The Midwest Bikepacking Summit is coming up Sept 7-9 in northern Wisconsin. The event is full of community rides, lakeside camping, and bikepacking in the beautiful Nicolet National Forest. Learn more about the event here and get registered to join.
Words by Shane Hitz
Photos by Dave Schlabowske
To learn more, visit the Midwest Bikepacking Summit. Registration is $35 and includes the summit event and camping at Jake Lake on 9/7 and 9/8.
In the Heart of the Nicolet National Forest
The Nicolet National Forest is full of history.
Everyone likes to ride in a place that has a rich history and a story. In the Nicolet riders will find abundant logging history.
Wabeno in particular will be a spot of interest with its logging museum, an old 1800's train pulling a sleigh of logs and the giant Paul Bunyan statue. What I am really excited about is the location of the Summit portion of the event.
Thursday and Friday's events all take place at Jack Lake Campground. On Thursday evening we will have a group ride through the Bogus Swamp area. Friday we will be having an expo featuring local organizations and vendors followed by the summit, an educational portion of the event with speakers on topics such as leave no trace, wilderness first aid, and the area that the route is on, plus group rides on the Jack Lake singletrack trail system in between the expo and summit. We will also have camping available for all that register for the event.
Route & Region Highlights
I designed this route around a few of my favorite restaurants. Those being White Lake Market, Weatherwood Supper Club, Waubee Lodge, Roadhouse 139, and Johnnie's Resort. Those are places that I would hope that everybody tries to make a stop at.
I then went out and found the best dispersed sites and have an extensive list of POI's on the map for those. There are too many to list my favorites but check out the descriptions on the POI's to get an idea of what would fit for your needs and likes. The route also has great sections of singletrack which are nicely dispersed. Nicolet Roche, Strong Falls, and Otter Springs are the trails you will find. And there's Jack Lake at the start of the route, which isn't on the route but can be ridden from the parking lot before or after your ride.
Lastly, are the high vistas on the route. Riders will find five vistas; Mountain fire tower (Wisconsin's only fire tower that the public can climb and on a clear day you can see Wausau 60 miles away from the top), Butler Rock, Big Rock, Thunder Mountain (can see the UP of Michigan from here), and Wisconsin's highest cul-de-sac.
We will have three route option. The first is a overnight option that is 75 miles long. Second is the SoNic loop which is 225 miles. Last we offer the full Tour de Nicolet route which is 365 miles. The SoNic i would recommend giving yourself 3-4 day and the Tour de Nicolet 5-7 days. When signing up we offer a clockwise and counter-clockwise option to better disperse people throughout the course.
Social Time Bikepacking
The social aspect is huge for this event. I wanted to bring people together who are like-minded.
There are two group rides, the Thursday ride through Bogus Swamp and the group ride on the Jack Lake singletrack. There are also opportunities to sit around the campfire and chat with fellow bikepackers on Thursday and Friday nights.
When we roll out onto the courses on Saturday you are likely to find yourself riding with folks who ride at the same pace as yourself and come away with some new friends.
Rides for All Experience Levels
You're encouraged to join whether it is your first time or a seasoned bikepacker.
First timers will learn a lot about bikepacking from the summit portion as well as campfire talk with those that have done this stuff before. Seasoned folks will have the opportunity to meet new people and come away with new friends.
If you are new to this you also may be excited and learn some stuff from Noelle Battle, the Executive Director from Bikepacking Roots, who will be here not only for the Thursday and Friday events but will also be riding the overnight loop and camping with that group.
Those that want to take part in the camping on Thursday and/or Friday nights and want to ride the route go on over to the Midwest Bikepacking Summit to register. To reduce any barriers people may have we are only charging $35 which includes the Thursday and Friday nights camping at Jack Lake. We are also donating $5 from each entry as a carbon offset to Langlade County to plant trees in the county forest.