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2014 Mammoth Gravel Classic 100 Course Details - Saturday, 19 April, 2014

Beautiful & rugged gravel awaits you on the Mammoth Gravel Classic 100 course!  Photo Credit:  John Schletty

Over the past year, we've had a ton of fun exploring the Mammoth Gravel Classic 100 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, 19 April, 2014)!

The 100 mile ride will roll out at 8AM sharp from the Scenic Overlook in downtown St. Croix Falls - 1/2 block north of Cyclova XC.  The 100 mile ride is a HARDCORE UNSUPPORTED RIDE.  Do not consider doing this ride if you're not entirely self sufficient in any riding situation.  Do not consider doing this ride if you're not comfortable spending a full day on your bicycle.  Do not consider doing this ride if you're not comfortable navigating yourself through tens of miles of untamed wilderness.  This is not a ride to take lightly.  You will be spending a whole lot of time many miles from anywhere, without cell phone reception on most of the course.  The course will not be marked, so we suggest using GPS navigation.  There are hungry bears in this area, and we will not have a course sweep - so you must take care of yourself out there.  This multi-surface course will be roughly 50% gravel roads, 25% double track firelane, and less than 25% pavement.  We absolutely recommend only riding a bike with 40mm wide gravel or mountain bike width tires on this course due to many very soft sand pits.  DO NOT bring your skinny tired bike.  The narrowest tire recommended is 40mm, such as the Clement MSO tire (our soft gravel tire of choice) - available at Cyclova XC.

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 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:  Beginning at 7AM, registration will be at Cyclova XC Bike Shop in downtown St. Croix Falls, WI.  There is no entry fee for this event, nor will this course go on the Gandy Dancer State bike trail - so no trail pass is required for the 100 mile course (a $5 state trail pass is required for the 35 & 70 mile courses).  All riders must fill out and sign the event waiver.  As a perk, everyone who signs a waiver, will receive some valuable coupons for great after ride food/drink, and be eligible to win some nice swag at the 4:30 PM swag drawing!  

Cyclova XC will be the site of registration for the Mammoth Gravel Classic.
Event Roll Out:  The 100 mile event will roll out from The Scenic Overlook in downtown St. Croix Falls at 8:00 AM sharp.  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 100!
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!  Note that roughly mile 16.5 is where the 100 mile course will diverge from the 70 mile course (which may look familiar if you rode last year's course). 
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.

You'll be grateful for your wide tires from miles 17 - 35!  Photo Credit:  Ben Mullin

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 long firelane section.
Yes, civilization is approaching at mile 35:  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.  

At mile 44.9, the course will turn left onto Hoffman Road.  If you would like to take a rest / re-fuel stop (which I recommend), take a right (east) onto Hoffman Road, followed by the first left (north) onto South Russel Road.  Pine Street will bring you to Highway 70 and the town of Grantsburg.  If you take a left onto Hwy 70, you will find a nice grocery store, Holiday Gas Station, and a bar/grill.  If you take a right onto Hwy 70, you will find a neat 50's style style drive in restaurant.  This is Wisconsin after all, so if you adventure into the downtown area, there will of course be a good variety of bars, etc. 

