Peter Hark is a resident of rural Northfield, the DNR’s Field Operations Manager State Parks and Trails, and a Founding Supporter of CROCT. He joined me and Marty Larson on his first ride on the Sechler Park MTB trail on Wednesday, a day off for him because it was his birthday. He seemed to enjoy the ride and was complementary on what he saw. For a relatively new mountain biker, he’s not half-bad, and if he got a proper mountain bike with better tires he would definitely be more than marginally adequate.
I stopped by the Cottage Grove Bike Park yesterday to take some photos of the park’s construction.
Chance Glasford, his team of fellow MORC Gravity Advocates (a sub-group of MORC), and many other volunteers have made great progress in the past month on the 4x (mountain cross) track. According to Chance’s Aug. 12 blog post titled, The build continues!, they’re almost done:
We had a great build weekend! 32 hours of manual labor later we are 90% complete with the 4x track! Mike, Buck and I put in some serious time this weekend along with some help from a hand full of others!
We are about 5 loader buckets and 3 hours of work short of completing the park! We had a nice group of neighbor hood kids out helping us Sunday…
Other features to be constructed in the park include a tot track for strider bikes, pump tracks, dirt jumps, a slope style course, and a mountain bike skills area.
The next ‘build’ day is Saturday Aug. 24. You can keep up on the details of all the build days either via the Cottage Grove Bike Park Facebook page or the Cottage Grove Bike Park forum in the MORC Forums.
And on Sept 14, they’re hosting a big Party at the Park- Cottage Grove Bike Park Fundraiser.
Come join us at the Cottage Grove bike park! Enjoy a silent auction, beer, food, DJ, Bonfire, Bounce house and of course tours of the bike park as it nears completion and raise funds to finish the build!
I asked Chance to take a few runs on the 4x track so I could take some photos and a few video clips. He reluctantly obliged:
My home town of Northfield has acquired the Fargaze Meadows subdivision for a future park but it comes with an eyesore: a huge mound of dirt. In the May 28 Faribault Daily News: Northfield gains 40 acres from Rice County for parks and trails:
But converting the land will neither easy nor cheap. A giant mound of dirt lies on the north part of the land, which not only makes for a poor view, but also causes a lot of problems for the homes in the neighborhood. County engineer Dennis Luebbe estimated it could cost up to $280,000 just to move the dirt.
Back in May after a downtown parking management meeting, I was chatting with Ward 2 Councilor David DeLong about my mountain biking adventures and mentioned to him that many municipalities are building bike parks (pump and jump parks) as an amenity for their citizens of all ages. As I’ve noted here on my blog, Eagan has one that I regularly use (left photo), Maple Plain has one, and Cottage Grove starting building a big one this week. Others are in the works for Duluth, Maple Grove, and Cuyuna and probably many more. When Dave learned about the cost of removing the big dirt mound at Fargaze, he emailed me, wondering whether some of that dirt could be used for a bike park. I replied:
The type of dirt used to build the features for these parks matters, as the jumps, berms and rollers deteriorate quickly if it’s not hard-pack dirt. I’m guessing that mound of dirt at Fargaze is black dirt.
Griff, I don’t know what the dirt is but I think there must be more than black dirt. If it was most likely there would have been greater erosion. Amateur opinion. The quietness and growing popularity [of bike parks] along with the age range of participation does intrigue me. Thanks for the links and following up.
Last night while riding my around-town bike in the area, I decided to take a closer look. I was shocked to not see black dirt. So today I went back, took photos, and dug (heh) a little deeper. It appears that Councilor DeLong’s amateur opinion was correct.
First, some perspective:
Primary access to the dirt mound is at the corner of Ford St E and Brogan Dr. (left). Once on top, it appears that the mound is big enough to locate a significant portion of a bike park on top of it. The dirt could easily be moved to build the bike park adjacent to / south of where the mound is. Or both.
As for the type of dirt needed for a bike park, I contacted Chance Glasford who’s working on the bike park in Cottage Grove and he wrote to me:
You want to be able to make a dirt ball, like a snow ball out of it. If it holds together, maybe bounce it a little to see how it holds up. If it does, that’s good. Also look for that reddish brown color. That is mineral soil.
I scraped some some dirt from the side of the dirt cut, brought it home, mixed it with some water and made a ball. It split apart when I dropped it from a height of about a foot so it may not be perfect. I put it in the sun and it was baked into a hard rock by day’s end. So it’s definitely promising and probably worth the money to have a company drill soil samples of the dirt mound.
