I reached out to The Nxrth email subscribers and invited them to share their favorite photo from summer of 2022. These adventures bring us to surprise campsites, epic through-the-night rides, first-time gravel adventures, and a friendly hawk eating dinner. Enjoy!
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Rachel Hockert near Isabella, Minnesota
The iconic Northwoods bikepacking photo. After a brutal, rocky, loose road with steep uphills and questionable downhills, I was worn out. Cresting one of the last hills near the end of the route I saw this glorious stack of wood. Nothing like a little motivation to get you there.
Nick Meyer in Eau Claire & Clark County Forests, Wisconsin
In my neck of the woods I’m usually more of a road rider, so this 45-mile gravel ride through the Eau Claire and Clark County Forest areas of Wisconsin, guided by some friends who’ve spent more time on such roads than me, was my first real gravel adventure. We covered every color and consistency of gravel I’ve seen, plus even a bit of tough-love sand, all either cradled by towering pines or expansive farmland. So now I think the gravel bug has bit!
Chris Nelson tandem bikepacking The Fox in Northern Minnesota
Lisa and I did our first bike camping event this summer, The Fox, and we dove in with both feet by riding our Co-Motion Java. I understand we are the first tandem team on The Fox (or Heck Epic). We had a great time and will be seeking more bikepacking adventures in the future.
Paul Bolstad - Arrowhead Region, Minnesota
Photos from spring trips to the Arrowhead, the first along Lake Superior last year, from Duluth to Grand Portage. A great ride along the inland sea, about half on the paved lakeside trail and half on gravel, weaving in and out of the Sawtooths 1000 feet above the lake. MN DNR has a policy of accommodating bikepackers, great lakeside campsites, and Lake County Rd 7 from The Grade to Finland is as pretty a stretch as I've found in the upper Midwest, up there with the Bayfield Peninsula and the northern Keweenaw.
The second a 180 mile circuit in Lake and Cook Counties, early Spring, in the last days of snowmelt. Soft roads were a challenge, but no dust, no cars, full cascades, and maximal animal tracks. I was able to track and see two moose and a group of wolves, hard to do later in the years once the roads firm up.
Katrina and Tony Hase - Driftless Region, Minnesota
On a whim and craving adventure, my husband and I set out to ride our gravel bikes through the night. We wanted to experience riding under the stars and watching the sun rise. We selected a 160-mile Driftless region route from Ride with GPS —the longest either of us has ever ridden our bikes. We started in Red Wing, MN at 11pm, had breakfast in Lake City, MN around 9am, and arrived back at our car around 3pm.
Tom Davey - Northeastern Iowa
In July, with heat indexes soaring above 100F, we completed a 3-day gravel couples bikepacking trip through the beautiful bluffs of northeastern IA. Stops to cool off in spring fed rivers, Toppling Goliath, and Pulpit Rock brewery were essential. My favorite photo from the trip features my adventuring brother Scott G. cresting one of the innumerable farm studded climbs (looking mighty BA I would add).
Nicolette Reker - Kickapoo Valley Reserve, Wisconsin
The Kickapoo Valley Reserve is one of the Driftless region's best kept secrets- or so we thought! We finally scored a first come, first serve campsite on our fifth try right at dusk after a near 70-mile day. The site was quiet, and we were positioned within the reserve to start our next day right on the horse trail/singletrack system. The trails were old school, rugged, and messy; premium bikepacking terrain right here in the Midwest.
John Miller at Bowman Lake, Lower Peninsula Michigan
All great trips have trail magic when you look for it. On this particular trip, we had planned for dispersed camping in Michigan so had our hopes set on flat ground and not much more. We rolled up to these spots and it was an incredible surprise and a great night’s sleep.
Phil Carlson: Heywood Ride & Bikepacking
Photo 1: I found out about the Heywood Ride, which happened to be in my wife's hometown, via The Nxrth. It was a great event that I got to do with my wife and a sneaky way for me to dedicate another weekend of the summer to biking! It was her first ride of the year - all 55 miles - but she took it like a champ.
Photo 2: A bikepacking trip to Blue Mounds with my daughter, and new riding buddy, was a great way to introduce her to the sport, get out of the house for a couple of days, and experience a beautiful part of the state by bike. Secret: if you show up at a WI state park via bike looking to camp - they can't turn you away, and you get to camp at an unmarked site!
Josh from The Nxrth at Wedges Creek
My favorite adventures on or off a bike are with my wife and kids. On this ride, we were checking out Wedges Creek Hideaway for the first time and doing some biking and camping. The company was great, the gravel was beautiful, and the setting was cozy. On the drive home, we started asking ourselves if we could pull off a group bikepacking overnighter and that's how the idea for Gravel Pizza was born.
Michael Kedor near Lutsen, Minnesota
These photos were from a trip up outside of Lutsen. Eagle Mountain is the highest point in Minnesota.
Tim Kordula - Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest
This was an overnight bikepacking trip on the Hidden Lakes Trail in the Chequamegon Nicolet National Forest. Peaceful, awesome wild, listened to loons and trumpeter swans!
Isaiah Worden on the Rotary Trail in Oregon, Wisconsin
This was just a short adventure. But was quite fun while it lasted. Saw a hawk eating its dinner, deer wandering in front of me, and way too many rabbits.
Ben Clarke near Escanaba, Michigan
This photo says it all as I started the gravel / forest road stretch of my bikepacking adventure from Baltimore to San Diego on back roads. I routed through the UP, WI and MN to see my kids starting college at NMU and St. Scholastica. The photo was taken west of Escanaba as I crossed the UP.
Steve Smith on The Crusher
The beaver mafia hard at work. The Crusher EX-225, July 16-17th 2022…Ishpeming, Michigan. #greendot
Joe Roy - Lakeville, Minnesota
This is probably my favorite photo from this summer. This building has become a backdrop for bike photos at the end of our weekly ride over the past few years, sadly the building was torn down about a week after this photo was taken. Thanks for the memories!
Zach Johnson near Madison, Wisconsin
Last year, my doctor told me to stop biking if I wanted some wrist pain I was experiencing to go away and I laughed at them. I took a short multi-day trip this spring alone along the Pecatonica on the Cheese Country Trail, and it reaffirmed my stance that I need to keep biking to keep living. I took this picture on the way back into Madison that I think captures this sentiment. I bike to prolong my days.
Steve Ruelle at Winsted Lake, Minnesota
This photo overlooking Winsted Lake was taken on the deck of Crazi cafe about two and one-half hours west of Minneapolis and is just a few blocks off the Luce Line State Trail (former railroad tracks). I camped (no charge) at the terminus of Luce Line at Thompson Lake County Park. The city planners of nearby Cosmos, Minnesota (population 473) seem to have a good sense of humor….all of the streets are named after planets and galaxies