MN River Bottoms: adding to the technical heaven

With the warm weather closing Leb and Murphy, I decided to head back to the MN River Bottoms today and further explore the sandy trail along the river to get a better look at all the optional technical obstacles I saw last time. (I parked in the 35W lot at the end of Lyndale Ave. This seems to be the ideal lot because it provides easy access to three routes: two to the east, one to the west.)
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Within a few minutes east of the parking lot is this fun play area. It’s the only substantial hilly area along the trail. Plenty here to challenge, with steep ups and downs, tricky off-cambers, ledges to jump off, many roots, and deep sand.

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A few more minutes east is this simple but ingeniously placed set of logs. If you ride the length of the log first, you then have to make a quick left turn over the angled log.  Going the other way is much harder, because once you get over the angled log first, you have just over a bike length to wheelie up on the set of logs before riding the length of the log.   I tried many times but couldn’t clean it.

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Next is a huge downed tree. Stay close to the roots for the best lines… still tricky, as it’s not smooth, it’s angled, and you have to unweight. If you don’t stay on your line, it’s a steep drop. I went over the bars a few times till I got the hang of it. For a tougher challenge, take the trunk head-on from either side. I tried but couldn’t make it.

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Last week I had fun going over these two sets of logs and upright lot slices.  But they were a little too easy so today I added some additional challenges, all optional.

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I added two sets of small logs on the right side as you head west. They’re angled and the second set is followed by soft sand. Climb over the next set of logs again at an angle and then quickly get set up for the log slices.  Then turn around and come back the other way.

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I also made it possible for mere humans to cross the bridge of log slices from the sides by positioning an angled log slice on the trail side and some small logs on the other.

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Next along the trail is this big plank on a log. It’s pretty easy heading west (plank first) but much tougher to get up on the log first and then keep your balance on the plank the rest of the way.

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The car tire makes the plunge off this log less drastic.  I couldn’t get up going the other way, tho (car tire side first).

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On the other side of the trail from the car tire log is this log. It can be crossed over in two spots from either direction and it can be ridden lengthwise from the trail end.

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Left: It doesn’t look like anyone’s riding the length of this nearby log.  Traction on it is good but the tree in the middle is trouble and the ending quite steep. No cleans for me. Center: it looks easy to get up on this log but the drop-off on the other side looks formidable. I didn’t try it. Right: a log that’s straight as an arrow but round and skinny. Harder than it looks.

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This downed tree is a monster. Its trunk is as wide as a small sidewalk and if it was laying flat on the ground, it’d be a piece o’ cake. But it’s got to be 8 feet high at the apex and I don’t have the cojones to tackle it.  Maybe when I get a little older.

Next to Lebanon Hills, this is my favorite trail for technical riding… so far. I hope to be able to add more obstacles to it.


  1. Kevin g said:

    Ok…this is what I’m looking for…someone who breaks down the various obstacles and gives insight about how to and not to do them. I’m so new at this having just purchased my Mukluk a month ago. I’m just a roadie who is trying his best not to look too ‘fredish’ out there…but wow…I’ve fallen off my bike more in the last four weeks than I have in my entire life combined. But each time (except for one) I went down with a smile on my face and came up laughing.

    I’m so loving it out there. It’s unlike any riding I’ve ever done. I find myself thinking about being out there in ways that remind me of how I felt when I met my wife-to-be.

    Anyway, just stopping in to say hi and that my first impressions of your blog are good and just what I’m looking for. It’s been bookmarked!

    Kevin g

    January 12, 2012
  2. Griff Wigley said:

    Hey Kevin, glad you chimed in… and that you’re laughing with the crashing. I am, too. Wearing lots of protective gear makes that easier, tho, so your comment reminds me to do a blog post on what I wear.

    Your comment about finding “someone who breaks down the various obstacles and gives insight about how to and not to do them” makes me a little nervous, as I only started mountain biking last July. I expect that my thinking about what I want to do with this blog will evolve, but documenting my own learning seems to interest me. Whenever I blog about some skill, I plan to link to a source, ie, an expert coach.

    In the meantime, keep up with the goPro. I’m tempted to get one and when I do, it’ll be helpful to know someone who’s recently learned how to best use it and edit the footage.

    January 12, 2012

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