In most areas, winter is when bikes are stowed away till spring. Not in Minnesota. “People from about the nation would make enjoyable of me,” says Hansi Johnson, a former regional director at the International Mountain Biking Association. “They’d say, ‘Yeah, mountain biking in Minnesota is good 4 months of the year.’ I’d inform them, ‘You’re missing the point.’”
The point is that quite a few Minnesotan cyclists really crave winter. There’s a surreal magic to these moonlit, subzero winter nights when you can bundle up and set out into the snow like a two-wheeled Jack London. Counter to what cyclists in extra forgiving climates may think, it is doable and—yes—even fun to ride in Minnesota year-round.
Minneapolis maintains 128 miles of all-season bike trails and lanes, and Saint Paul has 88, which tends to make the Twin Cities a single of the largest year-round urban cycling hubs in the planet. To remain sane in the shoulder seasons, when mud tends to make mountain biking not possible, cyclists hit dirt roads on their gravel bikes. In summer there are hundreds of miles of singletrack and paved rail-to-trail routes across the state. Riding all year might need a complete set of bikes but, as Johnson says, “In Minnesota you can not be a a single-trick pony.”
At this latitude, winter is cold adequate that snow and ice remain on the ground all season, which tends to make for great fat biking. Although the official season is December by means of March, snow regularly falls October by means of April. Minneapolis’s Theodore Wirth Park has extra than six miles of designated fat-bike trails, and even tends to make snow on its lighted 5-mile cross-nation ski loop that opens for riding Friday by means of Sunday evenings. Fat bikes for sale and rent as nicely as hot cocoa are obtainable at the Trailhead, a new chalet with lockers, showers, and a fitness center. From January 30 to February two, the park is the epicenter of the City of Lakes Loppet Festival, a celebration of anything winter that involves 4 fat tire events, like sprint races and an urban tour.
Two hours north of Minneapolis, Cuyuna Lakes is a former iron-ore mining quarry turned mountain-bike park, with 25 miles of trail spread more than 800 acres, all groomed for fat biking in winter. Ratings variety from green to double black diamond, and wind previous snow-covered mining lakes. In February, it hosts the 45Nrth Whiteout, with 10-, 20-, and 30-kilometer races on snowy singletrack.
Then there’s subsequent-level winter riding: the Arrowhead 135, a frostbitten ultra that begins close to the Canadian border. It is scheduled for late January when the temperature can drop to adverse 60 degrees. The race traverses south for 135 miles by means of remote wilderness, exactly where wolf packs have been identified to circle, just before ending close to Tower, Minnesota. “You’re in the middle of nowhere and are on your personal for hours,” says Pat Greehan, who completed the race final year in 22 hours six minutes, suitable just before the temperature plummeted to minus 40. “Between miles 90 and 110, there are 41 hills, most of which are not rideable when you are pushing 50 pounds of gear in snow.” What extra proof do you have to have that Minnesotans like to endure?
When the trails turn to slush, cyclists use their GPS to hyperlink dirt roads into gravel routes, from the rolling bluffs of Mississippi River nation in the southeast corner of the state to the wooded Forest Service roads farther north. Most are coaching for races like May’s Le Grand du Nord, northern Minnesota’s premier self-supported spring gravel occasion that gives 20-, 54-, and 110-mile rides. Beginning on the shore of Lake Superior in the quaint harbor town of Grand Marais, the 110-mile ride climbs five,500 feet on gravel roads by means of the Sawtooth Mountains close to the Boundary Waters Canoe Location Wilderness. The ride ends with a beer or 3 at Voyageur Brewing Corporation.
Right after the trails dry out in May well, Duluth, the hilly, hipster-filled industrial city of 86,000 that sits on the western tip of Lake Superior, turns into a mountain-biking mecca. More than the previous decade, Duluth, in conjunction with regional non-profit Cyclists of Gitchee Gummee Shores, has invested millions of dollars into developing extra than 100 miles of singletrack that stretch from the Chambers Grove Park along the Saint Louis River in the west to the flowing waterfalls of Lester Park in the east. The 85-mile Duluth Traverse hugs the city’s coastline and has jaw-dropping views of the lake. Spiraling off it are separate loops that supply specialist-only trails, from the three,500-foot downhill insanity of Calculated Danger, at Spirit Mountain in the south, to the steep bedrock roll downs of DM, in Piedmont farther north. The outfitters Duluth Encounter host a 3-hour tour of the Duluth Traverse ($79 hardtail rental incorporated) and Day Tripper of Duluth gives two-to-3-hour private lessons from a guide certified by the Experienced Mountain Bike Instructors Association ($75).
Significantly less substantial but equally fascinating is the expanding network of trails in the 460-acre Tioga Recreation Location close to Grand Rapids, a wooded playground overlooking Pokegama Lake and the Mississippi River, 3 hours north from Minneapolis. There are at present 22 miles of completed trail, providing range in difficulty and style, from rocky, technical cross-nation routes to jumpy downhills for sophisticated riders. Ardent Bikes in Grand Rapids rents hardtails and complete-suspension bikes, beginning at $45 for two hours.
To cycle by means of a flaming array of fall colors and get a really serious hill exercise, head south with a road or gravel bike to the Root River and Harmony-Preston Valley Trails, a 60-mile, Y-shaped, rail-to-trail network in the southeast corner of the state in between Houston and Fountain. The route undulates by means of river-bluff nation, historic little towns, and regular Amish communities of southern Minnesota, a vast transform from the dense pine forests of the north. Book a evening (and a massage) at the funkily renovated Stone Mill Hotel and Suites (from $90), then set out on the town for a play at the renowned Commonweal Theatre Corporation.
Lead Photo: Ryan Krueger/Cavan