12/28/2016

2017 Minnesota Gravel Events


Rural Minnesota is home to quite a few long standing gravel road races and with the growing popularity of the sport, rides to introduce those new to gravel are beginning to pop up, too.  With varying terrain, minimum maintenance roads, elevation changes, great rural scenery and unpredictable weather in the Spring and Fall, these events are sure to be fun and challenging.  Almost all of them are free, but unsupported requiring the participants to be their own repair and support crew.


This season's calendar will include all types of  gravel races and rides from around the state.  Some of these have registration cutoff dates, have a rider cap, or more information and registration details that are yet to be announced.  Below is a list of all of the gravel events in Minnesota that I'm aware of in chronological order.  I will continue to update and add events to this post as they become available.  If you are a race or event organizer and would like your event listed here and on my 2017 Minnesota Bike Tours, Rides, Races & Events Schedule, please send me an e-mail

The"Trumpit"-March 18, 2017
Two Harbors, MN 

Lakeville-Milltown-Lakeville-March 25, 2017
Harry's Cafe
Lakeville, MN
80+ miles

Ragnarök 105-April 1, 2017
Red Wing, MN
105 miles
150 rider cap
Postcard registration November 25-December 31, 2016
Registration Details
Facebook Page 

Ride Like A Girl Cycling Dirty Girl Gravel Series #1-April 2, 2017
House of Coates
Coates, MN
35, 29, 25, 18 miles 

Lakeville Gravel: Will Bike for Donuts V3-April 8, 2017
Caribou Coffee
Lakeville, MN 

Mammoth Gravel Classic-April 15, 2017
Cyclova XC
St. Croix Falls, WI
100, 70, 30 miles
Facebook Event Page 

Dickie Scramble-April 22, 2017
JJ Tailgaters
Elgin, MN 

Miesville FiftySix-April 30, 2017
Jack Ruhr Stadium
Miesville, MN
56 miles
Registration is full

Alexander 380-May 19, 2017
Spring Valley, MN
380 miles 
Facebook Event Page  

Almanzo 100/Royal 162-May 20, 2017
Spring Valley, MN
162, 100 miles
Facebook Page
Facebook Event Page   

Party in the Park at Wilderfest-May 20, 2017
Willow Park
Spring Valley, MN 

Le Grand Du Nord-May 27, 2017
Grand Marais, MN
100, 50 miles
Facebook Page 
Online Registration opens January 14, 2017 

Riotgrrravel-June 3, 2017
Hope Lutheran Church
Hastings, MN
33,20, 10 miles
Facebook Page
Facebook Event Page
Online Registration 

Luce Line Loops-June 10, 2017
Crow River Winery
Hutchinson, MN
75k Gravel Grinder
50, 25, 12 miles
Online Registration

Westside Dirty Benjamin-June 10, 2017
Chaska, MN
101 miles 
Facebook Page
Facebook Event Page 

Dirt Church Gravel Ride-June 18, 2017
Elk River, MN
50-60, 32 miles 

Ride Like A Girl Cycling Dirty Girl Gravel Series #2-June 18, 2017
House of Coates
Rosemount, MN
35, 28, 25, 18 miles 

BRAAP! The Return of Saturday Night Gravel-July 1, 2017
Freewheel Midtown Bike Center
Minneapolis, MN 

Freedhem 76 2017-July 1, 2017
Freehem Store
Little Falls, MN
76 miles 

Dirty Lemming Gravel Grinder-July 29, 2017
Watertown, MN
100 miles, 100 km 

Tour de SAVE-July 29, 2017
Spring Creek Park Soccer Fields
Northfield, MN
62, 25, 10 miles paved
46 miles gravel
Facebook Page
Facebook Event Page
Online Registration  

Day Across Minnesota (DAMn) Gravel Road Race-August 5, 2017
Gary, SD/Hager City, WI
240 miles
Facebook Page 
Registration is full 

Full Moon Madness-Fat Bike Gravel Grind-August 7, 2017
Mississippi National Golf Links
Red Wing, MN
30 miles 

Gritty Goose-August 19, 2017
Bertram Lakes Park
Monticello, MN
100, 70, 50 miles
Online Registration  

The Heck Epic-August 19-20, 2017
Two Harbors, MN
Approx. 110 miles
Gravel Cyclist Link

Ride Like A Girl Cycling Dirty Girl Gravel Series #3-August 20, 2017
House of Coates
Coates, MN
35, 28, 25, 18 miles 

Fiddlin' Fifty Gravel Grinder-August 26, 2017
Balkan Township, MN
Approx. 50 miles
Riding Gravel Link 
Facebook Page
Registration  

River Valley 100-August 27, 2017
North Mankato, MN
100 mile paved, 100k paved, 100k gravel
Facebook Event Page
Online Registration 

Gravel Conspiracy-September 8-10, 2017
Bearskin Lodge
Grand Marais, MN
Approximately 300 miles
75 rider cap
Facebook Event Page 

Hero Gravel Classic-September 9, 2017
Gasthaus Bavarian Hunter
Stillwater, MN
55, 30, 5 miles 

Hun-Dirt Century Gravel Grinder & Half Hun-Dirt Gravel Grinder-September 16, 2017
Brophy Lake County Park
Alexandria, MN
100, 50 miles
Facebook Event Page
Online Registration  

2017 Gravel Grovel-September 24, 2017
Miesville, MN
Approx. 80 miles 

Life Time Gravel Fondo-September 24, 2017
Waconia Brewing Company
Waconia, MN
50, 25 mile
Online Registration  

Heck of the North-September 30, 2017
Two Harbors, MN
105, 51 miles
Gravel Cyclist Link

The Filthy 50-October 8, 2017
Stewartville, MN
52, 24, 12 miles
Online Registration 

Dirt Bag-October 15, 2017
Clearwater, MN
Mileage TBD
Facebook Page

Fallexander 2017-October 20-22, 2017
Scenic Valley Motel
Lansing, Iowa
382 miles 

Gravel West Bike Ride-October 22, 2017
Gear West
Long Lake, MN
100k, 25 mile
Facebook Event Page

12/15/2016

Hydration Tips For Winter Riding


Now that we are finally seeing some arctic temperatures here in Minnesota, don't let that discourage you from riding.  Clothing choice is only one part of winter cycling, hydrating in freezing temperatures is another.  Keeping hydrated in sub-zero temperatures can create some challenges.  I have had the last four winters to to do some product testing and below ares some of my recommendations for keeping hydrated and preventing your water from freezing up.

Hydrapak Soft Flasks

The Hydrapak Soft Flask is a product that has been out for a while now that I have tested and found that it worked great during very cold temperatures.  This soft water bottle works best during winter rides when you put it in a jacket pocket (I have a Gore Bike Wear jacket with 3 pockets on the back like a jersey) where your body heat keeps it from icing up.  The nice thing about these flasks is that they collapse as you drink from them making them smaller in your pocket.  If the bite valve does freeze up, bite on the valve crushing the ice to restore water flow. Hydrapak Soft Flasks come in various sizes  and are available from  Hydrapak.

Water Bottle with Tall Boy Coozie

This one is a little trick I learned from friends who race some of coldest endurance fatbike races in the Great White North including one of the toughest, the Arrowhead 135.  You can implement this practice with insulated or non-insulated water bottles.  Tall boy coozies (for 16 & 25 oz. cans) work the best because they cover almost all of the bottle.  The shorter (12 oz.) version can be used but only protect half the bottle.  I used packing tape to secure the top of the coozie to the bottle so it wouldn't slide off when removing it from my bottle cage.

I recently tested this idea using an older model non-insulated Camelbak Podium 21 oz. water bottle with the Gup Gum Gear Bottle Cage Coozie mentioned below during single digit temps for 3 hours.  Stored upside down in my bottle cage kept the water drinkable for the whole time.  It had just began to ice up after the three hours but storing the bottle in this fashion kept the valve from freezing up.  I've found that the jet valve on the Camelbak Podium bottles performs better in the bitter cold than the standard water bottle valve.

Gup Gum Gear Bottle Cage Coozies

My friend Neil from Gup Gum Gear set me up with a pair of these Bottle Cage Coozies a couple winters ago and they are now standard equipment for my cold weather rides.  Paired with a water bottle/tallboy coozie stored upside-down, this combination keeps my water drinkable in very cold temperatures for hours.  The Gup Gum Gear Bottle Cage Coozies work with any standard size bottle cage and the flip open front panel makes installation easy.  Available from Gup Gum Gear for $25 each or a pair for $45.

Hydration Pack with Drink Tube Insulator

On all day rides where temperatures are in the teens and twenties Fahrenheit I like to use my hydration pack.  The problem is if you don't insulate the drink tube or bite valve, they will freeze up.  I came across the Platypus Bite Valve and Drink Tube Insulator at REI and an idea was sparked.  I used only the Drink Tube Insulator since my pack was a GeigerRig and the bite valve was not compatible.  To keep my bite valve from freezing up I simply tucked it into my jacket at the top of the zipper where my body heat kept it from freezing and I was able to drink for hours.  To further keep the hydration bladder from forming ice during extended rides, chemical warmers can be placed around it inside the pack.  The Platypus Bite Valve and Drink Tube Insulator is available from Cascade Designs, REI and various other outdoor retailers for $19.95.

Revelate Designs Mountain Feedbag

The Revelate Designs Mountain Feedbag puts snacks and water bottles in your cockpit for easy access while riding.  Store water bottles upside down in the Mountain Feedbag to prevent the nozzle from freezing up.  Smaller (21 oz.) bottles work best so they don't stick out too much from the top of the bag.  Pair this set up with some chemical hand warmers inside the Feedbag for extra warmth to keep your bottle ice free on longer rides or colder temperatures.  The Revelate Designs Mountain Feedbag is available from Revelate Designs, Penn Cycle and other fine bike shops for $49 each.

Salsa Anything Cage/Anything Bag

The Salsa Anything Cage or Anything Cage HD paired with the Anything Bag is a great way to store that insulated thermos filled with your favorite hot beverage.  This cage/bag combo can be mounted on forks with bottle boss bolts or in your frame triangle where you would normally mount your bottle cages.  The Anything Cage or Anything Cage HD  available from Penn Cycle and other fine bike shops for $30 and $35. The Anything Bag is also available for $32.

Stanley Classic Vacuum Insulated Bottle
Image Credit: Stanley

Bring along your favorite hot beverage to warm you up out on the trail in the Stanley Classic Vacuum Insulated Bottle.  Designed to keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold using vacuum insulation, this bottle will work great with the Salsa Anything Cage and Anything Bag mentioned above.  It is made from 18/8 Stainless Steel and the insulated lid doubles as a cup.  This 25 oz. version is available from Stanley, REI and other outdoor retailers for $35.

12/08/2016

My Favorite Winter Fatbike Gear-Part 1


Winter is finally here and and that opens up a lot of new opportunities to ride fatbikes.  Some of these opportunities are made even better with the right gear.  This will be my fifth year of winter cycling and I have a few favorite items that help make fatbiking out on the snow and ice much more enjoyable. 

Crank Brothers Double Shot pedals

Riding in slippery or technical conditions while clipped in can be a bit unnerving for some whether you're a commuter or a fatbike enthusiast.  For those that want to clip in some or most of the time while having the option of a flat, there's the Crank Brothers Double Shot pedals.  This hybrid pedal is flat on one side with moulded pins and ribs for grip and clipless on the other side that can be set up with the included cleats for a 15 or 20 degree release angle.  This is my go-to pedal for winter because it gives me the confidence of a flat when I need it for technical or icy sections.  Clipping back in after using the flat side is as easy as rotating the crank arm one half revolution and stepping on until clipped.  Crank Brother Double Shot Pedals are available from Crank Brothers, Penn Cycle and other fine bike shops for $89.

Bontrager Barbegazi Tires

For the big flotation of a high volume fatbike tire, I really like the Bontrager Barbegazi.  This beefy tire comes in two sizes, 26x4.7 and 27.5x4.5 depending on which wheel size you're running.  I have mine set up on a pair of 26x80mm Mulefut 80 SL wheels and even with their massive width, I still have enough chainline clearance on my Trek Farley.  For off the beaten path, adventure riding and deeper snow where flotation and lower pressures are key, the Barbegazi really excels and is my number one choice for these conditions.  Its wide footprint with aggressive tread pattern and Tubeless-ready design make it a perfect tire for snowy Minnesota winters.  Available from Trek, Penn Cycle and other Authorized Trek Retailers for $119.99 each.

Orange Seal Subzero

Going tubeless for winter riding allows you to run lower pressures for the conditions without the risk of pinch flats which can happen when using tubes.  If you're like me, riding in the extreme cold is common and I want a tubeless sealant that will still perform in sub-zero conditions.  With Orange Seal Subzero Tubeless Sealant in my TLR tires I don't worry about it freezing up and not working.  Orange Seal Subzero is available in 8 and 16 oz. bottles for $14.49 and $21.99 from Orange Seal, Penn Cycle and other fine bike shops.

Multiple Wheelsets

Swapping out tires can be a pain, especially if you have them set up tubeless.  For this reason I have built two extra wheelsets instead of buying another bike so I have the freedom of choosing the wheel/tire combo for the trail conditions.  For fast hardpack I have a pair of Bontrager Hodags (27.5x3.8) mounted on Mulefut 50 SL wheels, for deep snow and bushwhacking I'm ready with Bontrager Barbegazis (26x4.7) on Mulefut 80 SL wheels and for the icy stuff I will be mounting a pair of the new Bontrager Gnarwhal (27.5x4.5) studded tires on my Jackalope wheels as soon as they are available. Switching out wheelsets is easy and only takes about 5 minutes giving me the option of the right tire for the conditions.  Wheelsets can be expensive but you'll love the freedom of choice they give you not only in the winter, but year round.  Visit your local bike shop to discuss a wheel build that works within your budget.

12/01/2016

2016 MN Global Fat Bike Day Events


Global Fat-Bike Day is a worldwide grassroots campaign that started four years ago to bring people from the fatbike community together to ride and make new friends.  In honor of Global Fat-Bike Day there are several rides scheduled here in Minnesota on December 3rd that you may want to get in on as well as the Winter Bike Expo, and the Superfat Crit.  I have complied a list of them so you can get your "fat on" and ride with others of the "well-endowed tire crowd".


COGGS will be holding their 2016 Global Fat Bike Day Ride in Duluth with a meet up at 8am and ride at 9am with multiple ride lengths.


Nicollet Bike in Mankato will be hosting their Global Fat Bike Day 2016 group ride from 1:30pm to 4:30pm starting from the shop. "Riders of ALL levels are welcome! This is a no drop ride and will be very social.  There will be a social gathering after the ride with some refreshing treats! Hope to see all of you there!!!"


The Woolly Bike Club has decided to move their Global Fat-Bike Day 2016 group ride adventure  from the Woolly singletrack to the "Sand Barrens north of St. Croix Falls, where weather is not going to be a factor.  This ride will be a 20ish mile loop, and should take between 2 and 3 hours. This will be an unsupported, no-drop casual-paced ride, with as many rest breaks as necessary. The course can be easily short-cut, or modified to keep us within the 2-3 hour time frame." 

The adventure begins from the Wolf Creek Bar in St. Croix Falls, WI at 9am and will cover all types of terrain along the way.  The ride will conclude at the Wolf Creek Bar for food and beverages afterward.


Trailhead Cycling is hosting their Global Fat Bike Day Ride at Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park in Coon Rapids at 10am.  "Global Fat Bike Day! Everyone grab a fattie and join us for a super fun ride at the Coon Rapids Regional Park off West River Road. there are trails along the river bottoms, as well as trails across west river road at the BP environmental area. feeling like a longer ride? follow the Rush Creek trail (there is a single-track trail along side the paved trail) that (almost) takes one to Omni Brewing! Food truck day!! bring a fat bike, helmet, lights (hey, it gets dark early) and some $$. FATNESS!!!"


Join Tonka Cycle & Ski for their Global Fat Bike Day Ride that starts at 11am from the shop parking lot in Minnetonka.  "There will be 3 different groups (speeds) Mellow, Mid Mellow and Fast."  A limited number of fat bikes are available for rent and can be reserved online.  Free beer and brats will be available under the Tonka tent after the ride.


The Global fat bike day ride will leave the Touright Bicycle Shop in Little Falls at 10am.  "Come celebrate global fat bike day. Free fat bike rentals first to reserve. We will ride form the bike shop to Lindbergh state park. Hopefully snow will be good. Pizza, coffee and donuts available for energy. If you are interested come on out. Great time to try that fat bike fad you keep hearing about."


Global Fat Bike Day with Downtown Bicycles will start from their shop in Northfield at 2pm for a ride around town and then back to the shop for refreshments.  This is the 3rd annual Global Fat Bike Day ride that Downtown Bicycles has hosted.


Salsa Cycles Global Fatbike Day River Bottoms Ride will begin at the Henry H. Sibley House in Mendota at 10am.  This family friendly event will require a participation waiver to be signed by all who attend.  "Salsa sponsored rider and musician Ben Weaver will perform a short set at some point during the ride.  Conditions will most likely keep us from riding the River Bottoms trail, but we will still have a ride. The route will be determined day of. Be there!"   For updates, check the discussion section of the event page.


Women on Wheels Liv/Giant and Trailhead Cycling will host Women's Global Fat Bike Day Ride with a meet up at the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park.  "Meet at 10 am. we'll ride along the river bottoms. It's a fun place to explore on your fat bike. the ride will last about one hour. For those that want to ride loger; we'll pedal over to Omni Brewing in Maple Grove. There is a single - track trail that parallels the Rush Creek trail. bring some $$ for food truck and liquid refreshments. Lights recommended (it gets dark early) Helmets and Fat Tire Bike required."


Image Credit: Freewheel Bike

The Winter Bike Expo presented by Freewheel Bike returns for its sixth year December 3rd & 4th to the Freewheel Midtown Bike Center.  The expo draws hearty cyclists from all over to see and demo all that manufacturers have to offer for winter commuters & fatbikers.  Admission is free and the fun kicks off at 9 am each day.  Winter biking seminars will be held throughout both days and there will be fatbike demos, raffles and beer!  For a schedule of events, visit the Winter Bike Expo link above.

Image Credit: Freewheel Bike

Stick around after the Winter Bike Expo on Saturday night for the Superfat Crit, a criterium race for fatbikes set up on a feature laden course along the railroad trench of the Midtown Greenway.  Racers must have fat tires of at least 3.7" or wider and lights since the race will be conducted in the dark.  Racing starts at 6:00pm and entry requires you to bring "a pack of something to share with your new friends."  Freewheel Midtown Bike Center is located at 2834 10th Ave. S. in Minneapolis right on the Midtown Greenway.
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