Three Trail Grand Openings Set for this Spring

Two existing trails and one new one have some new mileage that will have Grand Opening celebrations later this Spring.

Mississippi River Regional Trail
Image Credit: Dakota County Parks

Dakota County Parks will hold the Mississippi River Trail Grand Opening on Saturday, May 20th from 9am to noon at Spring Lake Park Reserve/Schaar's Bluff in Hastings.  This newly completed 4.3 mile section is now open and contains three overlooks and two bridges spanning a total of approximately 570 feet with overlook decks on each.  Visit Dakota County Parks' Trail Construction page and the Project Overview Map page for more information about the trail.

Mill Towns State Trail
Image Credit: Dakota County Parks

Another new segment of trail made possible with cooperation from Dakota County Parks, Goodhue County and the Minnesota DNR is the part of the Mill Towns State Trail in Cannon Falls.  The Mill Towns State Trail Grand Opening takes place Saturday, June 3rd from 2 to 5pm.  "Festivities will include activity stations along the trail, naturalist programs, refreshments and a community bike ride. More information to come soon."
Minnesota River Greenway

The Minnesota River Greenway was made possible by Dakota County, the City of Burnsville, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Xcel Energy.  This new stretch of trail runs from HWY 77 to 35W (3.5 miles) along the south side of the Minnesota River.  The Minnesota River Greenway Grand Opening celebration is on Saturday, June 3rd from 10am to noon with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 10:15am.  The Grand Opening will be held at Minnesota Riverfront Park in Burnsville.  "Festivities will include activity stations along the trail, naturalist programs, refreshments and free bikes available for check-out."


Filthy 50 Registration Opens First Day of Spring

The Filthy 50 returns in 2017 for its fifth year and has become a tradition for many gravel enthusiasts.  Cyclists come from all over Minnesota and neighboring states to the small town of Stewartville to race on the rolling gravel roads of Olmstead and Filmore Counties.  The scenery along the route is amazing and at the end of the race you will know why it was named The Filthy 50.

The Filthy 50 has introduced many to the joys of riding gravel and for some it was their first gravel race.  October gravel is amazing with the Fall colors, scenery and weather this area offers to those that take the challenge.  I highly recommend that you register and experience this race that is very special to me and many others that continue to do it year after year.  Below are the details and rules direct from race director Trenton Raygor.

The Details
  • The Filthy 50 will take place on Sunday, October 8th, 2017.
  • The event will start and end on the north end of Stewartville, MN. The mass neutral rollout will take place at 10am and the riders will have until 4pm to officially finish.
  • Registration will open on Monday, March 20th and can be completed quickly online. Visit http://the-filthy-50.com/registration and complete the form before the 1000 rider cap is reached. We trust that if you register that you will make it a priority to show up and ride on Sunday, October 8th. If you're not certain that you can make it, we kindly request that you hold off on registering until you are sure.
  • In addition to the 50 mile route, we are bringing back The Pretty Filthy (24 Mile) and The Little Filthy (12 Mile) alternate routes for a second year due to popular demand. We hope to see more young people out there this year!
  • Thanks to our incredible local sponsors and those from the community who have taken the time to donate, registration for The Filthy 50 will continue to be FREE for the 5th year in a row! That’s right, no payment required, though donations are accepted and greatly appreciated.
  • IMPORTANT: This event is completely unsupported. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU. Individuals should bring EVERYTHING that they need for the 50 mile ride and expect absolutely NOTHING to be provided to them on the day of the event.
  • GPX and TCX files, as well as cue sheets, will be made available for download to all riders who end up on our official roster. Navigating the course is critical, so we will do our best to prepare you for that.
  • Elevation profiles of the course will be provided through Filthy 50 social media (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) prior to Sunday, October 8th. Find us and follow us!
  • Days before the ride, those on the official roster will be sent email communications regarding event day logistics as well as some other crucial information on what to expect.

The Rules
It is of utmost importance to us that everyone stays safe and enjoys The Filthy 50. These are the rules. We think they are reasonable.
  1.  You are 100% on your own. Take care of yourself. 
  2.  We would appreciate it if you would REGISTER with us. 
  3.  This ride is unsupported. Bring EVERYTHING with you that you will need. 
  4.  Always wear your helmet. 
  5. Respect the course and those who live there. Please do not litter. Leave no trace.
  6.  Obey all TRAFFIC LAWS
  7.  If nature calls during your ride, please do not please do not answer it in front of others. 
  8.  Ride safely and use good judgment. 
  9.  You are responsible for you, so be responsible.
  10.  Have fun! 
We try to keep it simple, so if you require more detail, please CONTACT US.

"Race it and set a record. Ride it and take in the beauty. Either way, get filthy." - Unknown


In addition to many fine people like yourself, these very generous Minnesota based sponsors help make The Filthy 50 happen. Please support them like they support us!

ADAM TURMAN - A professional illustrator & poster artist from the Twin Cities.

BANJO BROTHERS - Tough. Practical. Affordable. Bike Bags.

BELCH - Comfortably unrefined.

 BICYCLE SPORTS - A full service bike shop in Rochester, MN.

BUCKNELL CONSTRUCTION, INC. - Meeting your construction needs, located in Stewartville, MN.

FAREWAY - An economical food store located in Stewartville, MN.

 HED - The best wheels on the planet. Period.

THE HUB BICYCLE CO-OP - The Twin Cities’ only cooperatively owned bike shop.

JUST RIDE MINNESOTA -  Cycling apparel. Just ride

KURT KINETIC - Making the BEST indoor trainers from Minneapolis, MN.


 PENN CYCLE - Your Twin Cities bike shop.

RIDING GRAVEL.COM - The gravel enthusiast’s resource

 ROCHESTER CYCLING - A Rochester, MN bike shop for all of your bike needs.

SUNSHINE SANITATION - Sanitation professionals from Stewartville, MN.

 SURLY BREWING - Give a damn. Do good. Drink beer.

TWIN SIX -  Alternative Cycling Apparel & Bike Gear.

2 WHEEL WEATHER - Where cycling and weather come together.

Despite this being a free event, it wouldn’t be able to happen as intend without the support of these amazing sponsors and incredible volunteers.  If you are interested in sponsoring this year, please send an email to thefilthy50@gmail.com.  You can also show your support by donating to The Filthy 50 here.  For those not racing that would like to volunteer you can do so by sending an email to the above address.

From the Director

Our tiny corner of the cycling community has turned a day of riding and racing bicycles on rural Minnesota crushed limerock roads into what many of you tell me is your favorite tradition of the year. You have contributed your ideas, time, and talents and have made The Filthy 50 your very own. You have different occupations, political affiliations, and religious beliefs from one another. Most of you haven’t raced a day in your life and others are out there winning Olympic gold. You’re all so very different yet every year when asked, you all give me the same answer. You need to do it again. You’ve created a place where everyone is welcome and where everyone is cool. Do you know how rare this is? It fills my heart. This gives me hope for humanity. This is why we are bringing The Filthy 50 back.

The Filthy 50 will return to my home town of Stewartville, Minnesota for it’s 5th year in a row. In 2013, what was intended to be a 50 mile gravel ride and barbeque out of my parents’ house quickly turned into a 300 rider event. The Filthy has grown more each year, and this year, we have made accommodations to accept up to 1000 riders on our official roster! We will be bringing back some of our Filthy traditions, including “The Fastest 50” as well as the legendary Filthy (after) Party. Beer lovers never fear as Surly Brewing Co. has assured us that they will double down on the free beer for you all this year. Also, all of our participants and spectators can expect some Filthy surprises on and off of the course.

To our sponsors, to those of you who have participated in our infamous "meat raffle" and to those who have donated anonymously, thank you for helping us make The Filthy 50 so damn special! To my wonderful family and talented friends who have volunteered their time and skills to help pull this off, we couldn't (and wouldn’t) do it without you, so thanks for coming back and helping us do it for one more year. Lastly, we highly encourage you to register early as we anticipate reaching our 1000 rider cap fairly fast. After you register, treat yourself and go take that first Spring bicycle ride! It’s supposed to be gorgeous out there.

Kind Regards, Trenton


Bontrager Gnarwhal Studdable Tire First Impressions

I had been waiting for over a year since I first heard about the Bontrager Gnarwhal studdable tires for Trek's new 27.5" wheel size that came stock on my Farley 9.6.  When they did become available earlier this Winter they sold out immediately and I was out of luck on getting a pair.  I would have to wait for another shipment to arrive which wasn't until the beginning of February.  When my order finally came through the Bontrager studs were still out of stock so I would have to buy some 45NRTH Aluminum Carbide Concave Studs to get them ready for the ice.

This was definitely the Winter for studded tires.  The singletrack around the Twin Cities was very icy for quite some time and usually only rideable with studs.  Something else I wanted to try more of was riding creeks, lakes and marshes since the snow pack on them was either non existent or lightly covered.  Studded tires would open up a bunch of new riding opportunities that were unavailable with my standard fat bike tires.

Once I got the Gnarwhal tires set up tubeless it was time to get to work studding them.  This would take about an hour per tire since each one had 205 stud pockets to be filled.

Out on the ice the Gnarwhals had excellent grip. I could ride a tight circle without slipping because of all the studs and siping that were on the outside edges of the tire.  This gave me the confidence to ride faster and on uneven ice like pictured below.

On packed or icy singletrack the wide footprint (4.5") the Gnarwhals have provided plenty of traction at the right tire pressure for the conditions. 

In fresh powder and off the trail (bushwhacking) they had plenty of flotation to get me where I was going. One of the first things I noticed is how well they shed snow instead of it packing up between the lugs.  This aggressive tread pattern would give me the traction needed to ride just about every condition that this Winter would dish out.

Tubeless set up was very easy with these tires.  The 120 tpi casing makes the sidewalls strong and supple allowing me to run them at low pressures for excellent grip.  If you're a Trek Farley owner that has 27.5" wheels, the Bontrager Gnarwal tires are a great choice for a variety of Winter riding conditions.  Check with your local Trek Retailer for availability.  MSRP $119.99 each, available only non-studded.


Lake MXZ 400 Winter Cycling Boot First Impressions

Almost a year after being shown a prototype of the new Lake MXZ 400 I finally got a chance to test them out a few times before Winter faded away.  This is Lake's warmest boot since the introduction of the MXZ 303.  Some of the features this boot provides set it apart from other winter cycling boots on the market.

The outsole is made from sub-zero rated rubber that has seven ice grip inserts for better traction on slippery surfaces.  There are also two studs at the front of the outsole to bite into ice.  I rode a lot of ice this Winter and having these boots on definitely made a difference when dismounting or putting a foot down to keep the bike up.

For night riding these boots have plenty of reflective areas on the front and back to get you seen.  The bio-motion of pedaling will get the attention of motorists.  The tongue and and side mounted IP1 Boa lacing system really lets me dial in the perfect fit whether I'm wearing a thin sock or a thick wool one.  Getting in and out of these boots is a breeze because of the Boa lacing.

The 400 grams of 3M Thinsulate insulation "built on a cycling specific winter last" and Outlast SmartFabric Technology is what makes these boots retain and regulate heat keeping my feet warm for a longer period of time in the extreme cold.  My feet get cold easily and the Lake MXZ 400 passed my initial testing for warmth and comfort.

There is plenty of space in the toe box to keep proper circulation and the Syks√≥l insole provides cushion and comfort when riding or walking. 

To round off the whole package, the Lake MXZ 400 boot has Pittards WR100 & Helcor abrasion resistant leather, a waterproof membrane in addition to the breathable, water-resistant upper.  Simply put, this is one warm and comfortable winter cycling boot.  I just wish Winter hadn't left us so early so I could have ridden more and tested them out is some truly sub-zero temperatures for a longer duration.  Look for a full review on MN Bike Trail Navigator next Winter when I have had adequate time to put them through some more testing in a wide variety of Minnesota Winter weather conditions.
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