Category: <span>Events</span>

Advocacy Events

Halloween party 2013, Lebanon Hills Nita Woelbel Nita Woelbel's pies and chili, Halloween party 2013, Lebanon Hills Halloween party 2013, Lebanon Hills

Lebanon Hills MTB held their annual Halloween party and night ride at the west trailhead in Eagan last night and as far as I could tell, Nita Woelbel was the queen in charge. Perceptive, no?

She made the pies and her ‘famous’ homemade chili, organized the prizes, was the MC, and after it was all over, graciously thanked her helpers with a post in the MORC forum:

Chris, thanks for coming out and getting the tents up and Doug Ecker, you are magic with hanging up lights. Doug Purdy, phenomenal with the equipment and little details like carving a fat pumpkin at midnight and not cutting off a finger. Mark Gavin, you are amazing on that grill, and I’m burping that last dog up as I type this. Al Goldstein, you put up that sweet race course and unfortunately we ran out of time, thanks so much for the set up and tear down help. To everyone else that helped tear down, many thanks! Right around 10 p.m. it started to rain and we were out of there at 11:00…perfect! Thanks everyone for coming out with fantastic spirit on a rather cold, damp evening, I just love this life!

Nita even let me take some pie home, which I’m eating now as I blog this. Saaaaweet.

See the album of two dozen photos.

Events People Photo album

Tyler Pederson at the opening of Theo's flow trail Tyler Pederson at the opening of Theo's flow trail Tyler Pederson at the opening of Theo's flow trail MORC tent at the opening of Theo's flow trail

There was a great turnout for the soft opening of the new trail at the Theodore Wirth Off-Road Cycling Trail on Wednesday night. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB), Minneapolis Off-Road Cyclists Association (MOCA), and MORC put on the event. Tyler Pederson, who works at the MPRB and blogs at Bicycle Kismet, made some opening remarks and was the entrance gatekeeper so that things didn’t get jammed up at the start.

20131009_170240The one-way flow trail segment (less than a mile) is multi-use (open to walkers, runners and snowshoers) , is hugely fun—lots of rollers and berms and table tops in a very compact area.

Tim Wegner at Trail Source LLC was the primary builder and I’m guessing he had more than a little help from the MOCA/MORC dirt bosses.

Dick "Carp" Carpenter on Theo's new flow trail The view from the top of Theo's new flow trail The view from the top of Theo's new flow trail

The view from the top of Theo's new flow trail The view from the top of Theo's new flow trail

As you can see from the photos above, the trail loops up and around a big hill, so you’re pretty much either climbing or ripping. The view from up top is stunning, with a great view of Wirth Lake and the downtown Minneapolis skyline. There’s a picnic table up there, too, a perfect spot to catch your breath after the first big climb.

I didn’t take photos of any of the rollers, berms, jumps and table tops but to me, they seemed perfect. An intermediate rider can roll them all slowly and advanced riders can get plenty of air.  I’m far from advanced on this type of trail but there were a couple areas where I could manual over two small rollers and a couple of table tops that I could almost clear. I can’t wait to go back.

My proposed shortcut at the top of Theo's new flow trailI followed a group of young riders who were doing a shorter loop so that they could repeatedly ride the first big downhill segment without descending back to the start and having to do the big initial climb. They would push their bikes straight up one of the construction trails and then take a short cut on top (right photo) which connects to the start of the downhill segment near the picnic table. It seems like a logical option to add, much like the shortcut loops at Leb that the dirt bosses there have added in several places.

Events Trails

Time magazine cover Governor-Wendell-Anderson 2013 PedalMN Bike Summit

Many of you reading this blog were not even a gleam in your father’s eye in 1973 when Time magazine featured Governor Wendell Anderson on its cover for a story titled Minnesota: A State That Works. (Anderson just celebrated his 80th birthday earlier this year.)

2013 PedalMN Bike Summit planning partners

But I thought of that cover story after attending the 2013 PedalMN Bike Summit this week, a two-day Minnesota state government-hosted conference involving four state agencies, several non-profits, and representatives from more than a few bicycle-related businesses. 

CLMTBC_IMBA_Web_LogoWhen it comes to bicycling, Minnesota seems to be a state that works.  And for state’s mountain bikers, the success of the two-year old Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trail system (CLMTBT) is the epitome of government, non-profit, and industry leaders effectively collaborating to get something done that’s been huge for our sport in the state. In short, Cuyuna rocks. (In MN mountain biking circles, the word ‘Cuyuna’ is the most commonly used short-hand for the mtb trail system in the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area – CCSRA.)

Read the timeline of the creation of Cuyuna. You’ll see the names of these people, most of them more than once: Gary Sjoquist, Dan Cruser, Courtland Nelson, Mike Van Abel, and Hansi Johnson. All of them were there this week, as were others from their organizations (MORC, IMBA, DNR, QBP).

