Tag: Heartland Kitchen Cafe

I spent a few days with some buddies at a cabin near Lutsen over the weekend. We hiked the state park trails at Temperance and Cascade but I brought my 29’er in case any of the COGGS mountain bike trails around Duluth opened up/dried out in time for my drive back home to Northfield. Alas, no such luck. The trails were all too soft yet because of the late-season heavy snowfall and cold temps.

Northfielders Todd Orjala, Ken Drivdahl, Steve Schmidt at CuyunaI was going to head back home to ride the metro-area MORC trails but torrential rains there closed all the trails that had just opened up a week ago.  So I sent a text to CLMTB Crew president Aaron Hautala in hopes that Cuyuna Lakes would be open. YES!  They had heavy rain overnight but the trails dried out quickly and were tacky fast.

I got there by 3:30 on Saturday and promptly ran into fellow Northfielders Todd Orjala, Ken Drivdahl, and Steve Schmidt.  After riding all the trails in the Mahnomen Unit (see inset B on the DNR map), I pooped out by dark and was planning to make the drive home but got rescued by CLMTB Crew member John Schaubach who offered me dinner at his cabin and a place to pitch my sleeping bag for the night. YES!

John Schaubach with a section of Cuyuna Gold Cuyuna Gold placed on top of clay clay trail
John and I went for an early Sunday morning ride in the Yawkey Unit. He showed me how the CLMTB Crew had painstakingly spread a layer of Cuyuna’s red dirt/gravel mix on top of many sections of the trails that were primarily clay.  John said that they refer to this mixture as ‘Cuyuna Gold’ because of its ability to harden the surface of a trail while still providing good traction. It’s amazing the amount of work that’s gone into doing this and what a difference it makes, especially after it’s rained. Props to Cuyuna Dirt Boss Nick Statz, Yawkey Unit  Dirt  Boss Dave Taylor, and their team of CLMTB Crew volunteers for working with the DNR to make this happen.

Heartland Kitchen and Cafe, Crosby MN Jim and Maureen Christopher, Heartland Kitchen & Cafe, Crosby, MN Sunday buffet, Heartland Kitchen & Cafe, Crosby, MNg Sunday buffet, Heartland Kitchen & Cafe, Crosby, MNg

Sunday buffet, Heartland Kitchen & Cafe, Crosby, MNg Sunday buffet, Heartland Kitchen & Cafe, Crosby, MNg Sunday buffet, Heartland Kitchen & Cafe, Crosby, MNg Maureen Christopher and John Schaubach, Crosby, MN
The rain ended our ride at 9 am so we promptly headed to the Heartland Kitchen & Café in Crosby for their stunning Sunday buffet.  I’d blogged photos of proprietor Maureen Christopher before but this was the first time I’d met her sweetie, Jim Christopher, who was the beauty on duty for the buffet. After two hours of gorging ourselves, John and I staggered out and I departed for home, sated and grateful for yet another Cuyuna weekend.

Businesses Trails

bridge on the Switchback trail, CuyunaI pitched my tent in the Portsmouth Campground in the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area at about 8 pm last night. I’m here for the 2nd Annual Cuyuna Lakes MTB Fest on Saturday but came up early for IMBA’s Great Lakes Summit, too.

There was just enough daylight left to get a ride in on some of the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails, so I took Switchback from the campground over to the Mahnomen Unit and rode Crusher, Miner’s Mountain, Chute, Ferrous Wheel, Trammer, and Rocky Flats.

Early this morning, I took Drag Line from Portsmouth over to the Yawkey Unit, riding Man High Hill and Haul Road on the way and then Bobsled a couple of times.

Cool discovery #1: I had assumed both Switchback and Drag Line were just plain old connecting trails. Wrong. They’re both hugely fun intermediate level trails. Lots of rollers and a surprising number of berms for  two-way trails.  Non-stop pleasure riding, both directions.

