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.
I spend the afternoon on Saturday at Lebanon Hills, much of it on the new riding area that opened a week ago.
It’s considered a beginner loop, though some folks in the MORC forum trail discussion are referring to it as a beginner + loop. Trail designer Tim Wegner wrote:
I believe that we felt there was a bit too much of a gap between the old beginner trail and the intermediate trail as far as features and skill required to ride. The new beginner addendum trail kinda fills that gap. It is a bit more difficult than the old beginner trail but not as much hard climbing as the intermediate trail. I think this new segment of trail will really fill the bill as far as helping to enhance rider skill development. Perhaps this segment should be labeled advanced beginner????
I had the good fortune to meet current MORC Chair Ryan Lieske on the new loop and took a bunch of photos of him riding the five big berms in the upper open area and the smaller berms in the lower open area. Looking good, Ryan!
I also took several photos of beginners riding these features, including the 21 whoops and the 6 larger jumps in the lower area. The father and son in the center photo above repeatedly rode those, whooping and hollering for joy every time they went down. And true beginners can get through the area without actually having to ride the ‘obstacles’ as evidenced by the photo of the woman on the right, who, when she noticed me taking her photo, shouted "I’m scared to death!" No wonder: her mountain biking outfit consisted of short-shorts, a tank top and a baseball cap. Oy. But she got through it.
I spent an hour practicing the lower berms of the open area. I probably rode them 20 times, which was easy to do since it only takes a minute or two to get back to the top of them. I then went back and rode the 5 big berms of the upper area (which only takes 5-10 minutes to get to the top of those). My skill and confidence had increased dramatically. Thank you, Tim!
On Saturday, local dirt boss and MORC member Nick Statz (right photo above) led the morning ‘fast’ ride group, mainly through the Yawkey Unit. (See this Silent Sports article featuring Nick: Cuyuna Lakes Reclaimed.) I’d not ridden Yawkey before so I was thrilled when we rode through its fabulous technical area.
I went back later in the afternoon to further explore the technical area of Yawkey and met MORC member Troy Lawrence who showed me how to do it without crashing. Some day when I get a little older…
In the evening, Don MacNaughton organized squirrel sled competition. Here’s his promo for it:
Have more in the tank? Did you drop your nuts? Let’s take it up a notch! Here are some details. Miniature bike, a sled, and the desire to pedal until you puke! Do you have what it takes? Can you pedal longer than your fellow squirrels? Game on!
With the dewpoint nearing 80, I declined but most everyone else punished themselves to the delight of the crowd.
If you care about bicycling for yourself, your kids or your town, you should know what Gary Sjoquist is up to.
I met Gary over beers in Crosby, MN a month ago (left photo, blog post here). He’s the Director of Advocacy for Bloomington, MN-based QBP (Quality Bicycle Products), one of the largest bicycle parts distributors in the world. He invited me to take a tour of QBP’s headquarters and yesterday I took him up on his offer. (Photo album below.)
Bikes Belong Coalition was formed in 1999 as the national coalition of bicycle retailers and suppliers working to put more people on bikes more often. U.S. bicycle companies recognized that they could accomplish more for bicycling by working together than by working independently. From helping create safe places to ride to promoting bicycling, we carefully select projects and partnerships that have the capacity to make a difference… Additionally, we operate the Bikes Belong Foundation to focus on children’s programs and bicycle safety.
As you’ll see in my photo album, QBP’s headquarters and distribution center is not only huge, but spectacular. And it’s got a reputation as a great place to work. Their Career and benefits page has the details on why.
Hans is a god, even in my world of motorcycle trials, so I was thrilled to be invited to join him and some other mountain bike industry guys for dinner and beers. In the photo, L to R: Gary Sjoquist, Advocacy Director for QBP; Hans Rey; John Gaddo, Inside Sales rep at QBP; and Jeff Verink, sales rep with GT Bicycles and the talented master of ceremonies for the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Festival.
While chatting with John Gaddo, I learned that he grew up in my hometown of Northfield. Many locals might know his dad, general manager at the former WCAL-FM. John mentioned that he was also a trials bicycle rider but I had no idea the level of his skills until he teamed up with Hans for the bicycle trials exhibition on Saturday night.
I borrowed my son Graham’s mountain bike for this trip, but it’s safe to say I’m hooked on this sport and will have one of my own soon. Blog on!