Earlier in the month I spent half a day riding the Mahnomen Unit of the Cuyuna Country State Rec Area. This was my first time hitting singletrack in 2012, and there is no better place to take that first off-road ride of the year than Cuyuna. It was a gorgeous day, with low humidity, temps in the 60s, and sunny skies... I couldn't have asked for a better day.
I decided to change it up a little this time... before I left town I switched the tires, cog and chain on the 1x1, turning it back into a true mountain bike. It is quite a bit lighter than the fat front Fargo and I figured Cuyuna is as smooth as it's ever going to be, so now would be the time to ride it singlespeed and "truly" rigid (with no huge front tire to smooth out the ride).
It will be interesting to see how Cuyuna develops... will it stay pretty much the way it is now, or will it gradually get rougher like the major trails in the metro area? Cuyuna has a few things going for it compared to the metro trails... it isn't located near a highly populated area, it's so big that it spreads users out over a large area, and most of the soils up there create a tough, hard trail surface. Local metro trails, with their high usage and easily damaged treads, age much quicker than a trail like Cuyuna. My hope is that it will continue on near its current state, which is fun and fast for riders on both rigid and suspension bikes. As with most MN trails, suspension is fun to have, but isn't really necessary at Cuyuna.
I started the ride with what I feel is the toughest climb at Cuyuna (Crusher and Miner's Mountain), and I began to think bringing the singlespeed was a mistake. Thankfully, once on top that feeling changed.
By the end of the day I came to the conclusion that riding a rigid singlespeed at Cuyuna is a perfectly good option for me, and with the exception of a couple climbs, I had no issues with being under or over geared. Singlespeeders in better shape should have no problem with any of the climbs there.
It was a great (half) day of riding... in my opinion this is the best singletrack in Minnesota. Great trails surrounded by beautiful scenery. One of my favorite areas is Mucker Mountain; the forest there just has a great feel about it...
While I usually take it a bit easier when riding solo, Cuyuna has a few sections that tempt you to push the limits a bit. I do like the fact that when I'm alone I can stop and take pictures whenever the urge hits. I hope to make it up to Cuyuna at least once more this season. And one of these years I'd like to come up in the fall to see how the scenery changes (and avoid the heat and bugs of summer).
If you are within a couple hours drive if Cuyuna, you should really make the trip...