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  • Our Anniversary Bike Weekend: Tofte Trails Cabin at the Center of North Shore Adventures

    Tofte Trails is a brand new cluster of 5 peaceful cabins in a central location for gravel, mountain bike, and hiking adventures on the north shore of Minnesota. My wife and I recently spent a weekend exploring the Tofte area with bikes and coming back to relax in the lux little cabins deep in the forest. To learn more visit Tofte Trails or follow along @toftetrails . My wife and I just celebrated our 14 year wedding anniversary this June and went to Tofte Trails to unwind, take some space together, and be active outdoors on bikes and hikes. From the creators of Cuyuna Cove , I was following along with the brand new Tofte Trails cabins that were recently built in one of my absolute favorite areas of the north shore in Minnesota. So I was over the moon when founders Chris and Kelsey invited us up for a complimentary stay to share this new adventure with the community on The Nxrth. My 1UPUSA bike rack only has slots for 2 bikes but we each wanted to have gravel and  mountain bikes so we traded racks with a friend (thanks Dan and Megan!) and loaded up our 4 bikes heading north. Here's where we rode and what we found when we were up there. Biking Around Tofte Trails 2 people, 4 bikes, what could be better?! There is a lot to explore from Tofte Trails and we started with gravel bikes in the morning and switched to mountain bikes in the afternoon. If you're a bikepacker, you'll know this area from the Straddle & Paddle route which is just north of the cabins. You can also see below for a map of some suggested gravel routes in the area. This is the north shore, so you'll find plenty of low traffic wilderness roads, beautiful rolling hills, lake views, and cool air. Plus each of the cabins has a storage shed right on the cabin for easy bike storage. Minutes Away: Jackpot, High Climber, & Britton Peak Onion River Road is right at the center of Lutsen area mountain biking. A 4 mile ride (800 ft climbing) out your front door puts you right in the middle of the the Jackpot and High Climber trails. It's a 16 mile professionally built wilderness trail connecting Lutsen and Britton Peak. This flowy trail is a blast and when you're done you can bomb Onion River road back down to Tofte Trails. Hold on tight; it's an exhilarating descent. Chilling in Lux Little Cabins in the Forest Everything about this place is dialed in sooo nicely. Each cabin has a private space, peaceful deck patio with chairs and a fire pit. The sliding floor-to-ceilling windows were really immersive. We pulled up our table right next to the windows and felt like we were on top of the forest for the weekend. This is not your everyday place. It's a no-kids, cabin for 2, super special destination. And the list of amenities is ummm....quite comfortable. Let's try to name a few: Full-wall projector screen Indoor gas fire + outdoor wood fire Bike storage Lux king bed Fully stocked kitchen (w french press & Chemex) Spa-inspired bathroom Grill & mini fridge Every detail has been thoughtfully designed and hand picked and we were in heaven. And I'l say the contrast felt pretty fun. We rode bikes in the woods, got sweaty and mud-covered, then returned to our peaceful sanctuary. Off the bike, there's just so much to explore. Lutsen mountains are a few minutes away. Lots of great restaurants, endless shoreline, and Grand Marais is a half hour drive away for a great small town adventure. When I was in college we came up to hike the Superior Hiking Trail all the time and the Oberg Mountain segment of the SHT is 2 miles up Onion River road. There are at least 4 beautiful overlooks with sweeping views in all directions. On The Map: Surrounded by the Best of Biking Visiting Tofte Trails Tofte Trails opened less than a year ago and is now open for stays all year long. All 5 cabins are king bed, 1-2 person cabins, and you can even bring your pet. It's going to be tough to decide which bike to bring because it is really surrounded by some great adventure opportunities. To learn more or book a stay, head over to Tofte Trails .

  • Gravel Goals: 7 Mental Training Skills to Help You Through a Long Gravel Racing Event

    This year we launched a new series called "Gravel Goals" to help you train for your 100 mile gravel races. Today Coach Paul Warloski discusses seven mental skills to help you stay positive on long events and avoid the soul-crushing moments that can bring you to a negative place in your thoughts. Words by Paul Warloski of Simple Endurance Coaching. To learn more, visit our Introduction to the Gravel Goals series. All of us have been there: The moments when we question our life choices that brought us to this really long gravel bike race. Maybe the weather was unusually tough, or there were mechanical issues, we didn’t fuel properly, or maybe the tedium of riding that many hours just got to our head. “Why am I doing this? I’m not having fun any more.” We’ll talk about seven skills you can learn or re-learn that will help you avoid those soul-crushing moments or manage them when they come during epic gravel races. This is the eight in a series of articles about gravel racing. Using the 80/20 model to schedule workouts. Learn More. Building a base for gravel racing performance. Learn More. Five keys to training for gravel racing. Learn More. Why you should do intervals and how to do them right. Learn More. Strength training for endurance, power, and comfort. Learn More. Optimizing Hydration & Nutrition on Longer Rides. Learn More. Cycling After Age 50: How Training, Nutrition, & Recovery Changes. Learn More. Skill 1: Visualization and Mental Rehearsal Mentally rehearse riding through different aspects of the race, from the start to the finish line. Research shows that visualization can enhance performance by priming the brain and nervous system for the physical movements required during the event. So it’s worth driving as much of the course as possible prior to the race to understand the particular features. Athletes can visualize themselves navigating challenging terrain, overcoming obstacles, and maintaining a strong pace. It’s important to also visualize taking care of mishaps: Watch yourself successfully handling a flat tire or a crash, and you’ll be in a better position to keep a positive mindset if something goes wrong. Skill 2: Goal Setting Setting clear, realistic goals for the race is essential for mental preparation. Whether it's completing the race within a certain time frame, achieving a personal best, or simply finishing strong, having goals can provide you with focus and motivation. Generally, my goal is to keep my heart rate and power under threshold while maintaining my carbohydrate consumption. Those are both process goals since I typically don’t have an outcome goal for a gravel race - other than to finish. You might want to set both outcome goals (e.g., finishing in the top 10) and process goals (e.g., maintaining a steady power throughout the race). Skill 3: Mindfulness and Stress Management Long-distance gravel racing can be physically and mentally demanding, so it's important to manage stress and stay present during the event. Mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and meditation can help athletes stay calm and focused before an event, even in challenging situations. Research suggests that mindfulness can improve athletic performance by reducing anxiety and enhancing concentration. During the race, practicing your breathing can keep you calm. This is the most challenging for me since my brain is always chattering at me. I work a lot at practicing breathing - making sure I’m rhythmically breathing into my belly. This is a great thing to practice while doing hard intervals: work on relaxing your upper body and breathing into your belly. Skill 4: Positive Self-Talk One of the most important tools you can practice on long training rides is maintaining a positive inner dialogue leading up to and during the race. Research has shown that positive self-talk can boost confidence, increase motivation, and improve endurance. Remind your audience to replace negative thoughts (e.g., "I can't do this" or "I'm not strong enough") with positive affirmations (e.g., "I am strong and capable" or "I've trained hard for this"). This is not something to try out while in the heat of racing. Pick one positive affirmation and practice it during long endurance training. Skill 5: Adaptability and Resilience Gravel racing often presents unpredictable terrain and weather conditions, so racers must be adaptable and resilient. Shit is going to happen in a gravel race. One way to look at the challenges is as an opportunity for growth rather than some kind of setback that reflects on you in some way. Research suggests that athletes who view adversity as manageable and temporary are better equipped to overcome obstacles and maintain peak performance. This goes back to the kind of mindfulness and visualization practice we mentioned earlier. Practicing this kind of attitude during training rides means it will be possible to do in the race. Skill 6: Pre-Race Rituals We all do a lot of training and racing. Establishing pre-race rituals can help you get into the right mindset and optimize your performance. Whether it's listening to a specific playlist, performing a warm-up routine, or visualizing success, rituals can create a sense of familiarity and confidence. Experiment with different rituals during your training to determine what works best for you. I keep changing mine but it usually involves a warmup while listening to upbeat music - or, if it’s a cyclocross race, it’s intense angry music, plus some food and water intake, using the bathroom and making sure I’m at the start line early enough to get a decent position. I also try to talk with people at the line to keep my nerves and brain chatter at bay! What works for you? Skill 7: Post-Race Reflection After the race, it’s good to reflect on your performance and identify areas for improvement. For example, did you climb well, did you manage the corners, did you keep up with your nutrition? Research suggests that reflective practice is essential for learning and skill development. Celebrate your achievements, learn from mistakes, and set new goals for future races. Have an epic day on the gravel roads! By incorporating these mental training strategies into their preparation and race-day routines, you can enhance you performance and maximize your potential for success. It’s critical to practice all of these skills during training rides, writing them down and revising them as you learn about what works. Consistency and repetition help build mindfulness patterns that will help you be successful on race day! These are all skills that will help bring you more joy during long, challenging gravel races. What do you do to keep your head in the game? About Coach Paul Warloski Paul Warloski is a Level 2 USA-Cycling Coach, a certified yoga instructor, and a certified personal trainer. He supports everyday endurance athletes at Simple Endurance Coaching, based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He's been racing gravel, road, mountain bike, and cyclocross for decades, so he brings both experience and training knowledge to help you to your best gravel race performances in 2024. He'll be racing the Big Rivers Gravel Series in Illinois, the Hungry Bear in Cable, likely the Coon Fork 40 in Eau Claire, and other gravel races this year. To learn more, or for a free 30-minute Virtual Coffee to talk about your training and your goals, visit Simple Endurance Coaching.

