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  1. #1
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    Dh'ing in Wisconsin

    So I was in Madison (Verona specifically) over the x-mas/new years holiday period visiting the in-laws and scouting out some job opportunities for a possible move this year. I currently live and work in Washington DC, but the culture and attitude has worn me down....I'm a small town guy that has no interest in politics or ass-kissing business policies, and I like being outside instead of in an office flying a desk 20 hours a day, thus I don't fit into the metro DC mold.

    Anyways, while I was visiting, I made it a point to get the extended family up to Cascade Mtn for a bit of skiing/boarding. The mountain got me thinking, is there any dh racing to speak of in Wisconsin??? Are any of the ski hills doing any type of summer dh/freeride programs??? Is there any interest in such a program by any of the ski areas??? I vaguely recall something about Nordic Mtn, but I can't seem to bring it up in a search on the website.

    As a bit of a background, I'm a dh'er at heart and live for the racing opportunities we have here in the mid-atlantic (WV, MD, PA, VA, NJ, NC, etc). I used to work at Snowshoe Mtn (WV) resort and was involved in the early stages of the transformation of the mountain bike program up there. If I were to move to WI I would undoubtedly be bringing the dh bike with me, as well as all the other toys (xc, moto, etc), and would love to know where I could ride to get the fix. If it's not something that is currently offered by the ski areas in WI I would see myself as trying to "rally the troops" so to speak and trying to create that opportunity somewhere.....be it Cascade, Tyrol Basin, etc.

    So, what can you WI guys tell me? Is there any dh/freeride potential in the greater Madison area? Are any resorts open to the idea? Would the local cycling community, or even the regional cycling base, support such a place or is it just not something that the area cycling nuts are into?

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    Hey man. I am an east coast transplant out here for grad school. I lived in Jersey for a while and absolutely lived at Diablo during the summers. Wisconsin doesn't have much in the way of DH to offer, however Madison is a great place to be for mtb. The trails out here are a good mix, some east coast tech with some flowing fast trails. Blue Mounds is def a great place for an all mountain ride. There is a great trail network. The builders did a great job with maximizing the terrain, so the downhills can be pretty long and fast...I was amazed coming from a background of riding diablo and highland. As for freeride, Quarry park in Madison is def on the up and up. Myself and a few others have put in some work to get it goin again and there are plenty of table tops, drops, hips, and step-ups...with more in the works. We try and build multiple hit lines. Also quarry park in Madison looks to have a promising future. There are some ladder drops and some good single track, with plans for more stuff. All in all, its kind of a good place to be, even if it does not have as much of what the east offers. Things look to be progressing fast here, so the scene is young and growing well. Shoot me a pm anytime if you have questions. There was a mountain about 2 hrs from Madison...Riven Downhill.. that opened its lifts for some access to the trails. Hopefully they can keep it going, but I would say a good dj bike and an all mountain bike are your best weapons out here.

    Josh

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    heres the link to riven downhill

    http://rivendownhill.com/default.aspx

    they run a few "freeride" days a year where they open up the lifts and its like 15 or 20 bucks to ride the lift all day. There is also a few races a year. The "mountain" is nordic mountain outside of wild rose, they have 3 or 4 dh trails and 3 or 4 fr trails with plans for more of each.

    otherwise as posted, quarry park is the nearest thing for freeride features. blue mounds is an awesome trail system and used to run a downhill race but the trails kinda have been going downhill (no pun intended) for the last couple of years due to not many people to help maintain, and because of this there havent been races in awhile...

  4. #4
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    you have three options. rode trip to Marquette, MI, rode trip to Spirit Mtn, MN. or rode trip it to a real mtn out east or west.

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    So are you guys saying that most ski hills in WI aren't even open to the idea? Has any group, club, or person(s) ever sat down with the resorts and attempted to open the dialogue? Has anyone, club or person, taken a business proposal of sorts to any of the WI area resorts with such a idea in mind?

    Not pushing an issue, just trying to get a feel for it all. When I worked at Snowshoe, a co-worker in Marketing and I started from the ground up building a business model and an action plan based on the whole Whistler Bike Park concept. It took a lot of work, but it was also a ton of fun to get a program going again.....before the Snowshoe Bike Park was given the green light, all we had were a few old dh trails and a ton of non-maintained xc trails. I would jump at the chance to get involved in something like that again.

    Jcuzz, are you at UW-Madison doing the grad school thing? I'm currently looking at going back to grad-school....again....though at nearly 30 years old and having somewhat established a profession/career it's a bit daunting to think about and jump into!

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    Ah, Riven Downhill......makes a world of difference, I kept thinking "Raven" or other types of birds!!! I couldn't get anything to come up under the search option on my work computer, but that may have something to do with blocked sites and filters here at work. Thanks for the link!

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    Well with this discussion for the 2016 Olympics now it seems Tyrol is open to the idea of having bike races there... although I don't think they were talking about a DH track.

    The problem all these resorts are going to have is there isn't a very large crowd of Freeriders and Downhillers in Wisconsin, so it's a hard bargain for them to make the investment when they know there isn't huge income that will be flowing from it.

    I know I would love it and a few others one... but 10 gravity freaks aren't going persuade them to let their precious land get torn up with ladders and stunts that will just make it harder for them to open up for their business in the winter.

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    When last approached for a dh/fr/skills area tyrol declined and didnt want anything to do with it (that was about a year ago) but now with possibility about the olympics i think Don changed his mind, but then again as stated, it would be more xc than lift accessed dh

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    What up guys?!

    Spirit Mtn in Duluth MN is the resort I have been talking to for the last like 5 years...It takes time and I feel like we are starting to get their attention, we were written into their new master plan no its a matter of showing the need. We'll get there eventually.

    Anyway if you are close to Red Wing we have some pretty cool stuff going on at Memorial Park including a race series, and honestly the more peeps that come help build stuff the more we'll have to ride quicker, its no ski resort but damn is it fun!

    weRd!
    Buck

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    I grew up in Wisconsin, went to grad school in Colorado (Fort Collins), and now live in Baltimore and work in the DC area, so maybe I can help you out.

    As far as real DH goes.....the posts are pretty much right. You're not going to find any ski areas like in PA or WV that have DH runs really. In fact the "ski areas" in WI are really glorified hills, but this is coming from a guy who rode out west for years too. The upper peninsula of Michigan is probably going to be your best bet for that.

    but......

    Of everywhere I have ever rode, Wisconsin has some of my favorite trails. Period. The trails in the Cable cluster of the CAMBA trails, esp. Rock Lake are just amazing. Theres really nothing like it anywhere else. Beautiful, flowy, tight, isolated singletrack through miles and miles of northern mixed hardwood forest. Add to that the Northern and Southern Kettle trails, Nine Mile forest in Wausau, Standing Rocks in Amherst - WI has a lot of good riding. Not that the east coast doesnt, Patapsco and white clay creek are my second homes right now, but Wisconsin is better for trails than most people would think.

    And Madison is one of the greatest cities in the country. It doesnt even belong in the midwest, thats how ****ing cool it is. I like Baltimore a lot, and I like riding out here a ton, but if I had the chance to move back home, especially to the Madison area, I would be all about that ****.

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    Vertical feet will be limiting no matter what. After that it's not enough people willing to give time and/or money to efforts that will last or require work.

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    I'm pretty sure Alpine valley has DH maybe some of the other hills do to specifically Cascade and Devils Head, I always snowboard there. But I just got into biking at the end of last year. Here is a list of ski hills http://www.wisconsinvacations.com/skiing.htm check with some of them to see if the offer what your looking for. Or if you don't mind a roadtrip to MN check Afton Alps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bane
    I'm pretty sure Alpine valley has DH maybe some of the other hills do to specifically Cascade and Devils Head, I always snowboard there. But I just got into biking at the end of last year. Here is a list of ski hills http://www.wisconsinvacations.com/skiing.htm check with some of them to see if the offer what your looking for. Or if you don't mind a roadtrip to MN check Afton Alps.
    Welcome new biker!

    Part of Blue Mound is built in an abandoned ski area. The park has more vertical than about any ski area in the state but you have to pedal. The work done in the years W and I have managed things flows more and the repairs on deck right now will help that.

    It's not DH, but the Middleton bike park should attract people into gravity, skills and tricks. I hope the people who like that sort of riding will not kiss another opportunity goodbye, and I hope all riders realize that a public bike park with city support is something that deserves our efforts.


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    I never even heard of Blue Mound but I cannot wait till the snow melts to go check that out.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bane
    I never even heard of Blue Mound but I cannot wait till the snow melts to go check that out.
    Hi,

    BMSP is a state park at the Dane and Iowa county line. It was voted best mountain bike trails in the park and trail system each of the past two years and it gets better by size and terrain each year.

    http://dnr.wi.gov/news/DNRNews_artic...kup.asp?id=899

    The best way to keep up on things and conditions is registering and getting notifications on the Madison area forum (below). Unfortunately it takes a while after snow melt for BMSP (and other trails) to be ready. That's when we do most of the annual work.

    http://www.madcitydirt.org/
    http://madcitydirt.org/forum/

    Again, welcome and we hope to see you out there or at one of our events.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bane
    I'm pretty sure Alpine valley has DH maybe some of the other hills do to specifically Cascade and Devils Head, I always snowboard there. But I just got into biking at the end of last year. Here is a list of ski hills http://www.wisconsinvacations.com/skiing.htm check with some of them to see if the offer what your looking for. Or if you don't mind a roadtrip to MN check Afton Alps.
    Alpine Valley has hosted races in the past...A norba national in about 2000 or so, and used to host an annual WORS (XC) race. The courses were never open to the publis to ride except for the races. They haven't hosted a race in the last 4 years or so.

    Devil's Head is in the same boat. Used to host a WORS race there that had a DH race as part of the weekend. They used to be open to the public for riding (for a fee), but the DH course was never in good shape except for race weekend. There was never (even on race weekend) lift-serviced riding at Devil's Head. The XC trails have also fallen in dis-repair the last couple of years due to Devil's Head's lack of interest in having mountain bikers or racing there at all. I've heard that may be changing though, although I've yet to see it happen.

    Cascade Mountain has never (to my knowledge) has mountain bike trails at all.

    With some work, you might find some areas open to developing mountain bike trails, but I think you're limited by a lack of vertical feet as far as full-on lift-serviced gravity-fed mountain biking goes. The riding here is great, but it's vastly different from Diablo, Mt. Snow, Snowshoe, Whister, etc...I think you'll be disappointed if you move here expecting to duplicate that experience.

  17. #17
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    here is the deal with dh biking in wisconsin and the midwest. most of the ski hills here are just that, ski hills. most will not even entertain the idea of dh trails(i say most because maybe one has changed their mind).

    devils head used to allow biking but not anymore, they said they didn't make enough money off of the race wors put on so wors moved the event to nordic. devils head was also not interested in any type of trail system up-keep or expansion.

    blue mound park had a dh race that someone put on once. the race was very short, 30-40 seconds and the park didn't seem to want dh there.

    i believe buck at mfcmtb.com is pushing for things in minnesota.

    marquette mtn in michigan is really turning into something good provided the management doesn't screw it up. the locals there have been doing some great work and it has a really good variety of trails.

    nordic mtn is your only chance for dh and freeride in wisconsin. the owner (rick) is a great guy who is very open to new things as you can see on these videos from last year http://rivendownhill.com/video.aspx. last year was the first year the trail building started there.

    the biggest problem is that everyone expects the best but wants nothing to do with getting it. i (andy from rivendownhill) have actually given up dh. the future of nordic is out of my hands now (along with rivendownhill). i believe a couple of my former team mates are still going to help wors with the race but i believe they are also pulling back from trail development at nordic.

    my reason for throwing in the towel was that for the amount of time i spent away from the family riding and building, the enjoyment just wasn't there. i spent way too much time traveling to ride and building at nordic (voluntarily) to have a handfull of people show up on the days we got the lifts running (i did appreciate those who came out).

