Thursday, September 27, 2012

Out of the frying pan and into the fire: Spirit Mountain Flow Trail 2012

The green, yellow, orange and red room

Morning coffee...berm flavor

Barry's berm

Pretty crazy.  The trail is not even done yet and is not officially open.  However the buzz is off the hook.  We have had shares and posts by Pinkbike, Richie Schley, Vital MTB and of course almost all the local MTB blogs and rags.  So even though the last thing we most likely need to do is put more pics up and drive more G crazed regional riders to a closed trail, I figured what the hell, people want to know, we have the shots, why not deliver....

Why all the fuss?  What is the big deal about a trail like this in Duluth, MN?  The big deal is that people all over the country realize that if Duluth can do it, then maybe they can do it.  I saw a few comments on the pic on Pinkbike and there was the inevitable laugh that Minnesota has the vert to do something like this.  Little do most folks know that even with the highest vert, many highly contrived flow trails are not all that long, and not much longer than what we are producing.  Certainly not many out there have the high concentration of features, foot for foot, mainly because it is so damn expensive (every berm in this post is different). There are 700 usable vertical feet at Spirit Mountain.  When you run the top half of what is so far completed and really, really hit it hard your huffing and puffing and your only 1/4 of the full run.  So could you have a really fun flow trail with 200 vert?  Yeah and that is what gets people pumped.  They can have a viable experience like this too and that is something to celebrate.

 I chuckle to hear the MTB in Minnesota?? comments.  While people who make those comments languish in the typical midwest stereotypes, people in communities in Minnesota like Minneapolis, Duluth, and Crosby, and in Michigan, Marquette MI, Copper Harbor and Houghton, as well as Cable, WI all are having world class trail experiences and then return home to affordable homes and high quality living and many most likely leave their keys in their cars at night and their doors unlocked....


Derek Weiss said...

People say the same thing about the predominant culture (Mormon) in Utah. Fine, they can hold on to their preconceived beliefs about Utah. In the meantime, I'll continue skiing the Wasatch, and going home to my affordable home that is literally minutes away from world class skiing.

It's funny.......haters gonna hate.

Lincoln Jamrog said...

do you see any danger of trails built by imba etc, that are become too much the same? are we going to end up with trail systems that ride the same in Duluth, in Cuyuna, in wherever else you are building stuff? I see trails becoming the same around MT with newer Forest Service trails. Same grades, same switchbacks....any recent trail is the same. Whenever there are rules used to build trail they are going to end up more similar than not right?

Loki said...

Hey Lincoln!

Great question and I have two points to answer with. Not all trails will be flow based trails or even machine built "flowy" trails. What we are after in our riding region is choice and variety. We have a ton of really techy and variable trails, but very few trails with low barrier to entry and to be honest, pure free and fun speed.

So it is wrong to assume that an "IMBA" trail is only about one thing. We are pushing sustainability for sure, but we have plenty of very good and accomplished clubs that can build both sustainable flow trails and advanced techy trails as well.

Also you assume that all the trails built in this fashion ride the same. If you have ever ridden, or get a chance to ride the areas you mention you would find that all of them offer totally different riding experiences. That lays in the trail builder and the club to make that happen.

If you have a group totally working by the rules and are not trying to also create artful and interesting trails in using those rules, you get some really vanilla trails. So the danger is not in the way the trails are built but by whom they are built. Thus we push hiring pros whenever possible and that results in extremely fun and interesting riding experiences.

So to answer your original question. No. Dont see any danger if people look at the big picture, work and consult with pros and use as many of IMBA's educational resources as well.

In fact we are experiencing just the opposite in our region, it is creating a very interesting MTB culture that is vibrant and has something for everyone and because of that we are seeing large numbers of new riders coming out to try the trails.