Filthy 50 Registration Opens First Day of Spring

The Filthy 50 returns in 2017 for its fifth year and has become a tradition for many gravel enthusiasts.  Cyclists come from all over Minnesota and neighboring states to the small town of Stewartville to race on the rolling gravel roads of Olmstead and Filmore Counties.  The scenery along the route is amazing and at the end of the race you will know why it was named The Filthy 50.

The Filthy 50 has introduced many to the joys of riding gravel and for some it was their first gravel race.  October gravel is amazing with the Fall colors, scenery and weather this area offers to those that take the challenge.  I highly recommend that you register and experience this race that is very special to me and many others that continue to do it year after year.  Below are the details and rules direct from race director Trenton Raygor.

The Details
  • The Filthy 50 will take place on Sunday, October 8th, 2017.
  • The event will start and end on the north end of Stewartville, MN. The mass neutral rollout will take place at 10am and the riders will have until 4pm to officially finish.
  • Registration will open on Monday, March 20th and can be completed quickly online. Visit http://the-filthy-50.com/registration and complete the form before the 1000 rider cap is reached. We trust that if you register that you will make it a priority to show up and ride on Sunday, October 8th. If you're not certain that you can make it, we kindly request that you hold off on registering until you are sure.
  • In addition to the 50 mile route, we are bringing back The Pretty Filthy (24 Mile) and The Little Filthy (12 Mile) alternate routes for a second year due to popular demand. We hope to see more young people out there this year!
  • Thanks to our incredible local sponsors and those from the community who have taken the time to donate, registration for The Filthy 50 will continue to be FREE for the 5th year in a row! That’s right, no payment required, though donations are accepted and greatly appreciated.
  • IMPORTANT: This event is completely unsupported. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU. Individuals should bring EVERYTHING that they need for the 50 mile ride and expect absolutely NOTHING to be provided to them on the day of the event.
  • GPX and TCX files, as well as cue sheets, will be made available for download to all riders who end up on our official roster. Navigating the course is critical, so we will do our best to prepare you for that.
  • Elevation profiles of the course will be provided through Filthy 50 social media (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) prior to Sunday, October 8th. Find us and follow us!
  • Days before the ride, those on the official roster will be sent email communications regarding event day logistics as well as some other crucial information on what to expect.

The Rules
It is of utmost importance to us that everyone stays safe and enjoys The Filthy 50. These are the rules. We think they are reasonable.
  1.  You are 100% on your own. Take care of yourself. 
  2.  We would appreciate it if you would REGISTER with us. 
  3.  This ride is unsupported. Bring EVERYTHING with you that you will need. 
  4.  Always wear your helmet. 
  5. Respect the course and those who live there. Please do not litter. Leave no trace.
  6.  Obey all TRAFFIC LAWS
  7.  If nature calls during your ride, please do not please do not answer it in front of others. 
  8.  Ride safely and use good judgment. 
  9.  You are responsible for you, so be responsible.
  10.  Have fun! 
We try to keep it simple, so if you require more detail, please CONTACT US.

"Race it and set a record. Ride it and take in the beauty. Either way, get filthy." - Unknown


In addition to many fine people like yourself, these very generous Minnesota based sponsors help make The Filthy 50 happen. Please support them like they support us!

ADAM TURMAN - A professional illustrator & poster artist from the Twin Cities.

BANJO BROTHERS - Tough. Practical. Affordable. Bike Bags.

BELCH - Comfortably unrefined.

 BICYCLE SPORTS - A full service bike shop in Rochester, MN.

BUCKNELL CONSTRUCTION, INC. - Meeting your construction needs, located in Stewartville, MN.

FAREWAY - An economical food store located in Stewartville, MN.

 HED - The best wheels on the planet. Period.

THE HUB BICYCLE CO-OP - The Twin Cities’ only cooperatively owned bike shop.

JUST RIDE MINNESOTA -  Cycling apparel. Just ride

KURT KINETIC - Making the BEST indoor trainers from Minneapolis, MN.


 PENN CYCLE - Your Twin Cities bike shop.

RIDING GRAVEL.COM - The gravel enthusiast’s resource

 ROCHESTER CYCLING - A Rochester, MN bike shop for all of your bike needs.

SUNSHINE SANITATION - Sanitation professionals from Stewartville, MN.

 SURLY BREWING - Give a damn. Do good. Drink beer.

TWIN SIX -  Alternative Cycling Apparel & Bike Gear.