  • Epic Bike Fest 2024: Video Recap

    The 12th annual Epic Bike Fest recently took pace in Hayward and Cable Wisconsin. On Saturday, racers competed in a point to point MTB race followed by a challenging gravel race on Sunday morning. Check out the recap video below.

  • 21 Ideas for Marketing a Bike Race

    Looking to get more cyclists registered for your bike race? Using multiple channels and building an enticing experience is critical to grow a new (or seasoned) bike race. Here we present 21 ideas to promote your bike race including social media, email marketing, website, pricing strategies, and much more. Having a well organized bike race on a beautiful route doesn't necessarily mean you'll get crowds of paid registrants signing up. There can be a lot of competition for races and in early years especially, it's challenging to translate a great experience into paid consumer demand. Social media is an easy place to start, but often times that's not enough plus only a small percentage of your Facebook and Instagram followers will see your posts. Browse our list of 21 ideas to market your bike race and pick 3-6 ideas to focus on as your grow your race. Good luck! 1. Set up your Facebook Page & Facebook Event (they BOTH matter) This is a totally free way to promote your event and the majority of your audience is likely on Facebook. Even if you have a Facebook page, don't forget to also set up a Facebook event. Facebook will send event posts to a much larger percent of your followers than page posts which gives you a big advantage when you want to make sure as many followers as possible are seeing your updates. 2. Email Past Race Participants Regularly With Interesting Updates In a noisy world of social media, your email list is your number one marketing asset. Unlike your Facebook followers, you own a direct line of communication to your email list so don't treat it lightly. When you have important updates or big announcements, make sure to email your list. Email enjoys a much higher engagement rate than social media posts. 3. Add Date-Based Price Tiering A sense of urgency causes people to take action and get registered for your event. Having 3-4 price increases as your event approaches is a great way to encourage followers to get registered and avoid a price increase. Incentivize early signups with your lowest pricing then have price increases 6, 3, and 1 month before your event. 4. List Your Event on Free Regional Event Listings Most regions have local websites with free bike event listings and calendars. Submit your event to make sure that when people are searching for events to join, you're prominently displayed on the event calendar. 5. Use High Quality Photos to Showcase The Beauty of Your Ride Cellphone images are much, much higher quality than they used to be. Get the most beautiful, high-quality images possible and add them to big prominent places like in a full width placement at the top of your website and Facebook page. It might even be worth it to hire a photographer to capture standout imagery that compels people to join. 6. Advertise on Regional Cycling Websites We had to include this one 😉. The best place to promote your race is where your audience is already all spending time. Regional cycling websites share cycling news, events, and community updates. And most importantly, they're where the cycling community goes to find new cycling experiences to sign up. 7. Write Regular Blog Posts for People to Follow Your Story Make your event a story that people want to follow by regularly writing updates along the way. Share about how you chose the routes, the story behind your great volunteers, or top 5 reasons to join along on your ride. Share it on social media and send it to your email list. This is a great way to continue staying top of mind and get people excited to follow along with how your event is developing. 8. Offer a Few Distances (But Not Too Many) Everyone is different. 100 miles is too far for some people but 50 miles is too short for other people. Offer a few distances but not too many. The more distances you offer, the thinner the group rollout becomes and less energy people can feel at your event. Our recommendation? 3 distances is great spread. That way people have some options but you don't have have to support 6 different start and end times and the logistics become simpler. 9. Create a Route That Includes All the Best Highlights and Let Everyone Know Why It's Amazing If possible, have all of your routes options include as many of the best highlights as possible. Then get photos of those of those spots or write a blog post about the highlights and share it far and wide. 10. Set a Registration Limit You Know You Can Hit & Then Sell Out Having a sold out event does wonders for future years. In early years, set a lower registration limit and when you sell out, let everyone know (this year and next year). You'll create more demand for your event in future years and you can always raise the limit each year. 11. Add a Free Training Program Whether your race is 25, 50, 100, or 500 miles there are people who are going to have to train up to that distance. Offer a free training plan to help riders see how they could grow the level of your race. 12. Open Registration Early People plan their cycling calendar very far in advance. If your event isn't available to register for until later in the year, you might lose registrants to other events that opened up registration earlier than yours. Read the room; see when other events open registration, and then open yours around the same time so you can get on everyone's calendars. 13. Offer a Free Gift to the First 50 or 100 Registrants It doesn't have to be expensive. Offer a free sticker pack, hat, t-shirt, or freebie to the first X number of people registered to inspire an early wave of registrations. 14. Advertise on Facebook for $1/day. All races should do this. If you have a small audience of followers, that's great! It means it's really cheap to advertise to them on Facebook. Boost a Facebook post that promotes your event and set your spending to $1/day. Run it for a few weeks then take a break and boost another promotional post. 15. Share Regular Behind the Scenes Updates on Social Media People enjoy following your story, especially when your posts aren't all promotional and sales-y. Share behind the scenes photos about route scouting, volunteers who are working hard, celebrate other races, and other random updates to give followers a sense of getting to know the heartbeat behind race day. 16. In Early Years, Price Your Race Lower The worst thing you can do is set your prices too high so that people don't register, then lower prices the next year. Reduction in prices equates to a perception of a low quality event. In early years, set your prices low to make it easy for everyone to be a part of it without it feeling like a big risk to register. As it becomes more popular, you can raise prices to a more normal level. 17. Offering Free T-Shirts? Make Sure to Nail It Nobody needs another cheap t-shirt with a low quality, boring design. If this is you, you might be better off saving the expense and not offering free shirts at all. If you do decide to give free t-shirts, make it the most comfortable tri-blend fabric possible so people want to wear it all the time. Pay a good designer to create something cool that makes people feel like they're taking the entire event experience home with them. Bonus? The more they wear it, the more free visibility you get. 18. Offer Free Food or Drink at the Finish Line (It Benefits You Twice) Everybody loves free food and drink. It creates more value for your event and nearly everyone will take you up on free post-race free food and drink. But the second benefit is that causes everyone to stick around, socialize, and creates an automatic post-race community vibe instead of heading right home and losing out on the post-race community energy. 19. Make Your Website Simple, But Irresistibly Beautiful Your website does not need 10 pages. You only need a few pages (or even just one!), but make it beautiful so people just have to join in. Your website needs a catchy intro, a section about the routes, race day logistics/timeline, and a big, flashy "Register" button in the main menu that stands out above everything else. That's it. Keep it simple. 20. Come Up With a "Hook" that Makes Your Race Different Than Every Other Race Simply having another race, isn't enough to get people to register. Come up with a unique angle that sets you apart. Maybe your race starts at midnight, has several river crossings, has an afterparty in a barn, or has cheesecake at every support station. Maybe those aren't great ideas, but the best races have something unique that everyone recognizes and wants to be a part of. 21. Ask Past Racers for Testimonials Reach out directly to some past racers and ask for a testimonial. Share these on social media and publish them directly on your website. This is especially impactful if you can get testimonials from riders that everyone knows and follows.

