My First Single Track

Daven Kokkila prepares to ride the Jail Trail.

I rode a single track mountain bike trail for the first time in my life Sunday. It was on the North Loop, also known as the Jail Trail, in St. Cloud.

My daughter, Gabby, and her boyfriend, Daven Kokkila, an experienced rider of such trails, invited me to join them for lunch buffet at the Star of India and a ride.

Lunch at the Star was great – as always – and riding a single track was scary and fun all at once.

Maintained by the Mid-Minnesota Cycling Club, the North Loop consists of about 10 miles of constant short climbs and quick descents. The path’s so narrow at points that Gabby and I stopped to walk between pairs of trees so close together that our handlebars barely fit between them.

Daven just rolls effortlessly between a pair of trees Gabby and I have to walk through.

Daven just rode between them.

Trees that have fallen across the trail are cut and moved just enough for cyclists to ride through. Several had logs had stones stacked to create ramps that riders way more adventurous than me use to jump them.

There are bridges over some areas, but they’re rough and lack rails. I had to stop on one of them because I was about to roll off. The drop was only a couple feet, but it would have been enough to really put the hurt on an old geezer like me.

It seems that just as we approached or left those bridges we’d encounter a bunch of tree roots protruding across the trail. Rolling over them set up a series of bounces that must be kind of like a horse trying to buck you off its back. At least that’s the way it seemed for someone like me who has never ridden a bucking bronco.

It took a bit more than an hour and a half to complete the six and a half miles of the Jail Trail that wasn’t labeled “expert.”

I’m sure Daven could have completed the full 10 miles in a fraction of that time.

But he was a great guide and got us novices over the course with only one minor fall resulting from the chain slipping on the bike Gabby rode.

A couple reviews I read of the trail online rated it as an intermediate level course. That makes me dread what an expert trail would be like.

More information about the trail and the cycling club is available at

Gabby pedals from roots to bridge.

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