Tag Archives: Nick Statz

2014 IMBA Midwest Fat Bike Access & Grooming Workshop

Last Thursday and Friday, I attended the IMBA Midwest Fat Bike Access & Grooming Workshop in Cable WI, a gathering of practitioners devoted to improving off-road cycling and fat biking in winter.

QBP  MORC logo 200 IMBA CAMBA
The event was sponsored by QBP and hosted by Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists (MORC), International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), and the Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA).

John GaddoDSC06075  Cold Rolled

Following a late Thursday afternoon/evening fat bike ride by approximately 15- 20 riders on the newly groomed Esker trail in the CAMBA trail system’s Cable cluster, participants gathered for the opening reception at the Lakewoods Resort. QBP’s John Gaddo showed Cold Rolled, the  documentary by Clear & Cold Cinema featuring the 15-mile winter singletrack Snow Bike Route (SBR) that’s part of the Noquemanon Trails Network in Marquette, Michigan.

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‘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.

Another memorable trip to Cuyuna: good for the body and spirit

Lobby, Country Inn Deerwood Lobby, Country Inn Deerwood Lobby, Country Inn Deerwood
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.

High school mountain bike racing meeting at Cuyuna Gary Sjoquist presenting high school mountain bike racing at Cuyuna Gary Sjoquist, Jenny Smith John Schaubach, Griff Wigley, Steve Weber; photo by Jenny Smith
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.

John Schaubach and Griff Wigley at Cuyuna John Schaubach, Cuyuna overlook Nick Statz and John Schaubach
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.

Scott Christensen and Greg HenningsenJohn 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.

Some of the faces of the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew

Jordan Vandal, John Schaubach, Dan Cruser, Aaron Hautala, Steve Weber, Jenny Smith, Nick Statz, Maya Statz  Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew logo

Many of the members of the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew, the local IMBA club, were at yesterday’s IMBA’s Great Lakes Summit. L to R: Jordan Vandal, John Schaubach, Dan Cruser, Aaron Hautala, Steve Weber, Jenny Smith, Nick Statz, Maya Statz (front).

Technically, DNR park manager Steve Weber is not a member of the Crew but I think they’ve adopted him.

Surprise discovery: Dan Cruser rode motorcycle trials years ago and competed at events on our UMTA club grounds near Northfield.

Shredding and shedding the red in the Yawkey Unit at Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trail System

As I was loading my bike at Hillside Park in Elk River last Friday afternoon, a local rider named Derek Broten pointed to two loose spokes (nipples gone) on my rear wheel. Oy. I phoned Ben Witt at Milltown Cycles: “Ben, I’m scheduled to go riding at the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trail System on Sunday with Aaron Hautala. Can I ride with two loose spokes?”

Ben strongly urged me to get it fixed, saying that bad (expensive) things can happen. I was due at a friend’s cabin on Mille Lacs so there was no time to find a local bike shop to fix it.

Cycle Path & Paddle in Crosy, MN Cycle Path & Paddle bike mechanic Ryan Anderson Cycle Path & Paddle employee Becky McKay Griff Wigley with Shred the Red hoodie and T-shirt at Cycle Path & Paddle
I arrived in Crosby-Ironton on Sunday at about 10 am and was still undecided about what do to. I drove by Cycle Path & Paddle and thought I was hallucinating. The sign said OPEN. At 10 am on a Sunday?  Be still my heart.  There’s no way they’ll have a mechanic on duty now.

The Cuyuna gods smiled upon me. Owner Jenny  Smith wasn’t there but mechanic Ryan Anderson was and within 45 minutes, he cheerfully fixed my wheel, trued my rotor, and did a few other adjustments. Total labor charge: $16.  I tried to tip him $10 but he wouldn’t take it.

I decided I had to spend more money at the store or the Cuyuna gods might extract payment in other ways.  I bought a “Shred the Red” hoodie and t-shirt and asked store employee Becky McKay to take my photo.  She coached me on how to hold the shirt so “Shred the Red” was visible on the hoodie. Other than my wife, I don’t think anyone has ever coached me when I’ve asked them to take my photo. Very cool.

Yawkey Unit - Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trail SystemI met up with Aaron Hautala in the park’s Yawkey Unit (Inset D on the PDF map of the park; screengrab image on the right) and after a warmup (hah!) up and down the amazing Bobsled trail, we headed over to Timber Shaft and its challenging double X rocks. I’d been itching to ride Timber Shaft since I first walked it as a newbie last summer after purchasing my bike.

Here’s a 3-minute video of Cuyuna Lakes Dirt Boss Nick Statz riding Timber Shaft on his fattie in March:

Aaron Hautala riding the Yawkey Unit in the Cuyuna Lakes MBT System Tricky rock: Yawkey Unit in the Cuyuna Lakes MBT System Aaron Hautala (R) and riders in the Yawkey Unit at Cuyuna Lakes. Griff Wigley in the Yawkey Unit at Cuyuna Lakes. Photo by Aaron Hautala
The photo above shows one of the Timber Shaft rocks that gave me trouble (there were, um, others). I thought the left line (red) would be tougher to clean because of the sharp left turn required to get around the small rock (red circle).  Not so. While the green line was a straighter approach with a slight down and up, after 5 tries, I hadn’t cleaned it. I kept spinning my rear wheel as I tried to accelerate (green check mark) to get up enough speed to get over the big rock.  I finally figured out that if I delayed acceleration a few more inches, the bike was more level and traction was better.  As long as I unweighted properly, I was able to get over the rock clean just fine.  Lesson learned. For now.

We met up with some guys from the Twin Cities, two of which I’d met at the Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout awards ceremony back in March.  See their photo with the Yeti here. I promise to write down their names next time.

Aaron and I then rode all the other Yawkey Unit trails (Tugger, Little Rock, Grizzley, Man Cage, Manual Drive, Skip). WHEEEE! When he had to head home, I followed him, as it’s a short bike ride. The lucky guy lives adjacent to the park.

John Seery, Michael Knoll and friends in the Yawkey Unit at Cuyuna Lake MTB Trail System Shred the Red or Shed the Red? John Seery, Michael Knoll and friends in the Yawkey Unit at Cuyuna Lake MTB Trail System
I rode back to the park and decided to re-ride all the Yawkey Unit trails again. When I got back to Timber Shaft, I ran into John Seery and Michael Knoll from Michael’s Cycles in Prior Lake who I rode with back in late March at the MN River Bottoms. They and two other friends were tackling the narrow and rocky upper section of Timber Shaft and one of the guys fell and sliced his leg on, you’ll never guess, a sharp rock. Shred the Red became Shed the Red.

Michael had a first aid kit, patched him up, and he promptly got back on his bike and cleaned the section where he’d fallen. Take that!  Off they went to the Cuyuna Regional Medical Center in Crosby to get him stitched up.  Just another way that mountain bikers bring economic development to the area.

Caleb and Aaron Hautala Cycle Path & Paddle proprietor Jenny Smith
By chance, I ran into Aaron later in the afternoon. He’d returned with his five year-old son Caleb who has gotten quite adept at riding Man Cage.  I also happened upon Cycle Path & Paddle proprietor Jenny Smith out riding Haul Road. I told her she saved my butt by having her shop open on Sunday, and for being savvy  in hiring these two talented young adults at her store, Ryan Anderson and Becky McKay.

So after 5+ hours of riding Yawkey, I reluctantly headed home. Cuyuna, I do love thee so. I will be back. Soon.

Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout, Day 1

DSC07760 DNR manager Steve Weber & Whiteout volunteers DSC07761 Aaron Hautala and Dave Orrick
I rolled into Crosby-Ironton yesterday afternoon for the Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout and noticed the new billboard on Hwy 210 just west of Ironton. I have a photo like that from last summer’s  Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Festival Grand Opening. DNR manager Steve Weber and a gang of registration table volunteers greeted me at the Ironton American Legion. And I then had the pleasure of meeting Aaron Hautala, Creative Director at RedhouseMedia in Brainerd and newly elected president of the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew (CLMTBC).  He was spinning lies to St. Paul Pioneer Press outdoors reporter Dave Orrick, who’s evidently planning on having a feature in tomorrow’s Sunday PiPress.

DSC07767 DSC07769 Nick Statz and daughter
The plan was to pre-ride the race course at the Sagamore Unit at about 6 pm but the high daytime temps and sunny skies had softened up the packed snow so much that Cuyuna dirt boss and race director Nick Statz was worried we’d create deep ruts and ruin the course for Saturday’s XC race. He suggested we all ride the Yawkey Unit instead and we agreed.

DSC07783 DSC07775 DSC07782 DSC07781
We first headed back to the Yeti spaghetti feed at the Legion where Nick Statz’s daughter introduced me to her personal Cuyuna Yeti.

Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout 2012 night ride in the Yawkey Unit; photo by Aaron Hautala
I didn’t get photos from the amazing Yawkey Unit night ride and our close encounter with the Cuyuna Whiteout Yeti but Aaron Hautala has a blog post up titled Night Riders where he has a photo slideshow.