I’ve begun having conversations about all this with Nathan Knutson, Chair of the Norrthfield Park & Recreation Advisory Board, Northfield City Administrator Tim Madigan, and Joe Stapf and Jaspar Kruggel from the Northfield Public Works Department.
The photos above are from a profile of a bike park in the city of Eagle, Idaho that was built by a company called Alpine Bike Parks. It has some similarities to the location and height of the Fargaze dirt mound here in Northfield:
Once the community was ready to develop the park, they reached out to Alpine Bike Parks to develop the full-service public bike park facility. Mechanized construction included slopestyle downhill trails, skills development areas, and competitive mountain cross and dual slalom courses. These trails raised the public profile of the project and assisted in developing capital for future project phases, including additional skills areas, and competitive BMX and mountain bike race courses.
- Duration of Construction: Two months
- Scope: Master planning, trail design, trail construction, community outreach.
- Methods: Excavators, tracked loaders and skid steers, hand shaping
- Budget: $130,000
- Client: City of Eagle, Idaho
I’ll update this story as it develops by attaching comments to this blog post.
He’s at it again, this time leading the development of a proposal for a bike park in his home town of Cottage Grove. Yesterday, the proposal went before the Cottage Grove Parks, Recreation & Natural Resources Commission and I went to lend some support. Reed Smidt, President of MORC, spoke, as did other members of the Cottage Grove bike park task force.
Yes, I wanted to return the favor to Chance for all he’s done that has benefited me. But I have my selfish reasons, too. Cottage Grove is only 35 minutes or so from Northfield and I expect to be a regular at the park if it’s built, as it’ll be considerably bigger with more features than the one in Eagan.
The parks commission unanimously approved the proposal and it now goes to the City Council for consideration in a couple of weeks.
I was initially shocked by the number of technical obstacles at Ray’s Indoor Bike Park in Milwaukee: dozens for novices, dozens for intermediates, dozens for experts. And the cool thing is that most of the obstacle lines that start out at a one level of difficulty end with a ‘safe’ next-level of difficulty. I say ‘safe’ because nothing bad is likely to happen if you don’t make it. For example, the skinnies might be too tough for your level of ability but they’re low to the ground so you go for it. This encourages riders to keep at it because you experience success at the start of an obstacle ‘line’ and maybe the middle but then you get a real challenge towards the end, all in a single attempt. Brilliant.
Ken Barker from Cedar Rapids, Iowa was there for the weekend with his son Will and buddy Adam Knutson. I first met Ken up at the Cuyuna Lakes MTB Trail System last summer when we both were riding over a big rock out in the middle of somewhere. As you can see from this 90-second video, Ken can do it all, even in his Sunday best sport coat and pigtail hat:
Ken and I figured out one way to ride the hamster wheel without putting your feet down: ride in fast and up as high as you can go without falling backwards; lock both brakes until the wheel starts to move, then pedal quarter turns with the same foot to keep the wheel moving; use your elbows against the hub and spokes as needed to keep your balance. Way fun. I’d like to be able to make it without any elbow dabs.
I saw one guy clean this skinny on Saturday but I didn’t get his name. Ken and I tried it dozens of times, only rarely making it past the highest part. I finally cleaned it once late in the day on Sunday. w00t!
On the far right of the Expert section are two lines constructed of rocks and logs. The left line is much skinnier, dips up and down, and is crooked and slippery. Ken and I tried it dozens of times, only rarely making it past the big stump on the left. Twice I made it to the last 3 feet (red arrow) but then fell off. Neither Ken or I ever made it but a guy from Iowa named TJ Davis (above right with his dad, Tom Davis) made it once. I guess I’ll have to go back.
IMBA and the two Ray’s Indoor Bike Park locations (Milwaukee and Cleveland) are teaming up to do a weekend advocacy event and membership drive this weekend. And I’m going to Milwaukee. Judging from the Facebook event page, it looks like 30+ from Minnesota are going. The blurb:
IMBA members will receive two days of riding for the price of one and they will also be eligible for prizes via a drawing. IMBA is also going to carve out a space for clubs to represent themselves. IMBA envisions a very simple get together with a space for folks to promote the work and trails that they have going and to get folks to mix and intermingle during our off season.
Here’s a decent video overview by Subaru (a sponsor) of Ray’s Milwaukee: