Penn Cycle Group Ride Tailgate Series Gravel Ride Set For May 3rd

Penn Cycle has put together another of its Group Ride Tailgate Series rides and it's coming up Sunday, May 3rd.  The Penn Cycle Group Ride Tailgate Series-Gravel Ride was set up to be a fun, challenging group ride to get cyclists ready for the Almanzo 100 coming up two weeks afterward.

This ride-at-your-own-pace event will take participants on a challenging 56 mile course with great scenery and plenty of climbing.  Group riding with your friends is encouraged and bringing everything you need to be self-sufficient out on the course is recommended.   

A minimum maintenance road with a 14 degree grade climb, single lane gravel, plenty of rollers and some great veiws of the Cannon River and Sogn Valleys make this a unique gravel riding experience close to the Twin Cities.

Riders will meet at Caron Park near Northfield around 8:30 am and roll out at 9:00 am.  Caron Park will serve as the start and finishing point for the 56 mile loop.  

After the ride Penn Cycle will be having a grill out at the park's pavilion with food, water and soft drinks provided.  Park rules permit beer consumption (glass containers prohibited) if you would like bring your own and tilt a can or two after the ride.

For more details or if you plan to attend, please visit the Penn Cycle Group Ride Tailgate Series-Gravel Ride Facebook event page and RSVP by selecting "Going".  Feel free to invite your gravel riding friends to visit the event page or share the it on social media.


Tour of Filmore Returns For Second Year

Drew Wilson, the man behind the Dickie Scramble is bringing back the Tour of Filmore for a second year.  Last year's tour took riders on a challenging route that started and finished in Lanesboro with plenty of hills and beautiful scenery.  The route was as challenging as Almanzo with almost 5,000 feet of climbing in 66 miles.

Drew knows this area well and the route for the 2015 Tour of Filmore is bound to be an adventure with more single lane gravel, long climbs and fantastic views.  Though the route has not yet been determined, it will start and finish in Lanesboro for a distance of around 75 miles.

This fun event allows those that decide to take on the challenge to make it as competitive as they like.  "This is a ride for anyone who is interested in riding a great route and doing so for free." 
The Tour of Filmore will take place on Sunday, September 27th at 9:00 am.

 After the ride there will be a grill out in the city park.  Camping will be available Saturday night.  The Penn Cycle Support Ambulance will be on hand for rider support.  More details will be made available as the route develops.

Image Credit: Gal Alon

Registration for this free gravel event is informal and can be done with a visit to the 2015 Tour of Filmore Facebook event page by selecting "Going".  Drew asks those that register, "please do not say you will attend and then not".   Spread the word to friends and family that would like to take on the challenge of the Tour of Filmore and I will see you there this September.


Pat Sorensen Talks Almanzo 100 on The Riding Gravel Radio Ranch Podcast

Penn Cycle owner Pat Sorensen recently joined Mountain Bike Radio's Ben Welnak on the seventh episode of the Riding Gravel Radio Ranch podcast to talk about the Almanzo 100.  This is a special race to Pat for very personal reasons.  He describes why he rides, the challenges the course presents and how Penn Cycle got involved to help Spring Valley Tourism with the giant task of putting on a free gravel race for over a thousand cyclists.

Details of Almanzo weekend including registration, Friday night packet pick-up, the Royal 162 and Alexander 380 are also discussed.

Image Credit: Gal Alon

The new Penn Cycle Support Ambulance will make an appearance at Almanzo, other gravel events and numerous cycling rides and races throughout the year.  Pat tells the story of how his idea for this support vehicle became a reality.  To finish off the interview he and Ben talk about his other passion that starts May 7th, Thursday Night at the races.

You can listen to the episode by visiting the Riding Gravel Radio Ranch podcast page, Stitcher or download the Mountain Bike Radio app to listen on your Apple or Android device.


Penn Cycle To Host Two Weekly Mountain Bike Rides This Spring and Summer

The 2015 Women's Wednesday Night Mountain Bike Ride is open to women of all riding abilities.  Riders must be at least 18 years of age and helmets are required.  The ride schedule starts May 27th and goes through September 16th where it will wrap up with an end of the season party.

Trail locations include Lebanon Hills, Murphey-Hanrehan, MN River Bottoms, Terrace Oaks, Carver Lake Park and Theodore Wirth Park.  Depending on the trail location, riders will meet either at the park or the nearest Penn Cycle store.  Rides leave at 6pm.  June 24th at Lebanon Hills will include a Giant Liv Demo and skills session.  Ride leaders Valerie Dosland and Janet Atkinson can be contacted for more information.  See the ride schedule for dates, locations and contact information.

The 2015 Penn Cycle Tuesday Night Mountain Bike Ride was put together and will be led by members of the Penn Cycle Mountain Bike Team.  It is for anyone (male or female) that has intermediate to advanced MTB riding skills.  Riders must be at least 18 years of age and helmets are required.  The ride schedule starts May 5th and goes through September 29th.

Trail locations include Lebanon Hills, Murphey-Hanrehan and the MN River Bottoms.  All rides will start/finish at the Penn Cycle Eagan store located at 2290 Cliff Road and will depart at 5:30pm sharp.  Ride locations will be determined by ride leaders by Sunday for the following Tuesday and will be posted on the Penn Cycle Tuesday Night Mountain Bike Ride Facebook Group.  Join the group to stay in the loop.  In cases of inclement weather or trail closures due to wet conditions, a decision to cancel the ride will be made by 5:00 pm.  Call Penn Cycle Eagan at 651-882-1241 for more information or for availability of mountain bike rentals.


Gravel Training Grounds Close to the Twin Cities

Now that the weather is warming and Almanzo is coming up fast you'll probably want to get some gravel training time in saddle.  You don't have to drive that far from the Twin Cities to find some very scenic gravel roads with some hills to climb.  Living in the South Metro for many years, I have come across some good spots to crush gravel close to home.

The Cannon River Valley

The Cannon River Valley has been a long time favorite of mine not only for the beauty of the area, but the big climbs and long descents too.  Below are two short loops that are easily accessible from the Welch Station on the Cannon Valley Trail.  Though these loops may not be that long they have some good extended climbs to train on.  Ride them both clockwise or counter-clockwise to turn those long descents into a new climb or combine them for a longer ride.

Welch North Loop

Welch South Loop

To add some distance riding in this area, try riding the Miesville FiftySix or Miesville Redux routes.  These will give you around 56 and 42 miles.

Cutler Hill Rd/Collischan Road

There are many more route options in the Cannon River Valley including Cutler Hill Road and Collischan Road (which becomes a Minimum Maintenance Road and dead ends near some sloughs near Pool 3 on the Mississippi River) just a mile North of the Cannon Valley Trail on HWY 61 (East side).  Use Strava, RideWithGPS, Runtastic or MapMyRide to map out a new route in this area while in Satellite mode on the map (zoom in to see where the gravel roads are).  These websites will allow syncing of the route to the app on your phone, downloading a gpx file to your Garmin and some will let you print cuesheets.  The possibilities are unlimited.

Northfield/Cannon Falls/Nerstrand Area

Another favorite area of mine was introduced to me by members of the Cannon Valley Velo Club.  These cyclists know all of the best gravel road routes in this area and ride them regularly.  I had a chance to ride with them and they took me through some beautiful countryside with some challenging climbs.

Last Fall I wanted to get in some training for the Tour of Filmore and the Filthy 50 so I contacted Christopher Tassava, who regularly rides gravel in this area, for some route suggestions.  Through his help I was introduced to some beautiful areas with single lane gravel, a minimum maintenance road, breathtaking views and some challenging climbs.  Thanks, Christopher.

The following route starts at Bridge Square in Northfield and will take you around 55 miles and provide close to 3,000 feet of climbing.  It will bring you along the Cannon River toward Lake Byllesby before heading South to two of my favorite areas of the route, Shady Lane Trail and Sogn Valley Trail.  Southwest from there the route will take you through the Nerstrand Big Woods State Park and past Caron Park, both good spots to stop and take a break.  Next is the climb up Farmer Trail before heading North back into Northfield. 

Northfield/Nerstrand Gravel Loop

There are many more options to crush gravel in this area.  Satellite view on Google Maps will help you plan a new route.  Use one of the above mentioned cycling app websites to make navigation easier.  The Cannon Valley Velo Club mixes it up with a variety of gravel rides that they post regularly on their Facebook group page.  Join them for a ride sometime, they are a great group of cyclists.
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