Tag Archives: Gary Sjoquist

The 20th Anniversary MORC Gala: speakers and auctions and beer, oh my!

20th Anniversary MORC Gala at the Varsity TheaterThe 20th Anniversary MORC Gala at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis on Sunday was fabulous. As a MORC board member, I’m more than a little biased, of course.  So with that caveat, here’s a glimpse into the wingding.

Kristin Clark, MORC Board member, meteorologist, and 2WheelWeather bloggerThe doors opened at 2pm for the Surly Brewing Happy Hour, with live music by The Lost Wheels. MORC Board member, meteorologist, and 2WheelWeather blogger Kristin Clark (@2WheelWeather & @KClarkWx) was the Master of Ceremonies and began her duties by introducing each of the speakers.

Continue reading The 20th Anniversary MORC Gala: speakers and auctions and beer, oh my!

R.I.P. Jim Oberstar, a friend to mountain biking

Former MN Congressman Jim Oberstar died unexpectedly last Saturday.  His funeral was earlier today in the Washington DC area.

If you’ve been a bicyclist in Minnesota for very long, you’re probably aware of his contributions.  If not, see the links from Adventure Cycling here and here. I like those because they’re a couple years old.

I briefly met Oberstar last year in St. Paul (blogged here) when he attended and spoke at the 2013 Minnesota Bicycle Summit. I knew at the time from my conversations with QBP’s Gary Sjoquist that Oberstar was able to secure (an earmark!) $750,000 of Federal highway funds (first time ever for a MTB trail) for the creation of the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trail System so I was pleased to get the above photo of him with two of my Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew (CLMTBC) pals, John Schaubach and Jenny Smith.

Here’s an excerpt from a Cuyuna timeline document on IMBA’s website:

2005 – IMBA’s Jenn Dice suggests to Tim Wegner that MN 8th District Congressman Jim Oberstar might be able to help with funding. Wegner drafts a request for a federal transportation grant which he and [Gary] Sjoquist present to Oberstar in Washington, DC. When President Bush signs the 2005 federal transportation bill in July, 750,000 is earmarked for the CCSRA [Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area] to be administered through MN Department of Transportation to the MN DNR.

2014 IMBA Midwest Fat Bike Access & Grooming Workshop

Last Thursday and Friday, I attended the IMBA Midwest Fat Bike Access & Grooming Workshop in Cable WI, a gathering of practitioners devoted to improving off-road cycling and fat biking in winter.

QBP  MORC logo 200 IMBA CAMBA
The event was sponsored by QBP and hosted by Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists (MORC), International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), and the Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA).

John GaddoDSC06075  Cold Rolled

Following a late Thursday afternoon/evening fat bike ride by approximately 15- 20 riders on the newly groomed Esker trail in the CAMBA trail system’s Cable cluster, participants gathered for the opening reception at the Lakewoods Resort. QBP’s John Gaddo showed Cold Rolled, the  documentary by Clear & Cold Cinema featuring the 15-mile winter singletrack Snow Bike Route (SBR) that’s part of the Noquemanon Trails Network in Marquette, Michigan.

Continue reading 2014 IMBA Midwest Fat Bike Access & Grooming Workshop

An email from QPB’s Gary Sjoquist: Trail sharing for fat bikes; upcoming Fat Bike Summits

I got this email today from Gary Sjoquist, QBP Advocacy Director, asking for help to get the word out. I’ve added a few links and photos to it.

Gary Sjoquist and Scott Fitzgerald Continue reading An email from QPB’s Gary Sjoquist: Trail sharing for fat bikes; upcoming Fat Bike Summits

PedalMN Bicycle Summit: Minnesota is a state that works for mountain bikers

Time magazine cover Governor-Wendell-Anderson 2013 PedalMN Bike Summit

Many of you reading this blog were not even a gleam in your father’s eye in 1973 when Time magazine featured Governor Wendell Anderson on its cover for a story titled Minnesota: A State That Works. (Anderson just celebrated his 80th birthday earlier this year.)

2013 PedalMN Bike Summit planning partners

But I thought of that cover story after attending the 2013 PedalMN Bike Summit this week, a two-day Minnesota state government-hosted conference involving four state agencies, several non-profits, and representatives from more than a few bicycle-related businesses. 

