Bike. Tenkara. Bike.

Flyfishing and bike riding are two of my passions. They also have the capacity to be two of the most technical and confusing hobbies. I get it; I have a garage of bikes each with its own unique function. I also have many different rod, reel, and line combinations each for different species, water conditions, and times of year.

Sometimes you just have to shed all of those choices and complexity. Yesterday, rather than loading up my car with a few rods, multiple fly boxes, and driving out to any river of my choosing no matter the distance I chose instead to simplify the process. So I strapped my tenkara and its tube to the downtube of my Stache and started pedaling.

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I’ve taken rods on the bike before but I have always had to strap them to a pack because of their length and the fact that the reel is usually attached. However the telescoping feature of the tenkara rod makes zip-tying it to the bike simple and effective. I just made sure that I could unscrew the cap without snipping the ties. The tube hangs below the bottom bracket a little more than I wanted it to but as with most home remedies the function outweighed the form in this case.

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Here’s how it goes: get to the river under your own steam, shed the helmet, flip the bike, remove the rod, attache the tippet, and get in the water. Super simple. No time wasted finding a suitable spot to stash the car or picking the right rod. Just get to it.

This first trip was an experiment. Trying new things is always a little difficult for me for me and I was especially unsure about my rod attachment method. But it appeared to have held nicely and the rod went together without a hitch. Luckily finding fishable water is not a problem in our area and in 11 miles I was in the middle of a great trout stream without a soul in sight.

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A few casts in I found a taker.

Earning things always feels better than having them handed to you. This was definitely an experience that was earned. I got to the river under my own power and used a very limiting technique which relies only on water reading and fly placement. It was beautiful, satisfying, and restorative.

Get out there, try something new, and squeeze more adventure out of your everyday.

-J


This is not a sponsored post. Learn more the tenkara method here. Check out this post for more Stache action.

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Mission Accomplished

Last week was quite stressful; work went late into the night tuesday-thursday and the puppy kept us up most of the night after that. I needed some kind of release. So, I put a little challenge to myself up on the blog. I committed myself to a “Big day.”

Essentially it was a nice leisurely-paced gravel/road ride up to Big Bay and back. But for me it represented a little more. It was proof that I could set a goal and achieve it. Sometimes we spend too much time working toward intangible things that seem to never come to fruition. Sometimes the upward tick of our bank accounts becomes a meaningless safety-net of numbers that we all know could be wiped out in a matter of seconds. Sometimes we rely on other people to do too many things for us. Personally, when I hit that wall, as we all do from time to time, I need to do something on my own accord. The last time that happened I hand split 10 cords of firewood. Talk about seeing the fruits of my labor. It was such a rewarding feeling seeing the rows grow and the pile of whole logs dwindle. I needed to do something like this again to reignite that feeling: accomplishment.

So I created a challenge for myself, and as you know I made it public. I have never done something like that before and I am pleasantly surprised to say that it worked.

When Saturday arrived the bike was loaded and the route carefully planned to avoid interaction with vehicles and people in general. I took off into a minor headwind which made the first 12-15 miles pretty miserable. But something clicked when I crossed the big bridge on CR 510.

I saw fewer cars and could feel that the remote gravel section was getting close.

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This is where the trip really began. I have driven this road a number of times. It is quiet and it is wild. Rarely do you see a vehicle or structure. It is the perfect place to spin gears and unwind.

And spin I did. For the most part I had the gravel to myself. However, once in a while a hunter on his way to deer camp would blast past me on a side-by-side. In those moments I felt as if I were in some post-apacolyptic Mad Max scenario. I would laugh to myself and draw up images of some marauder chasing me down on my pedal bike and I would thwart him at the last moment with a well-placed juke.

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I was warned by a friend to eat hourly even if I wasn’t hungry. Turns out that wasn’t all that hard. I lunched on the banks of the Yellow Dog. Jerky and fig bars have never tasted so good.

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As the tannic waters flowed past I was able to completely give myself over to the rhythmic churning and the trance-inducing ripples. In that moment I was safe to release my mind and all of the worries and cares in it. It was beautiful. If you find yourself starting to get wound up head to a quiet stretch of river and watch it do its thing for a while. “I’m not saying that a river is a cure-all, only that your brain is unable to maintain its troubled patterns while in concourse with a river.” -Jim Harrison, The Beast God Forgot to Invent. (On a side note that man will forever be missed and I look forward to incorporating many of his gems in and around this blog.)

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The rest of the ride was rather uneventful. I got in some good charges and even managed to launch into a few of those “yawps” that those Transcendentalists were always talking about. Rolling into town felt good. I had accomplished something and I had no one to thank but my own two legs.

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My older generation Stache probably wasn’t the most efficient choice of bikes for this ride but the extra forgiveness in those larger tires and the suspension fork made it a little more comfortable and forgiving.

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I dubbed this trip “The long way to Blackrocks” because in all honesty there is no longer route from my home to that wonderful brewery. Upon arriving I grabbed a 51k and sat on the porch looking at my bike. I thought about the places I have taken it, and the places it has taken me. Good gear is worth its weight in gold. But there is something special about the bond that you form with a bike. After the brew I spun over to Border Grill and had some tacos and chips.

This is the first of many rides that will start on CR 510. While planning my ride I was very excited to see all of the roads that branch off 510 and head into the McCormick Tract.

The pic below is the Strava info from the ride. I really enjoy quantifiable results and since I have started using Strava I have found the joy and worth that I have always felt while biking to be measurable.

-j

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A Big Day

My knee appears to be all healed up from my unfortunately-timed fly fishing accident. The recovery time was very difficult because I don’t do well sitting around. The rest was definitely necessary to prevent lasting damage to my knee.

Now that that’s over I am ready to get back into the swing of things again. The Lake Trout are starting to stack up in Superior; the darkness is coming sooner and sooner with each day; and the Woods are preparing for the first snow. I on the other hand am preparing for the inevitable over-eating and sitting around that comes with family time around the holidays. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy dumplings and a good roast. It just means that I have to get back on the physical exercise train before the wheels develop a flat spot.

The only way that I know how to function is to whole-ass things so to speak. So, what better way to push myself back into shape than to have a Big Day. I know, I know, some of your have Big Days like this weekly. I’m not there yet. Maybe this will be the start of something big. Hopefully. With that said, here is my route for my first Big Day in a while:

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Roughly half of the trip will be on the beautiful dirt of CO RD 510. The other half is mostly pavement with a decent shoulder. I struggled this week thinking about bike choice but I think that the Stache is going to be the way to go. I would hate to miss out on some off-road stuff if it presents itself to me. This trip would go by much quicker on the CX bike but that’s not what this ride is about.

Along with jumpstarting my fitness I will also be taking time on this ride to be thankful for what I have and mindful of my goals and the path ahead. Fresh air and physical exertion have a unique way of forcing mental clarity. We should rebalance once in a while; take time to slow down and get somewhere under your own power. I can’t think of a better place to do this than on the remote roads of Marquette County. Things will be different on the other side of this ride.

I will snap some pics for Instagram and have a decent write-up on here soon after returning home. With any luck I may even have a profound thought or two.

-J