2014 Almanzo 100/Royal 162 Stories

Once again, the 2014 Almanzo & Royal 162 did not fail to challenge racers this year and there is no shortage of accounts of these races being blogged about.  I have compiled a list of some of the best ones here for you to read as well as links to photo galleries and a few videos.  Whether you participated this year or in previous years, are thinking about doing the Almanzo 100/Royal 162 next year or you're a cyclist that would just like to read about what it's like doing the granddaddy of tough gravel grinders, you are sure to enjoy these stories.

To learn more about what is required of the rider to participate in the Almanzo 100 from race founder Chris Skogen, watch this video put together by Royal Antler.

Almanzo 100

The Almanzo 100: Howling for you.
Clodhopper Rides

I've heard the Almanzo described as "just a bike ride, with 1400 of your closest friends." While there was some quickly, perfectly formed friendships, there was also some very lonely miles. I had elation, terror, exhaustion and peace in the space of the day, and not in the order that you might expect. Before we get to details, lets lay down some basics.  Read the full story

Spring Valley, MN – Pt. 2 
Minneapolis Musette

The Almanzo 100 : 10 Thoughts, Observations, Recollections
1. There were four (4) great dogs on this year’s jaunt around Spring Vally, MN. They are as follows :
A(1) – The yellow lab named after an Alaskan peninsula. This dog enjoyed licking legs, head scratches and general crotch sniffing.
B(2) – The black mutt that accompanied the yellow lab named after an Alaskan peninsula. This dog enjoyed occasionally scolding the yellow lab named after an Alaskan peninsula for gluttonous crotch sniffing.  Read the full story

Scene Report: 2014 Almanzo 100
Hot Dog Days

Almanzo 100; Spring Valley, MN; 5/17/14
I’m only 40 years old but goddamn if my body doesn’t feel a lot older than that on most days. Yet I train (when I train, that is) like I’m still 20 despite nothing responding the way I’d like it to. So naturally,I prefer to jump in the deep end when some sort of event comes up. When someone says “Hey let’s do one of those fun mud runs”, I say “OK, how about the Tough Mudder?” Likewise when my training partner suggested I do a bike race, I opted for the Almanzo, which is 100 miles of gravel roads through the hilly farm country of Southeastern Minnesota. 
Read the full Story

Grease Rag Ride & Wrench

Almanzo 100! Where do I begin??? I really had no idea what to expect when I signed up for this race. When I mailed in my postcard in January the longest ride I had ever completed was 65 miles and that was on my road bike. How was I going to survive 100 miles on gravel?  Read the full story

Zero to Hundo: The Big Hurt, Part 1 — Stupid or Smart?

The Big Hurt.
The baseball fans among you may recognize this as the nickname of Hall Of Famer Frank Thomas, so christened because of his prodigious tendency to mercilessly pound baseballs. Thomas used to warm up in the on-deck circle by swinging a rusty piece of rebar salvaged from the ruins of the old Comiskey Park in Chicago.
It’s also how I’ve been referring to the Almanzo 100 since last weekend, after I finished another 100-mile ride — the Fulton Gran Fondo. As documented in my previous post, that experience totaled up to 120 miles in the saddle. And it hurt.  Read the full story

Zero to Hundo: The Big Hurt, Part 2 — Parting Words

The hills of Fillmore County left their dusty footprints all over my backside.
If I were forced to sum up my Almanzo in a single sentence, it’d probably read something like that. Thankfully, I’m not. And in spite of the fact that I’ve already spent a few hundred (or thousand) words talking about Almanzo, here are some more random access memories.  Read the full story

Patina of Gravel Dust- Almanzo 2014
Grease Rag Ride & Wrench

2013 was the first year I rode the Almanzo 100, and it was the hardest thing I had done in my life (brief recognition of this privilege of my relatively easy life). After the haze of suffering had worn off, I sent in my postcard to do it all over again in 2014.  Read the full story

We Three #GENTS
Bicycle Theory

Introducing Almanzo 
Saturday (May 17, 2014) provided another beautiful day for 6,666.6 feet of climbing (and even more descending, it turns out) across 100 miles of southeast Minnesota gravel. Granted, the headwinds (and massive dust) we encountered didn’t help, but the [A] temperature was perfect, [B] our friends at Banjo Brothers once again provided spirit-raising libations at at mile 76 (along with Elvis), and [C] a lucky few even got to ride with some excited horses that wanted to join the fun!
So how did the #GENTS fare?  Read the full story

2014 Almanzo 100 Report 
Cyclova XC

What a blast!  If you've ever ridden a bicycle and you live within a thousand miles of Spring Valley, MN, you really need to make a point of participating in the Almanzo some day!  It's called a "race" but don't let that intimidate you.  The event is super casual (although there is a solid contingent of serious guys too if that's what you're looking for), unsupported, with thousands of chill cyclists out to have a good time and willing to lend a helping hand if you get in a pinch.  I'd call it one of the biggest rolling parties you'll ever see!  Read the full story

Almanzo Wrap Up
Local Knowledge

I never got around to doing this last year so, shame on me.
I was a bit worried about my form this spring knowing what I had to expect after riding Almanzo for the first time last year. A couple of colds this spring, some physical issues that kept me off the bike for a few days, all leading to a concern that I would not go as well at Almanzo this year as compared to last.
I arrived in Spring Valley with 45 minutes to spare before the race started.  Read the full story

Low's 'manzo 2014
Grease Rag Ride & Wrench

For ME, riding 100 miles is hard. Riding almost exclusively through gravel is hard. Climbing 4,702 feet on my trusty and reliable bike is really hard. Last year's race put me through the ringer, and was one of the top five physical challenges I've done in my life so far. I started calling it the AlmanzNO, because of how difficult last year's race was, and the intense "racer" vibe. But I love challenging myself and I had such a good time riding with Kat, that when she asked me to ride with her again this year, I answered without hesitation. "Yes!"  Read the full story

Almanzo100 recap, thoughts, and lessons learned…

Where do I even begin…
Sometime back in January I decided to send in my postcard to ride the Almanzo100.  (If you didn’t watch the video above, do so now.)
Why? Well, first of all, 100 miles of gravel and climbing hills in southern MN sounds great on -10F day when you haven’t seen the sun in 30 days.  Second, I thought it would give me motivation to ride the trainer a lot this winter.  Lastly, it seemed like a good early training tool for the Triple Bypass Ride I am signed up for in July.  Read the full story

Image Credit: Sveta Kovalchuk

Sveta's Almanzo
Grease Rag Ride & Wrench

Almanzo begins in January when you send your postcard in to register for the race. Then, a month before the race, the constant “Almanzo” talk begins on Facebook.
On the way to Rochester you realize that everyone is headed to Almanzo - hundreds of cars are on the road with bicycles.
2014 is my third Almanzo. In 2012 I finished on a mountain bike. In 2013, on a 29er.
In 2012, on a downhill I fell hard and crashed 30 miles after the start - so the biggest challenge for me was just to finish.
In 2013, I was not in very good physical shape.
This year, up until the last day I could not decide on what bike to ride: my Salsa Fargo or my fat bike.  Read the full story

Almanzo 2014
France Barbeau Photography

This year I decided to race in the Almanzo 100, it was my first gravel race. I spent a lot of time trying to get ready for both the camping and racing. I've come to realize that you could never feel ready, you just have to go for it!

First off, I got a lot of help through friends and the bike community, especially the seminar that Natalia Mendez, Megan Barr and Loretta Trevino hosted weeks before the race for Riotgrrravel. Of course I knew I needed food, tools, a variety of bike tools and things to carry those things in, but they got into more detail. There were a few that I had to borrow or buy and thanks to our sponsor Sunrise Cyclery, through team Koochella, I was able to purchase with a discount.  Read the full story

Crushing Gravel Part 5: Turning Gravel into Dust at Almanzo
Two Wheels from Home

Somewhere between the miles of 50-65, on this year's Almanzo 100, I gazed out into the farm fields and began to laugh.  To my knowledge, no one was around to hear me.  It began as laughing at the universe for sending me a sign, and turned into laughing at myself for how pitiful I felt for a few miles.  What started this hysterical laughter--it may or may not have been only in my head--I wouldn't know since no one was around to stare and ask if I was alright?  Read the full story

The Oasis At the Almanzo 100 2014 Edition
Banjo Blog

One week ago we hosted an unoffical water stop at mile 78 in the Township of Cherry Grove, Minnesota. Almanzo weekend consists of three totally self-supported events: The Almanzo 100, The Royal 162 and the nearly 400 Mile Alexander. The Almanzo got started back in 2007 and was founded by Chris Skogen. The 100 mile route rolls though Southern Minnesota's Filmore county. The gravel course features nearly 8000 feet of vertical climbing in some of the most picturesque scenery Minnesota has to offer.  Read the full story

