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  • Jared Linzmeier's 5-Century Northwoods Bikepacking Trip [Part 1]: An Adventure Out My Back Door

    Founder/Owner of Ruby Coffee, Jared Linzmeier was looking for an epic, full-northwoods bikepacking adventure that left from his back door and took him to familiar places via unfamiliar routes. Here we include part 1 of his day-by-day adventure journal, maps of his route, and a gallery of photos. In Part 1, Jared shares the inspiration for this adventure and daily notes from days 1-3. Story and Photos by Jared LInzmeier. This route travels through incredible Wisconsin landmarks and landscapes, connecting Rib Mountain at the southern end of the loop to the Chequamegon National Forest at the northern end. Shane Hitz assembled this loop by combining and bridging three existing routes that are usually raced, toured, or bikepacked: 1. Dave Schlabowske’s Tour de Chequamegon [LINK] 2. Chris Schotz’s TTT 103 [LINK] 3. Shane’s own Red Granite Grinder 144. [LINK] Together they are a pretty ultimate Northwoods experience, with some truly amazing sights and stops along the way. One of the nice things about a looped route is that riders can select start points that suit their preferences or needs. Being born and raised in Wisconsin and having spent a lot of time up north, my attraction to this route was that it connects communities and places that I’m familiar with by traveling through a lot of unfamiliar, off the beaten track terrain. My ride centered around the town of Cable being my destination, breaking my trip down into ‘there’ and ‘back.’ Furthermore, I thought it would be an even greater connection to start the ride from my neighborhood in the Amherst, Wisconsin area, adding approximately 120 miles and bringing the route total to over 600. Journal Entry Day 1: 100 miles, 2400 ft climbing I rode from my house in Amherst Junction to Edgar via Wausau and camped at Scotch Creek Woodland- Preserve. An adventure from your back door. The first day of riding I decided on a route that took me on some familiar local country roads that led to gravel through the Dewey Marsh area north of Stevens Point. I got a later start in the afternoon after work, so I wasn't exactly sure how far I'd get or where I would camp. I also had to adjust my mileage expectations based on the load of my bike and kit I was carrying. North out of Dewey, there’s an unpaved access road into Marathon County Forest that leads through Leather Camp Forest Unit and emerges near Kronenwetter, just southeast of Wausau. This stretch is basically a two track road through the woods. From there I rode to Nine Mile County Forest, where Shane Hitz's Ultimate route originates. The track carries on west of Wausau on some nice, scenic gravel and heads over to Edgar on a pretty well maintained ATV trail. By the time I reached Edgar, it was after 9pm and dark outside so I stopped for the night at a primitive and probably unsanctioned camp in Scotch Creek Preserve. Journal Entry Day 2: 113 miles, 4300 ft climbing From Edgar to Phillips via Ogema, Timm's Hill Sometimes you hear noises at night. I yelled into the night a few times at whatever animal was making some huffing sounds. Mostly I convinced myself it was a deer in the nearby woods and that it would leave me alone. It was also a subtle reminder that adventure isn’t far from home. Woke up and shook off the dew, found some hot water to get some instant Ruby coffee going right away using hot water at a nearby gas station. The sun came up and I had a beautiful view of Rib Mtn to the east. I rode some bumpy stuff (legacy type singletrack) through the Scott Creek Preserve (tough on a loaded bike), emerged from that and ventured north. Great rainbow views to the west, especially at Rib Falls, which I took as a message from the universe that I was where I was supposed to be. The surface northwest of Merril transitioned noticeably as I made my way out of the red granite roads into the forest roads of Lincoln County. More rugged stuff, more variety. That kicked out near Westboro and I got rained on pretty heavily. Rail trail to Ogema, where I stopped for lunch and warmed up at the Rail Trail Cafe. I’d advise stopping here to fuel up because options before and after are pretty few and far between. The rain subsided and I finished the rest of the hilly route through Timm's Hill (highest point in WI!) and all the winding way to Phillips. I was pretty wiped after this day due to the climbing, weather, and the tougher gravel forest roads, which had become slow from precipitation as well. My feet and gear were wet and I was physically tired from being cold so I decided to get a hotel for better recovery. Phillips has a lot of resupply options, including a well-stocked Pick N Save! I got a rotisserie chicken, peanut butter, bars, apples, and wobbled my bike over to the hotel. Bathtubs and hand soap do a decent job for washing gear. Journal Entry Day 3: 108 miles, 3380 ft climbing From Phillips to Cable via Winter What a wonderful impact some sunshine, dry gear, and coffee can have. I felt euphoric once I got out of bed and got moving (I might have definitely used two packs of instant on this day). I had some gear that needed an extra boost to finish drying before hitting the road again, so I happily recalled passing by a laundromat the day before. Thankfully my room had a hair dryer that dried out my shoes pretty effectively as well. Heading west out of Philips, I made quick time on a paved section and then got started on more gravel in the scenic Flambeau State Forest. The riding was undulating and pretty smooth, with the classic scenes of log piles here and there and the occasional truck passing by. There’s something empowering about knowing you have everything you need to take care of yourself through remote segments. Along with that is a healthy dose of vulnerability away from the comforts and resources of home. Next stop was a resupply in Winter followed by a short stretch on the Tuscobia State Trail. By this time I was fixated on the pizza looming in the distance in Cable and savored the smooth miles in the Chequamegon National Forest. About ten miles from Cable the route transitions from gravel to proper single track. Riding along the Namakagon CAMBA trail, I quickly forgot I was approaching 100 miles for the day and lost myself in the fun of mountain biking on my loaded rig. I stopped for a few photos and watched a muskrat dip into the water, soaking up the landscape. The last few miles into town are a dynamic series of punchy gravel climbs and a bit of rough two-track that eventually emerge to a fast and fun descent that leads right to the North End Trailhead and into Cable. Let me tell you: PIZZA NEVER TASTED SO GOOD. Thankfully I arrived just in time to order before The Rivers closed for the night. Camping at the town campgrounds a couple miles away was also absolutely perfect. To see the entire route including the journey home, stay tuned for Part 2 .

  • Top 3 Reasons to Join Fatbike Gear & Adventure Day

    Fatbike Gear & Adventure Day is coming up on Monday, Dec 12 at 7pm. In this 1-hour virtual event, we'll talk about our favorite races, adventures, and fatbike gear so you can plan a great winter of fatbiking. Hit the link to join us. Interested in being a part of this? Check out the top 3 reasons to join us here. 1. It's a Brand New Community Event with Laura, George, & Jill We have some really rad guests talking all about their favorite fatbike gear, races, and adventures. Laura Hrubes, George Kapitz, and Jill Martindale are joining us and we want to hear from YOU. Bring your fatbike questions and join us in this brand new community event. 2. Learn About New Races, Adventure Hubs, & Great Gear The best tips come from the ones on the ground who have tried all the gear and ridden all the places. We're going to talk with our fatbike panel about their recommendations on incredible fatbike experiences so you can discover new places and gear this winter. 3. Win Prizes from Wren Sports, 45NRTH, Embark Maple, The Nxrth, & Broken Spoke Bikes Our sponsors and panelists are super generous and will be giving away some great gear to keep your adventures going this winter. Here are the prizes: 1. No-Nonsense Carbon Handlebars from Wren Sports 2. Sturmfist 4 Gloves from 45NRTH 3. 6-Pack of Maple Energy from Embark Maple 4. 'In the Woods' Sweatshirt from The Nxrth 5. Winter Beanie from Broken Spoke Bikes

  • Seeley Dave's Fatbike & Rack Part 2: Custom Silver-Brazed Fatbike Rear Rack

    Dave Schlabowske recently got a new Milwaukee Bicycle Co fatbike. He rounded it out with completely custom components and he silver-brazed a custom rear rack. In part 2 of this series he shares how he designed and built the rack for lightweight bikepacking setup. See his process and gallery of photos here. Read Part 1 about Dave's fatbike build HERE. Story and photos by Dave Schlabowske. Over the many years I have been bikepacking I have refined my camping gear so most of it packs very small and is extremely lightweight. My shelter and sleep system only weigh about 3 lbs total, and I can stuff the Zpack Duplex tent, the Enlightened Equipment 40° Quilt, Thermarest NeoAir Uberlight pad and Sea to Summit pillow in two Sea to Summit 5 L roll-top dry bags. Because that gear is light and small, I was looking for a way to pack it that did not take up precious space in a bikepacking bag that was designed to hold heavier items. My experience with lightweight rear racks has not been good. Aluminum racks eventually break due to fatigue from vibrations riding rough trails and gravel roads. Stronger chromoly steel racks are heavy and overkill. Planning the Custom Fatbike Rear Rack When Trek came out with their 1120 with its unique front and rear rack system I thought that was an ingenious way to pack small dry bags, but it was still overbuilt for my lightweight gear. When I converted my Milwaukee Bicycle Company Feral 29 from an MTB Trail Bike to dedicated bikepacking rig, I had it stripped and asked if Ben’s Cycle could add more rack mounts and then had it repowder-coated. Ben’s has the Waterford Precision Cycle-built frames delivered without paint so they can add almost any braze-on a customer wants before powder coating, so they had no problem with my request to add a triple mount on the downtube, top tube bag mount and two water bottle mounts to the seat stays. Using the Trek 1120 rack as my inspiration, I planned to build a custom rack using 3/16” 304 stainless steel wire, which is a tad thicker than what is typically used for water bottle cages. I bought a handful of 60 inch lengths of wire from Speedy Metals in New Berlin for about $5 each. The wire is thin enough that I can bend it with a simple hand tool and can be silver-brazed given I still have an Oxy-Acetylene torch, but no longer own a tig welder. Measuring, Bending, & Brazing The project is something like a combination of origami and packaging design in that the main section of the rack is all bent from a single 60 inch piece of stainless wire. I measure all my bends from the center of the wire and then make the bends. Along the way I am careful to keep the rack symmetrical and aligned. While it is important to measure carefully and make precise bends, the wire is forgiving in that I can twist it and tweak bends slightly after they are made. Once the main rack is brazed up, I braze it to two pieces of ¼ inch stainless plate that I cut into strips to mount the rack to the chainstays. After that is done, I add some additional 3/16” wire pieces to the main rack so I can securely attach the dry bags with bikepacking straps. I am also able to attach things like my tent stakes and Morakniv Bushcraft knife. The first rack I built for my 29er worked out so well that I just built another one for the new Milwaukee Bicycle Company fat bike I just got. I made efforts to keep the weight down on the fat bike rack (10.9 oz/310 g) and it ended up lighter than the 29er rack (12.8 oz/363 g). You may notice I like the color orange for my bikes, which dates back to my first bikepacking/gravel bike, which was the iconic 1993 Bridgestone XO-1. That bike was destroyed when my old concrete garage collapsed at our first house in Milwaukee, but I have had a thing for orange steel bikes ever since. How it Performs I built that first rack two years ago, and after a few thousand miles of bikepacking on varied rough terrain, I have had no failure or need to make repairs. The racks are sturdy, but also flex enough so they hold up to all the vibrations that cause stress fractures in aluminum racks. I can’t make these for other bikes since they are custom built to fit specific seatstay dimensions. For those who want something similar, I suggest they look at the Aeroe rack system. That is a bit more heavy duty, but seems very well engineered. To see Dave's original custom rack and his Milwaukee Bicycle Feral 29er, see his Reader's Rig HERE.

  • Seeley Dave's Fatbike & Rack Part 1: Milwaukee Bicycle Company Buck Shot Fatbike Review

    Dave Schlabowske recently got a new Milwaukee Bicycle Co fatbike. He rounded it out with completely custom components and he silver-brazed a custom rear rack. In the first of this 2-part series he reviews his new fatbike and shares about the build he chose. Stay tuned for part 2 where he shares how he designed and built a custom rack for it. Story and photos by Dave Schlabowske. Lugged steel bikes were my first love, when I got into cycling as an adult. My dream bike was the orange 1993 Bridgestone XO-1, which I even bought used. That bike was a unicorn and perhaps the first true bikepacking bike before bikepacking was a word. Sadly my XO-1 was destroyed in a freak accident when my 1920s era concrete garage collapsed at our first home in Milwaukee. Insurance replaced that bike with a custom frame built at Waterford Precision Cycles, where I eventually worked as a builder for a while. I started tig welding Standard BMX frames and handlebars that Waterford built at the time, then moved to machining and finally to brazing. I was not there long enough to earn the title of master frame builder, but I have probably welded and brazed more joints than were smoked at Woodstock. As mountain biking exploded in the later 90s, tig-welded steel frames became the the leading-edge technology for mountain biking because the process allowed for angles that most lugs could not accommodate. While tig-welded aluminum frames are inexpensive and carbon is now the choice of racers and weight weenies, I still have an affinity for steel … and the color orange. Planning My Custom Waterford-Built Steel Ben's Cycle Fatbike So when I heard that Ben’s Cycle added a Waterford-built fat bike to their Milwaukee Bicycle Company line of custom frames, I decided to hand down my Carbon Mukluk to my wife (who didn’t have a fat bike) and order a Milwaukee fat bike for my winter ride. We now live in Seeley, WI where I groom 5 miles of private trails in our neighborhood for fat biking and skiing. Plus the Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association grooms around 70 miles of singletrack. Add in the hundreds of miles of snow covered gravel trails and you can see we live in fat bike nirvana. A Fatter Orange Twin I already own an orange (‘natch) Milwaukee Bicycle Company Feral 29er, that I have set up as a dedicated bikepacking rig with lots of mounts and a custom rear rack I built. So I had them build the bike up as a fatter orange twin. Ben’s gets their MBC frames from Waterford bare steel, so they can customize them with their cool stainless logo badges and add extra mounts anywhere a costomer wants. I asked for top tube bag mounts, three-pack mounts below the downtube by the bottom bracket and two water bottle mounts on the top of the seat stays for the custom rack I built. I opted for a carbon Mukluk fork because it has lots of mounts for bikepacking and routing for dynamo lighting wiring. Selecting & Building Out the Components The build on the bike was nice but not top end. I opted for the now industry standard Sun Ringle’ Mulefüt 80SL wheelset from Hayes Bicycle Group based in Mequon. I am running a Shutter Precision PDX8-150 dynamo hub on the front to power a Sinewave Cycles Beacon headlight (that also keeps my electronics charged while riding), but the rear hub is a Sun Ringle’. Tires are studded 45NRTH Dillinger 5s, set up tubeless of course. I opted for SRAM Eagle GX, a step up from the NX group on my Mukluk, because it allows for a 52 tooth big ring in the back standard. I am pushing that with an FSA Comet crankset with a 30 tooth chainring ideal for the steep punchy hills on the trails out my back door. Brakes are Shimano Deore rather than SRAM for the ease of maintenance with mineral oil. Ergon GA3 grips sit next to a PNW Loam dropper lever on the aluminum Jones H riser bar. The saddle is a Selle Anatomica X2 (which at one time were made in Elkhorn, WI) on a PNW Pine dropper post, one of the few droppers that come in 27.2 mm. Pedals are Fyxation Mesa Subzeros anodized orange of course, another great Milwaukee company. Fully built up with the dynamo hub, riser bar, leather saddle the complete bike tips the scales at just under 32 lbs. For comparison, my Mukluk with a similar build but no dynamo hub weighs 29 lbs, so there isn’t much of a weight penalty to the Reynolds 853 air-hardened butted steel frame. When you add all the bikepacking bags and gear the bike will be toting, it is hardly worth thinking about. Riding & Geometry The bike rides super stable at speed. There is no wobble when I rip the downhills and the frame geometry seems ideal for bikepacking, with a slack-ish 69° head tube angle, 73° seat tube angle and 455 mm chainstays. The head tube angle and longer chainstays make for a stable ride when loaded and the big front triangle fits the same Salsa EXP frame bag as my Milwaukee Feral 29er. The stainless rear rack I built for this frame is actually a few ounces lighter than the one I built for my 29er and still holds my tent, sleep system and Morkniv Bushcraft knife in case I want to stop and make some firewood to warm up on a ride.

