Admiral Rockbar gets an extension: Piedmont remains atop the heap of Minnesota’s technical trails

If you like difficult technical riding, the COGGS Piedmont trail in Duluth is Minnesota’s Crème De La Crème and one of many reasons that Duluth is an IMBA Gold-level Ride Center, one of 6 in the world. Here’s a 2015 map of Piedmont:

Map of Piedmont, 2015

I’d heard rumors earlier this year that one of Piedmont’s X segments, Admiral Rockbar, was extended recently to include some rock drops and a long rocky uphill.

I was at Spirit Mountain last weekend for the PMBI Level 1 instructor course (more on that to come) and I was eager to ride Rockbar before I left town. I saw COGGS Board Member and Ride Coordinator Dave Cizmas there and when I asked him about it, he told me he’d helped on the planning and route selection for the extension and that he’d managed to clean the uphill once. I was even more intrigued.

But with the heavy rain on Sunday, all COGGS trails were still closed. on Tuesday morning. I texted Dave and he said he thought Rockbar would be fine to ride, as long as I didn’t ride anything else at Piedmont.  When I saw COGGS Board Member/Fundraising Coordinator Pam Schmitt at Duluth Coffee Company on Tuesday morning she ‘deputized’ me to go have a look at it since other COGGS crew members were unavailable to check it out. I felt honored. A reconnaissance mission!

I parked in the small lot along Haines Rd where there’s quick access to the Admiral Rockbar segment without having to ride the other portions of Piedmont that were too wet to ride.

The dirt portions of Rockbar were damp but hard-packed. The rocks were somewhat slippery from the mist and heavy fog. I sent Pam a text that I thought Admiral was fine to ride.

Since I was by myself and the rocks were moist, I decided to hike-a-bike down the tricky downhill section along the Haines Rd cliff (for which I won a Camelbak Enduro Hydration pack last year, details here):

Admiral Rockbar

I also carried my bike down the biggest of the new drops:

Admiral Rockbar

No cajones? Not so much in the spring. More so in late fall when I have all winter to heal.

I concentrated instead on the uphill portion of the new extension. I spent about an hour sessioning its three tricky spots:

  1. long initial climb:

Admiral Rockbar

Admiral Rockbar

2. switchback:

Admiral Rockbar

Admiral Rockbar

3. shorter final climb:

Admiral Rockbar

Admiral Rockbar

I never came close to even getting up the up the end of the initial long climb in 6 attempts, let alone cleaning it. After a handful of attempts on the switchback and final climb, I did manage to clean each a couple times.

I’m eager to return when the rocks are dry for another go at it. I’d love to be able to clean the entire uphill section without stopping… and of course, session the big drop.

Props to the COGGS crew of volunteers who worked on this new extension of Admiral Rockbar, including Dave Cizmas, Erik Blow, Adam Sundberg, Rudy O’brien, Justin Martin, Erik Olson, Andy Keinitz, and possibly others.

Here’s a 34-second video of some of my attempts:

Thank you, COGGS. I’ll be back.