With a big assist from the City of Northfield Public Works staff, the CROCT MTB skills park in Northfield’s Sechler Park got some improvements this year. Workers brought in several truckloads of dirt to improve six of the seven beginner and intermediate jumps in the main jump line and expand the launch mound. In addition, they moved the giant boulder lurking along the park’s swampy edge and reinstalled the kiosk next to the launch mound. Slideshow:
Pat Mitzel, one of my best local riding buddies and a member of the Ryan Leech Connection where I’m a part-time coach, has published a 27-page PDF titled, The Backyard MTB Feature Build Guide. It’s available via this post, A DIY Guide to Building Backyard MTB Practice Obstacles on the RLC blog. The 27-page guide includes a tool list, materials, and details for how to build each feature.
The post also includes a 2.5-minute video of Pat riding many of the obstacles:
Here’s a one-minute clip of some of my recent beginner-level jump attempts this fall. Yes, I know, there are visible flaws in these attempts which I’m still working to correct even as the ground is now frozen and covered with a few inches of snow (I’ve been shoveling). But the cool thing is my confidence is solid. The course is aptly named.
In 2015-16, my focus was on track stands, hopping, and rocking via Ryan’s Baseline Balance Skills course. Here are two short videos of me putting those skills to use on technical sections of some local trails:
Here are a couple of marked-up images showing how I sometimes use a screenshot from video submitted by a student along with a screenshot from an instructor (I’ve blurred the faces of the students in these examples):
I’ve been recently learning what I’m teaching and I think that perspective, along with feedback from several coaches who are vastly more experienced than me, is partly what makes the courses at Ryan Leech Connection so valuable.
The skills park is my primary responsibility as one of CROCT’s many volunteer trail workers. My motivation to work on it?
Our in-town Sechler Park MTB Trail is a river bottoms trail and doesn’t have a lot of challenging terrain. So having a skills park in the middle of it is way for local riders to practice their skills and challenge themselves
It’s handy to have a local skills park for instructional clinics. Kids who live in town can ride their bikes to the park via the local network of paved trails
I’m always working on my own riding skills and being able to construct features that are appropriate for my own development is a treat
Last summer, my interest in learning to jump via Ryan Leech’s Jumping with Confidence online course (affiliate link) spurred me to learn how to build beginner and intermediate level table top jumps. I had the full-time use a tractor with a bucket, free street reclamation dirt from the City of Northfield, a budget from CROCT to have it hauled in, and labor from other trail worker volunteers to help me shape, learn, test, and rebuild the jumps until we got them ‘good enough.’
By the end of the season, I’d gotten to where I could consider myself solid at beginner-level tabletops. Here’s a 1-minute video clip of me riding the 7 jumps that we built:
And the jumps proved to be a hit with kids and adventuresome adults, of course.
In addition to the 7 tabletop jumps (6 beginner-level, 1 intermediate-level), the skills park also now has:
Last week, Welch Village General Manager Peter Zotalis hosted two test sessions for two of their lift-served gravity flow trails (total four to be built). I was there for both days, and got to ride with two experienced local guys, Clay Haglund (MAMB) and Jason Decoux (CROCT).
I also wanted to A) experiment with cornering, primarily on bigger bermed corners since I’ll be instructing riders on those at Welch Village’s new MTB park in a few weeks; and B) ride lots of drops and gnarly stuff to see what it’s like on my new full-suspension Kona Process 134 Supreme from Michael’s Cycles.
Here are several videos from the trip, with some commentary on each:
Michael Knoll & I rocked and rolled our full squish Kona Process bikes on some fun and challenging COGGS trails in Duluth last week.
We spent the most time in Piedmont’s NIMBY cluster of X & XX technical trails as well as Admiral Rockbar. Then it was over to Home Brew with a stop at the Kissing Booth before ending the day with a run down the Keene Creek trail — 1.5 miles/500 ft of elevation change — an amazing whoop-di-doo run.
Here are three videos of me following Michael on Admiral Rockbar, Kissing Booth, & Keene: