Tag Archives: John Schaubach

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.

Why aren’t there more seniors mountain biking? Part 2

I asked the question here on my blog last week: Why aren’t there more seniors mountain biking? I’m trying to understand what’s behind the relatively few number of my age-related peers (AARP crowd, baby boomers, seniors, geezers) who are out there mountain biking regularly.

I also posted the question to:

Tim Walsh, Griff Wigley, Dean Davis

This morning, I met and had coffee with two of the guys who’ve been participating in the MORC discussion, Tim Walsh and Dean Davis. Tim is 64 and has been mountain biking for 30 years. Dean is about to turn 66 and starting mountain biking last year.

After a couple hundred online comments, plus my conversation today with Tim and Dean, I’ve got a somewhat better understanding than I did a week ago about seniors and mountain biking. There’s a lot to sort through and explain so I’m planning a series of blog posts, each one tackling a factor or issue related to seniors and mountain biking and what could be done.  Continue reading Why aren’t there more seniors mountain biking? Part 2

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.

‘Cuyuna Gold’ is golden for a mountain bike trail surface

I spent a few days with some buddies at a cabin near Lutsen over the weekend. We hiked the state park trails at Temperance and Cascade but I brought my 29’er in case any of the COGGS mountain bike trails around Duluth opened up/dried out in time for my drive back home to Northfield. Alas, no such luck. The trails were all too soft yet because of the late-season heavy snowfall and cold temps.

Northfielders Todd Orjala, Ken Drivdahl, Steve Schmidt at CuyunaI was going to head back home to ride the metro-area MORC trails but torrential rains there closed all the trails that had just opened up a week ago.  So I sent a text to CLMTB Crew president Aaron Hautala in hopes that Cuyuna Lakes would be open. YES!  They had heavy rain overnight but the trails dried out quickly and were tacky fast.

I got there by 3:30 on Saturday and promptly ran into fellow Northfielders Todd Orjala, Ken Drivdahl, and Steve Schmidt.  After riding all the trails in the Mahnomen Unit (see inset B on the DNR map), I pooped out by dark and was planning to make the drive home but got rescued by CLMTB Crew member John Schaubach who offered me dinner at his cabin and a place to pitch my sleeping bag for the night. YES!

John Schaubach with a section of Cuyuna Gold Cuyuna Gold placed on top of clay clay trail
John and I went for an early Sunday morning ride in the Yawkey Unit. He showed me how the CLMTB Crew had painstakingly spread a layer of Cuyuna’s red dirt/gravel mix on top of many sections of the trails that were primarily clay.  John said that they refer to this mixture as ‘Cuyuna Gold’ because of its ability to harden the surface of a trail while still providing good traction. It’s amazing the amount of work that’s gone into doing this and what a difference it makes, especially after it’s rained. Props to Cuyuna Dirt Boss Nick Statz, Yawkey Unit  Dirt  Boss Dave Taylor, and their team of CLMTB Crew volunteers for working with the DNR to make this happen.

Heartland Kitchen and Cafe, Crosby MN Jim and Maureen Christopher, Heartland Kitchen & Cafe, Crosby, MN Sunday buffet, Heartland Kitchen & Cafe, Crosby, MNg Sunday buffet, Heartland Kitchen & Cafe, Crosby, MNg

Sunday buffet, Heartland Kitchen & Cafe, Crosby, MNg Sunday buffet, Heartland Kitchen & Cafe, Crosby, MNg Sunday buffet, Heartland Kitchen & Cafe, Crosby, MNg Maureen Christopher and John Schaubach, Crosby, MN
The rain ended our ride at 9 am so we promptly headed to the Heartland Kitchen & Café in Crosby for their stunning Sunday buffet.  I’d blogged photos of proprietor Maureen Christopher before but this was the first time I’d met her sweetie, Jim Christopher, who was the beauty on duty for the buffet. After two hours of gorging ourselves, John and I staggered out and I departed for home, sated and grateful for yet another Cuyuna weekend.

Parks and Trails Council’s ‘Day on the Hill’ includes some good news: veteran lobbyist Judy Erickson takes on Cuyuna as a client

I was in St. Paul yesterday morning for the Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota’s Day on the Hill which their web site described as:

Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota… a great opportunity to network with other park and trail supporters from around the state, learn about the issues, and hear from park leaders and legislators. Whether you come as a member of a Friends group, a concerned citizen or a student looking to learn about the process, you’ll leave informed and your involvement strengthens our efforts to preserve and enhance Minnesota’s special places! The morning will equip you with the necessary tools to meet with your legislators.

Minnesota Trails magazine, Winter 2011 - Tim Wegner Mountain biking as a way of lifeI first blogged about the Parks and Trails Council back in Nov. of 2011 when Tim Wegner’s contributions to mountain biking were profiled in their Minnesota Trails magazine.

That piece focused on Tim’s work on the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails, which, as readers of this blog know, is the mountain bike park that changed my life.

MN Parks & Trails Executive Director Brett Feldman DNR State Parks Director Courtland Nelson Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota's Day on the Hill 2013 
So it was cool yesterday to see and hear from two of the people mentioned in that article, Executive Director Brett Feldman and DNR State Parks Director Courtland Nelson, because of the role they played in Cuyuna’s creation.

