Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Woolly Has Moved

Hey, if you are reading this, then you are at the OLD home of the Woolly Bike Club on the internet.

We have moved from Blogspot to our own website.

Please update your links and bookmarks to www.woollybikeclub.com

See ya over there!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Woolly Elections - The Ballot

Hey Woollyland, it is nearly election time.  The fun kind, the Woolly kind.

First a super quick note.  I jumped the gun on the new webpage.  It is ready and waiting... for the internet.  It'll be live hopefully in the next week or so.  Until then, we are living in blogger land.

OK, on to the ballot.

We have asked for some short bio/stump speeches from the candidates as well as "representative photos".  This post will be updated as additional information becomes available.


Ben Mullin

I’ve been mountain biking for about 5 years now. A runner and xc skier in HS, I started into biking the first summer after CyclovaXC opened and they told me I needed a bike. First it was a road bike, then I got out my late 90’s fully rigid 26’er and was “that guy” at the group rides. You know, the one who always left bleeding. Thankfully I’ve come a ways since then and now enjoy actually improving my technical riding skills along with beating myself up with either hard rides or really long rides and only occasionally crashing.

I have been serving as the VC for the last year. I have enjoyed working with the other board members and sharing our passion for mountain biking and the Woolly trails. I am running for chair to fill the vacancy left by long time member Matt. It is my interest to see the number of active members grow and the Woolly Trail system grow into a mountain bike destination.

Vice Chair

Joe Jerosak

Bio Pending
Note: The Vice Chair position is normally not up for election in this round.  It is available as the position is currently held by Ben Mullin who is running for Chair.


Steve Hamlin

I was first introduced to the Woolly Bike Club trails back in 2013 when I was getting back into riding again. I have ridden a lot of different trail systems and find there to be something special about the Woolly Bike Club Trails and the community of people around them.

I see a lot of opportunity in St. Croix Falls for outdoor adventure sports with the Woolly Bike Club trail system being a major pillar to the community and opportunity. There appears to be potential for more trail growth, along with bringing even more awareness of the trails to both the local and neighboring communities. I also believe that St. Croix Falls has a large potential for being a well known outdoor adventure destination area with Mountain Biking being one of the reasons for the destination, with additional growth of the club and trails system.

As Treasurer of the Woolly Bike Club, I can work with the other members of the club and the community to bring awareness to the club and grow the trail system, while managing a solid financial plan to support the growth through new memberships and community support.

Thanks for your support!

Board Member at Large (3 seats available)

Doran O'Brien

By serving on the Woolly board, I hope to create an all inclusive environment for outdoor enthusiasts in our communities by building, maintaining, and promoting the trail system. I also recognize a growing presence of bikers in the Scandia/Marine area that could benefit from using the Woolly and become supporters as well. Thank you for your consideration.

Sláinte! Doran

Tyler Engberg

I was hooked on mountain biking ever since my first ride at Lebanon Hills 10+ years ago. For 6 of those years I have been riding the Woolly Bike Club Trails. During that time I have thoroughly enjoyed introducing these unique trails to friends and family as well as riding it with people that already know how awesome they are! Being they are the closest trails to where I live and the one I ride most frequently, I have always wanted to take a more active role in the club. I believe my experience riding other trails, my enjoyment of introducing others to cycling, being a certified mountain bike coach and my passion for mountain biking make me a good candidate for a Woolly Board Member at Large. Thank you for considering me for this role.

Greg Gentle

Thank you for considering my interest in joining the Woolly Bike Club board. I've wanted to take a more active role with the Woolly Bike Club for years. Job, life and other responsibilities has made that difficult until now. I believe my experience in non-profit management, community building, service focused mindset, and passion for cycling is a good fit for the Woolly Board. Thank you for considering me for membership.

Mark Fisk

I would like to run for Member at large. If local folks wanted the spot I’m all for new local people getting an opportunity to serve the community.

Things I would like to explore:
  • Bi-weekly summer program for kids/high schoolers on the Woolly trails.
  • Explore additional lands for expansion of Woolly trails.
  • Review current mission statement, 5 year and 10 year plans.
  • Trail assessment by outside trail building organization.
  • Gateways and gates entering Woolly trail segments - gates can be closed during hard trail closures.
  • Develop volunteer incentive program where volunteers(including board members) earn Woolly gear for their volunteer hours.

Election Procedure Reminder

The first and best way to vote will be in person at the Woolly Annual meeting which is Thursday November 9th at Cyclova XC at 7pm.

An alternate method is to send an email to the Election Chair at woollybikeclub@gmail.com

Finally, you may mail a written ballot to the Woolly PO Box (PO Box 1114, St. Croix Falls, WI 54024) to be received no later than November 9th.

For full election procedure details refer back to this post with the approved procedures.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

New Woolly Website!

Over the next day or so, heading over to www.woollybikeclub.com is going to find you at a new internet home for the Woolly.  With any luck you will still find everything you used before and in the coming weeks and months hopefully some cool new features as well.

One important note, if you have bookmarked woollybikeclub.blogspot.com, that will still exist so be sure to update your links to the link above to stay up to date.

If you find anything wrong, be sure to let us know.  There is a form on the Contact Us page to get in touch.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A Few Woolly Reminders

Store Closing Sunday

First, a reminder that the Woolly Storefront closes this Sunday!  If you want some awesome Woolly clothing from Podiumwear, the time is running out.

Head over here:  Podiumwear Store Front

The password is Woolly2017 if you need it.

Woolly Board Meeting Thursday

Before the store closes though, the Woolly board is meeting this Thursday, 7pm, at the St. Croix Falls library.  These meetings are always open to members and interested parties.  This is where the board discusses the greater Woolly vision and makes sure that all the cool stuff keeps happening.  The more the merrier.

Woolly Day Recap

I'll get something out in the next few days to do a full recap, but in short it was a great day!  To anyone who came out  and made it what it was, thank you!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Woolly Day Is A Go!

The weather is beautiful and with some trail work yesterday and a few more hours to dry out the trails should be ready for a good time this afternoon.

The trails will open at noon today.

A rough schedule:

1:00 - Folks will be gathering

1:30 - Group rides will head out

  • Full Loop including West Ridge
  • A loop with everything but West Ridge (we call this the fat bike loop because that is what gets groomed for fat biking)
  • Ladies only group
  • Kids ride

2:00 - CyclovaXC will be up with a couple of Farley fat bikes to demo for the afternoon

3:00 - The grilling gets started

3:00 - Kids games at the trailhead

  • Skinny riding
  • Bike slacklining
  • Slow races
Trap Rock Brewing, Woolly's new neighbor to the east will be on hand during the afternoon for adult samples.

A last note that the trailhead parking lot will be closed so we can gather and move about a little better.  There is plenty of parking along the street for everyone.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Christmas, Halloween, Valentine's Day and...WOOLLY DAY!!!

OK, so maybe WOOLLY DAY hasn't achieved national holiday status yet, but it is a big deal in Woollyland.  What started several years ago as a group ride on an unseasonably warm fall Sunday has grown into one of the busiest day of the year on the Woolly trails.  Races are fun, but hanging out with close friends, and previously un-met friends alike, with some casual riding, food, a camp fire and possibly an adult beverage or two being consumed really makes a great fall Sunday afternoon.

This Sunday, October 8 (unless the trails are too wet, then it will be October 15), we will gather at the Woolly Trailhead around 1pm.  We will have several group rides heading out starting around 1:30.  We will have a full lap (including West Ridge), a upper lap, a ladies only group and a kids group.  All groups will be casual, no-drop rides with focus on enjoying the ride.  All ages and abilities are welcome and encouraged to join us.  Last year our biggest group was the kid's lap with many parents joining the young'uns for this one.

After the ride, we will fire up the grill.  The Woolly Bike Club provides hot dogs and brats, lemonade and water, plus (everyone's favorite) the Woolly Day cake.  People are encouraged to berng something to share, but don't feel like it is required because there is always plenty to go around.  Rumors are this year, soon to be open local brew house, Trap Rock Brewing Company, will have some samples of their different brews for adults to check out.

Due to the high number of younger MTBers last year, we are adding some fun activities around the trailhead to keep them busy.  We will have a mini-skills course, some "slow races" and other challenges led by the Chisago Lakes MTB team, a Halloween themed scavenger hunt, and chainsaw juggling...I guess the chainsaw juggling isn't allowed by state, federal and common sense regulations, but everything else will be fun for the whole family.

