Gravel Training Grounds Close to the Twin Cities

Now that the weather is warming and Almanzo is coming up fast you'll probably want to get some gravel training time in saddle.  You don't have to drive that far from the Twin Cities to find some very scenic gravel roads with some hills to climb.  Living in the South Metro for many years, I have come across some good spots to crush gravel close to home.

The Cannon River Valley

The Cannon River Valley has been a long time favorite of mine not only for the beauty of the area, but the big climbs and long descents too.  Below are two short loops that are easily accessible from the Welch Station on the Cannon Valley Trail.  Though these loops may not be that long they have some good extended climbs to train on.  Ride them both clockwise or counter-clockwise to turn those long descents into a new climb or combine them for a longer ride.

Welch North Loop

Welch South Loop

To add some distance riding in this area, try riding the Miesville FiftySix or Miesville Redux routes.  These will give you around 56 and 42 miles.

Cutler Hill Rd/Collischan Road

There are many more route options in the Cannon River Valley including Cutler Hill Road and Collischan Road (which becomes a Minimum Maintenance Road and dead ends near some sloughs near Pool 3 on the Mississippi River) just a mile North of the Cannon Valley Trail on HWY 61 (East side).  Use Strava, RideWithGPS, Runtastic or MapMyRide to map out a new route in this area while in Satellite mode on the map (zoom in to see where the gravel roads are).  These websites will allow syncing of the route to the app on your phone, downloading a gpx file to your Garmin and some will let you print cuesheets.  The possibilities are unlimited.

Northfield/Cannon Falls/Nerstrand Area

Another favorite area of mine was introduced to me by members of the Cannon Valley Velo Club.  These cyclists know all of the best gravel road routes in this area and ride them regularly.  I had a chance to ride with them and they took me through some beautiful countryside with some challenging climbs.

Last Fall I wanted to get in some training for the Tour of Filmore and the Filthy 50 so I contacted Christopher Tassava, who regularly rides gravel in this area, for some route suggestions.  Through his help I was introduced to some beautiful areas with single lane gravel, a minimum maintenance road, breathtaking views and some challenging climbs.  Thanks, Christopher.

The following route starts at Bridge Square in Northfield and will take you around 55 miles and provide close to 3,000 feet of climbing.  It will bring you along the Cannon River toward Lake Byllesby before heading South to two of my favorite areas of the route, Shady Lane Trail and Sogn Valley Trail.  Southwest from there the route will take you through the Nerstrand Big Woods State Park and past Caron Park, both good spots to stop and take a break.  Next is the climb up Farmer Trail before heading North back into Northfield. 

Northfield/Nerstrand Gravel Loop

There are many more options to crush gravel in this area.  Satellite view on Google Maps will help you plan a new route.  Use one of the above mentioned cycling app websites to make navigation easier.  The Cannon Valley Velo Club mixes it up with a variety of gravel rides that they post regularly on their Facebook group page.  Join them for a ride sometime, they are a great group of cyclists.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...