Category: <span>Video</span>

Expert section, Ray's Indoor Bike Park in Milwaukee Approach to the hamster wheel, Ray's Indoor Bike Park in Milwaukee Approach to the hamster wheel, Ray's Indoor Bike Park in Milwaukee Hamster wheel, Ray's Indoor Bike Park in Milwaukee
My Jan. 22 blog post, Technical sections at Ray’s Indoor Bike Park: ingeniously challenging, included a short paragraph about the hamster wheel in the Expert Section at Ray’s Indoor Bike Park in Milwaukee. My video in that blog post also showed Ken Barker from Cedar Rapids, Iowa riding the hamster wheel (starting at the 33 second mark).

Caleb Wendel Caleb Wendel at Ray's Indoor Bike Park, Milwaukee
I met Caleb Wendel, co-owner of The Bike Shop in Houghton, Michigan that weekend and yesterday, he alerted me that the video he took of me riding the hamster wheel was now up on Vimeo:


As I wrote earlier, 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.

Of course I’m now itching to go back to Ray’s at least one more time before they close for the season and I’ve been thinking about how else the hamster wheel could be ridden.  This video shows a Ray’s employee, Dave Barnett, riding the hamster wheel (some of it includes a helmet cam view).  It appears as though he’s not pedaling at all, once the wheel starts to move, but rather just throws his body weight forward a few times (starting at the 23-second mark):


I’d like to try that approach, regardless. I’d also like to figure how to ride the hamster wheel perfectly clean, ie, no shoulder or elbow dabs against the hub and spokes. It would seem like hopping the bike left and right as needed to keep balanced might be a way to do that, though doing that at a steep angle while pedaling half turns seems daunting. I’ll report back next time I go but if anyone has ideas or experiences to share, please attach a comment.

Here’s a short video clip on how NOT to ride the hamster wheel:


Learning to ride Video

Mammoth_Trail_MapI began contacting a few guys individually about the Mammoth trail in Chaska over a year ago. Much of the information about it on the MORC site had been removed, as it’s not a MORC trail and some portions of it go across private property. We saw some ‘no trespassing’ signs and in a few places, tree branches had been deliberately placed across the trail. Neither the Mammoth page on MTBR nor the Mammoth page on Singletracks provide much in the way of current information.

The common refrain I’d heard: go with someone who knows the trail the first time because they aren’t marked and it can be difficult to find your way around. The map (right) was emailed to me with the caveat:

That isn’t the most updated map but it will work. Unfortunately there is not an updated map available. Skull loop has been shortened due to loss of access to some private land and Tom Thumb Loop is slightly different than shown.

Griff Wigley and Graham Wigley  Graham Wigley, Washing Machine loop, Mammoth Trail The Washing Machine loop, Mammoth Trail 
So on Wednesday, I finally went with my son Graham who’s ridden there before. And we still got turned around a few times. It was a warm, humid day, occasionally drizzling – perfect for leisurely wandering the beautiful area—so getting a bit lost wasn’t a problem. And the Original Sin loop (AKA the ‘washing machine’ loop) was every bit as fun as I’d heard. Among the many challenging technical obstacles we encountered:

Griff Wigley, Mammoth Trail1. the half log skinny (right) which, as you’ll see in the first half of the video below, rolls from side to side.  And in the middle of the log there’s a narrow ridge that runs nearly the entire length. If you ride to the right or left of the ridge, the log flips you off.  You have to ride exactly in the center, on top of the ridge.

I made it on my 4th try.

big skinny, Mammoth Trail muddy tire
2. the long downed tree skinny that slopes downhill. It’s pretty fat and has all its bark so I was confident I could ride down its complete length and maybe even up.  On my first attempt I applied both brakes to scrub off my speed after about 20 feet and my rear wheel locked up and slid off. I noticed that my tires were partially packed with damp dirt, so I mentally reasoned, Move my weight back a little further for better rear wheel traction; less rear brake and more front brake. 

You may be wondering: Why brake at all on a skinny, especially one that you can roll down?  I find it helps my balance on a skinny to keep pedaling. So on a level or downhill skinny, I apply both brakes just enough to provide resistance to the pedaling.  And this downhill tree is steep enough that you’d pick up speed quickly, making a crash a little more scary with the numerous trees around it.  Plus, the tree narrows considerably as it forks to the left around a tree at the very end. That part would seem to require a slow, delicate touch.

Alas, I never got that far. My next attempt lasted all of 3 seconds and made me glad I had on all my body armor.  More front brake was exactly NOT what was needed, as my front wheel immediately slid off, though in retrospect, I may have just applied it a little too hard when my front wheel was at a slight angle.

As the drizzle began to turn to rain, I decided it would be prudent to call it a day and make plans for a return engagement.  I’ll stay on the Original Sin loop, however, as that loop doesn’t cross any private property.

See this 90-second video clip of my four attempts of the two obstacles:

Trails Video