    hopefully someone will step up and get in contact with nordic about taking over the trail development. last i heard (from rick last fall) was that they were going to be cutting a new ski run and there was a chance of either a d/s or mtn-x course being built. i must warn anyone who is interested, that you will here from some losers (you know who you are) that will trash talk anything you do but will not be willing to lend a hand. never mind them, build what you enjoy.

    good luck
    andy

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    Quote Originally Posted by ufisher
    blue mound park had a dh race that someone put on once. the race was very short, 30-40 seconds and the park didn't seem to want dh there.
    Not at all the case. Yes, safety and compatibility with the rest of the park have to be concerns but a lack of any help beyond a few people killed it. I was close to done when 1 person showed up on a work day and finished when I held a work day requested by the gravity community and I was the only person who showed up.

    Quote Originally Posted by ufisher
    the biggest problem is that everyone expects the best but wants nothing to do with getting it.
    Quote Originally Posted by ufisher
    my reason for throwing in the towel was that for the amount of time i spent away from the family riding and building, the enjoyment just wasn't there. i spent way too much time traveling to ride and building at nordic (voluntarily) to have a handfull of people show up on the days we got the lifts running (i did appreciate those who came out).
    Unfortunately I think you said it there. I've admired your efforts and you have empathy.

    I don't really know the answer. I think of the Middleton park for the moment and hope it might be a turning point for other riders to think about a futre and a greater good. It's not a DH park, but a skills and stunts area. Primo location, $5000 sitting there and thus far the number of new people showing interest is small with no proof that there will be follow-up. One has been a good worker at other sites so my fingers are crossed.

    We're planning another walk through this weekend, to get started with drawings and to present to the PFRC. It would be nice if trail and dirt riders would realize the long-term significance of a city funded park in a primo location. I'm a middle aged a$$ hat XC rider but I want to give it some effort because a community spot for bike fun should fuel a lot of fun and interest in the sport here like it has on other parts of the country.

    Thanks again for your efforts. I hope you can visit the Madison area. It should be better than ever if we get our spring work done.

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    To the original poster,

    If you make it up near Red Wing, come and check out some of the DH trails there, they are pretty damn fun to ride, and are only getting better as the year goes on. www.mfcmtb.com We also run a race series on 'em called the Jolly Roger DH series!

    weRd!
    Buck

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    Wow Buck...the series you guys have going there looks great. I will definately be making an appearance there this summer. How far are you guys from Madison? Keep this up. I will bring a bunch of people from Madison for this.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcuzz
    Wow Buck...the series you guys have going there looks great. I will definately be making an appearance there this summer. How far are you guys from Madison? Keep this up. I will bring a bunch of people from Madison for this.
    yeah man we didn't really advertise much last year, we wanted to make sure we had stuff figured out, this year we are changin' things up, different race formats for each race and some other things, but we are still workin' out all the details so they'll become available as soon as various permits and things go through!

    Looks like its about a 4 hour drive, kind of a hike but I think worth it! We had guys come down from the U.P. last year! Watch for video and photos to start poppin' up as the season starts!

    I hear there are a bunch of opportunities for DH/FR/DJ in Madison but I can never get the details...we'd love to post that stuff up on our website! So let us know when ya have work days, design sessions, rides/races, whatever!

    yeehaaa!
    weRd!
    Buck

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    Thanks man...yea there is definately a lot of potential here in Madison. Some really good, and young riders coming up that are really getting the scene going. This is only my 2nd year in Madsion after coming from the east coast, but we have done a lot of work at quarry park. I'll post up some pics at your site..which def is prob the best midwest freeride site I've seen. As for other stuff, it looks like Middleton is going to be dumping some money ointo a pump track, dj park...so my fingers are crossed. But I will def be up to your spot sometime this season..Ill be at the US open back in Jersey May 23-25 too, so if any of your crew wants to rep the midwest there that would be sick. I'll keep in touch man..this series looks like to much fun to pass up.

    Peace

    Josh

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