  • Top 5 Stories on The Nxrth | FALL 2022

    With the winding down of fall, we're taking a look at the 5 most popular stories on The Nxrth from September, October, and November of 2022. This roundup covers some portraits, Gordon the blacksmith, and a whole lot of gravel racing. 1. Gravel Pizza Portraits The inaugural Gravel Pizza Overnighter took place in September. 37 new friends biked the Northwoods and camped at a pizza farm together. Here are the portraits of the original crew of riders who biked a little gravel, hiked through a little sand, rolled through a little rain, climbed a couple hills, ate a few slices of pizza, and got to see one 10-inch pumpkin get blasted 700 yards from the largest cannon I've ever seen. READ THE STORY. 2. Filthy 50 Interview w Trenton Raygor Chatting About the Soldout Year 9 and the Community That Built It The Filthy is a sellout gravel biking event in beautiful Lanesboro, Minnesota. In this story, we talked with co-organizer Trenton Raygor about October snow, the move to Lanesboro, and why the heck it fills up so stinking fast. READ THE STORY. 3. Meeting Gordon Gearhart, the 906 Awards Blacksmith In 2015, Todd Poquette asked a local blacksmith, Gordon Gearhart about making belt buckles for an upcoming endurance cycling event. Since then, the iron-forged awards have been adopted for the Polar Roll, The Crusher, and Marji Geskick 100. They've become an iconic symbol of ruggedness, pain, and glory that only a small number of people ever get. READ THE STORY. 4. Winston County Gravel Cup Sophomore Year Recap & Gallery The Winston County Gravel Cup recently had its sophomore year of gravel in September. Year two saw nearly doubled attendance, great weather, and some stunning photos to relive the event. Here race director Jake Ellefsen shares a recap of the event and save-the-date for net year. READ THE STORY. 5. Red Granite Grinder Q&A with Shane Hitz The Red Granite Grinder was a perfect way to close out the fall gravel riding season. This year's event gave access to private property segments and trails that aren't open to the public. In this interview, we talked with Shane Hitz about how he dreams up such unique courses. READ THE STORY.

  • Announcing: Fatbike Gear & Adventure Day

    You're invited to the first ever "Fatbike Gear & Adventure Day", a virtual event where we geek out about the the fatbike gear and adventures we're most excited for this winter. Guests George Kapitz, Jill Martindale, and Laura Hrubes will be joining us on Monday, December 12 at 7pm CST. Learn more and register for FREE here. It's time to start putting some epic fatbike adventures on the calendar and planning the gear that'll help you go further and have more fun this winter up north. The Nxrth is thrilled to announce a brand new virtual event called "Fatbike Gear & Adventure Day" presented by Wren Sports. We have some fun guests joining the event and we want you to be a part of it too. REGISTER HERE We'll talk about: Favorite gear picks for 2023 Best fatbike races and events Incredible fatbike adventure destinations in WI, MN, and the U.P. Q&A with your questions about gear and adventures Join us on Monday, December 12 at 7PM CST for this live fatbike event. Register for FREE here. REGISTER HERE

  • Your Favorite Gravel Race Moments of 2022

    I asked email subscribers to share their favorite gravel race moment from the 2022 gravel racing season. Here are some of their favorite photos and memories of racing and community from this year's events. Jack Durand This was a Brainerd YMCA Gravel Grinders ride so I got to share it with my favorite riding companions. At 210.8 miles, I achieved my longest activity on Strava and for the sake of efficiency; my first two centuries in the same day. Josh Rizzo During my Heck of The North 105 race, my family was waiting at the mile-97 portrait stop. It was my first gravel century and the thought of seeing them on course filled me with strength and adrenaline to push through the last mile. Photo: Josh Kowaleski of Pointed North Photo Josh Kowaleski Cracked. This rider is at mile 95 of Le Grand Du Nord and it shows. This is probably my favorite portrait from project portrait bike this season. Rachel McCloskey On October 15th I took on the Gray Duck Grit 111 miler with wind gusts of 25-35mph and temps around the low 40s. Two of us female cyclists are helping each other try to stay warm as we await the start to our day long journey across Minnesota's driftless region. 8 hours and 30 minutes later both of us would cross the finish line together to secure 1st and 2nd place. Joe Roy The Heywood ride this spring in Northfield, MN was the longest gravel ride that most of our group had done at the time, of course we did it in flannel! Shoutout to Ben, Marty and Michael for a wonderful event! And thanks to Greg for the picture!

  • 10 Global Fatbike Day Celebrations To Get Your Fatbike Flame Lit

    Global Fatbike Day is coming up on December 3rd. We've assembled a little list of celebrations around our region including some beach riding, woodsy rides, and surprise rides (one of them even comes with an adorable ginger bread cookie coupon). Get your fatbike fired up and join in on the community celebrations. 1. CAMBA Global Fatbike Day Join us to kick off the winter fat bike season! We’ll have guided rides for all levels. Following the ride, enjoy a light lunch with gourmet soup and refreshments. Receive a pair of wool CAMBA winter-design socks. DISCOUNT for CAMBA members! Location: CAMBA’s Hatchery Creek Trailhead Time: Ride departure time is 1:00 pm with check in starting at 12:30. Registration: The first 50 registrants are guaranteed a pair of CAMBA winter socks. Registration also includes a lunch ticket. All levels are welcome. To register, head to CAMBA. 2. Cuyuna, MN Come experience the brand new adaptive trails and Sagamore Rally Center!! When the snow falls, there will be over 9 miles of groomed trail!! The Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails Crew will be hosting rides in the Sagamore Unit. Pre-ride meet up time: 10:00 AM Rides start time: 10:30 AM Ride participants will receive a coupon from The Hudson to be redeemed later in the day for a coffee and gingerbread cookie as part of the Sunset Ride into the Cuyuna Christmas events at Crosby Memorial Park. Sunset Ride: Meet at The Hudson and be ready to roll out at 4:30 PM. The ride will roll down 3rd St from Ironton to the Crosby Memorial Park for Cuyuna Christmas music and fireworks!! Riders are encouraged to have bike lights and festive decorations. There is no planned group ride back to The Hudson. More info on the Facebook event. 3. Two Rivers, WI Join us for Global Fat Bike Day 2022 in Two Rivers, WI! We’ll have 2 rides planned for the day. Ride one at 7:00am and ride two at 12:30am. Both rides start and finish at Port Sandy Bay Pizza. Need a rental bike? Broken Spoke will have rentals available. Please call the shop to reserve. 920-634-2040. Fat bikes can be picked up Friday or Saturday morning from the shop and returned Saturday afternoon. Pizza will be available for $10 after the ride at Port Sandy Bay. To learn more, visit the Facebook event. 4. Deep Woods - Bloomington, MN Calling all fat bikers!! Snow is almost here and Global Fat Bike day Is coming Dec. 3rd! Join us and MORC at the bottoms at Lyndale landing between 10-2. Donate $50 to Deep Woods and receive a Global Fat Bike tshirt (limited quantity.) Also sign up with MORC and become a member to help keep trail maintenance going! To learn more to the Deep Woods Trail Groomers Facebook page . 5. Standing Rocks - Stevens Point, WI Come out and ride fat bikes on the mountain bike trails at Standing Rocks Park (hopefully snow covered and groomed). Everyone is invited to get together and join in the fun! Trail pass required. Use link to purchase passes. Where: BOORC (lodge) at the Standing Rocks Trail Head 7695 Standing Rocks Rd, Stevens Point, WI 54482 Event Schedule: 11:15 am Group photo. 11:30 am Group rides roll out for all skill levels. 1:00 pm Food, fire & fun! To learn more, visit the Facebook event. 6. Adventure Coffee Join us for adventure coffee on Global Fat Bike Day. We will have a fire, donuts, hot chocolate and coffee from Northern Coffeeworks on the bank of the Minnesota River between the Sibley House and the 494 bridge at the overturned car (2 miles from the Sibley House or about 5 miles from the Old Cedar Bridge). Hit us up at the start of your ride or the end of your ride or anywhere in between, it doesn’t matter when you get there, we just want to provide you with one more reason to get out and ride. We will have a limited number of disposable cups, so please bring your own cup. To learn more, visit the Facebook event. 7. Kate & Jeremy's Place - Winona, MN Who are Kate and Jeremy, you might ask? No clue, but it sounds like a fun party. Fat bikes Fire Food (variety of chilli) Shenanigans. Bring a bike, helmet, light, and a smile. Oh, and warm clothing, might be a cold one. To learn more, visit the Facebook event. 8. Thang Nguyen's Ride - Mendota Heights, MN Not a lot of details on this one. But surprises are more fun, right? Head to the Facebook event to learn more. 9. St. Cloud, MN Morning riding followed by evening membership drive, fundraiser, and pizza. Visit the Facebook event to learn more. 10. Michael's Cycles - Chaska, MN Join us in celebrate Global Fat Bike Day. We will be embarking on fat bike ride along side the Minnesota river south to the Louisville swamp. We will have several deferent paced groups so that every member of the family can enjoy. After the ride enjoy a freshly made breakfast and door prizes! Last year we had 96 riders join us and we would like to get that number well over 100 so bring your family and tell your friends! To learn more, visit the Facebook event.

