Thursday, December 22, 2011

Trail builder and local legend

Today’s blog is about a local legend of sorts, that many of you might not even know! Tim Wegner, is a big inspiration to me. I first met him at the grand opening of Cuyuna but this was only briefly as an introduction and a thank you.
As many of you know I am working with the City of Eagan to rebuild and revitalize the Lexington Street Dirt Jumps, which are in sad shape. The plan is to turn that area into an actual bike park and Tim is kind of the Wizard of Oz, the man behind the curtain or as he calls it the "grey hair" behind the project.
I started going to Lebanon Hills Trail days this summer and started talking about rebuilding the jump area and people had mix feelings but most people thought it was a cool idea. I started asking if MORC would help or anyone would help, at least with writing the proposal and approaching the city and a couple people pointed me in Tim's direction and when I told him what I was thinking, his eyes light up and he was super interested in the project and it just blossomed from there.
We had a few face to face meeting and a lot of emails before approaching the city. When he contacted them we set up a meeting and I made a presentation and its all history from there but I thought I would bring him out from behind the curtain and let people know how much this man has really done for the mountain biking community so I sent him and email with a list of questions and this is what I got back, enjoy!

How long have you been into mountain biking?
I started riding mountain bike in Bismarck ND in 1981 and was instantly hooked.
What got you started?
I got started when I visited the guys at Dakota Cyclery in Bismarck and saw the funky looking bike.  They told me to take a test ride which I did and have been riding ever since.  Wow, I remember index shifting was a big Innovation!!!
What is your favorite part about mountain biking?
My favorite part of mountain biking is the social part.  I love to talk to people about their riding experience, i ask what else they want to see on the trails as I continue to build I want to be meeting unfulfilled needs.
When did you begin building trails?
I became active in trail advocacy when I sat on a citizens committee that was working on re-writing the master plan for Lebanon Hills Regional Park.  That would have been about in 2000.  I wanted to ensure that mountain biking was not removed as one of the user groups at Lebanon Hills.  Once we knew mountain biking was going to be retained we worked with Dakota county parks dept to teach them and us about sustainable trail construction. It was about this time I became the volunteer state representative for IMBA.  I served in that position for about 10 years until IMBA hired representatives which brought Hansi Johnson onto the scene in Minnesota.  Dakota County approved the "Joey Trail" as part of the first phase of implementing the master plan and during the construction of this segment we found out how long it takes to build a trail by hand.  (About 500 man hours per mile)

What got you interested in building trails?
Dale Gundberg and I found about these machines that could cut the time down to about 50 hours per mile.  MORC did not have the funds to buy a machine so Dale and I formed Trail Source and went into the trail building business.  Since that time I have bought Dale out of Trail Source and have worked on my building knowledge by attending about a dozen different trail schools over the past 10 years.  Each of the trail schools was 4-5 days in length so i have added nearly 500 hours of training to my skill set for trail building.
What is your favorite part about trail building?
My favorite part of trail building is the design.  I enjoy looking at a bare piece of land and seeing the trail appear in my mind.  Next it is the flagging of the trail that is the most fun.  I imagine the user riding, hiking or running on the trail and work to make the experience one of the best they have ever had.  I design my trails so the user will come off of the trail and say "man that was so much fun, I want to do it again and tell my friends about this trail."
What is the hardest or most challenging part about trail building?
The most challenging thing about trail building is getting approval from the land manager and then securing the funding.  Sometimes all the red tape can cause a lot of frustration.
Have you always been involved with MORC?
I believe that I joined MORC in 1996 when Gary Sjoquist cornered me on a ride and told me I needed to join and Don Youngdahl was there too and he said the same thing.
You have your own trail building company, is that correct?
Yes
What is the name of that?
I currently own a company called Trail Source.  We own several trucks, numerous trailers, 3 trail building dozers, motorcycles, ATV's and of course the Silver Bullet (airstream camper)
Do you only build trails in MN?
I have built trails mostly in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Where have you all built trails?
I have built trails for WI DNR, MN DNR National Forest Service, CAMBA, MORC, Dakota County, Three Rivers Parks District, Inver Grove Heights, Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Troy WI. and Chaska. I enjoy building mountain bike trails the most followed by Hiking/running trails and have built a few equestrian trails.  The very first trail we built was at Lebanon Hills.  Mike Reiter, who was one of my mentors, laid out this trail and Dale Gundberg and I built it with MORC's finishing work.  This trail starts where the joey trail ends and navigates around the three climbs Larry, Curly and MOE.
What is your favorite trail you have built?
I have several favorite trails.  Lebanon Hills will always be dear to my heart.  We learned so much building this trail plus our success with this trail and this land manager was the springboard for our success throughout the rest of the metro.
Now the entire state of Minnesota looks to MORC for guidance on how to work with land managers and how to design sustainable trails.  Cuyuna ranks right up there with Lebanon as far as favorite trail.  We were able to apply all the new techniques that we had been learning at schools on this system plus having a clean slate to lay out trails and have them purpose built mountain bike trails was such a rich reward for spending 8 years on the Cuyuna Project.
Do you have any new trails or trail additions in the works that you can tell us about?
There are other projects on the horizon:
Pillsbury State Forest
Cut Lake Forest
Woodbury
Lebanon (center section)
Tim had this to say about the future, "I will continue to build trails as long as there are users.  I am a few years away from retirement on my regular job so once I quit that job I will expand Trail Source to other parts of the country and build in warmer places in the winter."

I can't wait to see what awesome trails he has up his sleeves for some of these new areas!

Keep it real!

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