Five above zero and windy? No problem. River Bend Nature Center held their first Fat Bike Event on Saturday and it was a hit, even for those like me who spent most of the time in the cozy confines of the RBNC Interpretive Center.
It was a first for CROCT, too, where I’m on the board. Our volunteers staffed a table, complete with our new CROCT banner and CROCT brochure (PDF):
Props to CROCT board members Galen Murray and Jeremy Bokman, as well as member Michael Lehmkuhl for getting the banner and brochure created in time. And special thanks to RBNC Education Coordinator Kaytlan Moeller (pictured above/left with CROCT board member Carl Arnold) for hosting us. She posted a thank-you note on the RBNC Facebook page, along with 18 photos.
While the minimum number of bikes one should own is three, the correct number is n+1, where n is the number of bikes currently owned. This equation may also be re-written as s-1, where s is the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your partner.
I just have one bike, not counting my trials motorcycle which I’m planning to sell Real Soon Now so as to help me with the s factor in the above equation. I’m not yet shopping but I am ruminating.
Having ridden mototrials for years, I’m naturally interested in a trials bicycle. Living in Minnesota, I’m naturally interested in a fat bike for winter riding.
QBP Outside Sales Reps for the Upper Midwest, John Gaddo and Paul Lehrer, fixed me up to demo a Salsa Horsethief which the promo lit says:
… is our full-suspension 29’er trail bike, designed for all-day riding on rugged terrain. A very capable climber, Horsethief does have a slight bias toward descending, letting you enjoy the fruits of your uphill labor. By designing the bike for use with a shorter than normal stem, the body is positioned better for aggressive riding.
I knew there wouldn’t be any rugged downhill terrain at Carver so I was content to test it on the rock gardens and skinnies. Never having ridden a full-suspension bike before, I was wondering if the Horsethief would allow me to do what I can do with my X-Caliber hardtail on the tougher technical stuff. It handled it easily. And I did notice that I could ride a lot faster through the rock gardens, rather than picking my way slowly, trials-style. Cool. Would the Horsethief be enough to handle the downhill runs at the Copper Harbor Ride Center and similar parks? I suspect so.
Fellow Rice County residents were well-represented at the event, including the gang from Milltown Cycles in Faribault and some of their regular customers. Left photo: Logan Macrae, Mark Witt, Curtis Ness. Right photo: Owen Mibus, Ben Witt, Myrna Mibus. Not shown: Jim Fisher and his daughter Amy.
Last week I went for a night ride from downtown Faribault to the nearby River Bend Nature Center (RBNC). Earlier this year I rode a few of the trails at RBNC but mainly the wide, well-traveled ones. I didn’t really see it as a good place for mountain biking. But I was wrong. I rode a single track trail to get to RBNC that was very fun, even though I only had a weak handlebar light. And once there, I discovered many other fun single tracks that I had no idea existed.
So I went back this week in the daylight to get a better idea of what I’d just experienced. (My apologies for the semi-lousy photos. I took them with my smartphone.)
The best mountain bike trail from downtown to RBNC begins at the eastern edge of Teepee Tonka Park, underneath the Hwy 60 viaduct that crosses over the Straight River at the southeast corner of downtown Faribault. There’s another route, the recreational trail that begins at the southern edge of the park on the west side of the river but if you take that, you’ll miss the fun stuff. See this City of Faribault Parks and Trails map (PDF) for more detail.
Right photo above: within a few yards, you have the option of taking the lower trail that goes along the river (intermediate difficulty) or the upper trail along the bluff (advanced/expert).
The lower trail has several well-constructed bridges over the creek beds.
The lower trail has the potential for lots of technical areas, with many logs and rocky creek beds. I say ‘potential’ because with a few exceptions, the technical stuff is in ‘raw’ form, ie, not constructed to make it rideable or interesting for most riders.
The upper trail has some fun ups and downs, and is solidly constructed with rocks and logs along the steeper parts to prevent erosion. While not too difficult technically, the trail is narrow in many places, along some steep drop-offs and thus would be a little freaky for an intermediate rider.
There are some fun tunnels to explore.
Next time out, I’ll try to find more of the single-track trails in the heart of the park. But I’m thrilled to find out how much RBNC has to offer, as it’s only 15 minutes from my house in Northfield.
Update 9:40 PM: A screengrab of part of the RBNC map with indicators in yellow where the trails start at the north end of the park.
Correction April 13: the yellow arrow now indicates where the River Bend property line is. I’ve added a purple arrow to indicate where the single track trail actually begins.
Last night, Milltown Cycles proprietor Ben Witt hosted a viewing of a feature film titled Ride The Divide at the Viking Theater in St. Olaf’s Buntrock Commons. It’s about "the world’s toughest mountain bike race" called the Tour Divide, an "… ultra-cycling challenge to pedal solo and self-supported the length of Great Divide Mountain Bike Route…as fast as possible." It’s 2,700 miles from Banff, Alberta to the Mexican border.
Robbie bought her new hybrid bike (Trek 7300 WSD) at Milltown Cycles a month ago and was pleased with the advice/treatment she got from owner Ben Witt and manager Curtis Ness. The day she purchased the bike, we couldn’t wait for them to assemble it as we were due to meet some friends at the Cow. No problemo. Curtis delivered it to our table.
A couple hours later, I got an email from Ben (he also uses Google Talk/IM which I found to be very helpful):
I hate to say it, but I can’t get that bike for you. They are sold out for the year, and they don’t list an estimated time of arrival for the new 2012 models.
He then recommended that I get the bike from a competitor, Penn Cycle in Bloomington, which did have one in stock in my frame size:
I’m sorry to have that as the only option I can offer. There are not many bikes that are similar to that to offer as alternatives. I think you’d be very happy on that bike, and we can easily get the tires, pedals and other accessories here for you.
Whaaaa? Couldn’t he could sell me another bike in that price range with similar features? I wanted to buy a bike from him.
He was adamant. The X Caliber was the bike that was best for me and it made no sense to wail till fall to get one. He was confident I’d be a long-term customer of Milltown Cycles and that he’d make a fair profit from whatever accessories, parts, and service I’d need.
I got my bike later that day. And a few days later, he outfitted it with Eggbeaters and tubeless tires. Watch out, Hans Rey.