Saturday, December 20, 2014


Crossfire Tumblin Tumbleweed, JH, CD, JH, CGC

Tweed the Skijor Dog

Yesterday, Tweed and Scott took a walk down to the neighbor’s house and back.  Tweed was happy to be out and about with his man.  Not too many yesterdays ago, Tweed took himself for a walk, as he liked to do, causing us to drop everything and go looking for him.  I think he was looking for birds.

Just five years ago, Tweed led Sally’s first litter of puppies through the forest near the Boundary Waters, giving them pointers on how to make life interesting for their humans.  I’m sure he told them how humans found it exciting to watch them run away, with no care in the world, while said humans chased after them shouting incoherent words which may or may not be fit for polite society.  

Tweed the Reader
Fourteen years ago, Tweed taught me the importance of a good recall and the danger of grabbing the cord on a flexi leash without wearing gloves.  Months before that, he was playing on the trampoline, with Alice and Wayne Guthrie’s kids, at Crossfire IRWSs.  

In August of 2000, I drove north from SE Kansas across Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan just to visit with a couple of breeders, one of whom happened to have a puppy available.  I had no serious intention of actually buying the dog—I just wanted to meet the breed face to face.  As many people will attest, though, who couldn’t love Tweed?  I bought the largest crate that would fit on the passenger seat of my little truck and squeezed the four month old Tweed inside.  

Tweed on the NorthFace
Tweed loved everyone and enjoyed every place that he stayed, provided there was a warm bed for him to sleep on.  In the house he liked to be in front of the fireplace.  While camping he preferred to use Scott’s down NorthFace jacket.  

He was the best eater.  Nearly anything we offered him was eaten happily.  He wasn’t very fond of celery, even with peanut butter, but he loved tomatoes and liked to pick his own cherry tomatoes from the plants we bought just for him.  He even picked his own raspberries without being poked by the thorns.  

It is thanks to Tweed and Ciaran, who went before him, that I learned to hunt, took up mushing, and have the beautiful Sally, Dora, and Shady and the handsome Declan and Lichen. 

Yesterday, Tweed and Scott took a walk down the road together.  This morning we accepted that it was time for him to leave by himself.  It was with aching hearts that we drove him to the only place he ever thought to avoid.  

29 March 2000 - 20 December 2014
May the shamrocks fall softly, my friend.  You will be sorely missed.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Fiddlin' Fifty and Lonesome Polecat

We worked hard to come up with a route online and check to see if it was passable on the ground.  We checked, double, and tripled checked the mileage between turns.  We enjoyed every minute of it, worried even so that it could all fall apart on the day of the event.

Ready to go

Lining up volunteers was one of the more stressful jobs.  We didn't have definite tasks for them, just vague ideas of what needed to be done.  There were concerns that we wouldn't have enough to keep things running smoothly and then had plenty of volunteers to sit around and wait while the riders were on the road.  We can't thank our friends at the Iron Range Dog Training Club enough for the assistance they provided.  Nor can we thank the wonderful participants enough for their donations to the club. 
 Everyone was super friendly, tolerant, and overall awesome!  The food was great.  The weather was close to perfect.  With one notable exception, most of the vehicles encountered were polite, if not friendly.  The neighbors didn't seem to mind the traffic.  In fact, they didn't seem to notice. 

Monitoring traffic while reading Fancy Nancy
 The Lonesome Polecat Award was mentioned and I am sure its explanation has been anxiously awaited.  As some of you know, Scott and Susan have participated in Mush for a Cure for the past few years.  The pertinent part for the Fiddlin' Fifty is the Dork Award.  This award is given each year to the participant who does what could be called the dumbest thing during the course of the event.  Even more pertinent to our event:  Susan was the 2014 recipient of the Dork Award for finishing with not one, but two bent ski poles!  We have decided to adapt this and call it the Lonesome Polecat Award.

We were fortunate enough to have not one, but two riders this year who qualified!  Who would sign the waiver, acknowledging the helmet requirement, yet still come without a helmet?  Fortunately, Adam's head and Scott's are near enough in size for Adam to be able to borrow one.

Navigating Mud Hole
The other qualifier probably should have checked his equipment a bit better before setting out.  We'll let the photo explain what qualified Kip for the award.
Congratulations to both of you!  Next year we'll try to have a polecat available for the winner to be photographed with.  

We are already looking forward to doing this again next year.  Susan has been told that we can use the same route as this year but has different ideas brewing in her head...  

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Fiddlin' Fifty: This is how we roll

This is how we roll

Be nice--We are being scrutinized.
Please respect everyone--Our actions reflect upon us all.
Do not litter.
Pee discreetly.
Know your limits.
Be aware of vehicles--The roads are open to all traffic and we are an anomaly to many.
Obey all traffic laws--Saving seconds is not worth injury, or worse.
You are responsible for yourself.
Go as hard as you want, but this is not a race.  (yet…)
Help each other.
In case of an emergency, use 911.
If you drop, text your bike number to 218-404-5101.
If you absolutely need outside help text 218-404-5101.  We will do our best.
Thank a volunteer.
Have fun--It’s what it’s all about.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Fiddlin' Fifty Cue Sheet

Here it is, in all its glory!

Fiddlin' Fifty Recipe Card
If you need to have the cue sheet sent to you in a different format, please let us know!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Fiddlin' Fifty Roster

Here is the current roster.  We'll be adding names as your cards come in.

  1. Kip Praslowicz -- Duluth, MN
  2. Death Rider -- Burnsville, MN
  3. Joe Sacco -- Hibbing, MN
  4. Adam Karges -- Grand Rapids, MN
  5. Sherri Kretzschmar -- Duluth, MN
  6. Jon Loye -- Duluth, MN
  7. Tony Carter -- Cohasset, MN
  8. Steve Quiring -- Indianapolis, IN
  9. Al Jurenic -- Eveleth, MN
  10. Vel Jurenic -- Eveleth, MN
  11. Doug Stanzell -- Eveleth, MN
  12. Steve Gillitzer -- Hibbing, MN
  13. Marko Carlson -- Babbitt, MN
  14. Rob Raplinger -- Virginia, MN
  15. Dean McCauley -- Ely, MN
  16. Kevin Sanders -- Ely, MN
  17. Sarah Hurst -- Duluth, MN
  18. Krisin Riker-Coleman -- Duluth, MN
  19. Steve Christy -- Hibbing, MN

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Fiddlin' Fifty Gravel Grinder

Alright, gravel enthusiasts, here is the post with details on our event.  We will probably miss something, so please don't hesitate to point it out to us!

Who:  Susan Hoppe & Scott Dahlquist

Scott and Susan live on six acres in Minnesota's Balkan Township.  We are literally surrounded by hundreds of acres of Superior National Forest.  In addition to biking, we enjoy all kinds of sports with our Irish Red & White Setters.  In fact, the dogs are where the name of our ride came from.  Susan plays fiddle in a local band, which is why we chose to call the kennel Fiddlin' Irish Red & White Setters.  The ride is ours, starting from our house, so...

What:  The Fiddlin' Fifty Gravel Grinder and Potluck

Riding a [Mountain] Bicycle Built for Two
This is a 50-something mile gravel road RIDE, not a race.  We are toying with the idea of making it a timed event in future but wanted to start with something simpler.  If there is consensus before the start, we can do informal times, but we don't currently have anything better than your honesty and the accuracy of your trip computers.

The route is about 55 miles.  The only pavement comprises fewer than four (4) miles of the route.  Fewer than two miles are on snowmobile trail rather than actual gravel roads.  The terrain is all north of the Laurentian Divide.  There are no killer hills though there are a lot of undulations in the road.  Most of it is noticeably within Superior National Forest but there are a couple of spots that open up to farmland.

It is unsupported.  We'll come get you if you break your bike beyond field dressing or arrange a ride with flashing red lights and sirens if you need one; otherwise, you are on your own.  There are no stores or gas stations en-route.  The only water available is the form of lakes and streams.  Prepare accordingly.

We are having potluck.  Bring a dish to pass if you wish to participate--make sure you label your dish.  We'll organize the food while you are on the road.  We don't have a lot of chairs, so if you want to sit on something other than the ground, you may want to bring your own. 

When:  23 August 2014

Specifically, you need to come between 7:30 and 8:00 to check in and sign waivers.  The ride itself begins at 9:00.  It will finish when you are ready for it to be over. 

Where:  Balkan Township, Minnesota

Wolf Track
Much of Balkan Township is also Superior National Forest.  There is lots of wild flora and fauna.  Hopefully you will see some interesting critters at safe distances.

The Fiddlin' Fifty begins and ends at our house. Other than that, we aren't telling you any of the route until the day of the event, at which point you will receive cue cards.  We have friends who are going to test the cards for accuracy and useability this weekend.  (added 16 July 2014)

We are taking the first 100 registrants only and we ask that you have your postcard to us by 20 August.  Send your cards to: Fiddlin' Fifty; c/o Scott Dahlquist; 6479 Colombe Rd.; Chisholm, MN 55719.

On your cards we need to have your name, address, primary and secondary telephone numbers, e-mail, and age.  For the waiver, we will also ask for an emergency contact number, so please make sure you know what it is ahead of time.
Relaxing After a Great Ride

You can ride whatever you want, but you must wear a helmet. 

Why:  Just for Fun!
Happy Trails!

Scott and Susan