From a safety perspective (not to be a downer), for riders struggling out on the course, Grantsburg is the logical place to drop out.  There is cell phone reception to call for help, warm places to hunker down, and/or you could ride Hwy 87 south back to St. Croix Falls, which is a 26.5 mile ride on a nicely paved shoulder.  
Holiday Station Stores always have an epic selection of meat products - super fuel for gravel riders.  Get some in Grantsburg!
Make a cautious run for the border:  After refreshing yourself & re-fueling in Grantsburg, it's time to head back down to Skog road, where you'll go west for 3 miles and then turn north (right) on West River road.  At mile 50 you will turn left (west) on Highway 70 into Minnesota for about 6 miles.  As much as I hate riding this road, there is no way of getting around it.  It is a busy state border crossing highway, and there are no other side roads that parallel it in this section.  Please ride on the road shoulder with caution.  You will cross the state border into Minnesota at the St. Croix River bridge crossing at mile 50.8.  At mile 54.6, riders will finally take a left onto Maple Avenue, a beautiful road, leading to a beautiful long gravel section!
Highway 70 will be the least popular section of the 100 mile course.  It is a busy state Hwy & a major state border crossing.  Ride with care on the paved or gravel shoulder.
Breath a sigh of relief, you're back on your way to beautiful gravel:  After turning left (south) onto Maple Avenue, you'll find that the paved portion of Maple Ave is short lived - only about 1 mile.  Mile 55 marks the beginning of a classic section of gravel roads - an impressive network of gravel that will take you almost all the way back to Taylors Falls - a 40 mile trek.  For the most part, these gravel roads in Minnesota are more maintained and less rugged than the gravel & sand that you've ridden through on the Wisconsin side of the course.  Just lock into cruise control and watch the miles tick by on this fun gravel section!
40 miles of classic gravel roads await you on the Minnesota side of the St. Croix River.  Enjoy!
The Minnesota side of the MGC 100 course takes their gravel very seriously.  Above, Frank & Greg catch up the the "gravel groomer" on a ride - Summer 2013!  Photo Credit:  Greg Gentle
While there is still snow in woods, the gravel is generally free of snow and good riding on a MTB or WIDE gravel tire.

Toughest climb of the course at mile 83:   Generally, this is a very flat 100 mile course, with only 1,293 feet of climbing for the entire 100 miles.  It's the surfaces, elements, and wind that will likely pose the greatest challenges for riders.  However, beginning at about mile 83 on Reed Road (Cty Rd 81), right after passing by the main entrance to Wild River State Park there is a challenging section of short steep climbs (and fun curvy descents) that will test your legs. 
This picture taken at mile ~82.5 offers a sneak peak at the final rugged section of gravel, with a few notable climbs.  Enjoy, soon, you'll be back in St. Croix Falls!
Following the above mentioned climb, is a fun and curvy gravel descent! 
It's all downhill from here...  well, almost:  After the above mentioned gravel roller coaster ride on Reed Rd, riders will encounter some flatland gravel roads, with numerous turns - pay attention to these turns and stay on course.  Finally, at mile 93.8, riders will take a left on to Hwy 95 (St. Croix Trail).  This beautiful paved road will descent back into the St. Croix Valley, with a great view of the river and St. Croix Falls off to your left.  

While short lived (only about 2.5 miles), riders will enjoy the descent & views that Hwy 95 has to offer!
Navigating the "city", back to the start/finish area in downtown St. Croix Falls:  Far from a major metro area (we take pride in being a small town), navigating the Hwy 8 border crossing on a bicycle can be confusing.  

READ THIS THREE TIMES AND REMEMBER IT, AS I'M ABOUT TO SAVE YOU FROM RIDING ON AN AWFUL ROAD...  Hwy 8 is a 4+ lane highway with steep grades, curves, and lots of traffic - in short, in sucks to ride on.  Therefore, I don't recommend that you ride on it!  In Taylors Falls when riding through town on Hwy 95, take a LEFT (east) on the little dead end frontage street (known as 1st Street, just before the big stop light) that goes by the small gas station (you'll see it).  You'll only be able to go 100 feet or so down this road as it dead ends.  From here, ride the sidewalk east onto the bridge, and follow the sidewalk right across the bridge, and up the hill on the Wisconsin side of the river.  Follow the sidewalk up the hill until it ends on Hwy 87 (Washington Street) in St. Croix Falls, which you'll take a left on.  From here, it's a parade through quaint St. Croix Falls back to Cyclova XC.  Amazing gourmet food & drink await you right here in town, with many options within a 1 block radius of Cyclova XC.  Enjoy!

After the ride, don't forget about the swag giveaway & Gravel Conspiracy presentations at Cyclova XC, beginning at 4:30PM!  An epic ride of the legendary Big Rock Creek Farm will follow on Sunday morning at 10AM.  CLICK HERE for the full weekend schedule of events.

Thank you for reading - and see you out on the 100 course!

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