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Photo album: CROCT group ride on doubletrack at the River Bend Nature Center

Sun, 03/01/2015 - 9:22pm

With the gorgeous and ample snow in Rice County, we moved our CROCT group ride to the River Bend Nature Center in Faribault yesterday instead of a return visit to the MN River Bottoms as planned back in January.

It turned out to be a good decision. The grooming of the two-way doubletrack trails by members of the Faribault Flyers club was perfect, making it easy to share the trails with XC skiers, one of whom joined us for much of our group ride.

I was tail guide (sweep) this time instead of lead guide. I felt useful as I helped one rider with a chain that had come off and jammed in the front derailleur. And I did a hike-a-bike up a few steep climbs with another rider whose recent medical condition made the ride more difficult at times than they expected. I was actually glad for those hike-a-bikes as I was more out of shape than I thought.

Another rider broke a chain, just like on the last group ride. Fortunately, they had a chain link tool and knew what to do. This made me realize that A) I need to carry a chain tool with me at all times; B) I need to regularly rehearse how to use it so that I can do it quickly when it’s cold out. It would not have been fun yesterday, as it was 10 degrees F and windy.

See the album of 21 photos.

Subscribe to my free Thick Skull MTB Skills/Mountain Bike Geezer newsletter and get:

  1. The free 6-part series, 'Light Hands, Heavy Feet': 17 mountain bike drills to develop the 'light hands' habit and make your riding more stable no matter what the terrain
  2. Exclusive how-to-ride related content every week that I don't post on my blog.

So do it. Get it through your Thick Skull.

The post Photo album: CROCT group ride on doubletrack at the River Bend Nature Center appeared first on Mountain Bike Geezer.

Categories: Citizens

Why infrastructure for bikes on city streets and paved trails can matter for mountain biking

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 11:13pm

With my CROCT board member hat on, I attended the BikeNorthfield steering committee meeting at the Northfield Public Library last night, as the agenda (PDF) included a discussion with City staff leaders (City Administrator Nick Haggenmiller, City Engineer/Director of Public Works Dave Bennett, and Engineering/GIS Technician Jasper Kruggel)  about two upcoming street improvement projects that concern bicyclists: 3rd St. & Hwy 3; and Woodley St from Division to Prairie.

There may not be an obvious connection between CROCT’s mission and the current activities of BikeNorthfield. But CROCT’s Sechler Park MTB trail is popular in part because it’s directly connected to the City’s paved trail through Riverside Park and across the Peggy Prowe Pedestrian Bridge.  CROCT’s discussions with the PRAB could lead to the establishment of mountain bike trails and skills parks in several other City parks, in which case, extensive street and local paved trail networks are increasingly important so that off-road cyclists of all ages can ride safely to and from the dirt trails and bike parks.

See the album of 16 photos from the meeting.

Subscribe to my free Thick Skull MTB Skills/Mountain Bike Geezer newsletter and get:

  1. The free 6-part series, 'Light Hands, Heavy Feet': 17 mountain bike drills to develop the 'light hands' habit and make your riding more stable no matter what the terrain
  2. Exclusive how-to-ride related content every week that I don't post on my blog.

So do it. Get it through your Thick Skull.

The post Why infrastructure for bikes on city streets and paved trails can matter for mountain biking appeared first on Mountain Bike Geezer.

Categories: Citizens

Special offer: An instructional video on how to ride slippery off-cambers

Mon, 02/23/2015 - 2:48pm

My Thick Skull Mountain Bike Skills ‘Holding a Line’ instructional series is available this week at a special price and with a special video bonus offer about how to get extra traction on slippery off-cambers:

Subscribe to my free Thick Skull MTB Skills/Mountain Bike Geezer newsletter and get:

  1. The free 6-part series, 'Light Hands, Heavy Feet': 17 mountain bike drills to develop the 'light hands' habit and make your riding more stable no matter what the terrain
  2. Exclusive how-to-ride related content every week that I don't post on my blog.

So do it. Get it through your Thick Skull.

The post Special offer: An instructional video on how to ride slippery off-cambers appeared first on Mountain Bike Geezer.

Categories: Citizens

City of Duluth’s parking services: Prompt, friendly, forgiving

Mon, 02/23/2015 - 7:54am

Back in late October of 2013, I spent a couple days mountain biking in Duluth, MN. My blog post: Duluth’s XC MTB trails just keep getting better. Here’s partly why.

What I didn’t blog  was on the day I met up with then IMBA Midwest Regional Director Hansi Johnson (he’s got a new job now) for a ride on the COGGS Piedmont trail, I got a parking ticket in the Canal Park lot near his office. I had paid for parking using the PayByPhone service but inadvertently paid for parking in stall #138 when I’d actually parked in stall #136.  As you can see, the stenciling on the pavement makes the  number 6 look pretty close to an 8:

 

I was irritated but the fine of $12 didn’t seem onerous so I planned to pay it.  I lost the ticket and promptly forgot about it.  But a few weeks ago I got a notice that my fine had grown to $45 and was about to be turned over to a collection agency. Previous notices had ended up in a pile of my aging mother’s unpaid medical bills that I was contesting.

So on Friday morning I visited the City of Duluth’s Parking Services web page and filled out their form with this: 

Hi, I was issued a parking ticket due to the poor numbering of a parking space/stall in a Canal Park parking lot. I mistakenly paid for stall #138 but I was actually parked in #136. I have the documentation that I paid to park that day since I used PayByPhone service. I have a photo of my car in the lot with the number #136 showing. Who can I talk to about this?

I really didn’t expect to hear from anyone but at 4 pm, I got this reply:

Dear Mr. Wigley: We would be happy to look into this. Could you send the vehicle’s license plate number or the parking ticket number? Thanks.

Sincerely,

Matthew Kennedy, CAPP, CPP
Parking Manager
City of Duluth

I replied:

Hi Mathew, Thank you for the prompt reply. I’m impressed!  I should have attempted to resolve this sooner. The license plate # is [abc]. The parking ticket # is [xyz]. I’ve attached two photos and a PDF of the email/receipt from PayByPhone. Has the numbering (the stencil paint for #136 looks very much like #138) been fixed? I appreciate your willingness to consider what happened.

Mathew replied at 5:45 PM:

Dear Mr. Wigley: Ticket number 9030002018 has been dismissed and closed in our system as a one-time courtesy exception.

In your photograph that shows the space number, there are several leaves on the pavement, including one just above the number “6” and one that is resting within a gap in the stenciling for the number “6.” The latter leaf makes the number “6” look a bit like an “8.”

The photograph below, taken by the patroller at the time of ticketing, shows the number more clearly; the nearest leaf is just to the right of the “6.”

Our staff will double check the condition of the stenciling for this space number. In addition, each spring we check the striping and numbering on all of our parking lots.

Take care and have a wonderful weekend.

Thanks.

Sincerely,
Matthew Kennedy, CAPP, CPP
Parking Manager
City of Duluth

Thank you, Mathew. I did have a wonderful weekend, in part because of you.

Subscribe to my free Thick Skull MTB Skills/Mountain Bike Geezer newsletter and get:

  1. The free 6-part series, 'Light Hands, Heavy Feet': 17 mountain bike drills to develop the 'light hands' habit and make your riding more stable no matter what the terrain
  2. Exclusive how-to-ride related content every week that I don't post on my blog.

So do it. Get it through your Thick Skull.

The post City of Duluth’s parking services: Prompt, friendly, forgiving appeared first on Mountain Bike Geezer.

Categories: Citizens

Advocating for MTB trails: CROCT Board members meet with Rice County Commissioner Jeff Docken

Fri, 02/20/2015 - 10:43am

CROCT Board members Marty Larson, Jeremy Bokman and I had lunch yesterday at Tandem Bagels with Rice County District 5 Commissioner Jeff Docken.