CLMTBC_IMBA_Web_LogoWhen it comes to bicycling, Minnesota seems to be a state that works.  And for state’s mountain bikers, the success of the two-year old Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trail system (CLMTBT) is the epitome of government, non-profit, and industry leaders effectively collaborating to get something done that’s been huge for our sport in the state. In short, Cuyuna rocks. (In MN mountain biking circles, the word ‘Cuyuna’ is the most commonly used short-hand for the mtb trail system in the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area – CCSRA.)

Read the timeline of the creation of Cuyuna. You’ll see the names of these people, most of them more than once: Gary Sjoquist, Dan Cruser, Courtland Nelson, Mike Van Abel, and Hansi Johnson. All of them were there this week, as were others from their organizations (MORC, IMBA, DNR, QBP).

Huntington Mine Lake, Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails Alstead Mine Lake, Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails Alstead Mine Lake, Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails Map: Cuyuna's Screamer

I got up to Cuyuna early on Monday morning, as it was a gorgeous autumn day and I wanted to ride every single trail in the Huntington east and west units (AKA as the Mahnomen Unit on the DNR’s map of Cuyuna). I rode some more than once, including the steep and short Screamer which I rode five times, trying to get better/faster at it with marginal success. But what fun.

Experiential session groups, 2013 PedalMN Bike Summit Experiential session groups, 2013 PedalMN Bike Summit Experiential session groups, 2013 PedalMN Bike Summit

For most participants, the day’s activities started shortly after lunch with “experiential workshops on bicycles in the field.”  Groups gathered in the Croft Mine parking lot in Cuyuna’s Yawkey Unit.  The blurb for those doing the experiential mountain bike ride:

Experience firsthand what makes the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails an IMBA-certified Ride Center. Learn about purpose-built trail design and weekly trail maintenance. See why cycling is now-year round in the Cuyuna Lakes area.

Find out how state, county and city governments have partnered with residents and the cycling industry to achieve the shared goal of becoming an international mountain biking destination. Members of the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew will lead ride participants through an interactive tour within the Yawkey Unit of the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area.

This bike tour is purposefully designed for cyclists of all skill levels to enjoy their time on the red dirt. Riders will be separated into advanced, intermediate and beginner categories.

Hansi Johnson, IMBA Dan Cruser, CLMTBT Nick Statz, CLMTBT

Darrell, local EMS guy Peter Hark, DNR Field Operations Mgr & stand-in photographer Katie Johnson (reflective vest), CLMTBT, experiential group ride leader

Organizers set up six guided ride stops out on the trails, each staffed with someone explaining:

  1. Mountain bike experiential session routePurpose Built Trails and Riding
  2. Trail Maintenance
  3. Community Connections for Economic Development
  4. High School Mountain Bike League
  5. Year Round Recreation
  6. Safety and Grassroots Support

I followed the advanced group around and IMHO, it was a very cool way to show/teach a large number of people in a short period of time the important aspects of a modern mountain bike trail system and its wider impact.  After the guided stops, ride leaders took their groups back out on the loop trails for more riding until everyone convened back at the parking lot for topical Q&A at various tables.

Karl Erbach (Trek), John Schaubach (CLMTBC), Seth Nesselhuf (QBP) Steve Weber (DNR), Gary Sjoquist (QBP) John Gaddo (QBP), Reed Smidt (MORC)

There were more than a few mtb muckety mucks on hand to help.

Left: Karl Erbach (Trek), John Schaubach (CLMTBC), Seth Nesselhuf (QBP)
Center: Steve Weber (DNR), Gary Sjoquist (QBP)
Right: John Gaddo (QBP), Reed Smidt (MORC)

deck at Cragun's Resort dining room, Cragun's Resort DNR's Courtland Nelson; IMBA's Mike Van Abel IMBA Executive Director Mike Van Abel

We then gathered for socializing and dinner at Cragun’s Resort in Brainerd, where DNR Parks and Trails Director Courtland Nelson introduced the evening speaker, IMBA Executive Director Mike Van Abel. Mike and IMBA have a long history with Cuyuna (Hansi’s got a good summary in his June 2011 blog post, shortly after the park opened) so it was fun to hear some of Mike’s stories of that history. His message to the audience of 200+ participants was clear: the pursuit of IMBA’s mission (“to create, enhance and preserve great mountain biking experiences”) goes far beyond the sport and IMBA’s members.  Communities and regions all over the continent are seeing that the environmental, economic, and public heath benefits of mountain biking are significant and growing.

IMBA'sMike Van Abel, moderating MTB panel at PedalMN Bike Summit IMBA's Hansi Johnson, MTB panelist at PedalMN Bike Summit MORC Board Chair Reed Smidt, MTB panelist at PedalMN Bike Summit CLMBTC President Aaron Hautala, MTB panelist at PedalMN Bike Summit Mike Van Abel, Aaron Hautala, Hansi Johnson

One of Tuesday morning’s breakout sessions was dedicated to mountain biking. Mike moderated a panel consisting of IMBA’s Hansi Johnson, MORC’s Reed Smidt, and CLMBT’s Aaron Hautala.

One thing that stood out for me was Reed’s comment about MORC’s role in the state.  Despite the word ‘Minnesota’ in its name, MORC has recently become more focused on mountain biking in the Twin Cities metro area, as the IMBA Chapter Program has produced many chapters throughout the state. But with 3 million residents and thousands of mountain bikers in the metro area, MORC plays an important role in producing and supplying a significant number of mountain bikers who like to travel to the mtb trail systems throughout the state and midwest region.

So my take-away from the Bike Summit: I’m damn lucky to be a resident of Minnesota, a state that works for mountain biking. And the work that others have done to get us to this point inspires me to help keep it going and do what I can to get others to join the effort.

I’m in a Duluth coffee shop as I write this. I’m going riding.

An unofficial strategy meeting on the proposed trail through the MN River Bottoms which, conveniently enough, just flooded

Gary Sjoquist, Dennis Porter, Don YoungdahlFellow MORC members Dennis Porter, Don Youngdahl  and I met with QBP Advocacy Director Gary Sjoquist yesterday at QBP’s HQ in Bloomington to discuss the current situation with the mountain bike trails in the Minnesota River Bottoms that I blogged about last week.

The MORC Board has not taken a formal position on the proposed paved or ‘finished surface’ trail through the Cedar-to-169 segment (Bloomington refuge corridor), nor have they officially appointed any of us to speak for them. But given the long history that Don, Dennis and Gary have with this issue, I think it’s probably fair to say that the Board is happy to have us working on it. I volunteered to be an informal liaison to the Board.

Our strategy for the next two months is simple: meet with the leaders  we know at the various government agencies and other key organizations to get a better understanding of what they know and their concerns. The new manager of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge has been hired and evidently will be starting in August.  In the meantime, we’ll be contacting people at the Parks and Trails Division of the DNR, the Parks and Trails Council of MN, the City of Bloomington, and the MN Division of the Izaac Walton League.

I edited my blog post to make it clearer that website for The Friends of the Minnesota Valley’s Trail Advocacy Group is a separate website from the Friends of the Minnesota Valley website. While Ed Crozier is listed as Director Emeritus of the Friends of the Minnesota Valley, it would appear that his advocacy on this issue has not been embraced by their Board. If true, we need to understand why.

One of the arguments against constructing a paved or ‘finished surface’ trail along the bottom lands of the Minnesota River is that it’s likely to be very expensive to maintain it since the river regularly floods. After the meeting, Don Youndahl and I did a reconnaissance ride from the Bloomington Ferry Bridge trailhead to see the condition of the trail since the flooding that had occurred a week ago.

Don wrote last night in the MORC forum:

Tried a reconnaissance ride from Bloomington Ferry late this morning. Almost no standing water, but still too wet in the low spots. The good news is the flooding has knocked down a lot of the itch-weed. Wait for a few more good drying days, & bring a hand saw. The flood has done it’s usual job on the trail.

MN River Bottoms flooding, Bloomington, July 2013

MN River Bottoms flooding, Bloomington, July 2013 MN River Bottoms flooding, Bloomington, July 2013 MN River Bottoms flooding, Bloomington, July 2013 MN River Bottoms flooding, Bloomington, July 2013
As you can see, the flooding deposited huge amounts of muck everywhere, including on top of the bridges that cross the smaller streams (bridges that Don, Dennis and other MORC members have constructed and reconstructed many times over the years). If there was a paved or ‘finished surface’ trail through there, the cleanup costs would be significant. It’s not clear which government agency would budget for this regular occurrence.

Griff Wigley and Don Youngdahl Griff Wigley and Don Youngdahl
I took the selfie on the left when Don and I returned to the parking lot. We toasted ourselves afterwards at Zeke’s Place.