  • Summer Jersey Store Now Open [Closes June 13]

    We just opened our Nxrth jersey store for a summer batch of orders. Designed and manufactured right here in Wisconsin's beautiful Driftless region by Borah Teamwear, these Pro jerseys are available until Thursday, June 13. Every jersey comes with: Fit guarantee Recycled materials Silicone waist gripper Three rear pockets Lightweight Moisture wicking Made in Wisconsin Shop the 2024 Nxrth Jersey

  • Northfield, Minnesota Gravel Guide

    Our newest Gravel Guide, Northfield Minnesota, is full of hundreds of miles of rolling valleys and sunset gravel. Plan an entire gravel weekend exploring gravel in all directions then enjoy the food, drink, and lodging options in beautiful Northfield, Minnesota. The Northfield Gravel Guide is available to Patrons of The Nxrth. Join Patreon for access.

  • Readers' Routes: Mary Mills & The Jackpot Loop

    Today's Reader's Route is from Mary Mills and takes you up through some old forest service roads in Northern Minnesota. Enjoy this gravel route and submit your own for a free patch. Submission from Mary Mills The Jackpot Loop consists of old Forest Service Roads and gravel roads. There are a number of significant hills with loose rock on some of the forest service roads. This route is also a popular ATV route so is best ridden during the week. Submit Your Reader's Route All Reader's Routes So Far

  • The Real Chase Wark: Kwik Trip Donuts, the Spirit of Gravel, & His Last Minute 2024 Life Time Grand Prix

    Chase Wark is a professional cyclist, endurance coach, and race director from Minnesota. He recently became a last minute addition to the 2024 Life Time Grand Prix. Here we pick his brain about Kwik Trip, his cycling goals, and what it was like to go all in on professional cycling. Follow along with Chase Wark @chasethebiker or learn more about his coaching services and gravel events at Wark's Cycling Service. Interview with Chase Wark: How did you become a last minute addition to the 2024 Life Time Grand Prix? Getting a last minute spot into the Life Time Grand Prix was a bit of a surprise to me. I was standing in line at a Subway and got a call from an unknown Minnesota phone number. I thought it was someone calling to ask a question about one of the gravel events I put on, but when I answered the person said “Hi, this is Bekah from Life Time” and I knew then I was going to get offered a spot. I don’t know if it was the early season results I got (1st at Rock Cobbler, 2nd at Valley of Tears to Keegan, and 13th at BWR AZ) or if it was my application from 2023 that I submitted that got me the spot. I guess I could probably ask. Getting into the Grand Prix has made me change my schedule a lot. I was going to do a decent amount of local midwest races like I’ve always done, but now I’ll be mostly focused on training for the big races, traveling to them, and then recovering from the travel. What do you hope to accomplish this year in the Life Time Grand Prix? I have two goals for my season in the Grand Prix. My first goal is I hope to get a top 10 result at one of the races. My second goal is I hope to get an invite back for 2025. It would be nice to know months in advance next time so I can plan out my season and my training better. You're more of a gravel guy, right? How are you enjoying mountain biking and what was Sea Otter like? I think I’m the most midwest gravel guy out there since I can’t handle a bike unless it’s a 90 degree turn, even then I struggle. Last year I actually bought a mountain bike to work on my skills a bit and so I could go on some fun off-road adventure routes in Winona. I don’t have a power meter on it so it’s a fun way to just enjoy riding with friends. Going into Sea Otter though I had to practice on actual singletrack at race pace. I only did that for 2 weeks before Sea Otter so my skills were subpar compared to everyone else. I was just happy to not end up dead last out of the LTGP athletes. Outside of the racing at Sea Otter, the expo was huge! Imagine the MN State Fair, but it’s all bike stuff. It was a fun way to connect with current sponsors and meet new ones! What was it like quitting your job to pursue full time professional cycling? Quitting my job was a huge leap of faith that somehow everything would work out. Everyone I talked to and asked for advice from all pretty much said the same thing, and that was that I would regret not chasing my dream. My family, wife, friends, and co-workers were all super supportive when I made the decision. I feel even more busy nowadays that I don’t have a job. I coach 30 athletes, run an Airbnb with my wife, and I host Granny’s Gravel Grinder, The Hotdish, plus the new Zinger MTB Race. There’s been a lot of learning from the highs and lows of everything, but I’m glad I made the decision to quit my job to become a full time bike racer. I've seen some posts about you and the "spirit of gravel". What's that all about? That’s mostly me just trolling with the folks who get upset that I tend to geek out over aero bike racing equipment. They think somehow some dude riding a disc wheel is ruining the spirit of gravel, even though they’re getting upset at the event where they paid $300 to register, $1000 for hotel rooms, and had to ask their family to come out to the aid stations since the race doesn’t provide any support. I only show up to those races since that’s where the big names show up to race. If I wanted to truly experience the spirit of gravel I would have my schedule full of events like Ragnorak, The DAMN, Filthy 50, Granny’s Gravel Grinder, Hungry Bear, and so many more small events that still offer amazing courses and support for a fraction of the price. You seem like a big Kwik Trip fan. What do you like to get there? I’m a big Kwik Trip fan and would love it if they sponsored me. I rode 480 miles only stopping at Kwik Trips in one day hoping they would see it and sponsor me, but I only got some stickers and a shirt. I have two go to items when I stop at Kwik Trip. I usually get a Mega Buddy (44oz fountain drink) , half lemonade and half strawberry flavored mountain dew and I’ll sip some of it and then put the rest in my bottles. I’ll also get 2 glazer donuts. If I eat 3 I get an upset stomach, if I eat 2 I get more hungry for some reason. Sometimes if I’m with a friend we will buy a box of donuts, eat 3 each, and then ride with upset stomachs for about an hour and regret the decision. What's your proudest accomplishment on the bike so far? I don’t have one specific moment that stands out. Most of the time when I’ve won a race I thought I could win going into the event, and I’ve never won a race where I thought I wouldn’t. I would have to say either my 2nd at Valley of Tears or my 2nd at Gravel Worlds last year (use code “Chase” to save $15 for this year’s registration) were my 2 best results. Winning the DAMn on a road bike is also one of my proudest moments. That’s what made me fall in love with gravel actually. The following year at The DAMn I proposed to my now wife and that is one of my favorite biking memories. How did you decide to start your own gravel races and what's it like putting on events that you aren't a participant of? The ideas came from thinking too much on my bike rides. For several months on my rides all I could think about was hosting events where I grew up and where I live now, and making the gravel events have a fun theme to them. Before gravel events I hosted cyclocross events at my parents and always knew people loved the grassroots stuff. Gravel events are a lot less physical work than cyclocross events, but there is more planning involved and since we serve food that takes a lot of time to make. I enjoy putting on the gravel events more because not everyone is racing. At Granny’s this year we had several people do their first 100 miles and I think that’s super cool since you’ll never forget your first 100 mile ride. When Life Time Grand Prix announced you, they said that one interesting fact about Chase is that he is from Winona, Minnesota. Is that really the most interesting thing about you? I don’t know if I was tired when I sent that answer over that an interesting fact about me was that I live in Winona, MN or if they were just scrambling to find something so they added it. I don’t know what interesting fact I would add. Maybe that my two front teeth are fake or that I’ve drank half a gallon of root beer on a bike ride once?? I don’t really know. I don’t have any special talents or any interests that are too out of the ordinary I feel like. Maybe I’ll ask my wife what’s quirky about me and I can get it added when they print new cards.

  • Jenna Rinehart on Her Return to Pro Racing, Women's Elite Cycling, and the 2024 Life Time Grand Prix

    Jenna Rinehard is a Minnesota-based professional off road cyclist. She finished the 2023 Life Time Grand Prix in 6th place overall and also just recently claimed her first pro gravel win. Here we catch her for a Q&A on her 2024 outlook, claiming a spot at Gravel Worlds in Belgium this October, and much, much more. Follow along with Jenna Rinehart's season @jzrinehart How did you get into professional offroad cycling? My local ski area, Mount Kato, had mountain bike trails in the summer and I did my first ride at age 15. I entered my first race that summer and quickly fell in love with the sport. I spent many years racing the MN and WI off road MTB series. I went to my first National level race the summer after graduating high school. That opened my eyes to professional level racing and seeing really fast women crushing it. I worked my way through the ranks and got my pro license at age 21. You just took your very first pro gravel win at the Highlands Classic after getting left in the dust with a dropped chain in mile one. How the heck did you pull that off? Haha yes I made things a bit more challenging for myself by dropping my chain and losing the field so early in the race. I tried to not panic and keep a positive mindset. I really didn’t think I’d see the front of the race again but the course looked fun to ride so I could at least enjoy it and hopefully pick off some riders. I stayed on the gas and sent it on the downhills and after the first aid station I started to see some riders up the road. I continued to pick off riders which was really motivating and by the last big climb of the day I’d made it up to the top 2 riders. I got a bit of a gap on a twisty downhill with just under 10 miles to go and decided to go for it. I just held off 2nd place by under 30 seconds for the win. I’m a bit shocked and thrilled to pull that off! You rode the Life Time Grand Prix in 2023, what was that experience like? I had taken a long break away from the top level of the sport to run our bike shop so when I jumped back in I wasn’t sure what to expect. I ended up having a way more successful season then I could have imagined. I also got to know a lot of the other women which was super cool. It was so fun to race in a strong and deep women’s field. Unfortunately, that can be harder to find when doing more local races but the fields are growing and hopefully more women get inspired to come out and jump in the races. The equal opportunities LifeTime Grand Prix has created for Pro level racing is really cool to be a part of. The sport, especially for women, is in such a better place than when I used to race at this level. You're now in 6th place for the 2024 Life Time Grand Prix after the first round. What are your hopes and expectations for year 2? I learned so much after last season which I think definitely has its advantages. I learned so much about myself and what I’m capable of, nutrition, equipment choices, and how the courses ride. Most of these events were brand new for me last year. I’m excited to take all that I learned and apply it to the races this year. The season is super long and anything can happen. I know there will be ups and downs to deal with. It’s hard to set certain result expectations as there are several new riders in the field this year and it seems to keep getting stronger each year. I just hope to apply what I learned last season and put forth my best effort. You won a sprint to earn 2nd place at Mid South this year. How did that feel to take that spot in the final seconds of the race? It was an incredible feeling. I think that might have been the first sprint I have ever won haha! Last year I tended to fade towards the end of races and lose spots. This year I have really been working on my race nutrition and I think this really helped me. I felt so strong all the way to the end. You earned a spot at UCI Gravel Worlds in Belgium this October. How does that feel to have that on your horizon and what's your outlook for 2024 as a whole? It’s super exciting to have qualified for a spot at the World Championships! I had the opportunity to go to the Mountain Bike World Championships when I was younger as a U23 rider. After taking a long break from competing I really didn’t think I’d find myself in this position again, especially being a bit older and at an Elite World Championships. It’s an incredible honor to be able to represent the USA against the best riders in the world. I’m really just looking forward to the entire season and super grateful to have this opportunity to compete at this level again. How does living in the north with a cold snowy winter for half of the year impact your ability to compete on the world gravel stage? It definitely makes for some challenges at times. Especially when trying to get ready for some of these early Spring races. It can be hard to get the long days in. But there also are some positives to it as well. I believe it can make you a bit tougher. Riding on snow also gives you good bike handling skills and is similar to mud without the messy cleanup afterwards. The season is long so sometimes having a little slower start can make you feel fresher and stronger at the end of the season. I don’t like to ride inside so I spend most of my time outside on my fat bike. I run studded tires and ride a lot of gravel roads and some single track. The wider studded tires help me feel a bit safer and the slower speeds keep you warmer than a gravel bike. That being said, I did skip out on winter a bit this year and spent some time getting in some big training days in Arizona. This helped a lot as I started my season earlier than I ever have before with several races in March. You own a bike shop? How do you bring your love of the gravel community into the bike shop experience? Yes, I co-own Nicollet Bike and Ski shop with my husband. I love to help others get into the sport and share my experiences with them. We host both weekly and monthly gravel group rides. We put on a yearly gravel event called the River Valley 100. It’s August 25th and we have a 100k option or a shorter 26 mile route. The 100k is not a race but more of a spirited group ride showcasing some of our best gravel. I also have created a list of our best gravel routes on our website with Strava links people can follow.

  • Gravel Getaway: Hygge House on the Chequamegon Gravel Network

    The Hygge House is a cozy retreat nestled in the woods, offering a peaceful escape with room for up to six guests. Enjoy simple pleasures like board games, vinyl albums, and outdoor lounging, right on the Chequamegon Gravel network. View this cabin on Airbnb. Details Entire Cabin 6 guests 3 bedrooms 3 beds 1 baths In Danish, hygge (Hoo-guh) is described in many ways, but it is simply the Danish ritual of enjoying life's simple pleasures. Friends, family, graciousness. The Hygge House encapsulates this definition by arming itself with a slow and peaceful way of living. No television, Chemex coffee system, gas fireplace, blankets to snuggle, outside deck for enjoying the peace, yet only 2 miles from town if you're craving some local action. Gravel Routes Near This Cabin This cabin is right in the heart of the Chequamegon Gravel Guide routes. Check out several handpicked gravel routes plus some stops for food, drink, and other fun. Plan a Gravel Getaway Near Cable, Wisconsin

  • QUIZ: Guess These Gravel Races Just By Their Brand Colors

    Time for a digital gravel game. How many of these regional gravel races can you guess just from their brand colors? There are 10 races plus 1 tiebreaker round. Don't scroll to the bottom and spoil it until you've guessed all 11 races. Ready to test your knowledge of our region's gravel racing scene? Check out these 10 gravel race brand colors and see how many you can accurately guess. Official Rules: Scroll through these 10 gravel race brand color palettes Guess which race goes with each brand color palette When you've guessed all 10, scroll to the bottom to see how many you got right. Share with your friends to see if you're smarter than them After the 10 options, there's 1 final tie breaker. 1. Guess Which Race This Is: 2. Guess Which Race This Is: 3. Guess Which Race This Is: 4. Guess Which Race This Is: 5. Guess Which Race This Is: 6. Guess Which Race This Is: 7. Guess Which Race This Is: 8. Guess Which Race This Is: 9. Guess Which Race This Is: 10. Guess Which Race This Is: TIE BREAKER: Guess Which Race This Is: Answers Answer 1: Answer 2: Answer 3: Answer 4: Answer 5: Answer 6: Answer 7: Answer 8: Answer 9: Answer 10: Tiebreaker Answer: Looking for 2024 Gravel Races?

  • Gravel Goals: Cycling at 50+. A Guide to Training, Nutrition, and Recovery Changes

    This year we launched a new series called "Gravel Goals" to help you train for your 100 mile gravel races. Today Coach Paul Warloski discusses how your training, nutrition, and recovery should change as you're riding past age 50. Words by Paul Warloski of Simple Endurance Coaching. To learn more, visit our Introduction to the Gravel Goals series. Gravel Race Success As A Cyclist Over 50: A Guide to Training, Nutrition, and Recovery Changes Cyclists over 50 are putting in some of their best performances at long gravel races. While we may not be able to compete with the 20-year-olds at the pointy end, older men and women can complete and excel at gravel races of all lengths. Whether training for improved health, competition, or personal growth, gravel racing is a great sport for those of us who are older than 50. For older cyclists, though, there are some key differences in training, strength training, and nutrition that we need to understand to adapt. This is the seventh in a series of articles about gravel racing. Using the 80/20 model to schedule workouts. Learn More. Building a base for gravel racing performance. Learn More. Five keys to training for gravel racing. Learn More. Why you should do intervals and how to do them right. Learn More. Strength training for endurance, power, and comfort. Learn More. Optimizing Hydration & Nutrition on Longer Rides. Learn More. Maintain endurance miles We have discussed the importance of base building to improve aerobic capacity and fitness. Start with an endurance phase, gradually increasing your mileage each week to build endurance without overtraining. If you haven’t been riding long, it’s critical to be consistent in your training and do most of your riding at zone 2 endurance pace. This means building up long endurance days. You don’t need to ride a century to get ready for a century, though. You can do fifty-mile rides back to back on a weekend, for example. But get the long rides in to practice your nutrition and get your butt used to long hours in the saddle. Make sure you include rest and recovery Incorporate rest weeks to allow your body to recover and adapt. As a master cyclist, the key to endurance training over 50 lies in listening to your body and allowing for adequate recovery. Recovery time is longer as we age, so incorporating more rest days into your training plan is essential. We must take the time to properly recover since it takes longer to repair the muscular damage we do. On the rest days, do some active recovery like taking a walk, doing yoga, or swimming. Intervals are more important than ever Intervals are even more important for gravel cyclists over 50. As we age, we lose muscle mass and strength. So we need to do the kind of high-intensity intervals that stimulate a variety of muscle fibers. VO2 work and intervals done above the second threshold will recruit and strengthen fast-twitch fibers that tend to weaken and disappear with age. We talked about intervals in a previous part of this series. Get in the gym and lift weights Along with the challenging intervals, cyclists over 50 need to be in the gym lifting weights. We need full-body strength training to prepare our body to be ready for the challenges of gravel racing. This means two to three sessions a week in the gym. Heavy weights also appear to stimulate hormone production, especially testosterone which helps to build and maintain muscle mass. Focus on core strength, leg power, and balance to improve bike handling, power output, and injury resistance. Strength training also helps to prevent injuries by correcting imbalances. Cyclists tend to have strong quad muscles, but less activated and strong glute muscles, so doing deadlifts and single-leg Romanian deadlifts will strengthen glute muscles. Also, upper body push and pull and core exercises need to be included. Nutritional needs change Cyclists over 50 have different nutritional requirements when preparing for and participating in endurance events like a 100-mile ride, compared to their younger counterparts. These differences are primarily due to changes in metabolism, body composition, nutritional needs, and recovery times associated with aging. Here are key nutritional considerations for cyclists over 50: 1. Increased need for protein Muscle maintenance: Older adults experience a natural decline in muscle mass and strength, a condition known as sarcopenia. To combat this, a higher intake of protein is recommended to support muscle repair, maintenance, and growth. Consuming protein-rich foods or supplements before and after long rides can aid in muscle recovery and adaptation. Protein distribution: It's also beneficial for older cyclists to distribute their protein intake evenly throughout the day, aiming for about 20-30 grams of high-quality protein per meal to maximize muscle protein synthesis. 2. Calcium and vitamin D Bone health: With age, the risk of osteoporosis increases, making calcium and vitamin D crucial for bone health. Dairy products, fortified foods, leafy greens, and fish are excellent sources. Vitamin D is also synthesized through sun exposure, so outdoor training can contribute to this need. 3. Antioxidant-rich foods Reducing oxidative stress: Endurance cycling can increase oxidative stress, which may impact older adults more significantly. A diet rich in antioxidants (found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds) can help mitigate these effects, supporting overall health and recovery. 4. Heart health Fats in the diet: Attention should be given to the type of fats consumed, focusing on heart-healthy unsaturated fats found in fish, nuts, avocados, and olive oil. 5. Digestive health Fiber and gut health: A diet high in fiber from whole grains, vegetables, and fruits supports digestive health, which can be a concern for some older adults. However, I recommend easily digestible foods like gels during long rides to prevent gastrointestinal distress. 6. Joint h Anti-inflammatory Foods: Incorporating foods with anti-inflammatory properties, such as turmeric, ginger, berries, and omega-3 fatty acids (from fish or flaxseeds), can help manage inflammation and joint pain, which may be more prevalent in older cyclists. 7. Stay on top of your hydration Effective hydration strategies for endurance cycling are critical, especially for older cyclists who might have a diminished thirst response. Develop a hydration plan that includes drinking small amounts of water or electrolyte beverages regularly throughout your ride. Avoid waiting until you're thirsty to drink, as this can be a late indicator of dehydration. Cycling injury prevention for older cyclists Doing yoga for mobility is a great way to maintain a range of motion and reduce stiffness, particularly in the hips, back, and shoulders. I typically have my athletes do yoga two to three times a week, more if they can. A good bike fit is also going to go a long way to enhance comfort and efficiency while minimizing the risk of strain injuries. Check in with your doctor It’s also important that we check in with our healthcare providers as well. Getting regular blood work and physicals helps keep aging cyclists on track with their training progress as well as find potential issues before they become serious. Focusing on good health will lead to good fitness. Mental preparation for gravel events One of the advantages we have as older cyclists is that we are wiser (allegedly!). Sometimes, though, we can trick ourselves into thinking we can train and race like a 20-year-old, then find ourselves in a tough situation. It’s a good thing to set realistic goals, know what you’re capable of, and build a positive mindset for training and racing. We are far more ready to know our limitations and have fun, rather than worry about the competition. For cyclists over 50, preparing for a 100-mile gravel race is as much about smart training and recovery as it is about endurance and strength. By adapting your training plan to include adequate rest, focusing on nutrition, hydration, and injury prevention, and ensuring your bike is properly fitted to your needs, you're setting the stage for a successful and enjoyable race. About Coach Paul Warloski Paul Warloski is a Level 2 USA-Cycling Coach, a certified yoga instructor, and a certified personal trainer. He supports everyday endurance athletes at Simple Endurance Coaching, based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He's been racing gravel, road, mountain bike, and cyclocross for decades, so he brings both experience and training knowledge to help you to your best gravel race performances in 2024. He'll be racing the Big Rivers Gravel Series in Illinois, the Hungry Bear in Cable, likely the Coon Fork 40 in Eau Claire, and other gravel races this year. To learn more, or for a free 30-minute Virtual Coffee to talk about your training and your goals, visit Simple Endurance Coaching.

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