Tag Archives: Dave Cizmas

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

Rudy O’Brien’s North Shore Enduro Tour: it rocked, we rolled

A couple weeks ago, Duluth resident and COGGS (Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores) member Rudy O’Brien announced in the MORC forum that he was organizing an enduro-style group ride for June 23rd. "We will be riding a handful of gravity trails in Duluth." I had to be in Duluth last week for a work-related conference so the timing was perfect. I’d never ridden an enduro or on any gravity trails so I was psyched for it.

Rudy O'Brien Dave Cizmas, Rudy O'Brien big rocks to roll down big rocks to roll down 

When the record flooding hit the Duluth area on Tuesday/Wednesday, it wasn’t clear whether we’d be able to ride.  So Rudy, Dave Cizmas and I did a pre-ride on Friday afternoon to check things out. Yes, there were lots of washouts but there plenty of ways to get around them.  We came upon a couple of other riders who were out exploring and we had a blast rolling down the big rocks which were dry and grippy. Game on for Saturday.

Dave Cizmas, Rudy O'Brien; Cody Inn, Duluth flood Cody Inn, Duluth flood Cody Inn, Duluth flood
We rode areas near Duluth’s Cody Inn which was featured in many flood-related news stories.  We got to see a group of guys cut the back section of the inn loose and watch it tumble into the chasm.

Chance Glasford, Dave Cizmas, Cory Vierck, Rudy O'Brien, Spencer Johnson, Andy Kienitz, AJ Peterson  AJ Peterson, Cory Vierck, Spencer Johnson, Dave Cizmas, Rudy O'Brien, John Morrison, Andy Kienitz, Chance Glasford

Saturday morning’s soaking rains stopped by 10:30 so off we went. Left photo: Chance Glasford, Dave Cizmas, Cory Vierck, Rudy O’Brien, Spencer Johnson, Andy Kienitz, AJ Peterson.

Right photo: a gigantic washout of a road near Spirit Mountain: same gang, plus John Morrison who joined us mid-ride.

Rudy O'Brien Andy Kienitz Spencer Johnson Dave Cizmas Chance Glasford
With the morning rain, the big rocks were slippery. Ones like these that were relatively a piece ‘o cake on Friday were treacherous.  Still way fun, but braking was a more delicate affair.

AJ Peterson's knee John Morrison's knee Andy Kienitz Cory Vierck Chance Glasford, AJ Peterson, Spencer Johnson
The knees of AJ Peterson and John Morrison got kissed by the rocks, as did the tires of Andy Kienitz and Cory Vierck.  Otherwise, equipment checks and adjustments were the order of the day, along with:

Spencer Johnson, Andy Kienitz Chance Glasford, Rudy O'Brien, Dave Cizmas AJ Peterson, John Morrison AJ Peterson, Rudy O'Brien, Dave Cizmas, Andy Kienitz, Chance Glasford, Spencer Johnson,
Mud-splattered faces. After this break, we headed west of Spirit Mountain where we hiked our bikes (15-20 minutes for each) up a couple of very steep and gnarly rock trails and then blasted down them. Well, I didn’t exactly blast down.  With a hardtail 29’er, I learned why these guys ride full-suspension bikes on these super-technical downhills. Still, it was amazing fun for me.

We had about ten-mile ride back to Rudy’s house, going downhill to Hwy 23, past the devastated Lake Superior Zoo, then a long climb through the streets of West Duluth up to to Skyline Parkway and to our starting point (above right photo).

Rudy O'Brien, bicycle trials demo Rudy O'Brien, bicycle trials demo Rudy O'Brien, bicycle trials demo
While we gorged ourselves on brats and beer, Rudy treated us to bike trials demo in his backyard. I’m going to learn how to do these stunts when I get a little older.

Rudy O'Brien, bicycle trials demo Rudy O'Brien, bicycle trials demo Rudy O'Brien, bicycle trials demo

Chance Glasford has a much more detailed blog post on the event and the terrain we rode. Example:

Chance GlasfordThe first trail was short but it had a couple sweet technical moves. There was a three tiered drop/step down and if you didn’t pick the right line you were almost guaranteed to go over the bars.

Spencer learned this first hand as his fork bottomed out, his weight shifted forward as he dismounted superman style over the bars into a very graceful roll!

Rudy O'Brien, organizer, North Shore Enduro Tour
I can’t wait for the next edition of Rudy O’Brien’s North Shore Enduro Tour.