YouTube star Seth Alvo of Seth’s Bike Hacks was recently in Duluth in search of good mountain biking. He was not disappointed.
It’s a little out of season, but it just hit Vimeo last night. Minneapolis-based director Brendan Lauer put together this video featuring fat-tire cyclists Alex Rohde, Andy Kienitz and Evan Simula, with narrator Hansi Johnson.
That bike was a relic handed down from my significantly older brother, Scott, who bought it in the late 1960s with his paper route money and used it to expedite his collections process. I took it over just as the 1970s turned into the 1980s, and by then banana bikes weren’t cool. Freestyle bikes were the new rage.
In West Duluth at the time we called freestyle bikes “dirt bikes,” a term that would get them confused with motorized dirt bikes in other neighborhoods or other periods in history, but there was no confusion among us. The Huffy BMX is a popular dirt bike I remember, along with Diamondbacks. I wasn’t really tuned into what all the hot brands were, nor was I much of an enthusiast for stunt biking, I just knew I wanted one of those bikes so I could blend in and not look ridiculous when it was time to jump over stuff and race through mud or whatever. But I didn’t want one bad enough to get a paper route and pay for it, I just wanted fate to hand me one. Because if fate hands you anything in this life, it immediately entitles you to think it will hand you things over and over again.
It was shot just a few hundred feet from Duluth’s Aerial Lift Bridge, but it evokes the spirit of being in a far more remote part of the planet. Hansi Johnson’s “photo that won’t die” is so-named because in recent years it’s been in Outside magazine, the Red Bulletin, the Italian news magazine Panorama, a few calendars and as Johnson notes, it’s “been ripped off and passed around more times than I care to admit.”
Add two more to the list: Men’s Journal recently included the image among its “25 Best Adventure Photos of the Past 25 Years.” The back cover of a new book from Outside magazine, “The Edge of the World,” also features the image.
Often helmet-cam videos of mountain bike runs have a music soundtrack. This one by Baylor Litsey, shot on the Piedmont Mountain Bike Trails in Duluth, sticks with the natural sounds for a more realistic glimpse of the trail-riding experience.
A 5-mile stretch of the Willard Munger State Trail between Grand Avenue and Becks Road in western Duluth will be closed for an extensive construction project from mid-April through August, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The project will stabilize parts of the treadway damaged during the Historic Solstice Flood Disaster of 2012 and bring that section of the trail up to current standards that call for a wider surface and shoulders. Because heavy equipment will be operating in the area, the section of the trail will be closed to all traffic throughout the project.
The Munger Trail is a collection of three trail segments accommodating multiple uses, including bicycling, walking, horseback riding and snowmobiling. The 70-mile Hinckley–Duluth segment is completely paved — other than the damaged areas — and passes through three state forests and Jay Cooke State Park.
Below are images from spring 2017 showing damaged sections of the trail in Duluth.
The city of Duluth is compiling comments for the draft Duluth Traverse Trail Management and Mini-Master Plan and is seeking input on expanded mountain bike trail offerings with a goal of 100 miles of trails, bike skills park construction sites and improved/expanded neighborhood trail access and facilities such as expanded parking, showers and signage.
On Saturday’s march through the Skywalk my husband noticed the bike parking signs near the new DTA Transit Center. I went down there yesterday to get the 411.
“Bike parking is sold on a monthly basis. The cost per month or any part thereof is $10. There is also a required deposit of $5 for the FOB needed for entry into the secure bicycle parking area. This deposit is returned when the FOB is returned to the DTA. Payments are due by the 25th of the month for the next month’s rental.”
Responses to a piece I posted here a while ago suggest at least a few Perfect Duluth Day Saturday Essay readers ride bicycles somewhat “seriously.” Makes sense, I suppose; long cycling sojourns, solo or with accomplices, can foster a deep contemplation similar to one spending time with prose can evoke. It’s also true that riding bikes and reading words can both be nothing more than hardcore reality avoidance posing as time spent admirably. We all have our drugs, don’t we? — mostly ones we tell ourselves aren’t drugs so we can believe we’re better human beings than folks who used to hang out in front of Last Place on Earth.
But whatever. That’s not what this essay is about.
I ride a lot, slowly and clumsily (like a middle-aged oaf whose formative fitness years were spent playing tight end and fearing exercise-induced pain), mostly alone, and with intentions driven by equal desires to sit with and avoid my general mental state. Since 2002 I’ve owned a lot of different mountain, road, and commuting bicycles. After thousands of hours spent poring over Sheldon Brown’s website and mtbr.com forums, tinkering in my back-yard shed, and pestering real mechanics — just mercilessly badgering them with, “How does this work?” and “How do I put this back together?” and “Hey, can I come down and interrupt what you’re working on, ask a bunch of dumb questions, borrow some tools, and inevitably force you to stop what you’re doing and help me?” — I know enough to credibly build and maintain my own bikes. Sometimes I fix friends’ bikes, if they have low expectations. I go through nerdy periods of constantly trying to figure out the “best” way to set up a certain bike for a certain purpose, which means I’ve researched, bought, installed, un-installed, broken, replaced, and perseverated on hundreds of components ranging from whole frames to single 5mm bolts.
But even that’s not what this essay is about.