Laura Hrubes is an endurance/adventure cyclist who lives in Viroqua, WI but has deep roots in the U.P. She has big goals for 2022 and a beautiful new purple yooper bike to match. In this interview we talk about her year, her bikes, and her top 5 things in the north.
Find Laura on instagram @foodieknitter
It looks like you have a legendary 2022 planned; what's on your plate?
I’m so stoked for 2022!
I have a tendency to overcommit and try to do all the things, and it’s just not possible or sustainable, so this year I’m trying really hard to just focus in hard on the things that really matter and that I really want to do.
Mostly, that looks a whole lot like staying pretty tight to the upper Midwest in northern Wisconsin, the UP, and northern Minnesota, and taking on some longer distance rides as well. I started the year with a big bucket list dream ride at Tuscobia on New Year’s Day, and it was amazing!
I wasn’t really sure if I could do that, and having a really great ride in such challenging winter conditions gave me a lot of confidence going forward.
I just rode the all new Dairy Roubaix route in the Driftless region of Wisco, and that was pretty epic as well, as it had a solid 8000 feet of climbing in 90 miles.
Then I went to Laona in Northern Wisconsin for The Bear 100, and am now headed in a few days for the Crystal Bear, which is a 200 mile, 2-day race from Laona, WI to Crystal Falls, MI. Then it’s the Borah epic bike fest up in the Cable/Hayward area, and on to a big summer of Crusher events, including the mass-start 175 mile race in Munising.
In August I’ll head to Nebraska for Gravel Worlds, but my biggest goal of all for the year is the Marji 100 mountain bike race.
"That will complete my “triple crown” of the hardest level of each event in all the 906 Adventure Team races…I’ve got too many Crusher and Polar Roll entries to count at this point, and I just need to finish that dang Marji so I can be done with it."
After that, October is going to be packed full of some of my absolute favorites, just for fun: the Lone Wolf gravel race in iron mountain, the Moran 166 (the shorter route) on a tandem with my dad, the hibernator, and maybe the 144 mile Iron Bull in Wausau.
Then, if all goes well and my application is accepted, I want to get some rest and then focus hard on preparing for the Arrowhead 135.
That one is a huge dream of mine and right now, my biggest goal for 2023. It doesn’t really look like much on paper, but wow, that feels like a lot when I start talking about it!
What are your "Top 5 Up-North Things"?
1. Embark Maple | Viroqua, WI
I love everything about this: they are all awesome people behind it that live in the same town I do here in Wisco, the products are sooooo good and just work, and it just feels like good energy.
2. Ruby Coffee | Nelsonville, WI
The best coffee ever, in the whole entire world. Amazing owners, local here in Wisconsin, great products (their freeze dried coffee packets are a must-have for big adventures!) and just something to feel really good about.
3. Morrow packs | Iron Mountain, MI
James Morrow is making some of the most exciting bikepacking stuff around up in my hometown of Marquette, MI, and I am so stoked to have these on my Bearclaw. He’s even putting iridescent UP designs on them for me.
4. Steger mukluks | Ely, MN
I’ve had a pair of the tall moose hide mukluks for many years, and they have become one of the most important pieces of winter gear I could imagine. I’ve done several 40+ mile snowshoe events in them and my feet have come through them warm and safe and happy, and literally wear them almost every day in the winter. They are handmade up in Ely, Minnesota, and I don’t ever want to have to face winter without them.
5. Broken Spoke Bikes | Green Bay, WI
Besides the coolest bikes and best crew of people, there is always something fun happening here. I wish I could do them all! There’s always a group ride happening for all levels of athletes, and this February they hosted the US fat bike open.
6. Marquette, Michigan
A perfect Marquette day for me would include an oat milk latte from Velodrome, a really fun ride on the south trails, lunch and a treat from 231 West, some shopping at the Sports Rack, Beth Millner jewelry, Down Wind Sports, Snowbound Books, a Jean-Kay’s veggie pasty or a Vangos Greek pizza (or both, if the ride was big enough!), and then maybe a night ride on the north trails.
You just got super-purply new bike, tell me about it
My gravel/off-road/adventure bike is so freaking beautiful it’s ridiculous: it’s a full titanium Bearclaw Thunderhawk.
"I wanted the ultimate yooper/Michigan bike, and this feels like it."
We started with the Bearclaw frame and ti fork, and the Sports Rack in Marquette Michigan built every bit of it up custom for me. I’ve got two wheelsets for it, a set of Velocity Blunts with 50mm Donnelly Xplor off-road tires and a dynamo hub wired up to a light and battery pack, and another set of Velocity Ailerons (with custom oil slick hubs that are soooo pretty!) and skinny Teravail Cannonball gravel tires.
Both sets in purple.
Agave Finishworks custom anodized the ti eeWings and ti seat and stem for me in this absolutely beautiful sort of purple rainbow design, and purple Paul components Klampers and some Wolf Tooth bling just add to all the special little details.
Morrow packs made me some incredible yooper bags for bikepacking with it, and this is what I’ll load up for the Crystal Bear and probably the Crusher 175.
It’s all 12 speed sram electronic shifting and set up 1x with an absolute black oval chainring (oil slick, of course!) and it just feels amazing to ride, the compliance of titanium is incredible. I rode this for the Dairy Roubaix and will switch the wheelsets here and there depending on if I want to go fast and light or will need the bigger tires and dynamo for longer adventures. It looks so simple and stripped down it almost looks like a singlespeed until you look a little closer and notice some of the sweet little elements.
It looks like a Barbie dream bike and just seems to make everyone that sees it happy. This bike is such a dream come true!
What else are you riding?
My mountain bike is a 2019 full suspension carbon Kona HeiHei crdl. I love this bike! You know that magical feeling when a bike just kind of becomes an extension of you? I’ve always felt that way about this one. I’ve added so many sweet details to it over the last couple years…really the only thing left is to convert it to AXS, which I want to do soon, it’s got everything else I could want already. I’m considering trying to get a Juliana wilder mtb to replace it, but I love this one so much I’m just not sure I’m ready to.
My fat bike for winter adventures is a 2021 full carbon salsa mukluk. I have upgraded almost everything on it: carbon bars, the drivetrain, sram AXS electronic shifting, and I usually run 45nrth wrathchildren xl studded tires on it. This beast feels rock solid on anything and everything, and with all the beautiful cedaero bags I have for it, it feels ready for almost anything. I feel both very slow and also completely unstoppable on this beast. I absolutely love this bike. In the summer, I switch the tires out to teravail Coronados and actually ride it quite a bit year round.