Another Busy Weekend of Events for Cyclists

Cyclists have a lot to choose from this weekend for things to do.  Six events are going on around the Twin Cities the weekend of February 1st through the 3rd.  There is something for everyone, fatbike races, alley cats, ice racing and even a bike swap.

The weekend starts out with the Cash is King Alleycat on Friday night, February 1st at 8 pm.  This warm up for the Stupor Bowl will start and finish at the Trash Bags Headquarters at 515 Washington Avenue North in Minneapolis.  Race or spectate and you can pre-register for the Stupor Bowl while you're there.

Courtesy:  mplsnaccc.com
Saturday, February 2nd is the 16th running of the Stupor Bowl.  Participants will meet up at One on One Bicycle Studio and registration begins at 11:30 am.  Those that pre-register (online registration is now closed) at the Cash is King Alleycat will avoid the long lines.  There are two options for this one, race for speed or race for stupor.  Stick around afterward for the afterparty.  Check out this video from last year to see what it's all about.

Courtesy:  Maple Grove Cycling
The Elm Creek Winter Time Trial takes place on Satuday, February 2nd at Elm Creek Park Reserve in Maple Grove.  Click here for directions.  Registration begins at 10 am and racing begins at 11 am.  Racing is open to anyone age 14 and older.  Pre-registration is available by calling 763-559-6700 for $12, race day registration is $15.  There will be a second race the following weekend and participants can pre-register for both races for $20.  After the race there will be a bonfire, awards and door prizes given out to participants.  For more details call Maple Grove Cycling at 763-420-8878.

Photo Credit:  www.loppet.org
Penn Cycle will be hosting two races this weekend that are part of the City of Lakes Loppet in Minneapolis.  The first is the Penn Ice-Cycle Loppet on Saturday, February 2nd at the lagoon located between Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis.  Heats start at noon and the finals start at 1:30 pm.  It will be a short track race of heats in a criterium format.  Top riders from each heat advance to the next round.  Cash prizes will be awarded.  There is no race-day registration for this event and pre-registration is now closed for those of you that missed out, so come and be a spectator for these exciting races.  Visit the link above for complete details.  Below is video from last year's Penn Ice-Cycle Loppet.

The second race hosted by Penn Cycle is new this year, the Penn Cycle Fat Tire Loppet will be held on Sunday, February 3rd and starts at 2 pm.  Because this race will take place on the ski loppet course, fat tire bikes only are permitted to enter.  The race will start out at Wirth Park skipping the first 8 km of the Loppet course and follow the Freestyle Loppet course to Uptown, a distance of about 15 miles.  Penn Cycle gift cards will be awarded to the top three male and female finishers.  Online registration is now closed but race day registration is available for $40.  Click the link above for complete details.

The 2013 Twin Cites Bike Swap takes place on Sunday, February 3rd from 9 am to 2 pm in the Expo Center at the National Sports Center in Blaine.  Admission is only $5 and that gets you into 11,000 square feet of everything from mountain, BMX, road, cyclocross and vintage bicycles to equipment and parts.  All proceeds go to support the National Sports Center Velodrome.  For directions, click here.

There is something to do for every kind of cyclist this weekend, so get out there and enjoy one or more of these upcoming events.


Cue Sheet for Android Will Keep You on Course

Cue Sheet for Android is a very handy app that I recently came across and downloaded.  I have been waiting for an app that will display cue sheets and a map of a plotted out ride that I could follow and use to stay on course.  This one does it simply and with low battery consumption.

Set up is very simple.  Sign up for a RideWithGPS account, a free one will work fine.  Once your account is set up, use your mouse to hover over "Add Content" and select "Map Ride".  Start drawing out the route you would like to ride, when done save your route, name it and add the description.

Open the Cue Sheet app on your phone, press Menu and then Account to link your RideWithGPS account to the app.  Enter your RideWithGPS login information and then select Save Account Information.

You are now ready to go.  Download the map/cue sheets you created on RideWithGPS under the My Rides tab by selecting the ride you would like to do.  You can also select other RideWithGPS user's rides on the Rides Nearby tab.

Once downloaded, load the map/cue sheet by selecting it.  Make sure GPS is enabled on your smartphone.  Your created map will open up and you have the choice of  using the Cue Sheet mode by selecting Menu and Show Cue Sheet.  Switch back to Map mode by selecting Show on Map or using the Android Back button.

At this time you will need to advance the cue sheet instructions and map view instructions by manually selecting Next.  According to the Cue Sheet app developer, a paid version that will announce turns and advance the instructions automatically is in the works and will be available this spring.

With GPS enabled, the app in Map mode will show your position and direction of travel with a green circle and also show your speed and the distance to the next turn.  Your current position and next turn will remain on the screen at the same time and will zoom in as you approach the next turn.  When you have reached the turn you can select Next and the new instructions will be updated.  Take one step back by selecting Previous.  To extend battery life, use the traditional Cue Sheet mode instead of the Map mode. 

The Cue Sheet app can be used in either Portrait or Landscape view for the Map mode by selecting Menu and then Preferences.  Select Map Rotation Lock then select the Screen Rotation Lock of your choice.

I create a lot of different map routes for my rides on RideWithGPS and I have a feeling I will be using this app a lot for complex, new and unfamiliar rides in the future.  I definitely plan on upgrading to the paid version with the auto-advance feature when it becomes available.  Overall, this is a good start for a ride direction navigation app and I look forward to the improvements the developer makes to it in the future.


Bike Trail Picture of the Day - 1/28/13

Into the fog

Taken 1/28/13

Location:  County Road 82 
Randolph, MN

View BTPOD 1/28/13 in a larger map

New Twitter Account Gives Minneapolis/St. Paul Cyclists Platform for Sharing Road Condition Information

A new Twitter account was launched over the weekend that will retweet Twin Cities road and trail conditions as well as other bike related information from cyclists.  Follow @MSPBikes to stay informed and contribute information via Twitter in real time.

@MSPBikes will auto-retweet the original reply tweets sent to it when done properly that will go out to all of its followers.  This Twitter account will act a a common source of data for cyclists in Minneapolis and St. Paul and will be especially useful for commuters. 

For contributor's tweets to be auto-retweeted they must have the mention "@MSPBikes" at the start of the tweet.  For example:  "@MSPBikes icy spots on the Midtown Greenway between Humbolt & Lyndale."  Messages that do not start in this fashion will not be retweeted.

Let fellow cyclists in the Twin Cities know about this great new real time resource by tweeting about it, mentioning it on Facebook and by word of mouth so it can get up and running the way it was intended.


Bike Trail Picture of the Day - 1/23/13

Cold Minneapolis morning

Taken 1/23/13

Location:  Lake Calhoun
Chain of Lakes Byway District
Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway
Minneapolis, MN

View BTPOD 1/23/13 in a larger map


Get Phat with Pat Race Recap

For those of you that didn't make it to the Get Phat with Pat fatbike race at the Minnesota River Bottoms on Saturday, you missed out on a great time on a challenging course.  Participants showed up ready with all makes of bikes, the majority of which were fatbikes, there were some mountain bikes with studs and even a cyclocross bike or two.

The races started off at 10:00 am with the recreational class followed by the beginner class at 10:15.  The feature of the event was the advanced class race that took riders on two laps of the 9.5 mile course through hilly woods scattered with downed timber, ice covered singletrack, marsh and across standing water covered creek ice.

Participants and spectators stayed warm by the fire while waiting for their race to start or to watch the riders as they came across the finish line.

It was a time for riders to check out each others bikes, discuss components & other bike tech talk and see the new offerings from 9:Zero:7 like the "Beargrease Killer", a special edition fatbike that weighs in at 27 pounds.

The beginner race was won by Bonnie Moebeck of Lakeville for the women and Matthew Nelson of Eden Prairie for the men.

The recreational race was won by Trent Stewart of Eagan.  Second place was taken by Mitch Hoffman of West St. Paul.

At noon it was time for the start of the advanced class race.  Thirty two riders were entered for the big race of the day.  By now the weather had warmed up a little above freezing and the ice and snow on the course was beginning to melt making some stretches a bit muddy.

After some brief instructions for the riders, Pat Sorensen fired the starter pistol and the race was on.

Just under an hour and a half into the race the frontrunners began to cross the finish line.  Charly Tri of Rochester took first place with flair as he bunny-hopped his fatbike over the cones at the finish line.

Second place went to Jeff Young of Monticello who was only about 45 seconds behind the leader.

Barry Tungseth of Stillwater took third place with just under four and a half minutes behind the second place finisher.

For the women in the advanced race, first place went to Chris Kane of Minneapolis.

Second place for the women was taken by Alana Fritz of Bloomington.

Pat drew from contestant entries for the great array of prizes that were to be handed out.  The grand prize was a 9:Zero:7 frame set that was won by Bonnie Moebeck.  She was so excited she ran up to Pat and gave him a big hug.  Congratulations Bonnie!

This year's Get Phat with Pat Race was the first at the Minnesota River Bottoms and was a great success despite the lack of snow and the icy conditions.  Thanks go out to the guys that prepped and marked the course, the course judges, Penn Cycle & their employees and especially Pat Sorensen for putting this whole thing together.  See you next year.

To view all of my photos from the 2013 Get Phat with Pat races go to my Flickr Photostream.


Bike Trail Picture of the Day - 1/19/13

On your mark, get set, go!

Taken 1/19/13

Location:  Get Phat with Pat Race 
Underneath the 35W Bridge
River Valley Trail-West Segment
MN River Bottoms
Bloomington, MN



A Busy Weekend of Winter Racing Coming Up

This weekend is jam packed with winter bike racing.  Some of you have already committed to the race of  your choice, but for those that haven't, it's not too late.  If you have a fat bike or a skinny, there is a race for you.

Penn Cycle is putting on their yearly fatbike race, Get Phat with Pat and it will take place on Saturday, January 19th at the Minnesota River Bottoms in Bloomington.  Registration starts at 9 am the morning of the race and requires a $10 entry fee which puts you in a drawing for great prizes and the grand prize of a 9:zero:7 frame set.  Racing begin at 10 am and the races will include recreational, beginner and advanced classes.  All styles of bikes are welcome to participate.  Penn Cycle gift cards will be awarded for first, second and third place finishers.  Course conditions and number of entries could determine whether there will be a separate, non-fat tire bike class race.

Excelsior Brewing and Erik's Bike Shop present the Arctic Fat Fever Fat Bike Race on Saturday, January 19th at Excelsior Brewing on Lake Minnetonka.  This is a free fat bike only race (3" tire width minimum) that is limited to 200 participants.  There will be a men's and women's race that start at 2:00 and 2:10 pm.  Online registration is now closed but race day registration will be open the day of the event at the registration tent.

Freewheel Bike presents the 4th Annual Lake Minnetonka Ice Race that will be held on Saturday, January 19th at the Lake Minnetonka Regional Park in Minnetrista.  It is brought to you by Three Rivers Park District, Lucid Brewing, Maple Grove Cycling, Hollywood Cycles and Grip Studs.  This race will take place on the icy surface of Lake Minnetonka so studded tires are highly recommended.  Fatties are welcome but not required to race.  There will be a beginner race and a men's and women's open race.  The racing begins at 10:30 and 11:30 am.  $20 pre-registration closes January 17th and includes a swag bag, race day registration opens at 9:30 am and is $25.  More information can be found on the Lake Minnetonka Ice Race Facebook Event Page.

Image Credit:  Mistermoose.org
The 7th Annual Cold Bear Challenge Winter Racing Series race #2 takes place on Sunday, January 20th at Hillside Park in Elk River.  There will be recreational men's & women's classes and advanced men's & women's classes.  Any class can be entered with any bike (fats or skinnies) and registration is $10.  Registration opens at 10:30 am and the races start at noon.  Prizes will be awarded to the top three finishers in each class.  Studded tires are not necessary but will come in handy if conditions are icy.  More information can be found on the MORC Discussion Forum for the event.

If racing isn't your thing and you just want to get out on a ride this weekend, Boehm's Cycle in Mendota Heights is holding the Donut Run Fatbike Poker Run on Saturday, January 19th.  The cards are dealt and the ride starts at Boehm's Cycle where riders will depart at 8:30 am and return around 11:30.  Ride distance is approximately 12 to 15 miles.


IMBA Releases Fat Bike Best Practices

With the fast growing popularity of fatbike winter trail riding has come a few questions regarding trail ethics, procedure and protocol.  What are the some of the rules about riding on snowmobile or Nordic ski trails?  What about public or private lands?  What are the equipment rules I should follow to maintain trail integrity and rider safety?  What should I know about riding on natural backcountry terrain?  

To help mountain bikers become environmentally conscious, maintain rider safety and promote trail courtesy while becoming ambassadors for the sport, the IMBA (International Mountain Bicycling Association) has recently released its Fat Bike Best Practices.  Below are those practices taken from the IMBA website.  Following these guidelines will help develop good relationships with snowmobilers, Nordic skiers and landowners to further the sport of winter fatbiking.  

