Category Archives: Trail work

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

Duluth’s XC MTB trails just keep getting better. Here’s partly why.

Hansi Johnson on Piedmont MTB trail Hansi Johnson observing the reconstruction of Haines Road Hansi Johnson's salute to the 'side effects' of the reconstruction of Haines Road

The day after my solo stint at Spirit, I met up with IMBA Midwest Regional Director Hansi Johnson for a ride on the COGGS Piedmont trail over to the new Brewer Park trail under construction. On way, we encountered MNDOT’s reconstruction of Haines Road which was wiped out by last year’s flood. For some reason, MNDOT has take down a huge chunk of the hill/cliff overlooking a section of the road and with it, a large section of the Piedmont trail. If you look closely at the photo of Hansi on the right, you can see how he feels about this.

Hansi Johnson, Adam Harju Hansi Johnson, Larry Sampson Brad Miller, Hansi Johnson

After making our way around the, um, destruction, we came upon a COGGS trail building crew working on the new Brewer Park trail, led by Adam Harju and Brad Miller, with assistance from Larry Sampson, Duluth Maintenance Supervisor for the Superior Hiking Trail Association. Here’s some background from a COGGS blog post:

Along with the work funded by the Legacy grant, COGGS also has it’s own mechanized trail building crew. Thanks to a $10,000 grant from Specialized Bicycles, COGGS was able to purchase a Bobcat 418 mini-excavator and a CanyCom mechanized wheel barrow. To operate this equipment we hired Adam Harju, Brad Miller and Pete Leutgeb.

Their first project was building two reroutes of the existing singletrack on the east side of Amity Creek and have since turned their efforts towards building a portion of the Duluth Traverse Trail through Brewer Park. This section of land is immediately across Haines Rd west of Piedmont and has perfect terrain for mountain bike trails. This section of the DT will connect Piedmont to the State Trail and DWP, which are both off-road, multi-use trails that a rider can take all the way to Beck’s Rd in West Duluth.

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Members of the College of Saint Scholastica track team were volunteering, hauling many wheelbarrow loads of dirt to the Brewer Park MTB trail construction site a couple blocks away. Jeesh.

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“Thanks to a $10,000 grant from Specialized Bicycles, COGGS was able to purchase a Bobcat 418 mini-excavator and a CanyCom mechanized wheel barrow.”

Photos: MORC Gravity Advocates doing another build day at Cottage Grove Bike Park

A crew of MORC Gravity Advocates (a sub-group of MORC) spent much of Saturday working on the Cottage Grove Bike Park.

Colin VanDerHyde Chance Glasford Mike Mullany

 

Adam Buck Andy Sinclair

I took a few photos of Adam Buck, Mark Gavin, Chance Glasford, Mike Mullany, Andy Sinclair, and Colin VanDerHyde.  Chris Braaten was there in the morning before I arrived.

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If you show up to work, you get to test and play a bit.

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Some photos of Chance (above) and Mike (below) doing both:

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See the large slideshow of all the above photos plus a dozen or so more or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:

Rock garden alternative lines: six sections set at Leb

Riding Section 1 at LebLast week I blogged about my technical scheme to mark up sections (alternative lines) through rock gardens. I set up two sections at Lebanon Hills later in the week, another four on Sunday, and revamped one of them yesterday after some feedback from Leb Trail Steward John Lundell.

So far, using white chalk to mark the rocks and flags to mark the entrance and exits has worked to set up the sections. It’s easy to move flags and the chalk marks can be removed by rubbing dirt on them.

I’ve not yet gotten much feedback yet to know if it’s working for riders. And it’s not rained, so I’ve not had to re-chalk.

The six videos all start with photos of the sections marked with red lines to make the alternative lines visible. Then there’s a clip of me riding the section.  I recorded the videos using my smartphone mounted on a small tripod, usually placed on the ground. Most of the sections required me to capture video from two or three different vantage points. The upshot of that? You see me cleaning everything but you don’t see a non-stop video of me cleaning entire sections from start to finish. Have I cleaned every section from start to finish? Not yet.  The videos also don’t include any of my many failed attempts and crashes.

All the videos are short, varying in length from 12-39 seconds.  Attach a comment if you’ve got questions or feedback.

Section 1:

Section 2:

Section 3:

Section 4:

Section 5:

Section 6:

A technical scheme: Mark up sections (alternative lines) through rock gardens

I have a scheme in mind: temporarily mark alternative lines through some selected rock gardens to provide fresh challenges to riders who are bored with riding through them the same way all the time. I’m calling them ‘sections’ since that’s the term most often used in mototrials events.

Leb rock garden alternative line - start Leb rock garden alternative line - finish

I’ve marked these photos with a red line to indicate an example of a short alternative line (viewed from the start and looking backwards from the finish) through a rock garden at Lebanon Hills.

I started thinking about this when I went rocking climbing a couple weeks ago at Vertical Endeavors with one of my sons. He told me that they change some of the color-coded climbs each month in order to keep things interesting for the advanced regulars.

How to mark the lines? Ideas thus far:

  • flags
  • chalk
  • colored stones/pebbles
  • tape
  • washable paint/spray chalk

rocks marked with a chalk lineMy inclination is to experiment first using small colored flags to mark the start and finish of a section and railroad chalk to mark the approximate line through the rocks. I want to avoid doing anything that would bother land managers, make things more difficult for dirt bosses/trail workers, or make riding needlessly more dangerous (e.g. stakes or other markers that could impale a tire or body part).

The sections would be publicized with photos and/or video in the MORC forum as well as via Twitter and Facebook.  Riders would be invited to discuss the sections, brag about their successes, whine about their failures, share photos and videos, etc. And then a month or two later, the sections would be changed to something else. Others could volunteer to set them up.  If this works with rock gardens, then it might be worth trying with other technical obstacles.

To explain a section to riders who discover it while out riding the trail, we could print a photo or two showing the alternative line, laminate them and tack them up on a stake or nearby tree with a little sign that says “Try this!”  We could also put up a QR code near the entrance of a section and link it to a web page with photos and videos. Riders with smartphones could then see what it’s all about.

I ran this idea past some of the Lebanon Hills Dirt Bosses last week and they seemed to like it. So I plan to start the experiment there.

What might the pros and cons of this idea be, especially the possible unintended consequences? Want to help? Attach a comment.

MORC hosts the Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew: sustainable trail building practices taught by Lori and Jesse

Lori Reed and Jesse Livingston IMBA Trail Care Crew logo C.J. Smith, Jesse Livingston, Lori Reed, Jay Thompson, Reed Smidt

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.

Jesse Livingston IMBA Trail Building School, classroom session, Monticello MN

Lori Reed Clay Haglund, Lori Reed, Troy David Grieves, Jesse Livingston
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:

  • IMBATrail Care Crew Quick Reference GuideTrail 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.

IMBA Trail Care Crew with MORC members Lori Reed and Jesse Livingston

Rhett Williams, Matthew Bailey, Jeff Leech MORC members with the IMBA Trail Care Crew
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.

MORC group ride at Elm Creek Singletrack with Jesse and Lori MORC/Elm Creek dirt boss C.J. Smith

MORC group ride at Elm Creek Singletrack with Jesse and Lori Jesse Livinston, Lori Reed, Reed Smidt
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: