Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Riverfront Park

Riverfront Park 
7.5 miles

I finally found a moment to dust of the bike and get out and ride and boy was Oreo excited to come!  We took off after work last night around 7pm and tooled around Riverfront Park until it was dark enough that I couldn't see anymore.  We had a rough start with Oreo trying to lead and constantly getting in my way and stopping.  Once she finally figured out that I needed to lead, it was smooth sailing.  I was surprised to see how overgrown the park had become since the last time I was there.  I rode through parts where I could only see a few feet in front of me and the grasses were just below my eyeline.  I couldn't see Oreo but knew she was there because of the constant clanking of her tags.  I felt like I was in the grassy fields of Isla Sorna just waiting to be picked off by veracious velocoraptors (Jurassic Park II - Lost World reference). 

As the evening progressed, I stayed more in the densly overgrown canopy of the woods, my favorite part of the park.  There was an eerie feel to it as dusk settled upon us.  If Oreo was spooked at all though, she didn't let on.  It got particularly crazy when I came into thickett where the ground was covered with cotton.  I could hardly see at that point but the cotton ground cover gave off a faint glow almost reminiscent of a low lying fog or a dusting of snow.  Pretty creepy.  I think I want to lead a group of cyclist through here on a Friday the 13th or Halloween moon-lit ride. 

Lake Elmo

Last week I was finally able to upgrade my car to something more reliable, and yes, it has a roof rack.  With most of the house repairs done, I decided to take the girls canoeing at Lake Elmo for the afternoon. 

I spent most of the day on the bank while the girls played in the water.  We didn't get much canoe time but that's ok.  The girls had a blast!  As you can see, there is a fishing pole in the boat, 3 actually.  I got my fishing license for the first time in 15 years.  The girls weren't interested in fishing and all I did was drown worms.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Big Changes

I think it's time I revive this blog.  It's been awhile since I've posted and obviously lots has been going on since my last post, too much even.  Because my life has been up in the air, I've been avoiding documenting it on the web.  I think I'm going to abandon the Tree Squirrels blog and either revive it here or create an new blog describing my new conquests as a single dad exploring all new avenues of life that I hadn't thought I'd ever have to deal with.

Either way, keeping with the current theme of this blog, this year has been a slow riding year.  My foci have been elsewhere and though I long to put on some major mileage, the oportunities have not presented themselves.  Life is hectic and busy and I've been lucky to just ride my bike to work on occassion.  However, with the avent of Spring upon me now (yes, I did say avent of spring. I do live in Montana), I have high hopes to get back on the bike and putting on some mileage.  And hopefully I'll be able to do so with a few more companions!

Me and Oreo hanging at the river waiting for the girls
Back in March, the girls and I decided that it was finally time, we needed a dog!  We no longer had resistance to that idea so it was time to make the jump and try our luck.  On April Fools Day we brought home Oreo and boy did I turn out to be the fool.  It's been a long two months of adjustment to a dog with hyper energy, separation issues and a cunning wit.  She has foiled me on multiple fronts destroying many of the kids toys and shoes and escaping whenever the oportunity presents itself.  I've had to take some unusual methods to keep this dog within the confines of a kennel and our back yard.  That could be it's own post.  Heck, maybe it's own book, for example, Marley and Me.  However, despite our challenges, Oreo has been a great companion, both at home and on the trails.  So far I have ran her up to 14 miles and she's loved it.  I can't wait to take her out again this weekend.

Oreo resting on one of our runs
Oreo as a pup when we first met her

I'm also excited for the possibility of riding with Tara, my 9 year old.  She just asked for a new bike for her birthday and I opted to go for the real deal with an 18 speed Trayl bike from Sport's Authority.  Not the top of the line by any means but a big step up from the Target brand bike she was riding.  This is a 24" bike too so it should last her awhile.  I hope she's as excited for it as I am.

I am excited to be back in the blogosphere and hopefully can keep this up a little better than I have been recently.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Look at me!

I'm not one that typically screams for attention but when it comes to riding at night, I like to be seen (as opposed to the alternative of not being seen and getting run over).  Several months ago Sarah brought home some reflective spray paint and with the end of Daylight Savings pushing my evening commute into darkness, I finally got around to coating my bike with the reflective paint.  I removed most of the parts and components from my bike that were easy and quick to remove, washed the frame and then proceeded to spray on four coats of reflective paint. 

Here's a picture of the painting in progress.

And this is the bike completed.  It's not as bright as I hoped it would be but if it helps me to be more visible, it's worth it.  Plus the extra coats of paint can't hurt to protect it for winter.

I'm almost ready for winter.  I haven't put my studded tires on yet because I'm anticipating the snow to melt off the roads tomorrow afternoon.  Otherwise, bring it on!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Oh deer!

26.5 Miles

This afternoon Sarah and I got a rare chance to sneak off and do a bike ride together.  We decided that since we didn't have a lot of time we'd do a shorter ride to Pictograph Caves State Park.  We finally got out the door around 7:30pm and were soon on our way up the long hill.  As we climbed I noticed several deer and knowing how many deer are in this area I said to Sarah, "I hope we don't see any deer on the way down the hill."  You may be aware that I have a phobia of getting hit by a deer while on my bike.  Maybe its not really a phobia but rather a premonition.  Either way, I've had enough close calls that I try to err on the side of caution when dealing with these unpredictable beasts.  I've always got my eyes peeled for those pesky critters.  I like to get the jump on them before they surprise me.

So back to the story.  Sarah and I climbed  and climbed and climbed until we finally crested the hill eagerly awaiting the steep but beautiful decent down the backside.  As we crested, an SUV passed and then stopped at the gate ahead of us.   Apparently the park closes at 8:00pm and they had just barely closed the gates before we got there.  Bummer.  We had to turn around.  With a nice tail wind, we sped back down the hill.  20mph...25....30....35...38mph  We were flying, taking turns hiding in one another's wind shadow and then sling shotting around to take the lead.  I was in the lead now.  Just then, out of the corner of my eye I saw movement to my right.  Then it happens.  Before I can even grab the brake levers, a big doe bounds over the barbed wire fence and darts out directly in front of me crossing the road only feet away.  I missed her by that much (in my best Maxwell Smart impersonation).  Phew!  But its not over yet.  There was another doe behind her and she was ready to jump that fence and do the same thing.

Stay tuned for our next episode, "A lucky break" or "Russ' last stand."....

At a distance of about twenty feet, the second deer ran along side me on the other side of the fence.  She was getting antsy and really wanted to cross the road.  I reached for the brakes again but didn't know if Sarah was right behind me or if she had dropped back.  I hesitated to react until I had to hoping to avoid colliding with Sarah if I hit the brakes too hard.  I watched the doe carefully when suddenly she hit the skids, turned and leapt in the air directly at me.  I yelled (it might have been a scream) and prayed for the best.  Suddenly, this deer who was flying right at me, tumbled in the air.  Huh?  She clipped the top wire of the barbed wire fence, flipped over with her back hooves in the air and slammed to the ground.  I couldn't see much after that but Sarah saw the whole thing.  Apparently the doe tripped on the top wire causing her to flip over completely, smash into the fence and slip between the wires ending up on the same side of the fence that she started. Terrified, the poor thing got up, bolted away from the fence and then, again paralleled me down the road.

Round 2

I am extremely confused at this point thinking that there is a poor deer behind me caught in the barbed wire fence.  Trembling I turn to look back to hear Sarah laughing hysterically.  All of the sudden, the doe is running with me again and again she is itching to jump the fence and cross the road.  Having a better idea of where Sarah was, this time I didn't hesitate to hit the brakes.  She again bound over the fence, this time clearing it, darted across the road in front of me, leapt the fence on the other side of the road and was gone in a flash.  I'm glad Sarah was there because I doubt she would have believed me otherwise.  I just wish I had the helmet camera with me to document the whole thing.

Round 3

Now, I wish I could say that was my only encounter of the evening, but lamentably, it was not.  As we pulled back into town, I rounded the corner, starling another doe.  This time the deer had nowhere to go.  She was trapped between us and a tall chain link fence.  She took off and multiple times, leapt into the air and smashed sideways into the fence until we finally passed.

Until today, I'm pretty sure that Sarah thought I was being paranoid with my certainty that a deer would finally bring my untimely demise.  I've had too many of these experiences to simply credit it to mere coincidence.  There IS a deer conspiracy and they ARE out to get me!