15 August 2013

Minnesota trip aka gate crashing IFFW(Ingram Family Fun Week)


Amanda and I had decided to take a mid summer break, Emily had also invited us to join them for their family get together at her house and her parents cabin in Ely, Minnesota.  Down to perfect planning from the Ingrams we would be there during the Blueberry Art festival in Ely.  The festival sees an influx of people to the local area to take in the arts and enjoy the outdoors.  Ely is a jump off point for the Boundary Water Canoe Area (BWCA) which is a large recreation area on the US/Canadian border.

This was my first trip to Minnesota and as such managed to add another state to my visited list (18 down,32 to go).  We decided to take a direct flight to Minnesota albeit the redeye, although in theory this was a good idea we found that this flight was just not long enough to get a good sleep in, oh well at least we know now.

We arrived in Minneapolis at 8am and picked up the car rental, then headed out to get some food.  Following breakfast we hit the road for the 5 hour drive north to Ely.  The weather would best be described as changeable which was a little disappointing coming from Anchorage where it had been full on 2nd best summer on record for both temperature and lack of rain, oh well the joys of different weather patterns.

Once we arrived in Ely we soon found Emily's place where we would be staying, after I had had a short nap we took the short trip to the Ingram cabin where there was a nice fire and a wiener roasting, that is hot dogs for people in the UK.
warming up the cabin
The next day we took a trip to Ely to pick up some warm clothes for Fiona, yes it was that cold!  Due to the weather we decided to go check out the International Wolf Center (wikipedia link).  The wolf center was fascinating and it was interesting to learn how wolves have been viewed throughout history.  Whilst there we got to see the wolves being fed Strawberries and Fiona was able to pretend to be a wolf.  The rest of the day was spent relaxing.

playing wolf
Closeup wolf
eating strawberries
The following morning we headed back into Ely for some breakfast and a look around the Blueberry festival.  Luckily for us the weather had improved and we started to see what a normal summer is like in Minnesota.  After Fiona's multiple rides on the train, we headed back to pick up Toba to take her for a walk in the woods and a swim in the lake.  

swimming
waterfall
Mom and Daughter
Following the walk we headed over to the cabin for dinner, once dinner had been enjoyed we headed back, managed to get Fiona to sleep without a huge fight and got to enjoy some star gazing from the balcony at Emilys.   
Backwoods TV
Our last day in Ely, Emily and I took a canoe trip and I got to experience Boundry Waters light, (short canoe trip with a prize in the middle)  The trip was along South and North Hegman lake to see some pictographs , here is the GPS track.  
Here are the photos.  
Outbound
Pictographs
reflections
peaceful
back to civilisation
After the canoe trip we headed over to the Ingram cabin for a boat trip, then it was a time to leave and make the trip back to Minneapolis for our flight out the next day.  

Our final morning in Minnesota was spent checking out the mall of America which is pretty big. They have a 10km walk inside oh and roller coasters.

As always with holidays you never want them to end and this one was not the exception to this rule.  I look forward to going back there some day, perhaps once Fiona is a little bigger to take a canoe trip and enjoy the real BWCA experience not just the light version!

Racing Racing Racing......

Since the 24 hours of Kincaid see previous post here the road and mtb seasons have been in full swing here.
MTB Series
I have been enjoying the MTB racing, its been fast, fun and hard work.  The final race of the series was on the 14th August and I managed to finish in 7th place in this round.  Of the six rounds I have managed to get myself to five events, by my calculations this means I have finished in either 6th or 7th place in the series.  Overall I am happy with my performances and certainly for the last round I couldn't have ridden any harder.
enjoying the trails round #6
  GPS track of the last round.


Road Series
I also raced the tour of Anchorage which is a five race four day event put on every year by the Arctic Bike Club road division.  Although my performance in this tour was perhaps a little below par I had a blast and really feel that the last stage was my best performance.
Here is the GPS plot

and some photos of stage 5
trying to keep up with Jason

working hard

working together

team riding, tactics dictated we were at the back ;-)

using my tongue to balance :)
Finally I will be competing in the last round of the hill climb series on Sunday the 18th August.  I am sitting in 4th place in the series, although I believe it is mathematically impossible for me to get 3rd place I could loose 4th.  Hopefully I will have changed my cassette to a 12-27 as I hadn't realised all season I have been riding 11-23 and its really hard work on the climbs.  (I'm riding 53-39 up front) for anyone who doesn't understand those numbers I am riding gears that are designed for riding on the flat and completing in 2000ft climbs...

Until next time take care all
Nick
PS Our kit finally came in as can be seen in the above pictures.  It has been really fun riding with team mates this year.  All having the same kit means its nice and easy to spot you guys at the races.