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Old 03-04-2014, 06:27 PM   #1
jwalters OP
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Location: Little Marais, MN
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A March Ride Through Minnesota's Superior National Forest



Today was one of those days that I just knew I had to git while the git'ns good! You see, some of my fellow inmates and I have been planning an ice ride up here along the Minnesota North Shore for several weeks. Unfortunately, between our busy work schedules, time off and mother nature; we haven't been able to make the ride a reality. So after looking at today's forecast, I decided to do some solo riding around my local region of the Superior National Forest and Lake County Forest. Hopefully we can still sneak in the group ride this March!

A few hundred of these and i was ready to go!


Notice the lack of screws on the center knobbies of my rear tire. That's because the TKC 80 pictured was well worn and I was afraid of a rear puncture if I tried to screw in the 3/8 inch screw into the center knobby. Note to self, use new tires next time.



As I've learned over the past few months, picking the right roads to ride in the winter is very important. Lot's of snow on the road is no bueno. Loose snow on the road allows the front tire to "hydroplane" or skate on top of the snow, preventing the knobbies and metal screws from digging into the solid road surface. Warm weather and slush are equally bad. Cold weather dries the surface providing better traction on the dry hard-packed snow/ice. Today's ride was almost ideal, 11 degrees. Cold enough for the road surface to be firm, dry and predictable but warm enough to stand a 40 mph windchill. Layer up!



In Superior National Forest, very few of the forest roads are plowed. If they are, they are usually plowed by private loggers who plow the roadway just enough to get into their tree stand. It's very easy to arrive at a dead end and then have to double back. Instead of dealing with this, I stuck to county roads that traverse the National Forest and are plowed regularly by our county snow plows. It limits riding a bit, but still allows for 100+ mile days through out the Arrowhead and National Forest region. Fun thing about riding in the winter, is you see a lot more animal tracks. I followed several moose tracks as well as some wolf and lynx tracks near Ninemile Lake.

Sidebar: I can't say I'm proud of it, but the GoPro doesn't lie. Yes, that's right, I was passed by a LEO. Surprisingly, I got a thumbs up and a wave from him!



Back to the ride. I left Finland, MN and road up County 7, aka the "Cramer" road to the Trestle Inn for coffee. Along the way, I marveled at our snowfall! The plan was to ride the 20 miles and turn back for Finland. Just enough of a ride to get a feel for the tires and road conditions.







At the Trestle Inn, I had several locals ask me about the trail conditions. Obviously they didn't see what I road in on and assumed I arrived at the Trestle on a snowmobile. I told them I took the highway, and I got a lot of confusing looks. Inside the Men's restroom at the Trestle, I'm reminded that I'm not the only crazy winter rider in these parts, though the picture looks dated.


Closer view: Notice the chains and front and side skis. Fantastic! This guy is hardcore! Sadly, no one at the Trestle Inn knows who he is or if he's still around.


While I was inside the Trestle warming up with hot coffee my bike was cooling down. This isn't an issue for most bikes, but a kickstart-only 650cc bike needs to be fattened up for the 11 degree weather or you'll be kicking and cursing all day! Another little trick I used today was putting a cigarette lighter under the float bowl to heat up the fuel to help get the bike started. Obviously, you want to make sure you don't have any residual fuel on the carb, but by God, it works pretty well! Always have a pile of snow ready to dowse on the carb. (don't ask me how I know)

I wore out my welcome with the Trestle coffee pot, so it was time to move on. Instead of heading the 24 miles to home, I decided to continue up to the Wanless Road towards Isabella as well as check out the 4 Mile Grade towards the Sawbill Trail.





To be quite honest, the day was pretty uneventful. Just a great day on the bike! In my typical fashion, a planned 40 mile trip turned into a 70+ mile day. Spring appears to be a long way away, but at least I can enjoy some time in the saddle till it arrives!


(Never been passed by a plow truck before) :-)


The days route:


Snow plow routes for Lake County:


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jwalters screwed with this post 03-04-2014 at 07:59 PM
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Old 03-04-2014, 07:35 PM   #2
c-zulu
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I hope my bike is ready by tomorrow…

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Old 03-04-2014, 07:53 PM   #3
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What a beautiful day! Nice ride.
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Old 03-05-2014, 09:35 AM   #4
Hipster
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That's a cold ride! We just got back from riding Mexico and had to add an extra layer when it go down to 60 degrees
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Old 03-05-2014, 09:37 AM   #5
jwalters OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hipster View Post
That's a cold ride! We just got back from riding Mexico and had to add an extra layer when it go down to 60 degrees
Where are the pictures?!?
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Old 03-05-2014, 11:24 AM   #6
iBiker
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That's an awesome idea using the screws as studs. My luck would be a flat tire. Nice ride!
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Old 03-05-2014, 11:46 AM   #7
nodakker
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fun ride...im from N.Dak (teacher) and we bring our 8th graders to Wolf Ridge every April for a week...last year it sort of looked like your pics..hopefully this year all that snow will be gone up there (April 23rd)... but if it isnt, I suppose we could do the same to the bus tires!!!
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Old 03-06-2014, 01:54 PM   #8
propforward
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Yer a crazy dude jwalters.

Effin brilliant!
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Old 03-06-2014, 02:07 PM   #9
jwalters OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iBiker View Post
That's an awesome idea using the screws as studs. My luck would be a flat tire. Nice ride!
That was a concern of mine too. I made sure I only put in screws in the meaty part of the knobby. New tires are definitely better.


Quote:
Originally Posted by nodakker View Post
fun ride...im from N.Dak (teacher) and we bring our 8th graders to Wolf Ridge every April for a week...last year it sort of looked like your pics..hopefully this year all that snow will be gone up there (April 23rd)... but if it isnt, I suppose we could do the same to the bus tires!!!
Ya, last year we had a record 50+ inches of snow in April. If the weather's more conducive to riding, bring a bike this year and we can cruise the area. FYI, you can walk to my place from the Wolf ELC.


Quote:
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Yer a crazy dude jwalters.

Effin brilliant!
Hola PF, I admit, I'll enjoy the ride more when the slippery stuff is gone, but I didn't loose the front end once on my ride, it was really enjoyable. C-Zulu and I would like to ride up to Grand Marais later this month. BTW, you need to get your kilt-wearing hooligans from the Cities together and come up this spring after the snow melts, we could do an Ely run to the Ely Steakhouse.

-JW

PS. It's really easy to come up with great riding ideas when there's 4 feet of snow on the ground... Funny how that works.
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Old 03-06-2014, 02:11 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by jwalters View Post
Hola PF, I admit, I'll enjoy the ride more when the slippery stuff is gone, but I didn't loose the front end once on my ride, it was really enjoyable. C-Zulu and I would like to ride up to Grand Marais later this month. BTW, you need to get your kilt-wearing hooligans from the Cities together and come up this spring after the snow melts, we could do an Ely run to the Ely Steakhouse.
This idea has much win!
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