The stack of files is towering over my head and my desk chair is really cramping my style on this particular morning. My back and shoulders are super uncomfortable under my pressed white shirt and my tie is cutting off the circulation to my brain. You see, I’ve spent the weekend surfing, riding/racing bikes, and/or fishing. Oh bliss of bliss; having a life full of passions that involve entanglement with the natural world in ways that encourage mastery and conquest while never ceasing to remind you that you are only a mortal. The weekends come and I try my hardest to be wild and rad; to escape, and yet here I sit on an ever widening rear end; back to the grind.
Seventy-two hours ago the texts started rolling in: “4 hours until go time!” “Finally getting out of here!” Pictures of gear jammed into vehicles, grocery cart of weekend fuel, and trail maps blow up all of the phones on the group chat.
The stoke is high. Cars start pulling up and we can all feel the week’s stresses start to ebb away. Crack a beer, eat a coma-inducing meal, more maps, youtube slopestyle videos on the projector, finalize plans, water, bed.
Fourty-eight hours ago we debated the merits of a light breakfast during gear checks and coffee. Toys in tow we head to the trailhead and strap up and prepare to let loose.
It’s go time, the moment that everyone has been waiting for all week. Sure each and everyone of us puts in a few after work laps of some sort but this is the chance to shine. This is the opportunity to not be overworked or crunched for time. Today is the day where we can play ’til our hearts are content. We shred all the gnar; seek out the secret trout spot; and maybe if the wind is right we catch a wave or two.
Twenty-four hours ago I cheerfully whipped up a camp style breakfast of churro crepes and eggs while my wife and friends played with Copper; everyone anxious for one last late morning session.
We all knew what was coming the next day so we pushed ourselves one last time. But Sunday rides are sad. Not like pointless sad, you know? But everyone plays it safe. We make loose plans for the next round of awesomeness (at an undetermined future date), and ease back to the tame, civilized, version of ourselves.
Monday: The lunch hour comes and goes and still my bike rests in the back of my car. Another training opportunity squandered. On top of the missed ride I also smashed a fistful of redvines and another cup of office coffee. Refined sugar and caffeine: great fuel for the after work ride which will serve as a release and reminder of what I am and what I could be.
So what do I do? Well, I certainly don’t quit my day job because no one is going to pay to support a middle of the road weekend warrior’s pursuit of action-adventure sports mediocrity. (If you are willing to do this, and why wouldn’t you be, please slide into my DMs and we can talk).
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That leaves one real option: keep giving it hell. We’re not called weekend warriors for nothing. Not only do we train and strain for age group podiums, Strava KOMs, and the well-deserved beer and burritos which follow, but we also have to crush a full-on work week on top of it all.
So instead of a lament, let’s hear a battle cry from all of the weekend warriors out there. Get out there and do your thang you well-adjusted, slightly above-average doers!
So, that’s a wrap. The inaugural HAMR weekend is over. How’d it go? In a word: wild. We were up in the wilds being wildmen (and women) having wicked type-two fun.
Since I am only a little bit of a masochist I opted for the Team HAMR race this year. My partner and dear friend Adam flew in from Colorado to suffer right along side me.
The concept of this adventure was simple: 7 checkpoints total in a cool passport; 4 mandatory, 3 optional. The more checkpoints you hit the greater the time bonus when you hit the finish line. Twelve hours to get them and get back. Random wakeup time. Ready, set: GO. Part adventure race/ orienteering and part endurance cycling. Sprinkle in a little knowledge of the area and you have yourself an adventure.
My pre-race prep involved eating a burrito, drinking a few beers, and stuffing half a watermelon down my gullet.
Spoiler alert: I was one of the first people up to use the two porta-johns. This race-prep worked out well as I discovered the lights on in the race tent and some of the volunteers scurrying about. Win for Team Dirtbag Yuppie!
You see, the start time was random and my bubbly belly served me well by forcing me out of bed early.
“Africa” softly wafted through the loudspeaker while racers rubbed the sleep from their eyes. This song was the harbinger of things to come. Those blessed rains would come soon enough.
Adam and I took off toward the old 510 Bridge checkpoint in the same direction as the SledgeHAMR racers. (Those sick puppies did 186 miles). We rolled down to the checkpoint just as the sun came up, punched our passports and headed up 510 in the general direction of the next checkpoint. The watermelon demon again raised (or rather lowered) its ugly head and I was forced to make a pitstop at the pullout just before the new 510 Bridge. (Thanks MDOT for providing that one).
We headed north of CR 510 toward the Red Road.
The next checkpoint was south of Mosquito Gooch in the Mulligan Plains and the Red Road was the only way to get there. The steady light rain tamed the otherwise sandy road and made it nearly enjoyable. However, every time I started to get into a decent cadence I would get sucked into a sandy spot and reminded of the shortcomings of my 2.3″ tires. Adam and the fatty pounded on, mostly unfazed by the loose spots. Riding in nasty sand can be quite taxing and the roadside was loaded with wild blueberries so Adam and I took full advantage of nature’s bounty whenever we felt our energy dip. You know… every 5 minutes or so.
We turned north toward Mosquito/Mulligan and were immediately delighted to find that the road grew firmer with every rotation of our tires. We arrived at the very picturesque second checkpoint, punched our passports, and took some quintessential photos:
Surely, we thought that it would be time to start piling the miles on again now that we had solid trail under our tires. Unfortunately, we were sadly mistaken. We began to notice that we were climbing, which was to be expected, as we are in the Huron Mountain Range after all. However neither of us was prepared for what we encountered partway up the hill. As the road deteriorated into rubble we started pushing more and more.
Here’s Adam; he is suffering up some rocky crap. We saw many footprints of those who came before us. I thought it’d be fun to take a cute picture of him suffering. Shortly thereafter karma struck and mother nature rewarded me for my hubris. On the first descent following this enhanced climb, I tried a stupid shortcut. ‘Why ride around solid-looking mud when I could probably ride right through it?’ Big mistake. I shoulder-checked that mud puddle after going OTB. Rich, black, backwoods mud covered my helmet, jersey and most of the integral moving parts on the front part of my bike. Adam only heard my very manly screams as the mud consumed my pride. I washed my sins away at the Yellow Dog River crossing and we motored on.
After getting on the AAA road the checkpoints seemed to tick off with greater frequency. As we headed south on CR 510 on our way to the Wilson Truck Trail the rained picked up. (It rained about 5 of the 11 hours that we were on the course) After 15 minutes of hard rain on the well-packed CR 510 I turned around to apologize to Adam for dragging him out of sunny Denver to slop around in the cold wet midwest. My spirits were lifted and I knew that I picked the right co-pilot when I saw the smile on his face. He was soaking up the rain and sucking down gels with a side of sand.
We thought that we had lost our way en route to Wilson Truck Trail but ended up righting the ship with a little help from some friends on a tandem. (Thanks, eh?) There are few activities where competitors will come to each other’s aid. That’s one of the main reasons that I love riding mountain bikes and events like this.
Heading down, or east, on the Wilson Creek Truck Trail was a blast. We thoroughly enjoyed the creek crossings and even made a few stops to snap some semi-rad shots.
Letting gravity do the work in this section provided a welcomed reprieve from pedaling and gave us some time to recharge, chat, and eat more sugary gels and bars. This was also about the time that we both became oddly infatuated with the bag of Lays that was nestled in the van back at basecamp. We totally forgot about the free pasties but more on that later.
The last 22-ish miles and checkpoints 4, 5, and 6 are sort of a blur. This is mainly due to the fact that they were quite consolidated and close together compared to the first three checkpoints. The one that sticks out the most is Top of the World. Chelsea and I have made several trips out here and it was really cool to be able to show Adam the killer view of Lake Superior from this point.
After the final checkpoint dubbed “Chunky Summit” on some strange snowmobile/atv trail we emerged onto the Noque ski trail somewhere around the 17km marker. We made our way to the basecamp along a freshly flattened trail through the overgrown grass. I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t sink mid-thigh in the “wet area” just before the bridges… At this point we were both rightly soaked and honestly I didn’t even notice the extra 3-4 pounds of mud that clung to my body and bike. (Why was I the only one that looked like an extra from Swamp Thing?)
The finish line at the basecamp came up quick and we had our passports cleared just shy of 11 hours in the saddle. Because we got 6 of 7 we received a 3 hour time reduction and ended up placing 5th of 20 teams. Not too shabby for all of the berries that we ate.
We finished up the party with a pastie, a gallon of ketchup, and a few bags of candy from our wives.
Something tells me that HAMR isn’t going anywhere. Like many endurance events, this one will probably get its own cult following and serve as jewel in many future crowns. I’d like to thank Beardsley and Todd for putting this great event on. I’d also like to thank Adam for making the trip out to ride bikes in poor weather, on an un-marked course, with this strange little man in the woods. Chelsea–thank you for supporting my childlike dreams and for putting up with my super loud trainer rides while you are trying to do yoga and achieve inner peace. Kathleen, thank you for the moral support, encouragement, and forcing Adam to pose for pictures. Michele, thanks for the Garmin and tutorial. Finally, thanks to Velodrome for allowing me to ride on Team Tamp Stamp and that dope little packet of instant coffee.
Oh yeah, that snorkel? The one from the famous #snorkdangle?
We didn’t friggin’ use it for anything substantive. We took a picture. I cannot wait to see what they make us carry next year.
The past two weeks have seen several multi-day warm ups. In most places this would mean that snowbike trails become ribbons of unrideable mashed potatoes that only get worse when they freeze. But, if you live in Marquette it means that the wonderful groomers from the Noquemanon Trail Network (NTN) Single Track Section put in some serious hours to ensure that our trails are top-notch when the inevitable freeze comes.
The NTN groomers have come up with some very unique grooming implements that suit our local climate. Their hard work and innovation is the subject of a great new short called “Whack Jobs.” It’s a true testament to those hardworking volunteers that make winter riding not only a possibility but a real pleasure.
The riding has been stellar so far in 2018. Despite the warm weather, as long as the temps drop overnight the trails are primo early in the morning before the sun hits them. In these few precious hours the planets align and you can really rip.
This weekend my friend Tim came up from Wisconsin to revel in our beautiful trails. I set up the GoPro and we went to the woods. Check it out!
We’ve got a little piece of property in the country. It’s the kind of place that’s just far enough out that you have to make your own fun. We spend a lot of time playing in and around the homestead. Lately, the main focus has been turning it into a bit of an adult playground. We are constantly looking for ways to make our spaces more fun and playful.
This past week we have been panking down our own fat bike trail for some friendly festivities this upcoming weekend. The freeze/thaw cycle from last week really helped the trail set up so we spent a little time riding them in this afternoon. Things are getting dialed in! The light was just right today so we did a little filming. Enjoy.
I got some new camera items to play around with and I am hoping to film more this year. Stay tuned.
I have been blogging off an on for around 8 years starting with Random Stream of Consciousness and now The Flannel Dispatch. However, its never been something that has been taken too seriously. I publish infrequently and fail to capture a majority of the things that I do. It has come to my attention that people like to hear what I am up to. People just like you. Perhaps it is that you are bored with your everyday lives and want to get a glimpse into the world of people that work hard and play hard. Maybe you really want to see how we balance our lives. Or maybe, just maybe you truly care about Chelsea and I and what we are up to.
While on a recent trip to Duluth I resolved to more closely chronicle my life and adventures.
We tend to live a life unlike many people and Id like to inspire others to live more like us. We have decided to eschew the “normal” young professional progression for a more #dirtbagyuppie lifestyle: we focus on experiences and toys that enrich our lives in ways that help us enjoy the outdoors. So, instead of saving our extra money and time off on one single vacation each year we would rather go on many micro adventures throughout the year. I personally find that taking quick breaks more frequently helps me to stay focused in my professional life and that allows me to do the things that I want in my free time.
So you have a decent job that requires you to dress up most days but deep down you really want to just shred gnar, drink camp coffee, and turn your hatchback into a fish car during your downtime. Boy oh boy do I have an offer for you. It’s called being a Dirtbag Yuppie.
Noun. Origin: Milennial Slang. Individual who holds down a decent job while also devoting much of their energy and passion to outdoor pursuits. Usually seen: leaving the office in bike shorts; at trailheads with a fully loaded adventure wagon; or suddenly “coming down with something” the afternoon before a big snow storm.
Dirtbag: A person who is committed to a given (usually extreme) lifestyle to the point of abandoning employment and other societal norms in order to pursue said lifestyle. Dirtbags seek to spend all of their moments pursuing their lifestyle.
Yuppie: Acronym for Young Urban Professional. Group whose culture blends the hippie/counterculture values of the 60s and the materialistic monetary-based values of the 80s. Usually congregate in nice coffee shops, co-ops, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and a wide variety of handmade or small-batch boutiques. Includes both moderate Liberals, and moderate Conservatives, although both the far left and the far right enjoy dissing them.
I have always felt a little conflicted: I love what I do for a living and the financial rewards that it brings, but I do not have the same value system as most people in my position. On paper I am a bit of a yuppie. (This is a title that I have struggled with more than once). However, I don’t want fancy things for the sake of showing them off to other people, nor do I go out to dinner just to be seen, and I never start off a conversation by asking someone where they work. I prefer to live a simple life focused on my passions; those activities and causes that light my fire and give me purpose and which my profession allows me to comfortably pursue. I’m not a big fan of having stuff just for the sake of having stuff. The exception to that statement of course are the implements that further my passions: bikes, fly rods, tents, kayaks… I LIVE for adventure, nature, and experiences that enrich me as a person and I follow those passions every chance that I get. So to that, I am also a bit of a dirtbag. Whenever I am looking for the answer to a big question I take to my bike.
While out spinning my wheels last year I came to a conclusion: embrace the yuppie-ness but, do it in such a way that in amplifies your ability to dirtbag it up. In short, you can have a great fulfilling career and nice things but don’t let that change who you really are. Wear the suit from 9-5 then change into your cycling kit or Baggies and let loose.
Now, I do not live out of my van and scrounge for dollars to score whatever is hot and full of calories at the nearest convenience store while on multi-week climbing or biking excursions so many people will not agree with the dirtbag moniker. However, I always have at least one fly rod in my vehicle, tote my bike or skis around to every work trip, and take frequent long weekends spent solely playing in the outdoors. Doing so allows me to recharge so that when I head back to my office I can be the best version of myself for my clients.
In short: be a yuppie: plan for retirement and have nice things. But live like there is no tomorrow.
Don’t waste your life chasing things that don’t really matter. Take more powder days; shred more trail; leave the office when the surf is up.
If you feel like letting others know that you are a contributing member of society that is more than a pressed shirt and a handshake maybe you should check out Dirtbag Yuppie swag.
I have an honest confession to make: I have been Zwifting. Since a few days after Christmas I have been a card carrying member of the cellar-dwelling cycling contingent. Why, you ask? Because I decided to make a commitment to myself to be a more serious cyclist in 2018. I have some long fun-rides and “races” planned. Don’t get me wrong, I will not place in any of these races, but I need some sort of event/goal to spur my physical fitness on. So I caved, and I joined the ranks.
I have been putting down some miles. Zwift affords me the ability to get up, swing my leg over the bike, and start the day spinning. No hauling my bike to the trailhead at 6:30 in the morning in the pitch-black Marquette morning. No snow pants, goggles, or frozen water bottles.
When I got Zwift I vowed to not let it totally replace winter cycling. I wanted it to supplement my training without serving as the death knell of fat biking. Consistent morning rides on the spin bike and after work rides on the fat bike to remind me what it really means to be a cyclist.
