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2014 Chippewa 10k (7 miles, but they think 10k sounds better) Race Report

I'm not a big fan of Black Friday.  Too many people fighting over imagined good deals.  This past Black Friday though I got a heck of a deal and I didn't even have to get out of my PJs to do it.  Front Runner was having a 50% sale on race registrations for 2014.  So with my credit card in hand I signed up for 41 miles of racing for $50.

As Jason Stamper reminded me after he finished the 50k, I told him to not think about it, just sign up.

Well, then came training for it.  Which I didn't do.  As Ben referenced in his great write-up, we all hit it up a little too hard perhaps once ski season closed.  I personally let ski season linger a little longer with the Pepsi Challenge and then just continuing to ski because it was nice instead of running.  In fact, I was very conscious about trying to not hit it too hard because I have had issues in the past from ramping up too fast.  That didn't stop me from being one of the casualties though.

Nice legs!

I was very concerned a few weeks ago that I was heading towards a tibial stress fracture.  There was a solid week where my leg HURT.  Trying to be smart about this and not ruin my entire summer by being stupid and running through an injury I backed off (stopped running) for a week and resigned myself to not doing the 50k.  Eventually my leg did come around and I was back to easing into running again pain free, but it was too late by then.

So with reluctance, I emailed the race director and backed down to the 10k.  I will admit I had to tell myself at least once a day that I wasn't wimping out and this was the right thing to do.  Being smart about injuries is so hard.

As a consolation prize of sorts, I was going to run the 10k and then make a whole day of it hanging out and watching and cheering for all of the 50k finishers.

So we rolled into the Chippewa Moraine Ice Age Unit Visitor Center at about 7:45, fifteen minutes before the 50k-ers were set to head out.  Someone forgot to charge their watch (no, not me, though I had that problem at my last race) but Tony Lushanko was able to hook us up with his charger with just minutes to spare before he started.  Thanks Tony!

And the 50k-ers are off!

With them off for a few hours we went to pick-up our bibs and get sorted for the 10k.  My warm-up included several hikes up and down the hill to the car since I couldn't seem to get my act together and was leaving stuff down there.  I rolled up to the start line with about a minute to spare.  I found rival Adam and wished him luck.

Adam and I running side by side 3/4 of mile in.
Adam and I rolled out right near each other somewhere mid-pack (well not the front of the pack anyhow).  There is a huge descent right off the bat (not surprisingly the huge ascent right at the finish) which we made it down without incident, across the mucky field at the bottom, up the first hill, and then up the driveway towards the start of the trail.  We were chatting the whole way enjoying the perfect running weather.

As we hit the trails I let him lead.  He had been saying this race was "just for fun", right up until the night before when the smack talk started.  Honestly, I was afraid.  Very afraid.  Adam has been killing it this spring hitting much higher mileages and much lower paces than I have.  I honestly thought I was going to be in trouble and fitness was not on my side.  My only hope was that the trails were technical enough to play to my strengths and against Adam's weakness.

Adam enjoying the scenery and watching the 50kers roll out at the bottom of the hill.

The trails were gorgeous.  It was a struggle to keep my eyes where my feet were going as I wanted to look around and enjoy the scenery.  I definitely want to get out there again and wish I could have been doing the 50k to see more of the trail.

Thanks to our conservative start, Adam and I were slowly making our way up through the field up until we hit the aid station/first M crossing at just over 3 miles.  Somewhere along the trails I had gone ahead of Adam and had made a small gap of maybe 30 feet at the aid station.  Despite a botched exchange with the aid station worker after I crossed M and had a chance to look Adam was gone.

Post M, I just settled into a good tempo and looked up the trail to see if I could pick a few people off.  Surprisingly it worked well.  I'm pretty sure I wasn't getting faster and suspect I just wasn't fading as fast as the others.  I made my final pass of the race going up the monster hill at about mile 6.  From there in it was just hold on baby.  Surprisingly, despite that monster hill, which I was reduced to walking part of, that last mile was my fastest of the race.

Satisfied and slightly sweaty post race.
Post race I got to watch my friends finish their 10k, and then we setup camp and hung out the rest of the day and watched the 50kers make their way back in varying states of destruction.  Anyone outside of the top 5 or so finishers who ran any of that monster finishing hill got a huge cheer.

In all, it was a great day and a great early season race.  I would definitely like to be back next year and try to tackle that 50k.  I'm not sure how that will work with my ski season focus, but I've got like 50 weeks to start training for next year.

2014 Chippewa 50k Race Report

Marcus and I at the Start of the Chippewa 50k
Saturday April 26th was the Chippewa 50k, a run on the Ice Age trail just North of Chippewa Falls.  A ton of intrepid Cyclova people signed up for this event, mostly because Tony L. brought it to our attention that they were having a "Black Friday" sale on entry fees 5 months ago.  The price was only $30 because of this sale, and the comments were along the lines of "shesh...at that price, you can't afford not to run."  I think in the end about 10 of us signed up for the 50k, and the specter of the event has been lingering in the back of my mind ever since.

The thing is, we are all enthusiastic skiers.  The second the Birkie ended, it was "time to train for the 50k."  The lead time was a touch on the short side (about 7 weeks) but we had fitness built up from skiing...right?

Most of the people in our group have done marathons, so it's not like we were being irresponsible here, but in hindsight I can admit now I didn't really know what I was getting into.  We all cranked up our March and April running and basically every single one of us started having physical issues.  I think everybody ramped up their mileage a little too fast because Facebook became a litany of knee, ankle and arch issues (oh, and these weren't just excuses because all these guys are hard core...most of them had doctors beating them over the head saying "don't do this event!").

As for me you can tell from my physique that "over-training" isn't a major concern.  But even I came down with knee issues after a 17 mile run in March, then a family virus (my wife, daughters and I all got sick) put training on hold for about 10 days in mid-April), but I recovered enough so I felt good going into the 50k.  I would have liked to have had a few more long runs...but heck, that's the case with every marathon you do right?

My plan was to just have a change of clothing and plenty of food and I would crawl it on my hands and knees if I had to.  I know from experience that "tired" is not nearly as miserable as "tired and hungry" so I headed into the day fairly confident (I brought a lot of food).  Checking the rules, I found that the cut-off time was 9 hours and shesh...I didn't think I'd be out there for that long...right?

We had a beautiful morning with cool but not cold temperatures, little wind and no precipitation so you can't ask for more than that!  We set off from the Chippewa Moraine Center (a beautiful facility) and headed off down the magnificent trail.
Lately, my plan for marathons is just to run as hard as I can for about half of it and run/walk back.  The body can handle quite a bit of walking in a day, and it's amazing how much you can recover by walking a mile in a marathon (sometimes you recover enough to start running again).

For the first 10 miles or so, this was like a regular race.  I got in a nice group and we all trotted along at about a 12 minute mile.  Normally that's not very fast, but this trail contained a lot of rolling hills and it seemed best to be ultra conservative.  I'm a big believer in shooting for a VERY slow time the first time you do an event, that way you have the motivation of wanting to improve your time to help you sign up for the next year.

I've done trail runs before, but this one was different somehow.  The trail was in great shape.  Occasionally you'd hit a mud puddle or there would be roots or stones disguised by leaves, but you can't complain about the conditions.  Also, this trail was very well marked.  Kudos to the organizers who put colored tape and little flags at every potentially confusing intersection.  I never had a doubt that I was in the right place.

However, even with all that doing a "superman" seems to be part of trail running.  I didn't fall but I hit a couple roots and rocks along the way.  Sometimes when you're in a line of people you just don't see the obstacles coming at you (and you feel really stupid when you hit them).  And man...it HURTS to kick a root even at a 12 minute mile running pace.  But the reason you were distracted from looking at the trail in front of you was because you were having too much fun taking in all the beautiful scenery.

Folks, this event is magnificent!  The trail is beautiful!  I even saw a porcupine waddling along in the woods (keeping pace with me for about 4 miles before he pulled away).

About 10 miles into the event, Jason S. and I decided to kind of chill and run/walk.  10 miles was the second aid station and the trail got muddy for about a solid mile, so it made sense to take it easy.  It had taken us about 2 hrs to get there, so the thought of finishing in under 9 hrs wasn't even a concern.

From mile 10 to mile 15.5, however, the trail takes a decided uphill turn.  We trotted along telling stories and whatnot until we reached the turnaround at 3:45.  The Tupys were there cheering for us and that was a welcome shot in the arm!  It's fun when you have friends who come out to cheer you along.  The Coca-Cola and PBJ that was available at the aid stations was awesome, and we filled up our camelbaks and headed back out.

The first couple hours after the turn-around were OK, but after that my memory starts to get fuzzy.  When you get 6 hours into any event, things are going to become difficult.  Usually you can count on being able to walk at about a 15 minute mile, but it seemed like every time I looked down at my GPS it read something between 18 and 22 minutes per mile.  I was about 6 hours in when I started to realize that I was going to be pushing 9 hrs.

I tried to start doing the math (as you do when you're in an event) and it's pretty depressing when you calculate you have two hours to do 6 miles and you're not sure you'll be able to accomplish the task.  Eventually I gave up and just resolved to go as fast as I could.  I started to see a guy off in the distance so I shuffled along and managed to briefly pass him, then he passed me back, and then I passed him again.  This was kind of like a zombie race, and would have been amusing to watch (if you had it on tape and were able to hit fast forward...watching the race in real time would have been akin to witnessing a plant grow).

I really didn't want to take 9 hours.  It seemed like the event organizers were being cool about not pulling people off the trail, still, the posted time limit for the event was 9 hours and I didn't want to cross that finish line with the feeling that my "finish" didn't count because it was outside the allotted time.  As the miles clicked off, my finish time predictions kept indicating I had about a 10 minute cushion, but that was a little too close for my liking, especially with the way things were going.

When I finally hit the 1 mile marker at a run time of 8:30, I figured I was going to make it.  I actually ran most of the last mile, looking forward to the massive climb for the last quarter mile of the race.  As I crested the rise, I saw Heide, Marcus, Ben and Starr up there ringing bells, offering beer and taking pictures!  That was the best part of the day, it was awesome of them to hang around all day to watch us come in and lend support!  It's so wonderful to have great teammates and friends to make these events a big party!  I was so charged up by the sight of them that I sprinted to the finish as fast as I could.  Jason had the best comment of the day at the finish line.  He was sipping on a Leinenkugel's and he said, "does this beer always taste that good?"  The answer to that is "of course not!"  The pleasure of food, beverage and rest after a 50k trail run is beyond the purchasing power of the richest human beings that have ever lived!  You have to EARN that fantastic experience, and we earned it on Saturday!
It's rare that you squeeze as much as you possibly can out of any day.  Most of the time we fritter away our time at work or on Facebook or whatever and it feels really good to do something silly like run 31 miles and know you couldn't have done any more that day.  My only regret was that my wife and daughters weren't along with me to see that porcupine (they would have got a kick out of it), but hey...those days are coming!

I tell you though, you can kind of get away with running a marathon even if it's not something that is the focus of your existence for 365 days a year, but 31 miles is starting to get into kind of a serious distance.  Still, it can be done, even if you're walking most of it.  Who knows?  Maybe you'll start getting addicted to it?  Maybe something like this will change your whole life?

Tony L. was right back on Black Friday when he said that for $30 you can't afford not to run it.  It's more than just a day's activity, when you emerge on the other end of that finish line, you're a different person.  I can't explain it any more than that.  To find out what I'm talking about, I guess you'll just have to sign up and do it!  In all likelihood, I'll be seeing you on the trail next year (I'll be shooting to improve my time to 8:39 or so :) ).

Woolly Bike Kits Available to Order!

Hey Folks!

Our friends at the Woolly bike club have gone live with their bike kit.  This is a beautiful jersey and picking one up is a great way to help out one of the hardest-working, trail-building, race-organizing, bike-riding groups out there!  Here's their official announcement:

TEAM STORE IS NOW LIVE!!! Head over to Primal and place your 2014 Woolly Jersey Orders and help us by giving this a share! Open to anyone who wants to rep the woolly colors out on the trail or the road this year! 

Hit up Primal, create and account and Pre-order what you'd like! Hurry the store closes and the order finalizes MAY 2nd 2014!! There is sizing info, more pictures and a safe secure checkout!!

C'mon folks, let's help them sell twenty million gazillion jerseys!

2014 Mammoth Gravel Classic Photos

The show must go on!  Even though the farmer's almanac says there has only been one significant snowstorm in late April in St. Croix Falls in the last thirty years--we've found ourselves scrambling for the last two Mammoth Gravel Classics due to 18 inches of snowfall a couple days before our event.  Frank had gone out and marked all the courses, only to see Mother Nature render our game plan impossible.  Still, we made do and managed to pull off a fun day complete with 54 miles of riding, bacon, and gravel (not the pure, pristine miles of it that we had planned...but enough to satisfy the soul).  Cheers to all the brave folks who came out and rode with us!  This race isn't going to stop, even if we have to start riding it on fat bikes!

Here's a smattering of photos...more to come.  If you have some good ones, please send them to bj@cyclovaxc!
Just for the record, it's not our intention to have people ride on snow...but heck, if it's there you might as well play on it right?  The 2014 gravel season is officially on folks!  We'll see you at the other rides, and hopefully again at St. Croix Falls soon!

WE RIDE, With a Change of Plans: MAMMOTH GRAVEL CLASSIC - Good News, Bad News...

Mother Nature forced her hand on us for a 2nd year in a row, but the MGCIII (Mammoth Gravel Classic) weekend will still happen!  Check the deets and pics from the original courses below.
Upon waking up this morning, there was an overwhelming sense of deja vu - had I been here before?  Yes, it's true - there is no arguing with mother nature.  Over the past 36 hours, she has dumped 14" - 20 " of snow on the Mammoth Gravel Classic courses, and there is no arguing with Mother Nature - only embracing of her.  The forecast theme for today and Friday is not condusive to melting massive amounts of snow - and we refuse to send our riders out into life threatening conditions, in a remote wilderness area.  If you're curious as to what it looks like out on the normal 100 or 70 mile courses, check out the photos at the bottom of this post.

With that said, most of the originally planned events for the weekend are STILL ON!!!  There will be dozens - hundreds of gravel lovers in St. Croix Falls, there will be the Friday evening Adventure & Tech Social Presentations, there are amazing & delicious food specials to be enjoyed, there will be a group ride leaving Cyclova XC on Saturday, there will be swag, and there will be Salted Nut Rolls & bacon to be enjoyed on the road side.  

To be part of the conversation and get up to the minute updates, check out the Event Facebook Page.

Following is the updated weekend schedule:

Friday, 18 April:
6PM:  Join dozens of your closest gravel loving friends at Cyclova XC in St. Croix Falls, for the final season installment of our Adventure & Tech Social Series!  We're thrilled to welcome one of the "Godfather's of Gravel" (Joshua Stamper) and GPS tech expert Ben Mullin to do presentations at Cyclova XC - Cyclova XC Adventure & Tech Social Night style!  CLICK HERE  for the full scoop on this event!  DID I MENTION THERE WILL BE SWEET SWAG - FROM REVELATE & SALSA?!?  DID I MENTION THERE WILL BE SNACKS AND REFRESHING BEVERAGES?
Dinner:  Join us in celebrating the soon to open Bistro On St. Croix - a gourmet restaurant in the St. Croix Valley which will open in the coming weeks.  Their parent restaurant, Tangled Up In Blue (across the river in Taylors Falls) has put together a very special menu, perfect for hungry cyclists at amazing prices.  After the presentations, at Cyclova, join us for a special dinner prepared by Chef Jeff Halverson.  CLICK HERE for the special event menu, the kitchen will be open until 9:30PM.  

Saturday, 19 April:
10AM:  A group ride on a sweet mostly paved loop will roll out from Cyclova XC in downtown St. Croix Falls!  Be prompt!  Cafe Wren will be the destination.  Riders will have the option of either doing an out and back "short" 40 mile total ride, or do a loop totaling 54 miles (including a Salted Nut Roll & bacon stop at the County Park in quaint Atlas, WI).  This is a beautiful paved route on almost exclusively quiet town roads - with a short section of beautiful gravel at mile 23 (known as the "Rustic Road" section of the normal 70 mile course).  Regrettably, there will be minimal rugged gravel on this course, as those roads aren't plowed.
CLICK HERE for the Map & GPX files for the loop.  
A que sheet will be posted HERE shortly.
4:30PM:  Door prize drawing for a wide variety of fabulous swag for Mammoth Gravel Classic participants.  Free swag from Clement & Salsa at a free event!  You must be present to win!
Dinner:  Fabulous dinner options abound, including the above mentioned special at Tangled Up In Blue, the always amazing world class Indian Food at The Vegetarian, the Dalles House Bar, or many other options in the greater St. Croix Falls area.  

Lodging:  There are many great lodging options in the greater St. Croix Falls area.  CLICK HERE for a great list of options.  

For those that want to know, below is what the originally scheduled event courses look like today...

The first turn of the 100 & 70 mile course was covered with deep rutted snow this morning...
The deep rutted snow continued indefinitely when going north along River Road.
When looking through the trees, I couldn't help but look in awe at the mighty St. Croix, gracefully carrying massive amounts of snow melt water from the north woods, southward.
County Rd O, at about mile 26 of the normal 70 mile course, transitions from pavement to gravel - er, snow to slush pack...
The Fish Lake Wildlife Preserve was noisy, with angry waterfowl - including Swans, Geese, Cranes, and a variety of Ducks.  They crave a melt more than we do!
Here lies the real reason we can't ride our normal courses on Saturday...  Dozens of miles of "roads" and firelanes that are never plowed.  Above is Johnson Rd, at the mile 25 of the 70 mile course.  The snow here ranged from 12" to 36" deep drifts.  
3' tall snowbanks almost fully obscure the yellow tipped course marking lathe on the right side of the road.  The road surface is wet/glazed icy slush pack.  

COURSE REPORT: 70 Mile Mammoth Gravel Classic

The Mammoth Gravel Classic course is filled with a plethora of surfaces - splendor for gravel adventure riders!

Last night was another late night of course marking, but under a full (and eclipsing moon), in an epic place of rugged beauty!  Here's a report fresh off the course, for folks doing the 70 mile MGC... 

The 70 mile Mammoth Gravel Classic course is in great shape - with the famous sand pits of the Barrens being firmer than usual due to the moisture in the sand.  The precipitation forecasted for Wednesday should further help this cause.  The paved sections are unchanged from last year.  The only possible issue may be the Gandy Dancer State Bike Trail, which is relatively soft and has sections of snow on it.  We hope this section will firm up yet this week (or maybe freeze) - in any case, we will keep you updated here at www.CyclovaXC.com and on the Mammoth Gravel Classic Facebook Page

As stated previously, I only recommend riding the course with 700 x 40 tires or wider (such as the Clement MSO 700 x 40 - in stock at Cyclova XC) on a gravel / cross bike (a 29er MTB works too).  You also must have a navigation plan, as this 70 rugged mile course will take you miles from anywhere, and is a real adventure.  GPS navigation is best, or at very least, you'll need a cycling computer and que sheets (to be posted shortly).

As I take a break from prepping the course, I thought I'd throw up a few more pictures for you riders to enjoy, as you prepare for the event...

1)  For FULL INFO on the Mammoth Gravel Classic weekend of events, go to www.mammothgravelclassic.com
2)   For the detailed mile by mile chronicle of the 70 mile course (including maps, GPX files, and soon que sheets), CLICK HERE.
3)  For up to the minute info on the Mammoth Gravel Classic, check out the EVENT FACEBOOK PAGE.

Some of the sandy sections of the course are remarkably dry.  The forecasted snow may help to firm this stuff up.
There are wet sections of sand, but they are all short lived, and not to be concerned about.
The most rugged section of road on the 70 mile course (Johnson Rd) is partially covered in snow, but easily rideable.
A few short sections of "Barrens Quick Sand" like this illustrate the importance of riding a 700x40 tire or wider.

100 Mile Course Course Report Part II: 2014 Mammoth Gravel Classic

An epic sunset was enjoyed while out scouting the Mammoth Gravel Classic Course last night!  Here you can see the famed "Sand Barrens" sand!
As reported last week, the 100 mile Mammoth Gravel Classic Course is in great shape - and firmer than typical.  The frost is out on 99.9% of the course and there is a good amount of moisture present - resulting in a much firmer than normal course - fast!

As stated previously, I only recommend riding the course with 700 x 40 tires or wider on a gravel / cross bike (a 29er MTB works too).  You also must have a navigation plan, as this 100 rugged mile course will take you dozens of miles from anywhere, and is a real adventure.  You'll go 19 miles at one point, never seeing a road - only fire lanes.  GPS navigation is best, or at very least, you'll need a cycling computer and que sheets (to be posted shortly).

As I take a break from prepping the course, I thought I'd throw up a few more pictures for you riders to enjoy, as you prepare for the event...

At mile 23.5, you'll take a left onto the Bear Track Fire Lane - the beginning of a 19 mile stretch of fire lanes.  Here, you'll find unencumbered wilderness and true bicycle adventure!
Despite all of the snow and extreme cold this past winter, the course is 99.99% snow free!  There are only short stretches of snow remaining like pictured above - almost all of which are easily ridden around.

Rugged, beautiful, inspiring...  These are a few words that come to mind when in the Sand Barrens.  Above is a scene typical of the fire lane section of the 100 mile course.

Gravel Adventure Social Event / Presentations on 4/18/2014: Josh Stamper on Gravel Conspiracy & Ben Mullin on GPS Navigation & Training

Join us and dozens of your closest gravel riding friends for tales of gravel adventure, details on the 2014 Gravel Conspiracy, and a how to presentation on GPS training & navigation - with presentations on our 17 foot big screen!
Gravel season is drawing very near - in fact the Mammoth Gravel Classic 35, 70, and 100 mile adventure ride is coming up THIS WEEKEND - hosted by Cyclova XC in St. Croix Falls!  As part of the festivities, we're welcoming one of the "Godfather's of Gravel" (Joshua Stamper) and a GPS tech expert Ben Mullin to do presentations at Cyclova XC - Adventure & Tech Social Night style! 

You don't want to miss this Gravel Rider's social dream of camaraderie with fellow gravel enthusiasts, gravel presentations on our big screen, and quality beverages!  

When:  Friday, April 18 starting at 6PM
Where:  Cyclova XC Retail Store, 112 North Washington Street, St. Croix Falls, WI  54024

Joshua Stamper will be our first presenter on Friday night.  Above Joshua does the pre start announcements of the first Gravel Conspiracy Northwoods Adventure.
Joshua Stamper, founder of The Gravel Conspiracy will kick off our presentations at 6.  Josh will share many of the epic gravel adventures he's experienced on his own & with friends.  Josh will talk specific plans on this year's Gravel Conspiracy Northwoods Adventure, which is sure to be epic, fun, and memorable for all involved.  If you're into general adventuring, exploring wilderness, gravel, or cycling - or interested in doing this year's Gravel Conspiracy (!from Canada to Duluth, really!) you absolutely don't want to miss this! 

Guest appearances will also be made by numerous Team Cyclova XC members who are veterans of the Gravel Conspriacy.  A few photos will be shown, not to mention ridiculous (and perhaps embarrassing or even scary stories)!

Benjamin Mullin, of team Cyclova XC will present "Training With GPS Enabled Devices:  Anecdotes, Tips, and Suggestions".
After Josh's presentation and a bit of mingling, Ben will pic up the Tech portion of our presentations with his presentation, "Training With GPS Enabled Devices: Anecdotes, Tips, and Suggestions".
He will give a brief overview of what training with GPS can do for you based on my personal experiences.  Ben will be bouncing back and forth between my power point and my training log and a few places on the internet.  We can also speak to navigation of the Mammoth Gravel Classic courses using a GPS device, if there is interest.

Dinner:  Join us in celebrating the soon to open Bistro On St. Croix - a gourmet restaurant in the St. Croix Valley which will open in the coming weeks.  Their parent restaurant, Tangled Up In Blue (across the river in Taylors Falls) has put together a very special menu, perfect for hungry cyclists at amazing prices.  After the presentations, at Cyclova, join us for a special dinner prepared by Chef Jeff Halverson.  CLICK HERE for the special event menu, the kitchen will be open until 9:30PM.  

If you're traveling to the event, plan on taking advantage of the rare opportunity to camp at Big Rock Creek Retreat (and enjoy all of the special things happening out there this weekend), or any of the other local campgrounds or hotels mentioned on the main Mammoth Gravel Classic page

COURSE UPDATE: 100 Mile Mammoth Gravel Classic - !!!Great Shape!!!

The 3rd Annual Mammoth Gravel Classic (known as MGCIII, for those on the inside) is rapidly approaching, and we've been getting a ton of inquiries at Cyclova XC on the condition of the courses.  

We've been keeping an eye on them for the past month or so (guess what, there's been a ton of snow on the course until recently), but with the beautiful warm temps lately, I thought I'd go check out the 100 mile course (click here for a detailed mile by mile course chronicle) on my Trek CrossRip yesterday (Tuesday).  I have great news to share with everyone:  The course is 95% in perfect/fast condition, with only a couple miles of fire lanes that still are partially snow covered.  

With the heat, sunshine, and wind - I suspect that most of this has melted today!  With all of this said, the plan is to proceed, full steam ahead with our normal courses - which I expect to be in fabulous condition on event day.  

Expect a steady flow of info on the event here at CyclovaXC.com, and on the event Facebook Page in the days leading up to the event.  We look forward to seeing you next weekend (April 18-20), for a weekend packed full of gravel, cycling, and fun!

Below are a bunch of photos that I took of the 100 mile course that I took yesterday on my ride.  Enjoy! 

My scouting ride of the 100 mile Mammoth Gravel Classic course started with a lovely cruise along the river - Lions Park is shown above.

River Road is in beautiful shape, with huge "icebergs" floating down the river and snow only in the ditches!

Some of the early gravel on 247th (near mile 14), which both the 100 and 70 mile courses use, was the softest of the entire course - but still easily passable.  No fear, this is drying up fast.

I enjoyed a sunny hillside and had a nice lunch picnic (with food from the recommended stop of the Holiday Gas Station in Grantsburg), on Maple Ave, near mile 55.  In the distance, you can see one of the best gravel sections approaching!
Nearly all of the gravel on the MN side of the river was remarkably dry and firm - and a real treat to ride!  Did I mention I enjoyed sunshine, 60 degrees, and a tailwind?!?

The snow melts from our course and fills the streams, then passes on to the mighty St. Croix!  You'll see a lot of moving water on the MGCIII 100 course!
Apparently, the gravel has dried out so much that it's now time to get out and grade the course for us gravel riders.  Don't worry, they usually roll the gravel after they grade it in this area - yes, I'm serious - see the pic in the 100 mile course chronicle!
As you progress south along the river on the Minnesota side, you'll find yourself in stunningly beautiful farmland.  I was struck by the beauty, colors, and contrast...  Gravel, greening grass, snow, blue sky, and clouds - wow!

Gravel Riding Tip:  In softer areas of the course, riding the dampest part of the road is the fastest (which is why the course was so firm and fast in last Fall's redux of the MGCII).
Reed Road, near mile # 84 is the toughest terrain, and can be a challenging surface to ride.  Yesterday, I encountered the above washout that was a "wheel eating" 12" deep in the road.  Of course, always use caution at any and all water crossings!