Monday, November 28, 2011

Rainy Sunday Mtn Bike Ride

 Despite Sunday's rain I took to a loop that is just up the road from my apartment, Marshall Park. It is not very long, but it gives you enough time to get out of the house and do something that you like without having to travel a great distance.

 There is a decent change in elevation and nothing too technical for a beginner like me!

 This winter I look forward to snowshoeing out here. Since I have only seen one other person on the trail I think that it will be a good place to get some deep winter solitude without running into other people.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Bear Grylls Survival Series Fixed Blade Knife

Have you ever found yourself alone in the woods, far from the comforts of modern society? If you have you will wish that you had the Bear Grylls Survival Series Fixed Blade knife from Gerber.

This knife is an all in one survival machine, much like Bear himself.

It has a 4.8 inch fixed blade made from high carbon stainless steel.

The sheath is a masterpiece by itself with a built-in sharpener and waterproof holder for the included flint stick.        

A personal favorite about this knife is its ability to become a sturdy spear. The holes in the handle are strategically placed to allow it to be securely fastened to any sort of shaft. Though I have never found myself in any situation where I would need a spear, it is nice to know that I have the means if and when that day comes right?

One piece that has come in handy is the steel butt at the end of the handle. It is textured and fashioned to act like a hammer. Great idea, it works especially well because the handle is rubberized and provides perfect grip. You probably could not hammer a nail into a 2x4 with it, but it sure beats using a rock!

Bottom Line: Great knife, solid features, built by a trusted company, made in America.

I would pick one up if I were you. It would be a shame to be caught in a survival situation without such a tool.


The outdoor lifestyle reading room

We are quickly coming up on a very hectic time of the year; school terms are ending, presents must be bought, plans finalized and exams must be studied for.

In all of this frenzy you must still make time for daily "you" time. I suggest curling up with one of your favorite magazines. Here is what we are currently perusing during our daily rest periods:

I am also reading Blind Descent, a book about the quest to find the deepest "super cave" in the world. Pick it up if that sort of thing gets you excited. Pretty cool so far.


Friday, November 25, 2011

New brake levers

I have been told that the only affordable thing that you can swap out on a mountain bike is the mechanical brake levers.

Last week I cannibalized a set of brake levers off a friend's bike only to find that their pull length was more than I wanted. Today I picked up a set I avid mechanical levers. They were priced right appear to have a shorter pull

Quite happy with the purchase. Time to get some work done and them slap these on!

Happy trails kiddos


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Grand Traverse Mountain Bike Association

I want to alert you to a great new website.

They are your source for all things related to mountain biking and outdoor-lifestyle in northern Michigan. I recently started to write for them.

Keep an eye on them, they are doing great things; they provided great Iceman 2011 coverage, give product reviews, trail news and the word on the street is that they will be starting a race team for next season!

Check them out.

Have a great day.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

On the river

A day at the dunes

Old Baldy

Are you looking to combine a day at the dunes with a hike or quick trail ride?Look no further that the Old Baldy trail.

Old Baldy can be found just north of the quaint town of Arcadia, on scenic M22.The sign sits on the west side of the road 1,000 feet north of the state scenicoverlook. This hiking trail was developed and is maintained by the GrandTraverse Land Conservancy (GTLC) in an effort to protect significant natural,scenic and farm lands through advancing stewardship. Basically the GTLC is agroup of devoted people who love the natural resources that Northern Michiganhas to offer, and who wish to share it with everyone.

Once you step out of your car you immediately get the feeling that you are theonly person for miles around, a feeling that is often difficult to accomplishwith our ever-growing population.
The GTLC has put up a notice and map board at the head of the trail that givesdates and times of scheduled hikes and trail maintenance dates.

There are two options when you reach the actual trail. The longer of the twotrails is a little over 1 ½ miles one way and offers a nice break from the sunwith dense canopies of old growth deciduous trees and a path that climbs, dropsand double-backs on itself a few times to give you a great feel for the terrainof the area, and also a great respect for the force of the glaciers that shapedthis area.

                                                                     Thetrail is hard-packed single track the whole way.

The shorter trail is just 0.7 mile of very much the same landscape features as thelong trail.


At the end of the trailyou will come to a set of stairs that lead up to the dune area. If you broughtbikes find a tree to chain them to and head up.

Once you make it to thedune area you will be taken aback by the scenery.  

The dunes are surprisingin their size and the fact that they just sort of appear once you leave thewoods. Once you are in the dune area though, let loose! (But be sure to stay onthe paths so the dunes can be enjoyed by future guests) Take the time to explorethe unique landscape. (If you go to the Grand Traverse Land Conservancy websiteyou can download guides for the distinct plants that make their home in thedune environment.)

To truly get a feeling for how large Old Baldy is, run down the dune to LakeMichigan and look up, if you didn’t appreciate the size from the top you willdefinitely do so from the bottom. If you feel like a little more riding orbiking after your jaunt out to the dunes cross M22 and check out the othertrails that the GTLC has: Chestnut Trail/ Dry Hills Trail. That trail can be hiked, but itis best enjoyed on a bike.

The trip back up will mostcertainly stir up a hunger for some ice cream at the Ice Cream Parlor insideArcadia Marine or a beer at Riggers.

Old Baldy is a great place to take kids as it is an easy bike or hike that willnot tire them out. It is also the kind of place where one can go to embracesolitude if you feel like taking a solo trip.

We are truly lucky to have such an area like this, not only Old Baldy, but theentirety of the Lake Michigan Shoreline, and such a perfect path as M22 toguide us along the bays, dunes, peaks, beaches and little towns and villagesthat dot the landscape. Take some time out of your busy day/ week to exploreyour own little piece of Pure Michigan. I know that I sure do, and it keeps thebody healthy and the mind sane.

Old Baldy is open to hikers, joggers, mountain bikers, snow-shoers and cross-countryskiers.

Gear Shop Review: Moosejaw!

Outdoor sports shops are places of serious things. They are filled with conversations of solo expeditions, technical specifications of gear and tales of epic adventures.

Enter Moosejaw, an awesome outdoor shop with all of the serious gear and a seriously fun attitude. Moosejaw is an outdoor store with a t-shirt problem; by this I mean that they have a great selection of t-shirts (all with one of their signature Moosejaw designs or slogans).

They opened their first store in 1992 with a goal of making the world of outdoor sports shops an inviting place with a fun atmosphere. One of the greatest things about Moosejaw is that when you walk in their store you will be greeted by an enthusiastic, “Mooooooooooosejaw!” greeting.

Their staff will go above and beyond what any other place is willing do to help you find whatever you need. Most of all they will make sure that you have a great time while you are doing it.

From camping gear to fashionable outerwear, from a nice t-shirt and a water bottle to crampons and ice axes for climbing, Moosejaw has all the gear that you could possibly need from all of the major outdoor sports companies. Not to mention that they have a staff that is as knowledgeable as they are enthusiastic! Unlike other outdoor shops, the people who work at Moosejaw use the gear that they sell. They can give you all of the ins and outs along with tricks of the trade to make any adventure more enjoyable for you.

The next time you need a new jacket, camping/ hiking gear or just want to meet a new friend check out your closest Moosejaw! You will leave with a smile and probably some sweet new gear.

Love The Madness!

Super Sweet Website:

Where to find Moosejaw: Ann Arbor, Birmingham, East Lansing, Grosse Pointe, Partridge Creek and Rochester.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Photo

My brother, hard at work getting our tinder bundle ready.

We cooked a beautiful pot of ramen on this.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Beer Review: Vicious by North Peak Brewing Co.

Vicious, the American Wheat IPA offering from North Peak Brewing, is one carbonated little IPA.

Be observant when pouring, it took me three separate pours due to the aggressive head that kept coming back.

Once you finally get the whole bottle poured you will smell strong pine and hints of citrus, I think that the citrus is certainly grapefruit, but reasonable minds may differ.

The coloring is opaque peach; a true unfiltered beauty.

I have a hard time getting the wheat taste out of this beer, most of the wheat that I get is right as the beer hits the mouth, there is a split second of sweet. However the wheat is quickly overtaken by the hops. Holy cow! Hops for days with this beer. The floral hops that are used provide a pleasant, crisp kick to the taste buds and alert them that this beer is not done with flavor yet! 

The first hoppy flavor unmistakably provides you with the citrus flavor that was smelled upon pouring. After that your mouth will be treated to a soft caramel blanketing by another style of hops. Clearly this beer was made to refresh and please; two things that it accomplishes with each sip.

The stubby bottles that Vicious comes in are cool in a nostalgic way. The lycanthrope that graces the label pays homage to the dogmen that roam the woods of Northern Michigan. Not that that makes the beer taste any better, but it is cool to see a nod to local folklore.

This is a great beer with any sort of burger, pizza, steak, sandwich or anything for that matter. I prefer to drink them at room temperature.


Pic of the day:

This is the beautiful north-facing view of the valley in The Arboretum in Ann Arbor. If you have time to kill; an afternoon, an hour or even a whole day, you should check this place out. Great refuge from the surrounding areas.


The Holiday List

Are you looking of the right gift for that person on your list who kind of has everything? Or the person that does outdoorsy things? Those type of people hard to buy for, I should know.

Fear not gift givers, I have a solution; I will amass a list for you to peruse and select the perfect gift that that type of person. The monetary range varies so you will be able to find just what you are looking for.

Let's start with some gear: I suggest a pair of snowshoes if you live in a snowy clime. They are a great way to get out and see things that most other people don't get to. Trails are difficult to walk in when the powder is up to your knee, strap some of these on and that will be no problem. One of the best things about snowshoes is that there is little to no learning curve: open the present, strap them on and start exploring. Great gift to keep families active during the winter. This is the pair that I have, and I really enjoy them:

A good jacket: You cannot go wrong when you get someone a jacket. I prefer versatility and function, that is why I that buying a combo jacket is the best way to go. I am talking about a shell and some sort of fleece/ vest that zips inside. This one is a good place to start looking:  

Jackets like this are great because they offer the perfect solution to whatever mother nature decides to throw at you.

Base layer, base layer, base layer: There are many brands that make an equal amount of claims about the superiority of their base layering. However, I prefer a base layer that has a bit of a compression factor to it. I feel that the compression feature makes me feel like I am performing better. It rarely bunches up and feels like it wicks moisture very well.

The first set that I got were Under Armour, and I still use them. Great produce and fairly easy to find in the run-of-the-mill sports shop: 

Gloves/ Mittens: Let's lump these together because you are looking for the same qualities in either. Gloves are a great gift because, like socks, everyone could always use another pair.

You want gloves that are waterproof and well insulated without inhibiting the mobility of the hands. (I am picturing the younger brother from Christmas Story)

This is a nice pair of heavy-duty gloves: 

                                Waterproof and insulated without being too bulky.

                              Good pair of waterproof softshells: more dexterity, less insulation.

Here we have a great pair of mittens, nothing fancy to look at, but they will definitely keep your fingers warm:

Hats: I personally prefer a headband, it helps to keep your body temp from getting too high while doing things. For activities that don't require a lot of movement something like this is just perfect:

Great concept, nice protection around the ears and a thin layer to keep the top of the head protected from the elements.

Goggles: The type of activities that your gift receiver does will have a great bearing on what kind of goggles they will like.

For the avid skier/ snowboarder a nice high-end pair with wide panoramic lenses are the best.

For the snowshoer/ cross-country skier/ hiker: 

Daybag: Everyone on your shopping list could use a daybag. Photographers, hikers, students, bikers, anyone. When looking for a daybag, I suggest a capacity of 35 liters or less, stretchy, mesh side pockets to carry drinks, wide array of compartments and pockets, a chest strap and a bright color for visibility.

A few suitable pics: 

Stove: A light, backpacking style stove is a nice addition to any collection. They are great to make a nice cup of coffee or tea when you need a break, or to heat up some ramen.

Cup: A stove will not do you too much good without something to heat the water in. A simple aluminum cup will do the trick. If you can find one with a looped handle that is best as you can hang it off your pack to cool when you are done.

Well, this should get you started thinking about the kinds of things to buy the outdoorsy type. Of course, if they are into something specific like biking, climbing, kayaking or some other sport where components are hard to gauge and choose, it may be just at nice to get them a gift card or cash to pick out their own stuff.

Have a happy holiday season!


Thursday, November 3, 2011

New Addiction

We love the outdoors. We love gear, and we love Deals!

Wait, what's that you say, there is a sweet website that combines all of these things?

Holy cow! 

It rounds up deals that have time limits and gives you a crack at them. The items are usually on half hour timers, when the quantity runs out, or when the time is up, a new items pops up!

Give is a go, you will love it.


Bugagloves Pics

While the weather does not quite warrant using these sweet gloves yet, I thought that I would at least show you how cool they are:
I love the Sci-Fi feeling of the glowing insignia!

Fall at Sleeping Bear

Named America's Most Beautiful Place (something that Michiganders have known for a long time) by Good Morning America, Sleeping Bear Dunes is one of Michigan's most unique assets.

In beauty, I think that it is only rivaled by Pictured Rocks in the UP.

Though the park offers a seemingly endless amount of hiking trails, most people catch glimpses of its beauty wile on the Pierce-Stocking drive. This is a great way to see a good portion of the area and economize your time. I have amassed some pictures from the Pierce-Stocking drive as well as the surrounding area.

You can clearly see the beauty of the park even on a gloomy fall day.