2 WHEEL WEATHER - Where cycling and weather come together.

Despite this being a free event, it wouldn’t be able to happen as intend without the support of these amazing sponsors and incredible volunteers.  If you are interested in sponsoring this year, please send an email to thefilthy50@gmail.com.  You can also show your support by donating to The Filthy 50 here.  For those not racing that would like to volunteer you can do so by sending an email to the above address.

From the Director

Our tiny corner of the cycling community has turned a day of riding and racing bicycles on rural Minnesota crushed limerock roads into what many of you tell me is your favorite tradition of the year. You have contributed your ideas, time, and talents and have made The Filthy 50 your very own. You have different occupations, political affiliations, and religious beliefs from one another. Most of you haven’t raced a day in your life and others are out there winning Olympic gold. You’re all so very different yet every year when asked, you all give me the same answer. You need to do it again. You’ve created a place where everyone is welcome and where everyone is cool. Do you know how rare this is? It fills my heart. This gives me hope for humanity. This is why we are bringing The Filthy 50 back.

The Filthy 50 will return to my home town of Stewartville, Minnesota for it’s 5th year in a row. In 2013, what was intended to be a 50 mile gravel ride and barbeque out of my parents’ house quickly turned into a 300 rider event. The Filthy has grown more each year, and this year, we have made accommodations to accept up to 1000 riders on our official roster! We will be bringing back some of our Filthy traditions, including “The Fastest 50” as well as the legendary Filthy (after) Party. Beer lovers never fear as Surly Brewing Co. has assured us that they will double down on the free beer for you all this year. Also, all of our participants and spectators can expect some Filthy surprises on and off of the course.

To our sponsors, to those of you who have participated in our infamous "meat raffle" and to those who have donated anonymously, thank you for helping us make The Filthy 50 so damn special! To my wonderful family and talented friends who have volunteered their time and skills to help pull this off, we couldn't (and wouldn’t) do it without you, so thanks for coming back and helping us do it for one more year. Lastly, we highly encourage you to register early as we anticipate reaching our 1000 rider cap fairly fast. After you register, treat yourself and go take that first Spring bicycle ride! It’s supposed to be gorgeous out there.

Kind Regards, Trenton

Penn Cycle & Fitness
Now is the time to get a 2017 fat bike
at a clearance price.


Bontrager Gnarwhal Studdable Tire First Impressions

I had been waiting for over a year since I first heard about the Bontrager Gnarwhal studdable tires for Trek's new 27.5" wheel size that came stock on my Farley 9.6.  When they did become available earlier this Winter they sold out immediately and I was out of luck on getting a pair.  I would have to wait for another shipment to arrive which wasn't until the beginning of February.  When my order finally came through the Bontrager studs were still out of stock so I would have to buy some 45NRTH Aluminum Carbide Concave Studs to get them ready for the ice.

This was definitely the Winter for studded tires.  The singletrack around the Twin Cities was very icy for quite some time and usually only rideable with studs.  Something else I wanted to try more of was riding creeks, lakes and marshes since the snow pack on them was either non existent or lightly covered.  Studded tires would open up a bunch of new riding opportunities that were unavailable with my standard fat bike tires.

Once I got the Gnarwhal tires set up tubeless it was time to get to work studding them.  This would take about an hour per tire since each one had 205 stud pockets to be filled.

Out on the ice the Gnarwhals had excellent grip. I could ride a tight circle without slipping because of all the studs and siping that were on the outside edges of the tire.  This gave me the confidence to ride faster and on uneven ice like pictured below.

On packed or icy singletrack the wide footprint (4.5") the Gnarwhals have provided plenty of traction at the right tire pressure for the conditions. 

In fresh powder and off the trail (bushwhacking) they had plenty of flotation to get me where I was going. One of the first things I noticed is how well they shed snow instead of it packing up between the lugs.  This aggressive tread pattern would give me the traction needed to ride just about every condition that this Winter would dish out.

Tubeless set up was very easy with these tires.  The 120 tpi casing makes the sidewalls strong and supple allowing me to run them at low pressures for excellent grip.  If you're a Trek Farley owner that has 27.5" wheels, the Bontrager Gnarwal tires are a great choice for a variety of Winter riding conditions.  Check with your local Trek Retailer for availability.  MSRP $119.99 each, available only non-studded.


Lake MXZ 400 Winter Cycling Boot First Impressions

Almost a year after being shown a prototype of the new Lake MXZ 400 I finally got a chance to test them out a few times before Winter faded away.  This is Lake's warmest boot since the introduction of the MXZ 303.  Some of the features this boot provides set it apart from other winter cycling boots on the market.

The outsole is made from sub-zero rated rubber that has seven ice grip inserts for better traction on slippery surfaces.  There are also two studs at the front of the outsole to bite into ice.  I rode a lot of ice this Winter and having these boots on definitely made a difference when dismounting or putting a foot down to keep the bike up.

For night riding these boots have plenty of reflective areas on the front and back to get you seen.  The bio-motion of pedaling will get the attention of motorists.  The tongue and and side mounted IP1 Boa lacing system really lets me dial in the perfect fit whether I'm wearing a thin sock or a thick wool one.  Getting in and out of these boots is a breeze because of the Boa lacing.

The 400 grams of 3M Thinsulate insulation "built on a cycling specific winter last" and Outlast SmartFabric Technology is what makes these boots retain and regulate heat keeping my feet warm for a longer period of time in the extreme cold.  My feet get cold easily and the Lake MXZ 400 passed my initial testing for warmth and comfort.

There is plenty of space in the toe box to keep proper circulation and the Syks√≥l insole provides cushion and comfort when riding or walking. 

To round off the whole package, the Lake MXZ 400 boot has Pittards WR100 & Helcor abrasion resistant leather, a waterproof membrane in addition to the breathable, water-resistant upper.  Simply put, this is one warm and comfortable winter cycling boot.  I just wish Winter hadn't left us so early so I could have ridden more and tested them out is some truly sub-zero temperatures for a longer duration.  Look for a full review on MN Bike Trail Navigator next Winter when I have had adequate time to put them through some more testing in a wide variety of Minnesota Winter weather conditions.


2017 Arrowhead 135 Stories

The Arrowhead 135 is a human powered ultra-endurance marathon that takes place every year during the coldest part of Winter.  Participants have 60 hours to complete the 135 mile trek from International Falls to Fortune Bay Casino in Tower on the Arrowhead State Trail.  Racers are required to stop at three checkpoints (unless racing unsupported, new this year) that are spaced about 35 miles apart, where race officials can pull a racer due to frostbite or other medical concerns. Participants must run, ski or bike the distance with their sub-zero survival gear,  no outside help except from other racers or race officials and they must follow a strict set of race rules out on the course.

Image Credit: Sveta Vold

This year's race saw the first place man and woman set new course records.  The mild weather conditions were a contributing factor that had 76 of the 85 cyclists completing the race under the 60 hour cut-off.  I have compiled all of the stories, photos, a podcast and news articles of  racers who chose bike propulsion pertaining to this year's epic race.  For full race results, click here.

Map of Arrowhead 135 course

Image Credit: Sveta Vold

Race Participants:  Bike Propulsion
Sveta Vold-1st Unsupported Women, 4th Woman Overall, 37th

Ben Doom-3rd

Steve Cannon-8th

Paul Zeigle-17th Men, 19th

Todd Hunter-39th

Christopher Tassava-12th Unsupported Men, 41st

Geoffrey Archibald-64th

Pamela Gonzalez-76th

Stephen Sylvester-DNF

Image Credit: Sveta Vold

2017 Arrowhead 135 Press





RiotGRRRaveL is Back for 2017

Riot Grrravel returns in 2017 on June 3rd with with three distance options to introduce gravel racing/riding to women of all ages and abilities.  What started out in 2014 with 82 riders by Riot Grrravel organizer Ellie Skelton was her way of bringing more women to come to enjoy this increasingly popular style of riding in a non-intimidating fashion.   After three years of organizing RiotGrrraveL, Ellie has passed the torch to Victoria Malawey who is also an avid cyclist, gravel enthusiast and bike advocate.

Image Credit: Kate Lockhart

This year's race will have distance declarations of 10, 20 and 33 miles to open up the field to women of all abilities and experiences.  The 33 mile course will have more elevation changes for those that want to challenge themselves with climbing in addition to distance.  Men who wish to participate must ride with a female, trans, gender non-conforming rider, or a family member (any gender) under 18.

Image Credit: Kate Lockhart

Riot Grrravel will take place on Saturday, June 3rd at Hope Lutheran Church in Hastings.  Registration will be in the parking lot from 8:00 to 9:00am.  Roll out is 9:00am sharp for 33 miler, 9:15am for the 20 miles and 9:30am for the 10 mile riders.  This free unsupported women/family friendly event is being held rain or shine so dress accordingly and bring everything you will need to be self supportive.

