassette replacement.  Know your chain's percentage of stretch and replace it before it has a chance to do damage with the Park Tool CC-2 Chain Checker.  It is 10 and 11 speed compatible and has readings from 0 to 1 % of stretch.  For most chains replacement should be done at or before .75% of stretch.  This simple tool is easy to use and will take the guess work out of when to replace that worn chain.  Available from Penn Cycle and other fine bike shops.

Gift Cards From Your Local Bike Shop

http://penncycle.com/product/penn-cycle-fitness-penn-cycle-fitness-gift-card-5948.htm

Don't know what to get the cyclist on your list?  Gift cards from your local bike shop are always appreciated.  They can be used for tune-ups and overhauls, component and part upgrades, accessories, apparel, unexpected repairs (crash) or toward a new bike purchase.  Gift cards are available in a variety of denominations and are always the perfect size.

12/06/2014

My Favorite Fatbike Accessories-Part Three


Winter is here and to quote Guitar Ted, "White is the new dirt".  Cold weather brings on a whole different experience and there are a lot of fatbike accessories to make riding a little more comfortable and easier to carry the gear needed for those longer rides.  Below are some of my favorite items that I use regularly throughout the Winter.

Lighting


A good lighting set up is a must if you plan on doing any riding after dark.  I run a two-light combination that works great for singletrack in the dark early evenings that Winter brings.  The Light & Motion Stella 500 is a very compact headlight that has the versatility of being mounted on handlebars or a helmet.  This is my choice for a helmet-mounted light because of its small size and focused beam that follows my line of sight as I ride through switchbacks and turns.  It has a separate 2 cell Li-ion battery pack that is easily tucked into a jersey or jacket pocket when helmet-mounted or can be attached to a bike frame for handlebar use.  Long run times are another reason I like this light.  With a battery life of 2½ to 6 hours, depending on the setting used (Hi or Med), I don't have to worry about it running out in the middle of a ride.


For a bar mounted light, I like the the Light & Motion Taz.  I have the Taz 1000 which is no longer available from the manufacturer but two newer models come in 1200 and 1500 lumens.  The Taz is a compact light that is bright as a motorcycle headlamp with run times of 1½ to 6 hours (High to Low).  The light beam is powered by three high power LED's configured to throw a pattern out ahead and down in front of  the the rider giving a good field of view in very dark conditions.  It is MicroUSB rechargeable, water-resistant and durable. 

Bottle Cage Coozie


Winter cycling requires a rider to hydrate just as much as during warm weather rides, so slushy or frozen water bottles can be a nuisance.  To help extend the amount of time it takes to freeze up a water bottle, Gup Gum Gear handcrafts the newly redesigned Bottle Cage Coozie right here in the Twin Cites.  This product is fashioned to fit around standard water bottle cages and uses 3/8" thick closed cell foam for insulation to significantly extend the time it takes water to freeze.  Each Coozie has a heavyweight nylon exterior and medium weight nylon interior with holes for bottle boss bolts.  These coozies will let you ride longer without your water bottles freezing up as quickly.

Hydrapack SoftFlask

Another way to stay hydrated in freezing conditions without the hassle of frozen water bottles is by using the Hydrapack SoftFlask. SoftFlasks work great when stored in the back pockets of a cycling jacket.  The warmth of the perspiration vapor that passes through the jacket seems to be enough to keep them from freezing.  I have biked for hours in all types of below freezing temperatures with filled SoftFlasks in my jacket pockets and have not had any of them begin to freeze up.  In extreme cold, I have had the water in the bite valve freeze, but that was remedied by biting the valve crushing the ice thus restoring water flow.


One of my favorite features of the SoftFlask is the way they collapse as you drink from them.  As they are emptied they crumple up into a very small size that is easily stored in a pocket or bag.

ColdAvenger Pro Softshell

I first heard of ColdAvenger from my friend and ColdAvenger Athlete Bonnie Moebeck, who raved about its performance in the coldest of weather.  She really put it to the test at one of the world's toughest ultra-endurance races, the Arrowhead 135, that takes place each year in the "Icebox of the Nation", International Falls, MN.  Bonnie tells me she couldn't compete having asthma without the protection that the ColdAvenger mask provides for her lungs.

I use the Pro Softshell Half Face Mask.  This model allows me to choose the proper head covering for the temperature.  I will wear a beanie or skullcap for just the right amount of insulation to stay warm without overheating.  The ColdAvenger warms inhaled air making it much easier to breathe, especially during rigorous activity.  Its soft fleece material that covers the face, neck and ears is very well insulating and cuts the wind entirely.  The protection it provides has made it possible for me to ride longer in the extreme cold conditions that Minnesota is known for.

12/03/2014

My Favorite Fatbike Accessories-Part Two


Winter is here and to quote Guitar Ted, "White is the new dirt".  Cold weather brings on a whole different experience and there are a lot of fatbike accessories to make riding a little more comfortable and easier to carry the gear needed for those longer rides.  Below are some of my favorite items that I use regularly throughout the Winter.

Gaiters


Gaiters are a great way to keep legs from the knees down warm, dry and boots from taking on snow.  I like the Crocodile Gaiter from Outdoor Research because they are extremely durable, waterproof and breathable.  Breathability allows transfer of vapor keeping my tights and baselayer dry underneath, which is key on long rides in the cold.  Blocking the wind and providing a little extra thermal protection are added bonuses to keeping the snow from working its way into my boots.  For deeper snow and frigid temperatures gaiters make a great addition to your fatbike riding apparel.

Tire Gauge


Keeping your tires properly inflated is key to speed, control and traction.  Colder temperatures can cause tire pressure to decrease as much as 2% for every 10° F drop, so checking your tires to ensure proper inflation should be done before each ride.  A change of as little as a pound or two of psi can make a huge difference to how a fatbike tire reacts to the conditions you are riding.

I carry a G.H. Meiser Low Pressure Presta Valve Dial Gauge to give me accurate readings at very low pressures that regular gauges might not be able read.  This model reads tire pressure from 0 to 30 psi and is not affected by cold temperatures unlike some digital tire gauges.  This gauge is an excellent choice for fatbikers looking to dial in that that precise inflation for the conditions, whether they be soft/hard pack snow, "mash potatoes" or fresh powder.  With a little experimentation you will learn to set tire pressures exactly to your liking.


Frame Pump


I carry a small frame pump with me on rides to modify tire pressure giving me the ability to adjust for changing trail conditions.  It gives me the freedom to let some air out of my tires to gain traction with the ability to increase tire pressure if the riding conditions require me to do so.  Adjusting tire pressure up or down by a pound or two can make a big difference.  I like the Bontrager Air Support HP Pro (short model) for its compact size and the flexible hidden hose that threads onto Presta valves making inflation easy.

Fenders


When temperatures get above freezing riding a fatbike can get a little messy.  Mud, sand, slush and puddles can get a rider all wet.  To combat this and keep riding dry and comfortable, Portland Design Works has made Dave's Mud Shovels.  These lightweight, quick-install fenders are wide enough to keep water, mud and muck from being flung all over your legs and backside from those big tires.


The front and rear models install quickly and accommodate a wide variety of tube diameters.  They are reasonably priced, lightweight and really do keep you dry, even when splashing through big puddles.  If you're an all-weather rider like me, you'll come to rely on Dave's Mud Shovels for those messier rides.

I will continue with more of my Faviorite Fatbike Accessories in one more upcoming post.

11/30/2014

Minnesota Global Fat-Bike Day Activities



Global Fat-Bike Day is a worldwide grassroots campaign that started a couple of years ago to bring people from the fatbike community together to ride and make new friends.  In honor of Global Fat-Bike Day there are several rides scheduled here in Minnesota on December 6th that you may want to get in on as well as the Winter Bike expo and Superfat Crit to start or finish off the day.  I have complied a list of them so you can get your "fat on" and ride with others of the "well-endowed tire crowd".

Image Credit: Jack Pine Brewery
Global Fat Bike Day/Brainerd Lakes 2.0 will start and finish at the Jack Pine Brewery in Baxter.  Organizer Mike Spencer states, "We're developing a new route for the Global Fat Bike ride. There will be some PBT, some cross country, some surface streets, a couple stops at local businesses and of course we'll end up where we started at Jack Pine Brewery! More details to follow after a pre ride this weekend!"  Approximately 25 miles, ride starts at 11:00am.

Image Credit: Joe Sacco
Global Fat Bike Day on "Da Range" is organized by my buddy Joe Sacco up in Hibbing.  Him and his family are avid fatbikers, even the kids have 9:Zero:7's!  Probably an 11:00am start with more details to come in the days leading up to the ride.  "Nothing huge, no big bonfire, no drinking of beers, just our young "FatBiking Crew" and I doing a lap somewhere around town. Pedaling our local summertime loop in and out of the the old Whitney Tails pond area sounds like a plan. Very low key, and fun for all.  If anyone has more of an idea.... speak up! Thinking 11:00 am would be a good starting time. I'll post a concrete plan as the time nears."

Image Credit: Jonathan Bistodeau

Jonathan Bistodeau will be hosting his weekly Faturday ride with a special Global Fat-Bike Day edition that will start at the Russell A. Sorenson Landing (Lyndale Ave. lot) in Bloomington and follow the river bottoms trails to the Sibley House in Mendota and back.  Ride starts at 10:00am and is approximately 20 miles.  "This ride is put together for you, the riders. We are not about racing, we are about enjoying the trails, nature, and the company of other riders. As always, stay safe, ride at your own pace and within your own abilities. Dress for the weather, bring plenty of water, and food." - Jonathan Bistodeau.  Post a comment in MN Fatbike Group Rides if you can make it.


Global Fat Bike Day 2014 Twin Cities is being hosted by Nate Moore and starts at the Minnesota National Wildlife Refuge in Bloomington at 10:00am.  "Plan to ride your fatbike with us! Starting at The National Wildlife Refuge in Bloomington and Ending at the Winter Bike Expo in Minneapolis. This is a public event, invite your fatbike homies! The Wildlife Refuge has parking on site for those who have to travel, it is adjacent to the Blue Line Light Rail for those who want to travel in from elsewhere in Minneapolis, and adjacent to the 494 non-motorized bridge for those coming from St Paul.  Please Plan to bring your own water and food, as access to these items will not exist until late in the ride. From the Expo, it will be up to riders to decide their exit. If parked at the Wildlife visitors center, The Light Rail stations at Franklin or Lake Street are easy access. You might also consider parking near the Expo in the morning and riding the light rail down to start the day. Plan for an Easy Pace, but a long ride. Some considerations are in the route for those who need to dip out."
See the Global Fat Bike Day 2014 Twin Cites Facebook Event Page for more information and details of the route.

Image Credit: Nicollet Bike Shop

Nicollet Bike shop in Mankato will be hosting the Nicollet Bike Global Fat Bike Day Group Ride at 12 Noon.  Ride departs from the shop located at 607 N. Riverfront Dr., helmets and fat bikes are required.  "Join us for a Fat Bike group ride to celebrate Global Fat Bike Day. We'll start from the shop at 12:00pm and ride out towards Mount Kato ski area to check out the trails at Ft. Le hillier and surrounding area and finish back at the shop. We'll be stopping during the ride at some point to warm up at Mt. Kato so bring a few bucks if you want a warm beverage. This will be a casual paced NO drop ride. All are welcome to attend! Contact us for details or with any questions."


COGGS will have two group rides on December 6th for Global Fat Bike Day.  
"To celebrate Global Fat Bike Day, we are planning a group ride followed with food and bonfire with some good cheer!
Saturday, December 6th
-Short ride leaves at 1:00 pm (Mission)
- Long ride leaves at 10:00 am (Brewer, Piedmont and Mission)

The plan is to leave the Mc Fadden’s house at 10:00 am and ride Brewer and Piedmont, then swing by the Mc Fadden’s and pick up those who want to ride Mission.  The trails are all packed and are in fantastic riding condition, plus the forecast is favorable.  We will provide brats on the grill and some adult beverages. Bring something to share…Please respond to: tmcfadden@bernicks.com and let Todd Know if you will make it! Thanks!  Hope to see you all on the 6th."
 

