The day I rediscovered mountain biking also happened to be the day I met John Gaddo (AKA ‘El Gato’). It was the grand opening weekend of the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails back in June of 2011 and he was chauffeuring Hans “No way” Rey around, one of his many duties as a QBP staffer. I happened to be at a Crosby, MN pub when he and Hans came in for beers and dinner with Gary Sjoquist, Advocacy Director for QBP and Jeff Verink, sales rep with GT Bicycles. John told me he grew up in my hometown of Northfield, was into bicycle trials, and we’ve been colleagues ever since.
Tag: <span>John Gaddo</span>
In the past month or so, I’ve managed to go riding with guys 25-40 years younger than me. Yeah, that’s a bit of bragging as they’re all very good riders and I’m able to more or less keep up with them, which makes me feel younger.
But putting that ego stuff aside, it’s one of the things I really like about mountain biking as a geezer: I get to meet and participate in a recreational activity with a younger crowd that I don’t normally have much contact with.
Update October 28: I’ve added several more riders, with photos and videos. The list now includes AJ Peterson, Chris Knight, David Starrs, John Gaddo, Manny Paulino, Marty Larson, Michael Guinee, and Miguel Masberg.
According to this post on Facebook, employees at QBP “spent weeks turning this year’s copious snow into a fat bike demo course” for their annual Frostbike dealer show at their headquarters in Bloomington. (I was there yesterday, doing board member booth duty at the MORC booth.)
I don’t know for certain, but I’d bet that John Gaddo was the instigator, designer, and chief test rider. (I stole the above left photo from his Facebook profile.)
Last Thursday and Friday, I attended the IMBA Midwest Fat Bike Access & Grooming Workshop in Cable WI, a gathering of practitioners devoted to improving off-road cycling and fat biking in winter.
The event was sponsored by QBP and hosted by Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists (MORC), International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), and the Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA).
Following a late Thursday afternoon/evening fat bike ride by approximately 15- 20 riders on the newly groomed Esker trail in the CAMBA trail system’s Cable cluster, participants gathered for the opening reception at the Lakewoods Resort. QBP’s John Gaddo showed Cold Rolled, the documentary by Clear & Cold Cinema featuring the 15-mile winter singletrack Snow Bike Route (SBR) that’s part of the Noquemanon Trails Network in Marquette, Michigan.
No, I’m not referring to the big cottonwood that crosses 9 Mile Creek in the MN River Bottoms that I wrote about back in September.
Rather, there’s a downed tree just a few feet from it on the east bank that makes for a much more difficult skinny. Wall of Death competition winner Heath Weisbrod alerted me to it last week saying that he’d cleaned it, so I tried it on Sunday morning.
As you’ll see in the video below, my first attempts went nowhere. So I thought the problem might be that the bark on top was crumbling so I pulled it off. Look closely at the photo of the log. Unfortunately, I made problem worse (again), as it exposed some moist spots that were underneath the bark. I tried it anyway and landed flat on my back. I told Heath about my misadventure and said that John Gaddo’s rule is that you have to clean an obstacle three times before you can ‘claim’ it and optionally name it. He wrote:
I cleared it 3 times totally clean. Once at night Thursday and twice more on Sunday. 3 and done! "Sqrl Log." I have witnesses both days. I was there until just before 11:00am Sunday.
I even got it one more time Thursday night (my first attempt) but reached out to the tree for stall then finished. So I’m not counting it.
Why ‘Sqrl Log’ for the name? Heath’s username in the MORC forum is RedSquirrel.
Here’s my 19 seconds of fail:
Former Northfielder John Gaddo posted this photo on his Facebook wall last week with the caption: Use your imagination.
Yes, he cleaned it on his trials fat bike and innocently asked, "Hey Griff, have you done this one yet?"
I replied, "John, I usually just ride my Mary Poppins hybrid bike around Northfield (sans helmet) so no, I’ve not tried this railing on the 2nd St. bridge. But now I guess I’ll have to."
I gave it a go early Sunday morning. Bad idea, as the iron rail was wet from dew and thus, very slippery. I made it half way or so on my 4th try but subsequent crashes took their toll, despite the body armor I was wearing.
Here’s my 40-second video.
Last June I attended my first regional IMBA Summit, held in Crosby, MN near the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trail System. It was titled the 2nd Annual Great Lakes Summit.
