Summer Minnesota Gravel Events

Gravel racing season traditionally has been in the Spring and Fall but with the growing popularity of "riding gravel", Summer events have seen an increase in number in recent years.  In addition to established Summer gravel events, several new ones have been popping up over the last year or two including a couple of new ones this year.

Image Credit: Dirt Bag
The Dirt Bag Gravelfest takes place on July 18th in French Lake, MN.  This free event is the second running of the Summer version of the Dirt Bag (takes place in October each year).  Two courses are planned for this year's event, an 82 mile long course and a 30 mile short course.  "All riders will start on the short course and the long course riders will continue on through the Start/Finish area to the North and West before looping back onto the short course again."  Postcard registration is now open and race day registration will also be available.  Stay up-to-date with event details by visiting the Dirt Bag website, Facebook page and Facebook Event page.

Image Credit: Jim Smith

The Dirty Lemming is a Summer gravel tradition put on by Jim Smith in Watertown, MN.  This year's running of the Lemmings will be on July 25.  Two course options include 100 km and 100 mile routes.  This is a free event limited to 100 riders, postcard registration is required and space is still available until the cap is reached.

The Gritty Goose Gravel Grinder is a new gravel event this year.  It's a free ride that takes place on gravel roads near Monticello, Maple Lake and Buffalo on August 1st.  The route will be 65 to 70 miles with almost 2,000 feet of climbing.  Online registration is now available.  "You'll have to ride it to find out why its called the Gritty Goose."

Image Credit: Tour de Save Facebook Page

The Cannon Valley Velo Club is holding its 12th annual Tour de Save on August 1st at Riverside Park in Northfield, MN.  In addition to the 10, 25 and 62 mile road routes, this will be the second year for the 100 km gravel route.  Online registration is available until noon the day before the ride.  Registration fee is $25 and a fundraising goal must be established.  Updates for the ride can be found on the Tour de Save Facebook page.

The Heck Epic is a two-day (August 22-23) bikepacking staged event that starts in Two Harbors and travels North to Ely where you will camp for the night before returning back to Two Harbors on day two.  Distance covered will be about 220 miles.  Online registration is now available until a rider cap of 100 is reached.  Entry fee is $100 and covers dinner on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday when in Ely, camping facilities in Ely and a pint of beer at the Friday night registration meeting.  Updates for the Heck Epic can also be found on the Heck of the North Facebook page.

The River Valley 100 returns for its second year on August 30th taking cyclists through the scenic river valleys around Mankato in South-Central Minnesota.  This free event consists of both paved and gravel route options and is non-supported.  For those looking to ride gravel, a 100 km gravel ride and 100 km gravel race are available.  The gravel race will consist of 3 person teams.  Registration is required and space is limited.  There are two ways to register, online or by mail.  Deadline for gravel racing registration is August 23rd.  Updates can also be found on the River Valley 100 Facebook page.

The Cyclists of the Laurentian Divide and Giants Ridge are bringing back the Legendary Laurentian for a second year in Biwabik, MN.  This is a multi-surface "gravel' event of 50 miles that takes place on September 5th.  Registration is required and will be available on the day of the event.  The $20 entry fee includes lunch and door prizes.

"Giants Ridge is holding a gravel/mtn. bike event on Sat. Sept. 5 at 10 AM.  Back in the 80`s and 90`s we hosted a mtn. bike race and with the development of our golf course  the event went away. Cycling is back at the Ridge in a big way with the Mesabi Trail, Mesabi Tour, TRAM,  gravel, rides  and now the `Legendary Laurentian`, a 50 mile event held on our XC trails , Forest Roads, and Snowmobile trails.  This `untimed tour` should be a great challenge as well as a very inexpensive day of riding, plus you`ll get a burger and a beverage at the end, as well as door prizes.  Keep the rubber side down and we will see you in September!" - John Filander, Director of Winter Sports at Giants Ridge.

Image Credit: Joshua Stamper

The Gravel Conspiracy is an adventure ride taking place on gravel, dirt and Forest service roads along the North shore.  Dates are September 11-13.  To quote the Facebook event page this is a "Three day Gravel Adventure from the Canadian border to Duluth. Expect 200-250 miles of gravel, dirt, and doubletrack. No Sag. You can stay in 5 star lodging or you can dirtbag it in the campgrounds. No cost to participate, but the bus ride costs $40. Registration is limited to 75 participants."  Registration is required and for more information visit The Gravel Conspiracy FAQ page.

The Back Forty F**k Festival is an 80 mile gravel grinder taking place September 12th in Denmark Twp. just North of Hastings, MN.  Described as "part burning man part gravel grinder" on the website, this isn't your normal gravel ride.  It would probably be best to visit the website and read the full description of the ride and its rules of competition.  Registration is free and can be done by sending an email to the event organizer.

Image Credit: Derek Chinn

The Inspiration 100 is a 107 mile gravel race in its fourth year and starts in Garfield, MN on September 12th.  This is a free race and registration is done by postcard only during the month of July.  Registration is capped at 135 racers.  Updates can be found on the Inspiration 100 Facebook page.

These events are unsupported (except Tour de Save) so bring everything you will need to get you to the finish.

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