MN DNR Issues News Release Regarding Winter Trail Use & Fatbikes

The Minnesota DNR issued a news release on February 14th in response to an increase in winter trail recreation.  With more interest in winter cycling (fatbiking), questions have arisen concerning trail use designation and restrictions.  This news release addresses ski trails, State Trails and over 21,000 miles of Grant-in-aid snowmobile trails and should clear up some of the confusion of where fatbikes are allowed.


With winter trail recreation strong, DNR urges caution

(Released February 14, 2014)
With winter trail recreation up this year, the Department of Natural Resources advises people to be aware that some winter trails, such as groomed ski trails, are not open to bicyclists.

“We have had a great snowmobile and cross-country ski season so far,” said Andrew Korsberg, state trail program coordinator for the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division. “Snowmobile registrations and ski pass sales are up from last year, and we have seen an increased interest in other types of winter sports, such as winter bicycling.”

The DNR grooms, plows and packs trails for many types of winter recreation and asks trail users to pay close attention to which are which. There are legal restrictions on trail use in some cases and safety considerations in others.

In addition to the usual questions about whether it’s OK to walk or snowshoe on groomed ski trails (it’s not), the DNR has been getting a variety of questions this year about where fat bikes are allowed. Fat bikes have wide, low-pressure tires designed for use on snow and sand. They are not allowed on groomed ski trails. They are also prohibited on the state’s 21,000 miles of grant-in-aid snowmobile trails, many of which are on private property, where landowners have given permission only for snowmobiling.

For winter cycling enthusiasts, there are an increasing number of places to ride fat bikes throughout the state. There are about 10 miles of groomed trails for fat bikes at Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area near Brainerd.

The DNR also allows fat bikes on two state trails in the Twin Cities. In the east metro, fat bikes can ride the 12-mile stretch of the Gateway State Trail from Cayuga Street to Jamaca Avenue. In the west metro, they can ride the 7-mile segment of the Luce Line State Trail, from Vicksburg Lane to Stubbs Bay Road.

Find more information about the fat-bike trails at Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area.

Find maps of the Gateway and Luce Line state trails online or contact the DNR Information Center at info.dnr@state.mn.us or call 651-296-6157, toll-free 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.


Product Review: A'ME Ergo Tri Heated MTB Grips

On winter bike rides hands are usually the first to get cold.  Cold fingers reduce dexterity for shifting and braking and can cause a cyclist to cut a ride short.  There are many ways to avoid this fate through the use of gloves, lobster mitts, pogies and chemical hand warmers, but the most effective method I found is by using heated handlebar grips.  In combination with gloves, mitts or pogies, heated handlebar grips can keep your hands warm for hours in the coldest of weather.  With the below average temperatures we have been having in Minnesota this winter, I was glad to have the opportunity to test a set of A'ME Ergo Tri Heated MTB Grips so I could stay out longer and not have to deal with numb fingers.

A'ME Ergo Tri Heated MTB Grips are made with a special Vulcathane™ rubber compound with a triangle pattern that provides a comfortable and tacky grip and long wear durabilty.  These grips feature bluPulse™ ‘Adaptive Thermal Regulation’ technology with six different temperature settings that can be selected by pushing a button.  They are powered by a rechargeable 11.1 volt Lithium-Ion Polymer Battery Pack that can be mounted to a frame tube or handlebar stem and have watertight connectors.  The clamp-on design of the grips makes installation easy and keeps them securely in place without any slipping. 

Each grip has its own temperature control that is adjusted by pushing the button near the clamp.  Six settings provide a temperature range of  from 90º to 130º depending on the need of the rider.  Push the button once to turn on the grip and the blue light will flash one time (lowest setting), push more and the blue light will flash accordingly to indicate the setting all the way up to the sixth (highest).  When the button is pushed on level six, it will return the setting to level one.  With each setting the blue light will pulse from bright to dim until that setting temperature is achieved where it will stop pulsating and remain dimly lit.  For best performance, the manufacturer recommends carbon fiber bars, aluminum bars tend to be a heat sink and draw the heat out of the grips into the bar making the battery work harder to maintain the setting temperature.

I tested the A'ME Ergo Tri Heated MTB Grips in a variety of conditions, with different gloves and with/without the use of a set of pogies.  In warmer conditions (high 20's to low 40's F), I rode without pogies using the grips in combination with a pair of fingerless gloves I usually use in the summertime.  Only the two lowest settings were needed to keep my hands warm, anything higher than this was too hot.  The battery easily kept the grips heated on these low settings for my rides lasting up to three hours. 

During cold temperatures (teens to twenties ºF) I would wear a pair of full finger Louis Garneau Roubaix gloves with the heated grips and this was more than enough to keep my hands warm.  The lowest three settings were all that was needed depending on the temperature outside.

For single digits to subzero temperatures ºF I would wear the Roubaix gloves with a set of pogies.  This was the ultimate set up for the bitter cold.  The pogies cut the wind and provided some extra insulation in addition to the gloves.  Once again, only the three lowest settings of the A'ME grips were needed, anything higher and my hands would get too hot and begin to sweat.  I never had to use heat settings four through six during any of my rides, the lower settings sufficiently kept my hands warm.  I suppose the higher settings could be used with thicker insulated gloves when outdoor temperatures reach -10 to -40º F and doing so would shorten battery life.

The A'ME Ergo Tri Heated MTB Grips had enough battery life to keep my hands warm on my rides which usually lasted up to three hours.  The outside temperature and choice of gloves and/or pogies will determine what heat setting will work best.  I always used the lowest setting where my hands were comfortable and didn't sweat too much.  Doing this would give me the longest battery life possible.  Recharging the battery will take several hours, so make sure you have it fully charged in advance.

If your hands get cold easily while biking in the winter or you would like to extend your ride time by having the option to warm your hands while you ride, then you will definitely like the Ergo Tri Heated MTB Grips from A'ME.  They have a tacky grip that works well with all types of gloves and will allow you to stay out longer in the cold with better finger dexterity for shifting and braking. 

 The A'ME Ergo Tri Heated MTB Grips complete kit is available on the A'ME website for $199.00 and includes the grips, battery pack, battery charger and mounting system.  The grips come in two colors, black and grey.  A'ME provides a 6 month grip replacement for manufacturer defects and a 2-year half-price replacement warranty on the grips for damage due to fall or excessive wear.

 Disclosure:  Gripos, LLC provided the review sample for this article, but offered no other form of compensation for this review.


2014 Arrowhead 135 Stories

The 2014 Arrowhead Ultra 135 lived up to its reputation as one of the world's toughest ultra-endurance races with extreme cold putting these athletes' minds and bodies to the ultimate test.  Participants have 60 hours to complete the 135 mile trek from International Falls to Fortune Bay Casino in Tower on the Arrowhead State Trail.  Racers are required to stop at three checkpoints that are spaced about 35 miles apart, where race officials can pull a racer due to frostbite or other medical concerns.  With the second coldest start (-24º F) in the history of the Arrowhead 135 accompanied by even colder winchills, these brutal conditions resulted in only 34% of the 141 runners, skiers and bikers completing the race.  I have compiled all of the stories, photos, video and news articles of  racers who chose bike propulsion pertaining to this year's epic race.  For full race results, click here.

Image Credit:  David Garbys, 45NRTH

To get a taste of what the Arrowhead Ultra 135 requires from the athletes that take on this monumental challenge, watch "Salsa Cycles - The Push"

Map of Arrowhead 135 course

Race Participants:  Bike Propulsion

Jay Petervary
Image Credit:  Arrowhead 135

Tom Puzak
Image Credit:  Arrowhead 135

Tracey Petervary
Image Credit:  Arrowhead 135

Christopher Tassava
Image Credit:  Arrowhead 135

Ken Zylstra
Image Credit:  Arrowhead 135

Richard Chinn
Image Credit:  Arrowhead 135
Erv Berglund
Image Credit:  Arrowhead 135

Judd Rohwer
Image Credit:  Arrowhead 135

Mark Scotch

Arrowhead 2014
Matt Burton-Kelly 

Alan Dixon

Arrowhead 2014 Racer’s Recap

Ben Doom

2014 Arrowhead 135 Press

Arrowhead 135 endurance racers experience the wild of a north woods winter-Duluth News Tribune
Arrowhead 135: The story behind the photos-MPR News

2014 Finisher pics!-Arrowhead 135
Mobile Uploads-Arrowhead 135
Photos: The brutal Arrowhead 135 Ultra-MPR News
2014 Arrowhead 135-bjorn1101
2014-1-27 Arrowhead 135 Ultra-Burgess Eberhardt
Jay Petervary’s Arrowhead 135 Victory In Photographs-David Garbys (45NRTH)
Race 2014-Sveta Kovalchuk



Product Review: Columbia Bugaboot Plus II Omni-Heat

When it came time to select a warm, lightweight boot at a reasonable price for winter biking, I did a little research and tried on pairs from several different manufacturers.  What I was looking for was a boot that could handle the varying conditions experienced riding during a Minnesota winter.  I chose the Columbia Bugaboot Plus II Omni-Heat because it is very lightweight (size 9, ½ pair = 24 oz), waterproof, flexible and has an outsole that would grip nicely on a good set of pinned, flat pedals.

