Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Good morning Saint Paul!

7:45 AM, 52F
Pre-rain atmosphere changing over to light rain.
Fresh rain smell.
Short cruise through Lillydale.
Triumph ran well.
Legs and arms stayed dry.

- Ride North

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Asking a lot and expecting too much

More than just the carrot at the end of a long slog, looking towards a ride for restoration and clarity. Please wipe the slate clean and let me proceed with a clear mind and sharp sense of reality brought forth from being thrust into a world of twist, go, wind, cold, cars, trucks, gravel, trees, lakes, and air. To move forward with the force of many cylinders. Without motion there is no stability. Without thrust there is no maneuvering. There is no motorcycle without forward motion. It can not stand on its own. It can not go backwards. A rolling stone is not a stone. It is proto-soil, in moving forth from the mountain it becomes life.

Focused and obsessive, transportation is allowed to compete with loved ones for our attention and affection. Resting on the idea that salvation is at gloved hand. The helmet is a bucket for our thoughts, intervening in the process of appreciating the sharp edges and soft earth of our worlds.

The complexities of life make us do silly things and think silly thoughts, all very real and imposing in their time. A moving body seeks to stay grounded. A grounded body longs to move.

Thus concludes our creative writing session for today. May the wind rise to meet you and bring with it balance and perspective.

- Ride North

Sunday, April 9, 2017

One fine February day

Sixty degrees in February! (remember February?)

If I had half a mind, I'd put the battery in the Triumph and go for a ride. Being the half-brained biker that I am, that's just what I did. The roads north of Stillwater have been on my mind ever since taking the scenic route home from the Pumpkin Express train ride in Osceola, Wisconsin.

That guy was carrying a hockey stick. Love Minnesota.

The Ice Road at Bay Port, MN

Making tracks in February!

The cat likes the way I smell after a ride.

Found an unpublished post from this winter. I'm publishing to a.) brag about riding in winter and b.) remind my self why the Triumph is so filthy. It really needs a bath.

- Ride North

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Good morning Saint Paul!

It's been a wile since the Yamaha has stretched its legs, maybe five months. It eagerly fired up this morning, ready for a foggy ride into work. It was a damp 38 degrees and the mist was dancing off Pickerel Lake in little wisps of fog. I stopped at the canoe launch to get a better look and take in this quiet little St Paul spot. There were geese honking from the far edge, wood ducks and mallards overhead, and a little muskrat hopped in after I got too close.

An all together excellent start to the day, made better by a hot cup of coffee as I sat down to work.

Riding season is back!

- Ride North

Time to take down the thin ice sign. 

I was greeted to a little extra smoke while the bike warmed up. 

A couple turns of the wrench on the crossover's clamp had it mostly taken care of. I can still get the muffler gaskets but the mufflers have been screwed onto the headers for almost 40 years and I'd rather not break that streak.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Motorcycle maintenance, knowing when to stop

The Ice Road in Bay Port Minnesota.

Like riding, simple maintenance can be made more difficult by any  number of circumstances. While there's no excuse for spillt oil, oil changes are not always performed on a full stomach. ( after breakfast, and coffee, on a sunny day with no other obligations ) To avoid making a simple task into Homer’s tale of woe you have to know when to stop and regroup.

In addition to experience, the professional mechanic has an unfair advantage, time. Not necessarily endless time but quality time. They are not working in a dim garage, after a full day of work and wrangling the kids into their beds, or late into the night on the evening of a big ride, although some do god bless em.

I like to split jobs into chunks and see how I’m doing along the way. Take installing a new chain. There is cleaning up the work space, preparing the new part ( degreasing and applying chain wax ) and getting the tools together. This can all be done the night before, or whenever you get a few minutes. It's always better to start with a clean work shop. Next there is chain removal and sprocket removal if you’re doing that too. Then the installation, which may involve cutting the new chain to length, installing a master link and riveting or clipping it in place. Measure twice cut once! Finally adjust the chain and get everything road ready. 

In the case of adjusting the chain, this is a super simple task but it is made much more difficult by your full work week, sick kids, and the work you just put into the bike. It’s something that can be left until tomorrow. Do it as part of the prep for your next ride. You’ll be amazed by how much more clear your head is and you’ll be more confident that the job was done correctly. 

Like riding, there are any number of risk factors that increase your odds of making a mistake while performing a simple task. Pushing through them, or ignoring them completely is not going to lead to success. You don’t want to catch yourself thinking, “did I tighten that axle bolt?”

- Ride North

Monday, February 27, 2017

BBBC Feb 27th - Nature trail or city street for walking?

Jr. North: Dad, can I be an outdoors man?

Mr. North: You bet bud.

Lucky for the both of us, Grandpa is always scheming out-of-doors trips. Friday night, he asked if I wanted to bring Jr. North on an ice fishing trip up to Lake Mille Lacs. I asked Jr. what he thought and he responded with, "can we fish until the sun goes down?" 

The next morning we were in the car on our way up to the big lake. Snacks were packed, plenty of dry clothes, lunches, tackle, ice house, auger, and minnows. We were and hour and a half from home with a little kid on the the ice all day, it's best to be over prepared in these situations. Mom threw in the tablet (with cartoons downloaded on it) which turned out to be clutch.

Jr. is not much for fishing, what kid is, but he loves drilling holes in the ice and scooping the slush out, throwing snow balls, playing with the minnows, eating junk food, and everything else that goes along with being an outdoors man. We couldn't get him to come into the fish house because, in his words, you couldn't be outdoors if you're in a house. It was 20 degrees F and sunny out with no wind, perfect ice fishing weather. It was cold but we were dressed for it and Jr. didn't complain once.

It was the Perch Extravaganza so we stopped at Johnson's Portside for buttons and Girl Scout cookies before heading out in the ice. The buttons got us into a raffle for fishing gear, a side-by-side quad, or one of three Ice Castles (Google it.) Jr was the only one to win, a bucket full of goodies. Beginners luck.

Over two feet of ice on the lake, any more and we would have needed a longer auger. Most of my day was spent watching Jr. clear ice out of the holes. (and bobbers that never really did much)

Sun shine is good for you!

Our little bay out of Isle, MN. As we were packing up, the puddle in my arms was genuinely disappointed that we were leaving before the sun went down. 

Mrs. North had some out-of-doors plans of her own. On Sunday we drove over to the local nature center and did some hiking. I think we were all really into being outside in the sunshine this weekend. We poked some holes in the ice with our walking sticks (to help spring get here), tackled the summit of mud mountain (a hill in the woods), found a turtle shell, followed deer tracks, and talked about the different plants in the slough (reed canary grass, bulrush, and cattails).

Worthy of note: he wanted to sit on all the benches. All of them. 

Hot chocolate mustache in the ice house. It's good to be an outdoors man.

Thank you ToadMama.com for all the excellent prompts all month!

- Ride North

Friday, February 24, 2017

BBBC Feb 17th - Simple pleasure

Friday, February 17th:

Emerging from the office, the smell of warm air fills my face; it's 50 degrees out.

February has been dry, the streets are clean, and the sun is shining. I fully intended to go for a walk over lunch but instead I walked straight to my car and took off. I needed to get some work done that afternoon but I had an hour or so to myself.

Back in my garage, I put the battery in the Triumph, aired up the tires, gave it a quick walk around, and hit the go button. It fired up without delay, charger to charging down the road in under ten minutes. This is the first time I have ever ridden in February. Saint Paul is typically 20 to -15 degrees Fahrenheit this time of year. How or why this miraculous weather occurred doesn't concern me at the moment.

It was a simple pleasure to be out again.

This post (a week late) is part of the Brave Bold Blogger Challenge put on by ToadMama.com

- Ride North

Thursday, February 23, 2017

BBBC Feb 22nd - Grey days

The grey days of winter abound with missed opportunities. Heavy doors shut out the wonders of a frozen world, secrets that no one cares to hear. Thawing eyelashes are treated to deep blue grey color fields occasionally organizing themselves into familiar shapes but sometimes not.


This post is part of the Brave Bold Blogger Challenge put on by ToadMama.com The goal is to write everyday during the month of February

- Ride North

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

BBBC, Feb 20th - A road close to home

I am blessed with an amazing commute. A to B is three miles, but I manage to extend that as time and two wheels allow. My extended commute starts on the bluffs above the west bank of the Mississippi River. From there I head down into the valley and through Lillydale regional park. heading back up the bluff, I catch I-35E and immediately exit onto Shepard Road. From here I ride along the east bank and pass downtown. Shepard Road becomes Warner road and ends at Hwy 61. Two lefts has me in and out of the commuter torrent, I pop out in Mounds Park. From Mounds Park I have a super secret way into downtown that spits me out by CHS Field, home of the St. Paul Saints.

Go Saints!

The view from up top. 
This is the start of my commute, St. Paul's West Side neighborhood.

Lillydale Regional Park's Pickerel Lake (still in St. Paul)

Mississippi River in spring,that's ice on the river.

Shepard/ Warner Road looking upstream at the Robert St. bridge

Mississippi River looking down stream (from the Hwy 52 Bridge bike path)

Two of the many burial mounds in Mounds Park

The view from Dayton's Bluff

This was taken last Friday! 
It was the first time I have ever ridden in February, but not the last!

- Ride North

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

BBBC, Feb 14 - Happy Valentine's Day

Feb 14th: What does Valentine's Day mean to you?

Cake. It means cake. 

Happy Tuesday ya'll!

- Ride North

BBBC, Feb 13, five natural wonders within an hour of Saint Paul

This post is part of the Brave Bold Blogger Challenge put on by ToadMama.com The goal is to write everyday during the month of February and I haven't exactly been keeping up. The bigger drop was not giving credit where it's due.

Thanks Toad Mama for putting this together! 

Today's topic (yesterday's really): open concept or room with walls?

William O'Brien State Park

This state park sits on the west bank of the Saint Croix River, north of Marine on the Saint Croix. The Saint Croix river is a National Scenic River, a designation that protects it from development.

map | camping | trails

Rice Creek Chain of lakes

The Rice Creek Chain of Lakes is seven miles long, located between I-35W and I-35E, just north of The Cities.

map | entrance fee: $5/day

Camping (make a reservation)

Wargo Nature Center
7701 Main Street
Lino Lakes, MN 55038

Spring lake Park

Located between highway 52 and Hastings. A short hike from the parking lot will bring you to +100 foot bluffs overlooking Spring Lake, the impoundment behind lock & dam number 2.

Spring Lake and tree tops

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge/ Fort Snelling/ Minneahah Falls

The Minnesota Valley national Wildlife refuge is the only national refuge system located within a major metropolitan area. Starting in Jordan, the Minnesota river valley winds in and out of the refuge system before converging with the Mississippi River at Fort Snelling. Looking south from the I-494 you'll see the refuge, look north and you'll see Fort Snelling State Park.

Lake Minnetonka 

( Lake Minnetonka Regional Park )

I couldn't make a list of the Twin Cities' natural wonders without mentioning the magical waters of Lake Minnetonka. While I've motored past and fished the big lake to my west, I don't have any specific park or par-like stops to recommend. There is a regional park on the west end of the lake and plenty of places to stop for lunch. Also, the U of M Landscape Arboretum is just south of the lake, off of highway 5.

- Ride North

Saturday, February 11, 2017

BBBC, Feb 11th - National Parks

Kicking around a fly and ride trip to Vegas. It's not cheep but it's not bad and when time is an issue it could really up the adventure per hour. If you really wanted to turn it into an adventure, throw in some open air desert camping.

From Las Vegas you could easily get to Zion, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, and Death Valley National parks.


Rent a Bonnie for $80/day and they pick you up at the airport. $300 round trip air fair.

And, I've always wanted to carry on a helmet.

- Ride North

Thursday, February 9, 2017

BBBC Feb 9th - Three pics you’ve never shared

 Three pairs of pictures that I've never shared. My garage can, at times be a complete disaster. I'm sorry for what you are about to see...

Oil leak Triumph (pre-triumph really)

Post oil leak Triumph!

About 20 or so years worth of registration stickers on the 1978 Yamaha. 
(most from a previous steward)

A well-earned bath. 

Valve adjustment time. (I need to do this again this spring.)

Smooth Operator and another St Paul sunrise.

 - Ride North

Monday, February 6, 2017

BBBC, Feb 4th - mileage goals and whatnot

My mileage goals are never anything specific. I want to ride frequently enough to keep my skills sharp and work in a trip with my dad. Most of my riding is done to and from work. I'll get an evening blast in once and a while, sometimes it's a morning ride. I would love to wander far and wide but I can't just throw my wife and child on the back and take off to remote locations across the globe. It's just not where I am in my life and that's okay. While I'm always eyeing up this trip or that, I know I'm needed at home.

Mrs. North and I taught our four year old son (he was three at the time) how to ride a bike last fall. A real bike with no training wheels, a free wheel, and hand brakes. (they make the coolest stuff for kids these days) We took him on some paved trails and he did really well. He loves riding his bike and can you blame him! I also took him to the local mountain bike trails. We did lap after lap around the beginner trail, it was awesome. He told me that he loves riding his bike through the woods. So, a big part of my mileage goals will play out in the woods with my son and that's as good as it gets. I can't wait. (We rode down to the mail box yesterday. It was 20 degrees out, -6 Celsius. The kid is unstoppable.

I do have a few local trips that I'd like to make happen. One of them is to ride the Minnesota River valley out to Redwood Minnesota and camp for a night. The valley, from Mankato to Lake Traverse is a beautiful area of the state that doesn't see much traffic. When you think of Minnesota Paul Bunyan comes to mind, lakes and pine trees, maybe canoeing wilderness areas. While we do have all that, Minnesota is also home to the prairie. We have a state park with a bison heard, it's not Custer State Park but they're there.

Also, I really want to add attending a group ride or rally event to my list of goals. It's something I've never done and if I say it out loud, here, then maybe I'll make some time for it.

I've always had a deep rooted goal of making time for the important stuff but it's not always easy knowing just what that stuff is. It is clear to me that having some saddle time in my life makes me a better husband, a better father, and far easier to live with. So the motorcycles and mountain bikes are here to stay.

- Ride North