I'm a Cannon River Offroad Cycling and Trails (#CROCT) board member, as is @martini_ss. On August 26, we signed contract (MOU) with the City of Northfield, Minnesota for our MTB trail in Sechler Park. It took a while but the right amount of persistence and civility paid off in the end. Props to City Engineer Dave Bennett, Streets & Parks Manager Jasper J Kruggel, the Northfield Parks & Rec Advisory Board (PRAB), and the Northfield City Council for their unanimous support. And a tip of the helmet to @man.drews at @imba_midwest @imba_us for his behind-the-scenes consulting.
As a board member for Cannon River Offroad Cycling & Trails (CROCT), I’ve been taking the lead on our PR and social media, not just to inform local mountain bikers about what we’re doing but also the wider community of Rice County where our IMBA chapter operates.
This is my narration to the slide presentation that CROCT President Marty Larson and I did for BikeNorthfield’s 3rd Annual Soup & Cycles meeting back in January.
It’s an overview of CROCT-related activities, events, and accomplishments in the past year. Like most any online video, you can pause it, move the slider backwards and forwards, and watch it in full-screen mode. 23 minutes:
(Click here to view this presentation on the CROCT blog without the narration. Advantage: clickable titles to blog posts that provide more background on each topic.)
Fellow CROCT board member Marty Larson and I are co-leading weekly youth mountain biking group rides all summer, a partnership with Northfield Public Schools Community Services. It’s turning out to be a big hit, as you can see from these photos. And we’re pleased that over half of the kids thus far are girls.
It’s a big advantage to have a mountain bike trail (CROCT’s Sechler Park trail in Northfield) that young kids can ride their bikes to on their own or with their parents. Sechler Park is connected to a paved bike/walking trail adjacent to downtown Northfield that goes under Highway 3 and over the Cannon River. It also parallels the Mill Towns Trail between Northfield and Dundas.
And this is turning out to be good PR for CROCT. Building and maintaining mtb trails that serve ourselves and other adults is good. But going out of our way to get youth involved is better. Kids help spread the word, they get their parents involved, and we’re thinking it will help with our fundraising and getting local sponsorships.
Peter Hark is a resident of rural Northfield, the DNR’s Field Operations Manager State Parks and Trails, and a Founding Supporter of CROCT. He joined me and Marty Larson on his first ride on the Sechler Park MTB trail on Wednesday, a day off for him because it was his birthday. He seemed to enjoy the ride and was complementary on what he saw. For a relatively new mountain biker, he’s not half-bad, and if he got a proper mountain bike with better tires he would definitely be more than marginally adequate.
It was a follow-up to the meeting that Marty, Jeremy and I had last August with Jake Rysavy, Rice County Parks & Facilities Director in which he expressed support for exploring the possibility of mountain bike trails at Caron Park and McCullough Park/Campground.
McCullough Park is in Jeff Docken’s district and he seemed intrigued about the possibility of having mountain bike trails on the large tract of park property across from the newly remodeled campground on Shields Lake.
See the August 21 photos in this CROCT blog post when Marty, Jeremy and I did a walk-through of McCullough. As you can see, the property has both a large sloping prairie and many ravines, making it ideal for mtb trails of all ability levels. And being adjacent to a trail head on a lake with a campground, picnic shelter, rest rooms, showers, boat access, etc, one could imagine McCullough becoming a destination mountain bike park someday.
We’ve expressed our preference for creating beginner-to-advanced mtb trails at Caron Park first. It’s situated half way between Faribault and Northfield, a more convenient (15-minute drive) for CROCT trail workers from both cities who would be investing hundreds of volunteer hours in constructing trails there. And after gaining a season’s worth of experience with trail-building at Caron, we would be in a better position to assess what we could accomplish at McCullough, a more demanding venue.
The next step will likely be for this to be an agenda item on an upcoming meeting of the Rice County Board’s Parks and Facilities committee before it goes to the full Board. The wheels of government don’t always move quickly but it’s possible that we could be authorized to dig at Caron Park this year.
City of Northfield Ward 2 Councilor David DeLong and Park & Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB) Chair Dale Gehring walked the the Sechler Park mtb trail this afternoon, accompanied by yours truly and CROCT board chair Marty Larson.
The 1.5 hour hike of about 3 miles (from the cul-de-sac behind Walgreen’s to the far pavilion and back) was a little challenging, as the temperature hovered around the zero mark with gusty northwest winds.
Marty and I wanted to give them a first-hand look at what CROCT volunteers have accomplished in Sechler Park since we got approval from the City to construct a mountain bike trail there last year. We’d like to add extensions and features to the trail this year, as well as install one or more trail head kiosks. And we’re interested in discussing the possibilities of adding off-road trails and bike park features like pump tracks to other City of Northfield parks. (For example, see the CROCT blog posts about the Meadows Park community planning meetings.)
We’re not yet sure if Dave and Dale were impressed with what they saw, but given the weather conditions, it’s likely they’ll remember the experience. 😉
And on related note, Councilor Dave took a few spins around the River Bend Nature Center parking lot last Saturday on a fat bike during the RBNC Fat Bike Event. In case you missed the photos of him in the blog post/photo album: