Rather, there’s a downed tree just a few feet from it on the east bank that makes for a much more difficult skinny. Wall of Death competition winner Heath Weisbrod alerted me to it last week saying that he’d cleaned it, so I tried it on Sunday morning.
As you’ll see in the video below, my first attempts went nowhere. So I thought the problem might be that the bark on top was crumbling so I pulled it off. Look closely at the photo of the log. Unfortunately, I made problem worse (again), as it exposed some moist spots that were underneath the bark. I tried it anyway and landed flat on my back. I told Heath about my misadventure and said that John Gaddo’s rule is that you have to clean an obstacle three times before you can ‘claim’ it and optionally name it. He wrote:
I cleared it 3 times totally clean. Once at night Thursday and twice more on Sunday. 3 and done! "Sqrl Log." I have witnesses both days. I was there until just before 11:00am Sunday.
I even got it one more time Thursday night (my first attempt) but reached out to the tree for stall then finished. So I’m not counting it.
Why ‘Sqrl Log’ for the name? Heath’s username in the MORC forum is RedSquirrel.
The MORC Board has indicated that they want him to get up to speed on the issue, so those of us who’ve been involved have been bombarding him with PDFs, emails, and links to everything we can think of.
And today, he got taken to school—a tour through the MN River Bottoms from I35W to the Hwy 169 Bloomington Ferry Bridge and back, narrated by longtime MN River Bottoms dirt bosses Dennis Porter and Don Youngdahl, with Kent Karjala and I chiming in regularly.
The issue of adding a paved trail to this segment of the River Bottoms will heat up in January when the MN Legislature starts its 2014 session. A DNR request for funding for a paved trail through the River Bottoms from Cedar to 169 is likely to be included in the trails bonding bill.
The MORC Board hasn’t taken a formal position yet, as it’s not yet known whether the US Fish and Wildlife Service will allow two trails through the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. I think it’s a safe bet that if only one trail is allowed and the DNR wants it paved, the MORC board will encourage mountain bikers to organize in opposition to the plan. If two trails are allowed (paved and natural surface), we’ll work to preserve the existing multiuse trail as much as possible, while collaborating on shared facilities like bridges and trailheads.
My Aug. 23 blog post about the MN River Bottoms Trail included a mention of the big cottonwood tree that had recently fallen across 9 Mile Creek, providing a bridge across. Someone had created a walkway on a portion of it to make it easier to cross.
Yesterday, I noticed that the tangle of branches on the east side of the bank (left photo from Aug) has been cleared away, with a small ramp constructed (center photo) to make it easier to ride your bike up onto the log when riding across it east to west. And on the west side, the splintered trunk of the tree has been trimmed back (right photo), making it easier to negotiate the sharp turn when riding across west to east.
I rode across it both directions a couple of times and noticed that big chunks of bark on the west end of the log were starting to come loose. So I peeled off some of the bark (left photo), only to discover that there was considerable moisture and sap underneath, making it slippery as gorilla snot. I rubbed dirt on it, which helped a bit but not quite enough to prevent the wheel from slipping (center photo). I’m guessing it should be fine in a day or two, though.
A mountain biker named Brian Smith took a 17-second video of me crossing the log east to west:
I didn’t make it up the dirt bank on that run but did get up it the other two times.
However, it’s much trickier riding the log west to east because of the drop down the bank prior to making the right turn on top where there’s a crevice in the tree trunk that can grab your front wheel about the same time your rear wheel is hitting the beveled right edge of the trunk.
Brian also took some photos of me riding the log west to east. Here are three:
Fun stuff. Props to the volunteers who’ve whipped this log into shape for the rest of us.
Update Nov. 11: I used my smartphone camera to record this 19-second video of me riding back and forth across the tree yesterday. Unfortunately, I dabbed and didn’t have time for a redo.
Update Dec. 2: Here’s a POV video of Heath Weisbrod riding the log on a fat bike: