Tag: <span>Lebanon Hills</span>

IMBA has an Instructor Certification Program (ICP) and I took the Level 1 course over the Memorial Day weekend at Lebanon Hills. The instructors (L to R in the photo above): Mike Holme, Magpie Cycling Adventures; Kat Sweet, Sweetlines; Jake Carsten, Dirt Dojo.

I’ll blog about the course later (I passed – whew!) but in the meantime, see the large slideshow of 57 photos (recommended) or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow. My fellow students included Amie Topp, Fred Johnson, Jeff Milbauer, Martha Flynn, Ted Siefkes, Ron Berry, Heather George, Amanda Dekan, Nathan Plescher, and Danielle Pellicano.

Learning to instruct Learning to ride Photo album

Many of the mountain bike trails in the Twin Cities area have harder B-lines (alternative routes through a section of a trail) that are fun to attempt in winter when they’re covered with snow.

I rode many of them at Lebanon Hills a couple of weeks ago and captured on video my rides on three of them: a wide and flat skinny in the X loop (success), the big bridge rock in the XX loop (success after 3 tries), and the rounded skinny in the intermediate out loop (all fails).

What have I learned in my winter rides so far this year? Fresh snow can be surprisingly grippy, even on rocks, as I blogged two years ago. Snow on wood is nearly always super slippery. My front suspension starts to gets sluggish at about 10 degrees F and is completely stiff at -10 F. The day I took this video it was about + 10 F and that’s what made the difference in my being able to get over the bridge rock this time, unlike back on Dec. 18 when it was -5 F. When I manual, I use my front suspension to aid with front wheel lift.

As for the repeat fails at the intermediate out loop log: an ice-covered log skinny is tough.

httpv://vimeo.com/84742525

Learning to ride

I rode Leb a couple weeks ago on my 29’er hardtail. I had about 15 PSI in my skinny Maxxis Ardent 2.4″ tires, with rear tubeless. I’m 150 pounds. Since the intermediate loop was packed pretty well and reasonably wide, I thought I’d be fine. NOT.

If I didn’t stay in the hard center, the softer edges of the packed area would often derail me. I kept thinking “lean the bike more” and “keep your eyes ahead.” I tried standing up more, then sitting down more. Nothing worked. I then ran into Bob Shepherd and a small gang on fatties and told them my tale of woe. Bob and another guy squeezed my tires and said they were way too hard, and in a way that left no doubt of their convictions. I wasn’t as sure but I promptly began letting out air and as Bob got ready to depart, he asked me if I had a pump in case I let out too much. I did.

The difference was shocking.

Equipment

I last blogged about my experience of riding my skinny-tired 29’er in the snow back in late February of 2012. It was a very poor winter for snow lovers here in southern Minnesota and that day at Murphy-Hanrehan was one of the only times I got to ride my bike on snowy area singletrack trails.

Maxxis Ardent 2.4" knobby tires Maxxis Ardent 2.4" knobby tires winter night riding at Lebanon Hills

Last winter was much snowier and once I purchased a set of Maxxis Ardent 2.4″ knobby tires, I got out a several times at Leb, mostly at night. 

Trails

Leb skinny intermediate outIn a MORC forum discussion thread this week, I commented to Lebanon Hills Dirt Boss Dave Tait about the height of the big log skinny in the intermediate out section of Leb. He had told me that when the tree originally fell, they had to lower it a bit to comply with Dakota County’s height limit of 30 inches. I used the phrase "dumbed down."

Battle Creek Dirt Boss Tom Gehring wrote:

This touched a bit of a sore point with me. I may be in the minority, but I fail to see how "lowering it" is dumbing it down. It still takes just as much skill to ride without dabing it just reduces the consequences of a fall.

Dave Tait wrote:

I agree. There was never an issue of feeling like we were dumbing down that tree ride. We peeled the bark off, prepared the ride surface to a minimum and then measured up the height. It was a little high so we put a saddle beneath it and dropped the height to our allowed limit. The end result is actually tougher than the original with bark because you slip off easier. The only resistance to lowering it was that we needed to figure out a few details and do a little extra work.

Chance Glasford, chief designer of the Eagan and Cottage Grove bike parks, wrote:

I see no issue with keeping skinnies low, the skill is in the balancing act…

A big part of any sport is managing performance anxiety. That can be danger-related or it can be stage-related.

Learning the balance beam in gymnastics can start with a harness and the beam on the ground. And then it’s doing it without the harness. And then with the beam higher. And then in front of parents or at a competition.

We all know the experience of choking, knowing that we can perform a skill when it’s practice but screw it up when it’s performance time.

I see skinnies this way. The variety of skinnies in Leb’s skills park is perfect, IMHO: some are smooth, straight and low. Others are crooked and bumpy and a bit higher off the ground. Likewise,  the skinnies at Ray’s Indoor Bike Park. Both parks offer lots of progression options.

Carver raised bridge skinnyOut on the trails in the Twin Cities area, there are man-made skinnies with some height if you want to try them: some wide but higher up; others narrower and higher up. They freak some people out and others love the challenge and see them as a way to try to put those skills learned in the skills park into use on the trail "For Real." The man-made skinny at Carver Lake Park is a great example of a high skinny with options: variable widths and an exit before the most difficult narrow part.

61 skinny Murphy-HanrehanLikewise, the man-made ’61 skinny’ at Murphy-Hanrehan: wide, then very narrow, back to wide, then a dirt ramp out-option before it starts curving and gets higher.

Most intermediate riders could clean it if it was flat on the ground but its height adds the element of danger. The athletic challenge is managing one’s anxiety.

As you can see in this 30-second video, I can easily clean it but if I made a $10,000 bet on it and had to do it in front of a crowd, I’d probably choke.

Stockade skinny HillsideThe stockade skinny at Hillside (the ‘Browner’, named after the first—and thus far, only person to have cleaned, Ray Brown; video here) is the most challenging skinny in the metro area and possibly the entire state.  It’s all or nothing. As designer/dirt boss Rich Omdahl wrote:

The Browner is in its own class of evil. I’ve never even made it half way across it. I designed that thing to have 8 layers of difficulty. The first one you contend with is that I built it at the top of a climb on an uphill slope with an off camber entry. Then it gets harder.

Most local expert riders could probably clean the Browner if was a foot off the ground but the danger of not making it at its current height is a big psychological barrier for most of us. Danny MacAskill and Ryan Leech would be bored with it, but they have their psychological barriers, too.

Somewhat related: A friend of mine remarked recently that he thought the arguments to legalize exploding fireworks (eg, firecrackers, cherry bombs, etc) were off-base. "Why not just enjoy the explosions that are set off by the professionals?" he asked. I said to him: "Because a big part of the fun is in managing the danger."

See all my blog posts tagged with the word ‘skinnies.’

Learning to ride

Halloween party 2013, Lebanon Hills Nita Woelbel Nita Woelbel's pies and chili, Halloween party 2013, Lebanon Hills Halloween party 2013, Lebanon Hills

Lebanon Hills MTB held their annual Halloween party and night ride at the west trailhead in Eagan last night and as far as I could tell, Nita Woelbel was the queen in charge. Perceptive, no?

She made the pies and her ‘famous’ homemade chili, organized the prizes, was the MC, and after it was all over, graciously thanked her helpers with a post in the MORC forum:

Chris, thanks for coming out and getting the tents up and Doug Ecker, you are magic with hanging up lights. Doug Purdy, phenomenal with the equipment and little details like carving a fat pumpkin at midnight and not cutting off a finger. Mark Gavin, you are amazing on that grill, and I’m burping that last dog up as I type this. Al Goldstein, you put up that sweet race course and unfortunately we ran out of time, thanks so much for the set up and tear down help. To everyone else that helped tear down, many thanks! Right around 10 p.m. it started to rain and we were out of there at 11:00…perfect! Thanks everyone for coming out with fantastic spirit on a rather cold, damp evening, I just love this life!

Nita even let me take some pie home, which I’m eating now as I blog this. Saaaaweet.

See the album of two dozen photos.

Events People Photo album