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Dan Woll's Mammoth Report

Here's the Mammoth Gravel Classic 2016 event report from Dan Woll, the celebrated author of North of Highway 8 (copies available at CyclovaXC). That book is featured in this article on Singletracks by celebrated author Walter Rhein. We're fortunate to have all these celebrated authors around aren't we?

Since everybody else is writing reports about the Mammoth, I'm chipping in before it’s too late. Last year I did my first gravel ride ever at the Heck of the North. My old 26er with 2.1s did fine, so I decided not to ride a cyclocross bike. Also, I do not have one. 

Looking around the parking lot at the start I realized I might have brought a knife to a gun fight. Next to the sleek cc rides, my sixteen year old warhorse looked like the USS Wisconsin. I did have one of those cool bags you hang under your top tube, because my son-in-law who knows gravel, gave it to me. I filled it with many bagels stuffed with big slabs of summer sausage and colby cheese. I was set to ride with Cyclova Ben. He needed to take pictures so I fiddled while the pack left. When it did, it departed at a surprisingly brisk pace. Ben alertly tagged on and I found myself bridging up, and out of breath before the sleep was out of my eyes. When I did catch up, we were moving at road pace. This was because we were on a road, something I did not expect. At this point, an ear worm began that tormented me the whole race—the flute riff from “Spill That Wine” including the line, “but there I was.”

Yes, there I was and it was worth riding on the road during an off-road ride because on the left was the St. Croix River and it was blow your mind beautiful. When we got on to dirt, I became aware that I was far from over my sinus infection. This was brought to my attention by other riders who complained that the snot from constant farmer blows was making the road slippery. It also meant that I was dehydrating at an alarming rate. By the time we pulled into Grantsburg, for some street grubbing I had drained my entire 48oz camelback and two water bottles. I refilled all the water, ate sausage and cheese and bought several red cokes, my go to survival drink.

I met a bunch of people, all of whom were named Greg and we formed into a loose pack of six to ten riders. At this point, for anyone considering the ride, something needs to be said about the sand. It was rideable on my 2.1s but the extra energy motor boating through it cancelled out the advantage I had over the walkers. There is also not much of it. I would recommend skinny tires in the future given the same weather.

Neither Ben or I had much of a base so we were riding from memory which hurt a little bit, but it was a small price to pay to see the Crex Meadows, as beautiful a piece of landscape as I have ever ridden. When it finally ended it was back to ugly reality in the form of the crappiest section of the Gandy—the border of the Siren Airport. Granted, I was never fast, but I’ve ridden much harder terrain, right up to and including Leadville, but for some reason there is no two mile stretch in the world that I hate as much as the weird gravel and permanent windstorm around the airport. My wife and I discovered the cure years ago and I introduced Ben into the world of cycle-cheating by leading him on the hardtop road around the perimeter which got us to the Pourhouse Bar ahead of our group. We hung around and consumed hamburgers, fries and beer until it dawned on us that daylight was burning. By this time, counting the beer, I estimated that I had consumed over 200 ounces of liquid which apparently all came out my nose because I did not pee until 8 pm that evening. Despite the snot and the occasional expelled nasal product that looked like a bloody corn flake, Ben stuck with me and we settled into a threesome with the smallest of the Gregs—apparently a fast runner. He was lean and light, (which came into play later.) He was also sunburned the color of a bottle of Heinz ketchup.

Not wanting to overdo things, I insisted on a cup of coffee at the Wren Cafe where they told us they had had over 200 cyclists that day. It’s hard to get up from Wren coffee and pastry but I reluctantly saddled up as the sun dropped in the afternoon sky. The last of the little towns vanished in the rearview mirror and I was told that we were over mile 90. For reasons that only he can explain Ben relentlessly pushed it up well over 15 mph. This was not my first choice but since he was making a hole in the wind I hopped on. Running Greg followed me. It was around 5:00 o’clock pm when we hit the 100 mile mark. It was also when we hit a hard, deep ATV rut, obscured by the sun glare. Being over 200 pounds each, gravity kept Ben, me, and our butts on the saddles. I was surprised to see Running Greg pass me. I was more surprised that he was not on his bike. We circled back and there was no doubt. HIs collarbone was broken. We wanted to get the truck but he pulled a Tyler Hamilton and insisted he could ride in. Back in my climbing days we would say “this is a good guy to have on the mountain.” We propped him on his bike and headed off until the final descent into the city. I said, “You are NOT going to go down that one-handed.” Trust me. I know a bad idea when I see it. Braking one-handed on that descent was asking for the cycling equivalent of the Hindenburg landing. Greg acceded. We got the truck, checked him into the hospital and the rest is history. (What does that phrase even mean? It’s all history, not just the rest)

