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  • Chasing the Train Bikepacking Route

    Chasing the train is a north to south route from Saint Paul to Winona, Minnesota. The route leads riders out of the metro area and its suburban sprawl and into the river towns of Cannon Falls and Redwing. It then climbs back out of the river valley and traverses the top of the bluffs before descending back down into Winona. Upon arriving in Winona you board the Amtrak and ride the rails back to Saint Paul. Route & Photos by Scott Haraldson Chasing the train is a route for those wishing to escape the city, to ever so slowly remove yourself from the noise & visual pollution that you encounter at every intersection. This is a chance to ride directly out of a metropolitan downtown, past the strip malls of suburbia and into the countryside, breathing fresh country air the further you go. Instead of looping back to the start the route travels 190 miles south where you’ll need to arrive in the river town of Winona in time to catch the Amtrak Empire Builder train for your trip back to the start. The route is roughly 60% unpaved and also includes a large section of the heavily wooded paved Cannon Valley River trail. For those with a sense of extra adventure there is a small section of singletrack as you pop out onto the bluffs overlooking Winona and Mississippi river. Designed as a three day route it could be adjusted to accommodate an extra night and shorter days in the saddle. Route Map If You Go, Here's What You Need to Know Riding Back on Amtrak AMTRAK’S EMPIRE BUILDER runs daily between St. Paul (Union Depot) and Winona. At the time of this writing a train runs North to South in the morning and South to North in the evening (Depart 7:30 arrival 10:30 PM). RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED at an additional cost of $20. Look for the option to add a bike when booking your one way ticket online. CARRY-ON BIKE SERVICE is just like carry-on luggage in that you carry your bike on and off the train yourself. No boxes are needed. Don’t expect to have anyone staffing the Winona station, it may very well be empty. Upon arriving at the station train staff knew to expect us and were quick to assist us getting our trains onboard. The Winona stop is a longer stop so you’ll have time to get situated. BIKE REQUIREMENTS Amtrak states their bike racks accept a maximum tire width of 2 inches and they don’t accept tandems or other non-standard bikes. It is also advised to remove any excessive bags from your bike and bring them to your seat. We wanted to be prepared for departure so we removed our fork, seat and handlebar bags but it was not necessary as we were instructed to lay our bikes down inside a baggage car and there was ample room. I rode with 29x2.2 inch tires and it was not an issue. If you are using a fat tire bike you may want to inquire ahead of time with Amtrak. TRAVELING AT NIGHT while not as scenic as a day trip along the Mississippi River riding the train at night can be its own fun. Grab a snack at the dining car, sit up in the upper level and watch the city lights of towns zip by as the train car jostles you off to a nap. PICKUP/DROPOFF we started our route at Saint Paul Brewing. We coordinated with a family member to both drop us off and then later pick us up at the station. There are numerous parking lots near Union Depot if you wish to leave a vehicle. Disclaimer: If you choose to ride this route, you do so at your own risk. You are 100% responsible for being prepared for all conditions and making sure that biking these routes is legal. Before riding, check local weather, road conditions, closures, and property ownership. Obey all traffic laws and follow land use restrictions. Do not ride these routes without proper safety equipment and navigational tools. The accuracy of these routes cannot be guaranteed neither can we guarantee that these routes are on public property. TheNxrth.com and its contributors are in no way liable for the personal injury or damage to property that may result from cycling this route or any other routes on this website.

