Save the date: May 15 high school mountain bike racing team information mtg for student-athletes & parents

Cannon Valley Mountain Bike Team blogsite CVMTBT Team Director & Assistant Coach Griff Wigley at GBM Northfield Activities Director Tom Graupmann and Assistant Coach Griff Wigley with MTB poster at Northfield High School
I’ve had my Team Director hat on this past week, putting up a new website for the Cannon Valley Mountain Bike Racing Team (also a Facebook page and a Twitter feed).

I also started plastering posters around the area promoting the first information meeting for student-athletes and parents: at misc retail locations, eg, GBM; with Activities Director Tom Graupmann at Northfield High School); at ARTech High School and the ALC; and at area bike shops FIT to be TRI’d, Mike’s Bicycle Shop, and Milltown Cycles.

It should be noted that this team does not yet exist! So this meeting is for those student-athletes (and their parents) who might be interested in joining this new team.  Details:

WHEN? Tuesday, May 15, 7 pm

WHERE? the Northfield High School cafeteria

Gary Sjoquist, Founding Chair of the Minnesota High School Cycling LeagueGary Sjoquist, Founding Chair of the Minnesota High School Cycling League and QBP’s Advocacy Director, will be presenting. Head coach Sue Welch and I will be there as well.


Help spread the word by downloading and printing out this poster (DropBox link) and putting it up in public places.

The QR code in the lower right corner of the poster links to the Cannon Valley Mountain Bike Racing Team website.

You can call me Coach. Northfield will soon have a high school mountain bike racing team

The Minnesota High School Cycling League held their first Leaders’ Summit last weekend. I attended both days (Head and Assistant Coach licensing) along with Northfielder Sue Welch, Community Coordinator for the Cannon Valley Velo Club.

Gary Sjoquist Austin McInerny Michael Hayes Sue Welch, Michael Hayes, Griff Wigley, Austin McInerny

Gary Sjoquist, QBP’s Advocacy Director, organized and hosted the event at their Bloomington headquarters.  Austin McInerny, (NorCal High School Cycling League, Berkeley High School Mountain Bike Team) did the classroom instruction on Saturday. Michael Hayes, Colorado Rocky Mountain School, conducted the skills training (in the classroom and on the bike) on Sunday.

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.

See my album of 27 photos (large slideshow recommended) or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:

River Bend Nature Center and mountain biking: exciting possibilities

As I mentioned last week, I first blogged about mountain biking at the River Bend Nature Center (RBNC) in Faribault back in January and shortly thereafter, learned about the problems with it.

Mountain bike meeting at River Bend Nature Center Mountain bike meeting at River Bend Nature Center
So I was really pleased that RNBC staff hosted a meeting with about 25 local mountain bikers last night at the RBNC Interpretative Center.

Barbara Caldwell, RBNC Executive Director Garrett Genereux, Naturalist Educator; Barbara Caldwell, RBNC Executive Director Ben Witt, owner, Milltown Cycles 
After everyone introduced themselves, RBNC Executive Director Barbara Caldwell, RBNC Naturalist Educator Garrett Genereux, and Ben Witt, owner of Milltown Cycles in Faribault, each made brief presentations about the status of mountain biking trails in the park.

Barbara set a positive tone to the meeting right from the start, saying that they were genuinely eager to learn more about mountain biking, given the increase in riders that they’ve seen recently. She said that while they had no desire to become a mountain bike park ("We’re a nature center"), they are multi-use and see mountain biking as another way to engage the public in their mission.

Garrett showed a special map he’d created of all the trails in the park, both authorized and unauthorized. (I’ve obscured the map in the photo above.)

Ben Witt expressed his appreciation for the willingness of RNBC staff to even have the meeting, seeing it as a huge opportunity.  He explained how many sections of the authorized trails are not only bad for the park because of erosion, they’re also not the new style of mountain bike trails (eg, switchbacks for up-hills) that help to make the sport so enjoyable.

