Archive: June, 2011

Boy Scouts, MCC, IMBA, Forest Service team up on North Shore trail building

Beginning Saturday, June 18th and finishing with a banquet and ceremony this last Saturday, June 25th, two hundred “Order of the Arrow” Boy Scouts from a five-state region, helped USFS, Minnesota Conservation Corps, and International Mountain Biking Association teams build trails in the Tofte Sugarbush and Grand Marais Pincushion trail systems. In total, sixteen miles of “single-track” trails meant primarily for mountain biking were begun by the scouts and will be finished by the Forest Service, volunteers, as well as the Conservation Corps. (Read our original report: Cook County Single-track 2011)

Spiffy Subaru/IMBA vehicles come to town.

Saturday saw the arrival of the IMBA (International Mountain Biking Association) officials, experts at mountain bike trail planning and building in ecologically-sensitive areas. Headed up by regional rep Hansi Johnson (See his pages here and his blog entry on the Cook County project here.), they held a one-day seminar on trail building at our Grand Marais Recreation Park hall attended by SNOC/Velomarais, CMM, Scouts, and the USFS. (See their site:

IMBA’s Morgan Lammele gives a lecture on trail building.

As SNOC/Velomarais’ Mark Spinler synopsized, trails should not become channels for rain runoff. Soil should be removed down to mineral soil in order to avoid compaction, as humus tends to sag inward after use, forming erosion- and muck-prone water troughs. Optimally, runoff should cross a trail and never follow it. Additionally, in areas that are boggy or often seepage, wooden bridges and planks should be built.

Morgan giving last-minute tips.
On-site IMBA instruction. 
USFSers Cory Mensen and Tom Yankovick after a hard day’s work on the Pincushion trails. Cory and Tom helped supervise and plan much of the trail-building effort.
Order of the Arrow leaders Kurt Fuhrman and Daniel Schmit debrief the troops during a dry spell on Thursday.
Mark talks with Gabriel Wanderley, a Brazilian mountain bike enthusiast from Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Gabriel had heard of the IMBA/Cook County project and came especially to help and learn. He tells us he and friends have also built trails in his home region. He is currently an engineering student.
Scouts describe the size and number of the black and deer flies and mosquitoes.
Tofte USFSer Cory Berg discusses the Pincushion single-track with Mark. Cory is an avid mountain biker himself.

Once the work started, the Scouts – some two-hundred strong – did the lion’s share of the hacking, digging, and clearing. Again, these Scouts were all members of the BSA’s Order of the Arrow, a voluntary service wing of the Scouts for older boys and young men. (See their ArrowPower2011 page.) We visited their jamboree-style “tent city” on the CCHS soccer field and had to admire their fortitude, as it rained for the better part of the week, the sun and warmer temps coming only on Friday and Saturday.

Back at the SNOC/Velomarais shop we all marveled at this wonderful project. In times of very loud public budget noises, a bunch of people, money and an uncommonly great amount of good karma came together to do something really great for North Shore cycling!

Fully Dressed Epidition Low Entry

Fenders really fancy up a bike, and make it useful  for all weather. Add a bag to the rack and you have a perfect commuting machine.

Youth Bike Winner

Happy winner of the youth bike from May’s Get Active Cook County Week, Caleb Benedix! This very successful promotion we did in partnership with Sawtooth Mountain Clinic, Cook County Hospital, and Cook County Schools had over 250 participants.

Move It!

By Jerry Hiniker   Just coming off the second successful annual Bike to Work Week, I want to reflect on what I am feeling is a renaissance in the culture of the bicycle. When I was a kid getting your first bike was a rite of passage, it was the first real expansion of one’s world, the ability to move in short time, to see beyond your backyard and even beyond your neighborhood. It was the equivalent of a teenager getting a drivers license. We could bike to school, bike to neighborhood stores, bike to the playground to play a game of baseball; such mobility was never imagined before the bike. MOVE IT, our new local name for Bike to Work and Bike Month, included a number of activities and events for both biking and walking, and the participation level increased this year beyond the amazing participation in the first year. The bicycle safety rodeo had over 110 elementary kids run through the safety course and learn safe riding skills, and the value of wearing a helmet. That’s almost half of all the elementary kids in Grand Marais schools. Also impressive was the condition of the kids bikes, most were in quite good operating condition, safe to ride, and clearly being used with enthusiasm. With studies just a couple years back showing increasing obesity, and a growing trend of lack of physical activity, the number of participants is a stunning reversal, one that has broad implications for the community. While the bike rodeo of my youth has progressed from a trip to the fire station to get a bicycle license to the licensed instructor programs we use today, twos element seem stuck in the past:  first, the streets and pathways these kids, and we adults, use to get around are ill suited to provide safe passage for our journey. Having safe streets, streets designed to accommodate an increased use by bicycle and foot, should be a priority for our community. And, second, increased driver education and awareness is essential. The roads and streets were not built just for cars, they were built for transportation, routes to access the stores, businesses, parks and neighborhoods, they were built for people to move around from point to point. We need to reclaim those roads for our everyday use. I hope to explore these issues in this blog, and invite comments, thoughts and suggestions, and I intend to share what I have learned is happening in other communities around the country.

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