  • Winston County Gravel Cup Doubled Down on Year 2: Photos & Recap

    The Winston County Gravel Cup recently had it's sophomore year of gravel on September 22nd. Year two saw nearly doubled attendance, great weather, and some stunning photos to relive the event. Here race director Jake Ellefsen shares a recap of this Minnesota gravel race and save-the-date for net year. All Photos by Baxter Cochennet of Heelclickers photography. See the full race gallery HERE. It is extremely hard for a race organizer to put into words a race recap. After a year of planning and the incredible amount of work over three seems like a blink of an eye as I look back on it now. For the second year of the Winston County Gravel Cup, we had a simple goal... to ride gravel outside of Houston, Minnesota and bring people together. We were overwhelmed to have nearly doubled the number of riders from our first year and allow us to again donate $2,000 back to the Houston community. Riders got to experience greener scenery this year as we moved the event date to September. I do not think we could have hoped for better weather as the day started cool and overcast but gave way to sun as riders crossed the finish line. Mark your calendars and let you friends know that the Winston County Gravel Cup will be back next year on September 23rd. We hope to see you all next year for another fun filled weekend of Unfiltered Gravel!

  • Ladies Fatbike Getaway in Cable, Wisconsin This January

    The Birkie is hosting a Ladies Fatbike Getaway this January 6-8. It will be a weekend to ride the legendary Birkie Trail, polish your fat biking skills, and meet other women who aspire to or love to ride. To learn more or register, visit the Ladies Fatbike Getaway Interview with Kristy Maki, Event Director All Photos: American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation ® How many years has this been done and what were other year's like? This is the 4th year of the event. We first held the event in 2018, but didn’t hold the event in December of 2020. In the past, we have held the event in December. The December event was a shorter event and snow wasn’t always reliable. In 2023, we are holding the event the first weekend in January with the hopes of more riding possibilities and a longer weekend to add in more skills, expert talks, good food, and fun! How did Ladies Fatbike Getaway come about? As fat bike riders ourselves, we recognized that the skills required for riding fat bikes are a little different than mountain bike skills- different body positioning, pedaling, gearing, etc. Skills plus the care and maintenance of a bike in winter meant there were plenty of things to discuss and share with other women. It’s become a fun weekend of community building, sharing stories and knowledge, and increasing skills. Tell me about the importance of women-specific events and why you chose to have it be this format. Traditionally speaking, there aren’t as many women in bike and ski events. We felt a women-led event might help break down some of the worries that women have over trying fat biking. It quickly became a time for women to share experiences, knowledge, and passion with each other in a fun and community building way. The Ladies Fat Bike Getaway is a time for women to focus on themselves, their health, and sport. We want everyone to have fun biking and feel prepared- the more questions the better, we have a lot to share with each other! What would you want to tell someone who is new to fatbiking and doesn't know anyone else? Visit your local bike shop, attend an event, and meet people that like to fat bike! Fat biking is so much fun with a group and you can increase your skills much faster with a few pointers. Lots of fat bike tips and tricks aren’t things that are common (ex. lemon essential oil in water bottle to help it not freeze), so finding people to help you learn faster and make things more enjoyable helps you stay prepared and motivated! And bike at night- winter nights are so beautiful!


    In 2015, Todd Poquette asked a local blacksmith, Gordon Gearhart about making belt buckles for an upcoming endurance cycling event. Since then, the iron-forged awards have been adopted for the Polar Roll, The Crusher, and Marji Geskick 100. They've become an iconic symbol of ruggedness, pain, and glory that only a small number of people ever get. Gordon Gearhart is an artist-blacksmith living and working in Marquette, Michigan. He has been blacksmithing since 1981 and currently produces architectural, sculptural, and utilitarian pieces.To learn more about Gordon Gearhart, follow him on Facebook and Instagram. What's the back story on how your buckles became the symbol of pain and glory for the 906 events? In 2014 my son, Zechariah McCarthy, was working with Todd Poquette. He was doing a snow biking video promoting the first Polar Roll. He suggested to Todd that the award be a metal sculpture. Todd was receptive to the idea. Zech designed the sculpture and he and I built a prototype. This was accepted and we proceeded to make the awards for the Polar Roll. The design was also used for the 2015 Polar Roll. In the summer of 2015, Todd contacted me about the possibility of making awards for an upcoming endurance ride called the Marji Gesick 100. I played with various ideas, none of which captured the essence of the soon to be MG100. Todd suggested a belt buckle, nothing fancy, something to symbolize the ruggedness of the trails to be ridden and to commemorate the ruggedness of the early settlers who emigrated to this area to dig iron ore and refine it into useable form. A blacksmith made, iron belt buckle was appropriate to the occasion. After the first MG100, belt buckles became the awards for the Polar Roll event. So it is that I am the maker of awards for 906 Adventure Team. Todd-conceived events such as the Crusher and Polar Roll EX have pushed me creatively, challenging my metal working skills. Probably akin to how the bike events challenge the riders participating in them. A bit about my son. Zech is a rider. He started with BMX and gravitated to mountain biking. He rode with 906 Adventure Team, participating in the early Polar Rolls and MG100s. Now he is riding downhill and enduro, participating regularly in the Lake Superior Gravity Series. Somewhere along the way he picked up a video recorder and started filming. He did some promotional footage for the early Polar Rolls under the Far North Productions label. Several years ago he found work building bike trails in the Hibbing Minnesota area. He has since started his own business, Far North Trail Company, building trails local and beyond. What's it like being a part of the Crusher, Marji Gesick, Polar Roll culture? It’s always been an honor to make the awards for these rides that Todd and 906 AT put together. I know that every award I’ve made has been earned by the riders receiving them. I’m impressed and inspired by the dedication of the riders and those who organize the events. I’m proud to be a part of it. What do you think the buckles mean to the racers? I think the meaning of the buckles varies with the riders and has changed over the years. At first they were simply an award for having accomplished a challenging ride. As the years have passed and the reality of the MG100 has settled in, the buckle has become a symbol of overcoming the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of a brutal ride. From its conception, the MG 100 buckle was meant to highlight the rugged rawness of this part of the U.P, paying homage to the iron heritage of the area. The buckle is not fancy. It’s not crude, but not adorned with frivolous decoration. Much like the Marji Gesick itself. I think the riders understand that stripping away of the extraneous. Are you a biker? Have you ever done any of Todd's events? And if not, do you think you ever will? I am not a biker and I have not participated in any of Todd’s events. It is possible I might ride some year. The Marji Gesick 100 gets me thinking about it. Go into training to give it a go. Could I do it? Am I too over the hill ( physically) to accomplish such a task? I have the urge to test myself. Not just regarding the event but regarding the discipline to prepare for it. Dedicate a year to riding the Marji? Of course, who would stamp dates on the belt buckles. There is that.


    The 2022 Polar Roll opens this Sunday morning, November 6, at 8am ET. (If you're on Central Time take note that you'll be an hour late if you think this is in your time zone). This event has generally garnered some legendary status thanks to the massive amounts of snow, ridiculous weather, challenging course, and overall shenanigans that you sign up for anytime you saddle up to a 906 Adventure Team race. There are 2 headline events: MS & EX You've got a couple main options for the Polar Roll (plus some ill advised duathlon choices and one registration called "something dumb" that you don't know what it is yet). MS (Mass Start) The Mass start is Polar Roll central. This is the big gathering and the central community where everyone comes together to roll out through historic west end of Marquette County. Registration is limited to 400 people. Race day is 2-18-2023. There are 2 lengths. Although the website calls it 13 & 25 miles but the registration page calls it 15 & 30 miles. Either way, you can count on it being more than whatever you thought you were riding. It's open for both biking and snowshoeing. EX (Expedition) The EX format was born in response to the pandemic when large group gatherings weren't really happening. 906 AT seemed to really pioneered this format or least leaned into way harder and wider than any other event I've seen (and led to record numbers 2022). Simply put, EX is done by yourself on your own time. Mass starts aren't for everyone. Sometimes registration sells out too quick or you have a cousin from Chicago named Victor who schedules a wedding on the MS weekend and EX is your only option. Dates: Do it anytime that fits for your schedule between 1-13-2023 and 3-15-2023 From the Polar Roll website: "EX also means “extra enhanced”. There’s no guarantee conditions will be good, or that the trail will even be groomed but that’s why people sign up… because predictable and easy gets boring. The expedition series scores a 10 out of 10 on the Adventure Scale." Set your alarm for Eastern Time To register for the Polar Roll, set your alarm for this Sunday morning at 8am ET (not Central Time) and head on over the Polar Roll website or directly to their registration page.

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