Tag Archives: Adam Sundberg

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

The Duluth Enduro Series: why I’m now hooked on mountain bike enduro racing

Duluth Enduro Series 2015I tried a few XC mountain bike races back in 2011 when I first started mountain biking and while I enjoyed the atmosphere of the races, I didn’t really enjoy the riding that much, as it seemed to be 90% aerobic endurance, not my forte.  I began to equate ‘endurance’ with ‘suffering’ and haven’t competed in any XC mtb races since.

So when I started learning about mountain bike enduro racing last year and that COGGS was again hosting a Duluth Enduro Series in 2015 for members, I became intrigued because of the format. The way they explain it:

Enduro uses a time trial format with racers starting special stages 30 seconds to a minute apart. There are two types of stages: Timed stages (or Special Stages) and Transits. All of the Timed stages will factor into your final place. Timed stages are mostly downhill, but will have a few flat sections or small climbs. Transits require riders to make it to the start of the next timed stage within a given time, however there’s no benefit to finishing the Transit faster than your competitors.

The Wikipedia entry for Enduro mountain biking nails the rationale for me because of the emphasis on technical features, more my forte:

Enduro is a form of Mountain bike racing in which there is a greater proportion of downhill sections, which are timed, to uphill and cross country sections. This aims to test rider’s technical bike handling skills as well as providing endurance and climbing.

But since I live in southern Minnesota, a 3+ hour drive from Duluth, and since the Duluth Enduro Series races are held on Wednesday nights, I didn’t give too much thought to actually competing.

On Wednesday morning, June 10, a massive rain system was moving towards southern MN and forecast to cover most of Wisconsin on Thursday. I had been planning to head to the IMBA Great Lakes Summit in Marquette, MI on Thursday but decided to take a detour to Duluth to avoid the rain and sample some of the COGGS trails that I’d never ridden. I posted a note about my intentions to my Facebook profile timeline at 3pm:

Continue reading The Duluth Enduro Series: why I’m now hooked on mountain bike enduro racing

IMBA Upper Midwest Regional Summit 2013 in Cable, WI: good meeting, great riding

Last June I attended my first regional IMBA Summit, held in Crosby, MN near the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trail System. It was titled the 2nd Annual Great Lakes Summit.

This year, it was titled the IMBA Upper Midwest Regional Summit and it was hosted in Cable, WI, in the middle of the Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA)’s off-road bike trail system.

IMBA Upper Midwest gang, ready to ride Seeley Pass Trail Sawmill Saloon IMBA Upper Midwest gang at Sawmill Saloon Ron Bergin, Steve Morales
After the IMBA Upper Midwest Regional Leadership Advisory Council meeting on Friday afternoon (I didn’t attend), a group of us got in a 10-mile ride on CAMBA’s Seeley Pass Trail from the HWY 00 Trail Head. I was indeed “superb rolling, flowy singletrack.” We then made our way to the Sawmill Saloon in Seeley for refreshments and dinner and where I got a chance to chat with a couple of fellow geezers that I’d met briefly on the ride, CAMBA’s Executive Director Ron Bergin and longtime CAMBA trail coordinator/volunteer Steve Morales.

Hansi Johnson opens 2013 IMBA Upper Midwest Summit Hansi Johnson opens 2013 IMBA Upper Midwest Summit 2013 IMBA Upper Midwest Summit 2013 IMBA Upper Midwest Summit
IMBA’s Midwest Regional Director Hansi Johnson opened the Summit on Saturday morning at the Cable Community Centre, thanking the 35+ attendees for coming and citing examples of regional cooperation in the past year (e.g., teaming up on get-out-the-vote efforts for the Bell-Built Grant competition).

Adam Harju, Superior Cycling Association (SCA) Kit Grayson, Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores (COGGS) Aaron Hautala, Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails (CLMTBT) Mark Fisk, Woolly Bike Club (W/B/C)

Reed Smidt, Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists (MORC) Scott Sherman, Winona Area Mountain Bikers (WAMB) Ron Bergin, Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA) Jereme Rauckman, Chippewa Off Road Bike Association (CORBA)

Matt Block, Central Wisconsin Offroad Cycling Coalition (CWOCC) ?, Capital Off-Road Pathfinders (CORP) Aaron Rogers, Copper Harbor Trails Club (CHTC) Stephen Schmidt, Iowa Trail Bombers (ITB) Robert Peters, Southern Keweenaw (SöKē)
Representatives of the Upper Midwest IMBA chapters at the Summit (there are over 20) then each gave short summaries of their chapter’s activities and accomplishments in the past year, as well as their plans for the upcoming year.  In a follow-up email, MORC Board Secretary Susannah King captured my sentiments:

It was helpful to see so many other clubs working toward a common goal, dealing with similar (and different) successes and challenges that we do.

 Jeremy Fancher, IMBA Director of Public Affairs Aaron M. Smith DSC01219
IMBA Director of Public Affairs Jeremy Fancher (with support from colleague Aaron M. Smith) presented on the legal ins and outs of IMBA Chapters having  MOU’s, partnership agreements, contracts, etc. with land managers/owners.  Several Chapter board members I talked to afterwards seemed grateful, worried, and motivated to roll up their sleeves upon returning home to delve deeper into their land manager agreements and do what needs to be done to make them better.

John Gaddo, QBP Reed Smidt, MORC
John Gaddo from QBP gave an overview of the rapidly growing fat bike market (expected to double in the next two years). In the Western US, there’s a push with land managers to allow fat bikes to share the use of cross country ski and snowmobile trails for touring-type riding in the winter. But here in the Midwest, he felt it’s far better for Chapters to focusing on grooming some of their singletrack for both fat bikes and regular mountain bikes; hence, a good chunk of his presentation was about the variety of snow grooming techniques and equipment being used in the area. Reed Smidt, president of MORC, gave details on their grooming experiences in the past few years.

Adam Sundberg, COGGS Kit Grayson, COGGS Lori Hauswirth, Copper Harbor Trails Club Aaron Rogers, Copper Harbor Trails Club (CHTC)
The session on fundraising featured Adam Sundberg and Kit Grayson from COGGS and Lori Hauswirth and Aaron Rogers from the Copper Harbor Trails Club.

COGGS has learned 1) how to leverage small grants into a series of ever-larger grants; and 2) that face-to-face, ongoing contact with the grantee organization is critically important, ie, it’s not enough to just submit the application. They’ve also learned that 1) its annual Gala allows them to reach out to a segment of the Duluth population that doesn’t mountain bike but who believes in its importance to the area. Attendees include community leaders and the more financially well-off; 2) it’s best to have auction items have wide appeal rather than being mtb-related (eg, vacation packages, restaurant deals, etc); and 3) the committee in charge of the Gala works on it for the entire year.

Copper Harbor has learned 1) how to scale the value of its sponsorships from local business owners; and 2) how to conduct a raffle with large ticket items (2013 raffle: $6,000 camping trailer, $4,400 Trek, etc).

Leslie Kehmeier, IMBA Mapping Specialist MTBProject.com
IMBA Mapping Specialist Leslie Kehmeier presented on their new partnership with MTB Project which this IMBA page describes as

a next-generation mountain bike guide and trail map web site. This robust platform for online mapping displays the known trails in any given area, complete with elevation profiles, full GPS routes, photos, detailed ride info and more.

They’ve just added a feature that I think will create an incentive for Chapters to participate/contribute: once a trail has been mapped, embed code for it can be put on a Chapter’s own website. The quality of the mapping is not something that a Chapter could easily do on its own, so this a pretty big deal IMHO.

Leslie blogs about the project at IMBA.com. See all the IMBA blog posts in the Mapping Category, including her recent blog post, Understanding “rides and trails” on MTBproject.com:

If you’ve visited the MTB Project website you may have noticed two categories: “rides” and “trails.” Some have wondered what the difference might be — one doesn’t exist without the other, right?

Ron Bergin IMBA Upper Midwest gang, ready to ride new trail on Camp 38 rd, with Katie Johnson and Bonnie Finnerty
CAMBA Executive Director Ron Bergin led the group ride after the Summit was over. I took one photo as riders were getting ready to depart but the vicious mosquitoes created a strong incentive to keep it in my hydration pack thereafter.  His description of the new (built last summer) cross country flow trail:

5 miles of fast riding, open & flowing with dozens of bermed turns plus two super-fun gravity features and a 180-foot log ride. Start from our newest trailhead on Camp 38 Rd. – so new there are hardly any signs yet.

CAMBA log skinny - photo by Scott Anderson CAMBA gravity cavity - photo by Scott Anderson IMBA Upper Midwest gang at the Rivers Eatery in Cable, WI
I found some photos of this new trail in the CAMBA Trails Flickr group including the two above by Scott Anderson of that 180-foot log skinny (which can be ridden backwards) and the roller coaster Gravity Cavity section (which can be ridden repeatedly in a loop). These two photos are small thumbnail-sized screenshots that are linked to Scott’s originals. Be sure to click through to see them. After Saturday’s ride, we gathered for refreshments and stone oven pizza at the Rivers Eatery in Cable.

CAMBA Rock Lake Trail - MTB Project Rock Lake Wall Street section CAMBA No Hands Bridge
On Sunday, some did the 27-mile Rock Lake IMBA Epic ride and others, including me, just the 12-mile Rock Lake trail (click here to see the difference between a ‘ride’ and a ‘trail’). Most notable for me was 1) the steep rocky downhill section called Wall Street; and 2) the No Hands Bridge (I used both hands and road the angled cut board). The above right photo is from this blog post about the entire Rock Lake trail by someone named rlove2bike.

Here’s the information and live MTBProject.com map (using their embed code) for the Rock Lake Trail:

All in all, ’twas a memorable weekend of great weather, good information, tasty food, excellent microbrews, and exhilarating riding, all stitched together with friends new and old.  Saaaaaweeeet.