Category Archives: Trails

Admiral Rockbar gets an extension: Piedmont remains atop the heap of Minnesota’s technical trails

If you like difficult technical riding, the COGGS Piedmont trail in Duluth is Minnesota’s Crème De La Crème and one of many reasons that Duluth is an IMBA Gold-level Ride Center, one of 6 in the world. Here’s a 2015 map of Piedmont:

Map of Piedmont, 2015

I’d heard rumors earlier this year that one of Piedmont’s X segments, Admiral Rockbar, was extended recently to include some rock drops and a long rocky uphill.

I was at Spirit Mountain last weekend for the PMBI Level 1 instructor course (more on that to come) and I was eager to ride Rockbar before I left town. I saw COGGS Board Member and Ride Coordinator Dave Cizmas there and when I asked him about it, he told me he’d helped on the planning and route selection for the extension and that he’d managed to clean the uphill once. I was even more intrigued.

But with the heavy rain on Sunday, all COGGS trails were still closed. on Tuesday morning. I texted Dave and he said he thought Rockbar would be fine to ride, as long as I didn’t ride anything else at Piedmont.  When I saw COGGS Board Member/Fundraising Coordinator Pam Schmitt at Duluth Coffee Company on Tuesday morning she ‘deputized’ me to go have a look at it since other COGGS crew members were unavailable to check it out. I felt honored. A reconnaissance mission!

I parked in the small lot along Haines Rd where there’s quick access to the Admiral Rockbar segment without having to ride the other portions of Piedmont that were too wet to ride.

The dirt portions of Rockbar were damp but hard-packed. The rocks were somewhat slippery from the mist and heavy fog. I sent Pam a text that I thought Admiral was fine to ride.

Since I was by myself and the rocks were moist, I decided to hike-a-bike down the tricky downhill section along the Haines Rd cliff (for which I won a Camelbak Enduro Hydration pack last year, details here):

Admiral Rockbar

I also carried my bike down the biggest of the new drops:

Admiral Rockbar

No cajones? Not so much in the spring. More so in late fall when I have all winter to heal.

I concentrated instead on the uphill portion of the new extension. I spent about an hour sessioning its three tricky spots:

Continue reading Admiral Rockbar gets an extension: Piedmont remains atop the heap of Minnesota’s technical trails

MAMB’s Kiwanis MTB Trail: continuous improvements include a difficult ‘Stonehenge’

I attended Mankato Area Mountain Bikers (MAMB)‘s Bike Walk Week grill out /  spring party / fundraising event last Friday.  Their Kiwanis mtb trail has a new trail head with a spiffy kiosk:

MAMB's Kiwanis MTB Trail Head Kiosk  Hot dogs: Griff Wigley, Clay Haglund

They’ve made dozens of enhancements to the trail since I was there a year ago, among them a cluster of large concrete chunks that architect Clay Haglund and fellow volunteers have turned into a spectacular XX technical obstacle known as Stonehenge.  It has many lines through it, none of which I could clean that day.  I blamed the mud but local hotshot Dan Oachs was having far less trouble. I will be back.

MAMB's Clay Haglund at the Kiwanis MTB Trail's 'stonehenge' Dan Oachs rides MAMB's Kiwanis MTB Trail's 'stonehenge' One of many of my fails on MAMB's Kiwanis MTB Trail's 'stonehenge'

 

A spectacular day to visit Cuyuna

After my Duluth excursion, I took the long way home, heading over to the Cuyuna Lakes MTB Trail system in Crosby-Ironton.  Clear skies, no wind, no bugs. The MN DNR’s new trailhead was looking stunning.

Cuyuna Lakes MTB billboard Cuyuna Lakes MTB trail head

Cuyuna Lakes MTB trail head

I spent several hours shredding the red and not just the Yawkey Unit’s XX Timber Shaft segment, my fave. Sharp curves were just as compelling so Bobsled, Sandhog Mountain, Screamer, Ferrous Wheel, et al saw multiple runs. I will be back.

Cuyuna Lakes MTB - Timber Shaft Cuyuna Lakes MTB - sharp curves ahead

COGGS rocks! Photos & video of some X sections of the Piedmont trail in Duluth

Duluth Piedmont overlook

When I saw this announcement in late April by COGGS (Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores) that a portion of their Piedmont trail system was opening:

Basically you can session the free ride trails on the NIMBY cluster but all the XC stuff still has draining water going through it.

I knew it was time to head to Duluth, as I’d never ridden Piedmont’s DM, Medropolis, Dr. Diablo, Rickety Cricket, BOB (Bones of the Beast) or the Skyline Trail. I was at the end of my first-ever 30 Days of Biking, my sweetie was out of town, and the weather forecast was stunning for Duluth in late April: warm and sunny.

Among the people I rode with or met on the Piedmont trails over the course of three days: Wyatt Gruben, Rudy O’Brien, Justin Martin, Mason Bacso, Mitch Larson, Conner Nick, David Cizmas, Max Skarman, Karl Erbach, Kelly Erbach, and Cory Salmela.

Photos and videos: Continue reading COGGS rocks! Photos & video of some X sections of the Piedmont trail in Duluth

My last days of the winter singletrack (ridegroomed) season: not half-bad

I managed to squeeze in some decent singletrack winter riding on my 29’er last week before the spring thaw hit.  The trails were packed hard and the traction was amazing.

On Thursday afternoon, I rode everything at MORC’s Lebanon Hills MTB Park:

Lebanon Hills MTB Park - groomed singletrack (#ridegroomed) Lebanon Hills MTB Park - groomed singletrack (#ridegroomed) Lebanon Hills MTB Park - groomed singletrack (#ridegroomed)

including my favorite rock in the skills park:

Continue reading My last days of the winter singletrack (ridegroomed) season: not half-bad

Advocating for MTB trails: CROCT Board members meet with Rice County Commissioner Jeff Docken

L to R: Rice County District 5 Commissioner Jeff Docken, Marty Larson, Jeremy Bokman CROCT Board members Marty Larson, Jeremy Bokman and I had lunch yesterday at Tandem Bagels with Rice County District 5 Commissioner Jeff Docken.

It was a follow-up to the meeting that Marty, Jeremy and I had last August with Jake Rysavy, Rice County Parks & Facilities Director in which he expressed support for exploring the possibility of mountain bike trails at Caron Park and McCullough Park/Campground.

McCullough Park is in Jeff Docken’s district and he seemed intrigued about the possibility of having mountain bike trails on the large tract of park property across from the newly remodeled campground on Shields Lake.

See the August 21 photos in this CROCT blog post when Marty, Jeremy and I did a walk-through of McCullough. As you can see, the property has both a large sloping prairie and many ravines, making it ideal for mtb trails of all ability levels. And being adjacent to a trail head on a lake with a campground, picnic shelter, rest rooms, showers, boat access, etc, one could imagine McCullough becoming a destination mountain bike park someday.

We’ve expressed our preference for creating beginner-to-advanced mtb trails at Caron Park first. It’s situated half way between Faribault and Northfield, a more convenient (15-minute drive) for CROCT trail workers from both cities who would be investing hundreds of volunteer hours in constructing trails there. And after gaining a season’s worth of experience with trail-building at Caron, we would be in a better position to assess what we could accomplish at McCullough, a more demanding venue.

The next step will likely be for this to be an agenda item on an upcoming meeting of the Rice County Board’s Parks and Facilities committee before it goes to the full Board. The wheels of government don’t always move quickly but it’s possible that we could be authorized to dig at Caron Park this year.