Huntington Mine Lake, Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails Alstead Mine Lake, Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails Alstead Mine Lake, Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails Map: Cuyuna's Screamer

I got up to Cuyuna early on Monday morning, as it was a gorgeous autumn day and I wanted to ride every single trail in the Huntington east and west units (AKA as the Mahnomen Unit on the DNR’s map of Cuyuna). I rode some more than once, including the steep and short Screamer which I rode five times, trying to get better/faster at it with marginal success. But what fun.

Experiential session groups, 2013 PedalMN Bike Summit Experiential session groups, 2013 PedalMN Bike Summit Experiential session groups, 2013 PedalMN Bike Summit

For most participants, the day’s activities started shortly after lunch with “experiential workshops on bicycles in the field.”  Groups gathered in the Croft Mine parking lot in Cuyuna’s Yawkey Unit.  The blurb for those doing the experiential mountain bike ride:

Experience firsthand what makes the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails an IMBA-certified Ride Center. Learn about purpose-built trail design and weekly trail maintenance. See why cycling is now-year round in the Cuyuna Lakes area.

Find out how state, county and city governments have partnered with residents and the cycling industry to achieve the shared goal of becoming an international mountain biking destination. Members of the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew will lead ride participants through an interactive tour within the Yawkey Unit of the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area.

This bike tour is purposefully designed for cyclists of all skill levels to enjoy their time on the red dirt. Riders will be separated into advanced, intermediate and beginner categories.

Hansi Johnson, IMBA Dan Cruser, CLMTBT Nick Statz, CLMTBT

Darrell, local EMS guy Peter Hark, DNR Field Operations Mgr & stand-in photographer Katie Johnson (reflective vest), CLMTBT, experiential group ride leader

Organizers set up six guided ride stops out on the trails, each staffed with someone explaining:

  1. Mountain bike experiential session routePurpose Built Trails and Riding
  2. Trail Maintenance
  3. Community Connections for Economic Development
  4. High School Mountain Bike League
  5. Year Round Recreation
  6. Safety and Grassroots Support

I followed the advanced group around and IMHO, it was a very cool way to show/teach a large number of people in a short period of time the important aspects of a modern mountain bike trail system and its wider impact.  After the guided stops, ride leaders took their groups back out on the loop trails for more riding until everyone convened back at the parking lot for topical Q&A at various tables.

Karl Erbach (Trek), John Schaubach (CLMTBC), Seth Nesselhuf (QBP) Steve Weber (DNR), Gary Sjoquist (QBP) John Gaddo (QBP), Reed Smidt (MORC)

There were more than a few mtb muckety mucks on hand to help.

Left: Karl Erbach (Trek), John Schaubach (CLMTBC), Seth Nesselhuf (QBP)
Center: Steve Weber (DNR), Gary Sjoquist (QBP)
Right: John Gaddo (QBP), Reed Smidt (MORC)

deck at Cragun's Resort dining room, Cragun's Resort DNR's Courtland Nelson; IMBA's Mike Van Abel IMBA Executive Director Mike Van Abel

We then gathered for socializing and dinner at Cragun’s Resort in Brainerd, where DNR Parks and Trails Director Courtland Nelson introduced the evening speaker, IMBA Executive Director Mike Van Abel. Mike and IMBA have a long history with Cuyuna (Hansi’s got a good summary in his June 2011 blog post, shortly after the park opened) so it was fun to hear some of Mike’s stories of that history. His message to the audience of 200+ participants was clear: the pursuit of IMBA’s mission (“to create, enhance and preserve great mountain biking experiences”) goes far beyond the sport and IMBA’s members.  Communities and regions all over the continent are seeing that the environmental, economic, and public heath benefits of mountain biking are significant and growing.

IMBA'sMike Van Abel, moderating MTB panel at PedalMN Bike Summit IMBA's Hansi Johnson, MTB panelist at PedalMN Bike Summit MORC Board Chair Reed Smidt, MTB panelist at PedalMN Bike Summit CLMBTC President Aaron Hautala, MTB panelist at PedalMN Bike Summit Mike Van Abel, Aaron Hautala, Hansi Johnson

One of Tuesday morning’s breakout sessions was dedicated to mountain biking. Mike moderated a panel consisting of IMBA’s Hansi Johnson, MORC’s Reed Smidt, and CLMBT’s Aaron Hautala.

One thing that stood out for me was Reed’s comment about MORC’s role in the state.  Despite the word ‘Minnesota’ in its name, MORC has recently become more focused on mountain biking in the Twin Cities metro area, as the IMBA Chapter Program has produced many chapters throughout the state. But with 3 million residents and thousands of mountain bikers in the metro area, MORC plays an important role in producing and supplying a significant number of mountain bikers who like to travel to the mtb trail systems throughout the state and midwest region.

So my take-away from the Bike Summit: I’m damn lucky to be a resident of Minnesota, a state that works for mountain biking. And the work that others have done to get us to this point inspires me to help keep it going and do what I can to get others to join the effort.

I’m in a Duluth coffee shop as I write this. I’m going riding.

Advocacy Events Trails

2013 Rhino Rally National Anthem, 2013 Rhino Rally drumming, 2013 Rhino Rally
The Rhinos Foundation held their annual Rhino Rally (Facebook event page) on Saturday at Murphy-Hanrehan. I didn’t ride, just took photos in the morning. ‘Twas cool to have the event launched with a singing of the Star-Spangled Banner and drumming.

What’s the Rhino Rally about? From their website:

The Rhino Rally is an endurance mountain bike event, raising cancer awareness and financial support for Rhinos Foundation. Riders may participate as individuals or as a team for this five hour challenge. The Rhinos Foundation was established in 1991 to support the fight against cancer and those affected by the disease. Over the years, Rhinos has been supporting families in Western Wisconsin and Eastern Minnesota; touching those touched by cancer.

Among the familiar faces:
Steve Tigner Mike Pierson and Susannah King Larry Sauber
Left: Steve Tigner. Center: Mike Pierson (a MORC Murphy-Hanrehan Dirt Boss) and Susannah King (MORC Secretary). Right: Larry Sauber, among the leaders right from the start.

Larry published a blog post about the event titled Hot Buck, Murphy Rhino Race/ Cancer Awareness and posted this comment in the MORC forum:

"Thanks" to all those that either put on the event, volunteered, and of course the behind the scene trail workers that kept the jungle from taking over the trail (hardly any face slappers on the rain lap)… Like I’ve typed elsewhere, nothing better than riding/ racing your bike for something greater than riding/ racing your bike.  Thanks Rhino people… Cancer sucks.

See my album of 35 photos (large slideshow, recommended) or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:

Advocacy Events Photo album

With only a short amount of time to ride the trail system at Copper Harbor during this year’s Ride the Keweenaw, I didn’t want to spend much time taking trail photos or shooting any video. 

hansi_photo_T_w hansi_photo_curve Interactive trail map - Copper Harbor 
Plus, I knew that there were plenty of photos and videos of this IMBA Silver-level Ride Center online already. A good place to start for photos: the Keweenaw Adventure Company‘s Epic Rides page which has several photos by IMBA’s Midwest Regional Director Hansi Johnson.  For videos, start with the stunning interactive Copper Harbor Trail system map by the Trail Genius.

As this April 8 2013 reviewer wrote on MTBR about the trail system:

There’s a little for everyone, with technical rocky areas, long flow rides, extended downhill tabletop jump sections, climbs that make you whoop if you manage to scramble up, boardwalks, simple trails next to dropoffs… just spectacular.

Flying Squirrel trail at Copper Harbor Flying Squirrel trail at Copper Harbor Flying Squirrel trail at Copper Harbor On the Edge trail at Copper Harbor
Among my goals: I wanted to try some of the smaller table top jumps and advanced berms. Much of the big stuff on the double black diamond trails was over my head but even on runs like the Flying Squirrel and On the Edge there was still plenty of fun stuff that I could ride. 

dual suspension Kona Process - rental from the Keweenaw Adventure Company But it wasn’t till I rented a dual suspension Kona Process from the Keweenaw Adventure Company that I got a taste of what’s possible.

I was shocked how much easier it was for me to pump the rollers and go fast on the downhill gnarly stuff than with my hardtail 29’er.  Full squish has just moved ahead of a fat bike on my bike quiver priority list.

Hansi Johnson, recovering from his crash on Danimal 20130526_135439 Griff Wigley, photo by Hansi Johnson
I didn’t see it but Hansi crashed twice on one of jumps on the Danimal trail, taking a hard whack to his head and miscellaneous other body parts. I wore my POC Cortex DH MIPS full-face helmet for the first time and if I ever get better at the jumps, I can see a neck brace in my future. (Hansi’s photo of me above is included in his blog post titled A Copper Harbor fish story: Ride the Keweenaw 2013. His narrative and photos are riveting.)

Hansi Johnson, Aaron Rogers 
Copper Harbor Trails Club president Aaron Rogers has led the creation of this amazing trail system. That page says:

Aaron Rogers, MTB trail builderAaron came in search of epic snowboarding at Mt. Bohemia and stayed to build epic bike trails in Copper Harbor. A man with a vision for greatness, Aaron built upon a foundation of great trails on great terrain and turned them world class. Now a contracted professional trail builder with IMBA Trail Solutions, Aaron’s heart remains in Copper Harbor.

Fortunately for us (and his wife Amanda), he prefers to build trails in Copper Harbor but also dabbles farther south on the Peninsula. If you find Aaron, it will be at the end of a newly built trail at the controls of the mini-excavator or with Pulaski in hand. If you can’t find him, it is most likely because you can’t catch him. He’s as good a rider as he is a trail builder.

Like most everyone else who’s ridden Copper, I can’t wait to go back.  And I’m thrilled that some of the MTB parks here in Minnesota are learning from what’s been done there.

Events Trails