Fat Bike Best Practices

Yield triangle design by Jake Hawkes/Grand Targhee Resort.

Regarding equipment, what is the bare minimum I need to ride on snow?

  1. Wide tires — deep snow coverage often requires tires wider than 3.5 inches
  2. Tire pressure will usually be less than 10 PSI
  3. You will not leave a rut deeper than one inch in the snow
  4. You are able to safely control your bike and ride in a straight line
  5. You have permission to ride from the land manager

DO NOT RIDE, especially on groomed nordic and snowmobile trails, if you can't meet all of the requirements above.

Best Practices for Riding on Nordic Trails

  • Only ride at ski areas that allow and encourage biking.
  • Yield to all other users when riding. Skiers don't have brakes but you do!
  • Ride on the firmest part of the track.
  • Do not ride on or in the classic tracks.
  • Leave room for skiers to pass (don't ride side-by-side with all of your buddies blocking the full trail).
  • Allow the track time to set up after grooming and before riding.
  • Beware of alternative days for bikes and for skiers.
  • ONLY ride a purpose-built fat bike, not any old mountain bike. Tire tread must be wider than 3.7 inches.
  • Be an ambassador for the sport: stay polite, educate other riders, discourage bad behavior and follow the rules.
  • Help out and get involved by joining your local nordic club.
  • Donate money for trail grooming.

Best Practices for Riding on Snowmobile Trails

  • When riding on snowmobile trails, use a front white blinker and rear red blinker at all times. Wear reflective material on both the front and rear of your body.
  • Stay to the far right of the trail and yield to snowmobiles.
  • Know and obey the rules of your local land manager. Understand that some trails may be on private property and might not be open to alternative uses.
  • Be prepared. Winter travel in the backcountry requires carrying proper gear and dressing properly. Be self-sufficient!
  • Use extreme caution when riding at night. Be visible and always use lights.
  • Be friendly! Fat bikers are the newest users and the snowmobilers you encounter might not be welcoming. Be courteous and open to suggestions.
  • Help out by supporting your local snowmobile club.
  • Donate to trail grooming and maintenance efforts.

Best Practices for Riding on Natural Terrain and in the Backcountry

In the right conditions, a fat bike can be the ultimate winter backcountry travel tool. Frozen conditions and minimal snow coverage (1-5 inches) means access to areas that are impassible during the warmer months. But just because you can ride somewhere doesn't mean you should. Be aware and be prepared.
  • Do not trespass! Know whether or not you are on private property. Obey ALL land manager rules. Some land parcels are closed to bikes whether you are riding on a trail or not.
  • Do not ride through sensitive wildlife habitats. This may be especially important on beaches or in places where animals hibernate. Learn about the area you want to ride in before you ride there.
  • Do not disturb wildlife. Many species survive on minimal diets during winter. Stressors or the need to move quickly can deplete their energy stores.
  • Learn safe ice travel. Riding on frozen water can be extremely dangerous. Is the ice thick enough to support you? Take ice fishing picks and a length of rope when riding on lakes and rivers.
  • Understand changing conditions. New snowfall or warming temperatures can make the return trip much more difficult. Tire tracks can be covered, hard snow can turn to slush, rivers can start to melt. Always know the forecast and be aware of how changing conditions might alter the safe passage of your route.
  • Be prepared. Carry provisions in case you have to stay out longer than planned.
  • Let people know. Make sure someone else knows where you are going, when you left and when you expect to return.
  • Learn to share. Be aware that your tracks might attract other riders. Understand that "your" route might not remain a secret for long.

External Resources

Special thanks to Fitzgerald's Bicycles of Victor, ID, and Salsa Cycles for their guidance.

Snowmobilers pay for use of  trails by supporting their local snowmobile clubs.  These clubs groom and maintain the trails and work with private landowners to secure their use.  It is a good idea to consider helping out and donating to your local club if you use these trails.  To find the local snowmobile club in your area visit the Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association club listing page. The same goes for Nordic trails, get involved, join a club and donate money for trail maintenance and grooming. 

When riding on lake or stream ice, remember that there is no such thing as 100% safe ice.  The MN DNR has put together a couple of webpage of ice safety facts and general ice thickness guidelines.

Help promote a good name for our sport by following the IMBA Fat Bike Best Practices and maintain good relationships with those we share the trails with. 
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