  • Stacee Goedtel's US Fat Bike Open Recap: Fast & Hilly at Ariens Nordic Center

    The 2024 US Fat Bike Open, part of the SnowCrown series, was recently held at a new venue, Ariens Nordic Center. The race day brought sunshine and blue skies to the fast and hilly course. Stacee Goedtel took second place in the Women's Advanced Category and shares her story of racing, dropping a chain, and making it to the podium. To learn more, visit the Snow Crown series. Words by Stacee Goedtel. Photos by Mitchell Vincent (Website & Instagram) Ariens Nordic Center hosted the US Fat Bike Open for the first time this year. Approaching this course race morning left me in awe. Despite the weather’s ups and downs this season Arien’s was able to create a pristine course for fat bikers from all around. With snow making and grooming capabilities we were presented with a 2.7 mile lap and a wide open fast hilly course for this year’s US Open. The temperature was about 15-17 degrees Fahrenheit with a decent breeze on race day. Just getting out in the cold in your race attire takes discipline. This year I signed up for the advanced women’s category. Got on the bike for a short 10 minutes prior to race start time to stay warm. My goal going into race day first and foremost is always to have fun. Second goal was to grab a podium spot hopefully alongside some of my Broken Spoke Racing teammates. I was happy to hear they increased our category to a five lap race. The longer the better in my mind. As it began it wasn’t long before we were climbing up wide steep double track hills diving into sharp turns with a mix of tracks and slippery fresh powder. It wasn’t long before the heat of racing set in and I found myself hastily wanting to shed as many layers as I could under the bright sun. After the first lap I took off my gloves, unzipped my jacket and settled into the rest of the race working with teammate Brandi McVeigh to stay in the front of the pack. For each race category at this venue the field of riders tend to spread out due to the fast course and somewhat technical turns and hills. By the end of the second lap unfortunately I dropped my chain and had to replace it while going up a hill. I ran the rest of the hill and hopped back on the bike separated from the front rider. I began passing racers from different categories. We exchanged words of encouragement while pushing up more elevation and diving into sketchy turns. I was able to secure second place in the women’s advanced category along with Brandi McVeigh in first and Jamie Zarda in third. Both my fellow Broken Spoke riders! My goal has always been to be competitive in the advanced category, so I am thrilled with a podium at this event this year. Even better to have so many people in the Broken Spoke community to race with and spectate. Highlights outside of my race consisted of a few things. Those who are participating in their first season of fat biking take the top of that list! This race had very different conditions compared to the first race in the Snow Crown Series giving our new fat bikers a completely different taste of winter riding. Their reactions to the difference was exciting. Next would be watching Josh Lasley win a sprint battle for 4th against Aaron Stroebel in men’s advanced category. This was the best finish of the day. Watching Cayden Budd and Casey Hildebrant battle for the top of the podium in the elite men’s race always keeps people around. They stuck with each other each lap. Cayden taking first right at the end with Casey not far behind. Also a shout out to Jenny Youngwerth who took the top spot for the women’s elite category. The Snow Crown Series has had their work cut out for them planning their races with the weather changes. Having Ariens being a part of this was an amazing addition to help with the unpredictable weather. Thank you to both organizations for all your hard work.

  • Follow Arrowhead 135 Live: Map Tracking Starts Monday at 7am

    The Arrowhead 135 winter ultra race is starting on Monday January 29 at 7am in International Falls, Minnesota. The race includes a ski, run, and bike category with racers required to complete qualifying events prior to registering. Follow along live with the 2024 race on the Track Leaders map below. To learn more, visit the Arrowhead 135.