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.

Subscribe to my free Thick Skull MTB Skills/Mountain Bike Geezer newsletter and get:

  1. The free 6-part series, 'Light Hands, Heavy Feet': 17 mountain bike drills to develop the 'light hands' habit and make your riding more stable no matter what the terrain
  2. Exclusive how-to-ride related content every week that I don't post on my blog.

So do it. Get it through your Thick Skull.

The post Advocating for MTB trails: CROCT Board members meet with Rice County Commissioner Jeff Docken appeared first on Mountain Bike Geezer.

Categories: Citizens

Getting City of Northfield officials to walk the Sechler Park mountain bike trail when it’s zero degrees & windy

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 7:34pm

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:

 

Subscribe to my free Thick Skull MTB Skills/Mountain Bike Geezer newsletter and get:

  1. The free 6-part series, 'Light Hands, Heavy Feet': 17 mountain bike drills to develop the 'light hands' habit and make your riding more stable no matter what the terrain
  2. Exclusive how-to-ride related content every week that I don't post on my blog.

So do it. Get it through your Thick Skull.

The post Getting City of Northfield officials to walk the Sechler Park mountain bike trail when it’s zero degrees & windy appeared first on Mountain Bike Geezer.

Categories: Citizens

Slippery, snowy singletrack trails can provide the fun and skills benefits of riding mud without the damage

Tue, 02/17/2015 - 9:18am

 

Harlan Price, owner/head coach at TakeAim Cycling (“Skills Instruction for Mountain, Road, Cross”) has an insightful, excellent article published on Dirt Rag Magazine’s website titled Riding in the snow, the modern mud.

He begins:

Snow riding today is all that’s left of the version of the chaotic two-wheel drifting we regularly did before trail stewards were abundant. Fortunately, some time riding the white-capped seas will benefit you in ways that only the traction-less trail can. A dirty little secret about this enlightened age of trail stewardship is that we lose out on opportunities to improve our handling skills. Riding in the rain gave us wet roots, some slick mud, climbs turned impossible, and every corner becomes a battle for traction. All from adding a little lubrication to the equation.

It’s particularly impressive that in the two photos accompanying the article, neither one is a fat bike. I’ve got nothing against fatties (I want one!) but it helps to convey that in many (most?) winter climates, a normal mountain bike does just fine in the snow, especially now in the era of ‪#‎ridegroomed‬ (see the new website GroomedSingletrack.com by the peeps at 45NRTH). 

I’ve complained about the lack of snow here in southern Minnesota this winter but it’s actually been quite good for riding the packed singletrack trails in the area.  The temps have been cold enough to minimize the dreaded freeze/thaw cycles typical of early/late winter but increasingly common as the climate changes.  And the small amounts of snow we have had seem to have kept the icy conditions to a minimum, while providing the fun slipperiness that Harlan cites as advantageous to skills development.

Follow Harlan on Twitter @TakeAimCycling and on Instagram @TakeAimCycling.

Here’s a 90-second video of me playing last week on some of the singletrack in the Figure 8 Loop of CROCT’s Sechler Park trail in my hometown of Northfield. What you don’t see are several gentle spills and dozens of dabs. The slippery conditions were indeed like mud and that’s something we just don’t get to ride anymore (and with good reason).

Subscribe to my free Thick Skull MTB Skills/Mountain Bike Geezer newsletter and get:

  1. The free 6-part series, 'Light Hands, Heavy Feet': 17 mountain bike drills to develop the 'light hands' habit and make your riding more stable no matter what the terrain
  2. Exclusive how-to-ride related content every week that I don't post on my blog.

So do it. Get it through your Thick Skull.

The post Slippery, snowy singletrack trails can provide the fun and skills benefits of riding mud without the damage appeared first on Mountain Bike Geezer.

Categories: Citizens

CROCT and friends team up for River Bend Nature Center’s Fat Bike Event

Mon, 02/16/2015 - 3:36pm

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.

CROCT member and blogger Christopher Tassava wowed the crowd with a presentation on his recent fat bike adventures:

  

And two local bike shops, FIT to be TRI’d and Milltown Cycles, were co-sponsors of the event, providing demo bikes, on-site maintenance, and group ride leadership. Travis Seeger, Tom Bisel, and their minions rocked!

  

 Here’s my album of 30+ photos of the event:

Subscribe to my free Thick Skull MTB Skills/Mountain Bike Geezer newsletter and get:

  1. The free 6-part series, 'Light Hands, Heavy Feet': 17 mountain bike drills to develop the 'light hands' habit and make your riding more stable no matter what the terrain
  2. Exclusive how-to-ride related content every week that I don't post on my blog.

So do it. Get it through your Thick Skull.

The post CROCT and friends team up for River Bend Nature Center’s Fat Bike Event appeared first on Mountain Bike Geezer.

Categories: Citizens

Advocating for mountain biking to be part of Northfield’s new Meadows Park: Part 2

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 11:42pm

CROCT member Dave Berglund and I attended the second Meadows Park community planning on Wednesday night at the Northfield Middle School. (For background, see my blog post on the first meeting back in November.)

 

The good news: All three of the proposed concept plans presented by the consultants would accommodate a mountain bike trail around the perimeter of the park: 

  

When the consultants asked for programming suggestions, I mentioned that a mountain bike XC trail there would provide:

  • a venue for members of the local high school/middle school mountain bike team to practice
  • another trail for us to host our Community Services Monday nights summer group rides for youth

The schedule calls for Northfield City Council approval of the park’s master plan by summer.

Subscribe to my free Thick Skull MTB Skills/Mountain Bike Geezer newsletter and get:

  1. The free 6-part series, 'Light Hands, Heavy Feet': 17 mountain bike drills to develop the 'light hands' habit and make your riding more stable no matter what the terrain
  2. Exclusive how-to-ride related content every week that I don't post on my blog.

So do it. Get it through your Thick Skull.

The post Advocating for mountain biking to be part of Northfield’s new Meadows Park: Part 2 appeared first on Mountain Bike Geezer.

Categories: Citizens

Organizing a CROCT group ride: my first attempt

Mon, 02/09/2015 - 8:06pm

I polled our CROCT ridership last month, asking them to indicate which weekend days in Feb. would work for them to participate in a group ride along MORC’s Minnesota River Bottoms trail in Bloomington. I announced the results and the plan on the CROCT blog.

Yesterday, ten of us showed up at 1pm at the Lyndale Ave/I35W trailhead.

The group photo in the parking lot was taken by Pat Sorenson,  president of Penn Cycle who happened to be heading out on a ride with some buddies at the same time.

We opted to ride 8 miles west to the Bloomington Ferry Bridge (Hwy 169) trail head since several of the group had never ridden that route.

We took our time, stopping several times for socializing and a little exploring on the railroad swing bridge.

There was one mechanical, a broken chain. But one group member had a chain tool and Curtis Ness, CROCT board secretary and manager of Milltown Cycles in Faribault, did the trail-side repairs. Whew!

There wasn’t much snow, and with temps in the low-to-mid 30s, the trail was a bit sloppy in places. The camaraderie, however, was first-rate.

It was my first-ever experience as an informal group ride leader. I only led the group astray once.  I probably will do it again if they let me.

Subscribe to my free Thick Skull MTB Skills/Mountain Bike Geezer newsletter and get:

  1. The free 6-part series, 'Light Hands, Heavy Feet': 17 mountain bike drills to develop the 'light hands' habit and make your riding more stable no matter what the terrain
  2. Exclusive how-to-ride related content every week that I don't post on my blog.

So do it. Get it through your Thick Skull.

The post Organizing a CROCT group ride: my first attempt appeared first on Mountain Bike Geezer.

Categories: Citizens

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