 John Ebling Glenn Holman DSC08829
The rest of the meeting was open discussion. I urged RNBC to see mountain biking not as something to do to accommodate to a group of users but rather as a strategy to protect the park. By putting in new-style mountain bike ‘flow’ trails that are fun and challenging for a range of skill levels, they’ll create a powerful incentive for riders to only ride on those trails, thereby protecting the rest of the park.

John Ebling made the point that local ‘ownership’ of these trails by local mountain bikers who work to create and maintain them eventually can create a culture of responsible use by the wider mountain biking community.

DSC08831 DSC08824 DSC08835
The plan now is to create a local task force or working group to figure out next steps. Contact Barbara or Ben (see right sidebar of his Milltown Cycles blog) if you’d like to be involved. 

RBNC Membership page

And above all, become a RNBC member.  Our voices as mountain bikers will be far more influential if we show we care enough about RBNC to support them financially.  Their online membership signup form makes it fast and easy.

Revisions to outdoor pool rules now in draft

Northfield_Memorial_Pool_rules_2012_Draft outdoor pool at Old Memorial Park Northfield_Memorial_Pool_rules_2010 
A revised set of rules for the outdoor pool at Old Memorial Park drafted by Library and Recreation Services Director Lynne Young and Recreation Manager Allison Watkins is included in their staff report for this week’s PRAB meeting.

See the 2010 pool rules document and compare it to the 2012 pool rules draft.

One of the issues that came to light last year is the apparel policy. From the Sept. 15, 2011 PRAB meeting minutes:

Resident Anne Sabo approached the PRAB with the concern that she was unfairly approached by pool staff and asked that she dress her daughter in appropriate swimwear. She felt that this was unfair sexualization of girls. The PRAB addressed Ms. Sabo and stated that the swim apparel policy was for public safety for all those at the pool. The PRAB informed Ms. Sabo that they are aware of her concerns but feels that the PRAB is not the place to change the rules of the pool that will be handled with staff involved with the Pool.

I’ve invited Anne to comment here.

Minnesota has a new high school mountain bike racing league. Help needed now to form a Northfield area club

Minnesota High School Cycling League Kick-Off Open House Libby Hurley and colleagues at the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) booth Minnesota High School Cycling League 2012 schedule Josh Kleve
The Minnesota High School Cycling League held their Kick-Off Open House at QBP’s HQ last Sunday night. About 100 people attended.

Gary Sjoquist, QBP's Advocacy Director at MN High School League's open house Gary Sjoquist, QBP's Advocacy Director at MN High School League's open house Gary Sjoquist, QBP's Advocacy Director at MN High School League's open house
Gary Sjoquist, QBP’s Advocacy Director, hosted the event and presented the detailed plans in two separate sessions. Here’s the 31-minute audio:

Click play to listen or download the MP3.

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.

Minnesota High School Cycling League Kick-Off Open House Minnesota High School Cycling League Kick-Off Open House Minnesota High School Cycling League Kick-Off Open House Minnesota High School Cycling League Kick-Off Open House Minnesota High School Cycling League Kick-Off Open House
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 at the meeting and we’re exploring the possibility of forming a Cannon River Valley regional team, to include those towns plus Faribault and Northfield.

On Wednesday, I discussed all this with Northfield High School Activities Director Tom Graupmann and ARTech High School teacher Joe Pahr who both expressed interest and support for the idea. It would be a club sport like the NHS ski club, with no expectations of financial support from the schools.

I’m looking for others interested in helping to get an area team formed. The immediate goal is to get interested adults to attend the Leaders’ Summit, held in Bloomington on April 21-22.

This event is for parents who want to become head coaches, assistant coaches, or ride leaders for the new league. It’s a two-day school on how to work with high school-aged youth, how to teach young riders the skills necessary to become racers, information on Wilderness Training and CPR (both required to be a Head Coach), and is part of a required curriculum to become a licensed MN league coach. We’ll also do a little skills work outside, so come with bikes, helmets, ready to ride.

Interested? Got questions? Attach a comment here or contact me.

Cannon Valley Velo Club adds support for gravel rides and mountain biking; git yer 2012 membership now

Scott Klein, Evan Watkins, Sue Welch, Tom Bisel and Kevin Keane. (Northfield News photo by Shane Kitzman) Cannon Valley Velo Club Griff Wigley, pretender 
I had lunch earlier this week with Kevin Keane, race team director for the 1 year-old Cannon Valley Velo Club (CVVC). (That’s Kevin on the right in left photo above – photo by Shane Kitzman, Northfield News.)  We discussed all things mountain biking and I’ve signed on to be the club’s new mountain biking ride coordinator—hence, the staged photo in my front yard yesterday. (I’m on a borrowed fat bike, as I’m on my way to the Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout up in Crosby-Ironton for my first-ever race this weekend. More on that here on my Mountain Bike Geezer blog.)

I’ll only be coordinating the CVVC mountain bike rides, primarily on singletrack. Others will be coordinating the mountain bike racing and the gravel rides.

March 1 is the official start of the club’s annual membership term and Scott Klein, CVVC Secretary, posted this announcement this morning to the CVVC Google Group email list (open to anyone, not just members):

The club is officially one year old and we’re excited to keep growing the club and offering more rides and activities for all riders.  For this year, we are planning to offer more ride options with better organization (ie maps and short cuts for those of us with time constraints) and expand the awareness of off-road routes for gravel rides and mountain bikers. 

Cannon Valley Velo Club 2012 membership packageAdditionally, we will be working with the Mill Towns Trail organization to promote the completion of this bike trail from Red Wing to Mankato.  If you have any other ideas to help promote safe bicycling in our community, we’d love to hear about it. To keep offering these activities and to maintain our insurance policy for group rides in 2012, it’s time to update our list of active members and collect membership dues. 

The membership dues are the same amount as last year, so please take a look at the attached document for exact pricing. For existing members, please sign the insurance waiver and release form (even if you filled one out last year) and include it with your payment.  Both of these items can either be mailed to our club treasurer, David Foster, or dropped off in person at Tom’s shop, Fit to be Tri’d in Northfield.

For more about the CVVC, see this March, 2011 article in the Nfld News:  Cannon Valley Velo gears up for its inaugural season.

Northfield area race results for Birkebeiner

The 39th annual American Birkebeiner cross-country ski marathon was held over the weekend. The Birkie (50K for Skaters, 54K for Classic Skiers) and Kortelopet (23K) attracted 9,000 racers.

See the results for area code 5507.  Notable finishes:

With a time of 3:57:57.5, Northfielder Bob Nesvold took 2nd place in the Men’s 70-74 age category for the Birkebeiner Classic (22 racers), 414 out of 1635 overall.

With a time of 2:07:10.6, Northfield City Administrator (Faribault resident) Tim Madigan took 20th place in the Men’s 60-64 age category for the Kortelopet Classic (611 racers), 311 out of 1,080 overall.

Author Ed Conlon helps the Wigleys survive a power outage on Vieques

The Wigleys at Al's Mar Azul in Vieques, PR Vieques sunset The deck at Al's Mar Azul in Vieques, PR
We spent a lot of time in bars and restaurants while vacationing on the island Vieques off the coast of Puerto Rico last week. Al’s Mar Azul was one of our favorite pubs. It’s got a great deck overlooking the ocean in the heart of Isabel Segunda, the town where we rented a house.  And it was one of two pubs that had a power generator the night the power went out on the entire island. 

Ed Conlon, Amanda Wigley, Collin Wigley,   Blue Blood by Edward Conlon Red on Red by by Edward Conlon
One of our fellow patrons at Mar Azul‘s the night the power went out was Ed Conlon (Wikipedia entry), pictured on the left with former Northfielder Collin Wigley (my eldest son) and his wife Amanda. We met Ed a few nights earlier while on a tour of the Bioluminescent Bay, the best bio bay in the world. He graciously bought a few rounds of rum punches to help us through the power outage trauma.

