Category Archives: Group rides

Riding on frozen crusty snow piles: more than acceptable when you’re desperate for spring

Ryan Hutchinson, John Ebling, Stew Moyer Ryan Hutchinson

I went riding on frozen crusty snow piles up with fellow Northfielders Ryan Hutchinson, John Ebling, and Stew Moyer today at the Northfield High School parking lot today.  It was more fun than I expected and definitely better than sitting around the house whining about the cold spring.  Continue reading Riding on frozen crusty snow piles: more than acceptable when you’re desperate for spring

Fatties on the Bottoms: a no-drop, fat bike group ride along the MN River Bottoms

I’ve been seeing the Fatties on the Bottoms threads in the Group Rides section of the MORC forums for a year now and decided to see what the fuss/fun was all about today. Ride leader Jonathan Bistodeau posted this in the forum:

This week, we will be starting at the usual location (Bloomington Ferry) and plan on riding to Cedar Bridge and back. As of now there appears to be a 50% chance of rain on Saturday which equals no ride. Keep an eye on the weather and this post for details.

Continue reading Fatties on the Bottoms: a no-drop, fat bike group ride along the MN River Bottoms

Keweenaw Peninsula mountain biking: more than just Copper Harbor

Since the trail system at Copper Harbor is an IMBA Silver-level Ride Center, that’s what I’ve mainly heard about here in Minnesota whenever talk turns to mountain biking in the U.P., especially in the Keweenaw Peninsula.  So the cool thing about the annual Ride the Keweenaw, I discovered, is that you get to experience many of the other trails in the area.

Griff Wigley, Hansi Johnson, Oliver Cooper MTU Technical Trail Ride MTU Technical Trail Ride - dragon MTU Technical Trail Ride - dorkscrew
IMBA’s Midwest Regional Director Hansi Johnson and I arrived in Houghton on Friday afternoon to ride some of Michigan Tech University’s network of mountain biking trails. We luckily arrived at the same time as Oliver Cooper, MTU engineering student and avid mountain biker. He led us on some very cool technical trails (rocks, roots, mud) that included some fun man-made obstacles like the Dragon and the Dorkscrew shown above (photos extracted from the poster).

Rob Peters, Lori Hauswirth, Bill Marlor, and friends 3713796927_d9314082ce_o 3713778779_364680869e_o
A late addition to the Ride the Keweenaw schedule was a Friday night ride on some of the Southern Keweenaw (SöKē) trails around the Adventure Mining Company in Greenland, about 40 minutes south of Copper Harbor. Staffer Rob Peters (and course designed of the annual Miner’s Revenge Mountain Bike Race) graciously led the ride and opened up the trail through the mine for us.  Very cool. (Other than the group shot on the left above, I didn’t take photos, so I’ve grabbed two of the mine tunnel from a Flickr album of the 2009 race by Christopher Schmidt. I’ve linked his photos to his set.)  Some rocky sections of the trail we rode were the most technically challenging and fun I’ve ever ridden.  If you love the gnarly stuff, especially steep, rocky downhills, go there. “The Adventure Trails are free use public trails open 7 days a week for hiking, running, and mountain biking.”

Ride the Keweenaw group ride at MTU Ride the Keweenaw group ride at MTU trail pass system at MTU
Saturday’s 9 am group rides were held at Michigan Tech’s network of mountain biking trails (supported by a trail pass honor system). I was thrilled that they offered 4 choices ranging from beginner to expert because my legs were mush from the 4 hours of riding on Friday. I chose ‘intermediate’ and was barely able to keep up.

Caleb Wendel and Steve Vizanko Steve Vizanko pump and jump park at Michigan Tech MTU dual slalom MTB course
Post-ride food and refreshments were provided by co-owners Caleb Wendel and Steve Vizanko of The Bike Shop in downtown Houghton. Steve also did some jump coaching in the MTU terrain park (beginner and advanced jumps, a pump track, and a dual slalom course). I was thrilled to be able work on my form on the beginner level table tops that first learned how to do at Ray’s Indoor Bike Park back in Feb. See the May 26 Mining Gazette article, Riders practice jumping during Ride the Keweenaw, for more.

At noon, most riders departed for more group rides at Churning Rapids MTB trails near Hancock (1 pm) and the Swedetown MTB trails near Calumet (3 pm). Alas, not me. I departed for Copper Harbor to give my legs some recovery time so that I’d be able to get in at least one run on a downhill trail there.

Rudy O’Brien’s North Shore Enduro Tour: it rocked, we rolled

A couple weeks ago, Duluth resident and COGGS (Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores) member Rudy O’Brien announced in the MORC forum that he was organizing an enduro-style group ride for June 23rd. "We will be riding a handful of gravity trails in Duluth." I had to be in Duluth last week for a work-related conference so the timing was perfect. I’d never ridden an enduro or on any gravity trails so I was psyched for it.

Rudy O'Brien Dave Cizmas, Rudy O'Brien big rocks to roll down big rocks to roll down 

When the record flooding hit the Duluth area on Tuesday/Wednesday, it wasn’t clear whether we’d be able to ride.  So Rudy, Dave Cizmas and I did a pre-ride on Friday afternoon to check things out. Yes, there were lots of washouts but there plenty of ways to get around them.  We came upon a couple of other riders who were out exploring and we had a blast rolling down the big rocks which were dry and grippy. Game on for Saturday.

