El Gato returns to his Northfield roots, draws the heat

2011 Cuyuna Lakes MTB grand opening toast: Gary Sjoquist, Hans Rey, John Gaddo, Jeff VerinkThe day I rediscovered mountain biking also happened to be the day I met John Gaddo (AKA ‘El Gato’). It was the grand opening weekend of the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails back in June of 2011 and he was chauffeuring Hans “No way” Rey around, one of his many duties as a QBP staffer. I happened to be at a Crosby, MN pub when he and Hans came in for beers and dinner with Gary Sjoquist, Advocacy Director for QBP and Jeff Verink, sales rep with GT Bicycles. John told me he grew up in my hometown of Northfield, was into bicycle trials, and we’ve been colleagues ever since.

For more on that day and weekend, see my first ever Mountain Bike Geezer blog post: Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Festival grand opening: John Gaddo and Hans “No way” Rey dazzle the crowd and my photo album of John’s bicycle trials exhibition:

John Gaddo bicycle trials exhibition

So when John got a new Surly Instigator a couple weeks ago, he was eager to return to his hometown of Northfield MN where he honed his urban trials skills as a kid and ride some of technical features along CROCT’s new Sechler Park MTB trail. Last Friday, it was my turn to do the chauffeuring.

Griff Wigley, John Gaddo

John Gaddo, urban rock garden

Three videos and 39 photos tell the story best. Yes, there is a hoosegow element.  Continue reading El Gato returns to his Northfield roots, draws the heat

Learning to reduce the impact of some mountain bike crashes, Part 1: sliding out sideways

Update 3/26, 7 am CDT:

This blog post, originally published on March 22, has now been published on Singletracks.com with a slightly revised title and a major addition of a narrated video/screencast at the end. See:

Learning to reduce the impact of some mountain bike crashes, Part 1: sliding out sideways

My last days of the winter singletrack (ridegroomed) season: not half-bad

I managed to squeeze in some decent singletrack winter riding on my 29’er last week before the spring thaw hit.  The trails were packed hard and the traction was amazing.

On Thursday afternoon, I rode everything at MORC’s Lebanon Hills MTB Park:

Lebanon Hills MTB Park - groomed singletrack (#ridegroomed) Lebanon Hills MTB Park - groomed singletrack (#ridegroomed) Lebanon Hills MTB Park - groomed singletrack (#ridegroomed)

including my favorite rock in the skills park: Continue reading My last days of the winter singletrack (ridegroomed) season: not half-bad

Photo album: CROCT group ride on doubletrack at the River Bend Nature Center

With the gorgeous and ample snow in Rice County, we moved our CROCT group ride to the River Bend Nature Center in Faribault yesterday instead of a return visit to the MN River Bottoms as planned back in January.

It turned out to be a good decision. The grooming of the two-way doubletrack trails by members of the Faribault Flyers club was perfect, making it easy to share the trails with XC skiers, one of whom joined us for much of our group ride. Continue reading Photo album: CROCT group ride on doubletrack at the River Bend Nature Center

Why infrastructure for bikes on city streets and paved trails can matter for mountain biking

With my CROCT board member hat on, I attended the BikeNorthfieldBikeNorthfield steering committee meeting at the Northfield Public Library last night, as the agenda (PDF) included a discussion with City staff leaders (City Administrator Nick Haggenmiller, City Engineer/Director of Public Works Dave Bennett, and Engineering/GIS Technician Jasper Kruggel)  about two upcoming street improvement projects that concern bicyclists: 3rd St. & Hwy 3; and Woodley St from Division to Prairie. Continue reading Why infrastructure for bikes on city streets and paved trails can matter for mountain biking

City of Duluth’s parking services: Prompt, friendly, forgiving

Back in late October of 2013, I spent a couple days mountain biking in Duluth, MN. My blog post: Duluth’s XC MTB trails just keep getting better. Here’s partly why.

What I didn’t blog  was on the day I met up with then IMBA Midwest Regional Director Hansi Johnson (he’s got a new job now) for a ride on the COGGS Piedmont trail, I got a parking ticket in the Canal Park lot near his office. I had paid for parking using the PayByPhone service but inadvertently paid for parking in stall #138 when I’d actually parked in stall #136.  As you can see, the stenciling on the pavement makes the  number 6 look pretty close to an 8:

20131002_120022 20131002_120038

I was irritated but the fine of $12 didn’t seem onerous so I planned to pay it.  I lost the ticket and promptly forgot about it.  But a few weeks ago I got a notice that my fine had grown to $45 and was about to be turned over to a collection agency. Previous notices had ended up in a pile of my aging mother’s unpaid medical bills that I was contesting.

So on Friday morning I visited the City of Duluth’s Parking Services web page and filled out their form with this:  Continue reading City of Duluth’s parking services: Prompt, friendly, forgiving

Advocating for MTB trails: CROCT Board members meet with Rice County Commissioner Jeff Docken

L to R: Rice County District 5 Commissioner Jeff Docken, Marty Larson, Jeremy Bokman CROCT Board members Marty Larson, Jeremy Bokman and I had lunch yesterday at Tandem Bagels with Rice County District 5 Commissioner Jeff Docken.

It was a follow-up to the meeting that Marty, Jeremy and I had last August with Jake Rysavy, Rice County Parks & Facilities Director in which he expressed support for exploring the possibility of mountain bike trails at Caron Park and McCullough Park/Campground.

McCullough Park is in Jeff Docken’s district and he seemed intrigued about the possibility of having mountain bike trails on the large tract of park property across from the newly remodeled campground on Shields Lake.

See the August 21 photos in this CROCT blog post when Marty, Jeremy and I did a walk-through of McCullough. As you can see, the property has both a large sloping prairie and many ravines, making it ideal for mtb trails of all ability levels. And being adjacent to a trail head on a lake with a campground, picnic shelter, rest rooms, showers, boat access, etc, one could imagine McCullough becoming a destination mountain bike park someday.

We’ve expressed our preference for creating beginner-to-advanced mtb trails at Caron Park first. It’s situated half way between Faribault and Northfield, a more convenient (15-minute drive) for CROCT trail workers from both cities who would be investing hundreds of volunteer hours in constructing trails there. And after gaining a season’s worth of experience with trail-building at Caron, we would be in a better position to assess what we could accomplish at McCullough, a more demanding venue.

The next step will likely be for this to be an agenda item on an upcoming meeting of the Rice County Board’s Parks and Facilities committee before it goes to the full Board. The wheels of government don’t always move quickly but it’s possible that we could be authorized to dig at Caron Park this year.

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