Tag: Ray Brown

I cleaned The Browner stockade skinny today at Hillside Park Mountain Bike Trail in Elk River. Toughest skinny I’ve ever ridden. Props to designer/dirt boss Rich Omdahl and the rest of the Dirt Wirx crew for building it. Rich wrote in the MORC forum:

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.

The Browner is named after Ray Brown who was the first one to clean it (YouTube video here). I’m the second.  I’m particularly pleased to accomplish this on my 65th birthday.

Here’s my one-minute video. I only show two of my dozen+ failures:

Trails Video

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

In the MORC forum back in August, Battle Creek Regional Park MTB Dirt Boss Brett Swenson started a topic titled Wall of Death bounty:

At the Battle Creek group ride (Every Wed. at 5 & 6pm) we were discussing how we have never seen anyone climb the Wall of Death trail with no dabs. So we decided to put a bounty of a case of beer… People are always looking for more technical trail features, well here you go.

After a few weeks of discussion, the idea of scheduling an informal competition emerged and an informal contest announcement thread was launched, announcing a date and miscellaneous rules and rewards. My suggestion to include a go-slow competition riding down the Wall of Death (WOD) was adopted.

Travis Miller, Brett Swenson Paul Thorsgaard, Tom Gehring

Yesterday at 1 pm,  crew of BC Dirt Bosses and volunteers (including Tom Gehring, Travis Miller, Brett Swenson, Paul Thorsgaard) got things rolling for the ten competitors, including yours truly.

For the hill climb, they had 7 flags spaced out from the bottom to top for markers to indicate climb level.  If you dabbed between marker 3 and 4, then 3 was your score for that run.  But the ultimate criteria for the winner, like any hill climb, was fastest to the top with no dabs. Next criteria was furthest up without dabbing.

Heath Weisbrod, bottom of Battle Creek's Wall of Death Heath Weisbrod, mid-point of Battle Creek's Wall of Death Heath Weisbrod, near the top of Battle Creek's Wall of Death

Heath Weisbrod, dabbing near the top of Battle Creek's Wall of Death Heath Weisbrod, after nearly cleaning Battle Creek's Wall of Death Heath Weisbrod, Champion, 2013 Battle Creek Wall of Death Hill Climb

The champion: Heath Weisbrod. He went much higher than anyone else without dabbing on both his 2nd and 3rd runs. Here’s my video of his 3rd run in which he gets his front wheel over the final timber before dabbing:

Ray Brown, 2nd place, 2013 Battle Creek Wall of Death Hill Climb Troy Lawrence, 3rd place, 2013 Battle Creek Wall of Death Hill Climb

Ray Brown took second and Troy Lawrence third.

Hill climb results (points using the scoring system)

1st: Heath Weisbrod (furthest up without dabbing)
2nd: Ray Brown: 12
3rd: Troy Lawrence: 11
4th (tie): Mike Andert: 8
4th (tie): Brett Swenson: 8
4th (tie): Griff Wigley: 8
7th (tie): Chip Bennard: 4
7th (tie): Jose Diaz: 4
7th (tie): Larry Marx: 4
7th (tie): Tony Marx: 4

Mike Andert, 1st place, 2013 Battle Creek Wall of Death Go-Slow competition Ray Brown, 3rd place, 2013 Battle Creek Wall of Death Go-Slow competition L to R: 1st, Mike Andert; 3rd, Ray Brown; 2nd, Heath Weisbrod - Go-Slow competition

The go-slow downhill competition was to see who could take the longest time to descend the Wall of Death. If you dabbed, you were eliminated.

Mike Andert won easily. He was the last rider of the competition and after demonstrating his prowess at balancing, he graciously rode to the end when it was clear he’d beaten Heath’s time. He could have balanced there all afternoon.

Go-Slow competition results (seconds elapsed)

1st: Mike Andert: 33.71
2nd: Heath Weisbrod: 19.9
3rd: Ray Brown: 18.59
4th: Griff Wigley: 17.9
5th: Tony Marx: 15.1
6th: Jose Diaz: 10.1
7th: Troy Lawrence: 9.0 (dab)
8th: Larry Marx: 8.72
9th: Brett Swenson: 5.0
10th: Chip Bennard: DNS

RESULTS OF BOTH COMPETITIONS:

Wall of Death competitors

Props to the Battle Creek Dirt Bosses for hosting this unique, um, group ride. Winking smile  As a geezer, I’m happy to just be participating in any competition so I was pleased with my two 4th place finishes. Plus, I got a chance to meet a bunch of riders for the first time, people I’d only known from the MORC forums.

See my large slideshow of 33 photos (recommended) or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:

Competition Photo album