The Bugaboot Plus II Omni-Heat features a seam sealed Techlite shell, 200 grams of Columbia's patented thermal reflective Omni-Heat insulation (rated to -25° F) and is fully waterproof.  The Omni-Grip rubber outsole has been designed to provide greater traction on all types of winter terrain. 

I have had a couple of months to test them out in all types of winter conditions.  During this time I have worn them riding in temperatures from -10º to +40º F providing me with a good assessment of how they perform.  The cold weather features of the boot's design and how they handle a Minnesota winter would become apparent when putting them through this real-world testing.

I first started wearing them back in November when we didn't have any snow here in the Twin Cities but it was plenty cold on my morning rides.  The temperatures were usually in the twenties to around freezing and wearing the boots with a thin wool sock was sufficient to keep my feet warm for hours.  The waterproof qualities of the boot were beneficial for keeping dry when riding through puddles and wet areas.  During afternoon rides when the temperatures would hover between freezing and the low forties my feet were warm without overheating and wearing a thin wool sock wicked away any perspiration.

In December came the snow and cold weather I was waiting for.  Temperatures remained below average for the next couple of months and the Bugaboot kept my feet warm on rides which usually lasted two to four hours.  During extreme cold where temperatures were sub-zero, I could only get one to two hours of riding in before my feet would start to get cold and toe numbness would set in.  To help extend my rides during these times of extreme cold, I would pair the Bugaboot with Grabber Toe Warmers and Foot Warmers which worked well.  These chemical warmers would give me extra hours of warmth while wearing the boots and I only found them necessary during times when temperatures were in the teens to below zero.  *Note:  Wool socks were worn during testing, one or two pair depending on the outside temperature.

The Bugaboot works great with a set of  gaiters to keep snow out and help calves stay warm and dry during the occasional hike-a-bike through the deeper stuff.  They have a steel eyelet at the base of the lacing to hook the gaiters in place.  The outsole provided excellent traction when using my flat, pinned pedals.  Even when conditions became icy, I never had a problem with my feet slipping off the pedals.  On the occasions I had to put a foot down to keep the bike up on icy trails, the Omni-Grip outsole grabbed nicely on a variety of ice an snow covered surfaces.  The thing I like most about these boots is their lightweight, non-bulky design.  Even with their eight inch height, they remained flexible and allowed free movement when pedaling.  For any flat pedal winter cyclist looking to purchase a high quality and more affordable option to those expensive winter cycling boots, I would definitely recommend the Columbia Bugaboot Plus II Omni-Heat. 

Image Credit:  Columbia Sportswear

The Columbia Bugaboot Plus II Omni-Heat is available in men's, women's and children's sizes at Columbia.com, Columbia retail store locations and from outdoor and online retailers.  A pair lists for $120, but shop around to find better pricing.

Disclosure:  Columbia Sportswear provided the review sample for this article, but offered no other form of compensation for this review.


Registration for the 2014 Minnesota Ironman Bicycle Ride is now Open

Registration for the 48th annual Minnesota Ironman Bicycle Ride is now open, a sure sign that Spring is just around the corner.   This year's MIBR returns to the Washington County Fairground in Stillwater on April 27th.

4696 cyclists turned out last year for the MIBR which traditionally kicks off the Spring riding season and this year promises to be even better.  Improvements for 2014 will include faster parking and more bathrooms.

There will be four routes to choose from that use the Washington County Fairgrounds as a centralized hub.  These routes will include a 58 mile Scandia Loop, 27 mile Afton Loop, 14 mile Afton Cut-Off Loop and a 29 mile Gateway Loop.  These tentative routes routes can be ridden individually or combined for 100, 60, 30 and 15 mile rides.  A PDF of the the Tentative 2014 MIBR Routes is now available for download.

The MIBR attracts all types of cyclists from beginners, middle distance riders and the experienced long distance century riders.  The scenery, challenging terrain and small towns along the routes make this truly a great ride to take part in.  

Individual Early Bird Registration runs from February 1st through 28th for only $30.  Regular Registration is from March 1st through April 14th and is $40.  A $5 Team Registration discount is available during the Regular Registration period for each individual team rider.  See the MIBR Registration Page for more details.   To register online today, click here.

Keep up-to-date by following the Minnesota Ironman Bicycle Ride on Twitter @mnironmanride or liking on Facebook.  The Minnesota Ironman Bicycle Ride benefits Hostelling International USA, a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization.

To see all of my photos from the 2013 Minnesota Ironman Bicycle Ride, visit my Flickr set.
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