Online Solstice Chase registration is closed. Race day registration WILL BE available!

The Solstice Chase - 42k/21k Fatbike Race - December 20th, 2014



For updates on the 2016 event, please visit SolsticeChase.com.


Welcome to the Solstice Chase!  A 42k/21k Fat Bike race in beautiful St. Croix Falls - a 50 minute drive from downtown Minneapolis.  We had a tremendous event last year and we're looking forward to applying all that we learned and doing an even better job this year! 

But more details on all that later, for now, here is the essential information for the race, with more announcements to come:


What:
Fat Bike Race 42k/21k
The first race of the Great Lakes Fat Bike Series.

Where:
Start Area at Dallas House Restaurant and Lounge


When:

Saturday, December 20st, 2014
42K mass start at 10AM
21K mass start at 10:15AM



How to Register:

For online registration and fort he most up to date information CLICK HERE.


Allowed Bicycles:
Only true "Fat Bikes" are allowed in the Solstice Chase.  This means your bicycle must have tires that are at least 3.8" wide, and we recommend running under 10 psi of air pressure.  Narrower tires damage the groomed ski trails - while a portion of this course will be open for Fat Biking throughout the Winter, some of it is a XC Ski trail and only open to Fat Bikers on event day.  To learn more about Fat Bikes or for a free demo, contact the folks at Cyclova XC. No motorized bicycles of any kind are allowed!


Proceeds:

Proceeds from the Solstice Chase will be used to further develop the great trails in the St. Croix Falls area.



Inquiries:

Contact the folks at Cyclova XC
715-483-3278
frank (at) cyclovaxc (dot) com

Results:
2013 Results

FREE Bike Maintenance Presentation at Anytime Fitness Open House (Sat. November 2nd)

Hey Folks!

Here's the schedule of events for the Anytime Fitness open house in Siren, WI.  CyclovaXC will be giving a brief talk on basic bicycle maintenance so that will be fun to come and check out.  Plus you can see there are a lot of other activities planned throughout the day.

The address is:
24556 State Highway 35/70, Siren, Wisconsin 54872
See you there!

A Nice Little Easy Bike Ride


A lot of people don't know the kind of cool stuff you can do on a bicycle.  The above video is one suggestion (although you should probably wait until your 2nd ride before you attempt something like this).

Saturday Roller Ski


Hey everyone, time to really kick this coming ski season in gear.  Dallas and I are going to go for a nice roll on River Road on Saturday morning.  You can meet Dallas at the shop at 8:30.  The very rough plan is to ski until 10:30 or so.

If you haven't been watching, Trollhaugen is blowing snow.  They aren't ready to open yet, but keep your eyes peeled.  We might be able to get out on snow sooner rather than later.

Only 119 days until the Birkie in case you were wondering.

Ordinance Threatens Organized Rides in Iowa County

Ungh...talk about terrible news.  I just came across this news story which states how a proposed ordinance in Iowa County WI will basically eliminate the possibility of having organized bicycle events in Iowa County.  Although this doesn't affect me directly, I'm disturbed about any kind of legislation designed to limit cyclists rights.

Read the link and send an email to express your displeasure at this idea: Craig.Hardy@iowacounty.org

Here's the email I sent:

Subject: No Ordinance Against Organized Bicycle Rides

Mr. Hardy,
It has come to my attention that you are proposing an ordinance that would restrict organized rides in Iowa County Wisconsin. I believe this is a terrible idea and will severely inhibit commerce and tourism within your county. Furthermore, this ordinance sets a bad precedent within the state of Wisconsin.

Cycling generates a huge amount of revenue for the state of Wisconsin in the following ways:
  • Taxes collected from sales at bicycle shops
  • Tourists who are drawn to Wisconsin as a cycling destination
  • Trail passes and fees collected for these passes
  • Cycling events that attract spectators and racers from all over the country
Any legislation designed to inhibit cycling in ANY way is bad for the community. Cyclists and motorists can coexist safely without any major inconvenience to either group. To propose a limitation on Cyclists is shortsighted and will adversely affect state revenue with a significant and measurable impact. 

I am especially upset by the threat to the GRABAAWR, a tremendous event which draws 1,000 cyclists annually who spend money and recreate in Wisconsin for an entire week.

Your proposal strikes me as extremely short sighted and I sincerely hope you rethink your position.

