A couple weeks ago, Duluth resident and COGGS (Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores) member Rudy O’Brien announced in the MORC forum that he was organizing an enduro-style group ride for June 23rd. "We will be riding a handful of gravity trails in Duluth." I had to be in Duluth last week for a work-related conference so the timing was perfect. I’d never ridden an enduro or on any gravity trails so I was psyched for it.
When the record flooding hit the Duluth area on Tuesday/Wednesday, it wasn’t clear whether we’d be able to ride. So Rudy, Dave Cizmas and I did a pre-ride on Friday afternoon to check things out. Yes, there were lots of washouts but there plenty of ways to get around them. We came upon a couple of other riders who were out exploring and we had a blast rolling down the big rocks which were dry and grippy. Game on for Saturday.
We rode areas near Duluth’s Cody Inn which was featured in many flood-related news stories. We got to see a group of guys cut the back section of the inn loose and watch it tumble into the chasm.
Saturday morning’s soaking rains stopped by 10:30 so off we went. Left photo: Chance Glasford, Dave Cizmas, Cory Vierck, Rudy O’Brien, Spencer Johnson, Andy Kienitz, AJ Peterson.
Right photo: a gigantic washout of a road near Spirit Mountain: same gang, plus John Morrison who joined us mid-ride.
With the morning rain, the big rocks were slippery. Ones like these that were relatively a piece ‘o cake on Friday were treacherous. Still way fun, but braking was a more delicate affair.
The knees of AJ Peterson and John Morrison got kissed by the rocks, as did the tires of Andy Kienitz and Cory Vierck. Otherwise, equipment checks and adjustments were the order of the day, along with:
Mud-splattered faces. After this break, we headed west of Spirit Mountain where we hiked our bikes (15-20 minutes for each) up a couple of very steep and gnarly rock trails and then blasted down them. Well, I didn’t exactly blast down. With a hardtail 29’er, I learned why these guys ride full-suspension bikes on these super-technical downhills. Still, it was amazing fun for me.
We had about ten-mile ride back to Rudy’s house, going downhill to Hwy 23, past the devastated Lake Superior Zoo, then a long climb through the streets of West Duluth up to to Skyline Parkway and to our starting point (above right photo).
While we gorged ourselves on brats and beer, Rudy treated us to bike trials demo in his backyard. I’m going to learn how to do these stunts when I get a little older.
Chance Glasford has a much more detailed blog post on the event and the terrain we rode. Example:
The first trail was short but it had a couple sweet technical moves. There was a three tiered drop/step down and if you didn’t pick the right line you were almost guaranteed to go over the bars.
Spencer learned this first hand as his fork bottomed out, his weight shifted forward as he dismounted superman style over the bars into a very graceful roll!
I can’t wait for the next edition of Rudy O’Brien’s North Shore Enduro Tour.