Image Credit: Kate Lockhart

Registration is now open for Riot GRRRaveL 2017 and only takes a minute to sign up online.  It will have a rider cap and should fill up quickly, so make sure you register early.

Image Credit: Kate Lockhart

If you or your company would like to sponsor or volunteer for Riot GRRRaveL 2017 please send a message to Victoria on the Riot GRRRaveL Facebook page.  Volunteers can sign up at this link.


My Favorite Winter Fatbike Gear-Part 3

As Winter winds down early this year there are still plenty of opportunities to ride fatbikes if you go to the right places.  Some of these opportunities are made even better with the right gear.  This will be my fifth year of winter cycling and I have a few favorite items that help make fatbiking out on the snow and ice much more enjoyable.

Bontrager Gnarwhal Stud-able Tires

If you're a Trek Farley owner with 27.5" wheels, then you know the frustration of limited tire options.  Trek released their Bontrager Gnarwhal stud-able tires back in December and quickly sold out of their first shipment.  I was very disappointed that my order was not filled and would have to wait until the next shipment arrived for distribution.  Well, they finally arrived two weeks ago but the Bontrager studs I ordered to go with the tires would not arrive for some time.  I really liked the grip of the 45NRTH concave studs on my Dillinger 4's so I decided to go with them for the Gnarwhals.

After a couple hours of hand studding the Gnarwhals I was ready for my first ride on the ice with these big meaty tires (27.5x4.5).  Compared to the 45NRTH Dillinger 4's, these were monster truck tires.  They have a very large footprint and when used with the proper psi for the riding conditions they really grip everything from sheer ice, crusted snow to groomed singletrack.  This tire can handle riding a tight circle on ice without slipping adding extra confidence in the turns.

If you are interested in getting a pair for the end of this Winter or for next season, there will be another shipment arriving at Trek after the first week of March.  Visit your local Trek Authorized Dealer for more information.  These stud-able tires retail for $120 each and are tubeless-ready with a 120tpi foldable casing for easy tubeless setup.

Yeti Rambler 18 oz.

When it comes to riding in freezing temperatures the last thing I want to have to deal with is a frozen water bottle when I want to hydrate.  I've tried all sorts of things over the past few winters and my new go-to water bottle is the Yeti Rambler 18 oz. container.  It fits in a standard water bottle cage and is even short enough to work with my 15.5" Trek Farley frame which has limited space for larger water bottles.  The cap on the Yeti Rambler can be opened with gloves on and the over the nose diameter of the bottle makes it easy to drink from.  I have tested this bottle with hot and cold water in some of the coldest temperatures we have had in the Twin Cities over this winter and it really prevents liquids from freezing up.  MSRP $30.

Bontrager Convertible Neck Gaiter

One of the most versatile items to keep my head, face and neck warm this winter is my new Bontrager Convertible Neck Gaiter.  This simple piece of cloth can be used in a variety of different ways to protect your skin against the biting cold and wind that winter riding presents.  On warmer days in the 20's°F I will wear it to cover my chin and neck.  On windy days and when the temperature dips into the teens and below I will pull it up to cover more of my face to protect from windburn and frost nip.  It's very breathable and wicks moisture away from my skin keeping me warm and comfortable.  It retails at Trek dealers for only $16.99 and is worth every penny.

Lake MXZ400 Boots

I first saw a prototype of the new Lake MXZ400 boot from a Lake Brand Manager that was in town to do a photo shoot for the boot and had attended on of the Get Phat With Pat fatbike races at the MN River Bottoms.  It would be over a year later that I would actually get to test out this new boot offering.

My first impressions of the comfort, insulating warmth and customizable fit with the double Boa Closure System impressed me greatly.  This boot has 400 gr. of 3M Thinsulate insulatation for those really cold rides and paired with a large toe box, it provides feet the circulation needed to keep them warm.  The two studs on the toe section and the ice grip inserts on the sole provide the traction needed on slippery surfaces.  With a breathable, water resistant upper and the Boa Closure System, I can wear a variety of sock thicknesses without overheating, sweating or letting snow/moisture in.  The other thing I like about this boot is that with all of the insulation it provides it doesn't feel bulky or overly large.  Lake MXZ400 boots are two bolt compatible for cleat installation.

I know this season is almost over, but this is one boot you may want to add to your winter riding gear while they are still available for next winter.  MSRP $430.
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