The Winter Bike Expo presented by Freewheel Bike returns for its fourth year December 6th & 7th to the Freewheel Midtown Bike Center.  The expo draws hearty cyclists from all over to see and demo all that manufacturers have to offer for winter commuters & fatbikers.  Admission is free and the fun kicks off at 9 am each day.  Winter biking seminars will be held throughout both days and there will be fatbike demos, raffles and beer!  For a schedule of events, click here.

Image Credit: Freewheel Bike

Stick around after the Winter Bike Expo for the 45NRTH Vinterhammer Superfat Crit, a criterium race for fatbikes set up on a feature laden course along the railroad trench of the Midtown Greenway.  Racers must have fat tires of at least 3.7" or wider and lights since the race will be conducted in the dark.  Racing starts at 6:00pm and entry requires a non-perishable food donation to Second Harvest Heartland.  Freewheel Midtown Bike Center is located at 2834 10th Ave. S. in Minneapolis right on the Midtown Greenway.

11/25/2014

Brookview Golf Course Opens to Fatbikes This Winter

Brookview Golf Course in Golden Valley will be welcoming fat tire cyclists this Winter by grooming trails for riding and holding two fatbike races.  There will be two trails to ride, 3/4 and 3½ miles in length.  It is no charge for cyclists to use these trails and the Brookview Clubhouse and Grill will be open on the weekends (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays).  Trails will be available for use during the weekdays but the clubhouse and grill will be closed.  Opening date is set for December 12th, weather permitting and the trails will be groomed through the end of February.  Fatbikes will also be available for rent during open clubhouse hours.

Northwest Community Television-Channel 12 recently did a story on the new Winter recreation activities coming to Brookview


Winter Grill, Clubhouse & Fatbike Rental Hours


Brookview will be hosting two fatbike races this Winter, one in January and one in February.


Race Information
When: Saturday, January 3, 2015
First Race Starts at 10 am
Where: Brookview Golf Course, 200 Brookview Parkway, Golden Valley, MN 55426
Check In: Friday, January 2, 12:00-8:00 pm and Saturday, January 3, 7:30-10:00 am
Format: Categories will include Beginner (1 lap), Sport (2 laps), and Expert (3 laps). Each lap is approximately 3.5 miles. Races will be timed using computer chips with a mini-wave start format. Bike tires must be a minimum of 3.8” wide.
Fees: $20 per participant for pre-registration (limited to 160 participants)
$25 registration day of race (if space is available)
Registration and Payment to Brookview Golf Course
Questions? Call 763-512-2305



Race Information
When: Saturday, February 21, 2015
First Race Starts at 10 am
Where: Brookview Golf Course, 200 Brookview Parkway, Golden Valley, MN 55426
Check In: Friday, February 20, 12:00-8:00 pm and Saturday, February 21, 7:30-10:00 am
Format: Categories will include Beginner (1 lap), Sport (2 laps), and Expert (3 laps). Each lap is approximately 3.5 miles. Races will be timed using computer chips with a mini-wave start format. Bike tires must be a minimum of 3.8” wide.
Fees: $20 per participant for pre-registration (limited to 160 participants)
$25 registration day of race (if space is available)
Registration and Payment to Brookview Golf Course
Questions? Call 763-512-2305


For more information on fatbiking at Brookview Golf Course visit the Fat Tire Biking page on their website, for updates visit their Facebook page.

11/23/2014

Save The River Bottoms Flyer Available for Download

From the Save the River Bottoms Facebook page:

"We....meaning the multi-talented Porter Million....created a flier that we will have down at the Midwest Mountaineering Outdoor Expo. See the link below.

Please feel free to download, print and disperse responsibly. We ask that you NOT st
ick them randomly under windshield wipers and such. We want to Save the River Bottoms...not pollute it."

Steve for Save the River Bottoms



Download Link:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/wbcngwy5tzm361d/Save%20the%20River%20Bottoms.pdf?dl=0 

Download, print and post responsibly. 
 
Sign the Petition

MORC has started a petition that will be presented to the MN DNR, Bloomington City Council and Representative Ann Lenczewski.  Please visit Change.org to let your voice be heard that you want to stop the plan to put a paved trail in the Minnesota River Valley between the Bloomington Ferry Bridge and the Old Cedar Avenue Bridge.
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