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