2015 Mammoth Gravel Classic 100 Mile Course Specifics & Chronicle - April 18, 2015

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

Over the past several years, we've had a ton of fun exploring the far reaching options for the 100 mile Mammoth Gravel Classic course - and I'm certain that you'll think this is our best ever 100 mile course!  Go to the new official event website at www.mammothgravelclassic.com 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, 18 April, 2015)!

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 will not have a course sweep - so you must take care of yourself out there.  This multi-surface course will be roughly 80% gravel roads and less than 20% 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 40mm or Kenda Happy Medium 40mm - available at Cyclova XC.

First things first, you probably all want to check out the course map.  Well, we have 5 different ways you can do this:

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, but all 2015 Mammoth Gravel Classic courses will use the Gandy Dancer State Bicycle Trail - therefore a Wisconsin State Trail pass is required, which will be available at registration.  All riders must fill out and sign the event waiver.  As a perk, everyone who signs a waiver, 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!
Gravel 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 24.2, will be the most challenging portion of the 100 mile course.  At mile 17, riders will turn nouth onto 310th Street, a beautiful gravel road.  There are a few zigs and zags through this section, so pay attention.  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 some time walking...

At mile 24.2, you'll emerge from the sandy portion of the 100 mile course onto County Road O.  I expect that at this point, you'll be thrilled to enjoy the nice firm gravel found on this road.  
 
The scenery in the Fish Lake Wildlife Preserve is amazing.  Enjoy!

After recovering on the firm gravel of County Road O, get ready to turn left onto Stolte Road - at mile 26.6.  This incredible road snakes through the enormous and beautiful Fish Lake Wildlife Preserve.  This 5 mile section of road is a definite scenic highlight of the course.  Expect to see countless waterfowl!

At mile 31.4, you'll emerge from the Fish Lake Wildlife Preserve onto one of a few sections of pavement, which will take you into Grantsburg.  

NINJA trick in Grantsburg:  As you're approaching Grantsburg on S. Russel Road, your can either take a left (west) on Hwy 70, or take the "Ninja shortcut" which will allow you to avoid highway traffic all together.  About 50 yards prior to Hwy 70, take a left on the unmarked gravel road that goes by the water tower.  This road will take you right behind the grocery store, Holiday Station, and a great coffee shop known as "The Wake Up Call".  Stop at The Wake Up Call for a coffee, delicious pastry, or amazing panani sandwich.  


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.  

A staged picture at the Wake Up Call...  texting each other - "are you going to eat the rest of your ___?"  Yes we are dorks!

Holiday Station Stores always have an epic selection of meat products - super fuel for gravel riders.  Get some in Grantsburg - next door to The Wake Up Call coffee shop!

Now that your tank is topped off, it's time to continue north out of Grantsburg!  The course will cross Hwy 70 onto W. Olson Drive and parade through Grantsburg.  Don't get too relaxed, you'll need to be on your toes for the sandy road that goes around the Grantsburg airport.  Muscle through this, as this is the last sandy section of the cousre.

The "road", perhaps more appropriately called a trail that goes around the Granstburg is beautiful & rugged!
Riding through Crex Meadows is likely to be one of the most beautiful 10 miles of riding of your life - enjoy!
The Airport & Epic Crex Meadows:  After going around the airport, you'll pop out on to Phantom Lake Road, which will lead you straight into the middle of an amazing, huge wild life preserve known as Crex Meadows - also a gravel riding mecca!  The next 10 miles are simply amazing, and likely to be ten of the most scenic miles you'll ever ride.  Be sure to pay attention to your que sheets or gps device, as there are several turns out there. 
 
Put it on cruise control and relax - you're about to enjoy the Gandy Dancer State Bicycle Trail! 
Gandy Dancin':  After emerging from the beautiful Crex Meadows wildlife preserve, you'll follow the course on a number of gravel and paved roads, which will lead you to the Gandy Dancer State Bicycle trail - this is where you will spend the next 36 miles on your bike.  The Gandy Dancer trail is a great place to relax, put it in cruise control, and enjoy the ride.  Note that the 10 miles from Siren to Frederic are a very gradual uphill, so you'l find yourself going slower than what you expect.  From Frederic and on, the trend is a gradual downhill - with the last 5 miles being a great downhill ride back into St. Croix Falls!   

Note that there are small towns every 4-9 miles along the trail - any of which you can stop at for food/drink.  Following are a few stops we strongly recommend checking out:
In Siren:  The Woodshed - Some of the best wood-fired pizza you'll ever have, with a great assortment of tap beers and other culinary delights.  This place is truly a class act!  
In Luck:  CAFE WREN - This is a must stop, and a traditional stop for Mammoth Gravel Classic participants.  Cafe Wren is one of the best coffee shops on the planet - period.  Coffee, smoothies, beer, incredible pastries (try the morning bun or the nut roll, they're my fav), and wonderful sandwiches/soup!
In Milltown:  Julia's Java - A fabulous new coffee shop in quaint Milltown.  Check it out!


After the ride, don't forget about the swag giveaway.  Go to www.mammothgravelclassic.com for the full weekend schedule of events.  For full info on where to stay, eat, and drink for the Mammoth Gravel Classic, click HERE. 


Can you say SWAG???  The Swag drawing will be at 4:30PM at Cyclova XC - you must be present to win!

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

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