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Trails are the star in this race


July 24, 2020

Jana Peterson

Cloquet's Tom Anderson gets some air during Saturday's Pine Valley Bike and Run race. Anderson said he's "just an old BMX biker" who likes to ride mountain bikes sometimes. He didn't do both laps of the race, but he did hit most of the jumps on the new section of trail. Bikers can choose between doing the jumps - which requires a certain skill level - or bypassing them on an alternative trail. Helmets are required.

There were more volunteers and media than racers at Saturday's Pine Valley Bike and Run event, but that's OK, said organizer Tim Krohn. The five bike racers didn't care either, nor did the two runners. It's all about building awareness of the new bike trails and other opportunities at the Cloquet park.

"The more publicity this park gets, the more it will grow," said biker Brendon Menze.

Cloquet's Tom Anderson is a regular winner of Krohn's Frozen Forester series of races, which often cut cross country through Pine Valley and surrounding forestland and test participants' wits, stamina and map reading skills.

Saturday's race was straightforward by comparison, following new and old trails through Pine Valley.

"I love the fact that Tim puts so much effort into getting the community involved in biking and winter snowshoeing, etc. out here," Anderson said. "He's a blessing."

The 13.3K bike race featured four bikers, and included the newest leg of the mountain bike trails at the woodland park. Zeb Wehr won the bike race, Tim Stark won the 18.8K duathlon, Jennifer Shepherd won the 5.5K run and Gavin Garberg, age 6, won the 1.2K Family Fun run.

"It's nice to see Cloquet get into this," Stark said. "[Mountain biking] is a great sport for every age group. It's good to see it grow."

The event was originally designed to use just the existing mountain bike trail, but since a mile of new trail was built in May, that loop was added. Another mile-and-a-half was due to be completed this month. Krohn said the newest trail is more than half done now, and goes under the ski jumps and across the old tubing hill before heading up and down through the woods. Its completion will bring the total to nearly 5 miles of mountain bike trails.

Anderson said the trail conditions were fantastic, despite thunderstorms the night before. "It's definitely an all-weather trail."

Jana Peterson

Jackson Willie, 15, of Texas races down the black diamond trail at Pine Valley during Saturday's races.

Krohn has been spearheading a drive to raise money to pay for the bike trail additions so the city wouldn't have to foot the bill for the project, which was originally estimated at $125,000 but will likely come in closer to $90,000. A Minnesota Coastal Program grant will match up to half the costs (up to $62,500). Krohn and fellow supporters raised approximately $30,000 more, including a $10,000 grant from Minnesota Energy and $5,000 each from Enbridge and an anonymous donor, plus $2,500 from Minnesota Power, $2,000 from Walmart and $1,500 from Sappi along with other smaller donations and funds raised from other Frozen Forester and Pine Valley races.

He showed supporters the new Snowdog groomer he purchased for volunteers to use to groom the bike trails for fat tire biking when the snow falls.

Krohn said he appreciated the coverage from TV, radio and two newspapers, and he is debating the fate of his Labor Day race since so few participants turned out for Saturday's event.

"Stay tuned," he said.


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