Upcoming Movies about Lance Armstrong

There are three--count 'em--THREE movies about Lance Armstrong in development or set for release.  The most interesting of these is probably "The Armstrong Lie" by Alex Gibney.  Gibney is a pretty well-known documentary film maker (although I watch a lot of movies and I confess I'd never heard his name before--but he does have an extensive filmography you can check out here).

"The Armstrong Lie" was originally titled "The Road Back" and filming began during Armstrong's comeback attempt to win his 8th tour.  As you can imagine, there is plenty of footage of Armstrong at the peak of his narcissism, so there should be quite a few amusing scenes of Armstrong staring defiantly into the camera and declaring how he never took PED's.  Gibney reportedly went back to Armstrong after the scandal broke and insisted that Armstrong sit down for a few more interviews.

The other two films are full-on Hollywood productions.  One is reportedly already filming and although they don't have a title (it's listed as "untitled Lance Armstrong Biopic"), they have an actor cast to play Lance: Ben Foster.  You might remember Ben Foster from 3:10 to Yuma, and he's actually a darn good actor.  My only hope is that he spends a bit of time (like 12 hours a day for 3 years) doing squats at his local gym before attempting to portray Armstrong.  I mean...you can't have a guy with scrawny legs playing a professional cyclist even if the guy did cheat.

The other film in progress is "Red Blooded American" starring none other than Bradley Cooper.  Yeah...they guy from "The Hangover" is going to play either Tyler Hamilton or Lance Armstrong (see my earlier comment about scrawny legs).  Personally, I think Bradley Cooper is a better fit for Tyler Hamilton, but we'll see.

I'm looking forward to seeing these films, but I don't really intend to spend any money to do so.  In deference to the Armstrong legacy, I'll just wait for a copy to "fall off a truck" (OK, no, I'm not really going to do that--I just thought it was funny).  At some point it will be nice to do a screening of these films at the shop, but that'll be a ways down the road.

Please, if any of you get a chance to see any of these films, don't hesitate to send us a review to publish.  The way Hollywood works, it wouldn't surprise me if one or both of the two biopics falls through, but you never know.

My question is why they're making 3 movies about Armstrong and ZERO movies about Greg LeMond?  You could title the LeMond film "The American Champion" or something else uplifting.

Wool Jerseys and Ski Gear on the Racks!

Hey Folks!

We just received another shipment of awesome CyclovaXC wool jerseys.  I have S-XL on three different styles, but these always come in a limited quantity and they tend to go fast.  Believe me when I tell you that you won't want to take your wool jersey off until March.

Also, the skis are trickling out onto the shop floor.  I love it!  Now all we have to do is hope for snow!  I've had a half-dozen people tell me that they need some lessons and I'll be happy to share my meager knowledge as soon as the man-made trails are ready over at Troll hollow.  There is no better way to spend a Saturday morning than meeting up with friends to teach them how to ski.  The next generation of Birkie Warriors starts here!

Anyway, the above Jersey is called Williamette (although they just changed it to St. John's on their web page for some reason).  

Here are the other two I ordered.

Ciclismo:
Pearl:
We also have Ciclismo in a short sleeve version.

See you at Cyclova!

2013 Gravel Conspiracy Report

This report is a little late in coming.  Better late than never though.  I will try to balance the text with pictures.

Some guys from the shop did this incredibly epic ride last year in the north woods of Minnesota.  3 days, averaging over 100 miles of riding a day, finishing in the dark, busted bikes, epic.  I knew I had to do it this year.

I bought a new bike this spring right after finishing the Birkie and wanted to start riding it immediately.
And it stayed ski season.  And I rode it some more.
And some more.
Eventually it was April, and I did the Strada Fango Spring Classic.
I even rode it this summer (and practiced trail side bike maintenance in case I broke down in the middle of the woods).
But I wasn't ready.  Brutiful, is the new word I am trying to use in place of the over used term epic, but this was totally that.  I don't know that it was an order of magnitude greater than anything I've done, but certainly a few factors more awesome than anything I've done yet.

Day 0

Ready and waiting for Dallas to pick me up to head to Grand Marais. 
We were staying in the Municipal Campground in Grand Marais and we went for a little trail run the night before.  After the run I took a quick dip in the lake to wash-up.  I even had a toy boat in the tub with me.
We rode into town for a little OctoberFest pizza at Sven and Oles.  Dallas ate his half, I did not hold up my end of the bargain and could only manage 2 and a little bit more pieces.
Day 1

The first day of ride was from Grand Marais to Grand Portage and was the shortest leg of the event.  Roll out was at noon from Artist Point so we had plenty of time to get up, roll into town to get breakfast at South of the Border (not Mexican food, the other border) and go back to camp to prep bikes and an overnight bag.
The first day of riding was great.  About 15 miles of pavement up Hwy 61 before diving into the north woods.  There was a mix of nice gravel, some gnarly rocks, some ATV trails, and some sweet double track.
I gotta admit, I blew up around mile 40 of this 55 mile leg.  I was chasing hard to catch back up to Dallas and I was within 50 yards or so and boom, I was done.  The next 15 miles were pretty painful.

I think Friday night was the highlight of the trip though.  As we all roll into the parking lot Mr. Gravel Conspiracy, Josh Stamper, is sitting there with a cooler of beer checking us all in.  We all agree to check into the hotel and then meet at 6:30 to destroy the buffet.  Only when we roll up to the buffer it is closed because of "water on the floor in the kitchen".  We later learn that means the sewer backed up.  We are directed that the nearest restaurant is just a 20 minute drive away.  20 cyclists, one pick-up truck, that isn't working.

Instead we descended on the convenience store like savages buying up all of the necessities for a cookout and then walked over to the RV campground and stole a spot for a campfire and cookout.  This was so many times better than sitting in the casino and eating a marginal buffet.

Day 2
Kitchen still down so it was omlets in a bag in the parking lot pre-roll out for the big 85 mile day.
This ride took us back to Grand Marais the long way.  Miles along the Canadian border, some gravel, some double track, some seriously rocky ATV trail, even a game trail.  This was some of the best riding ever.
Shortly after the above game trail, which apparently wasn't exactly on course (the GPX files were "this close" to being right this year), we were met with pizza and beer.  Best "unsupported" ride ever.
Day 3
It rained overnight Saturday night.  It was pretty damp on Sunday.  Despite that I probably felt the best that day.  We had a nice little figure 8 course out of Grand Marais towards Tofte and back to Grand Marais.  Mostly gravel this day with the exception of probably about 15 miles of double track.
After the ride Dallas and I refueled properly before heading for home.
Data
According to my GPS I rode 199 miles and ascended over 13,000 feet over the course of just over 16 hours of ride time.  Add in the trip to and from town and it was certainly over 200 miles.


Summary
This was everything I had hoped for.  I met a ton of cool folks and Josh put on an excellent event.  Josh has some pretty cool ideas for next year.  If it all works out I definitely want in again.  And so should you.

CyclovaXC Gear Re-Order

Rave Reviews on the CyclovaXC Wind Jacket
Hey Folks,


I've had a couple people ask me about a CyclovaXC gear re-order, so I thought I'd shout out and see what you folks need.  We've got a wide variety of items to choose from, you can check them all here along with the pricing.


Please let me know what you're interested in within a week (so by Thursday, Oct 17th).  Just send an email with your name, the item and the size to: bj@cyclovaxc.com.

Note, if you just want the ski top and not the whole suit, the top is $80.

You can order anything that we have offered in the past, both bicycling and ski apparel.

Cheers!  

Crashing On Rollerskis Hurts

My Favorite Death Machine
Tonight was my third night out on rollerskis this season and the first night out on my skate skis.  I was exactly 16 minutes into the workout when I went down.

Hard.

It was another one of those flyswatter slaps where you're already bouncing back up from the impact before you even realize you were falling.

Actually, that's not true.  I knew I was falling because I vaguely remember a thought process that went something like "oh no, I think I just caught my wheel with my pole.  My arm's at an awkward angle... I'm...GET YOUR HEAD UP!!!  GET YOUR HEAD UP!!!"

BOOM!!!

My pole still landed outside of my leg, so I didn't pole between my legs (which is the one you really kick yourself for when you crash rollerskiing).  I think I actually jammed my pole right into my wheel.

Bonehead.

The downer about it all is that I was just falling into that mental black out zone that you get into when you're going for a long workout.  You know what I'm talking about.  That mental state where you look down at your watch and say, "oh my, six and a half hours have just passed, I rollerskied all the way to Michigan...I wish I'd brought some money or my cell phone!"

That's awesome when you get there (mentally, not to Michigan, although Michigan is nice too) because it's better than sleeping.  When you're sleeping you still dream and are semi-tormented by all your pending tasks.  When you get into mental black-out, you can finally relax.  People spend their whole lives sitting around in caves contemplating koans to get to that state ("what's the sound of one hand clapping?").

Smacking my chin and knee into the pavement sure brought me back to reality.

Man that hurt.

I just lay there for a moment hoping a cyclist didn't come along and run me over just to make matters worse.  After a little bit, I started flexing muscles and they all seemed to work.  I had some zip-ties in my pack just in case I needed to zip tie something together...like my knee (Bruce Wayne did it in Batman III).  But no surgery was necessary.  I started rolling again.

One hour and forty-five minutes later, I rolled back up to my car in total darkness.  I remembered to bring my headlamp (which showed tremendous foresight on my part) but I didn't remember to bring fresh batteries (which didn't show any foresight...but c'mon man!) so I had only a yellowish shadow to guide me.  No more crashes though.

Last year the only time I went down was when the screw that functions as an axle broke in half sending me windmilling into the ditch.  The year before that, I had a whole rollerski break in two.

It's not like falling on snow.  Snow is soft and is mostly made of water.

Asphalt is made of sharp, angry rocks.

But crashing on Rollerskis is just an inevitable part of autumn.  It teaches you not to go all that fast on your rollerskis.  Save your intensity workouts for hillbounding.

It also teaches you that...yes...you should spend the $80 and get a new set of rollerski wheels...RIGHT NOW!  It also might be time to hacksaw off the extra inch and a half of screw that's sticking out from each wheel since they didn't have the correct screw size at Farm & Fleet when I had to replace the axels.  Lord knows you don't need any other disadvantages when you're out rollerskiing--no other grabby surfaces looking to flip you into the pavement.

Oh, and it might be time to start wearing a helmet...

And knee pads...

And body armor...

The only reason I subject myself to all this torture is because skiing is soooooo wonderful!

I've gotta be ready for when the snow comes, so I'm going to drain my knee and strap on those death traps again tomorrow!  Loving autumn!  Loving rollerskiing too, just like every year!

Final Preparations & Checklist for the Mammoth Gravel Classic

The adventure for the 100 & 70 mile courses begins on the pavement, along the famed River Road!


The 100 mile course will travel extensively on very remote firelanes.  Riders will be tens of miles from cell phone reception and in remote back country!

In the 100 mile course, firelanes seem to stretch on and on, endlessly...



The 70 mile course features on and off again gravel segments, with beautiful pavement mixed in.  A definite highlight of the 70 mile course will be descending back into the St. Croix River Valley via Big Rock Creek Farm!
 
Cafe Wren is a recommended stop for riders in the 35 and 70 mile rides!  Stop here, you won't regret it!

For all of you Mammoth Gravel Classic riders - welcome to St. Croix Falls, welcome to Cyclova XC, and a grand adventure awaits you!  For the full scoop on everything, CLICK HERE

The Mammoth Gravel Classic is an "unsupported gravel ride".  With this said, it's key to be as prepared as possible and to be self sufficient.  Remember, there will not be a sag vehicle - take care of yourself.  Remember, there will not be any water stops - bring with what you need, and take advantage of the places to fill your bottles & buy food, they're far and few between...
General bike thoughts:
  • This isn't a time to try out some new experimental high end equipment - rather run what is tried and trued for you, a bike setup that you're familiar with!  
  • The 100 mile and 70 mile courses are very serious business.  These courses will beat down the heartiest of cyclists, and aren't something to take lightly.  Absolutely error on the wide side of things for tires - you will encounter very soft & wet sand in the Sand BarrensIt will be a very long day if you are on a standard Cyclo Cross bike.  I recommed either a 29" mountain bike with normal MTB tires on it - or if you're feeling lucky, use a Gravel or Cross bike with 700 x 40 tires, such as the Clement MSO.
  • The 35 mile route is suitable for most any bicycle.  Any tire ranging from a mountain bike tire to road bike tire will work fine.  Enjoy the ride!

BAGS:  Revelate Gas Tank Bag:  This bag is an essential for carrying key stuff like food, cell phone/camera, wallet, etc.  It mounts right behind your handlebar stem along the top of your top tube.  This is a great seller at Cyclova XC and I have several in stock at the store.  BG2660 $59.99
Revelate Tangle Bag:  Also a definite essential for carrying a large water bladder (no water bottle filling stations out on our course), as well as extra clothing, tools, tubes, water purification tablets.  The only possible realistic alternative for this would be a trunk bag on a pannier rack, a back pack etc.  The big advantage of the Tangle Bag is that it's contained within the main triangle of your frame and still leaves room to access both of your bottle cages.  BG2650 Small, BG2651 Med, BG2652 Large:  All sizes priced at $89.99

WATER "VESSELS" & PURIFICATION:  
Hydrapak Shape Shift Reversible Hydration Pack Reservoir:  In my opinion the best reservoir on the market.  A good thing to put in your Tangle Bag, if you don't like it on your back.  Reversable so it's easy to clean, with a nice hose/valve system.  Available in the following sizes:  32oz #WB7300 $32  --  70oz #WB7301  $35  --  100oz #WB7302  $38

NAVIGATION: 
Que sheet holder:  Note that printed que sheets will be available at registration.  You can put a printed que sheet inside of a zip lock bag and then clip it on to your bars.  This little clip will do the job, or you can rig something up:  HB1003  $7 

A GPS Device:  A mapping capable GPS device will make it very easy for you to stay on course - as none of us really have any idea what we're getting in to.  The Edge Series of Garmin devices is likely the way to go here.  If you're interested in talking about this, get in touch with me - I can get you this stuff generally for the same price that Garmin publishes on their website.  As a side note I don't know if a smart phone will work for navigation, as there likely will not be a cell tower in the vicinity for most of the ride...

GOT A LIGHT?:  Yes, this is a long ride and day light is dwindling.  I would recommend bringing with a light and even matches...

TOOL / MECHANICAL KIT:Following is what I would recommend putting in your Tangle Bag for bike tools/supplies - enabling you to be self sufficient in most any situation:
  • 2 inner tubes on your bike at all times
  • A REAL pump, such as the fabulous Park Tool Frame Pump that we stock at Cyclova XC.  You can air up your tires hundreds of times in less than 2 minutes each with this great pump!  Note that this pump comes in different sizes for different size frames.  $35
  • A real patch kit, including glue (not a glueless patch kit), such as the Park Tool Vulcanizing Patch Kit
  • Tire levers
  • A great multi-tool, such as the Crank Bros Multi-17 tool.  This includes all sizes of Alan Wrenches, screw drivers, chain tool, spoke wrenches, 15mm open wrench (pedals, hub cones, etc)  TL8117 $30
  • A derailleur cable would be a good idea if you can install it
  • A tire boot, which Park Tool makes, but you can also just cut up an old tire you have laying around to a piece about 1 inch wide by 3-4 inches long - in case you slash up your tire.
  • A SRAM Chain quick link would be a good thing to have with in your tire repair kit - in case of chain troubles.  Note these are specific to 8, 9, or 10 speed drive trains.

NUTRITION:This is a tough area to give advice, as everyone's nutritional needs are generally different.  Following is what I will be bringing:
  • An electrolyte replacement drink such as NUUN or Camelback Elixor
  • Gels or energy chews for fueling while riding
  • Some tasty and satisfying energy bars, such as Clif, Stinger Waffles, Pro Bar, or what ever tickles your fancy
  • Some real food for lunch on the road, which I will prepare for myself each day - a sandwich or something.
  • I SERIOUSLY plan on bringing with a bunch of Beef Jerky - as this is the wonder fuel for me.  Some Salted Nut Rolls would also be a good idea while on the topic of Gas Station food.
  • A recovery drink that works for you.  I'll be bringing with some Endurox

CLOTHING:  October weather is very unpredictable.  We could have frosty mornings and sweaty afternoons.  Following is clothing that I would deem appropriate to pack with:
  • Chamois Butter or DZ's Nuts!
  • Cycling shorts
  • Knee / leg warmers
  • Agood long sleeve base layer tops (Smartwool, Craft, Ibex, etc)
  • A cycling jersey
  • A wind proof front / rain cycling jacket
  • A think skull hat to wear under your helmet
  • Good xc ski gloves such as Toko or Yoko, which are in good supply at Cyclova XC
  • Winter ski hats / beanie for before/after riding
  • A wide variety of clothing for before and after riding - be prepared for chilly temps!

!UPDATE on 10/4/2013!: 2013 Mammoth Gravel Classic 70 Course Details

A scene typical of the toughest part of the 70 mile course, from mile 18 - 25.  (photo taken 4/10/2013)

!UPDATED 70 MILE EVENT COURSE as of 10/4/2013! 

We've been having a ton of fun out on the Mammoth Gravel Classic 70 Course over the past several weeks - despite Mother Nature's best efforts to thwart our efforts!  Note that this is an updated 70 mile event course, as the original course was still under several inches of snow - prior to the snow fall today (Thursday).  This new course will remain out the the Sand Barrens for a greater portion of the time, and regretfully will not go by Cafe Wren in Luck (which is a definite highlight of the normal course).  Following is the detailed course profile on the 70 mile course...

Click HERE for the full event info page and weekend itinerary.  Following is a detailed account of what you will experience over this challenging course - as well as some advice and info you'll find useful on event day (Saturday, April 20, 2013)!

First things first, you probably all want to check out the course map.  Well, we have 3 different ways you can do this:
  • View it on Mapmyride.com HERE
  • View/download the PDF of the Route Que Sheet (will be posted soon)
  • Download the GPX, KML, or CRS file for your GPS device HERE
 
Registration will be at Cyclova XC's new store in downtown St. Croix Falls
Registration:  Beginning at 7AM, registration will be at Cyclova XC Bike Shop in downtown St. Croix Falls, WI.  While there is no entry fee for this event, there will be a mandatory $5 (cash only) Gandy Dancer Trail Use permit, that all riders will be required to purchase.  Along with this, all riders must fill out the event waiver.  As a perk, everyone who signs a waiver, will receive some valuable coupons and be eligible to win some nice swag!  

Event Roll Out:  The 70 mile event will roll out from The Scenic Overlook in downtown St. Croix Falls at 9:00 AM.  Riders will gather in the overlook, and the roll out in a group heading north on Highway 87 - for about 2.3 miles.  This will be the busiest road of the entire ride, so please respect auto traffic and obey the rules of the road.
The event will roll out from "The Scenic Overlook", 1/2 block north of Cyclova XC & registration.  Here is last year's pre-rollout announcement.

After rolling through town, riders will ride along Hwy 87 going north, until turning onto the famed River Road.

Spinning Out The Legs:  For about 10 miles, riders will enjoy and warm up by riding the beautiful River Road.  This road meanders along the shore of the St. Croix River - the state border & one of the most beautiful rivers on the planet.  This is a relatively smooth paved road, with a moderate amount of auto traffic.
Riders will enjoy about 10 miles of the River Road on the Mammoth Gravel Classic 70!

Sample Platter:  From miles 12 through 16.4, you will be getting a veritable sample platter of the types of gravel & sand you will be experiencing throughout this ride.  This section of the course is on & off pavement to gravel to blacktop to sand.  Bon appetit!
Mark & Stu ripping it up on an early gravel section!  Note the wise choice of fat tires on Mark's bike.

You came for epic gravel, here you go:  From mile 17 to 35, will be the most challenging portion of the 100 mile course.  At mile 17, riders will turn south onto 300th Street, a beautiful gravel road.  From here, there will be roughly 6 miles of nice gravel roads.  Then, at mile 24.6 or so, you will ride off of the gravel road onto a beautiful yet rugged gravel/sand firelane.  The following 10 miles will almost exclusively (aside from a short section of pavement at mile 28) be on this great firelane which parallels the St. Croix River.  This section of the course is by far the most rugged section of the course - you will be in the middle of no where and enjoy the solitude experienced in this area!  This is the softest section of the 100 mile course, and it's due to this section that we only recommend riding mountain bike width tires in this event.  Ride a cross bike if you'd like to spend a lot of time walking...
A sense of heading into the heart of nowhere will overwhelm riders after turning onto 300th Street at mile 17.





The rugged firelane from miles 25 to 35 will excite and challenge adventurous gravel riders!
While mostly flat, there will be a few small & punchy soft surface climbs on the firelane section.

Pavement, at long last:  At mile 35.1, riders will turn left onto the paved West River Road, after 18 continuous miles of rugged gravel and sand (and perhaps some snow/ice).  This will likely be a welcome break for many.  Note that if you are a glutton for punishment, there is a snowmobile trail paralleling W River Rd (it's within 50 yards of the road the entire time) that goes on for several more miles.  In any case, mile 35 will signal the beginning of a section of pavement that will allow for some recovery.  Mile 39 will mark a right turn south onto a beautiful paved road known as Shogren Road.  

Welcome Back To The Gravel & Sand:  Mile 43 marks the return of the gravel & sand - and what to me is quintessential "Sand Barrens" country.  For those of you who did the 2012 Mammoth Gravel Classic, this section will look familiar to you - this was the tough section of last year's course, except in reverse.   This 7 mile stretch of gravel & sand will test the will and skill of every rider while amazing you at how remote this area is - you will find yourself in "the middle of no where"!  This is where the folks on a mountain bike with wide tires will have the advantage.  You may want to stop and listen to the sound of nothing for a while - except for the sound of bicycles passing by.  There are a few short uphills in this area of the course, where most riders will likely need to walk the 50 or so yards up these short hill.  
This my friends, is the "Sand Barrons".  This is the top of a short hill - that most will walk up due to the soft sand.
The gravel slowly transitions to patches of sand, as the miles tick by.
Stu Benson riding the gravel at about mile 48, in the middle of no where...

Firm Surfaces & Refreshments Anyone?:  As mentioned above, at about mile 24.5, you'll find yourself popping out onto County Road "O", and onto some nice firm gravel.  This firm gravel will be welcome after emerging from the previous sandy section. 

County Road "O" will be gravel from about mile 24.5 - 27, and then it turns to pavement.  From here, there will be 13 miles of pavement leading you to the oasis that is the Holiday Service Station in Cushing, WI.  There, we encourage all riders to stop, fill up there water bottles, and purchase what ever they need.  I'm a particular fan of their huge section of beef jerky, beef sticks, and Slim Jim's.
The assortment of beef sticks is impressive and welcome for the weary cyclist!


Rolling hills & the final gravel:  After refreshments in Cushing, riders will make the beautiful trek from Cushing east to the town of Luck, on beautiful 260th Avenue.  This is a fantastic paved rolling road, with a really fun Rustic Road section of gravel at mile 45.75 of the course.  Watch for the neat Rustic Road sign and the 1 mile section of roller coaster gravel - savor this gravel, as it's the final gravel section of the course.
Mark Fisk heads into the final section of gravel, on 260th Ave!

The best coffee shop on the planet:  Bold statement, yes.  However, I challenge you to identify a better coffee shop with better coffee, food, and service.  At mile 49 of the course, you'll find yourself at the end of 260th Ave, Hwy 35, and the Gandy Dancer bike trail.  Directly across Hwy 35, and about 50 yards to the south (right), you'll see Cafe Wren.  We recommend you park your bike in the back of Cafe Wren, perhaps in one of their nifty bike racks and get yourself some caffeine and nourishment - you won't regret it!  Cafe Wren is a strong supporter of cycling and other silent sports in general throughout the region - and is the place to go for a destination ride in north west Wisconsin!
Cafe Wren is one of the best coffee shops around - and you should stop there for a quick pick me up!

Inside Cafe Wren, you'll find a wonderful assortment of everything you want, in a enjoyable atmosphere!

The downhill Gandy Dancer cruise:  After you're done at Cafe Wren, go around back and turn south on the Gandy Dancer trail.  From here (mile 49) through the finish, you will enjoy a gradual downhill ride on the beautiful limestone Gandy Dancer State Bike Trail.  The crushed limestone surface of this trail is nearly as fast as pavement, and you'll enjoy the peace of no auto traffic.  Do exercise caution at all of the trail road crossings, particularly the 2 highway crossings.  

At about mile 59.5, you'll find yourself veering right onto some little back roads, which you lead you to a river valley descent through an epic place (Big Rock Creek Farm) - an experience you will never forget!  This final section of the course will leave you with a huge smile on your face!  

After riding through Big Rock Creek Farm, you'll take a left (turning south) onto Hwy 87, and enjoy about 3 miles of smooth pavement back to Cyclova XC in St. Croix Falls.  At this point, you're welcome to hang out, enjoy the great deals and special menu the Winery & Grille has the for the weekend, and get ready to check out the art at Cyclova XC. 
The Gandy Dancer trail will be a fun homestretch cruise, literally downhill all the way from mile 49 to the finish!
See you in St. Croix Falls for the 2013Mammoth Gravel Classic!