Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ring 'round the Prairie!

Funny thing - so far this is turning out to be more about rides that I put in than about an opening of a bike shop. I still do plan on opening the shop, have no fear! Still really waiting to hear from the bank...kinda sucks having this all hinge on one thing...but what can ya do?

So on to the latest ride report! We got hit with an ugly storm as I posted up two times ago. That rain that came put riding really on ice for me for about two weeks. Haven't touched the bike other than jaunts around the block. I finally found time to head out on Tuesday! yay! Since getting here to Western WI, I have noticed that the snowmobilers have quite the network of trails. Anyone who lives in the northland here will know what I'm talking about. Those buzzing stinkbombs are all over the place around here in the winter! As loud and obnoxious as they are, they sure do lay down a nice trail to ride in the winter. And those trails take you places that, normally, you can't get to. Through private land, across hidden ravines, and over ridgetops seldom seen by anything other than livestock.

So I took advantage. Conditions at the start were very good. The snow was still cold enough that it supported my girth as I slogged along.

From Ring around t...

Still in town...down by the river!

Still in town, but getting close to the edge. Its here where the climbing/walking begins. One of the finer nuances of winter snow machine trail riding is the, um lack of anything resembling traction on climbs. But its winter - I'm just out to be in the woods on a beautiful day. Not much else.

Going in to the woods for the first time. This is just after crossing an open field where about25 turkey were foraging about. 'Till I came along that it. Seeing turkey's 'fly' is interesting.

Almost at the top of the climb. In summer this section is ridable, but I've never done it, since there's a singletrack that departs from this trail just back down the trail. Anyways. Cool rock formation. Lots of that stuff in these parts.

5 miles in. And just about to start climbing again.

Last shot of the ride. At this point I'm pretty shelled. 13 miles in, and the snow pack got progressivly less packed, making riding a difficult proposition. Just after this shot was taken I came upon the steepest hill I've done in a long time. Over 15% grade according to the GPS. Steep, fast and icy. Kept me on my toes, that's for sure.

^^^^See that link? Please click it and go do some good over the course of the next few days. Improve your vocabulary while you're at it.

Happy Holidays!

Listening to: Pandora Holidays. Classic, folk, jazzy, and swingin'. I'm all over the board!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

As promised. Slowly getting more legit...

So on the last post, I said the logo was close to being done. And it is! I have to give BIG props to Doug Allan, a long time friend for putting this together for me. I think its turned out fantastic. Classy, classic, and timeless. I think its got staying power. What say the masses?

Without further ado:

Nothing much else to add, other than there has been progress with the bank - so there is still hope!

No riding lately. But I should be skiing! The snow around here is perfect for laying down some tracks and falling down a bit. I'll probably get out this weekend.

Listening to: NPR news. Just heard the Republicans debate in over in IA. Are all politicians so smarmy? - Thats rhetorical, btw...

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Season end?

From LaRiv - short...

Nah. More like season slow down. The greater midwest metro plex, other wise known as Southwest Wisconsin, was hit with our first winter storm of the year. Saturday, we got about 3" to 4" of snow. Which really is fine enough. Then it started to rain. Turning all that wonderful snow to a solid sheet of ice. Which makes taking the girls to school via bike and trailer, a rather slippery chore. Time to stud up a set of tires...

Enter the DoDak. My Dad was kind enough in the past few weeks to find both a small 4'x6' utility trailer for the shop, and a truck to pull it with. Both the truck and the trailer are in great shape, and will be the perfect tools to go out and support at events. Thanks Dad!

I have taken Sidra to class in it once so far, and it seems the girls like riding in it. Guess its warmer than the Burley!

I've also just sent the final decision to Doug on my logo. Soon enough I'll be debuting that here. Feels good to have stuff starting to flow in. Makes it all feel more 'real', ya know?

Just a quickie today...back to spreadsheets!

Listening to: The Current. Again.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

By request, pics of the 'Backyard' trails!

So Guitar Ted mentioned in a thread on eMpTy BeeR that I've mentioned these trails before but have not actually shown them to anyone who would even be remotely interested. Huh. So here they are. My local stash. These aren't very good shots, firstly. Second, these are shot only on one small section of trail.

Notice in this shot, a large rock off to the left in the shot. I'm standing on it in the next shot.

I'm up about 8' above the trail here.

The view to Wyalusing State Park. And there's some good news about the park I'll get into later. Good stuff for sure!

Yes, its steeper and rockier than it looks. This section is pretty intimidating to come upon. Its ridable, but not every time. This section of trail is actually pretty rocky for a good 1/3 to 1/2 mile.

A few details of the trails. They're primarily horse trails. As such, there are climbs here that can't be done. There is some hiking involved. Personally, I don't mind that. It gives one a chance to slow down, and really take in the surroundings you're riding through. Many trails really don't let you do that, y'know? The trails start at La Riviere City Park, a 300 acre former farm with probably 5 miles of trail on it. Its also the perfect place for a future 'cross race! Anyways, the trails start at La Riviere, and branch out from there. There is a claimed 50 miles of trail laced through the hills here. Yes, you read that right 50, as in 5 - 0 miles of trail. dayum. And they ain't easy as alluded to earlier. Now, that's what they claim. I've been up there exploring for the summer months here, and I feel I've only found 25 or so. If there really is twice that much, I can't wait to find it! If you want to come on around for a ride, PLEASE DO, but be prepared. Its steep. And technical. The single track ain't beginner friendly. If one wants easy, there's Wyalusing, Pikes Peak, or the wide trails on La Riviere proper.

So that's the scoop for the 'Backyard'. While we're talking local trails, I guess I should mention what else this area has to offer. I won't go into terrible detail, I'll save that for later posts. Gotta give myself topics after all!

Wyalusing State Park - there are roughly 10 miles of tail open to bikes. Its all easy, grassy trail with minimal elevation gain. Some pretty views. The July storms destroyed some of the trails there though - and they are looking to develop a new system of sustainable trails, with an aim of attracting more MTBer's to the park. Yay! I'll be helping them with design and layout, and Vernon Trails will be helping with construction if timing is right. They've got their hands pretty full up there in Viroqua. I'll be looking for local help too, so any of you locals wanting to learn trail construction - pay attention! I'll be spreading the word as more news develops!

Pikes Peak State Park, IA - Probably 5 or so miles of moderate trail. Not single track, but ATV width trail that starts on ridge top, and goes alll the way down. Then you climb back up. A somewhat entertaining ride.

Yellow River State Forest, IA - a rough 40 mile loop can easily be created. Again, this is mostly on ATV width trail, with moderate to high horse use, so a single path has been worn in. Can be a pretty fun place to ride.

Volga Rec Area, IA - Ryan and I did a 17 mile loop there a few weeks ago. There used to be an IA mtn bike race there in the years past, but I guess the sand killed it. Yep, this place can be sandy, but one can still get a nice long loop in. Be aware of high horse use though.

That's about it for staying in close proximity to Prairie du Chien. There's lots more if you travel within an hour of here. Yellow River and Volga would be perfect places to start trail creation efforts. The terrain is perfect for truly great singletrack. Something to think about you IA locals!

Ah. this is long enough. Thanks for reading!

Listening to: Loose Fur a great littel side project from Jeff Tweedy. Check it out.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Oh crap. I made a daily read list.

Not that that's a bad thing. but still. It puts pressure on me to actually keep up with this thing. Thanks Jason. Scroll down to November 9 to see the list. There are some good reads in there. I'm honored to be added into the mix, really!

Not too much action on the shop right now. I have the sign done and hung. Lisa did most of the work on the sign, admitedly. I like the way it turned out. This is definitely the theme of the shop. Old and rustic. As much as I like the whole modern, clean aesthetic and all, this still looks good and it fits with the whole downtown.

On the riding note, the family is just getting over the cold. Mine is still dragging on...but I still needed to get out for a ride. I traveled to the town next door on Friday and on the way home took an alternate route. I followed one of those roads that catches your eye as you poor over a map. The kind that is just thin little line, that most likely means that its a) scenic b) lightly traveled and c) prime territory for a great fall ride. To get to the point, it was all of the above. I only wish i was able to hit it at full color, and a sunny day. The weather for this ride sunny. It started chilly, and occasionally drizzly, and remained like that for the entire ride. The day previous was spectacular, and I was hoping it would stay that way. No such luck. On with the show. This is a ride I'll be doing again, thats for sure. Stats? 30 miles + 2800' of climbing.
A good way to start the ride. Twisty road sign. There's lots of those in these parts.
And off the road goes, into the distance. Saw blazing orange ALL OVER the place in these woods today. Hope they had a good hunt. There's deer crawling all over the place here.
Dancing road. Dugway Road is like this the whole way. Right on the bank of the Mississippi too.
Cool over hanging rock. 11'5" clearance fwiw.
a couple cool roots found along the road.
I always wanted a gun range in my front yard!
Rode the Kelly. The poor bike has only been ridden once in the past two months. Spending too much time(more time) on the mtb's. I love this bike. Just fits like a glove!

Till next time...
Listening to: sisters fighting. Pardon me...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

No real update on the shop....but here's Things I Like!

This is a big thanks to all of youse whose reading this, and have provided comments of support. THANK YOU!!! This has been a long trip so far, and its long from being over. Those of you who've followed a similar path know of what I speak.

So in the effort of keeping this thing running after the shop is open, I'm going to delve into a bit of self-indulgence. A section, or theme that will be updated on a semi-regular basis. I'll call it: Things I Like. Pretty simple and effective. The title says it all.

As the first installment lets look at the waterbottle cage. Not just any cage though. The King of cages(who really doesn't have anything to do with headsets.), the King cage. In this day of larger, and more water packs, this simple item is way to often over looked. He does Stainless steel and Ti. Both are simply artful pieces. Of course the Ti one is absurdly expensive(on the order of $40), as most things made with Ti are. The stainless cage is the one I really like. For $15 you get a beautiful, hand made piece of functional art. I have never had a bottle ejected with this cage. It holds my bottles SO securly, that I don't worry about loading my heavy bottle based battery for my head light in this cage.

Sure there are other stainless cages out there, most notably Salsa and every retro-grouches favorite, Nitto. Both companies make very nice cages that can hold a bottle every bit as well as a King, on a road bike! When you start riding off-road, in rocky, rooty, bouncy trails, both of those have broken under pressure for me. Kind of a bummer, really. But the great thing about them, just like steel bikes, is that they can repaired! God bless the ferrousness of steel!

So there you go. The first installment of Things I Like. Hope YOU like it! come back for more later, eh?

Oh, and the shop update - I'm close to having the logo done! I'll post it up once Doug is finished.

Listening to: Sound Opinions As they say: The time has come to ROCK public radio. Indeed. Check it out, if your local station doesn't carry it.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

This is my blank canvas.

We all start somewhere. An empty shell. A fully equipped, ready to run 'concept' store ala Trek or Specialized. I've got something in between those two extremes. First off, a little bit about the location. See, I live in Prairie du Chien, WI. A small river town of 6000, nestled on the banks of the Mississippi River and the Wisconsin River. Kind of right in the heart of the Driftless Area, a region of deep coulee's and wind blown ridges. This is not the typical glaciated flat-as-a-pancake midwest. See the last glaciers missed this area. Makes for some wonderful terrain for road riding and mountain biking.
The store front itself is located in the historic downtown, right next to Simply, the local coffee brewer and gastronomic delight creator. Convenient! As you can see from the shot, I already have a customer waiting! Not really but there are a good number of cycle tourists that come through in a year. I hope to capitalize on that! I've got three entrances, one front, one side, and one rear. And a nice large, paved parking lot in the rear. Getting in shouldn't be a problem at all.

Inside is where all the good stuff will be happening, of course. 14' ceilings, with the original tin still up, though it is painted. Bummer, but still at least its not some cheezey dropped ceiling. Hard wood floors throughout, a nice weathered barnwood partition and sub-wall, and a nice pad for making the 'shop' area. Really, I don't have THAT much to do in here to make it presentable. Thankfully!

The spot behind the sub wall there may make a nice 'quite' spot for the kids. Napping may end being an issue though. We'll see how it goes.

This should make nice display wall.

From the back looking to the front. There's a side door just to my right, out of picture. And to answer everones question, yes, the tree is staying. I like it!

Listening to: Arcade Fire. Pure auditory bliss! Be sure to listen to "No cars go" real loud. Sends chills down your spine I tell ya.

Monday, October 29, 2007

On with the pictures.

All right. I promised them. Pictures from the riding last weekend. And it is. Experimenting for now. Maybe not. Here's a link to the album.

Lets try photoing this way:

Jason B riding off into the sun.

Berm shot!

Me'n the dog, out enjoying the day.

I like this shot.

And this one too.

From Minneapplepus...

Listening to: The Current only the best damned public rock station you'll hear!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Welcome one, welcome all!

Welcome to The Prairie Peddler blog. At this time, there is not much to say, but there is this: fall is here, and the riding is GOOD!

I've been up in Minneapolis all weekend. I managed to schedule out some ride time. Got together with Jason from Salsa for a ride at the new Murphy-Hanrehan trails. All I can say is wow. For a trail system on the edge of a large metropolis, you'd never know it. They've got a ten mile loop now, with plans for more evidently. We got in 17 miles total, and managed to get some nice shots. I'll post some up when I get home.

Day two saw me riding solo at Lebanon Hills. Kind of a perennial favorite for Mpls locals. Sees tons of use. Since I was solo, there was no camera along. Its kinda nice to not be bothered with that chain every now and again. T'was another gorgeous morning, and since it was Saturday, the parking lot showed it. The place was packed. People were passing each other all over the place out there.

Later in the day, I squeaked out of the house for another spin on the dirt at Salem. The parking lot was deserted. Save for one lone stoner. He opened his car door as I was rolling away with Chaco, and out came billowing smoke. Rank stuff. Smelled him for the first quarter of the trail. And then he started riding, and I could smell where he had gone. Damned near got a contact high following the dude. No matter. I was out on this ride for simple enjoyment, and to give the poor dog a good run. He certainly hasn't gotten many in since Thing 1 and Thing 2 have been here. Since I was out there for fun, and no else was, I took the camera and experimented a bit. Got more shots that I'll post up soon. In the end, the ride was like the other two spectacular. Perfect weather, perfect trail conditions.

Get out there!

And if you made it this far, Thanks for looking, I'll be getting into the shop soon and starting the make over. The process will be well documented here. I PROMISE!

Listening too: a VERY annoying computer hum. And Airplanes. Lots of them.