Ed retired from the NY Police Dept. last year. He was holed up on Vieques for a few weeks, working on his third book.  You can order his books Blue Blood and Red on Red from Northfield’s Monkey See Monkey Read bookstore.

See Ed’s website and view his 2004 appearance on The Daily Show.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Edward Conlon
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

Raising awareness of how yoga and Pilates can cause back injuries

This article has been at or near the top of the New York Times most emailed articles since it was published last week: How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body, adapted from a forthcoming book The Science of Yoga: The Risks and Rewards, by William J. Broad:

The Science of YogaBlack has come to believe that “the vast majority of people” should give up yoga altogether. It’s simply too likely to cause harm. Not just students but celebrated teachers too, Black said, injure themselves in droves because most have underlying physical weaknesses or problems that make serious injury all but inevitable.

Instead of doing yoga, “they need to be doing a specific range of motions for articulation, for organ condition,” he said, to strengthen weak parts of the body. “Yoga is for people in good physical condition. Or it can be used therapeutically. It’s controversial to say, but it really shouldn’t be used for a general class.”

Four years ago, I blogged about my back in a post titled Geezer report: how a trip to the Northfield Library ended my 20-year struggle with low back pain.  I found relief in a book titled Back RX : a fifteen-minute-a-day Yoga-and Pilates-based program to end low back pain forever, by Vijay Vad.  I still do the exercises three-times a week.

But even Dr. Vad has a warning about yoga and Pilates (excerpt from this web site):

Back RX : a fifteen-minute-a-day Yoga-and Pilates-based program to end low back pain forever, by Vijay VadThe paradox is that although yoga and Pilates are ultimately the best possible way to maximize back health, in the short run the vigorous twists, turns, and bends of advanced yoga and Pilates can actually cause back injuries.

It’s quite a catch-22: the very thing that can help you the most can very easily hurt you. Back Rx solves this problem with a carefully sequenced introduction of yoga- and Pilates-based movements and poses that will strengthen the back without traumatizing it.

I’ve heard horror stories from fellow Northfielders who’ve been injured at local yoga and Pilates classes.  I’m not interested in ‘outing’ any local instructors or classes so if you comment on this blog post, please refrain from using names.

Can hockey, the sport I used to love, be saved?

Pond hockey in Hidden Valley Park, NorthfieldIn chatting yesterday with Brenton Balvin, I reminisced a bit about my life as a hockey rink rat from about 5 years old through high school. We had a pond near our house in Eagan and I pretty much lived there all winter.  We built our own warming  house, fully equipped with a pot-bellied stove.  It was classic pick-up hockey, also known as pond or shinny hockey:

There are no formal rules or specific positions, and generally, there are no goaltenders. The goal areas at each end may be marked by nets, or simply by objects, such as blocks of snow, stones, etc. Bodychecking and lifting or “roofing/reefing/raising the puck” (shooting the puck or ball so it rises above the ice) are often forbidden because the players are not wearing protective equipment.

I went to grade school as St. Peter’s Catholic School in Mendota where we had enough hockey players to have intramural leagues.  Raising the puck was allowed, and we had goalies, but bodychecking wasn’t common and I don’t remember any fights.

I went to high school at Nazareth Hall seminary in Aden Hills, MN where we could not only skate on Lake Johanna, but where we had full responsibility for maintaining the ice for two hockey rinks (with lights!).  We had giant hoses for flooding and dozens of shovels for keeping the rinks snow-free. Although our class was small (I graduated in 1967 in a class of 33) we had enough good players to field a team that played some of the other teams in the Central Catholic Conference (St. Agnes, Hill, Benilde, Cretin, St. Thomas, St. Bernard’s, DeLasalle). We finished 4-5 my senior year. I loved it. Again, bodychecking was allowed but it was uncommon, especially along the boards since they were only hip high on the outdoor rinks. I don’t remember any fights.

By the time my three sons were old enough to skate here in Northfield (early 80s), I became unhappy with direction hockey was taking.  Pick-up hockey was losing ground to organized hockey, even for the youngest kids.  Parents were getting up early to haul their kids to the indoor arena and spending their weekends hauling their kids to games and tournaments around the state.  I was disappointed to see how much time and money was required and secretly hoped the boys never got interested in playing.  Thankfully, they didn’t.

Pond hockey in Hidden Valley Park, NorthfieldI quit watching (in person or on TV) pro hockey long ago because of the fighting. (Olympic hockey was an exception.)  The recent four-part NY Times series on Derek Boogard, Punched Out: The Life and Death of a Hockey Enforcer and the recent incidents of devastating injuries of high schoolers on bodychecks from behind have served to reinforce my beliefs that great sport hockey has gone bad.

But then when I consider the youngsters playing pond hockey with the oldsters on the pond by my house a couple weeks ago, I think, Maybe hockey can be saved. How? I have no idea.

River Bend Nature Center has some great mountain bike trails

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.)

IMG_20120102_163130 IMG_20120102_163232 mountain bike trails at River Bend Nature Center
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).

mountain bike trails at River Bend Nature Center IMG_20120102_163726 IMG_20120102_163934
The lower trail has several well-constructed bridges over the creek beds.

mountain bike trails at River Bend Nature Center IMG_20120102_164355 IMG_20120102_164550
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.

mountain bike trails at River Bend Nature Center IMG_20120102_162555 IMG_20120102_162155
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.

tunnel along the mountain bike trails at River Bend Nature Center IMG_20120102_163920 IMG_20120102_163717
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.

See my Mountain Bike Geezer blog and follow my Mountain Bike Geezer Twitter feed.

Update 9:40 PM: A screengrab of part of the Fbo parks map with my 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.

It’s April in December so get out there and bike

Justin London, Neil Lutsky, Joe Pahr, Merrill Lutsky Mountain bikers at Battle Creek Park Reserve
With no snow and temps in the 40s and 50s the past couple of days, it’s good to be a bicyclist.

Left: On Christmas Day afternoon, these members of the Cannon Valley Velo Club rode from Bridge Square to Cannon Falls and back. L to R: Justin London, Neil Lutsky (Santa Claus), Joe Pahr, and Merrill Lutsky.

Right:  I met these guys yesterday (L to R: Tim Larson, David Gavin, Eric Marr and Dan Malecha; Dan is a cousin of Arlen and Galen) while mountain biking the Battle Creek Park Reserve mountain bike trail system on the east side of St. Paul. (Details on my Mountain Bike Geezer blog here.)

Photos: pond hockey rocks

pond hockey in Hidden Valley Park pond hockey in Hidden Valley Park pond hockey in Hidden Valley Park

I don’t know if my Xmas Eve post (Looking for a place to ice skate outdoors? Consider the pond in Hidden Valley Park) had anything to do with it but a game of  hockey broke out on the pond in Hidden Valley Park yesterday afternoon.

It was classic neighborhood pond hockey: shoes for goal posts, goalies in their shoes, no checking, no raising the puck, no one bothering to keep score, lots of smiles.

pond hockey in Hidden Valley Park pond hockey in Hidden Valley Park pond hockey in Hidden Valley Park

Adult Broomball League to launch in Northfield. Registration deadline is Dec. 28. I wanna play!

Community Services Division brochureThe Northfield Public Schools Community Services Division is out with their Winter/Spring 2012 brochure (PDF). 

I’m thrilled to see that they’re offering an Adult Broomball League. I played on broomball teams in college at St. Thomas, in Minneapolis City Rec leagues for a few years, and then just occasional pickup games after we moved to Northfield in 1974.

BroomballThe new broomball league games will be played on Thursday nights, 9:45PM -11:45PM at the Northfield Ice Arena beginning Jan. 5 and going through Feb. 2. Cost:   $ 340.00

I’m not yet sure how the Northfield format will work, as the description says "Games will begin at 10:30 p.m." What happens the previous 45 minutes?  How many players on a team? How many players on the ice at time? Will there be multiple games on the ice simultaneously? I’ll find out. In the meantime, read more about broomball on the USA Broomball web site.

Are you interested in forming a team? I’m willing to put one together.

Or do you have a team already but need more players? I’m a candidate. Attach a comment here or contact me.

Northfielder Ben Oney and the world’s toughest mountain bike race

Ben Witt, hosting the Ride the Divide movie Ben Witt, hosting the Ride the Divide movie Ride the Divide
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.

Ben Oney and his Tour Divide Salsa Fargo, a drop-bar, off-road adventure bike Ben Oney, Tour Divide Q&A 
Earlier this summer, Northfielder Ben Oney finished 13th (80 participants) in the race on a Salsa Fargo, a drop-bar, off-road adventure bike. He hosted a Q&A session after the movie. See his old Tour Divide blog and his new Boney Bikes blog, but better yet, follow Ben Oney on Twitter.

See also:

My new blog: Mountain Bike Geezer

Mountain Bike Geezer
Rather than continuing to annoy those of you here on LoGro who have no interest in my recreational life, I’ve created a new blog: Mountain Bike Geezer. From the About page:

This blog site is not only about my mountain bike adventures, but also about the sport of mountain biking, especially here in Minnesota: issues, organizations, people, legislation, funding, etc. And since I also use a bike for around-town errands, paved trail riding with family and friends, and the occasional commute, I may occasionally blog about non-mountain bike bicycling.

Follow Mountain Bike Geezer on Twitter
You can also follow my new Twitter account that accompanies the blog: @MtnBikeGeezer.

Biking the gravel to Murphy-Hanrehan and back

Griff Wigley, Bill Nelson, Jerry Bilek, Ben Witt On the gravel: Bill Nelson and Griff Wigley. Photo by Ben Witt. Jerry Bilek and a crop duster. Photo by Ben Witt. On the gravel: Bill Nelson, Griff Wigley, Ben Witt. Photo by Ben Witt.
Bill Nelson, Jerry Bilek, Ben Witt, and I took off on our mountain bikes from GBM at about 7:30 this morning, riding primarily gravel roads to the mountain bike trail in the Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve, just south of Savage.

Murphy-Hanrehan mapJerry Bilek at Murphy-Hanrehan. Photo by Ben Witt. Ben Witt, Jerry Bilek, Bill Nelson,  
After riding the 7 mile advanced loop at Murphy, we chowed down at Chipotle in Apple Valley, biked through UMore Park in Dakota County, and arrived back in Northfield in time for dinner. About 85 miles, 9 hours. Whew!

Northfield’s bicycle clubs: not quite two

The Northfield Bike Club (NBC) has been around for years.  The Cannon Valley Velo Club (CVVC) is the new kid on the block. Doesn’t that make for two clubs? Quoting from the NBC site:

If you know anything about the Northfield Bike Club, you know that it is not really a club at all. The NBC is a bunch of bicycling enthusiasts who like to ride together. The only thing the NBC has that resembles membership is being on the club mailing list. That is free and never expires, but it’s also all you get – a way to communicate with other like-minded riders.

The Cannon Valley Velo Club is a full-fledged club with membership forms, matching jerseys – the whole deal. The club reaches out to all riders and also to the non-cycling community to promote good and safe cycling. It offers organized rides for everyone from the complete novice to the genuine racer.

More on the CVVC:

Category A ride departure from Mike's Bike Shop Category A ride departure from Mike's Bike Shop Category A ride departure from Mike's Bike Shop Category A ride departure from Mike's Bike Shop
Yesterday, a group of riders departed for a Saturday morning Category A ride at 7 am in front of Mike’s Bicycle Shop.

Category B ride departure from Bridge Square Category B ride departure from Bridge Square Category B ride departure from Bridge Square Category B ride departure from Bridge Square
Another group departed Bridge Square at 7:30 am for a Category B ride. See the CVVC Ride Categories page for more info.

FYI, the 8th Annual Tour de Nick ride is coming up next Saturday, Aug. 6. Both clubs’ websites have Annual Tour de Nick web pages (NBC here, CVVC here). There’s a Tour de Nick Facebook page, too.  The poster:

Tour de Nick 2011

Learn to kayak

Marshal Wright, instructor, Learn to KayakThe Cannon River Watershed Partnership (events page link) invites the public to join us for a Learn to Kayak class on July 20th at 6:30 PM at 5351 Elkton Trail in Faribault.  The class will be taught by Marshall Wright.  Marshall is an American Canoe Association certified instructor.  He will present the basics of kayaking through informal lecture and on-land demonstrations.

You’ll get to sit in a recreational kayak and several touring kayaks. You’ll learn the terminology: hard vs soft chine; skeg vs rudder; primary vs secondary stability, etc. You will handle a variety of paddles and review essential safety equipment. Also covered: racking & tie-down for transport, launching and landing.

Participants must be at least 16 years old.  Cost is $10.00 per person.  Please note, you must pre-register by July 15th. Email  or call (507) 786-3913 to sign up, space is limited.

Ben Witt wants you for the Crit

Ben Witt 2011 crit flyer
Northfielder Ben Witt, proprietor of Milltown Cycles in Faribault, stopped by my corner office at the GBM earlier this week to make sure I would let LoGro readers know about the 11th Annual 4th of July Northfield Criterium on Monday. 

Ben could use some assistance during the event: corner martials and help with set up and take down.  Contact him at 507.331.2636 or at

Annual 4th of July Northfield Criterium Annual 4th of July Northfield Criterium Annual 4th of July Northfield Criterium

Bike trail travels: Pizzeria 201 in Montgomery

Robbie got a new bike from Milltown Cycles a few weeks ago and we’ve started exploring Minnesota’s bike trails. LoGro readers can expect an occasional blog post and tweet when we come across something y’all might find interesting. I’ll tag the posts bike trail travels.

Last night after riding a segment of the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail near Sakatah Lake State Park, we took an alternate route on the drive back home to Northfield and ended up in downtown Montgomery.

Pizzeria 201 in Montgomery, MN Big Honza at the Pizzeria 201 in Montgomery, MN outdoor patio at Pizzeria 201 in Montgomery, MN

outdoor patio at Pizzeria 201 in Montgomery, MN Roman Holiday pizza at Pizzeria 201 in Montgomery, MN Diane & Troy Domine, Pizzeria 201 in Montgomery, MN 
Robbie immediately noticed the attractive Pizzeria 201 restaurant with Big Honza Giganticzech adjacent to its outdoor patio.  So we stopped for drinks, a delicious thin crust pizza (Roman Holiday – see their PDF menu), gelato, and got to meet the friendly owners, Diane and Troy Domine, and a few of their five kids.

Many Northfielders pay a visit to Montgomery during Kolacky Days in late July. You now have another reason to go more often.

Former Northfielder John Gaddo and Hans "No way" Rey dazzle the crowd at the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Festival

Hans Rey, Griff WigleyAs I got ready to dig into my plate of lasagna at Maucieri’s in Crosby last Friday night, in walks Hans “No way” Rey, “considered the world’s leader in extreme mountain biking… a former trials riding world champion, a showman, a stuntman and an adventure mountain biker.”

He was the featured stunt rider for the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Festival, brought to the event courtesy of GT Bicycles, with financial support from MORC, IMBA, and Bloomington, MN-based QBP (Quality Bicycle Products), one of the largest bicycle parts distributors in the world.

Gary Sjoquist, Hans Rey, John Gaddo, Jeff VerinkHans is a god, even in my world of motorcycle trials, so I was thrilled to be invited to join him and some other mountain bike industry guys for dinner and beers. In the photo, L to R: Gary Sjoquist, Advocacy Director for QBP; Hans Rey; John Gaddo, Inside Sales rep at QBP; and Jeff Verink, sales rep with GT Bicycles and the talented master of ceremonies for the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Festival.

While chatting with John Gaddo, I learned that he grew up in Northfield.  Many locals might know his dad, long-time general manager at the former WCAL-FM. John mentioned that he was also a trials bicycle rider but I had no idea the level of his skills until he teamed up with Hans for the bicycle trials exhibition on Saturday night.

See my album of a dozen photos of the John Gaddo bike trials exhibition, view the large slideshow (recommended), or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:

See my album of 28 photos of the Hans Rey bike trials exhibition, (and photos of Hans signing posters and speaking about his Wheels 4 Life non-profit), view the large slideshow (recommended), or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:I think Northfield should feature a bicycle trials exhibition by John Gaddo, right on Bridge Square, during the Milltown Cycles 4th of July criterium. How about it, Ben Witt?

Last day for the Northfield Athletic Club?

Kyle Snesrud at the Northfield Athletic Club Griff Wigley and Kyle Snesrud outside the OH! Dale! racquetball court at the Northfield Athletic Club Kyle Snesrud, Eric Pritchard, Griff Wigley Kyle Snesrud and Eric Pritchard 
I may have played my last racquetball game ever this morning at the Northfield Athletic Club.  The club is due to close at the end of the day.

Therese and Jeff Smiens purchased the club in January of 2010 (blog post here), leasing the building from former club owners Kyle and Dale Snesrud (Dale died from cancer last November). The Smiens were not able to make the club work financially and Kyle has not been able to find a buyer. (If you know of someone who might be interested, contact Kyle via one of his two Olympus 24 hr Health & Fitness clubs in Rosemount and Farmington.

It’s a sad day for  area racquetball players, as Northfield has more racquetball players per capita than any other town in the state.  But it’s a particularly sad day for Eric Pritchard who has worked at the club for over 15 years.

I’m grateful that we’ve had the club for the past 35+ years, nearly my entire life in Northfield. Not only have I had fun and stayed in shape playing a lifelong sport, I’ve met and developed lifelong friends there.  I’m really going to miss it.


Need a bike? Support the area’s three local bike dealers. Have a bike to sell? Post your ad here.

 Griff Wigley and Clark Webster Bike to Work Day at the Goodbye Blue Monday, 2011 Bike to Work Day at the Goodbye Blue Monday, 2011 
Since it was A) a warm morning (60F) and B) it’s Bike to Work Day, I rode my wife’s Giant Revive DX to my office at the GBM today. More than a few bikers joined me.

FIT to be TRI'd Mike's Bicycle Shop Milltown Cycles

We’re fortunate to have three bike shops in the area:

  • FIT to be TRI’d in downtown Northfield carries Focus and Marin bicycles
  • Mike’s Bicycle Shop in downtown Northfield carries Rawland, Trek, Surley, and Salsa
  • Milltown Cycles in downtown Faribault carries Trek, Gary Fisher, Rawland, Salsa, Surley, Steve Potts, and Redline

Gus DeMann loses Boston Marathon

Gus DeMannOle Gus DeMann, one of the early morning baristas at GBM, ran the Boston Marathon last week. Unfortunately, he lost. Big time.

Not only did he not finish in the top ten, he got beat by 372 other runners, finishing at 2:45.46. To put that in perspective, that’s nearly 3/4 of an hour behind the winner, which is about the time it would take me to leisurely stroll from downtown Northfield to his hometown of Dundas and back.

He’s evidently going to try again next year, according to this article in the Northfield News.

See the pre-race hype about Gus in this article on the St. Olaf news site: Boston Bound.

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