Can you tell that a certain someone was out of town?
Tag: Elm Creek Park
I had coffee at the Peoples Organic Café in Minnetonka yesterday morning with John Gunyou, Board Chair and District 4 Representative of Three Rivers Park District (3RPD). I got to know John back in the late 90s when he was head of the Office of Technology for the State of MN. Since two of 3RPD’s parks offer mountain biking (Murphy-Hanrehan and Elm Creek) and since John is a newly elected commissioner, I figured it might be a good time to catch up with him and talk mountain biking.
He completely failed my test questions (‘What is a flow trail?’ and ‘What is a pump track?’). He’s a bicyclist but not a mountain biker so I suppose I’ll eventually forgive him for that. I told him my stories on how I came to learn about both in the past two years. I also alerted him to some of the cool MTB-related activities that have been happening at Murphy (eg. nocturnal mountain bike racing) and Elm Creek (eg. off-road handcycling) recently.
Among John’s many stints on boards and commissions (see his bio page), he has served on the MN DNR’s Parks and Trails Legacy Funding Group. MN mountain bikers are benefitting from Legacy money (eg. Duluth Traverse, $250,000).
John’s quoted in a front page story in the Strib this morning, Chance to enhance Twin Cities parks clashes with cash crunch.
In much more populous areas closer to the heart of the metro area, meanwhile, the pressing need is to expensively re-engineer built-up areas for trails demanded by an aging population eager to bike and walk close to home. John Gunyou, who chairs the Three Rivers parks commission, covering suburban Hennepin and Scott, speaks of “shifting our organization from parks to trails, meeting needs a different way. There’s a huge increase in the use of our trails because of people like me, getting older, but still wanting to bike and jog.”
This is another reason to get him on one or both of the Murphy and Elm Creek beginner MTB trails this year. I want him to see how geezers like us can enjoy these trails, not just paved trails.
Lori Reed and Jesse Livingston, the current members of the Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew, came to the Twin Cities last Friday at MORC‘s invitation for a weekend of their education program on sustainable mountain bike trail building practices. I caught up with them for a bit of socializing on Friday night at Dick’s Bar & Grill in Osseo after their session in Monticello with some metro area land managers. L to R in photo above: Elm Creek Singletrack Dirt Boss C.J. Smith, Jesse Livingston, Lori Reed, Elm Creek Dirt Boss and MORC board member Jay Thompson, and MORC president Reed Smidt.
They did their one-day IMBA Trail Building School on Saturday for a couple dozen MORC members. The 3-hour classroom session in the morning focuses on:
- Trail building theory
- Essential elements of sustainable trails
- Designing a trail
- Constructing the trail
- Rerouting and reclaiming trails
- Advanced trail construction techniques
Since I started mountain biking in 2011, I’ve showed up to help a bit on a few local trail work sessions (2013 sessions here, here, here, and here) but I’ve been mainly a clueless laborer who retreated behind a camera whenever I got tired. I took this IMBA Trail Building School because I wanted to have at least a beginning understanding of the art and science involved. As a newbie, I came away very pleased with the experience. I thought their rapid-fire presentation in morning session was well done: lots of photos and videos, a few quizzes, hands-on with a clinometer, and thankfully, no Powerpoint slides of deadly text-only bullet points.
The afternoon field session was held at the Bertram Lakes Singletrack near Monticello. After a quick demo by Jesse, we divided up into 3 teams of 8, each led by a MORC dirt boss (my team was headed up by Jeff Leech). It was very helpful to have the hands-on experience and coaching. I don’t know how many feet of trail the crews created but I think we more than marginally adequate as we finished early.
On Sunday morning, a group of us did a group ride with Lori and Jesse at Elm Creek Singletrack led by local Dirt Boss C.J. Smith. ‘Twas a fast, flowy ride on a gorgeous autumn-like day and a fitting send-off.
You can follow Lori and Jesse on their IMBA Trail Care Crew blog (they have a blog post up about the weekend titled They Still Got It), their @Subaru_IMBA_TCC Twitter feed, and their IMBA Trail Care Crew Facebook page.
See my album of 40+ photos (large slideshow, recommended) or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:
This is the story of what Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists (MORC)/IMBA member Rhett Williams did to rally the troops last week for the Bell Built mountain bike trail-building grants competition. (See my earlier blog post Vote Midwest in the Bell Built mountain bike trail building grants competition for more details on the contest.)
A couple weeks ago, it occurred to me that organizing get-out-the-vote parties might be another way to inspire Midwest mountain bikers to get their non-mountain biking friends and family to vote. The idea was to replicate what get-out-the-vote organizers do when D-Day approaches and the hard/tedious work of stuffing envelopes, making phone calls, and sending emails has to be done: 1) They get the volunteers together in one room and make it a fun and social event; and 2) They urge the volunteers to make one-to-one contact with potential voters.
I pitched the idea privately to some local mountain bike leaders and advocates and got encouragement to go for it. I put together this video/screencast that explained the idea and with the help of IMBA Midwest Regional Director Hansi Johnson, emailed a link to it to IMBA club/chapter leaders in the Midwest:
I got a small team of people to volunteer to help me but when everyone got so busy with their other duties, I had to concede that the idea was too much and too late. MORC board member Jay Thompson asked me to create a how-to-vote video (YouTube link here) but basically, I gave up.
But then last Monday I saw this comment by Rhett Williams in the MORC forum message thread about the Bell Built competition. Rhett wrote:
Copper Harbor Trails is hosting a voting party…. Griff they found out your idea
Sure enough, Lori Hauswirth and friends from the Copper Harbor Trails Club hosted a get-out-the-vote party in Houghton, MI on Wednesday night.
When I posted a couple of photos from the event in the MORC forum, Rhett wrote:
The only places i can think of up here that would be good meeting places are, bike shops, the legion, bars in anoka or an ice arena meeting room… but the ice arena costs money
Although i work at the coon rapids ice arena and we have a few rooms we could use. I work tomorrow and can call today and ask if i could get a deal or just use the rooms if people will come.
well ask a bike shop or a coffee shop or the legion and make it happen Rhett! time is a ticking!
If i can, my arena has wifi and coffee, get a room, i need to know that people will come. I can have tables chairs wifi coffee. If MORC reserves the room (if i cant get it with a deal) will be either $25 or $40 if you want both party rooms. It would be ideal to have at least 5 people to show up, and i will stop by and help when im on my break. I need to know asap if we are going to use this venue. I dont know of a big enough place with wifi around here.
Rhett, probably the best thing to do is what Copper Harbor did: create a Facebook event on the Elm Creek Facebook page with the time/date/venue info and then start alerting everyone to that event so that they can indicate ‘going – maybe – no.’ (You have to be an admin of the page to do that.) Then the admins who run the MORC and other Twin Cities’ area MTB pages can promo the event on their FB walls. I think a coffeehouse or pub would be best because then there’s a stronger socializing element, whereas ‘come to the conference room at the arena’ isn’t quite as compelling. But at this late date, whatever works!
Im just trying to think of places where theres wifi and that are social… we dont have much up her like this… look at maple grove for somewhere to meet. If no one finds anywhere let me know. Should i make a facebook event and make you guys admins so we can change times and places…. mike loerzel said if we get a room he could bring subway to help make it a party
do what you have to do! Griff can you help Rhett out at all with this?
Thanks chance, any help will help, im at school til 830 tonight. I will set things up online, if we dont have a place by 7-8 tonight i think i can still set up a room… we arent that busy tomorrow i think so we will have room and time to do all this
see if they will donate the room since it is for a non-profit organization and if it is not being used it should be a big deal. definitely put it on blast whatever you are doing…. time place and all that f/b group would be good
Yea i think i can get the room and i can provide some drinks (non alcohol) and if people bring some food or snacks i also can do popcorn…. bring laptops and ill get it set up if we get a good amount of people… i know of 3 so far
make the facebook page and get it out there i will put it up on all the pages I manage
Alright i will at 4 once my class is done, then post it on everything and make guys admins. I got a room no charge… i need times now
Rhett, I just spoke with Jay Thompson who’s the admin of the Elm Creek Facebook page. He’s going to make me an admin so I’ll create the event page for this. Can you phone/text me asap at 507-319-5541?
[and then an hour later:] Okay, after a flurry of text and Facebook messages with Rhett Williams and Jay Thompson, we’re set: Dunn Bros Provision Bakery Cafe in Anoka tomorrow night, 6-9 pm/ Let us know if you can come via the event page.
And on Friday night, we gathered. See the large slideshow of a dozen photos (recommended) or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:
I’ve also uploaded these photos to an album on the Elm Creek Singletrack Facebook page where I’ve tagged faces and added some descriptive text.
Did the effort help? Earlier in the evening, we were behind Colorado’s Bear River Bike Park in the voting by 1%. By the end, we were tied at 39% each. We like to think we made a difference but of course, there’s no way to know.
Are there lessons to be learned? Maybe.
- In this age of social media, photos of bike advocates in action do matter. The photos of the Copper Harbor crew’s party were definitely an inspiration.
- Leadership doesn’t come only from leaders. 18-year old Rhett Williams saw a need and took charge.
- Online networks can facilitate organizing in ways that are otherwise difficult to do. This would not have happened without the MORC forum and Facebook.
- The hard work of advocacy can be both satisfying and fun. If Elm Creek Bike Park doesn’t win next week, we can still savor the week’s experience. And if it does win, I have a hunch that another party will be in the works.
Bell Helmets is providing $100,000 to fund three, mountain bike trail projects, one each in the categories of bike park/pump track, flow trail and downhill/gravity trail. Out of the 12 selected as finalists, the public will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite project in each category on Bell’s Facebook page, beginning March 5.
Pump tracks/bike parks
- Elm Creek Bike Park: Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists, Maple Grove, MN
- Hobbs Hollow Flow Trail: Hoosier Mountain Biking Association, Brown County, IN
- Overflow Trail: Copper Harbor Trails Club, Copper Harbor, MI
The big push here in the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes regions has been to vote for all three Midwest parks (you can only vote once in each category). The deadline is this Friday, April 12.
Last weekend, Aaron Rogers and Lori Hauswirth from the Copper Harbor Trails Club had a booth at Wheel & Sprocket’s Bike Expo Sale in Milwaukee where they cajoled passersby into logging into their Facebook accounts to vote. Very cool.
I’ve been doing a little work behind the scenes on this because A) Elm Creek is in the Twin Cities, about an hour away my hometown of Northfield; B) I’m a member of MORC; C) my riding ability has improved immensely because of the Eagan pump track so having more bike parks around is great for the sport; and D) I expect to be making frequent trips to Copper Harbor to take advantage of their downhill trails.
Because the Bell Built Facebook voting process can be a little cumbersome, I created this 3-minute how-to video/screencast:
So don’t delay. Vote now for:
- Elm Creek Bike Park/Maple Grove, MN in the Pump Track Category
- Overflow Trail/Copper Harbor, MI in the Downhill Category
- Hobbs Hollow/Brown County, IN in the Flow Trail category
We Midwest / Great Lakes mountain bikers would appreciate it.
And now that I’ve blogged about this, I’m going to nag, harass, and bother my non-mountain bike Facebook friends into voting. My message:
As you probably know, I’ve fallen in love with mountain biking the past two years. (You can read more than you’ll ever want to know on my blog, Mountain Bike Geezer.)
Right now, three Midwest mountain bike trails have a great opportunity to win a large grant from the Bell Helmet company. Most area mountain bikers on Facebook have already voted but because you can only vote once, it is critical to get our non-mountain biking Facebook friends to vote. Which is why I’m harassing you!
Step 1 (optional): See my short YouTube video on how to vote.
Step 2: Go to the Bell Built Facebook page and vote for:
* Elm Creek Bike Park/Maple Grove, MN in the Pump Track Category
* Overflow Trail/Copper Harbor, MI in the Downhill Category
* Hobbs Hollow/Brown County, IN in the Flow Trail category
If you vote, come on back here and ‘like’ this post and I’ll find a way to thank you.
Two weeks ago I rode the trails at Elm Creek Park for the first time. It’s a new trail (June 2011) and relatively long (13+ miles). I think it’s the most picturesque park in the Twin Cities that I’ve ridden thus far.
The MORC review describes the character of its trails well:
At Elm Creek, you’ll ride through a variety of terrain from mature wooded tracks to open prairie areas . Flowing trails with small bumps and rises (designed to keep water off the trail) make sections of this trail feel like a pump track.
When I bring beginning and intermediate riders to Salem Hills and they ask me where they should go next, I’ll strongly recommend this park.
While Elm Creek is about 90 minutes from Northfield, it’s very close to Hillside Park in Elk River. So a day trip that consisted of a few hours at each park would be saaaaaweeet.
See the large slideshow (recommended) of 11 photos of the technical obstacles (taken with my Android’s crappy camera), or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow: