Sunday, June 24, 2012

North Shore Enduro

I have been super stoked for this ever since Rudy contacted me about it a few months ago. Then his crazy weather started and I seriously didn't think this was going to happen, at least not this weekend anyways. Duluth area had some serious record setting rain fall in the week before and some of the town had received some pretty extensive flood damage. On top of that, the rumor mill was flying, you know half the city was gone, no way in no way out, zombies and all that non-sense. However, I was staying optimistic. I try pretty hard to be the glass half full guy.

The week went on and it drew closer, Friday Rudy told me the ride was still on so I was going! I was super excited! Kelly was to have a girls weekend in my absence and in turn I would have a guys weekend with the Duluth boys!

Friday night I could hardly sleep. I knew I had to get up early. I was slightly nervous as the weather forecast had a chance of rain up north and I was so amp'd to ride. I had never ridden in the Duluth area and Rudy had been telling me about some new lines he had roughed in that sounded right up my alley, rough sketchy and technical!

When I finally fell asleep, 4:45am came way too dang quick. I was super tired but as soon as I realized it was Saturday morning and go time, I woke right up! Grabbed my gear tossed it in my car, loaded the bike, grabbed a bag of sun flower seeds and a bottle of water and hit the road. I could hardly contain myself. I wanted to call Rudy and see how the weather was up there but it was 5:20am any normal person would be sleeping on a Saturday morning.

After a couple stops for breakfast and to use the bathroom I arrived in Duluth, 2 hours and 45mins later. It was a great drive a few showers and a beautiful sun rise. I called Rudy around 8:10am and let him know that I was in Duluth, got his address and headed over to his place. Right after I pulled in, it started to sprinkle, then rain and then back to sprinkle. It continued to do this until about noon.

Rudy's buddy Dave showed up about 9:30am, there was a short discussion about still having the ride or not. It didn't take long to decide it was still on. Dave, Rudy, Griff and I loaded up our gear and headed to the trail head where we met a couple more people.

Rudy decided it would be better if we started to at a different trail head as not to encourage riders to ride the XC trails as we would only be riding Rudy's home brew DH lines that I would come to find out that consisted of mostly rock.

When we got to the slightly hidden trail head we unloaded, Rudy gave us a brief overview of the day and we immediately began to climb to our starting point. 10 minutes later we were perched on top of this big exposed rock knoll. He gives us a short explanation of what to expect and in true enduro fashion I dropped in with no previous runs on these trails. I was following Rudy at a decent pace, it was time to put my skills to the test. I got low and in the best attack position I could. Trying to be loose and scan the trail as far in front of me as  I could. It has always been difficult for me to follow people as I tend to watch them and not the trail.

The first trail was short but it had a couple sweet technical moves. There was a three tiered drop/step down and if you didn' pick the right line you were almost guarantied to go over the bars. Spencer learned this first hand as his fork bottomed out, his weight shifted forward as he dismounted superman style over the bars into a very graceful roll!

Well I guess the ride is on, haha. He stood up laughing and the next 3 or 4 guys chose to walk it. Only Rudy and I rode that section successfully. The next couple stages were more of the same short, technical, rocky sections through out Piedmont trail system. There were a few that stood out the most to me and they were these sweet rock rollers. I don't have too much experience on rock rollers as there is zero rock here in the metro to ride. It was awesome. I was really feeling it today. With every move my confidence grew. The next rock roller had two sick rock features after it. I don't know my trail vision just kicked in on this one. I saw what looked like a triangle rock before the big rock at the bottom and just launched over the big rock using the back side as a transition and right over the next big rock. It felt great! At this same location AJ, I thought, was our first casualty but some how the over the bars 10 foot drop didn't phase him! It definitely didn't look good at all!

After Piedmont we headed to some washed out ski and snowmobile trails and the pace quickened dramatically! I wish I had goggles on for this as the mud started to fly and the terrain was unpredictable. I was hot on Rudy's tail and we were at about volume 9, comfortable but pretty quick for a first run on something I'd never seen. Jumping and bunny hopping over ruts and rocks, some multiple feet deep, we quickly loss elevation and dropped out onto a road that was closed due to the flood. It was easy to see way. Have the road for about 80ft was missing and the crevasse was about 30ft deep with a shed from a house next to it at the bottom. Some of the devastation up there was pretty amazing. I have never seen devastation like that first hand.

After those sections we rode the road for a bit before catching on to some rail road grade trails as we made our way to Spirit mountain. I had never been there but they elevation that place has is quite a bit larger then anywhere in the metro, that is for sure! At Spirit we rode some really awesome, raw, natural multi-use trails! I really love the riding up there. It totally reminds me of the Black Hills, especially the Centennial Trail!

Legs  slightly burning we left Spirit Mountain and on to some underground DH trails and the hike a bike began. These trails were awesome! Super technical, very steep and tons of fun! The hikes were long and the descents we fast. Half way down the last descent I had to switch my foot position to the pedal in he middle of the foot and even then the legs were burning going down hill! That is how you know you've had a good day of riding!

The enduro was over but the ride wasn't. We were basically at the bottom of the big hill in Duluth and had to get back to the top and the only way to do that was to ride or walk. It took a while and my legs hated me by the time we got to the top. I am definitely in the shape I would like to be. I definitely need to get back on the horse, set a training schedule and stick to it!

The day was going great. We just go done with some stellar riding. Rudy had brats on the grill. I had a beer in one hand and hose in the other cleaning my bike. We sat around drinking and eating for a while and the people started to dwindle. Around 6 or so we moved inside it was just Andrew, Dave, Rudy and I swapping war stories! I couldn't think of a better way to spend a Saturday! Riding, making new friends, drinkin' beer and grilling in the sun, oh yeah the sun came out in the afternoon! It was great!

Then around 8pm everyone was leaving so I went to my car, grabbed my phone and had 13 missed calls and like 20 text messages. I was like WTF is going on. I only had to read a couple to know something was wrong. Kelly had Jerry in the ER vet as he was puking and acting weird. I called her, she explained that he had a piece of a corn cob stuck in his duodenum, the first section of the small intestine. The vet had him on fluids and watch for the next 6 hours. They were discussing possible surgery to remove it, if he wasn't able to pass it in that time. My heart sunk, mood totally changed and I knew I had to grab my shit and get home. I told Rudy what was happening and told him that I had to bounce. There went the fun guys weekend for me and the relaxing girls weekend for Kelly. I loaded my bike, not sure if I was in the right mind to drive but the adrenaline kicked in and I was off, back towards home. I didn't stop once on the way back. I got home Kelly and her friends were back from the ER Vet but Jerry was still there. Kelly was a wreck and I was trying to hold myself together and be the strong one but it's tough. He is like our child. All I could think of was how hard it was to watch Jerry last summer locked in his cage doped up on sedatives after his rock removal surgery.

Anyways, long story short. We had a sleepless night but finally got good news in the morning that the second x-ray showed no sign of blockage and Jerry was acting more energetic and not vomiting any more. We were able to pick him up around noon today. Unfortunately that incident cost us about $1100 bucks but at least we have our Jerry back and in one piece!

I hope your weekend was less eventful then mine!

Keep it real!


  1. Sorry to hear about your dog, but glad he is ok!

    I can't wait to hit up Duluth once I move home. Did you think this ride would be doable on a 5inch trailbike (wannabe AM w/ short stem,wide bars, flats etc)?

  2. oh yeah for sure, there were two guys on HT 29ers and the majority were on AM bikes, I had my 150mm Reign, rudy had a nomad, dave was on he biggest bike with a kona coil air, andy had a kona tanuki 130mm travel, spencer on some HT 26er and AJ had a 29er FS, you could do it all on any bike, it was just how fast you were going to do it! the people with the 5-6inch 26inch FS bikes were noticably faster... not sure if that was due to skills or bikes or some combination...over all the best riding i've done in the state of MN hands down cuyuna isn't even close IMO and of the stuff I've rode in the Mid west only the black hills was more fun simply because of the elevation and only by a little bit, the rock rollers and drops were sweet up north

  3. Sweet! I can't wait to hit it up.