2013 Minnesota Gravel Grinders

Rural Minnesota is home to quite a few long distance gravel road races.  With their varying terrain, minimum maintenance roads, extreme elevation changes and unpredictable weather, these races will challenge even the hardiest cyclists.  These unsupported races cover very long distances requiring the participant to be their own repair and support crew.  Training is a must if you plan on conquering one of these this year.

Looking to start off the season with some practice?  The Lakeville-Milltown-Lakeville race will help get you ready.  It kicks off  March 23rd and is, according to race's blog "80+ miles of  a mix of gravel, tar, ditch, swamp, single/doubletrack, and probably snow, ice and snirt.  Oh, 4,700 feet of climb."  The race will start and finish at Harry's Cafe in Lakeville with an approximate 35 mile trek each way (to and from) Milltown Cycles in Faribault.  Donations are accepted to cover the cost of event insurance and more information and registration details can be found on the Lakeville-Milltown-Lakeville blog.  Race capped at 50 participants.

Image Credit:  ragnarok105.blogspot.com
The season kicks off with the Ragnarök 105 on April 13th and travels through the steep hill country south of Red Wing.  If you are looking to try this one, you'll have to wait until next year as the registration deadline was December 31, 2012.

The Dickie Scramble takes place on May 5th and the race route will start and finish in Elgin traveling approximately 120 miles through southern Minnesota hill country.  Postcard entries will be accepted the month of January.  Registration now closed.

Image Credit:  almanzo.com
The Almanzo 100 and The Royal 162 will take place this year on May 18th in Spring Valley.  The names speak for themselves when it comes to the mileage.  Racers will get a tour of southern Minnesota's bluff country on gravel roads with large climbs and descents.  These races will definitely test a riders legs and stamina.  Postcard entries are being accepted the month of January.  Registration now closed.

Image Credit:  almanzo.com
New this year from those that brought you the Almanzo 100 and the Royal 162 is the Alexander, a 400 mile bikepacking gravel tour through southern Minnesota that riders can race or go at it at an easy pace.  It will take place May 17th through the 19th.  Participants will receive a course map with a list of locations along the route.  Postcard registrations will not be accepted for this one, you will have to contact event coordinators via e-mail.

Image Credit:  dirtybenjamin.blogspot.com
The Westside Dirty Benjamin is a 107 mile gravel race that starts in Chaska and ventures through the rolling countryside of Carver and Winstead counties.  It will take place on June 15th.  This is a free race that is open to all kinds of bikes and the course will require the use of cue cards to navigate.  A 200 rider entry cap has been set and postcard entries will be taken the month of February until the cap is reached. For registration information, click here.  Registration now closed.

The on average hottest day of the year, July 21st, will host the Dirty Lemming Gravel Grinder, a 100 mile or 100 kilometer gravel race.  The race has been moved up one day to July 20th to coincide with the 2013 Rails to Trails Festival in Watertown.  This free race will start west of the Twin Cities in Watertown.  The course will not be marked so cue sheets or a gpx file for GPS users will be provided.  Cyclocross or mountain bikes are recommended by the race organizer for this one.  Postcard registrations will be accepted starting April 1st until the roster is full.  For ride details, click here.  Registration closed.

Image Credit:  Derek Chinn  inspirationgravel.com
The Inspiration 50 will be a spring warm up ride in the Inspiration Peak area near Urbank that is scheduled for May 4th.  No registration required, RSVP for this one.  The Inspiration 100 will take place on September 7th in Garfield around the Leaf Mountain area of Inspiration Peak.  Postcard registration is July 1-31.  The first 100 legible postcards received will be in the race, beyond that there will be a waiting list.  Check the Inspiration Gravel website for more details.

Image Credit:  gravelconspiracy.blogspot.com
Gravel Conspiracy 2013:  Laurential Divide is a 3-day ride September 13th-15th.  The route travels through Superior National Forest starting in Grand Marais encompassing 60 to 100 miles each day on mostly forest service and logging roads.  This event will be limited to 75 riders due to US Forest Service rules.  Registration starts May 1st.

Image Credit:  heckofthenorth.blogspot.com
Heck of the North Gravel Cycling Classic is scheduled for September 28th in Duluth.  Postcard entries will be accepted May 1st through the 31st.  The organizer is looking to start 150 riders and will register 200.  Above that there will be a lottery and special consideration for past top 10 finishers and veteran riders.  For updates or questions about the race visit the Facebook page

The fourth running of The Dirt Bag Ride will take place on October 19th in Clearwater, MN.  Postcard entries will be accepted and riders limited to 100.  More information about the ride and registration will be posted at a later date on the blog and Facebook page.

Being that these rides are all self supported, it is essential that you are prepared.  Click here for a post from the Almanzo 100 blog that contains a list of required and suggested items to prepare you for a gravel grinder.  A cue sheet holder is also very handy for easy viewing of cue sheets when navigating the course.

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