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10 Nxrth Experiments & Ideas We Tried in 2023

As we're closing the books on 2023, we're taking a look back at this year's adventures. Thanks to so many ideas and support from readers like you, we tried a few new things this year and in this story we're looking back at 10 of those.

10 Brand New Resources, Events, & Experiments We Did in 2023

I think every bike adventure is an experiment. It's trying a new route, a new race, a new day, a new riding friend. And then seeing what worked and what didn't.

Trying, failing, persevering, giving up, and finishing all have their time and place. In 2023, we tried a lot of things. Some of them were successful, some were weird, some will get retired, and some just need a little overhaul.

Overall, we launched (or collaborated on) about 10 new initiatives:

1. The Reader's Routes Project

In the fall we kicked off a user-generated map of the very best gravel routes in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the U.P. We love getting showcase YOUR favorite bike things and are excited to see where this one goes. PLUS we're giving this project a fresh restart this spring so stay tuned! LEARN MORE.

2. Fall Gravel Kickoff Week

At the end of last summer, we had a bunch of fun fall gravel project ideas and rolled it all up into one awesome Fall Gravel Kickoff week. We launched new maps, new Gravel Guides, a Fall Gravel Handbook, a Slack theme (uhhh...weird?), and some other random things. We're hoping to do another themed gravel week again this year!

3. The Coon Fork 40

Photo: Michael Lundebrek

The Coon Fork 40 wasn't a Nxrth event but we got to collaborate on this with some great friends from CORBA and Volume One on this inaugural beach-to-beach adventure. The hidden waterfall bridge, twin beach parties, and ~300 people showing up for year 1 were incredible and we can't wait to share a bunch of surprises for the 2024 addition. Registration and camping open on January 1. LEARN MORE.

4. The Itasca Lakenights Bikepacking Route

Our newest route and one we're especially proud of. We wanted to do a Minnesota gravel bikepacking route in an area that doesn't typically see a ton of riding. Many many hours of studying maps and then an incredible scouting trip this summer with great friends led to beautiful adventure that we're excited to share here on The Nxrth. This particular route is specifically for Patrons as a way to say "thanks" for being the #1 source of support on The Nxrth. LEARN MORE.

4. The Global Fat Bike Winter Ultra Calendar

Photo: Jamison Swift

There actually aren't very many winter fat bike ultra races in the entire world. And in the big picture, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and the U.P. are spoiled with maybe the highest density of great winter fat bike ultra events on the entire globe. To help endurance athletes find their next fat bike winter ultra and plan for even bigger stages, we made a global map that puts every single event in the world in one place. LEARN MORE.

5. Gravel Guides with 5 New Destinations

With some really awesome gravel adventure hubs in our region, we set out to build some top-to-bottom destination guides with everything you need to plan gravel biking, eating, drinking, and off-the-bike fun in some of our new Gravel Guides.

With the help of some great friends, here were the Gravel Guides we created.

6. Bikepacking Gear & Adventure Day presented by Tailfin

I spend a lot of every winter dreaming and planning new bikepacking trips. This year, we pulled together some inspiring adventurers to nerd out for an evening about gear, destinations, tips, and more. LEARN MORE.

7. Fat Bike & Coffee Challenge with Ruby Coffee, Wren Sports, & Hollow Socks

Sometimes short adventures are more fun. This was a community challenge we started last year and are excited to be doing again for 2024. We've also got some awesome prizes from Ruby Coffee, Wren Sports, and Hollow socks. Join Us!

8. The Dangle Mug Midnighter with Embark Maple & Cedaero

We took the month of June to invite everyone to go bikepacking anywhere up north and bring along a dangle mug. This on-your-own ride was a way to share an adventure while being in different places. Photos were shared, stories were told, and prizes from Embark Maple and Cedaero were won.

10. Christmas Gravel Booklets

If I could do anything, I'd love to have a nice Nxrth print piece. Some kind of publication with paper that feels nice in your fingers, has beautiful photos, and content that inspires your next adventure. This wasn't that, but we put together a high quality Christmas gravel booklet with some original and irreverent gravel poems and our favorite photos of the year and sent it to 50+ readers of The Nxrth. I hope those of you who got one enjoyed our first piece of printed content.

PLUS: 3 New Bikepacking Routes Added in 2023

We're especially grateful for the friends in our area who are true architects of great bikepacking routes. As mentioned above, The Itasca Lakenights is a Nxrth-original route but in addition to that route, we added two more routes from Scott Haroldson as well as Frank Hassler.

1. Itasca Lakenights. VIEW ROUTE.

2. Chasing the Train.  VIEW ROUTE.

3. Wisconsin Adventure Bicycle Route.  VIEW ROUTE.

What's Next for 2024?

Uh....hmmm... not exactly sure. The Nxrth project continues to morph in new ways that we didn't expect. We take everything a day at a time and just see where the trail takes us. We've got some ideas for 2024 but only time will tell exactly what this adventure has in store. Thanks for joining us for the ride!




Plan a New Gravel Adventure

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