Things have been going pretty well. But this morning didn’t line up right and I missed my Zwift. Regardless I packed up my fattie and headed to work. The workday sort of slogged on and I dealt with some pretty sad and heavy situations with my clients. While gearing up at the office I debated skipping my snowbike ride and putting in dedicated practice time on Zwift. But I told myself that I could just treat this ride as a training ride. Hit it hard and I wouldn’t fall off my loosely planned training regimen. That was the plan.
So I took off with a bit of a poor attitude. As I climbed Benson the direction of my attitude was inverse to the incline. The higher I went, the worse it got. It was like I forgot that riding outside would be much harder than my basement. The elements seem really harsh when you haven’t had to deal with them in a while. Needless to say I was not feeling it. The big fat under-inflated tires felt like they were working against me with ever pedal stroke. Mentally beaten down I plodded on. That is until it happened.
The wind picked up and the trees started to move around a bit. Unbeknownst to me all of that moving around dislodged a softball-size glob of snow. That glob floated down and smacked me right in the face. I couldn’t help but burst out laughing. My poor attitude melted as quickly snow on my face and I wiped it all away. That’s all it took to turn things around. It’s like Ma Nature saw me struggling with some earthly crud and decided to set me straight. I was only half way into my short ride but the rest of the trail seemed to zoom by with much less effort. I was back to enjoying riding my bike.
That’s what it’s all about for me; enjoyment, communing with nature, and maybe getting in shape along the way. Not mileage goals, race results, or Strava KOM. Everyone’s drivers are a little different and this ride showed me that I was going about things in the wrong way.
System re-calibrated, I pedal on with the same goals for 2018, but now I have a better idea on how to achieve them.
Van building, random travel, polebarn erecting, and lotsa fishing.
One thing that has been added to that list is racing, lotsa racing. Now, I’m no racer boy. Yes, I wear spandex and I like to go fast, but no one would call what I do racing. That being said I am signing up to race in 2018 because I need it. It’s also going to allow Chelsea and I to run around a bunch. Chelsea is even planning on doing a few running races.
Maybe the HAMR is a sadistic spin through the north woods.
Who friggin’ knows…
All I know is that I’ll be anxiously tucked into my sleeping bag waiting for what I can only hope will be a black metal wake up call at Forestville. May the woods be filled with shreddy guitar solos before we all pedal into the darkness.
Day 5 was supposed to strictly be a travel day; point it east and go as far as possible. But on our way out of the campground the distractions started. We followed the signs to Cape Meares. We weren’t quite sure what it was but deep down we really weren’t ready to leave the coastal region and would do anything to prolong the inevitable so we took a segue to Cape Meares.
Cape Meares park has a cool little lighthouse, excellent views, and the most unique Sitka Spruce called the Octopus Tree.
After Cape Meares we started a slow trek toward Portland through the Tillamook state forest. On the way through we stopped at a few waterfalls and even tried to take a ridiculously skinny mountain road… needless to say we had a super sketchy turnaround. Ultimately, we made it to Trader Joe’s and REI to restock then navigated a weird Siri-route to get to Justin’s for the box we shipped out.
Prior to the Eagle Creek Fire we had planned to stay in that area a few nights. The rivers, waterfalls, and hiking in this area are second to none. Above all else we wanted to see Multnomah Falls. Unfortunately due to the actions of a 15 year old boy who has yet to be named we were robbed of those experiences. A few weeks before our visit said 15 year old was seen tossing fireworks into the gorge which lead to the Eagle Creek Fire. While the fire is still technically burning it’s estimated that the fire devoured over 48,000 acres. The resulting scars on the landscape will forever change the gorge. The drive through the gorge was still pretty, it was just another reminder how awful people are. Very sobering.
We camped at the Deschutes River Recreation Area where it dumps into the Columbia River. The campground was right on the riverbank and the facilities were very clean. We ate Annie’s ravioli, drank PNW IPA, played our new National Parks Trivia game, and slept hard.
Day 4 we awoke quite warm thanks to an extra blanket. Have I mentioned how much I look forward to insulation in Vinny?
