The Minnesota High School Cycling League held its final mountain bike race of the season today at Buck Hill in Burnsville. I volunteered to take photos primarily of volunteers, teams, sponsors, and whatever else I could find of interest in and around the pit and start/finish areas. I got a few action shots but there were other photographers assigned to taking those. I’ll add links to or embed their photo albums here as soon as they get them published. Alas, I burned through two batteries on my camera taking 500+ photos and didn’t have enough juice left to take podium photos. Hopefully someone else did.
I had a consulting gig in Brainerd last Thursday and my client put me up at the Country Inn in Deerwood, about 4 miles from the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails. Of course I brought my bike, even though my shoulder was still giving me a little trouble. I was hoping for a miraculous Cuyuna Cure. I was a bit stunned when I walked into the lobby of the inn to see a virtual shrine to mountain biking. Evidently the owner, Dan Brown, is a biker and has experienced an economic bump from all the mountain bikers flocking to the area. I didn’t get to meet him but I suspect it’ll be Real Soon Now.
On Thursday night, I stopped by the Heartwood in Crosby where Minnesota High School Cycling League director Gary Sjoquist was doing his high school MTB racing presentation, as there will be a Cuyuna area team next season. I ran into two of my Cuyuna geezer pals, John Schaubach and Steve Weber, and Cycle Path and Paddle proprietor Jenny Smith snapped the photo of us (above right) doing the smartphone dance. I arranged to go for an early morning ride on Friday with John.
The day dawned cool, clear, and still. With the fall colors, it could not have been a more perfect morning. We took Easy Street to Mucker Mountain and then Little Sidewinder over to Hopper Hill where we ran into Dirt Boss Nick Statz doing trail work. The cool thing about riding with John is that he’s a walking history book of the Cuyuna Lakes area, having grown up there. And as a member of the the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trail Crew, he’s intimately involved in all aspects of the park’s development. So every time we stopped for a break, I got an education.
John stayed on to help Nick and a short time later, I ran into Twin Cities area mountain bikers Greg Henningsen and Scott Christensen who were up for the day. My shoulder was feeling stronger than I expected (thank you, ibuprofen) so I followed them around for hours. By 5 pm, I’d ridden every trail in both the Mahnomen and Yawkey Units (insets B and D on the revised Cuyuna DNR map, now with directional arrows on the trails).
It was one of those it-doesn’t-get-any-better-than-this days that I’m still savoring. Thank you, Cuyuna.
The Minnesota High School Cycling League held their first Leaders’ Summit over the weekend. Northfielder Sue Welch and I attended both days (Head and Assistant Coach licensing) as we’re planning to be coaches for the soon-to-be-formed Cannon Valley Mountain Bike Team (“Mountain Bike Racing for High School Students in Minnesota’s Cannon River Valley“). Hopefully, we’ll have others join us as coaches and Ride Leaders.
Austin and Michael were impressive instructors: very thorough, great storytellers, well-organized, interesting, and funny. Gary treated us royally with breakfast, lunch and even dinner on Saturday, with ample snacks throughout each day and happy hours at day’s end. The only disappointment: it rained all day Saturday and on and off on Sunday so the end-of-the-day-rides had to be cancelled.
I’m pretty enthused about all this. Sue and I will soon host a community info night in Northfield for interested student athletes and parents.
Here’s a Slideshare view of Gary’s Powerpoint presentation that can be viewed while listening to the audio. Or you can download the original Powerpoint file now available on the Kick-Off Open House page.
Gary said that the League’s first initiative is to form a high school mountain bike racing league in here in MN. Other cycling sports might be supported at a later date but that the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) believes that mountain biking is the ‘T-Ball’ of cycling. The League’s events will be open to individual student riders but organizers also believe that forming high school teams is the best way for students to learn the skills and how to ride safely.
Organizers helped the attendees meet each other in geographic groups to facilitate planning. I got together with some guys from Cannon Falls and Red Wing and we’re exploring the possibility of forming a Cannon River Valley regional team, to include those towns plus Faribault and Northfield.
Here’s a Slideshare view of a presentation that can be used when presenting the concept to school administrators. Or you can download the original Powerpoint file now available on the Kick-Off Open House page.
I met Erik Saltvold back in 2000 when we were both members of an Inner Circle business group. He paid a visit to Northfield in 2008 for the annual Jesse James Bike Tour, as his shop is a Tour sponsor and provides mechanical support for the 1,000+ riders. I didn’t realize it till I looked at photos from 2008 but Libby Hurley, Marketing & PR Manager for Erik’s Bike Shop, was also in Northfield that day and there last night as well (on the right in the right photo above), helping to staff the the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) booth. Libby’s also doing PR work for the MN Cycling League. See the Media Center page for contact info.