Local citizens were staffing a Minnesotans United for All Families table at the Taste of Northfield in late July. I purchased a ‘Vote No, Don’t Limit the Freedom to Marry’ t-shirt and a bumper sticker for my laptop. It’s been cool to have many people make a “I like your shirt” type comment when out and about. You can get ‘Vote No’ gear from the MN United online store.
I’ve been blogging my opposition to the marriage amendment on my Locally Grown Northfield blog for many months. See all my posts here. When I saw that Northfielder and fellow mountain biker Ben Witt, proprietor of Milltown Cycles, published a blog post titled If I May in which he states his opposition to the marriage amendment, it occurred to me that I should do likewise here. Ben wrote:
This decision is not one that I have come to without serious personal reflection. Weighing in in any political debate as a business carries risk no matter what you are advocating for. I have no doubt that this will upset some of our customers. I fully expect that this will lose us some of them. If I offend some of you I am sorry for it.
I do this for the love of my family and friends who are gay, because they deserve the right to share exactly the same relationship that I cherish with my wife.
Robbie and I attended the world premiere of Reveal the Path at the Riverview Theater in Minneapolis last night, along with a few hundred other bike nuts:
A visually stunning adventure by bike: Reveal the Path explores the world’s playgrounds in Europe’s snow capped mountains, Scotland’s lush valleys, Alaska’s rugged coastal beaches and Morocco’s high desert landscapes…
Filmed across four continents and featuring Tour Divide race legends, Matthew Lee & Kurt Refsnider, this immersive film is sure to ignite the dream in you.
Luminaries from QBP and its Salsa Cycles division, the main sponsor of the movie and the event, were on hand. They were marginally adequate as movie theater attendants:
Left: John Gaddo, QBP Outside Sales Rep
Center: Andy Palmer, Salsa Customer Service
Right: John Gaddo and Jason Boucher, Salsa General Manager. See Jason’s ImagineGnat blog ("Bicycles – Photography – People – Exploration")
Some other bike nuts at the schmooze fest in the theater lobby:
Left: Curtis Ness and Ben Witt, Milltown Cycles, with Mike “Kid” Riemer, Salsa Marketing Manager.
Center: Ben Witt with Mryna Mibus, blogger, freelance writer, and future mountain biker who was there with her husband Owen and kids.
Right: Mike Dion, producer and director of Reveal the Path and its predecessor Ride the Divide.
See the large slideshow of 17 photos (recommended) or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:
As I mentioned last week, I first blogged about mountain biking at the River Bend Nature Center (RBNC) in Faribault back in January and shortly thereafter, learned about the problems with it.
So I was really pleased that RNBC staff hosted a meeting with about 25 local mountain bikers last night at the RBNC Interpretative Center.
After everyone introduced themselves, RBNC Executive Director Barbara Caldwell, RBNC Naturalist Educator Garrett Genereux, and Ben Witt, owner of Milltown Cycles in Faribault, each made brief presentations about the status of mountain biking trails in the park.
Barbara set a positive tone to the meeting right from the start, saying that they were genuinely eager to learn more about mountain biking, given the increase in riders that they’ve seen recently. She said that while they had no desire to become a mountain bike park ("We’re a nature center"), they are multi-use and see mountain biking as another way to engage the public in their mission.
Garrett showed a special map he’d created of all the trails in the park, both authorized and unauthorized. (I’ve obscured the map in the photo above.)
Ben Witt expressed his appreciation for the willingness of RNBC staff to even have the meeting, seeing it as a huge opportunity. He explained how many sections of the authorized trails are not only bad for the park because of erosion, they’re also not the new style of mountain bike trails (eg, switchbacks for up-hills) that help to make the sport so enjoyable.
The rest of the meeting was open discussion. I urged RNBC to see mountain biking not as something to do to accommodate to a group of users but rather as a strategy to protect the park. By putting in new-style mountain bike ‘flow’ trails that are fun and challenging for a range of skill levels, they’ll create a powerful incentive for riders to only ride on those trails, thereby protecting the rest of the park.
John Ebling made the point that local ‘ownership’ of these trails by local mountain bikers who work to create and maintain them eventually can create a culture of responsible use by the wider mountain biking community.
The plan now is to create a local task force or working group to figure out next steps. Contact Barbara or Ben (see right sidebar of his Milltown Cycles blog) if you’d like to be involved.
And above all, become a RNBC member. Our voices as mountain bikers will be far more influential if we show we care enough about RBNC to support them financially. Their online membership signup form makes it fast and easy.
I brought my X-Caliber down to Milltown Cycles today so Ben Witt could service the bottom bracket. I took some photos while he worked on it.
See the album of 10 photos (large slideshow, recommended) or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:
I rode Lebanon Hills for the first time last night. Amazing to have a mountain bike park like that in the middle of a big suburb.
I barely kept up with these guys. L to R: Ben Witt, Curtis Ness, John Ebling.
Robbie bought her new hybrid bike (Trek 7300 WSD) at Milltown Cycles a month ago and was pleased with the advice/treatment she got from owner Ben Witt and manager Curtis Ness. The day she purchased the bike, we couldn’t wait for them to assemble it as we were due to meet some friends at the Cow. No problemo. Curtis delivered it to our table.)
So after I spent a weekend at the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Festival trying out mountain bikes, I spent an hour with Ben at my morning office at the Blue Monday, talking pros and cons of all the possible variations of which mountain bike to buy, given my price range, riding ability, planned use, etc. His recommendation: a 29er hardtail, the Gary Fisher X Caliber. I told him to order it and promptly tweeted the news.
A couple hours later, I got an email from Ben (he also uses Google Talk/IM which I found to be very helpful):
I hate to say it, but I can’t get that bike for you. They are sold out for the year, and they don’t list an estimated time of arrival for the new 2012 models.
He then recommended that I get the bike from a competitor which did have one in stock in my frame size:
I’m sorry to have that as the only option I can offer. There are not many bikes that are similar to that to offer as alternatives. I think you’d be very happy on that bike, and we can easily get the tires, pedals and other accessories here for you.
Whaaaa? Couldn’t he could sell me another bike in that price range with similar features? I wanted to buy a bike from him.
He was adamant. The X Caliber was the bike that was best for me and it made no sense to wail till fall to get one. He was confident I’d be a long-term customer of Milltown Cycles and that he’d make a fair profit from whatever accessories, parts, and service I’d need.
I got my bike later that day. And a few days later, he outfitted it with Eggbeaters and tubeless tires. Watch out, Hans Rey.
As I got ready to dig into my plate of lasagna at Maucieri’s in Crosby last Friday night, in walks Hans “No way” Rey, “considered the world’s leader in extreme mountain biking… a former trials riding world champion, a showman, a stuntman and an adventure mountain biker.”
He was the featured stunt rider for the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Festival, brought to the event courtesy of GT Bicycles, with financial support from MORC, IMBA, and Bloomington, MN-based QBP (Quality Bicycle Products), one of the largest bicycle parts distributors in the world.
Hans is a god, even in my world of motorcycle trials, so I was thrilled to be invited to join him and some other mountain bike industry guys for dinner and beers. In the photo, L to R: Gary Sjoquist, Advocacy Director for QBP; Hans Rey; John Gaddo, Inside Sales rep at QBP; and Jeff Verink, sales rep with GT Bicycles and the talented master of ceremonies for the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Festival.
While chatting with John Gaddo, I learned that he grew up in my hometown of Northfield. Many locals might know his dad, general manager at the former WCAL-FM. John mentioned that he was also a trials bicycle rider but I had no idea the level of his skills until he teamed up with Hans for the bicycle trials exhibition on Saturday night.
See my album of a dozen photos of the John Gaddo bike trials exhibition, view the large slideshow (recommended), or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:
See my album of 28 photos of the Hans Rey bike trials exhibition, (and photos of Hans signing posters and speaking about his Wheels 4 Life non-profit), view the large slideshow (recommended), or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:
See my album of 40 miscellaneous Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Festival Grand Opening photos, the large slideshow (recommended), or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:
See my album of 26 Cuyunda Lakes Mountain Bike Festival Grand Opening Kids Bike Races, the large slideshow, or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow: