Tag: <span>technical</span>

My blog post last week about a tree down on the MN River Bottoms trail got a comment from MORC member Don Youngdahl when I added a photo to the forum.

MORC should encourage more riders to carry a 6 inch folding chain saw (cost about $30) in their pocket or pack. Clearing this would take me between 5 and 10 minutes. Griff, this is not a personal jab at you. Just an opportunity to make a point about fostering the volunteer ethic in riders. Our sport was built on volunteers, authorized or not in the old days, and it continues to depend on volunteers.

Good suggestion! So I brought a hand saw with me on my early morning ride at the MN River Bottoms last Saturday, starting from the Hwy 169 Bloomington Ferry Bridge. I didn’t get far when I noticed that the buckthorn was greening up and infesting this great log section that I blogged about back in Feb.

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Besides clearing all the low hanging branches and the buckthorn edging close to the main trail, I opened up an additional route through the small trees (right photo above) to make the approach to the big log more manageable for those who can’t hop their front wheel.

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I also cleared out most of the brush around all four of the logs (numbered in red, right photo) on the other side. There’s one more area to clean out (yellow arrow) but I ran out of time.


The last time I rode the Hwy 169 to 35w portion of the MN River Bottoms was mid-December when I rode the entire main trail for the first time. I must have had blinders on as I don’t remember seeing very many technical areas.  I rode it again on Saturday and, with my blinders off, discovered a large number of challenging logs and one giant teeter totter.

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The most interesting and challenging area is the first set of logs you encounter as you head east from the Bloomington Ferry Road parking lot, hugging the river trail. Only one of the four logs is big.  But they’re situated in a way that it’s tough to clean any set of two. I’ll have to get really good at hopping both my front and rear wheels before I’d clean a set of four in either direction.

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This big log has been built up at both ends to make it more rideable lengthwise.  I added a small log (center photo) as it was too steep riding over it crossways (towards the river).  It still took me a dozen times to clean it because the log is so fat and flat on top that either one of my pedals or my chain ring bash guard would cause me to lose my balance.  I finally figured out that I needed A) more speed on my approach and B) a larger dose of unweighting once I got up top. 

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The teeter-totter plank is a hoot. And after you get bored with it (heh) ride the length of the logs (both directions) that serve as its fulcrum.  Much more challenging.

And here are photos of six other obstacles (two photos each) at other points along the trail:

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Last Sunday I rode the sandy riverside trail on the MN River Bottoms between I-35 and Cedar and was delighted to see that someone had added a big log slice to the section of the trail near the other log slices that I blogged about back in early January. It’s not too tough going over the slice heading north (left photo above) but when heading north (right photo), there’s a slight dip in the trail just prior to the log. So instead of just powering over the log to clean it, I had to do a small manual, keeping my speed up. The chain ring scars on top of the log aren’t from me, as I’ve removed my large chain ring and protected the middle ring with a bash guard.

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Heading north from the log slices, I spotted an old cottonwood stump on the left side of the trail where it appeared that riders had not ridden over it in many months because of deteriorating bark slabs that were used as ramps.  I cleaned out the old stuff and repositioned a couple of the slabs on one side of the stump to lesson the drop off. It’s fun and very cleanable heading south (nice gentle dirt ramp, right photo) but pretty challenging to get over it heading north.

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Further north on the trail, I positioned a railroad tie parallel to the big plank that’s perched on the log. It’s tricky because both the small tree and the big vine on one side of the railroad tie are in the way of your handlebars. It’s pretty doable for me heading south but I wasn’t able to come close to cleaning it heading north. The momentum I needed to get up onto the log would force my handlebars into the tree. If I tried to go slower, I wouldn’t get over the log. 


With the warm weather closing Leb and Murphy, I decided to head back to the MN River Bottoms today and further explore the sandy trail along the river to get a better look at all the optional technical obstacles I saw last time. (I parked in the 35W lot at the end of Lyndale Ave. This seems to be the ideal lot because it provides easy access to three routes: two to the east, one to the west.)
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Within a few minutes east of the parking lot is this fun play area. It’s the only substantial hilly area along the trail. Plenty here to challenge, with steep ups and downs, tricky off-cambers, ledges to jump off, many roots, and deep sand.

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A few more minutes east is this simple but ingeniously placed set of logs. If you ride the length of the log first, you then have to make a quick left turn over the angled log.  Going the other way is much harder, because once you get over the angled log first, you have just over a bike length to wheelie up on the set of logs before riding the length of the log.   I tried many times but couldn’t clean it.

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Next is a huge downed tree. Stay close to the roots for the best lines… still tricky, as it’s not smooth, it’s angled, and you have to unweight. If you don’t stay on your line, it’s a steep drop. I went over the bars a few times till I got the hang of it. For a tougher challenge, take the trunk head-on from either side. I tried but couldn’t make it.

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Last week I had fun going over these two sets of logs and upright lot slices.  But they were a little too easy so today I added some additional challenges, all optional.

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I added two sets of small logs on the right side as you head west. They’re angled and the second set is followed by soft sand. Climb over the next set of logs again at an angle and then quickly get set up for the log slices.  Then turn around and come back the other way.

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I also made it possible for mere humans to cross the bridge of log slices from the sides by positioning an angled log slice on the trail side and some small logs on the other.

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Next along the trail is this big plank on a log. It’s pretty easy heading west (plank first) but much tougher to get up on the log first and then keep your balance on the plank the rest of the way.

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The car tire makes the plunge off this log less drastic.  I couldn’t get up going the other way, tho (car tire side first).

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On the other side of the trail from the car tire log is this log. It can be crossed over in two spots from either direction and it can be ridden lengthwise from the trail end.

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Left: It doesn’t look like anyone’s riding the length of this nearby log.  Traction on it is good but the tree in the middle is trouble and the ending quite steep. No cleans for me. Center: it looks easy to get up on this log but the drop-off on the other side looks formidable. I didn’t try it. Right: a log that’s straight as an arrow but round and skinny. Harder than it looks.

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This downed tree is a monster. Its trunk is as wide as a small sidewalk and if it was laying flat on the ground, it’d be a piece o’ cake. But it’s got to be 8 feet high at the apex and I don’t have the cojones to tackle it.  Maybe when I get a little older.

Next to Lebanon Hills, this is my favorite trail for technical riding… so far. I hope to be able to add more obstacles to it.


One of the reasons I keep going back to Lebanon Hills to ride (other than it’s only 35 minutes from Northfield), is that the fabulous trails are supplemented with lots of optional technical areas.

In early August, I brought my camera with me and took photos of these technical areas, placing my bike in the photos to give some perspective to the obstacles. It was a sunny day so I used a flash with most photos—otherwise, the sunlight shining through the leaves confuses the camera lens.

The photos are pretty much in order as they appear on the trails.

On a subsequent loop a few days later , I took five more photos with my cell phone camera of areas I missed.  I’m not exactly sure I’ve placed these in the correct order with the others, however.

The album photos all have unique URL’s, so if you want to reference a photo of a specific obstacle, eg, Tedman’s Curve, you can link to it.

See the album of 73 photos, the large slideshow (recommended), or this small slideshow:

Photo album Trails