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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Additionally, 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.
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.
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.
Black 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.”
But even Dr. Vad has a warning about yoga and Pilates (excerpt from this web site):
The 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.
In 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.
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.)
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).
The lower trail has several well-constructed bridges over the creek beds.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
The 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.
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.
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.
You can also follow my new Twitter account that accompanies the blog: @MtnBikeGeezer.
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!
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.
The 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call (507) 786-3913 to sign up, space is limited.
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.
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.
Hans 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.
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.
Ole 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.