  • Women of Arrowhead 135

    The 2024 Arrowhead 135 race starts on Jan 29 and has 13 women signed up for the bike category. We reached out to the women with a few questions about their 2024 race and how they get through the darkest parts of winter fat bike ultra races. Enjoy the respones they wrote and photos from past winter ultras. To learn more visit Arrowhead 135 . Jump to Rider Laura Hrubes Amanda Harvey Sveta Vold Jill Martindale Aga Fine Claire Richard Beth Freymiller The Arrowhead 135 is considered one of the hardest races on earth and takes place during the coldest time of year in the coldest place in the lower 48 states. On average, the finish rate is less than 50%. The races starts in International Falls, Minnesota and follows the rugged and scenic Arrowhead snowmobile rail. Each year the race registration is done with a lottery style. Before being eligible to register, riders must have completed a prior Arrowhead 135, Tuscobia 160, Susitna, or similar race as well as finishing a 24 hour bike race, with minimum of 100 miles completed for off-road, or 200 miles on road. We reach out to the women doing the bike category of this year's Arrowhead 135 and here were there responses: Laura Hrubes What brought you to the 2024 Arrowhead 135? I’ve wanted to do arrowhead for a long time, ever since I heard about it years ago. It’s taken years of increasingly longer and more challenging off-road and winter adventures to feel like I understood what something like arrowhead would actually take. A couple official Tuscobias and one solo Tuscobia on my own during the pandemic, the polar roll snowflake and polar roll ultra, the Green Bay winter ultra, some marjis, a bunch of Crushers, and more 100+ mile off-road adventures than I could possibly remember have brought me to a place where I feel ready to try. There’s really nowhere I would rather be than in the wild, desolate wilderness of the north country; it’s where I grew up and will always feel more like home to me than anywhere else. I can’t wait to be out there! How do you keep the momentum going when things get dark? I’m not sure if you mean when the sun goes down and it gets dark, or when it feels dark. Dealing with the sun going down is something I practice, as it can feel overwhelming and scary. The experience feels a lot more intense in the dark and if you have any insecurities or fears they are heightened. But you do it enough and it becomes much less of a big deal. Be ready for the temperature to drop, be aware of your lights and gear and spare batteries and know where everything is and have it all ready to go (I always make sure I have a headlamp around my neck when the sun goes down) and the darkness becomes an adventure rather than something to fear. And if you mean darkness in a more metaphorical sense, the mental game is the hardest part! The most important thing is to fuel your body so you can keep feeling good. Whenever I start to feel discouraged or sad or defeated, I think “aha, I’m hungry, that’s my body telling me I need something right now!” Most of the time that takes care of it immediately. I have a bunch of mantras or affirmations ready to go that I can remind myself of if I need them…I chose this, I wanted to be here, I deserve to be here, people believe in me, it’s ok to be uncomfortable, right now is not forever and I’ll get through this, this is a privilege and I’m grateful, there’s a lot of people that would love to be able to be here and I owe this to them to try my hardest, etc etc etc. Music helps too, I usually have that handy for a pick me up if needed. Reminding myself that right now, everything is ok, and if it’s not, I’ll fix it. And at the end of the day, finishing what you started feels a whole heck of a lot better than quitting. Any gear highlights you want to mention? I decided this year that I would be very, very intentional with my gear, and support USA made and local companies as much as possible. To that end, all of my bike bags are made by Cedaero. I have a bunch of gear from Empire Wool and Canvas. I’ll be wearing base layers from Superior Fleece, an anorak from Wintergreen Ely, Steger Mukluks, and the best socks and hat on the planet from Hollow Alpaca. I’ve got a really cool tool kit setup from Johnny D’s Bike Bags. I’ll be using a Cold Avenger mask as well as needed. All of this stuff is, in my opinion, the best quality goods out there, and it’s all made by small companies in the USA. Local is beautiful. Amanda Harvey What Brought You to the 2024 Arrowhead 135? In 2016 I started racing at the NSC Velodrome. I was welcomed into the community and introduced to different types of racing. I started racing crits, road and had one ordeal of a gravel race. Fat biking started when I borrowed my husband's bike for a race in mashed potato snow. It was awful, but for some reason I wanted to do more. When I did the St Croix 40 in 2019, that was my longest race ever. Since then I've been building up to longer distances because they're more of an adventure than a race. This is my 4th start at Arrowhead, I have 1 finish and 2 DNFs unsupported. I keep coming back because of the unique challenges of the race, no two years are the same, which gives me lots of things to learn and adapt to for the next year. I have lots of Minnesota pride in the people and the environment of the race. How do you keep the momentum going when things get dark? If we're talking literal darkness, then that's the part I enjoy the most. The focus of the headlamp, the stars, seeing shapes in the snow. Metaphorical darkness? I try to find the humor in the situation, or what is going well. "Sure I've been hiking with my bike on my back for 6 hours, but at least the weather is sunny." And also it's ok to cry; usually I feel better after and my tears haven't yet frozen to my face. Any gear highlights you want to mention? I'm excited to test out my Osto Arctodus at this year's race. There hasn't been much snow to play in yet this year, but it's handled my training rides like a champ. Sveta Vold What brought you to the 2024 Arrowhead 135? This is my AH135 #9 (finished 2 supported 3 unsupported as well as 3 DNF) How do you keep the momentum going when things get dark? I love to be in the woods by myself. Lots of thoughts. Any gear highlights you want to mention? I always have LOTs of gear. It depends on the year and weather conditions . I did it in very cold and very warm conditions with lots of extra stuff as well as the minimum. But always after the race I have the stuff I never used and food I never ate. When we started to have the unsupported category - the only one I sign up for now - it is a changed game. The gear I use and the way I pack are all completely different now. In the unsupported category, the amount of the stuff you need is more. I hope one day that the unsupported category will take more attention than the supported category. You carry all you need without the option of warm check -points and drying out, and eating hot food at the check-point. Now it's all you have to take care of what is much harder. Jill Martindale What brought you to the 2024 Arrowhead 135? I've been to Arrowhead 5 times (3 finishes) and am looking forward to seeing the community again this year! I love winter ultras and have finished Tuscobia, Fat Pursuit, White Mountains 100, ITI 350, and ITI 1000 - AH is one of my favorites and one of the closest for me to get to, so of course I want to come play! How do you keep the momentum going when things get dark? I keep myself pretty entertained with a busy mind - I'll make lists of things, celebrate the little victories, and daydream. I don't allow myself to say negative things out loud and try to avoid people who can be verbally negative while out on the trail. Laughing and making up jokes, sarcastically saying that I love things when they aren't that enjoyable - it all helps to trick my brain out of the dark times. It also helps to know that things will get hard, but that they won't be tough forever (so long as you're taking care of yourself.) Conditions will always get better - you just don't know when, or if it'll be while you're out there (ope!) Any gear highlights you want to mention? Studded 45NRTH tires are always a hit out on winter trails, and they keep me confidently riding when there could be a potential for ice. Their Wolfgar boots have always keep my feet toasty, too! My Salsa Beargrease is a comfortable bike that I like to play around with year-round, and spending time getting to know the bike loaded up with gear also inspires confidence. Removing any "what ifs" and doubts before race day means there's less negative and intrusive thoughts out in the cold, and I can spend more time listening for creatures out in the woods or day-dreaming about the grilled cheeses at Melgeoge. Aga Fine What brought you to the 2024 Arrowhead 135? I have done Arrowhead a few times and I just love this race so I keep on coming back. I bike a ton all year long. But I never have done anything like tour Divide. Lots of gravel stuff. Love the winter I think I do well in this race because of my mountaineering background. I feel comfortable not being comfortable. How do you keep the momentum going when things get dark? I just keep moving forward one pedal stroke at a time, or if I’m pushing my bike one step at a time. I break the trail into three checkpoints. I just tell myself I need to make it to the next check point. I never look at it as 135 miles all at once. I break it into mileage between check points. I talk to myself. I regroup at checkpoints. And at times as much as I love the solitude I really like running into other people on the trail. Any gear highlights you want to mention? I love my Salsa Beargrease. As to my bike I trust my mechanic that sets up my bike before the race. I always have a few pairs of hats and gloves/mittens so I know my hands always will be warm and dry. As long as your head is warm your core stays warm. OR mountaineering mittens I swear by them. Claire Richard What brought you to the 2024 Arrowhead 135? I've always enjoyed outdoor physical activity, but during COVID I was introduced to MTB and endurance cycling and dove in head first. Over the past 3.5 years I've done several ultra events including 906 events Crusher and Polar Roll Ultra, Lumberjack 100 and Coast to Coast along with some extended bikepacking trips with my partner, Ken. I love to challenge myself, am a little bit of a box checker and am ITI curious so Arrowhead seemed like the next logical step from PRU. I am looking forward to meeting more people in the winter ultra community! How do you keep the momentum going when things get dark? I rely a lot on my competitive nature, but I guess I also pull from what I would consider a toolbox of mental exercises. These generally involve talking to myself in some way; hyping myself up, positive self talk, mantras, in the moment gratitude practice, letting myself feel my emotion and then making a plan with myself to make things better, picking a small goal to focus on that I know I can achieve and then building on that. I'll sometimes sing (badly) out loud or in my head and change lyrics to include something about spinning. Any gear highlights you want to mention? New to me this year for winter riding is a fur ruff that I put on the jacket I plan to wear most of the race. So far it's been one of my favorite pieces especially when snowing or windy; it makes a nice little micro environment for my face! Beth Freymiller What brought you to the 2024 Arrowhead 135? There aren't many races that I make time for on the calendar every year, but Arrowhead is special. I love the course, the people at the checkpoints and the experience of the solitude on the trail. 2023 will be my third consecutive year. I love that the trail has been so different each year. How do you keep the momentum going when things get dark? I like to switch things up when things get dark. It's usually a good sign that I need to eat something, drink something or maybe hike a bike for a little while to warm up my toes. Any gear highlights you want to mention? I'm tinkering with my gear every year. I keep learning new things and am still trying to sort out the ideal layering strategy. If I had to pick a gear highlight, I'd say my onyx hubs. I love the quiet, quick engagement and how tough they are. I learned the hard way that a good set of hubs can make or break your race.

  • Your Fat Bike & Coffee Adventures: Part 1

    We're halfway through our January Fat Bike & Coffee challenge and have loved following along with your trail coffee adventures on Instagram. Check out a few of the photos and adventures from around the community to see what everyone is up to. To join the challenge and win prizes, head to the Fatbike & Coffee page. Submission from Tim Kordula:

  • New Year Rider Survey: Help Us Improve The Nxrth

    The Nxrth just turned 2 years old and we need your help making year 3 even better. Take our New Year Rider Survey and tell us what how you ride and what kind of content you want us to create. Your feedback helps build a more useful and engaging adventure cycling community in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Upper Peninsula.

  • Trenton's DAMn Story: From Birthday Gravel to an Epic Challenge for Average Humans [DAMn Part 2]

    The Day Across Minnesota (The DAMn) officially ended in 2021 after 5 years. It just recently announced it is back for 2024 and Co-founder and Race Director Trenton Raygor shares how it all started, why he brought it back, and how average people can discover something within themselves at The DAMn. Registration for The DAMn and Double DAMn opens at 8am on Saturday, January 6. To get registered, visit The Day Across Minnesota . Interview with Trenton Raygor: Trenton, How Did This Start & Have YOU Done The DAMn? I first rode the 240 mile route with my friends Robert Hest and Carl Newberg on my birthday in September of 2016. As a birthday gift, my dad dropped us off in Gary, SD and picked us up in Hager City, WI. At that point it was a birthday gravel ride, but after completing it and processing the adventure that we all just had, both Robert and Carl strongly encouraged me to put it out into the world for others to experience. So, in December of 2016 I opened up registration for The DAMn. I was guessing that maybe 30 people might be interested, but was shocked when 150 people registered in less than 48 hours. Almost 9 months later, my good friend Erik Englund as well as my brother (Jackson), father (Joel), and mother (Carol), would all help put on the very first Day Across Minnesota. I race directed The DAMn from 2017 to 2021 when I announced that due to family obligations, 2021 would be the last. In short, life got busy and Erik and I both needed to get some time back to spend with our kids. That said, at the same time I also announced a new 480 mile route (The Double DAMn). Our official roster that year of 500 filled up in mere hours. I first rode the new 480 mile Double DAMn route with my friend Charles Parsons in July of 2021...we finished 46.5 hours later with 505.5 miles under our belts. We both rode it on single speeds. I then race directed the last DAMn in August of 2021. Both riding as well as race directing The DAMn have been challenging yet incredibly rewarding experiences. My good friend and film director extraordinaire, Nicholas Kapanke, has even memorialized the 2018 and 2021 events into two award winning documentaries. 'Delta of Spirit' is currently available to watch on Amazon Prime and 'The Last DAMn' is set to be released later this year. 'The Last DAMn' points out that since it began, 1,746 racers have attempted The DAMn and only 755 have finished. Why Did You Put The DAMn Into the World For EVERYONE? It was originally just a birthday gravel ride and a reason to ride bikes for a day with friends. Another reason was to visit some of the state's historic locations by bicycle...places that my grandfather Mearl, a local historian, had told me stories of and had written about. That was the madness behind the route...and to cross the entire state on gravel by bicycle was going to be a big challenge. However, the reason why I listened to Robert and Carl and decided to put it out into the world as a race came from an entirely different place. It wasn't until my 30s that I found confidence and strength in who I am. I'm not 100% sure why it took me that long, but it likely had to do with my mental well being, how I was spending my time, and who I was spending it with. Once I started riding the bike regularly and reaching for the harder stuff (tough gravel races like Trans Iowa) I began meeting people who I genuinely admired and wanted to be around. These people worked hard, showed up, and inspired the hell outta me. They were husbands, wives, fathers and mothers, who worked regular jobs in manufacturing, education, food service, transportation, health care, and everything in between. They seemed like just average human beings until they were doing something hard on a bicycle. Then they became superheroes. The DAMn is a space that was created for us average human beings to discover something within ourselves. Anyone can find reasons why they can't do something and if your can't is stronger than your can, we won't be seeing you in Gary, SD. If you can work hard, show up, and give it all you've got, you might just have a transformative experience. You might find that something in yourself that you've been searching for or something that you didn't even know existed. We might just see you at that elusive Hager City, WI finish line. Since we announced that The DAMn is back in 2024, all kinds of new riders have reached out. Some have even told me how they aren't sure they can get it done, but plan to work hard, show up, and will see how far they can make it. It's for these people. They are why we do The DAMn. After Saying Goodbye for 2 Years, Why Did You Bring DAMn Back? Why bring it back? Over the course of the past two years, both Erik's kids and my kids have gotten into high school mountain biking. Their involvement has even led us to coaching their teams. They have also done a little bit of gravel riding and racing and really enjoy that as well. One day earlier this fall, my youngest asked if I thought of ever bringing The DAMn back. He said he thought it would be inspiring to see some of the kids on his team try to get it done. My oldest agreed. Erik and his kids agreed. We all agreed that it's time to do The DAMn, again. With that, only 1 rider under the age of 18 has ever completed The DAMn. It will be interesting to see if more young people give it a go in 2024. I hope so. What Do Say to Those Who Are Interested But Unsure if They Can Do It? It's all about the journey...and I'm not just talking about the 240 miles of gravel between Gary, SD and Hager City, WI. It's easy to fixate on the event itself, but the road to The DAMn is underestimated and will do incredible things for each of our racers. Ride your bike and try new things. If it works, go with it. If it doesn't, try something new. There's definitely room to learn from others on the road to The DAMn, but make sure that you're honest with yourself about your intent and do what works best for you.

  • Why You Should Do The DAMn & Tips From 6 DAMn Champions Who Did It [DAMn Part 1]

    After taking two years off, The Day Across Minnesota (The DAMn) 24-hour ultra gravel event is back for 2024. Here we check in with 6 people who completed The DAMn in previous years as they share why they did it and what tips they have for people who want to give it a try. Registration opens on Jan 6 at 8am. The DAMn is a 24 hour border-to-border gravel event across the state of Minnesota. The event starts at midnight in Gary, South Dakota and finishes in Hager City, Wisconsin with a 24 hour time limit. Riders also have the option to Double-DAMn for 480 miles by going back and forth in 48 hours. To learn more or get registered, visit The Day Across Minnesota. Meet These 6 DAMn Champions & Hear Why They Did It Since 2017 when The DAMn first started, 1,746 racers have attempted it and only 755 have finished. Racing midnight to midnight, The DAMn is an incredible physical and mental challenge that invites the average human being to discover something deep within themselves. Here are 6 of the 755 DAMn Champions who lined up at midnight in Gary, South Dakota and share why they did it what they want to share with those who are considering this challenge for the first time. Kesha Marson DAMn'd in 2021 Why Did You Do The DAMn? I’ve had a few friends complete The DAMn in the past and always wondered whether it was something I could do. The thought of 240 miles and the uncertainty in those 24 hours had me itching to try the challenge. I wanted to see what I was capable of. I wanted a chance to learn more about myself and to put myself in a position of being an ordinary person doing something extraordinary. I wanted other women to say, “if she can do it why can’t I?” What's Your #1 Tip or Advice For Someone Considering The DAMn for the Very First Time? You can literally do anything you put your mind to. You can train and have your fueling/hydration plan on point, but it’s your mind that will get you through those peaks and valleys of the day. Train your brain to have positive self talk. And by all means keep moving forward no matter how slow. Slow is still moving forward and one pedal stroke closer to a finish line Trenton hug. Scott Weimerskirch DAMn'd in 2017, 2019, 2020, and 2021 Why Did You Do The DAMn? I'm always looking for a way to challenge myself and when I first saw this event in 2017 I figured it would be perfect. Prior to this I had never ridden further than 125 miles in a day and let alone across an entire state. Gives me a lil bragging rights when people ask what's the furthest I've ever ridden in a day I can throw out, "246 miles." It's truly an epic event and allows me to be around like minded people that like to push their limits of physical and mental abilities to complete an epic course. What's Your #1 Tip or Advice For Someone Considering The DAMn for the Very First Time? Besides the obvious to train, I tell everyone to ride your ride! Many people start in Gary, SD but not all finish. Don't ride above your ability and flame out and DNF, but also if you're feeling good keep your pace and if that means going solo, go solo... Kimberly Breuer DAMn'd in2018 and Double-DAMn'd in 2021 Why Did You Do The DAMn? I met Trenton (and Charles) during TransIowa 13, my first gravel race, and he invited me. What's Your #1 Tip or Advice For Someone Considering The DAMn for the Very First Time? Mental toughness is as important as physical strength. Michael Lehmkuhl I’ve participated in some way in each of The DAMns. As support in 2017, when I thought riding the route was an insurmountable challenge, as a rider in 2018 (geared), finish line volunteer in 2019, rider again in 2020 (self-supported singlespeed), and finally in 2021 (tandem stoker). Why Did You Do The DAMn? I keep asking myself the same thing. I guess that’s part of why I’m planning to do it once again. Maybe I’ll find the answer. What's Your #1 Tip or Advice For Someone Considering The DAMn for the Very First Time? As Ben Weaver wrote, “When in the dark, do not forget this is where the stars live. Look up!” Kate Ankofski Started all five DAMns, and finished two Why Did You Do The DAMn? For the challenge and the community (and the kittens). What's Your #1 Tip or Advice For Someone Considering The DAMn for the Very First Time? Figure out your logistics early on! So many drop last-minute because they can't figure out transportation. Once you have a ride/support dialed in, you'll have greater motivation to get it done. Mario Muro DAMn'd in 2017, 2019 (DNF), 2020, and 2021 Why Did You Do The DAMn? For the experience and I thought if would be a good mentally and physical challenge for me . What's Your #1 Tip or Advice For Someone Considering The DAMn for the Very First Time? Do long 100+ plus mile rides at least once a week. Spent lots of time on the saddle . Do a few night ride to get the feeling of riding through the night. Drink lots of fluids and find the right foods. To learn more or get registered, visit The Day Across Minnesota.

  • TOUR DE NICOLET BIKEPACKING ROUTE, WISCONSIN

    Central and Northern Wisconsin is loaded with super great and untapped areas to bikepack. Over time, Shane Hitz has explored many areas of this region by bike and put together numerous routes that pass through many areas that can only be explored by bike. They go through some of his favorite small towns with great places to eat and fantastic camping opportunities. Contributed by: Shane Hitz The Nicolet National Forest is just a small portion of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Established in the early 1930s the entire system encompasses 1.5 million acres with the Nicolet portion taking up over 661,000 acres. The forest is packed full of large hardwood trees and groves of tall white pines with the occasional swamps containing white cedars. Roads twisting and turning, following the paths of rivers and streams are a constant site with lakes scattered throughout. The Tour de Nicolet is a 365 mile route that is full of rich history while traveling through quintessential small northwoods communities. Prior to the 1930s the forest was heavily logged and burned over. Starting in 1933 the Civilian Conservation Corps played a key role in the reforestation including construction of buildings, bridges, and fire towers as well as replanting the forest. You will see numerous CCC sites, structures, and trees planted so many years ago throughout the ride. Not only will you notice the history of the CCC camps you will also notice the logging history throughout the route. Most of the time is spent within the national forest with the occasional rustic gravel path in the county forests of Langlade, Oconto, Marinette, and Forest. The history of how the county acquired those lands is interesting. During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s settlers either logged it and left the land or sold the land to settlers promising the unsuspecting newcomers a fertile land. When they tried to farm it their crops didn’t grow as well as they were led to believe because the deforestation left the land so stripped of all its minerals so they ended up abandoning it, leaving unpaid taxes. Luckily this activity was eventually recognized as harmful and steps were taken to right the wrong. We now have a lush green wonderland to explore and connect with nature. So when you see a large old growth tree that escaped being cut down or the CCC signs or rows of tall pine trees, appreciate the small things that are actually really great things that we are lucky enough to have and enjoy. Midride, take your shoes off and wade into that stream. Jump into that lake. Feel the earth on your bare feet. Filter some ice cold spring water. Reconnect with the forest. SoNic (Southern Nicolet Condensed Version) SoNic is the southern portion of the Tour de Nicolet route. Over the years the Tour de Nicolet has been the inspiration of some great routes such as the Pickerel Buck40 and the original SoNic. This is because the southern portion of the Nicolet has some of my favorite areas. From the remote Langlade County forest roads to the baby-head rock-filled roads and natural springs near Nicolet Roche this area is packed with adventure. The terrain is more varied, consisting of more hills on the west side to large sections of sand roads on the east side.The updated version 1.2 includes the Humble Hill section, previously closed due to 2019 storm clean up. If you choose this version you will still experience some of the best of the Nicolet National Forest but in a condensed 225 mile version. VIEW THE ROUTE. Shane Hitz is an adventure cyclist, route designer, and race director. You can read more about his adventures on his website. He is also the race director for the IRONBULL Red Granite Grinder, a gravel bike race in the Wausau, Wisconsin area. Disclaimer: If you choose to ride this route, you do so at your own risk. You are 100% responsible for being prepared for all conditions and making sure that biking these routes is legal. Before riding, check local weather, road conditions, closures, and property ownership. Obey all traffic laws and follow land use restrictions. Do not ride these routes without proper safety equipment and navigational tools. The accuracy of these routes cannot be guaranteed neither can we guarantee that these routes are on public property. TheNxrth.com and its contributors are in no way liable for the personal injury or damage to property that may result from cycling this route or any other routes on this website.

  • COON FORK OVERNIGHTER, WISCONSIN

    The Coon Fork Overnighter was designed to be a Northwoods treat for brand new bikepackers looking for their first adventure as well as seasoned adventure cyclists needing a snappy gravel S240. Created By: Josh Rizzo The Coon Fork Overnighter winds through tangled waterways and just rolls its way through lively forests. This route straddles the Eau Claire County and Clark County Forests which both allow dispersed camping with permits. With ample options for wild camping spots among the mixed vegetation, along waterways, or at one of several established campgrounds, you can stay somewhere new on every trip. The route is almost 90% unpaved and includes several different types of wooded gravel roads, snakey ATV routes, and short paved sections through Wisconsin farm country. Having numerous options for camping, parking, and stopping for food or drinks, it can easily be customized for longer or shorter route versions. After (or during) a day of great riding, sometimes the best parts are what happen off the bike. My recommendations? Grab a drink and sit on the deck at Boondock’s Bar & Grill, go swimming at Hamilton Falls or Rock Dam, or grab some bomb cheese curds with an ice cream cone chaser at Vojtik’s Stockyard. If You Go, Here's What You Need to Know: Coon Fork Overnighter Bikepacking Route Map: Josh Rizzo is the founder of The Nxrth. He loves bike adventures with his family and friends and knows that it's not about the destination. Heck it's not even about the journey. It's about the snacks that get you from point A to point B. Disclaimer: If you choose to ride this route, you do so at your own risk. You are 100% responsible for being prepared for all conditions and making sure that biking these routes is legal. Before riding, check local weather, road conditions, closures, and property ownership. Obey all traffic laws and follow land use restrictions. Do not ride these routes without proper safety equipment and navigational tools. The accuracy of these routes cannot be guaranteed neither can we guarantee that these routes are on public property. TheNxrth.com and its contributors are in no way liable for the personal injury or damage to property that may result from cycling this route or any other routes on this website.

  • THE VALHALLA BEACH PARTY BIKEPACKING ROUTE

    The Valhalla Beach Party is a fatbike-designed bikepacking route that winds through a mixed collection of gravel, dirt, and sand in Bayfield County, Wisconsin. It is named after the Valhalla Recreational Area, sand, and swimming spots along the route. Route & Photos By: Dave Schlabowske Riding a fatbike loaded with a tent and swimsuit is a fine way to explore The Northwoods. Both the summer heat and fall colors will lure you into this collection of waterfalls, lakes, and mixed trails. Starting and ending at the Valhalla View Pub & Grub, this route name pays homage to the Valhalla Recreational Area and all the sand and swimming spots along the route. The perfect details for and end-to-end fatbike adventure have all been carefully scouted by Dave Schlabowske of Seeley, Wisconsin. Here you'll find a collage of insider tips on hidden waterfalls and where to get locally smoked fish. While wandering through off-grid trails, you'll never be far from incredible swimming as well as up-north townie vibes. If You Go, Here's What You Need to Know: Valhalla Beach Party Bikepacking Route Map: Route Video: Dave Schlabowske lives in Seeley, Wisconsin with his wife Liz and dog Cowboy. He is known for his bikepacking routes, unique cycling events, and work for the Wisconsin Bike Fed. To learn more about Dave, visit his website Life Above Eight. Disclaimer: If you choose to ride this route, you do so at your own risk. You are 100% responsible for being prepared for all conditions and making sure that biking these routes is legal. Before riding, check local weather, road conditions, closures, and property ownership. Obey all traffic laws and follow land use restrictions. Do not ride these routes without proper safety equipment and navigational tools. The accuracy of these routes cannot be guaranteed neither can we guarantee that these routes are on public property. TheNxrth.com and its contributors are in no way liable for the personal injury or damage to property that may result from cycling this route or any other routes on this website.

  • BIKEPACKING ROOTS' NORTHWOODS ROUTE

    The ~600-mile-long Northwoods Route is a circumnavigation of the western half of Lake Superior, primarily following gravel roads, relatively smooth two-tracks, rail trails, and short sections of pavement through thick forests and along countless lakes of all sizes. Route developed by Bikepacking Roots and featured here with their permission. This loop has been created to be inviting to riders on both mountain or gravel bikes, and riders will find that resupply options are relatively frequent along the way. Singletrack alternates and trail networks along the way offer options for riders looking for more technical riding opportunities - loaded or unloaded - and to experience the many unique trail systems built near communities along the way. The loop is closed by utilizing the passenger ferries that travel to Isle Royale National Park to cross Lake Superior. This connection requires some planning since the ferries do not run daily, and the lake crossing will require an overnight stay on Isle Royale (see the FAQ below for more information on these ferries; note that bikes are not allowed anywhere on Isle Royale other than at the docks and main campgrounds). We also encourage riders to spend an extra day or more on Isle Royale to experience some of the many miles of hiking trails. See additional Northwoods Route information and download the guidebook and full 350+ waypoint/POI GPS file on Bikepacking Roots' website: Bikepacking Roots is an 8,000-member-strong 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and advancing bikepacking, growing a diverse bikepacking community, advocating for the conservation of the landscapes and public lands through which we ride, and creating professional routes. Disclaimer: If you choose to ride this route, you do so at your own risk. You are 100% responsible for being prepared for all conditions and making sure that biking these routes is legal. Before riding, check local weather, road conditions, closures, and property ownership. Obey all traffic laws and follow land use restrictions. Do not ride these routes without proper safety equipment and navigational tools. The accuracy of these routes cannot be guaranteed neither can we guarantee that these routes are on public property. TheNxrth.com and its contributors are in no way liable for the personal injury or damage to property that may result from cycling this route or any other routes on this website.

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