I’m very sorry for the accident. It spoiled a perfect day. It did not diminish the beauty of that road, which abides in my cycling dreams.

Volunteer at an area event & trail building - Warm Fuzzies & Satisfaction GUARANTEED!

Here in St. Croix Falls, the "City of Trails", we are incredibly fortunate to have an amazing plethora of trails - a variety of bicycle trails, hiking trails, snow trails, and water trails!  There are also many great events that happen on these trails throughout the year - and just as trails don't build themselves, events don't just happen.  Events are the fruit of hundreds of hours of volunteer labor - and we need you to help!  Warm fuzzies & satisfaction of helping a worthy local cause are guaranteed!

In the coming weeks, we have 2 more fantastic events happening - and we need your help to ensure they're a success!  Please consider volunteering at one (or both) of these events!  Below is info on each of the events.  Please follow the volunteer sign up instructions for each event if you'd like to volunteer!

Sunday, 1 MayWoolly Mountain Bike Race
The Woolly Bike Club (our local IMBA Chapter, which builds & maintains our amazing mountain bike trails system) needs your help with a variety of tasks on event day.  Come for the whole day or a shift.  CLICK HERE to view the specifics on the tasks where help is needed - and for instructions on how to volunteer.

Saturday, 11 JuneCity Of Trails Running Races
The Ice Age Trail Association Indianhead Chapter (the local chapter which builds and maintains our region of the Ice Age National Hiking Trails) needs your help with registration and directing participants on the course on event day.  Full day or short shifts are available.  Contact Wanda Brown via email or phone to volunteer or with any questions:
Wanda Brown

2016 Sasquatch Dash #1 Reminder

Hey, its a big weekend in St. Croix Falls.  Not only is it the kick-off event for the 2016 Sasquatch Dash series of free trail races, but it is also the Spring Awakenings all weekend long, and the Woolly Bike Race on Sunday.  Be sure to go check out those other events and plan to spend the weekend in the St. Croix Valley.

But this post is all about the Sasquatch Dash.

The Basics

We meet at CyclovaXC at 8:30.  The shop will be open for your last minute bathroom trip.  We will give the run down of the course, sign waivers, and then we will walk over to the Overlook at about 8:55.

At 9:00 we will get set and go!

The course will be unmarked and open so please use good judgement and good manners.  After traversing the course we will be finishing at the Overlook again.  There will be a clipboard with a pen at the finish to record your own finish time and place.  Your entry fee (free remember) didn't cover chip timing, sorry.  The group typically hangs out until the last person finishes.

Pretty simple, low key, and a lot of fun with other people who want to go run through the woods.  No need to worry if you aren't fast or are afraid you might get lost.  We cheer just as much for the last finisher as the first (actually the first usually doesn't get any cheering) and we've had lots of people get lost but they've always made it back.  Heck, I have designed most of the courses and have taken a few wrong turns myself.  It'll be fine, and FUN.

2016 Course #1

I am still working on this.  I haven't run in the valley in a few weeks so I'm not certain of the trail conditions.  It will almost certainly be a run over to Wert Preserve and back.  Our classic starting course is up into Wert and to take each of the three out and back branches from the pond intersection.  That will be the fallback if things are too soggy to do anything else.

Plan on about 5 miles.

What To Do Afterward

First, refuel at the Dallas Bakery and Coffee House.

Then find something fun to do on the Spring Awakenings Calendar

Or ahead of time send an email to woollyvolunteers@gmail.com and help with race prep.  There will be lots going on Saturday to prep for the race on Sunday and your help would be awesome.  I personally will be doing this after coffee.

YOU'RE INVITED: Lake Superior Adventures & Bike Maintenance Basics - Adventure & Tech Social Event #10 - 4/21/2016

Frank and riding companion David rode around Lake Superior - 1200 miles in 11 days of riding in 2003.  Hear the tale at the final Cyclova Adventure & Tech Social Event - on Thursday, 21 April, 2016!
YOU'RE INVITED:   Thursday, 21 April, 2016 at 6PM is the 10th & final installment of Cyclova's 2015-2016 Adventure & Tech Social Series - and you don't want to miss it!  This week's event focuses on Truly Epic Lake Superior adventures and bike maintenance & repair basics!  Refreshments & snacks will be served free of charge!
Cyclova's Adventure & Tech Social Series is a fun way to get to know fellow outdoor enthusiasts, hear of (and see photos & videos of epic adventures), and learn the tech side of cool new gear.  Snacks and beverages are always served - free of charge.
Where:  Cyclova XC in downtown, St. Croix Falls, WI
When:  Thursday, 21 April, 2016 
Following is the program:
Adventure:  This is a Great Lakes focused double header on the adventure side of things!
First, Amy Middleton (local business owner and silent sports enthusiast) will share tales of her epic 1000 mile kayak journey on Lakes Superior, Huron, and Michigan, followed by Frank Lundeen presenting his 1200 mile bike packing trip around Lake Superior - in 11 days of riding.  
Tech:  Due to popular demand, Frank Lundeen will present "bike maintenance basics".  This presentation will focus on tire inflation, drivetrain care, fixing a flat tire out on a ride, and other basic bicycle repairs.  Don't miss this chance to learn to care for your bicycle & learn to be self sufficient while out cycling!  
For the full scoop & schedule on the entire 2015-2016 Cyclova Adventure & Tech Social Series, CLICK HERE.  

2016 Mammoth Gravel Classic In the Books!

Thanks for coming to the Mammoth Gravel Classic! We hope you all had a wonderful day out there! If you took any pictures you'd like to share, please send them to me at (bj@cyclovaxc.com). I'll publish them on our web page and on our Facebook page (with photo credit and a link to your blog if you wish).

We apologize for that small section of 4 inch deep ruts caused by illicit vehicle use on the Gandy Dancer Trail. You probably noticed this section which was located a few hundred meters north of the 140th Ave Bridge. We did have one rider crash in those ruts and break his collarbone, and we'd like to encourage all of you to fill out an "Incident Report" and send it to the WI DNR (click on the link for the form). The Gandy is a non-motorized trail and state and local authorities appreciate your assistance in ensuring that the law is obeyed. Also, please return for future rides on the Gandy, it's one of the greatest trails out there!

Thanks again! Be sure to swing by on April 30th for the first of our free Sasquatch Dash trail runs. Also, don't forget to register for the Solstice Chase! Have great adventures everyone! See you soon!
The start for the 100 mile riders. Photo by John Schletty.

Mammoth Gravel Classic - HWY 8 ROAD CONSTRUCTION/DETOUR & tips to make your weekend a success!

The 2016 Mammoth Gravel Classic is tomorrow - be prepared and and enjoy your adventure and weekend in St. Croix Falls!  Following are some tips that will ensure you have a great ride & weekend!  Photo Credit:  John Schletty
We are less than 24 hours away from the start of the 2016 Mammoth Gravel Classic.  Following are some important tips that will help ensure you have a great weekend - including an update on the Highway 8 road construction project (if you're driving up from the Metro area, this WILL affect your drive).  Above all - be cool, be respectful, obey the law, and HAVE FUN!
  • HWY 8 ROAD CONSTRUCTION & DETOUR:  Hwy 8 is being rebuilt just outside of Taylors Falls, MN.  All traffic is being detoured to cross the St. Croix River at the Osceola, WI (Hwy 243 Bridge).  Click HERE to view the MNDOT map of the detour.  If you're coming from the Metro area, take the following route:  Interstate 35 North, Hwy 97 East, Hwy 95 North, Hwy 2343 East (crossing into WI over the bridge), WI Hwy 35 North into St. Croix Falls (note taking this route will save you from following a 20 mile detour).  
  • Parking:  On event day, please DO NOT park on Main / Washington St.  Rather, park in the huge parking lots one block up the hill (east) from Cyclova XC, on the Thompson Parkway. 
  • Cyclova's doors open at 7AM for registration.  You'll need to sign a waiver (which makes you eligible for the HUGE SWAG DRAWING AT 4:30PM.  The rides will casually roll out from "The Overlook Park", one block north of Cyclova XC - overlooking the St. Croix River.

  • Familiarize yourself with the ride courses in advance - we provide extensive detail on each of the courses, as well as all of the navigational files on the official courses page of mammothgravelclassic.com HEREHERE is an update on course conditions & tire recomendations from 3 days ago.  
  • The Mammoth Gravel Classic is not a race - or a supported ride.  All roads are open.  All riders must obey all traffic laws.  You are responsible for you - there are no aid stations or rider support on the course.
  • Eats / Drinks / Lodging:  For general info on our top local recommendations, check out the eats/drinks/lodging page of mammothgravelclassic.com
  • Live Music & Festivities on Saturday night:  Stratocaster Disaster is playing, along with the Tippy Cup Championship of the World on Saturday night at the Dalles House Bar.  Enjoy the festivities & wish our friend Sarah a happy birthday!  Check out the Facebook event here!  Play it safe and plan on camping or staying in one of our local hotels which are right next to the Dallas House Bar (specifically the Dallas House Hotel and WI Interstate Park - for details, click HERE)

Mammoth Gravel Classic Course Updates - fresh off of the courses!

The 4th annual Mammoth Gravel Classic is only a few days away now, and we want to keep you up to date with all of the pertinent details - up to the minute!   To get all of the latest updates, sign up for the event email list, and like the Facebook Event.  Below, you will find a photo montage taken out on the 70 and 100 mile courses yesterday, along with some commentary.  But first, following are a number of key reminders:
  • For full event info (who, when, fees or lack thereof, and course basics) go to the great event website at www.mammothgravelclassic.com 
  • For literally every possible detail on each of the ride courses, including maps, que sheets, gps files, bike/tire recommendations, a literal mile by mile chronicle of each course, and dozens of photos, check out the COURSES PAGE on the event website.  
  • On event day, please DO NOT park on Main / Washington St.  Rather, park in the huge parking lots one block up the hill (east) from Cyclova XC, on the Thompson Parkway.  
  • Where to stay / what to eat:  Check out the EATS/DRINKS/LODGING page of the event website!  
  • Remember, this is a gravel adventure ride on open public roads - not a race, not a supported ride.  You MUST obey all traffic laws.  YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU.  You must be ready to navigate yourself on the course.  You must bring everything that you'll need to have a great day on your bicycle!  You must be ready for the unexpected - this is the whole point!  No one is coming to get you if you have problems on the course.  If you're wondering which ride is appropriate for you, check out the specific description of each on the COURSES PAGE.  
  • DON'T RIDE SKINNY TIRES if you're riding the 100 or 70 mile ride!  As is explained in great detail on each of the course profiles, you'll regret riding any tire narrower than a 40mm - really.   Swing on by Cyclova XC to talk tires with us if you have questions!  
  • Bring with some cash, so you can refuel / patronize some of the businesses (coffee shops, restaurants, convenience stores) along the courses!
After spending Monday out on the courses, on Tuesday my friend Keith (fellow Woolly Bike Club board member) and I loaded up to do the remaining/final course inspection of the key gravel sections of the 100 and 70 mile course.  We packed with a few course marking supplies, bikes, and materials for an adventurous camp fire lunch! 

Sand is the theme of the gravel from miles 16.8 - 24.3 of the 70 and 100 mile courses.  Be prepared by riding a 40mm or wider gravel tire!
Two thumbs up from yours truly - the course is in perfectly rugged condition, with a literally perfect forecast for Saturday! 
On the 100 mile course, you'll find yourself surrounded by water (have you ever seen such blue water???), wet lands, and waterfowl for dozens of miles at a time!
After we completed the course inspection, we loaded up our fat bikes and explored some sweet trails on the bluffs of the rugged northern St. Croix River.  We stopped for a campfire, steaks roasted over a fire, and a few tasty beverages!  It was a great cap to a fantastic day in Mammoth Gravel Classic country!