No cost, no sign-up, just show up and plan for a laid back good times for everyone!!

Basic Schedule on Sunday October 8:

1:00 PM          Arrive  (Trailhead Parking Lot will be closed for the day, so plan to park on the surrounding roads.)

1:30 PM          First Group Ride heads out around with all groups starting shortly after

3:00 PM          Grill gets fired up and the eating and hanging out starts with kids activities around the trailhead.

Much Later     Take your bike and go home

Please plan to bring your family, friends and maybe even people you don't like that much and join us for
Woolly Day 2017!!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Woolly Elections

As mentioned in the Monday Woolly Weekly, we wanted to get the Woolly Elections out in front of people.  As you may or may not know, the Woolly Bike Club has a set of board members that administer the business of the club.

The annual board member election is coming up soon.  What we want you, yes YOU, to do about it:
  1. Make sure your membership is up to dateAs an IMBA chapter, this means that your IMBA membership is current and you have designated Woolly Bike Club as your chapter.
  2. Run for the board! - If you are a member in good standing (see item 1), you are eligible to run for one of the open board positions (chair, treasurer, or the three board members at large).  You are committing to attend a minimum of 8 of the 12 monthly board meetings and helping run the club as best you can.
  3. Nominate someone for the board! - Maybe you aren't ready to run for the board yourself, but you know someone who has the skills and talent to help the club.  Nominate them for the board.  Maybe they just need the push from someone else to realize their potential.
  4. Vote at the November Member Meeting on 11/9 - There isn't any point to having an election if no one votes.  The election process has been revamped to give all members a say in electing the board.  Do your Woolly civic duty and vote.
Without our board, the Woolly Bike Club would cease to exist and those trails that you love would eventually overgrow and disappear.

Dallas Wynne has been appointed the Nominations Chair by the board.  Any member wishing to be considered for any of the board positions or wishing to nominate anyone else should get in touch with Dallas at dbwynne74  <at> gmail <dot> com.

Our ballot needs to be finalized by October 21st to give ample time for the membership to see the ballot and prepare to vote.  This means that if folks don't start nominating themselves or others quickly, Dallas is going to start strong arming people into running for office.

If you want all the details, here is the full Woolly Elections Process that as approved by the board this summer:

  • The following positions shall be elected by (popular/majority) vote of the members of the Woolly club in good standing
    • Officers
      • Chair (year A)
      • Vice Chair (year B)
      • Treasurer (year A)
      • Secretary (year B)
    • Board Members at Large
      • 3x (one year terms)
  • Nomination Process
    • The board shall appoint a nominations chair to solicit volunteers for all open positions during the month of October
    • The nomination chair shall not be seeking election
    • The ballot shall be finalized by October 21st
  • Members Eligible for the board
    • Member in good standing
    • May be in another position, that current position shall be added to the ballot and the member may not run for both positions, the newly elected person fills the remainder of the prior members term
  • Election Process
    • The nominations chair shall have the ballot published 2 weeks prior to the November meeting where the final voting shall happen
    • The ballot shall be published in the following locations
      • Email to all members in good standing with an email on file
      • Post to the website
      • Tweet
      • Facebook
    • The nominations chair shall accept votes in the following manner (1 per member in good standing)
      • Email to a designated email address (as noted in the ballot)
      • Written ballot received in the PO box no later than the date of the November meeting
      • Secret ballot at the November meeting

  • New Terms
    • Newly elected board members take office on the first day of January on the following year

Monday, September 18, 2017

Woolly Weekly Update - September 18th

Hey Woolly Land!

Not a ton of stuff going on this week, but we want to make sure you are aware of all of the Woolly activities coming up and give you a quick run down of all that happened last week.

Looks like we might have some rain (as in it is probably raining as I compose this).  The trails could really use some rain, but please check the trail status before riding.  We keep Twitter, Facebook, the Website, MORC all up to date.  Occasionally the trailhead signs lag a bit as that requires someone to go physically change them.

On Going Woolly

Woolly Gear Order

The Podiumwear store is now OPEN.  All of that sweet Woolly kit you've seen people rolling around in is now available.  This is super nice kit from Podiumwear and you will NOT be disappointed in the comfort and quality.

The new item this time around is the sweet new Woolly baggy short.  We are hoping to have a sizing kit available at Woolly Day.

Head on over to the Woolly Podiumwear Storefront.  The password is Woolly2017.

Upcoming Woolly Events

October 8th - Woolly Day

The 5th annual Woolly day is Sunday, October 8th. Join the Woolly Crew and all of your other mountain bike friends to enjoy riding, food and friendship on the Woolly Trails.

Sunday October 8th, 2017
1:00pm - Gather and get your bike out and ready to ride.
1:30pm - Group rides for all abilities. From an easy cruise to a lung busting shredder to a family friendly kids ride there will be someone to ride with.
3:00pm - Grilling will commence.
3:30pm - Contests! We are going to do some fun activities in the trailhead this year. This is going to be kid friendly for sure. There will be prizes!

Group riding per the times above.
Grilling starting at 3:00pm. Woolly is providing the meat and cake. Please bring something to share with your fellow Woolly.

Fellowship around the campfire. Likely after the riding has finished we will kick-up the fire and we can all hang out and eat and be merry.

The Woolly Trailhead of course!

You, your family, and friends along with the Woolly Crew. RSVP'ing on the event on the Woolly Facebook page will help us plan food for all of you so please check that out.

November 9th - Woolly Annual Meeting and Board Elections

Another item to get on your calendars.  Our November meeting will be a bigger meeting that we usually have.  We will have a "State of the Woolly" type of address.  We will then hold our board elections.  The board positions open this year are Chairman, Treasurer, and all three Board Members at Large.  All board positions are open to any member in good standing (IMBA membership up to date with Woolly designated as your chapter).  There will be a bunch more about the elections process coming this week.

This meeting is going to be held at CyclovaXC and will likely be the kick-off to their Adventure and Tech series.

Check out the Facebook event here.

December 2nd - Global Fat Bike Day

We are really early and this is entirely weather dependent.  But save the date for fat bike fun!

Check out the Facebook event here.

Woolly Accomplishments

Last week was fairly eventful in Woolly land.

On Wednesday seven hardy volunteers got out on the trails to do some maintenance.  We hit up a bunch of the low spots in Riegel and did some deberming and additional outsloping.  We didn't hit all of the low spots, but hopefully we will have improved the drainage in the area and we are on our way to opening sooner after rainfall.

Part of the entrance to Wissahickon South was also regraded and some grade reversals have been added.  The trails are crazy dry these days so we actually need a little rain to help repack the trail.  You'll find it a little soft right now, but it should get a bunch better.

The Chisago Lakes Mountain Bike Team had an exciting time at practice on the Woolly trails Thursday evening.  Thankfully they got to tour the Life Link helicopter, not USE it.  Woolly member Keith Velaski was on board doing a joint training exercise with the SCF fire department so the team got to check things out briefly.

The board met on Thursday evening and had a productive meeting.  We are going to start publishing the meeting minutes soon.

Have a wonderful Woolly week!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Woolly Gear Available!!

Hey Woolly Land!

Have you seen club members rolling around the trails in the sweet Woolly kit and wanted some of your own?

If so, then you are in luck!  The Woolly Podiumwear storefront is now OPEN!

Head on over to the following link and use the password Woolly2017 to peruse and place your order.  The storefront will close on October 15th and then the orders will be shipped to your door approximately 4 weeks after that.  This would be a great time to get that Christmas present, or grab a fat bike jacket.

Podiumwear Woolly Storefront

New Baggy Shorts

New this time around are the baggy shorts.  I know a lot of folks aren't too keen on getting all spandexed out so these will be just the ticket to pair with the freeride jersey or tech tshirt.  We need to reach a 5 piece minimum order on this to get an order in this time.  We also hope to have a sizing kit available at Woolly Day on October 8th.

What Else

Beyond the new baggy, everything we have previously offered is available with no minimum order quantities.  That means you can get:

Regular Men's and Women's Bike Jersey's

Longsleeve Freeride Jersey

Men's, Women's, and Kids Tech Tees

Note, these Tech Tees tend to run a bit small.  You will likely want to consider going up a size from your usual here.

Men's and Women's Bib Shorts

Winter Fatbike Jacket


Just in case you looked at the prices and perhaps had a little sticker shock I wanted to talk briefly about the quality.  I personally, am a cheapskate.  If I can find a deal or somehow find a cheaper option I will likely do that.  HOWEVER, I LOVE MY WOOLLY KIT.  This is by far the nicest stuff I own.  I rode 262 miles of gravel, in 28 hours, in 40 degree rain this spring in one pair of my Woolly bib shorts.  Not a single issue.  I think the only piece of kit I don't own is the fat bike jacket, but I've tried one on and it is SUPER nice too.

In summary, I think you are definitely buying quality here and this is money well spent.

The other note is that the Woolly Club does not get anything from the purchase of Woolly Wear.  These are the prices straight from Podiumwear so there are no mark-ups, fees, or anything else imposed by Woolly.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Woolly Weekly - September 11th

Hey Woolly Land!

School is back in session, the leaves are just starting to turn, there is a crispness to the air some days... in other words, fantastic Woolly riding weather.

We have more nice weather coming this week and the Woolly Club has a few opportunities for you to get involved as well.  We will also look forward to whats coming up in the next few months.

Tuesday - Group Ride Suspended for 2017

Unfortunately I think we are going to be suspending the Tuesday night group rides for the season.  First, the sun is setting earlier and it will be hard to get much of a ride in before it gets dark.  Second, most of our usual ride leaders are busy helping out the Chisago Lakes High School mountain bike team on Tuesday nights.

Stay tuned though as fat bike season starts firing up and we will be starting the Wednesday Night Fat Rides.

Wednesday - Trail Work Night

We are going to spend some time Wednesday evening doing some digging in the dirt and we would love to have more people out to help.  Specifically we are going to do some deberming and improving some drainage in the low spots in Riegel and perhaps Big Oak depending on the number of helpers we get.

This will help the trail dry out quicker after it rains and therefore open quicker.  And we all want to ride more.

Thursday - Woolly Board Meeting

Thursday evening, 7:00pm at the St. Croix Falls library is our monthly board meeting.  These meetings are always open to any interested folks.  We will be working on planning for upcoming events, discussing the upcoming board elections, trail projects, and any other ways the Woolly can get involved in the community.

Please come join us and develop some Woolly excitement.

October 8th - Woolly Day

Just making sure that folks get this on their calendar. Our annual celebration of Woolly Trails will be Sunday afternoon on October 8th (weather back-up of October 15th).  We are still planning, but expect the usual good company, good riding, and some good food.

November 9th - Woolly Annual Meeting and Board Elections

Another item to get on your calendars.  Our November meeting will be a bigger meeting that we usually have.  We will have a "State of the Woolly" type of address.  We will then hold our board elections.  The board positions open this year are Chairman, Treasurer, and all three Board Members at Large.  All board positions are open to any member in good standing (IMBA membership up to date with Woolly designated as your chapter).  There will be a bunch more about the elections process coming in the next couple of weeks.

Have a wonderful Woolly week!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Woolly Week Ahead - Into Labor Day Weekend

Hey Woolly Land!

Summer is winding down, but it isn't quite over yet.  The weather looks pretty nice this week and we should be riding again soon.  In anticipation of that we would like to put out the heads up on a few opportunities and events coming up.

Trail Work Wednesday

The trails should be drying out, but they could use some of their regular love.  Things like a little weed whacking, face slapper trimming, and maybe even a pass with the leaf blower.  We've got the tools, all we need are some hands to operate them.

Meet Arron at the trailhead at 6:00pm on Wednesday August 30th to help give those trails you love some love.

Check in on our Facebook Event to let us know you are coming.

Thursday HS MTB Practice and More Trail Work

Thursday evening the Chisago Lakes Mountain Bike Team will be out practicing on the Woolly Trails.  Didn't know that Chisago Lakes had a mountain bike team?  It is brand new this year.  It is full of Woolly offspring as well.  Head on over to their Facebook page and check them out.  Spread the word if you know of some more 7th-12th graders in the area who would like to join.  It isn't too late.

And if you missed the trail work on Wednesday and still want to help out, drop us a note on Facebook.  As indicated, the team is half full of little Woollies so there will be some of us at the trail that evening and would be glad to help get you setup with some tools and pointers on some trail work.

Save The Date - Woolly Day 2018

Hey, this isn't in the next week, but we want to make sure you have a chance to plan your fall around it.  Our annual trails celebration/party will be Sunday October 8th this year.  Mark that on your calendar now for a good time on the trails.  More details will be coming in the next few weeks.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Still Time To Help Woolly Put More Kids On Bikes!

Things are getting exciting in Woolly Land relative to getting more kids on bikes.  As previously announced, the Woolly is helping the St. Croix Falls Schools add a fleet of 22 quality Trek bikes to their education curriculum.

The exciting development is that the bikes are starting to arrive at CyclovaXC!

There is still time to help the Woolly fill out the fleet.  All money donated to Woolly before the end of August is going directly to helping get those kids exposed to the life sport of mountain biking.  To donate today, see the information below.

Click the image below to donate via PayPal:


Mail a check payable to Woolly Bike Club to:
PO Box 114
St. Croix Falls, WI 54024


Drop a check payable to Woolly Bike Club off at CyclovaXC in downtown SCF.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Woolly Land Response Needed - DNR Survey

Attention Woolly Land residents and visitors.

The WI DNR is in the process of analyzing the needs for recreational opportunities.  They are currently in a stage of the process where they are looking for public input.  So the time is now to get your voice heard.

While this doesn't directly affect the Woolly Trails, as silent sports enthusiasts we do have a greater vested interest in maintaining and enhancing our other recreational opportunities.  A specific concern you may consider is the continued attempts to make the Gandy and Stower trails open to motorized use.  There is an opportunity during the survey to provide general feedback and that would be a good place to add a few comments about the challenges of shared use.

For more information on the survey, check out this article (and share it please) from the Wisconsin Bike Fed.

To go straight to the survey, click here (the survey is under the Online Feedback Opportunity section).

After you have completed the survey (only takes a few minutes), be sure to share the link around so we can get more folks to share their feedback.


--Woolly Crew

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Help Woolly Put More Kids on Bikes!

The Woolly is very excited to announce it has committed to support the Saint Croix Falls High School in purchasing 22 mountain bikes for use in their Physical Education and Outdoor Physical Education curriculum.

Over a two year process a group of dedicated community members and educators have written many grants and raised a good portion of the money necessary to get the program rolling.  With a matching fund offer set to expire the Woolly stepped in to commit the $3100 necessary to maximize the matching grant.

The program will be working with CyclovaXC, the official bike shop of the Woolly Bike Club, to purchase 22 high quality Trek mountain bikes.  Longtime Woolly Bike Club Sponsor, St. Croix Regional Medical Center, has also donated 25 helmets to the program.

Now that the Woolly has committed to support getting more kids on bikes, we would like to ask you to help the Woolly.  All donations between now and the end of August will go directly to supporting this cause.  As always, your donations to Woolly (a 501 (c) 3 non-profit) are tax deductible.

The Woolly is very excited to support exposing more kids to this life time sport of mountain biking.  We hope you are as excited as we are.

Click the image below to donate via PayPal:


Mail a check payable to Woolly Bike Club to:
PO Box 114
St. Croix Falls, WI 54024


Drop a check payable to Woolly Bike Club off at CyclovaXC in downtown SCF.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Woolly Tuesday Evening Group Rides @ 6:30

We just wanted to remind folks that every Tuesday evening (unless otherwise noted) that the Woolly Trails are open we host a group ride that leaves the trailhead at 6:30.  As we move from summer to fall we may move the start time up to account for sunset, but for now 6:30 gives folks coming from work a few extra minutes to get to the trails.

The first lap is always no drop.  After that it is a go at your own pace.  I know some folks like to get a little earlier start.  I would encourage you to get a warm-up in and then loop back to the trailhead at 6:30 to join the fun.  Group rides are a great way to get some social time and improve your biking skills no matter your skill level.

So hopefully we will see you at the trailhead this Tuesday at 6:30!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Big Oak Trail Updates

Thursday evening a handful of Woolly volunteers headed out to do some trail fixes and improvements in Big Oak.

First up was to shore up the bridge feature.  Its built on top of a log and some of the boards were working loose.  It's been reinforced and should be good to go for a while.

Next was the log skinny in the middle.  Sadly, there was no saving that rotted mess.  It just got rolled off into the woods.

But we wanted more tech too, so we built a new log skinny just before bridge.  This one is pretty skinny, but it is also nice and close to the ground.  As you can see in the first picture we even got Chuck Norris to test it out for us.  OK, maybe that is just Dirt Boss Jason, but he still has a nice kick going.

There was also some general maintenance activities going on with some face slapper trimming and leaf blowing.

Going forward there are discussions of adding some additional technical features in the center of Big Oak and creating a little tech loop for folks to session in the woods.

If you are interested in helping with trail projects and maintenance get in touch with us via Facebook and we will get you in the loop.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Copper Harbor Big Boy Clinic Recap

Copper Harbor Big Boy Clinic

So if you have been around me at all recently you'll know that I've declared this "The Year of the Bike".  I'm still a skier first, but I've got the entire (very long with this weather) off season to dedicate to the bike.  It started with the Fat Bike Birkie, rolled straight into crazy gravel events (Mammoth Gravel, Trans Iowa, and the Royal, each and everyone of those very very wet).  But now it is time to go big on the mountain bike.

Why Do I Want Skills?

I started mountain biking in 2012, so if my engineers math is correct I've been doing it for about 5 years now.  Anyone who has seen me mountain bike will know that my racing is all fitness and zero finesse.  I'm pretty sure I was known as the guy who showed up to the Woolly group rides and crashed and bled EVERY SINGLE TIME.

The author doing his first Woolly Mountain Bike Race in September of 2012.
Fast forward to this past summer.  I'm still trying to fitness my way through mountain biking.  I'm crashing a little less often, but when I do they are more catastrophic.  I tried to break my thumb, cracked my ribs twice, and basically ended my season with a broken collar bone in August.

Further evidence of my lack of bike skills was every time I'd ride with other club members.  We'd hit a corner or a downhill corner and I'd look up and they would be way up the trail.  This was strongly reinforced when Nate and I took our 300 miles of gravel riding together (Mammoth Gravel, Strada Fango, Royal) and went to do Tatanka.  While we had been within 100 yards of each other for that 300 miles of gravel he finished the Tatanka in 10 something hours and it took me 14.  That was about as clear of evidence of the skills gap as you could get.

With roughly 300 miles of ultra endurance mountain bike races scheduled for the rest of the summer, I'd like to try and minimize that skills gap.  I figure I've got an easy 20 to 40 percent improvement without having to do a single interval (don't worry, I will do those too).

When I saw the Copper Harbor Trails Club organizing their men's skills clinic (a recent addition to their highly popular women's clinic) I was all on board.  Three days of intensive skills development on some killer trails in a beautiful location sounded like just the ticket to start the summer of mountain biking.

How The Clinic Went Down

The rough schedule looked like this.

  • Friday
    • Optional suspension setup
    • Introductions/Plate making/Opening statements
    • Small groups assigned to head coaches and assistant coaches (5 groups of 8 students)
    • Morning skills in the park
    • Lunch
    • Afternoon skills on the trails (shuttles)
    • Break for dinner
    • Videos and social
  • Saturday
    • Skills in the park
    • Lunch
    • Afternoon skills on the trails (small rotation of coaches for specific skills)
    • Break for dinner
    • Beer Luck
  • Sunday
    • Choose your own adventure focus ride (XC racing technical climbing and descending, Pumping/Bumping/Jumping, Intro to Enduro Racing, Advanced Enduro/DH Racing, Overflow/Downtown Ride Throughs)
    • Lunch
    • Closing remarks

I got assigned to, what I'm guessing, was mostly likely the beginner group.  In addition to myself it included the self professed roadie and a gentlemen who had come to mountain biking much later in life.

Our first morning of skills in the park were all extremely basic body position drills.  Think get your bike up to speed and then ride it in a straight line coasting.  Yup, that basic.  I won't attempt to run you through all of the drills we did, but I'll throw out a bunch of the buzz words I heard a lot.  Bike body separation, attack position, head up, elbows out/around, knees out, low wide and centered, look where you are going, etc.  I heard those terms many many times throughout the weekend.

We took our drills to the trails in the afternoon taking the shuttle up and hitting a few trails to try applying the sterile field skills to real trails.  I'll be honest, I wasn't feeling like there was a ton of improvement that first day.  There was no magic "one strange trick to make you an awesome mountain biker".  There were a few corners that felt better, but nothing that was like I was suddenly going to be an elite racer.

The second day was much the same as the first.  Skills in the morning and trails in the afternoon.  We repeated some of the basics, but progressed on to some more intermediate skills including wheel lifts, baby drops, and pumping.  The afternoon found us on more advanced trails (Red Trail) trying to put some more pieces together.  At this point I could feel some actual improvements.  Maybe not surprisingly, if you put together all of the basics (eyes where you want to go, attack position, balanced, elbows out, etc, etc) you can do a fair impression of a real mountain biker.  It was definitely mixed with lots of moments of regression and wondering why I sucked so bad.  Then I would remember one or likely more of the fundamentals I forgot to employ.

The highlight of the weekend for me was the carry over from Saturday's ride on the Red Trail to Sunday's ride on the Red Trail.  We will start with Saturday.  The upper half of Red Trail is pretty rocky and rooty with a few small root and rock drops of 6" to 12".  All very rideable, though I was riding it faster this time than I had a few years prior.

The lower half is a different story.  It has some 5' rock drops, some to rock and some to bridges.  Most of my group rode those drops on Saturday afternoon after some coaching.  I however did NOT.  It was enlightening to see it happen, which put the thought in my head that obviously it was possible.  The what if I crash was in my head though and would not let me do it.  I was honestly a little disappointed in myself.

Assistant coach Ryan showing us a "line" on Red Trail.
Come Sunday we had the "pick your poison" group session.  I picked the peddally group, otherwise known as the XC racing technical climbing and descending group.  The rest of the groups all shuttled the day.  Not us, we rode UP the hills.  We rode all the way up Red Trail first.  Including the rock drops.  Talk about an eye opener for what is possible on a bike!  I didn't make it, but I learned a few tricks and I think I'll be able to get there.

OK, long story longer, once we reached the top, it was time to go down again.  I hung to the back and told the coach who was running sweep that I didn't ride the drops the day before and I was pretty sure I wasn't going to do it today either.  Well, we got to the first drop and I said, uh, well I said to myself I would try it.  And I didn't crash!  5' rock drop to the 3' bridge and I was stoked!  I rode the rest of the trail hitting the drops and I was beyond happy.  Some of it was just trying to hang with the big XC boys, but it would have been impossible or disastrous without all of the fundamentals of the previous two days.

I of course didn't take any pictures of my own, but Andrea from JRA on Mountain Bike Radio and Brick House Racing had a few on her blog and was gracious enough to let me borrow the following two images.

This is the view of the rock drop as you roll up.  Steep enough you can't even see the near side of the bridge.
Here is the view looking back towards the drop from on the bridge. Its hard to tell, but that rock face is nearly vertical.
 To close that out we finished our ride by going down Paul's Plunge.  We came into that one blind and from the sounds of it I wanted to scope it out first and then maybe ride it.  The suggestion was that we try riding it blind because in long races you don't always get to preride the course.  Well, I rode it blind.  And then rode it a couple more times because it was fun!

Pictures really don't do it justice, but that is a big hill those guys are standing on and scoping out lines.  And, yeah, I rode my bike down it and was stoked!


So while the clinic started slow and I didn't magically become and elite mountain biker over the course of the weekend I am extremely happy I went.  Sure I had heard most of what we worked on in various videos on the internet.  But repetition with immediate feedback and an incremental approach under the watchful eye of numerous coaches was far better than fumbling around on my own.

All of the coaches were top notch.  All of the fellow clinic participants were fun to ride with.  The evening events were just as much fun social events as continued learning.  Copper Harbor is still a beautiful place to go hang out.

My primary takeaways were:

  1. Basic body position
  2. An opening of my eyes to line selection (where I would have seen one line, turns out there were usually two or more, and mine usually sucked)
  3. A number of technical climbing subtleties
  4. A new appreciation for what is possible on a bike
I'll say it now, if it works in my schedule, I will definitely be back next year.  From what I gathered roughly half of this years participants were repeat attenders.  While I'm a better mountain biker already, and I have a bunch of foundational items I can work on all summer, I could definitely get my money's worth again.

Copper Harbor has OK views.

Last note... as a parting gift, we all got these incredible 12" x 18" prints of us riding over the weekend.

Me, riding On The Edge