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Backyard Trails—A Mountain Biker’s Daily Bread

If you are a mountain biker, chances are you have local trails that are your bread and butter. Those places you ride that you have pedaled through more times than you can remember. Except for those lucky enough to be mountain biking nomads, most of us have deep, established roots and commitments that keep us in one place—job, family, roof over head, pets—such that we must ride many of the same trails most of the time.

Some of my most memorable rides have been those that have been intertwined with off-the-bike life experiences that mark our lives. Some joyous, some sad, some challenging; those local trails and our mountain bikes share much with the proverbial loyal dog. Always there, always happy to see us, never judging and always making our lives that much brighter.

As much as we’d like to be riding Moab, Pisgah or the Tahoe Crest after work every day, we’ll take any trails over no trails any time. (Except perhaps on the weekends!) Fortunately, so many local trail systems around the county have sprung up, are always improving and are more than adequate for giving our bodies and minds the two-wheeled, knobby tire fix so many of us need almost daily.

IMBA, either directly or by influence two or three times removed, has spawned these great places to ride all over the country and the world. We’re featuring stories of local trails and the IMBA chapters who make trails happen all month on the IMBA blog. Show your support for your local IMBA chapter.

Truthfully I haven’t ridden much of the new trail development that has taken place around the country since Susan, my lovely wife (I’m told I married up!) and I used to travel while racing the NORBA circuit back in the day. We likely wouldn’t even recognize the riding now in places like Helen, Georgia; Traverse City, Michigan; and Mammoth Lakes and Big Bear in California.

Well, now is the time. I’m about to venture out and sample some of your backyard systems for myself.

This month I’m heading to Minnesota for an IMBA board meeting and I plan to take advantage of being there by riding some of the local trails, which include three IMBA Ride Centers. I’m there from a Thursday through a Monday so my riding will parallel what someone living in the city might do: ride the local trails after work on the weekdays and then head into the hinterlands for the weekend.

  • First up are the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul, on a Thursday afternoon/evening. There is more than 100 miles of singletrack here spread around between numerous systems and I’m stoked to ride as much of it as I can.

  • That Saturday we’ll be at Cuyuna Lakes and riding its IMBA Bronze Ride Center, which was recently featured in an Outside Online article.  The local IMBA chapter, the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew (CLMBC) has done a phenomenal job working to make Cuyuna a purpose-built mountain biking destination. The images and descriptions look amazing for riders of all levels and I can’t wait to sink my tires into the red dirt of Cuyuna.

  • On Sunday we’re off to the Gold Level Ride Center in Duluth to enjoy the work of IMBA chapter Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores (COGGS). It looks like all kinds of riding is available and the Duluth Traverse is looking especially interesting.

  • Monday we’ll be back on the workday program as we head to Madison, Wisconsin to check in with IMBA chapter Capital Off Road Pathfinders (CORP) and ride some of the fine work they have accomplished near the headquarters of Trek Bicycles.

I’m looking forward to sampling what is local riding for some and destination riding for the rest of us. Can’t wait! Look for updates including photos and videos from the field.

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