Dave Cizmas, Rudy O'Brien; Cody Inn, Duluth flood Cody Inn, Duluth flood Cody Inn, Duluth flood
We rode areas near Duluth’s Cody Inn which was featured in many flood-related news stories.  We got to see a group of guys cut the back section of the inn loose and watch it tumble into the chasm.

Chance Glasford, Dave Cizmas, Cory Vierck, Rudy O'Brien, Spencer Johnson, Andy Kienitz, AJ Peterson  AJ Peterson, Cory Vierck, Spencer Johnson, Dave Cizmas, Rudy O'Brien, John Morrison, Andy Kienitz, Chance Glasford

Saturday morning’s soaking rains stopped by 10:30 so off we went. Left photo: Chance Glasford, Dave Cizmas, Cory Vierck, Rudy O’Brien, Spencer Johnson, Andy Kienitz, AJ Peterson.

Right photo: a gigantic washout of a road near Spirit Mountain: same gang, plus John Morrison who joined us mid-ride.

Rudy O'Brien Andy Kienitz Spencer Johnson Dave Cizmas Chance Glasford
With the morning rain, the big rocks were slippery. Ones like these that were relatively a piece ‘o cake on Friday were treacherous.  Still way fun, but braking was a more delicate affair.

AJ Peterson's knee John Morrison's knee Andy Kienitz Cory Vierck Chance Glasford, AJ Peterson, Spencer Johnson
The knees of AJ Peterson and John Morrison got kissed by the rocks, as did the tires of Andy Kienitz and Cory Vierck.  Otherwise, equipment checks and adjustments were the order of the day, along with:

Spencer Johnson, Andy Kienitz Chance Glasford, Rudy O'Brien, Dave Cizmas AJ Peterson, John Morrison AJ Peterson, Rudy O'Brien, Dave Cizmas, Andy Kienitz, Chance Glasford, Spencer Johnson,
Mud-splattered faces. After this break, we headed west of Spirit Mountain where we hiked our bikes (15-20 minutes for each) up a couple of very steep and gnarly rock trails and then blasted down them. Well, I didn’t exactly blast down.  With a hardtail 29’er, I learned why these guys ride full-suspension bikes on these super-technical downhills. Still, it was amazing fun for me.

We had about ten-mile ride back to Rudy’s house, going downhill to Hwy 23, past the devastated Lake Superior Zoo, then a long climb through the streets of West Duluth up to to Skyline Parkway and to our starting point (above right photo).

Rudy O'Brien, bicycle trials demo Rudy O'Brien, bicycle trials demo Rudy O'Brien, bicycle trials demo
While we gorged ourselves on brats and beer, Rudy treated us to bike trials demo in his backyard. I’m going to learn how to do these stunts when I get a little older.

Rudy O'Brien, bicycle trials demo Rudy O'Brien, bicycle trials demo Rudy O'Brien, bicycle trials demo

Chance Glasford has a much more detailed blog post on the event and the terrain we rode. Example:

Chance GlasfordThe first trail was short but it had a couple sweet technical moves. There was a three tiered drop/step down and if you didn’t pick the right line you were almost guaranteed to go over the bars.

Spencer learned this first hand as his fork bottomed out, his weight shifted forward as he dismounted superman style over the bars into a very graceful roll!

Rudy O'Brien, organizer, North Shore Enduro Tour
I can’t wait for the next edition of Rudy O’Brien’s North Shore Enduro Tour.

Cannon Valley Velo Club adds support for gravel rides and mountain biking

Scott Klein, Evan Watkins, Sue Welch, Tom Bisel and Kevin Keane. (Northfield News photo by Shane Kitzman) Cannon Valley Velo Club Griff Wigley, pretender
I had lunch earlier this week with Kevin Keane, race team director for the 1 year-old Cannon Valley Velo Club (CVVC) in my hometown of Northfield. (That’s Kevin on the right in left photo above – photo by Shane Kitzman, Northfield News.)

We discussed all things mountain biking and I’ve signed on to be the club’s new mountain biking ride coordinator—hence, the staged photo in my front yard yesterday. (I’m on a borrowed fat bike, as I’m on my way to the Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout up in Crosby-Ironton for my first-ever race this weekend.) I’ll only be coordinating the CVVC mountain bike rides, primarily on singletrack. Others will be coordinating the mountain bike racing and the gravel rides.

For more about the CVVC, see this March, 2011 article in the Northfield News:  Cannon Valley Velo gears up for its inaugural season.

Biking the gravel to Murphy-Hanrehan and back

Griff Wigley, Bill Nelson, Jerry Bilek, Ben Witt On the gravel: Bill Nelson and Griff Wigley. Photo by Ben Witt. Jerry Bilek and a crop duster. Photo by Ben Witt. On the gravel: Bill Nelson, Griff Wigley, Ben Witt. Photo by Ben Witt.
Bill Nelson, Jerry Bilek, Ben Witt, and I took off on our mountain bikes from GBM at about 7:30 this morning, riding primarily gravel roads to the mountain bike trail in the Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve, just south of Savage.

Murphy-Hanrehan mapJerry Bilek at Murphy-Hanrehan. Photo by Ben Witt. Ben Witt, Jerry Bilek, Bill Nelson,  
After riding the 7 mile advanced loop at Murphy, we chowed down at Chipotle in Apple Valley, biked through UMore Park in Dakota County, and arrived back in Northfield in time for dinner. About 85 miles, 9 hours. Whew!