First ride at Redhead

Summer 2024 is off to a wet start. But one of the gifts of Redhead is that its soils drain well and (most of) it recovers quickly. I finally got out for my first ride of the season, bringing with a new Iron Range resident, Ally!

As luck would have it, the weather on ride-day was misty, cold and gray. But if the trails are open, riding is on! Ally and I met at 30 West Bike Shop where she met owner Candace, and we picked up her full-suspension rental bike. When I take a new biker for a ride, I have one goal: to facilitate their enjoyment, safely. This means biking the trails that fit the experience and desire of the new rider. While mountain biking can be a hard cardio challenge and adrenaline rush, it can also be a moderate workout while forest-bathing. Ally hadn’t ridden in 10 years, so we headed out on High Road to the Pines–a lovely and interesting “green” trail that starts right at the trailhead.

One thing about riding on a grey day at Redhead: the colors are VIBRANT. The rich red of the trails contrasted with the lush green of the trees. The white of the birch and poplar popped against the shadows. Our ride took us past overviews of the misty mine pit lakes centered within the trail system. And Ally easily navigated the trails, becoming more adept at navigating the single-track.

While we originally planned a quick out and back on High Road, Ally was doing so well we decided to explore the North Rim trail. The North Rim provides an even better lake lookout as well as some fun small features (rideable rock gardens, a fun downhill, and some good heart-rate-elevating climbing). We easily rode the first 2/3, stopping to take a photo at the east side of the lake. But suddenly we were stopped: the trail soil had changed to a saturated, sticky clay, and our tires were clumped with gray mud.

Riding responsibly means protecting the trail, so we turned around. Using sticks and pieces of rock, we scraped off our tires, and we carried our bikes back to the firm trail. As we biked back to the trailhead, I told Ally she was a trooper–usually I don’t plan a first ride where we must clean so much mud from our gear. But Ally swore she would bike again–she was not daunted.

We continue to get rain–having to close Redhead as conditions warrant. It is hard to be kept off trails when our season is short. But with a little sun, Redhead will reopen. And we will all eagerly be back on the trails!