Kudos to the eight intrepid riders and aspiring yogis who joined us to ride the red dirt trails at of the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area. On what would have been an otherwise rainy, washed-out weekend for many trails around the state; the Cuyuna trails seemed to have a magnetic field around them, blocking the bigger rain cells and allowing us to ride for two days trails.
Most of our group stayed at True North Base Camp, which allows easy access to the trail system. Our group had a mix of riding experience and included novice to seasoned riders, ranging in age from 20’s to 60’s. Cuyuna’s trails are laid out to allow riders to choose easier or more challenging terrain at most trail intersections, which worked well for our group.
With the threat of rain in the air there were few riders on the trails, so our group of 10 had most trails to ourselves on Friday. We warmed-up on the new one-way Easy Street South, which jumps on and off the paved trail offering riders some fun B-line options with rock rolls and jumps.
From Easy Street we turned right on Boot Camp, another new that offers riders a bit more more challenging green terrain. After pausing under a large tree for a few minutes to allow a quick shower to pass, we pedaled down the dirt road and into the Mucker Mountain area of the Mahnomen Unit. The trail layout allowed our group to split up and provided more novice riders the option to stay lower on Little Sidewinder and Easy Street, while riders looking for more challenge headed up Mucker Mountain, Sand Hog Mountain, and Hopper Hill, where their climbing was rewarded with multiple grin inducing downhills.
The groups rejoined at the Rally Center parking area and after a few laps on the pump track, were back on the trails and headed to lunch. Again, the trails allowed the group to split up, with one group riding the singletrack back to Crosby, while the other took a more leisurely route on the paved trail. We toasted to a great morning on the trails as we enjoyed an outdoor lunch at Red Raven Bike Cafe.
After lunch we rode back to camp for some downtime, which meant more “trail time” for some, before our afternoon yoga session.
At 5 o’clock we reconvened on a grassy field where Renee was waiting for us with yoga mats and blocks. The full quorum of riders dutifully positioned themselves on their mats in the grass, surrounded by greenery and followed Renee through poses for the next hour. After the lawn mowing stopped, the sun shined down on our yoga session which turned into the serene experience you’d expect for outdoor yoga. I can’t remember getting one bug bite which allowed me to focus on my lame attempts to assume proper yoga form. Everybody seemed loosened up after Yoga and parlayed to rendez-vous at the Iron Range Eatery for food and drinks.
The next morning started at 8 am with yoga in the grass. After a few moans and groans, from riding the day before, everyone got into the flow of the Sun Salutation movements that we were guided through, however, the clouds and impending rain loomed overhead blocking any sun. Once again, feeling loosened up and the fluids flowing after yoga, everybody got ready to ride; but a glance at our phones showed blobs of orange and red on the radar moving our way. The Plan B “rain delay” was implemented, which meant hanging out and drinking more coffee, hoping to be able to ride after lunch.
A decent rain fell; but once again the big cells seemed to be north and south of us. Luckily, our rain delay plan worked and after lunch at Red Raven, the trails were ready for riding.
We caravanned to the Croft Mine parking area, which accesses the Yawkey trails. Once again our groups split-up to try the green, blue and black trails in this area. The sun came out it became much hotter and humid, slowing our pace. After a water break we climbed up to the top of Bobsled, a favorite descent for many who ride Cuyuna trails. Everybody rolled down the banked, swooping trail; producing hoots of joy, similar to the Loon calls heard the night before, echoing over the dark, deep waters of the Mine Lakes the Cuyuna trails encompass. With smiles on our faces from several repeat runs of Bobsled, several riders still had enough energy for more, so we headed to Portsmouth to ride Dragline North to Switchback and on to the Rally Center parking area.
After twisting through the trees on Dragline we paused take photos of the lake, eat, and drink; but the heat and humidity was slowing us down even more. Once at the Rally Center parking area we headed immediately to the water pump for cold water that we dumped into our helmets and refilled our hydration packs. We realized we were running short on time and decided to start riding back to the cars. This was probably for the better, since the heat and humidity was starting to wear on us all.
Once back at Croft Mine, we attempted to cool off and get into some dry clothes. Several riders meandered over to the old mining buildings and met a local man who was very knowledgeable of the history of mining the Cuyuna region. He regaled us with a history of Cuyler Adams and his exploits to mine the iron rich formations of the Cuyuna region; some formations have a 65% iron content which supplied the U.S. with iron and steel during World War II. My favorite fun fact was that Cuyler had a dog name “Una”. By combining the first three letters of Cuyler’s name and his dogs name you have the namesake of the region, Cuyuna.
I would like to thank everybody who joined us for our two days of guided riding and yoga and give extra credit to the novice and beginner riders who showed up and took on new challenges and pushed themselves beyond their comfort zones. Mountain bike riding is both technically and physically challenging and requires our full attention and allows us an escape into nature, all good things in my opinion. I would also like to thank Red Raven who provided our lunches, Renee who guided our yoga sessions and True North Base Camp for lodging and convenient access to the trails.