Learning to manual: a wheelie with no pedaling

Bikeradar.com manual3-480-90-480-70I made a big step forward last week when I began to understand the difference between a pedal-powered wheelie and a manual. These articles helped me:

I’ve been using it this week to get over larger rocks and logs at speed.  And when I say ‘larger,’ I don’t mean large.  I mean bigger than the curbs on my street. Go ahead and laugh, but it was pretty cool when I got the hang of doing a manual over the curbs repeatedly.  And I can now see a bunny-hop in my future.

Steep climbs with steps

uphill steps at Lebanon HillsI’ve cleaned some steep uphills with steps/logs recently (St. Olaf College, Lebanon Hills) after reading about the techniques in this BetterRide.net blog post:

MTB Skills Tip w/ Pic, Technical Climbing w/Andy Winohradsky

Losing traction, “bogging out”, doing accidental wheelies, and/or getting a case of the “swirvies”, are all common causes of riders not making it to the top of technical descents.

Oh yeah. But I’m now getting the hang of how to do it right.

  • scoot far forward on the saddle
  • lower your chest (nose near the handlebars)
  • keep your elbow elevated
  • only stand slightly and briefly in order to make extreme weight-shifts or grossly accelerate the bike

New trail at Lebanon Hills: Beginners and intermediates? Yes. Fun for experts? You bet.

new beginner loop map at Lebanon HillsI 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????

Ryan Lieske on the upper open area of the beginner loop at Lebanon Hills Lower open area of the beginner loop at Lebanon Hills Upper open area of the beginner loop at Lebanon Hills
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!

See my album of 33 photos, the large slideshow (recommended), or this small slideshow:

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!

Squirrel Fest Mountain Bike Festival at Cuyuna

Don MacNaughton at Squirrel Fest Squirrel Fest 2011 poster Squirrel Fest 2011 Nick Statz at Squirrel Fest 2011
I had so much fun at the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Festival Grand Opening that I had to go to the 2011 Squirrel Fest Mountain Bike Festival, held last weekend in Crosby, MN, primarily organized by MORC member Don MacNaughton (left photo above).

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.

Yawkey Unit technical area, Cuyuna Mountain Bike Trail System Troy Lawrence, Yawkey Unit technical area, Cuyuna Mountain Bike Trail System Troy Lawrence, Yawkey Unit technical area, Cuyuna Mountain Bike Trail System Troy Lawrence, Yawkey Unit technical area, Cuyuna Mountain Bike Trail System
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…

DSC07101 Joyce Hoggarth, Louie Hoggarth DSC07097 DSC07104
For dinner, my wife Robbie and I paid a visit to Louie’s Bucket of Bones in the adjacent town of Ironton. We met owner Joyce Hoggarth and her son Louie and of course, feasted on BBQ ribs, as Louie’s is among the top ten BBQ joints in Minnesota according to this article in the July, 2010 issue of Minnesota Monthly.

sled competition at the Squirrel Fest sled competition at the Squirrel Fest sled competition at the Squirrel Fest
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.

Dave LaChapelle has an album of Squirrel Fest 2011 photos on his Green Body Facebook page.

MTB skills, instruction, & advocacy