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- GRAVEL PIZZA PORTRAITS: BIKEPACKING WITH 37 NEW FRIENDS IN THE WOODS
The inaugural Gravel Pizza Overnighter took place last weekend, September 24-25. 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. Your Gravel Pizza Portraits If you want your high resolution portrait (or your head shot), just shoot me an email and I'll send you both.
- THE BEST OF DRIFTLESS GRAVEL: THE SOLD-OUT FILTHY CHATS YEAR 9 & THE COMMUNITY THAT BUILT IT
The Filthy is a sellout gravel biking event in beautiful Lanesboro, Minnesota. Today we talk with co-organizer Trenton Raygor about October snow, the move to Lanesboro, and why the heck it fills up so stinking fast. The sold-out Filthy is a Minnesota gravel race on October 8. To learn more about the event and to make sure to get a spot next year, check out their website and give 'em a follow on Insta. Interview with Trenton Raygor: You have some of the filthiest photos I've ever seen from gravel racing. What's the story behind the name and do you hope for nasty weather? For those who ride gravel, you know that we ride whatever the weather. Sure, we enjoy a fair weather day like anyone else, but those aren’t usually the days that we end up talking about for years to come. If it’s hot, hydrate and dress light. If it’s cold, put on more clothes. If it’s raining, wear some rain gear and clip a fender onto your bike…oh, and you’re gonna get some grit in yer teeth. From our first year in 2013 through 2017 we had incredibly pleasant weather. Strangely enough, our riders began to expect it…like we had control over it. Several riders jokingly thanked me for selling my soul to Mother Nature year after year. Others would take jabs at the name, suggesting a potential change to “The Dusty 50”. Then 2018 arrived. I remember dad waking me up at 5am and informing me that it was snowing. It wasn’t supposed to snow, but it was coming down. Temperatures were hovering around freezing so it was really more of a “wintery mix”. We didn’t know if anyone would show up that year, but more than 500 hearty souls toed the line. It truly was the worst possible riding weather, but it definitely earned us back our name and it gave each of our riders one hell of a story. We had a near repeat of that in 2019. Though we never hope for nasty weather, we do know that it has the potential to challenge our riders in different ways and help them find something in themselves that they never knew existed. “Mother Nature is an old lady with few suitors these days, and those who wish to make use of her charms, she rewards passionately.” - Tim Krabbe You moved the event to Lanesboro in 2019. What's the town, gravel, and landscape like there? Lanesboro, Minnesota is a fairytale-like place in the southeastern part of the state tucked away down in a valley and surrounded by bluffs. The town is filled with shops, places to eat and drink, and showcases a vibrant arts scene. The culture there is built around the bicycle and other outdoor activities, making it the perfect home for The Filthy. The gravel is all limestone based and of all of the places in the United States that I’ve had the opportunity to ride, it’s my favorite. This is a key feature of the Driftless region and I think that the ancient limestone is one of components that makes riding gravel in the Driftless so special. In addition to the gravel, the landscapes are beautiful and dramatic. There are a lot of fresh water streams, waterfalls, cliffs, and scenic vistas. By definition, the Driftless region is not flat, so our riders get to do some climbing to earn those fall color views. This is your 9th year and you've really been doing this since before gravel exploded and everybody started doing it. What did you want this event to become? It’s hard to believe that we have been doing this for as long as we have. The Filthy was initially just supposed to be a backyard BBQ and gravel ride out of my folks place, but after 300 riders signed up, we knew we had to change those plans. Mom and dad were concerned that we might destroy their house and I’m over here thinking that ‘Risky Business’ could have been a way more interesting movie. Our first year quickly changed into learning how to logistically turn a 30 person event into a 300 person event, and also how much effort is required to pull off an event like The Filthy. The effort didn’t seem to be a problem as friends and family all stepped up. They wanted to do this. They wanted to contribute to something each felt was extremely positive. Each year after our first year we’ve continued to evolve. Foundationally, The Filthy is still the same in our ninth year as it was that first year. If it wasn’t, I don’t think we would still be doing it. Our family wanted to create a fun and inclusive space that would challenge veterans and introduce rookies to something potentially transformative. In my book, there’s no way better than a beautiful fall gravel ride in the Driftless. I still can’t believe that next year is going to be our tenth. We are going to have to celebrate big! 1,000 people signed up in one week. What's so special about The Filthy? This always blows my mind. Year after year we fill up so fast and there’s always speculation as to why. I think that there are many reasons. Many of them are reasons that we’ve already talked about, but if I were to focus on one, it would be “community”. Lanesboro and the surrounding Bluff Country Community is incredibly welcoming to all. Our volunteers and sponsors are comprised of family and friends who truly love being there and contributing in ways that make the rider experience unforgettable. Lastly, our riders are simply the best. They are kind, encouraging, accepting, and supportive of every single person they line up with. They’ve really embraced the inclusive and welcoming nature of the Filthy. No matter who you are or the reason you’re riding, you’ll find what you’re looking for. I think that makes folks want to come back. Will you have the crapper on the course again this year? For those wondering what the hell we’re talking about here, The Filthy is a gravel ride and gravel rides are classy. Often on a gravel ride, one might find discarded and out-of-place objects along the side of the road. On our gravel rides we’ve found treadmills, wheelchairs, mattresses, toilets, etc. In 2018, we put a toilet in the middle of the road and our riders posed for photos with it. It was such a memorable and silly thing, we brought it back in 2021 for a much cleaner reprise. Will it be back this year? There are always surprises on The Filthy course. You’ll have to ride it and find out.
- TOP 5 STORIES ON THE NXRTH - SUMMER 2022
With the winding down of summer, we're taking a look at the 5 most popular stories on The Nxrth from June, July, and August of 2022. This roundup covers gear, gravel racing, winter fatbike ultras, and the Wisconsin Waterfalls Loop. 1. VOILE STRAPS VS TAILFIN CARGO STRAPS: WHICH IS BETTER FOR BIKEPACKING? Strapping things securely to your bike is an important park of bikepacking. Voile Straps have always been the go-to original and in this story we look at some of the innovative improvements from Tailfin Cargo Straps in this side by side comparison. Read the Story. 2. ANNOUNCING: INTRO TO WINTER FATBIKE ULTRAS, A 3-PART SERIES Have you been curious about winter fatbike ultras? If you're considering exploring a winter ultra, now is the time to start planning. This summer/fall we launched a new 3-part series introducing you to the sport of winter fatbike ultra racing. Read the Introduction Read Part 1: Races, Risks, & Resources Read Part 2: Logistics, of Food, Water, Gear, & Staying Warm Read Part 3 (kidding, it's not published yet) 3. CLOSE THE GAP OR BLOW UP TRYING: CLAIRE O'LEARY'S FREEDHEM 76 & FINDING GRAVEL COMMUNITY The 2022 Freedhem 76 took place on Saturday, July 2, 2022. Claire O'Leary raced along with a strong field of women. In this story, she shares about her own race along with the push and pull of the gravel community. Read the Story. 4. Neil Beltchenko Bikepacks The Wisconsin Waterfalls Loop [VIDEO] Neil Beltchenko from Bikepacking.com recently checked out the Wisconsin Waterfalls Loop with 2 friends. It was an early season ride and their group made a video of the adventure. Watch the video right here. 5. THE 2022 BEAR 100: AN IOWAN'S ACCOUNT OF NORTHWOODS GRAVEL Earlier this year Ben Petty crossed the cheddar curtain for his first 100-mile ride up in the Northwoods. After making his way through Stevens Point, he and his friend did the Bear 100 and made it to Jar's Bar & Grill with photos and a story to tell. Read the Story. Share Your Story Want to share your story from a 2022 gravel race or bike adventure? Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- SHIRTS & PATCHES FOR GRAVEL PIZZA ARRIVED
Shirts and patches for the Gravel Pizza Overnighter just showed at my door. I snapped a few photos and we'll hand these out at registration if you got the Gold ticket. If you need to add the shirt/patch package to your ticket, shoot me an email. See you soon!
- YOUR FAVORITE BIKE ADVENTURE PHOTOS: SUMMER 2022
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! Want to submit you photo next time? Roll over to our homepage and join The Nxrth newsletter. 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
- GET TO KNOW GRAVEL PIZZA (PART 3/3): WEDGES CREEK HIDEAWAY
The Gravel Pizza Overnighter is a community bikepacking event tucked right where you'd expect it halfway between the woods, farm country, and the middle of nowhere, Wisconsin. Here we bring you to Part 3 of a series of getting to know the experience at a closer level. To learn more, visit the Gravel Pizza Overnighter page. Also check out Part 1 (The Gravel) and Part 2: (The Route Highlights). Between Forest & Farmland is Wedges Creek Wedges Creek turns 5 this year. I discovered it for the first time over national Bike Travel Weekend in June when my family went out there for a bike camping (and car, too) trip. As soon as I rolled up, I thought it'd be a heavenly place for a bikepacking gathering. From the pine-y and peaceful hiding place to the really nice shower house and indoor seating in case of rain, I couldn't wait to get home and invite everyone from The Nxrth to join me and my family out here. A few weeks ago, some friends and I pre-rode to route to grab some photos, sample the pizza (again), and make sure everything was ready to share. Here are a few more photos; can't wait to see you all in less than 2 weeks! 46 Miles of Gravel & Pizza Day 1 isn't too long or too short. It's just right for riding with friends, setting up camp, and then grabbing a drink and pizza. Set up your tent, take a hot shower, and grab your free welcome drink in the pavilion. There will be live music, blazing pizza ovens, and campfires to gather around as the fall evening sets in. To see more galleries of photos from our pre-ride to Wedges Creek, check out Part 1 (The Gravel) and Part 2 (Route Highlights). To learn more, visit the Gravel Pizza Overnighter page.
- GRAVEL BIKING WITH ALPACA WOOL FROM WISCO-BASED HOLLOW SOCKS.
Hollow socks are headquartered and designed in Wisconsin and manufactured in North Carolina. Their socks are made of alpaca wool, nylon, and spandex and come in black and gray. Here we share our thoughts after using them gravel biking this summer. To learn more visit HollowSocks.com. Meet Hollow, alpaca wool socks from Wisconsin Hollow is a Wisconsin-based performance sock company that uses alpaca wool to improve comfort, dryness, and breathability. Designed in Wisconsin, they're all made in the USA in North Carolina. Their lineup is pretty simple and includes no-show, ankle, crew cut, and boot cut and are all available in black or gray. When I was recently riding the Valhalla Beach Party bikepacking route with Dave Schlabowske, he mentioned that he usually buys Wisconsin-based socks. He was wearing some gray boot-cut Hollow socks and I figured I should get a few pairs of my own to try out and share with more up-north adventure cyclists who want to support a local company. Alpaca vs merino wool for socks Wool socks are often made with merino wool. Merino is antimicrobial and breathable which makes them great for long, warm activities like hiking and biking. Hollow makes their socks exclusively with Peruvian baby alpaca wool (usually around 45% of each sock, with the rest being nylon and spandex). Alpaca wool is a finer, softer, and less absorptive wool than merino well which leads to some improved benefits that we'll break down here. Softness Alpaca wool is a physically finer strand of wool. The microscopic fibers are less pronounced and more uniform. This makes them smooth and incredibly soft. Merino can sometimes feel itchy where alpaca wool is predictably smooth. Dryness Alpaca wool can hold 8% of its weight in moisture where merino can hold 30% of its weight in moisture. Both types of wool are great at moisture-wicking and resisting odor but alpaca is going to dry faster since it absorbs less moisture to begin with. Overall Strength Without getting too nerdy, alpaca wool has a higher tensile strength (~50 N/ktex) than merino wool (30-40 N/ktex). This means it can put up with more abuse and last longer, depending on construction and other materials used of course. Warmth To be fair, I couldn't find any hard number on this one. What I did learn is that alpaca fibers are hollow (hence the name "Hollow" socks) which means every single strand contains trapped pockets of air for insulating. Merino wool on the other hand traps air between all of the microscopic protrusions in the fiber, but it's not hollow. Due to alpaca wool's hollow-ness, my findings seem to suggest that it insulates heat better. Hollow socks on & off the bike, up north, in the summer I've been using Hollow's black no-show socks (43% alpaca wool) and gray ankle socks (46% alpaca wool) on a lot of my longer rides this summer. Here are a few of my thoughts: Off the bike My first impression was that they fit perfectly. I have small feet (size 8) and got their size 8-10 socks. Usually when my feet are on the low range of the fit, they're always a little too spacious. But these have a great stretchiness that hugs my feet really snug. I wore them around the house, in the yard with no shoes, several days without washing and they're always nice and snug even without a fresh wash. They almost have a luxurious feel because the fibers are so fine and they just glide right into my shoes or slippers. On the bike While biking, I never really noticed them. They stayed cool and dry on extremely hot summer rides. They also never felt sweaty or sticky when I was done. Again, they kind of feel a little lux because they're so smooth to the skin and on whatever you're walking on. But I like that they don't look silky. I prefer the gray color; it looks just like a traditional tough wool sock but wears more comfortably than either my Smartwool or Darn Tough socks. Wrap-up I don't think I've ever had an alpaca wool clothing of any sort. And to be fair, I haven't used these in the winter yet and my feet tend to get cold in even the warmest boots. But the no-show and ankle socks performed really well for hot half-day summer rides. To learn more or pick up a pair for yourself, head over to HollowSocks.com.
- INTRO TO WINTER FATBIKE ULTRAS [PART 2]: LOGISTICS OF FOOD, WATER, GEAR, & STAYING WARM
We recently announced a 3-part series on an introduction to winter fatbike ultras. Part 2 will dig deep into the logistics of packing what you need as well as staying warm and dry during the long, cold, dark hours of a winter fatbike ultra race. Winter fatbike ultras aren't for everyone. They require critical planning, training, and mitigation of serious risks. The Nxrth is partnering with Jamison Swift, Co-Founder of the St. Croix 40 to present a 3-part series on winter fatbike ultras. We'll walk through: Who should consider winter fatbike ultras What risks you need to be aware of How to pack your gear How to stay warm and dry Food and water planning Much more Read the introduction Here or learn more in Part 1 (Races, Risks, & Resources) or Part 3 (Tips from Experienced Ultra Athletes). Words and photos by Jamison Swift, Co-Founder of the St. Croix 40. PART 2 OF 3: LOGISTICS Once you’ve decided that winter ultras are something you want to take on, the logistical challenges begin. Gear prep can be daunting, but take advantage of groups like the Arrowhead Dream Team and other blogs, to learn from what others have done, and then start using your gear on training rides. Spending a night in your bivy sack, in your backyard, is a pretty standard rite of passage for folks in this arena. How to Pack & Carry Your Gear There are a couple key things to remember when planning out how to pack your gear. First, you need to decide the best method for loading up your bike. Some people prefer a full rack and pannier system, whereas others go with the more traditional bikepacking seat bag. This is completely personal preference, and dependent on the equipment and connection points you have on your bike. There is no right or wrong choice, it’s about what you’re the most comfortable with. Either way you choose (or some variation in-between), there are some key things to remember when planning to pack your gear. Don’t pack things too tight. Remember that your hands will be cold and tired and won’t be functioning at 100% capacity. If your sleeping bag and bivy sack are compressed too tightly, you may find yourself in a dangerous situation of being unable to remove your gear from your bags because you can’t use your hands well. Put the most important gear where you can get to it quickly. Weather conditions can change, and you need to be able to adapt. Know where your emergency layers are and make sure you can get to them within seconds. Balance your weight. You’re going to be pedaling for a long time, sometimes in challenging snow conditions. Don’t make life rougher than it needs to be by putting too much weight on the back or on one side. Think about food. You will need to eat quite a bit during these events. Figure out the best way to get calories stored in an easily accessible spot on your rig. Remember that your body is a furnace, and that furnace needs fuel. If you get behind on calories you’re going to get colder quicker. How to Stay Warm and Dry Biking presents unique challenges for staying warm and dry during an ultra. Unlike being on foot, you’re not getting nearly as much circulation to your extremities when pedaling, and this can lead to fingers and toes getting a lot colder than the rest of your body. It’s important to spend a lot of time practicing in the cold with different layers of socks, gloves, and chemical warmers to figure out what’s the best solution for you. Additionally, pogies and over-boots can be great options to help manage heat in the extremities. Stuffing a chemical warmer into an overboot or a pogie can be a great way to get additional warmth to these areas. Sometimes you will need to walk your bike. Either because of hills or pedaling fatigue, walking your bike is sometimes the only option to keep forward momentum going. But it can also be a great way to get blood flowing to areas like your toes that might not have moved or flexed in hours. Walking your bike can also get your heart rate up which pushes more blood throughout the body as a whole. However, it’s important to be careful to not sweat too much or you can end up spending time being wet in the freezing cold. Moisture is a huge enemy in winter ultras. Sweating can lead to hypothermia as the moisture on your body freezes and doesn’t evaporate. Learning how to layer appropriately and how to vent your layers to allow sweat to evaporate is a key skill. There’s no set formula for how to do this, as every single person sweats differently. Coming up with a good layering technique requires trial and error, and many participants will pack a dry layer to change into as needed. How to Pace Yourself Winter ultra events have winners, but 99% of the people there aren’t trying to ‘compete’ in the traditional sense. It’s about overcoming the challenge and being self-sufficient. Keep in mind the length of the race and be realistic about what speed will be sustainable for you. One of the worst things that you can do is burn yourself out too quickly and then find yourself in the middle of the woods with no energy, dozens of miles from help. Having a realistic pacing plan will help you pedal longer, and it’ll keep you moving more consistently throughout the event. You’ll feel stronger in the later stages of the race, and you’ll be less likely to face the dreaded bonk. Remember that winter ultras are in remote areas. Don’t take risks just to shave a few minutes off your overall time How to Plan Your Food and Water Fuel is key for endurance sports, and winter ultras are no different. However, there are a couple key differences with eating in winter that you need to be aware of. First, remember that food will freeze, and so you need to make sure you have types of food that won’t turn rock hard in the cold. Some foods, like chocolate candies, thaw quickly as soon as you put them in your mouth. Others, like sandwiches, can be more challenging unless they’re cut into small pieces ahead of time so they can be popped in your mouth to thaw over time. Everyone’s diet is different, so pick some foods you think you might enjoy on the trail and then set them out in the snow for a while. Then go outside and see what worked and what didn’t. Second, remember that you have access to a stove and water in your equipment. There’s nothing stopping you from pulling over on the side of the trail and cooking a warm camp meal. This is a great option if you’re planning to bivy for a few hours to get some sleep. You can tuck into your shelter while your water boils and the meal cooks, and then fill your belly with food before getting some rest. Practice, Practice, Practice Everyone will experience things differently, so as with all advice, practice, practice, practice. Go out and see what works for you BEFORE you need to rely on your skills. Sleeping in your backyard, boiling water for a camp meal, testing your foods - these are all things that you should master before attempting a winter ultra. The organizers of these events expect people to show up prepared and ready for the challenge. Don’t disappoint them by getting yourself into a situation that you could have avoided by being prepared. And of course, remember you’re out there to challenge yourself, and hopefully have fun. Winter is a beautiful time of year and learning to enjoy it will unlock incredible beauty that you might never have known existed.
- GET TO KNOW GRAVEL PIZZA (PART 2/3): ROUTE HIGHLIGHTS
The Gravel Pizza Overnighter is a community bikepacking event tucked right where you'd expect it halfway between the woods, farm country, and the middle of nowhere, Wisconsin. Here we bring you to Part 2 of a series of getting to know the experience at a closer level. To learn more, visit the Gravel Pizza Overnighter page. Also check out Part 1 (The Gravel) and stay tuned for Part 3 (Wedges Creek Pizza Farm). Rivers, Ice Cream, and Lakeside Drinks Part of enjoying the fall is taking time to slow down, be together, and stopping to take in your surroundings. Gravel Pizza takes us off the grid and off the race clock. We picked some stops we hope you love. Places to grab a cone or just look at the lake with a with a drink and some new friends. We pre-rode Gravel Pizza to share a few photos of what to expect along the route and the highlights we hope you'll check out during the ride. Vojtik's Stockyard [Mile 19] After crossing a few rivers and winding around Horse Creek Road, we'll get to Vojtik's (VOY-checks) Stockyard. It's a restaurant, meat market, ice cream shoppe, and gift shop all in one place. We can grab a drink to cool down, mid-ride ice cream, or just a meat stick for good measure. Heck, if you forgot to eat before the ride, you can fill up on deep friend onion rings like my friend Garrett on our pre-ride. RIVERS Sure, we tried to pick some nice establishments to stop at. But the real highlights? Rivers, forests, and empty gravel roads in the fall. We'll cross Horse Creek, Hay Creek, Dickerson Creek, and the Eau Claire River at least 3 times. Getting to ride our bikes is a blessing and living up north with so much to explore is what keeps inspiring us. A.K.A. Lakeside [Mile 34] To be honest, I wasn't sure if this was "Aka" or "A.K.A." until I saw the dots on the exterior sign. In the tiny town of Rock Dam on Hay Creek is a nice little lake with a nice little lakeside bar. They've got a great patio on the water and probably a whole butt ton of ATVs when the sun goes down at night. After rolling out of A.K.A. Lakeside, it's just 12 more miles until Wedges Creek. Wedges Creek Hideaway [Mile 46] Our last leg of Day 1 brings us into the hilly farmland grid where we'll find a wooded gravel corner to gather for the evening at Wedges Creek hideaway. Set up your tent, take a hot shower, and grab your free welcome drink in the pavilion. There will be live music, blazing pizza ovens, and campfires to gather around as the fall evening sets in. To see a gallery of photos from our pre-ride to Wedges Creek, check out Part 1 and stay tuned for Part 3 of "Get to Know Gravel Pizza". To learn more, visit the Gravel Pizza Overnighter page.
- WISCONSIN TICKS, SECRET WATERFALLS, & RED GRANITE GRINDER: SHANE HITZ ON BIKES OR DEATH PODCAST
Shane Hitz from Wausau, Wisconsin was recently featured on the Bikes or Death Podcast. Shane talks about creating bikepacking routes in The Northwoods and the Red Granite Grinder. Listen to the full epidsode here. Find Shane's routes on his website and learn more about the Red Granite Grinder.
- GET TO KNOW GRAVEL PIZZA (PART 1/3): THE GRAVEL
The Gravel Pizza Overnighter is a community bikepacking event tucked right where you'd expect it halfway between the woods, farm country, and the middle of nowhere, Wisconsin. Here we introduce you to Part 1 of a series of getting to know the experience at a closer level. To learn more, visit the Gravel Pizza Overnighter page. Also check out Part 2 (The Route Highlights) and stay tuned for Part 3 (Wedges Creek Pizza Farm). This is Gravel Pizza We've spent a lot of time hand-picking the best collection of rolling gravel, winding B-roads, a pinch of double-track, and a wholesome dose of gridded corn fields. The Nxrth is HQ'd in Eau Claire County, Wisconsin and we wanted to invite you all to join us riding our backyard gravel and camping together with incredible wood-fired pizza. A Mix of Everything We Love We'll roll out together from the event starting point and jump right onto 5 miles of windy ATV trail. This is the softest section of the route, includes some sand, and will almost certainly require you hop off and walk some sections. We'll then say goodbye soft sand/dirt for the rest of the day and start meandering through mixed gravel roads. The route snakes through maple-y forests that should be changing colors as well as tall rolling pine stands. Highlights on Day 1 include optional stops for ice cream, cheese curds, or a refreshing drink from Vojtik's Stockyard Food (mile 19) and another optional stop for a drink at Aka Lakeside (mile 34) in Rock Dam. Destination: Pizza in the Pines Our last leg of Day 1 brings us into the hilly farmland grid where we'll find a wooded gravel corner to gather for the evening at Wedges Creek hideaway. Set up your tent, take a hot shower, and grab your free welcome drink in the pavilion. There will be live music, blazing pizza ovens, and campfires to gather around as the fall evening sets in. To see more photos from our pre-ride to Wedges Creek, check out Part 2 (Route Highlights) and stay tuned for Part 3 of "Get to Know Gravel Pizza". To learn more, visit the Gravel Pizza Overnighter page.
- [VIDEO] BIKEPACKING THE VALHALLA BEACH PARTY
We recently went on an overnight bikepacking trip with Dave Schlabowske from Life Above Eight and Eric the fox from Embark Maple on the new Valhalla Beach Party route. This video tells our story and shares some of the trails, lakes, and waterfalls that we enjoyed along the way. In collaboration with Life Above Eight and Embark Maple. Learn more about the route HERE. Earlier this summer Dave Schlabowske reached out about a new overnight bikepacking route that he was developing called The Valhalla Beach Party. I was intrigued by the name alone which was a reference to the Valhalla Recreational Area in Bayfield County, Wisconsin as well as the sand and swimming spots along the route. The route was near completion and he invited me and Eric from Embark Maple to ride it, shoot a few more photos, and document it in a video project. My very first bikepacking trip was in 2019 on the Tour de Chequamegon route that was also created by Dave. I've long admired his photography from his Wisconsin Bike Fed days and the unique routes that he's known for so I was eager to pencil in a weekend to explore the route. Even before showing up and rolling a single pedal over, I loved the idea that the route was based around enjoy beautiful wild swimming spots and some great Northwoods small town restaurants and campgrounds. We started and ended our adventure right at the Valhalla View Pub & Grub and camped on the shore of Lake Superior in Herbster waking up to the sound of foggy waves lapping the sand on repeat. On our trip we went swimming in 5 lakes, got drenched in 2 waterfalls, and forgot 1 drone in a campground (but pedaled back 10 miles and found it!). I absolutely love stopping to swim on adventures like this and really enjoyed the spread of hidden Northwoods lakes, waterfalls, and big Lake Superior freezing cold swimming. The Valhalla Beach Party is an 80-mile overnighter in Bayfield County, Wisconsin. Learn more about the route and see photos here.