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Construction begins soon on two more trails, including an uphill path to get bikers up when the lifts aren’t running. “It will still be a climb, but not a killer climb,” said Spirit Mountain director Renee Mattson.
She said mountain biking is a snug fit for a city visited by more than 3 million tourists a year: “It makes sense to capitalize on those looking for outdoor recreation.”
Mayor Ness won’t be satisfied with becoming merely a Midwest mecca for mountain bikers. He insists that when the Traverse is finished, “it will be the premier urban mountain biking system in the world.”
Hyperbole? Sure, but Duluth is starting to get noticed by the larger mountain biking crowd.
Outside magazine ranked Duluth the world’s No. 2 adventure travel spot in its April edition, behind Kununurra, Australia. And from his perch in Portland, Ore., Chris Bernhardt has watched two years of planning in Duluth turn into actual trail-building in 2013. He rode in Hansi Johnson’s car a few years ago from a mountain biking conference in Copper Harbor, Mich., where much of this dreaming began.
Bernhardt, a director of the International Mountain Bicycling Association, compares Duluth to mountain biking towns in places such as Aspen, Colo., Sun Valley, Idaho or Park City, Utah.
“Those are hard places for real people to live,” he said. “Duluth is a real town with all those other things like shipping and factories — and soon it will have mountain biking.”
Curt Brown • 612-673-4767