Our destination de jour was Tillamook and I wanted to have coffee with a little view so we secured the load and started driving. We pulled off the road just as first light made an appearance and brewed up some coffee while overlooking Nehalem Bay. For some reason I couldn’t stop thinking about shellfish and mollusk gathering in that bay. It was actually like a little mini obsession while we were in that area. I almost bought a book on harvesting. Truth be told, I didn’t eve want to eat them I just wanted to see some. I digress.
We spent most of the morning checking out roadside pull-offs. Each one was quite pretty, but didn’t really hold a candle to what we had seen in the previous two days.
Just north of Tillamook we saw a sign for Kilchis Point Reserve. It appeared to be a small park/nature reserve offering a trail to some wildlife viewing on the bay. The reserve had a beautifully built trail system with many informative plaques along the route. It was raining pretty hard so we did not read them all. There is one in particular that I was very happy to have read: reptiles of Kilchis Point. It showed three slimy little animals. I though that it was just a cool sign covering creatures that in theory could live at the reserve. I never thought that we would see any of them. That is until the rain brought out the newts. They were all over the trail.
When we were in grad school Chelsea and I worked for a family that we will forever call “the most extraordinaire people that we have ever met.” He owned and operated a large car company and she was a movie star. His father had patents on many automobile parts, and her family were some of the settlers of Portland. Long way to say that Tillamook Cheese has special meaning to us now following Her indoctrination. Therefore, we made it a point to make a pilgrimage to the Tillamook Co-op. Tillamook is a very unique area in Oregon. It’s a group of lush plains areas with rich soil nestled between the Pacific Ocean and Oregon’s coastal mountain range. A series of rivers run through the plains and feed into Tillamook Bay. Between the rivers many groups of very happy cows make some of the best dairy. Driving south you just kind of pop out of the mountains into this beautiful hamlet.
When we got to the visitor center we found out that we would not be able to take a company tour because they are hard at work erecting a new super visitor center to be opened Spring 2018. I guess we will have to make a return trip next year… The temporary center did not disappoint. It has historical information regarding the creation of the farmer’s co-op and also information on the cheesemaking process and cows. Most importantly the visitors center has cheese samples, cheese for sale, and many many many different grilled cheese sandwiches!
We learned, laughed, shopped around, and ate a lot of cheese. Of course we stocked up on cheese for the return trip.
With full bellies and our fill of human interaction for the day we took to the woods. First stop: Munson Falls. While sailing down PCH we saw a very small sign pointing us toward Munson Falls. We knew that we wanted to check Munson out from our reading in An Explorer’s Guide to Oregon. The book said that this is 319 foot waterfall is the largest in the coastal range so the unassuming roadside sign made me second guess the book’s glowing review of Munson. I am very glad that we trusted the book.
Caption: It’s hard to believe that the fields we drove through to get to the falls would abut this lush old growth. Vinny seemed to really like it.
As the rainy morning moved on a sunny afternoon layed itself out in front of us. Up to this point we had had a pretty full day: beaches, newts, cheese, and waterfalls. We were ready to find a place to bed down. Unfortunately, we just kept finding cool things to do. As we turned toward the ocean we left the cows and pastures and started to climb. We kept going up until a surprisingly nice parking lot appeared. The parking lot was for the Cape Lookout trails. Without any internet connection we had no clue what to expect. We could hike to the beach (way the heck down there); take the Cape Lookout Point Trail; or hike to the campground. The posted trails map looked promising and we knew that we were quite high up so we picked the Cape Lookout Point Trail and started out.
This bench cut trail heads west from the parking lot through a stand of towering Sitka Spruce. As you continue down the trail the ground quickly disappears to your left but the trees remain. It switches back and forth along the Cape Lookout point. We didn’t make it to the end of the trail due to some very slippery conditions. However, the views along the way were stunning.
The trail is well maintained and is a must if you are in the area. Next time we come out we plan to make it to the end.
When we finally did bed down we found ourselves at the Cape Lookout State Park Campground where the campsites are essentially on the beach. The view out the backdoor was nothing to scoff at.
Because we were in the off season it was almost completely empty. We camped near the bathrooms and the beach entrance. Another windy rainy night in the van on the beach. Things could be much worse than this right?