Sheldon Morgan discovered the sport of mountain biking in the late 1980s and has been doing it ever since. Now he rides his mountain bike at least eight hours a week, and travels to other parts of the country for trail events and races, besides organizing rides here in Winona.
In the winter he rides fat-tire bikes in the snow.
To work at his office in downtown Winona, where he consults on IT projects, he rides his everyday bike — a 20-mile round-trip commute.
“I ride more miles on roads, but more hours on trails,” Morgan said. “I mostly ride on roads when the trails are wet.”
Mountain biking is number-one for him. Trails put him closer to nature, which he enjoys. Riding through the woods is solitary and challenging. Endorphins and risk are also addictive.
“Even riding the same trails, you can always improve your speed, your grace, and your not-falling!” he said.
In early May he organized the Hillbilly Gravel Grinder, a 100-mile ride on the gravel county roads of Winona, Fillmore and Houston counties. About 25 people started out at 9 a.m. and most completed the route by 6 p.m. — nine hours, including breaks. People enjoy the county roads because there isn’t as much traffic.
“I ride for the mental stability and the exercise. I like to run, too, but I can’t run as long or as far as I can ride,” Morgan said.
Over the years, Morgan has developed an interest and an expertise in trail design. He and a partner formed a business, Dirty Deeds Earth Services, LLC, to help with trail maintenance and design at Holzinger Park, which, he said, has “old school” trails — not well designed to counter erosion. He’s also helped the city at Sugar Loaf, and has designed and created single-track mountain biking trails at the Bronk Unit of Minnesota’s Richard Dorer State Forest. This area, called Cherry Hill, is one of the favorites in the area.
Trails at Holzinger and Sugar Loaf will get a new, close examination for sustainability during the Winona City park planning process this summer.
Morgan believes mountain biking could be great therapy for kids who’ve lost touch with their roots and with nature.
“There’s a lot of stress on teenagers these days. It’s higher than ever, because of social media and access to all kinds of media,” he said. “They need to re-engage with the world.”
Morgan points out that parents and peers can do a lot to encourage kids, first maybe by getting on a bike themselves. “The city has to provide the infrastructure, but parents and peers will bring kids in.” That’s how he learned. “My whole family was very active in outdoor sports. It’s in my DNA, I think.”
He and his 26-year-old ride together, as they have for years. They go on mountain bike journeys together, riding and camping, and taking a break once in a while for rock climbing.
Biking, rock climbing, running and kayaking — he loves it all. “And it’s all right here in Winona!” he exulted.
May is Bike Month in Winona — don’t miss the fun! Check the Bike Month web page (www.visitwinona.com/may-is-bike-month) to find out what’s happening.