Penn Cycle To Host Two Weekly Mountain Bike Rides This Spring and Summer

The 2015 Women's Wednesday Night Mountain Bike Ride is open to women of all riding abilities.  Riders must be at least 18 years of age and helmets are required.  The ride schedule starts May 27th and goes through September 16th where it will wrap up with an end of the season party.

Trail locations include Lebanon Hills, Murphey-Hanrehan, MN River Bottoms, Terrace Oaks, Carver Lake Park and Theodore Wirth Park.  Depending on the trail location, riders will meet either at the park or the nearest Penn Cycle store.  Rides leave at 6pm.  June 24th at Lebanon Hills will include a Giant Liv Demo and skills session.  Ride leaders Valerie Dosland and Janet Atkinson can be contacted for more information.  See the ride schedule for dates, locations and contact information.

The 2015 Penn Cycle Tuesday Night Mountain Bike Ride was put together and will be led by members of the Penn Cycle Mountain Bike Team.  It is for anyone (male or female) that has intermediate to advanced MTB riding skills.  Riders must be at least 18 years of age and helmets are required.  The ride schedule starts May 5th and goes through September 29th.

Trail locations include Lebanon Hills, Murphey-Hanrehan and the MN River Bottoms.  All rides will start/finish at the Penn Cycle Eagan store located at 2290 Cliff Road and will depart at 5:30pm sharp.  Ride locations will be determined by ride leaders by Sunday for the following Tuesday and will be posted on the Penn Cycle Tuesday Night Mountain Bike Ride Facebook Group.  Join the group to stay in the loop.  In cases of inclement weather or trail closures due to wet conditions, a decision to cancel the ride will be made by 5:00 pm.  Call Penn Cycle Eagan at 651-882-1241 for more information or for availability of mountain bike rentals.

Penn Cycle & Fitness
Women's Bikes For Perfect Rides. 
Trek WSD and Liv


Gravel Training Grounds Close to the Twin Cities

Now that the weather is warming and Almanzo is coming up fast you'll probably want to get some gravel training time in saddle.  You don't have to drive that far from the Twin Cities to find some very scenic gravel roads with some hills to climb.  Living in the South Metro for many years, I have come across some good spots to crush gravel close to home.

The Cannon River Valley

The Cannon River Valley has been a long time favorite of mine not only for the beauty of the area, but the big climbs and long descents too.  Below are two short loops that are easily accessible from the Welch Station on the Cannon Valley Trail.  Though these loops may not be that long they have some good extended climbs to train on.  Ride them both clockwise or counter-clockwise to turn those long descents into a new climb or combine them for a longer ride.

Welch North Loop

Welch South Loop

To add some distance riding in this area, try riding the Miesville FiftySix or Miesville Redux routes.  These will give you around 56 and 42 miles.

Cutler Hill Rd/Collischan Road

There are many more route options in the Cannon River Valley including Cutler Hill Road and Collischan Road (which becomes a Minimum Maintenance Road and dead ends near some sloughs near Pool 3 on the Mississippi River) just a mile North of the Cannon Valley Trail on HWY 61 (East side).  Use Strava, RideWithGPS, Runtastic or MapMyRide to map out a new route in this area while in Satellite mode on the map (zoom in to see where the gravel roads are).  These websites will allow syncing of the route to the app on your phone, downloading a gpx file to your Garmin and some will let you print cuesheets.  The possibilities are unlimited.

Northfield/Cannon Falls/Nerstrand Area

Another favorite area of mine was introduced to me by members of the Cannon Valley Velo Club.  These cyclists know all of the best gravel road routes in this area and ride them regularly.  I had a chance to ride with them and they took me through some beautiful countryside with some challenging climbs.

Last Fall I wanted to get in some training for the Tour of Filmore and the Filthy 50 so I contacted Christopher Tassava, who regularly rides gravel in this area, for some route suggestions.  Through his help I was introduced to some beautiful areas with single lane gravel, a minimum maintenance road, breathtaking views and some challenging climbs.  Thanks, Christopher.

The following route starts at Bridge Square in Northfield and will take you around 55 miles and provide close to 3,000 feet of climbing.  It will bring you along the Cannon River toward Lake Byllesby before heading South to two of my favorite areas of the route, Shady Lane Trail and Sogn Valley Trail.  Southwest from there the route will take you through the Nerstrand Big Woods State Park and past Caron Park, both good spots to stop and take a break.  Next is the climb up Farmer Trail before heading North back into Northfield. 

Northfield/Nerstrand Gravel Loop

There are many more options to crush gravel in this area.  Satellite view on Google Maps will help you plan a new route.  Use one of the above mentioned cycling app websites to make navigation easier.  The Cannon Valley Velo Club mixes it up with a variety of gravel rides that they post regularly on their Facebook group page.  Join them for a ride sometime, they are a great group of cyclists.

Central Lakes Trail
Get out and enjoy the beautiful gem known as the 
Central Lakes Trail


Almanzo100.bike Website Launched

Are you looking for more information on the Almanzo gravel races in Spring Valley coming up the third weekend in May?  Now there is the Almanzo100.bike website.  The new site was launched over a week ago and is the place to go to for maps, links to rosters, cue sheets and gpx file downloads for the Almanzo 100, Royal 162 and the Alexander 380.

If you haven't sent in your postcard yet, it's not too late.  Spring Valley Tourism, who has taken over the races for founder Chris Skogen will not have a cut-off date for registration.  

Image Credit: Spring Valley Tourism

Send in your postcard  with Name, Race Declaration and Contact Information to:

201 S. Broadway
Spring Valley, MN 55975

Registration can also be done by visiting the Almanzo100.bike Contact Us page and submitting your information as directed in the Facebook post below.  You may also register during the Friday night check-in and on Saturday morning before the Almanzo 100 and Royal 162 race starts.

Periodic updates for racers can be found on the Almanzo 100 Facebook page, @almanzoinfo on Twitter, the Spring Valley Tourism Facebook page and the Almanzo/Wilderfest 2015 Facebook event page.


Penn Cycle's Thursday Night at the Races Returns for 24th Year

Penn Cycle's long-standing tradition of mountain bike racing at Buck Hill returns in 2015 for the 24th season.  What started out with 45 riders the very first night a long time ago has grown and evolved into something truly special.  "Whether you’re a first-timer or local hero, these weeknight races continue to rank as the best bang for your entertainment Buck by every mountain biker in the world."  Thursday Night at the Races brings together beginner, intermediate and advanced mountain bikers for some great racing and good times.  This family friendly event is also a great opportunity to get the little ones into mountain biking with a free kid's race after the adult races.

"You won’t find a more family friendly, cycling event anywhere and I am really proud of what we have put together and continue to do so on Thursday Nights." - Pat Sorensen, Penn Cycle President.

Image Credit: Gal Alon

If you've never raced before, this is your chance to give it a try.  The Beginner class race starts at 7:15 pm and only costs $5.  For the intermediate and advanced racers, $10 will gain you entry into the Advanced, Recreational or Fat Bike class races that start at 6:30 pm.  Registration for the races runs from 5:00-6:15 pm.

Start of the Fat Bike Class Race
2015 Buck Hill Race Schedule

Series 1:  May 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th, June 4th and 11th
Series 2:  June 18th, 25th, (No race July 2nd), July 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th. Plus a potential make up race on Aug. 6th.

If you're still not convinced to join in on the fun this year, watch the video below for a week by week recap of the fun, thrills and competition of last year's races.

After the races, the adults take to the kid's course on kids bikes.  Watch the hilarity ensue as Pat shoots for the win.

This is a great opportunity to test yourself in a race setting on a challenging wooded course at Buck Hill.  For Minnesota High School Cycling League racers, here's a chance to get in some early practice for the upcoming season.

After the races there will be loads of door prizes and food and drink is available all evening long. For additional details you can visit the Penn Cycle Thursday Night at the Races page or call the Bloomington store at 952-888-1427. A little rain may not always cancel the races, so give them a call if weather becomes an issue. 


Registration for the 2015 Filthy 50 is Now Open

The Filthy 50 is entering its third year and already it has become a tradition amongst 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.  Below are the details and rules direct from race organizer Trenton Raygor.

Image Credit: Adam Morgan
Image Credit: Adam Morgan

The Details
  • The Filthy 50 will take place on Sunday, October 11th, 2015.
  • The event will start and end on the north end of Stewartville, MN. The start will take place at 10am and the riders will have until 4pm to officially finish. 
  • Registration will open on Friday, March 20th and can be completed quickly online. Visit http://the-filthy-50.com/registration and complete the form before the 600 rider cap is reached. We trust that you will register and make it a priority to show up and ride on October 11th. If you're not sure that you can make it, we kindly request that you hold off on registering until you are certain.
  • Thanks to our sponsors, registration for The Filthy 50 continues to be a FREE and first come will be first served.
  • This event is completely unsupported. You are responsible for you. Individuals should bring EVERYTHING that they need for the 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 11th. 
  • Days before the ride, those on the official roster will be sent event day logistics as well as some other crucial information about 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 keep it clean. Please do not litter. 
  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 judgement. 
  9.  You are responsible for you, so be responsible.
  10.  Have fun! 
A look back at the 2014 Filthy 50
"Race it and set a record. Ride it and take in the beauty. Either way, get filthy." - Unknown

The Filthy 50 is a free race made possible by generous support from the follow sponsors.

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

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

 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. Seriously.

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.

2 WHEEL WEATHER - Where cycling and weather come together.

WOLF TOOTH COMPONENTS - Bike components from Minneapolis, MN.

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 or by visiting the 2015 - Filthy 50 Volunteers page and filling out the form.

Trenton congratulates every racer as they cross the finish line

News Release From Trenton

We are very proud to announce that 2015 The Filthy 50 will be returning to Stewartville, Minnesota for a third year. For those of you who have committed to ride with us for the past two years, I cannot thank you enough. Your spirit and enthusiasm has continuously made The Filthy 50 a success and something that many of us hold dear to our hearts. You have made this ride yours. For those who have stepped up and sponsored, participated in our famed "meat raffle" or donated anonymously, thank you for helping us make The Filthy extra special for everyone. Lastly, to my family and friends who have volunteered their time and skill sets to helping us pull this thing off, we couldn't do it without you, nor would we want to, so thanks for coming back and giving a little more.

The Filthy 50 has grown into something that we never expected nor intended, but are overjoyed to embrace the excitement and continue giving the love back to the cycling community. With that, we have been exploring new roads and having new adventures that we plan on sharing with you in a special 2016 edition of The Filthy. Our discoveries will likely bring you a brand new Filthy 50 as well as a Filthy 100 zig-zagging through some the most beautiful country that we have ever laid eyes on. I dare say that we have outdone ourselves. The routes are already set, but we still have some ground work ahead of us. We will share more as milestones are met.

In addition to the aforementioned excitement, our crew will be scouting out something a little more epic that we like to call "The DAMn". [Day Across Minnesota] The DAMn is not for the faint of heart. It is a one day, point-to-point ride across the state of Minnesota to the tune of 240 miles of gravely goodness. It starts you out in the wee morning hours in South Dakota and spits you out before day's end in Wisconsin. We will be finalizing the route and the P2P logistics this summer and plan to officially drop The DAMn on you during the summer of 2016.

That's all we've got for now. After you register, we highly encourage you to go and ride your bike. I need to do a little more of that these days, so I am going to take my own advice and get on that right now.

Kind Regards, Trenton


MN Group Bike Rides Facebook Group Brings Minnesota Cyclists Together to Ride

With the success of the MN Fatbike Group Rides Facebook group connecting cyclists to ride fatbikes together this past Winter, I was asked by several members of the group if I would create another one for warm weather riding.  This new Facebook group encompasses all types of group rides including Road, Gravel and Off-Road/MTB.  The new group is MN Group Bike Rides.

This group is intended to bring cyclists in Minnesota together for group rides by providing a place to post them.  The rules to keep content on point are simple:
  • Posts should be about a group ride you are planning or soliciting interest for. These can be Road, Off-Road, Gravel or MTB. 
  • Be clear about the time, mileage drop/no-drop and pace of the ride.
  • Attending a group ride that is not mentioned in this group? Post it.
  • Please include links to more information about the group ride if available (MORC Forum, etc.)
  • Please put post-ride photos/video in the comment section of that listed ride, not as a new post. 
  • Please refer bike related questions/comments to Facebook groups dedicated to that kind of discussion.

Fatbikes are not just for Winter riding.  I would encourage fatbikers planning group rides to continue to post them on the MN Fatbike Group Rides Facebook group.  If gravel riding is your thing, the MN Gravel Enthusiasts Facebook group is a place for anyone looking to ride gravel, share gravel routes, post group rides or events (races, rides, etc.) and to discuss equipment or gravel Q&A. 

Join one of these groups today and get riding with old and new friends.


Creating/Sharing Routes & Cue Sheets and Navigating Off-Line Using RideWithGPS

http://ridewithgps.comPlanning a ride/group ride is very easy with RideWithGPS and is my go-to choice because of its many free standard features.  It's an easy to use online mapping tool that was designed with cyclists in mind.  Use it to plan out a ride or to share a route.  I can share my routes on my blog, social media, by creating a PDF map/cue sheet or with other RideWithGPS users by making my maps Public.  To see how easy it is to plan your next ride, watch the "Create a Route" video below for a quick tutorial.

One of the features I like about RideWithGPS when planning group rides is the ability to make a PDF file of the route complete with map, description and cue sheets to share with other riders.  There are many customizable options when creating this PDF file and the tutorials below will show you how it's done.

Another way to share a route is by creating a GPX Track (.gpx) file for use with Garmin units or to be loaded into other mapping sites like MapMyRide, Runtastic or Endomondo for use with a smartphone for navigation.  It is very easy to do, after the route is created and saved click on the "Export" tab and select "GPX Track (.gpx)" and a dialogue box will open and allow saving of the gpx file.

To make it easy for my friends or members of a group ride to download the PDF Map/Cue sheet or gpx file I use Dropbox to share a download link to those files.  This way, by posting the share link on social media or in an email, anyone can download these files for printing or loading into their favorite mapping site/software.  Below is an example of a PDF Map/Cue sheet I recently created for an upcoming Ride Like A Girl Cycling women's gravel ride.

For those using the RideWithGPS app for Android or IOS, voiced turn-by-turn navigation for any route planned on the website is now available.  To make this feature even better, RideWithGPS has released off-line maps for iPhone and Android for rides planned on the website to be navigated using the app without cell service or internet connection.

Sign up and start planning, sharing rides and generating cue sheets today.  For more information on RideWithGPS, visit the FAQ page.  More tutorial videos can be found on the RideWithGPS You Tube channel.
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