This year, it was titled the IMBA Upper Midwest Regional Summit and it was hosted in Cable, WI, in the middle of the Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA)’s off-road bike trail system.
After the IMBA Upper Midwest Regional Leadership Advisory Council meeting on Friday afternoon (I didn’t attend), a group of us got in a 10-mile ride on CAMBA’s Seeley Pass Trail from the HWY 00 Trail Head. I was indeed “superb rolling, flowy singletrack.” We then made our way to the Sawmill Saloon in Seeley for refreshments and dinner and where I got a chance to chat with a couple of fellow geezers that I’d met briefly on the ride, CAMBA’s Executive Director Ron Bergin and longtime CAMBA trail coordinator/volunteer Steve Morales.
IMBA’s Midwest Regional Director Hansi Johnson opened the Summit on Saturday morning at the Cable Community Centre, thanking the 35+ attendees for coming and citing examples of regional cooperation in the past year (e.g., teaming up on get-out-the-vote efforts for the Bell-Built Grant competition).
Representatives of the Upper Midwest IMBA chapters at the Summit (there are over 20) then each gave short summaries of their chapter’s activities and accomplishments in the past year, as well as their plans for the upcoming year. In a follow-up email, MORC Board Secretary Susannah King captured my sentiments:
It was helpful to see so many other clubs working toward a common goal, dealing with similar (and different) successes and challenges that we do.
IMBA Director of Public Affairs Jeremy Fancher (with support from colleague Aaron M. Smith) presented on the legal ins and outs of IMBA Chapters having MOU’s, partnership agreements, contracts, etc. with land managers/owners. Several Chapter board members I talked to afterwards seemed grateful, worried, and motivated to roll up their sleeves upon returning home to delve deeper into their land manager agreements and do what needs to be done to make them better.
John Gaddo from QBP gave an overview of the rapidly growing fat bike market (expected to double in the next two years). In the Western US, there’s a push with land managers to allow fat bikes to share the use of cross country ski and snowmobile trails for touring-type riding in the winter. But here in the Midwest, he felt it’s far better for Chapters to focusing on grooming some of their singletrack for both fat bikes and regular mountain bikes; hence, a good chunk of his presentation was about the variety of snow grooming techniques and equipment being used in the area. Reed Smidt, president of MORC, gave details on their grooming experiences in the past few years.
The session on fundraising featured Adam Sundberg and Kit Grayson from COGGS and Lori Hauswirth and Aaron Rogers from the Copper Harbor Trails Club.
COGGS has learned 1) how to leverage small grants into a series of ever-larger grants; and 2) that face-to-face, ongoing contact with the grantee organization is critically important, ie, it’s not enough to just submit the application. They’ve also learned that 1) its annual Gala allows them to reach out to a segment of the Duluth population that doesn’t mountain bike but who believes in its importance to the area. Attendees include community leaders and the more financially well-off; 2) it’s best to have auction items have wide appeal rather than being mtb-related (eg, vacation packages, restaurant deals, etc); and 3) the committee in charge of the Gala works on it for the entire year.
Copper Harbor has learned 1) how to scale the value of its sponsorships from local business owners; and 2) how to conduct a raffle with large ticket items (2013 raffle: $6,000 camping trailer, $4,400 Trek, etc).
IMBA Mapping Specialist Leslie Kehmeier presented on their new partnership with MTB Project which this IMBA page describes as
a next-generation mountain bike guide and trail map web site. This robust platform for online mapping displays the known trails in any given area, complete with elevation profiles, full GPS routes, photos, detailed ride info and more.
They’ve just added a feature that I think will create an incentive for Chapters to participate/contribute: once a trail has been mapped, embed code for it can be put on a Chapter’s own website. The quality of the mapping is not something that a Chapter could easily do on its own, so this a pretty big deal IMHO.
Leslie blogs about the project at IMBA.com. See all the IMBA blog posts in the Mapping Category, including her recent blog post, Understanding “rides and trails” on MTBproject.com:
If you’ve visited the MTB Project website you may have noticed two categories: “rides” and “trails.” Some have wondered what the difference might be — one doesn’t exist without the other, right?
CAMBA Executive Director Ron Bergin led the group ride after the Summit was over. I took one photo as riders were getting ready to depart but the vicious mosquitoes created a strong incentive to keep it in my hydration pack thereafter. His description of the new (built last summer) cross country flow trail:
5 miles of fast riding, open & flowing with dozens of bermed turns plus two super-fun gravity features and a 180-foot log ride. Start from our newest trailhead on Camp 38 Rd. – so new there are hardly any signs yet.
I found some photos of this new trail in the CAMBA Trails Flickr group including the two above by Scott Anderson of that 180-foot log skinny (which can be ridden backwards) and the roller coaster Gravity Cavity section (which can be ridden repeatedly in a loop). These two photos are small thumbnail-sized screenshots that are linked to Scott’s originals. Be sure to click through to see them. After Saturday’s ride, we gathered for refreshments and stone oven pizza at the Rivers Eatery in Cable.
On Sunday, some did the 27-mile Rock Lake IMBA Epic ride and others, including me, just the 12-mile Rock Lake trail (click here to see the difference between a ‘ride’ and a ‘trail’). Most notable for me was 1) the steep rocky downhill section called Wall Street; and 2) the No Hands Bridge (I used both hands and road the angled cut board). The above right photo is from this blog post about the entire Rock Lake trail by someone named rlove2bike.
Here’s the information and live MTBProject.com map (using their embed code) for the Rock Lake Trail:
All in all, ’twas a memorable weekend of great weather, good information, tasty food, excellent microbrews, and exhilarating riding, all stitched together with friends new and old. Saaaaaweeeet.
Freewheel Bike held their 2nd annual Winter Bike Expo ("the world headquarters of winter riding fanatics") yesterday at their Midtown Bike Center. The fat bikes were everywhere (Surly and Salsa each had a big presence) and since I’m doing some work on the 2nd Annual Fat Bike Winter Summit & Festival coming up in January, the Expo gave me a picture of how much enthusiasm there is here in Minnesota for fat biking.
I hadn’t planned on going but on Friday night, I had dinner with Aaron Hautala, president of the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew and while I was under the influence, he influenced me to go. I got to chew the fat (heh) again with former Northfielder John Gaddo, Outside Sales Rep at QBP (Quality Bicycle Products). He introduced me to Joe Meiser, Q’s Product Design Manager who, just a few days ago, had sent me all his photos from the 1st Annual Fat Bike Summit for posting on the site. I also got to talk fat bike advocacy with IMBA Midwest Regional Director Hansi Johnson.
I took a photo of Hansi and Aaron, two guys who, unlike me, actually know what they’re doing with a camera. (See some of Aaron’s photos on his Sweet Cuyuna Living’ blog; see some of Hansi’s photos on his Universal Klister blog.) Alas, I was laughing when I took their photo and ended up with a very blurry image. So I’ve covered up my mistake with a stylized version of it. My choice of red was influenced by red accent that Aaron has used all over his Cuyuna Series G Surly Moonlander, which he had just outfitted with monster 4.8" Bud and Lou tires from Surly, complete with red valve stem caps.
See my large slideshow of 56 photos (recommended) or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:
Rule #12 of the Velominati’s The Rules, is:
The correct number of bikes to own is n+1.
While the minimum number of bikes one should own is three, the correct number is
nis the number of bikes currently owned. This equation may also be re-written as
sis the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your partner.
I just have one bike, not counting my trials motorcycle which I’m planning to sell Real Soon Now so as to help me with the
s factor in the above equation. I’m not yet shopping but I am ruminating.
Having ridden mototrials for years, I’m naturally interested in a trials bicycle. Living in Minnesota, I’m naturally interested in a fat bike for winter riding.
But after my experience of enduro riding in Duluth in June, I’m now really interested in the gravity-related categories of mountain biking, especially since I have two places within 35 minutes to practice jumps (Lexington Ave. Pump and Jump Park and Lebanon Hills), and a couple of downhill runs 45 minutes away at the Memorial Trail system in Red Wing.
So with gravity weighing on my mind, I went to the Salsa Cycles demo last night at the Carver Lake Off-road Cycling Trail in Woodbury.
QBP Outside Sales Reps for the Upper Midwest, John Gaddo and Paul Lehrer, fixed me up to demo a Salsa Horsethief which the promo lit says:
… is our full-suspension 29’er trail bike, designed for all-day riding on rugged terrain. A very capable climber, Horsethief does have a slight bias toward descending, letting you enjoy the fruits of your uphill labor. By designing the bike for use with a shorter than normal stem, the body is positioned better for aggressive riding.
I knew there wouldn’t be any rugged downhill terrain at Carver so I was content to test it on the rock gardens and skinnies. Never having ridden a full-suspension bike before, I was wondering if the Horsethief would allow me to do what I can do with my X-Caliber hardtail on the tougher technical stuff. It handled it easily. And I did notice that I could ride a lot faster through the rock gardens, rather than picking my way slowly, trials-style. Cool. Would the Horsethief be enough to handle the downhill runs at the Copper Harbor Ride Center and similar parks? I suspect so.
Fellow Rice County residents were well-represented at the event, including the gang from Milltown Cycles in Faribault and some of their regular customers. Left photo: Logan Macrae, Mark Witt, Curtis Ness. Right photo: Owen Mibus, Ben Witt, Myrna Mibus. Not shown: Jim Fisher and his daughter Amy.
Robbie and I attended the world premiere of Reveal the Path at the Riverview Theater in Minneapolis last night, along with a few hundred other bike nuts:
A visually stunning adventure by bike: Reveal the Path explores the world’s playgrounds in Europe’s snow capped mountains, Scotland’s lush valleys, Alaska’s rugged coastal beaches and Morocco’s high desert landscapes…
Filmed across four continents and featuring Tour Divide race legends, Matthew Lee & Kurt Refsnider, this immersive film is sure to ignite the dream in you.
Luminaries from QBP and its Salsa Cycles division, the main sponsor of the movie and the event, were on hand. They were marginally adequate as movie theater attendants:
Left: John Gaddo, QBP Outside Sales Rep
Center: Andy Palmer, Salsa Customer Service
Right: John Gaddo and Jason Boucher, Salsa General Manager. See Jason’s ImagineGnat blog ("Bicycles – Photography – People – Exploration")
Some other bike nuts at the schmooze fest in the theater lobby:
Left: Curtis Ness and Ben Witt, Milltown Cycles, with Mike “Kid” Riemer, Salsa Marketing Manager.
Center: Ben Witt with Mryna Mibus, blogger, freelance writer, and future mountain biker who was there with her husband Owen and kids.
Right: Mike Dion, producer and director of Reveal the Path and its predecessor Ride the Divide.
See the large slideshow of 17 photos (recommended) or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:
Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Festival grand opening: John Gaddo and Hans "No way" Rey dazzle the crowd
As I got ready to dig into my plate of lasagna at Maucieri’s in Crosby last Friday night, in walks Hans “No way” Rey, “considered the world’s leader in extreme mountain biking… a former trials riding world champion, a showman, a stuntman and an adventure mountain biker.”
He was the featured stunt rider for the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Festival, brought to the event courtesy of GT Bicycles, with financial support from MORC, IMBA, and Bloomington, MN-based QBP (Quality Bicycle Products), one of the largest bicycle parts distributors in the world.
Hans is a god, even in my world of motorcycle trials, so I was thrilled to be invited to join him and some other mountain bike industry guys for dinner and beers. In the photo, L to R: Gary Sjoquist, Advocacy Director for QBP; Hans Rey; John Gaddo, Inside Sales rep at QBP; and Jeff Verink, sales rep with GT Bicycles and the talented master of ceremonies for the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Festival.
While chatting with John Gaddo, I learned that he grew up in my hometown of Northfield. Many locals might know his dad, general manager at the former WCAL-FM. John mentioned that he was also a trials bicycle rider but I had no idea the level of his skills until he teamed up with Hans for the bicycle trials exhibition on Saturday night.
I borrowed my son Graham’s mountain bike for this trip, but it’s safe to say I’m hooked on this sport and will have one of my own soon. Blog on!
See my album of a dozen photos of the John Gaddo bike trials exhibition, view the large slideshow (recommended), or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:
See my album of 28 photos of the Hans Rey bike trials exhibition, (and photos of Hans signing posters and speaking about his Wheels 4 Life non-profit), view the large slideshow (recommended), or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:
See my album of 40 miscellaneous Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Festival Grand Opening photos, the large slideshow (recommended), or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:
See my album of 26 Cuyunda Lakes Mountain Bike Festival Grand Opening Kids Bike Races, the large slideshow, or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow: