by Tom Emison, Vice President of Strategy and Innovation, Kraus-Anderson Construction Company
The third annual Kraus-Anderson Bike Duluth Festival took place August 13-14, 2016. Boosted by area business sponsors and enthusiastic volunteer participation, the event promotes the world-class bike trails and natural resources of the Duluth area, with family-friendly events for cyclists of all ages and abilities. Tom Emison reports on his experience of the event.
Dawn broke crisp as a fresh McIntosh apple Sunday, August 14, at Spirit Mountain in beautiful Duluth, Minnesota. My wife Pam and I were awake early and ready to ride the 50-mile Road Tour portion of the Kraus-Anderson Bike Duluth Festival in the “Twin Ports” of Duluth and Superior, Wisconsin.
The festival, now in its third year, benefits the local YMCA and COGGS: Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores, aka COGGS. COGGS was established in 1994 when the Superior Bikers and the North Star Bike Club combined. COGGS’ mission is to improve the cycling opportunities for the citizens of the Twin Ports. They are leading the effort to build an expansive network of multi-use trails in the Twin Ports that are sustainable, accessible and provide a high level of recreational enjoyment. They work to preserve the area’s green spaces and connecting communities via natural surface trails. They provide races, social events and group rides for members to enjoy and meet other outdoor recreation enthusiasts. They also maintain the trail system through volunteer and paid trail maintenance crews and educate the community on responsible trail use and care-taking. As of 2011 they are a chapter of IMBA, the International Mountain Biking Association, an organization that has helped us greatly to learn sustainable trail building techniques and trail advocacy to increase access to trail development.
Pam and I watched in amazement as hundreds of local and regional cyclists and their families essentially took over Spirit Mountain. KA volunteers organized registration and other parts of the event. Our own Jeff Iisakka (vice president and director of operations at the Kraus-Anderson’s Duluth office) opened the event and local musicians provided entertainment. Mountain bikers of all shapes and sizes flew downhill at breakneck speeds to win their event. Meanwhile, out on the open Road Tour, Pam and I cycled with a group of riders from Ski-Hut in Duluth. The wonders of the northland never cease to amaze us: great pine forests, enormous clusters of birch trees, deep and rugged rocky cliffs on each side of our paved road ride. After our very enjoyable ride, we took part in the festivities at the main lodge on Grand Avenue, which KA built, by the way. We are FOR SURE putting this event on our calendar for 2017!