Team Cuyuna: Jenny Smith, Jim Mayne, Judy Erickson, John SchaubachBetter yet, my Cuyuna pals Jenny Smith and John Schaubach from the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails were there and introduced me to two of their colleagues, Jim Mayne (Deerwood Technologies, Cuyuna Lakes Chamber of Commerce) and Judy Erickson, former Government Relations Director for the Parks and Trails Council, now a lobbyist on her own with a new client: Cuyuna!  A little history on Judy is in order.

After I blogged about the article on Tim Wegner, I attached a comment to it about Judy’s departure from the Council, linking to the Nov. 2010 article titled High-Energy Judy Erickson Leaving Parks & Trails Council.  Pertinent Cuyuna quote from the article:

Wegner recalled that once he and others were glumly discussing the fact that they didn’t have the necessary state money to match the potential federal money when Parks & Trails Government Relations Director Judy Erickson approached them and asked what was wrong. They explained and she took them to the sixth floor of the State Office Building, told the people there that she wanted a bill written and what she wanted it to say and then took it to DFL Rep. John Ward and Republican Sen. Paul Koering and told them to sponsor it. Eventually, the $150,000 was appropriated. “The state is getting a million dollar trail for $150,000,” Wegner said.

Tim chimed in with this comment:

Griff, I remember that conversation with Judy very well. It was amazing to me how much Judy was respected by everyone that she spoke with. Everyone from the people that wrote the bill to Rep Ward and Sen. Koering treated her with respect and obvious appreciation for all the work she did to lobby for state parks.

The energy that Judy exudes is infectious, she has such a positive attitude and full of attitude of we can get this done. She was also critical in holding my hand as I testified in front of the house committee in support of the bill. What a scary experience but, I knew that Judy was there and could always help me with a difficult question.

I asked Judy to send me a blurb about her role. She wrote:

A veteran lobbyist, sharing her strategic legislative and communications skills, and passion, to help communities secure state investments for economic development, tourism and infrastructure. For Cuyuna, helping them develop a community wide approach to state investments in the Cuyuna Lakes Trail and CSRA and turning the area into the place for active recreation year-round; and creating business opportunities along the way. "One ride on a mountain bike was all it took.  The adrenaline and the scenic beauty of Cuyuna combine for an amazing memory." Unique signature, besides working really hard, is sharing apples and apple pies or two from our Pleasant Valley Orchard.

You can also contact Judy via her profile on LinkedIn and her firm, Conservation Strategies, Inc.

My photos of others who spoke during the morning session:

 Parks and Trails Council Executive Director Brett Feldman Luke Skinner, Deputy Director of MnDNR Parks and Trails Division Erika Rivers, Assistant Commissioner of MnDNR
Brett Feldman, Parks and Trails Council Executive Director; Luke Skinner, Deputy Director of MnDNR Parks and Trails Division; Erika Rivers, Assistant Commissioner of MnDNR

Greg Mack, Director of Ramsey County Parks and Recreation Tom Ryan, Superintendent of Olmsted County Parks Greg Mack, Erika Rivers, Tom Ryan Rep. Alice Hausman, Chair of House Capital Investment Committee
Greg Mack, Director of Ramsey County Parks and Recreation; Tom Ryan, Superintendent of Olmsted County Parks; Rep. Alice Hausman, Chair of House Capital Investment Committee;

Rep. Leon Lillie, Assistant Majority Leader, Vice-Chair Legacy Committee Rep. Jean Wagenius, Chair of House Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture Finance Committee Jean Wagenius, Alice Hausman Sen. David Tomassoni, Chair of Senate Environment, Economic Development and Agriculture Division
Rep. Leon Lillie, Assistant Majority Leader, Vice-Chair Legacy Committee; Rep. Jean Wagenius, Chair of House Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture Finance Committee; Sen. David Tomassoni, Chair of Senate Environment, Economic Development and Agriculture Division.

Sen. Dan Sparks, member, Environment, Economic Development and Agriculture Division Rep. Phyllis Kahn, Chair of House Legacy Committee Rep. Denny McNamara, member, Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture Finance Committee Joe Bagnoli, Government Relations Consultant for Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota 
Sen. Dan Sparks, member, Environment, Economic Development and Agriculture Division; Rep. Phyllis Kahn, Chair of House Legacy Committee; Rep. Denny McNamara, member, Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture Finance Committee; Joe Bagnoli, Government Relations Consultant for Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota.

Distributing a little dirt in Cuyuna’s Yawkey unit

The trails in Cuyuna’s Yawkey Unit are about as good as it gets: reasonably hard-packed, just wide enough, and fun. Haul Road trail is truly amazing, almost as fast as riding on dirt. And you really can get some speed on Bobsled. Wheeeeeeee.

John Schaubach John Schaubach20130301_104004
However, there are a just a handful of spots on Yawkey’s south-facing trails where there’s a little bit of ice from snow melt so this morning, Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew (CLMTBC) member John Schaubach and I rode around and put dirt on them.  That’ll make things a little less tricky  for tonight’s s Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout group ride.

Tom Osborne, Dave Taylor, John SchaubachJohn SchaubachJohn Schaubach, Griff Wigley
What a gorgeous day.