100 Miles of Gravel: Riding Almanzo
Patrick Stephenson-StarTribune

This past Saturday, a couple thousand cyclists from Minnesota (and around the Earth!) participated in the Almanzo 100. Named after Laura Ingalls Wilder's husband and staged in Southeastern Minnesota, the Almanzo is a 100-mile gravel race, with gnarly roads, epic hills and even river crossings. In short, it's a century that's a bit hardier than the norm. "Think of the worst piece of asphalt you've ever ridden," organizer Chris Skogen has told Men's Journal, "and it's just a little worse than that."
After not having owned a bike for 15 years, Robbinsdale resident Josh Freeman rode this year's Almanzo, on a brand-new steed. I asked him a few questions to get the lowdown: Why ride it? What makes it hard? And will he do it again?  Read the full story

Royal 162

The Royal 162
The Scales: Balancing Bikes and Everything Else

The Royal 162 is the big brother of the Almanzo 100 gravel road race created and organized by Chris Skogan. The Royal starts and ends in Spring Valley, MN. Along the mostly, and i mean nearly entirely, gravel roads, one can really take in the beauty of spring in southern Minnesota/northern Iowa. The gravel roads take you in and out of the valleys, along creeks and streams, thru Amish communities, and by many-a-barn. A great way to spend the day is about all I can say.  Read the full story

Royal Ride
Snow & Gravel

Saturday’s Royal 162 gravel race was exactly the race I needed to have. In the weeks leading up to the event – my longest-ever, at least in terms of distance – I felt that I hadn’t done nearly enough riding to prepare but that I needed to do well to rebuild my sense of confidence in my riding.
My last race, the Fat Pursuit in March, had not been a failure, but I had not, in the end, crossed the finish line, which has rankled ever since. And in the month before the Royal, two separate illnesses (birthday strep and then a nagging cough last week) ruined my plans for several big rides and several other hard workouts – efforts that would have had good physical and mental payoffs, readying the legs and the mind.  Read the full story

Loretta's Royal Almanzo 2014
Grease Rag Ride & Wrench

This past weekend was my fourth visit to Spring Valley, Minnesota. The previous visits were to ride the Gentleman's ride and race the Almanzo. These roads are where my passion for gravel racing was born. If you take a minute to look up, the south eastern country side of Minnesota is breathtaking. After completing the 100 mile Almanzo course, I wanted to see if I could push myself to do the Royal, which adds 60 more miles onto the already brutal course. In preparation, I went on several solo adventure gravel rides. I needed to prove to myself I could be on the bike alone for 12+ hours. Read the full story

Royal 162
non-coastal simulacral extravaganza

There's this thing with gravel events. You send in a postcard months in advance. It's usually deep in the winter. You're dreaming of summer. You're eager to put training plans into place to meet this year's goal. And then, life happens...as do long-winded race write-ups...

This year, rather than making a third year in a row of the very fine, wonderfully challenging Almanzo 100, I instead opted for its more ambitious companion, the Royal 162. (No, I didn't go for the 380+ mile Alexander, as much as the fellas tried to get me to change my mind the night before...) It would serve as my May Hundy-of-the-Month Club ride -- 14 months in a row -- and with a course as beautiful as the Almanzo, I was up for taking on a few more hours of scenery and a little less dust and ditch-to-ditch bike traffic at the start.  Read the full story

Royal 162
What I Do

I don't even know where to start. What a day. I guess it started back in September 2013 when Diana and I were choosing a wedding date. I told her that every weekend was open EXCEPT the weekend after Mother's Day. That weekend is never going to be open.
Then January rolled around and I got out a postcard and instead of writing Almanzo 100 as I had for the past 4 years, I slowly wrote Royal 162.  Read the full story


Almanzo 100 - 2014
MN Bike Trail Navigator

Almanzo 2014
Craig Linder

2014 Almanzo Royal 162
Scott Redd

The Almanzo 100
Nate Ryan Photography and Motion

Almanzo 100
Justin Lackner

The Royal 162
Jeremy Kershaw Photography


2014 Almanzo River Crossing PSA #3 

Almanzo 100 - May 17th 2014- Attack of the Horses

Water Crossing at the 2014 Almanzo 100 

Riding the water crossing at the 2014 Almanzo 100

Almanzo 100 start

Biking with horses - Almanzo 100

almanzo100 2014 

Running with Almanzo.  


Almanzo 100 Course

Royal 162 Course


  1. Thanks for featuring my post, and for collecting all these stories, it was a great day.

    Also, I pretty sure you shared some of your turkey jerky with me at the river crossing. It was dang tasty and much appreciated. Thanks!


  2. Nate, it must have been some other considerate cyclist that gave you the jerky at the river crossing. I wished I had some that day, but the Hamm's beer the Banjo Bros. crew at Cherry Grove handed me sure hit the spot. It definitely was a great day for the Almanzo.


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