Freewheel Bike held their Winter Bike Expo 2013 at their Midtown Bike Center this weekend and I was around both mornings, primarily wearing my MORC/IMBA member hat (unlike last year), as I did my first ever booth duty stint.
The MORC Board announced its annual awards last month and four young guys (three in the right photo) were recognized for their volunteer work: Chance Glasford for the President’s Award; Adam Buck for Volunteer of the Year; and Colin VanDerHyde and Mike Mullany for Trail Workers of the Year.
As a geezer, I’m glad to see this.
Although I ride mountain bike trails all around the upper Midwest, my local mountain bike club is MORC, Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists. I’m constantly amazed that it costs ZERO to ride the dozen+ MTB trails around the Twin Cities metro area, so I’m happy to A) be a member of MORC/IMBA; and B) kick some $ in the MORC Give to the Max Day bucket today.
If you ride a mountain bike in the Twin Cities metro area, MORC deserves your support. Here’s a blurb from them that supplies more rationale:
Hello friends of Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists,
With snow already on the ground you may be hanging up the mountain bike, or maybe you’re taking the fatbike in for a tune-up; either way, the trails we all love give us access to some great riding here in the Twin Cities. MORC is constantly looking at ways for "gaining and maintaining trails" in the metro area. All of the construction and maintenance of our nearly 100 miles of trail is performed by volunteers, but the tools, equipment and resources cost our organization money.
This next season we are looking to raise funds towards a heavy equipment trailer, a vehicle capable of towing said trailer & a hydraulic tilt blade- roughly $12,000 of new equipment to continue building the trails you love to ride!
Give to the Max Day is a great opportunity to give to your trails. Your tax-deductible donation made on November 14th provides MORC the chance to win one of 24 "golden tickets", each worth $1,000; at the end of the day, one donation from all of Minnesota will be drawn to award a non-profit with a $10,000 gift.
Please consider giving to your trails by donating today!
I attended last night’s MORC Board of Director’s meeting at REI in Bloomington. The agenda, as usual, was packed. But this one was the first with an Executive Director’s report, as Matt Andrews has been on the job for a month. Based on what I saw and heard, Matt appears to be more than marginally adequate.
2014 is shaping up to be a banner year for MORC. The organization will be celebrating its 20th anniversary and Matt and the Board are cooking up some great ideas for it. If you ride a mountain bike in the Twin Cities metro area, you should be a MORC/IMBA member. You can join MORC/IMBA here.
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.
There was a great turnout for the soft opening of the new trail at the Theodore Wirth Off-Road Cycling Trail on Wednesday night. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB), Minneapolis Off-Road Cyclists Association (MOCA), and MORC put on the event. Tyler Pederson, who works at the MPRB and blogs at Bicycle Kismet, made some opening remarks and was the entrance gatekeeper so that things didn’t get jammed up at the start.
Tim Wegner at Trail Source LLC was the primary builder and I’m guessing he had more than a little help from the MOCA/MORC dirt bosses.
As you can see from the photos above, the trail loops up and around a big hill, so you’re pretty much either climbing or ripping. The view from up top is stunning, with a great view of Wirth Lake and the downtown Minneapolis skyline. There’s a picnic table up there, too, a perfect spot to catch your breath after the first big climb.
I didn’t take photos of any of the rollers, berms, jumps and table tops but to me, they seemed perfect. An intermediate rider can roll them all slowly and advanced riders can get plenty of air. I’m far from advanced on this type of trail but there were a couple areas where I could manual over two small rollers and a couple of table tops that I could almost clear. I can’t wait to go back.
I followed a group of young riders who were doing a shorter loop so that they could repeatedly ride the first big downhill segment without descending back to the start and having to do the big initial climb. They would push their bikes straight up one of the construction trails and then take a short cut on top (right photo) which connects to the start of the downhill segment near the picnic table. It seems like a logical option to add, much like the shortcut loops at Leb that the dirt bosses there have added in several places.
Many of you reading this blog were not even a gleam in your father’s eye in 1973 when Time magazine featured Governor Wendell Anderson on its cover for a story titled Minnesota: A State That Works. (Anderson just celebrated his 80th birthday earlier this year.)
But I thought of that cover story after attending the 2013 PedalMN Bike Summit this week, a two-day Minnesota state government-hosted conference involving four state agencies, several non-profits, and representatives from more than a few bicycle-related businesses.
When it comes to bicycling, Minnesota seems to be a state that works. And for state’s mountain bikers, the success of the two-year old Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trail system (CLMTBT) is the epitome of government, non-profit, and industry leaders effectively collaborating to get something done that’s been huge for our sport in the state. In short, Cuyuna rocks. (In MN mountain biking circles, the word ‘Cuyuna’ is the most commonly used short-hand for the mtb trail system in the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area – CCSRA.)
Read the timeline of the creation of Cuyuna. You’ll see the names of these people, most of them more than once: Gary Sjoquist, Dan Cruser, Courtland Nelson, Mike Van Abel, and Hansi Johnson. All of them were there this week, as were others from their organizations (MORC, IMBA, DNR, QBP).
I got up to Cuyuna early on Monday morning, as it was a gorgeous autumn day and I wanted to ride every single trail in the Huntington east and west units (AKA as the Mahnomen Unit on the DNR’s map of Cuyuna). I rode some more than once, including the steep and short Screamer which I rode five times, trying to get better/faster at it with marginal success. But what fun.
For most participants, the day’s activities started shortly after lunch with “experiential workshops on bicycles in the field.” Groups gathered in the Croft Mine parking lot in Cuyuna’s Yawkey Unit. The blurb for those doing the experiential mountain bike ride:
Experience firsthand what makes the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails an IMBA-certified Ride Center. Learn about purpose-built trail design and weekly trail maintenance. See why cycling is now-year round in the Cuyuna Lakes area.
Find out how state, county and city governments have partnered with residents and the cycling industry to achieve the shared goal of becoming an international mountain biking destination. Members of the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew will lead ride participants through an interactive tour within the Yawkey Unit of the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area.
This bike tour is purposefully designed for cyclists of all skill levels to enjoy their time on the red dirt. Riders will be separated into advanced, intermediate and beginner categories.
Organizers set up six guided ride stops out on the trails, each staffed with someone explaining:
- Purpose Built Trails and Riding
- Trail Maintenance
- Community Connections for Economic Development
- High School Mountain Bike League
- Year Round Recreation
- Safety and Grassroots Support
I followed the advanced group around and IMHO, it was a very cool way to show/teach a large number of people in a short period of time the important aspects of a modern mountain bike trail system and its wider impact. After the guided stops, ride leaders took their groups back out on the loop trails for more riding until everyone convened back at the parking lot for topical Q&A at various tables.
There were more than a few mtb muckety mucks on hand to help.
Left: Karl Erbach (Trek), John Schaubach (CLMTBC), Seth Nesselhuf (QBP)
Center: Steve Weber (DNR), Gary Sjoquist (QBP)
Right: John Gaddo (QBP), Reed Smidt (MORC)
We then gathered for socializing and dinner at Cragun’s Resort in Brainerd, where DNR Parks and Trails Director Courtland Nelson introduced the evening speaker, IMBA Executive Director Mike Van Abel. Mike and IMBA have a long history with Cuyuna (Hansi’s got a good summary in his June 2011 blog post, shortly after the park opened) so it was fun to hear some of Mike’s stories of that history. His message to the audience of 200+ participants was clear: the pursuit of IMBA’s mission (“to create, enhance and preserve great mountain biking experiences”) goes far beyond the sport and IMBA’s members. Communities and regions all over the continent are seeing that the environmental, economic, and public heath benefits of mountain biking are significant and growing.
One of Tuesday morning’s breakout sessions was dedicated to mountain biking. Mike moderated a panel consisting of IMBA’s Hansi Johnson, MORC’s Reed Smidt, and CLMBT’s Aaron Hautala.
One thing that stood out for me was Reed’s comment about MORC’s role in the state. Despite the word ‘Minnesota’ in its name, MORC has recently become more focused on mountain biking in the Twin Cities metro area, as the IMBA Chapter Program has produced many chapters throughout the state. But with 3 million residents and thousands of mountain bikers in the metro area, MORC plays an important role in producing and supplying a significant number of mountain bikers who like to travel to the mtb trail systems throughout the state and midwest region.
So my take-away from the Bike Summit: I’m damn lucky to be a resident of Minnesota, a state that works for mountain biking. And the work that others have done to get us to this point inspires me to help keep it going and do what I can to get others to join the effort.
I’m in a Duluth coffee shop as I write this. I’m going riding.
I stopped by the Cottage Grove Bike Park yesterday to take some photos of the park’s construction.
Chance Glasford, his team of fellow MORC Gravity Advocates (a sub-group of MORC), and many other volunteers have made great progress in the past month on the 4x (mountain cross) track. According to Chance’s Aug. 12 blog post titled, The build continues!, they’re almost done:
We had a great build weekend! 32 hours of manual labor later we are 90% complete with the 4x track! Mike, Buck and I put in some serious time this weekend along with some help from a hand full of others!
We are about 5 loader buckets and 3 hours of work short of completing the park! We had a nice group of neighbor hood kids out helping us Sunday…
Other features to be constructed in the park include a tot track for strider bikes, pump tracks, dirt jumps, a slope style course, and a mountain bike skills area.
The next ‘build’ day is Saturday Aug. 24. You can keep up on the details of all the build days either via the Cottage Grove Bike Park Facebook page or the Cottage Grove Bike Park forum in the MORC Forums.
And on Sept 14, they’re hosting a big Party at the Park- Cottage Grove Bike Park Fundraiser.
Come join us at the Cottage Grove bike park! Enjoy a silent auction, beer, food, DJ, Bonfire, Bounce house and of course tours of the bike park as it nears completion and raise funds to finish the build!
I asked Chance to take a few runs on the 4x track so I could take some photos and a few video clips. He reluctantly obliged:
They started the clinic by asking everyone to state what they hoped to gain from it. I said that I wanted a refresher on the basics. I didn’t really expect to learn anything new.
But I did.
1. The day after the clinic I rode the intermediate loop at Elm Creek. It was much more fun (I could go a lot faster) due to my more consistent use of A) the attack position; and B) proper cornering technique, especially looking ahead in the turn while rotating my hips. I’d gotten lazy and developed bad habits without realizing it. Watching Chance demonstrate this several ways and then doing those drills at the clinic on a flat grassy field immediately carried over to my riding.
2. The individual coaching I got from Jed on doing a bunny hop resolved a dilemma that I blogged about recently: Why am I able to able to ride over a big rock (lifting the front wheel with a manual, then unweighting) yet I’m not able to bunny hop over a small object like a pop can?
My interpretation of Jed’s answer: when my unweighted rear wheel strikes the rock (or if I hit it with my chain ring bash guard), the impact forces the front wheel down. My unweighting still gets me over it.
But since one purpose of a bunny hop is to clear an object without touching it, I need to push the front wheel down with the handlebars after the peak of the manual, while simultaneously unweighting or even ‘scooping’ the rear wheel. That pushing motion is important. Jed demoed it several times (alas, no photo) and it’s imprinted in my brain. Now I’ve got to go out and do it.
Those two items alone were worth the cost of the clinic for me.
It was great to see the strong turnout for the clinic (19 paid registrations, maximum 20). I hope MORC keeps offering these, maybe offering short clinics devoted to a single skill/technique, eg, a two-hour clinic on jumping table tops, a two-hour clinic on pumping, etc.
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: