This past weekend the Salsa crew participated in Frostbike 2012. Frostbike 2012 is an annual gathering of bike dealers, vendors, media and other bicycle industry partners and advocates. It is also sort of an annual pilgrimage for some. Folks from near and far make the journey to Minnesota in February. Usuallly they arrive and are treated to Minnesota's finest snow and cold. Typically, it is a perfect environment for riding Mukluks. This year was quite different with virtually no snow and temps around 40 degrees. Frankly, it felt downright balmy at times. With these poor conditions in mind, when our friends from Japan asked us to go on a fun Mukluk ride we needed to look for places to go. We packed up six Mukluks and headed north.
Our friendship with Toshi, Shuji and Oda-san began several years ago in Japan. Toshi and Oda-san are shop owners in Japan and Shuji is freelance media writer and story teller. Oda-san owns a bike shop called The Farm and he took Kid and I on a lovely ride in Japan involving city, old roads, a little singletrack and some incredible scenery. We met Toshi on a day he sold his first Salsa Moto Rapido. We walked into his shop just as the buyer picked up his new frame. It was fun meeting the consumer and we shared laughs, pictures and some cool Salsa gifts. Shuji has written many stories on Salsa. He's travelled with us here in the USA and honestly, is one of the reasons that our Adventure by Bike message is resonating in Japan. Shuji loves the outdoors and writes for many magazines. He's a great friend and partner. As you can see, these friendships are very important to us and so when they wanted to do something on Mukluks, Kid and I arranged something special for them.
After an early morning pick up, we headed north to Thomson, Minnesota. Thomson isn't an incredibly common town here in Minnesota. Folks may know the state park nearby though, Jay Cooke State Park. This is where Hansi Johnson lives, the Midwest Regional IMBA rep. Hansi is a fellow outdoor nut with a passion for riding bikes, the outdoors and sharing his local knowledge. He's also a talented photographer. It was a joy riding with Hansi. Hansi and IMBA have been instrumental in building new trail(s), bringing groups of people together and advocating for bicyclists here in Minnesota. We are truly thankful for the work that both Hansi and IMBA are doing to improve riding conditions not only here, but throughout the USA. There is nothing like a local guide sharing his personal riding places with you. We rode in and around Thomson on trail, frozen lakes, rocks and along rivers. It was an incredible experience. Here are a few photos from the day.
Hansi broke his axe!
After our ride, we were tempted to end the day hanging out exchanging stories, sipping a beer or two and warming our toes and fingers in the sauna, but we had more places to go. We packed up the bikes and headed to Duluth to ride Park Point. Our friends had never seen one of the Great Lakes nor had they experienced riding on sand, ice and snow near such a beautiful body of fresh water. Again, Hansi joined us as a guide (his Duluth office is nearby) and treated us to frozen inlets, shelf ice and singletrack. Our day of riding ended with an incredible sunset and golden hour light, a true gift and an end to an amazing day of riding.
Our day was not over though. What trip to Duluth is complete with out a trip to Fitger's Brewhouse? After a day of riding, it was great to eat some great food and sip a few of Fitger's finest ales.
Pretty much a perfect day. Riding bikes in cool and new places with great people.
For a few more pictures, check out Hansi's blog here at http://www.universalklister.blogspot.com/.
If you are reading this and wanting to do this, please note that we had a guide on this trip. Riding on or near lakes on ice is dangerous.
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Growing up as a Minnesota farm boy, I developed an appreciation and love for land and open space. This appreciation has fostered two passions, cycling and photography. Both of these passions provide freedom, encourage me to explore and foster creativity. More importantly though, my journey with a bike and a camera reminds me that the world is big and I am small.