I started out mountain biking this summer clipped into Crank Bros Eggbeaters with a good pair of Bontrager Multisport shoes. After a few minor spills, I got the hang of getting out of them (rotate your heels outward) and I could feel some benefits to keeping my feet in the right position on the pedals.
But I was still nervous about tackling the advanced technical stuff that I like and after a few scary crashes, I found some blog posts with long discussion threads that opened my eyes:
I attend my first MORC board meeting last night at REI in Bloomington. MORC Chair Ryan Lieske (right in the photo) was running the show. I was amazed at all the projects and activities the organization is involved with.
I’m interested in learning more and hope to attend more board meetings.
I’ve been using it this week to get over larger rocks and logs at speed. And when I say ‘larger,’ I don’t mean large. I mean bigger than the curbs on my street. Go ahead and laugh, but it was pretty cool when I got the hang of doing a manual over the curbs repeatedly. And I can now see a bunny-hop in my future.
I spend the afternoon on Saturday at Lebanon Hills, much of it on the new riding area that opened a week ago.
It’s considered a beginner loop, though some folks in the MORC forum trail discussion are referring to it as a beginner + loop. Trail designer Tim Wegner wrote:
I believe that we felt there was a bit too much of a gap between the old beginner trail and the intermediate trail as far as features and skill required to ride. The new beginner addendum trail kinda fills that gap. It is a bit more difficult than the old beginner trail but not as much hard climbing as the intermediate trail. I think this new segment of trail will really fill the bill as far as helping to enhance rider skill development. Perhaps this segment should be labeled advanced beginner????
I had the good fortune to meet current MORC Chair Ryan Lieske on the new loop and took a bunch of photos of him riding the five big berms in the upper open area and the smaller berms in the lower open area. Looking good, Ryan!
I also took several photos of beginners riding these features, including the 21 whoops and the 6 larger jumps in the lower area. The father and son in the center photo above repeatedly rode those, whooping and hollering for joy every time they went down. And true beginners can get through the area without actually having to ride the ‘obstacles’ as evidenced by the photo of the woman on the right, who, when she noticed me taking her photo, shouted "I’m scared to death!" No wonder: her mountain biking outfit consisted of short-shorts, a tank top and a baseball cap. Oy. But she got through it.
I spent an hour practicing the lower berms of the open area. I probably rode them 20 times, which was easy to do since it only takes a minute or two to get back to the top of them. I then went back and rode the 5 big berms of the upper area (which only takes 5-10 minutes to get to the top of those). My skill and confidence had increased dramatically. Thank you, Tim!
After riding the 7 mile advanced loop at Murphy, we chowed down at Chipotle in Apple Valley, biked through UMore Park in Dakota County, and arrived back in Northfield in time for dinner. About 85 miles, 9 hours. Whew!
On Saturday, local dirt boss and MORC member Nick Statz (right photo above) led the morning ‘fast’ ride group, mainly through the Yawkey Unit. (See this Silent Sports article featuring Nick: Cuyuna Lakes Reclaimed.) I’d not ridden Yawkey before so I was thrilled when we rode through its fabulous technical area.
I went back later in the afternoon to further explore the technical area of Yawkey and met MORC member Troy Lawrence who showed me how to do it without crashing. Some day when I get a little older…
In the evening, Don MacNaughton organized squirrel sled competition. Here’s his promo for it:
Have more in the tank? Did you drop your nuts? Let’s take it up a notch! Here are some details. Miniature bike, a sled, and the desire to pedal until you puke! Do you have what it takes? Can you pedal longer than your fellow squirrels? Game on!
With the dewpoint nearing 80, I declined but most everyone else punished themselves to the delight of the crowd.
If you care about bicycling for yourself, your kids or your town, you should know what Gary Sjoquist is up to.
I met Gary over beers in Crosby, MN a month ago (left photo, blog post here). He’s the Director of Advocacy for Bloomington, MN-based QBP (Quality Bicycle Products), one of the largest bicycle parts distributors in the world. He invited me to take a tour of QBP’s headquarters and yesterday I took him up on his offer. (Photo album below.)
Bikes Belong Coalition was formed in 1999 as the national coalition of bicycle retailers and suppliers working to put more people on bikes more often. U.S. bicycle companies recognized that they could accomplish more for bicycling by working together than by working independently. From helping create safe places to ride to promoting bicycling, we carefully select projects and partnerships that have the capacity to make a difference… Additionally, we operate the Bikes Belong Foundation to focus on children’s programs and bicycle safety.
As you’ll see in my photo album, QBP’s headquarters and distribution center is not only huge, but spectacular. And it’s got a reputation as a great place to work. Their Career and benefits page has the details on why.
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.
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, Penn Cycle in Bloomington, 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.
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.
I borrowed my son Graham’s mountain bike for this trip, but it’s safe to say I’m hooked on this sport and will have one of my own soon. Blog on!