At 6,000 sq miles and over 3 million people, the Twin Cities is one large metro area. What some may not realize is that it’s not all concrete jungle – there are vast amounts of green spaces. And lucky for mountain bikers, there are some fine pockets of fabulous singletrack.
We traded in the country roads of Wisconsin for the (sub) urban streets of Minneapolis this past weekend. The visit started with the Thursday night group ride at Lebanon Hills. Organized by the Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists, this weekly ride is just one of the many events that this very successful club puts on. MORC, at 800+ members strong, is an important part of the mountain biking scene not just in the metro area, but statewide. They are a stellar example of what happens when a unified group moves in a positive direction.
The focus of the weekend was working at Carver Lake Park in Woodbury, a suburb on the east side of town. The park is new to mountain bike trails so, on Friday morning, we spent some time talking to the Parks crew about the most important aspects of sustainable trails. After a short presentation, we walked some freshly cut trail to illustrate the finer points of design, construction, and maintenance. They were all pretty excited about the idea of something new for the park.
After lunch we worked with Reed Smidt (Recreation Specialist for the City of Woodbury) to prepare for the Saturday afternoon field session. Reed is in a unique position; he is both the land manager and the mountain biker. This is good for obvious reasons, but it’s also very important because his knowledge can go a long way to educate his peers in both the professional and mountain bike world.
One of the greatest moments of the weekend was when Reed shared the amount of time it takes to build a trail. And we’re not talking just digging in the dirt. The new trail at Carver is two years in the making.
Like other trail systems, the process for creating trails at Carver started with some problem solving. Social trails were on the rise and the Woodbury Parks Director wanted a positive solution. As a mountain biker/land manager, Reed was approached and asked to develop a plan that included both design and construction, including equipment/ labor for a sustainable (and fun) trail system. In addition, Reed made provisions for educating staff, local trail users and area citizens about the benefits of natural surface routes. After securing a grant, the project is finally coming to fruition; the City of Woodbury has use of a Ditch Witch for the next month to construct part of the new trail network. They hope to have about 4 miles completed later this summer. The construction will be a blip on the radar compared to the time they spent preparing, but in the end it will lead to a sustainable resource for the entire community.
And now MORC has another success story to share about mountain biking in the Twin Cities.
Thanks to Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists, City of Woodbury and everyone who participated in the weekend. We appreciate your efforts in spending time with us!
More photos from the weekend: