Sunday, March 29, 2015

Ingawanis Endurance Clinic

Mike Johnson speaks on nutrition at the Ingawanis Endurance Clinic
Yesterday I rode on up to the Ingawanis Woodands lodge to attend the Ingawanis Endurance Clinic which also functioned as a fundraiser to help out the Bremer County Conservation Board with purchasing the former South side of the Boy Scout Camp. First, let me give you all a bit of the history from a mountain biker's viewpoint......

I first heard about Ingawanis Boy Scout Camp from a few of the older/more experienced mountain bikers way back in the early 90's. Details were not freely given, but from what I gathered back then, it was considered one of the best mountain biking opportunities in the local area. However; it wasn't open to mountain bikers. You had to "poach" the trails, and then only at night, or so the story went. Otherwise you might face the wrath of the Camp Ranger and possibly be fined a hefty amount.

Fast forward almost 15 years later, and I received a call from Ward Budweg, who was, at the time, the owner of Decorah Bicycles. I was invited to come out and see Ingawanis Boy Scout Camp to see if there were any possibilities for trails and what I thought about a mountain biking program that would also open trails to the general public. This would have been about 2003, or so, I think. Anyway, it was my first ride at the Scout Camp, and I was stoked by what I had seen there. It was all that I remember hearing about and more. Definitely the best terrain for off road cycling within riding distance of Waterloo-Cedar Falls. Maybe better than 90% of anything in Iowa.

About 20 folks showed up and raised over $900.00 for the trails.
It took a couple more years, but by 2006-07 we were doing regular rides up there and expanding upon the opportunities for single track. Later on, the South side of the Camp, so called since it lay on the Southern side of Quarter Section Creek, was developed and slowly came to rival, then surpass the trails of the North side. With some conflicts arising due to the damage caused by horse back riding, it was quietly decided to cease riding the North side a few years ago. Then the Boy Scouts decided to put the South side up for sale.

This was alarming to us as cyclists, runners, and hikers since there were a couple of development companies eying the land to turn it into exclusive, woodland home properties. This, of course, would have effectively taken away a huge resource from the public domain and would have been a huge blow to recreational opportunities in the State. There just are not very many tracts of woodlands in Iowa, let alone in the Northeast part of the state, due to the vast agricultural interests here. Fortunately, the Bremer County Conservation Board saw an opportunity to add this resource to the public domain, and they were able to secure a loan through the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation to get this land locked away from the developers. The Boy Scouts even helped facilitate this as well, since they did not want to see the South side scrapped and developed into privately held homesteads.

Mike detailed his bike set-ups for gravel. Tour Divide, and more for the cyclists in attendance.
This brings us back to the Endurance Clinic, and the reasons for it. Dave Roll, a local cyclist, got the vision for this and set up the clinic as a way to help runners and cyclists share knowledge and also to help draw awareness to the fact that the Bremer County Conservation Board needs to pay a lot of money back to get the lands at the former South side of the Boy Scout Camp secured for public uses into the future. Dave got Mike Johnson, a former Tour Divide finisher, multiple Trans Iowa and Dirty Kanza 200 finisher, and runner Wendy Foote to help facilitate the clinic. A person from the Bremer County Conservation Board presented the case for donations and a jar was set out. A fair amount was donated by the 20 or so guests, but it is barely a drop in the bucket. If you are local to this area, consider giving to help secure this resource for the future by checking out this link here.

So, the clinic was actually really fun, and informative. If you missed out, this may happen again at sometime, and if it does, you should go. If only just for the food, which was tremendous, I might add!

Thanks to Dave Roll, Wendy Foote, Mike Johnson, and the rest of the volunteers and guests for showing an interest in this resource. Thanks to those who have given and will give. I really like riding out there, and it would be a shame for Iowans to lose this great woodland area.


Anonymous said...


john said...

I hear that Mike was really good with his presentation. and a great ride around the area was had by many.