Cool discovery #2: I took it a little easy on all the trails, as I was by myself, but it was so much more fun riding these trails than last year, I couldn’t stop grinning. Why? I’m in better shape, of course. But my skills are better, due mainly to A) what I learned about braking, turning, and ‘the attack’ position at the Leaders’ Summit skills class; and B) spending about an hour at Eagan’s Lexington Pump & Jump Park where I learned (thanks to Chance Glasford), how to pump, ie, accelerate without pedaling.

Andy Williamson, Aaron Rogers, Hansi Johnson, Maureen Heartland Kitchen Café Heartland Kitchen Café
By 8 am this morning I was starving so I headed over to the Heartland Kitchen & Café, my favorite breakfast spot in Crosby. I lucked out, as some of the IMBA guys were there: Hansi Johnson, Midwest Regional Director;  Andy Williamson, Great Lakes Region Director; and Aaron Rogers, Trail Specialist.

I coaxed the café’s proprietor, Maureen Christopher, into posing with them for a photo, since Maureen is such a fan of the mountain bikers who’ve helped her business thrive since the park opened last summer.

Learning to ride Trails

My first-ever mountain bike race, the Sagamore SnowXross Race at the 2012 Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout, started out well for the 15 of in the Beginners Class.  After about 50 yards across the parking lot, however, soft snow created a big pileup and I soon learned firsthand what the phrase hike-a-bike meant. As Aaron Hautala wrote in this blog post:

XC race, Beginner class start, photo by Aaron HautalaEarly into the Sagamore SnowXross Race it was obvious it needed a new name.

The IRONYETI.

The snow pack turned into champagne crystal powder overnight with the dramatic drop in temperature from Friday night, which made the race course a bit more challenging than we originally intended.

After about two miles of pushing the Mukluk, I lowered my rear tire pressure from about 4 PSI to near zero—I could feel the rim by pressing the tire hard with my hand. Much better traction.  Another mile and it occurred to me to do the same to the front tire. Better yet.

Last discovery at about mile 4: I quit trying to always ride in the narrow tire ruts made by other riders.  The amount of energy required to keep my balance while riding a rut wasn’t worth it, speed-wise. Instead, I could often go faster (especially when the terrain was flat or downhill) if I rode where riders had been walking.  The low tire pressure usually gave me enough grip to get through the footprints if they weren’t too deep.  Still, I estimate that I pushed my bike for 3 of the 6 miles. Uff-da. I finished in just under two hours.  I’ve not yet seen the results posted but the top three riders (Beginners Class) finished in approximately 1 hr and 35 minutes. I’ll post a link to the results at the bottom of this blog post when they become available.)

Whiteout Festival activities in Crosby's Memorial Park Whiteout Festival activities in Crosby's Memorial Park Serpent Lake Ice Bike 500 races
After lunch at the Heartland Kitchen Cafe, I took in some of the Whiteout Festival activities in Crosby’s Memorial Park. I didn’t compete in the Serpent Lake Ice Bike 500 races (I didn’t have studded tires) but instead, opted for some solo fat bike riding in the Yawkey Unit.

  Haul Road trail, Yawkey Unit  Haul Road trail, Yawkey Unit Tugger trail, Yawkey Unit
Unlike Friday night, the Haul Road trail to the parking lot in the center of Yawkey was mostly packed down, sometimes to a width of 12 inches or more (left and center photos above). This makes for splendid riding. 

I then rode Tugger, normally an intermediate difficulty trail that’s at the base of Bobsled (see the inset on page 2 of this DNR map of the park). It’s a gorgeous trail but like Friday night, riding it was very difficult because there was only a single rut from the few previous riders.  I took it easy and just enjoyed the scenery.

Ya Betcha Bar & Grill in Crosby Aaron Hautala Amanda Scholz Women racers Cuyuna dirt boss and race director Nick Statz Yours truly with Whiteout beanie and stein
At 5 pm, everyone convened at the Ya Betcha Bar & Grill in Crosby for free appetizers, drawings for prizes, and the awards ceremony hosted by MORC Board member and Events Director Amanda Scholz. The event swag (beanie and stein) was impressive.

See the large slideshow of 50 photos of the entire two-day event (recommended) or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:

Competition Events Photo album Trails