22 Essential Minnesota Summer Bike Events

By Brian Fanelli

From leisurely bike strolls to epic mountain bike adventures, there are enough summer bicycling events in Minnesota to cure even the strongest case of wanderlust. Push your legs to the limit on the grueling Lutsen 99er, or enjoy a family-friendly ride around Lake Bemidji during the Loop the Lake Festival – however you like to ride, there's always something happening in Minnesota. The only thing you won't find in Minnesota this summer is a dull moment.

Gear up for your next summer bicycling adventure with these events in mind.

JUNE

Tour de Pepin bikes on a boat
All aboard! The Tour de Pepin might just be the Midwest's most unique bicycling tour.
 

Tour de Pepin – June 3

With an uncharacteristic flourish of Minnesotan bravado, the 10th annual Tour de Pepin calls itself “the Midwest’s most unique cycling tour,” and they might just be onto something. Riders pedal along scenic Lake Pepin on the Great River Road, conquering the area’s rolling bluffs on a 32, 50, 72 or 100 mile ride before boarding the authentic 1800s replica Pearl of the Lake paddleboat back to Lake City via the Mississippi River.

Luce Line Loops - June 10

With four ride lengths ranging from 12 to 50 miles, the Luce Line Loops ride is perfect for families, beginner riders and experts alike. Part of the 75th annual, week-long Hutchinson Water Carnival, Luce Line Loops brings people together to celebrate the rich history, tradition and people of the Hutchinson area. All rides begin and end at the Crow River Winery in Hutchinson.

Caramel Roll Ride – June 10

A sweet roll on a sweet trail: The Caramel Roll Ride is the annual “beginning of summer” event on the Lake Wobegon Trail in central Minnesota. Passing through lush farmland, lakes and streams, the trail’s bucolic scenery is a welcome escape from the hustle-and-bustle of everyday life. Riders on the Caramel Roll Ride choose from three routes of varying lengths, all of which begin at the trailhead in Albany. Rest stops along the route are stocked with the best caramel rolls you’ll find in Minnesota, or anywhere.

Loop the Lake Festival – June 17

Named for its 17-mile loop around Lake Bemidji, all skill levels can enjoy this leisurely ride and community bike festival in northern Minnesota. With this much lakefront riding, it’s shore to be a good time for all riders. Add to your enjoyment by visiting stations along the way featuring live music, delicious food and family-friendly activities.

Dam2Dam Bike Ride – June 17

The annual Dam Festival in Little Falls is truly a celebration of dams near everything. Participants in the affiliated Dam2Dam ride can follow the river through Charles Lindbergh State Park to historic Blanchard Dam for a 20 mile ride, or cross the river twice to enjoy a full 41 miles of Mississippi riverfront and quiet back roads. After the ride, be sure to stick around for the parade!

Shooting Star Trail Ride – June 24

Now entering its 19th year, the Shooting Star Trail Ride is a bonafide Minnesota institution. With a wide range of ride options, from the 4-mile fun ride to the 100 mile century ride, everyone can enjoy this scenic ride through Prairie Vision country in southern Minnesota. Relax and enjoy the trail’s flat terrain, diverse foliage, small towns and laidback country life.

Lutsen 99er – June 24

The Lutsen 99er is your chance to race through the beauty of Minnesota’s North Shore. Race from the coast of Lake Superior through the peaks of the Sawtooth Mountains with 19 mile, 39 mile, 69 mile and the grueling 99 mile course options. The Lutsen 99er is more than just a race, though: There are events planned for the entire weekend, including a Friday night BBQ and post-race party Saturday night with live music in the courtyard.
 

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JULY

Tour of Saints Ride 1200px
The Tour of Saints in St. Joseph isn't a race, it's a heavenly little ride. Photo by Gil Silvers.
 

Tour D’Amico – July 4

Celebrate the 4th of July on your bike at the annual Tour D’Amico, organized by the Hiawatha Bicycling Club. Starting in Golden Valley, choose between 29-, 45- and 62.2-mile routes through Golden Valley, Edina and South Minneapolis, followed by a D'Amico & Sons Italian buffet lunch. Yum!

Root River Bluff and Valley Tour – July 6-9

Located in southeastern Minnesota, this three-day tour through the driftless region is filled with spirited riding, local history and gorgeous scenery. Expect to ride between 50 and 68 miles per day, mostly on paved roads with a bit of the paved trail for good measure. The famous river bluffs of southeast Minnesota will test your legs with their many shallow rolling hills, and make you really earn your views with a few major climbs.

Artcrank Minneapolis – July 8

To celebrate their tenth anniversary, Artcrank is putting together a greatest hits playlist of the decade's best bike poster art produced in Minneapolis. Each of the selected artists will create new, limited-edition runs of their work for what just might be Artcrank’s biggest and best show ever. Fifty posters by Twin Cities artists, forty bucks a pop ‘til they’re gone. Also, beer. Obviously.

Tour of Saints – July 9

It’s not a race, it’s a heavenly little ride! Join more than 1,000 cyclists from across Minnesota and neighboring states for the annual Tour of Saints in St. Joseph. Amble along quiet byways and rolling hills, savor treats at rest stops and relish the verdant summer morning on an 18-, 35- or 50-mile course. Make this the year you ride the Tour. Join the tradition!

Red Ribbon Ride – July 13-16

A fully supported four day, 300-mile bike ride to raise vital funds for HIV/AIDS services, treatment, prevention and awareness, the 15th Anniversary Red Ribbon Ride is sure to be a powerful experience for all riders. Begin the four day journey at the Mall of America and travel southeast to Lake City, Rochester, Northfield and the grand finale event at the State Capitol. Whether you’re a first time rider, experienced veteran, looking for a physical challenge, cycling through Minnesota or have a connection to the cause, the Red Ribbon Ride is for you.

The Greenway Glow – July 29

Raise funds for the world-famous Midtown Greenway and get the VIP treatment! Included with your registration, Glow-Ride participants get free Taco Cat tacos, beer or kombucha from Eastlake Brewery, ice cream from Coaster Brake Café at Freewheel Bike, protein and electrolyte snacks from Juiced Nutrition, dessert and beverages at Vine Arts Center, glow lights and more!

AUGUST

Apple Blossom Bicycle Tour
Ride with three-time Tour de France winner, Greg LeMond at the fifth annual Apple Blossom Tour in La Crescent.
 

Great River Energy Mesabi Trail Tour – Aug. 5

Riding the 120-mile Mesabi Trail is always a treat, but its annual Great River Energy tour is truly next level fun. Choose from four routes, ranging from 67 to 14 miles, and explore the trail’s exquisite Iron Range scenery, rolling hills and open-pit mines on this unique bicycling tour to benefit the Mesabi Trail and Club Mesabi. Registration includes a live concert and picnic dinner at the finish, transportation for riders and bicycles, and a three day trail pass for even more adventures.

Surly Red Dirt Fest – Aug. 5

The Surly Red Dirt Fest is a family-friendly bicycle, music and food festival held in Cuyuna on the first Saturday in August. Enjoy riding the famous Cuyuna red dirt and paved surfaces, food and music from the regions finest musicians and much more! From bicycle games to a Striderfest for the little riders, Surly Red Dirt Fest has rides throughout the day for ages and abilities.

Apple Blossom Tour – Aug. 12

Ride with three-time Tour de France winner and Minnesotan-by-choice, Gred LeMond, at the fifth annual Apple Blossom Tour in La Crescent. The tour’s name is a reference to John S. Harris, who in the mid-1800s developed a new strain of apples capable of thrive despite our cold winters. Like Mr. Harris’s apples, Minnesotans blossom under harsh conditions and find beauty in challenges, which might explain the Apple Blossom Tour’s formidable 30-, 43-, 54- and 67-mile routes along the Mississippi River. The challenging rolling hills and curving valleys are some of the best bicycling in the state.

Bike Duluth Festival – Aug. 12-13

The Kraus-Anderson Bike Duluth Festival is a chain-rattling Minnesota biking event you don’t want to miss. Whether you’re a road biking spandex warrior, free-ridin’ adrenaline junkie or family that craves adventure, good times are guaranteed. Get ready to celebrate Duluth’s world-class bike trails with a full weekend of road and mountain biking events. With everything from a kids bike parade to an enduro race, the Bike Duluth Festival truly has something for everyone.

Powderhorn 24 – Aug. 18-19

This round-the-clock community ride proves there are two kinds of people in the world: Those who think riding the same 5-mile loop for 24 hours in a row sounds like fun, and those who are wrong. More than just a ride, Powderhorn 24 is a rolling celebration of the Powderhorn neighborhood in Minneapolis that encourages cyclists, neighbors, families and spectators to come together at this unique event. Whether you’re riding solo, riding with a team or cheering from a lawn chair, Powderhorn 24 is an incredible weekend of riding bikes, building community and making memories.

Tour de Pines – Aug. 19

Featuring beautiful roads, big trees, quiet lakes and the headwaters of our nation’s greatest river, the Tour de Pines at Itasca State Park is a must-ride bike tour in northern Minnesota. Register for the eighth annual Tour De Pines for another gorgeous ride in the north woods, with ride options ranging from 25 to 70 miles. Be sure to stick around after the ride to explore the park, climb the viewing tower, visit the historic Douglas Lodge and take a family photo at the headwaters.

North Shore Bike Ride – Aug. 19

Riding the North Shore Bike Ride is like being transported to another world: the rock cliffs, crashing waves and tumbling waterfalls of Minnesota’s North Shore are unlike anything else in the state. Now celebrating its 17th birthday, the ride launches from scenic Gooseberry Falls State Park at the trailhead for the Gitchi-Gami State Trail’s longest continuous paved section. Head north along the shore on an 8-, 28-, 37- or 55-mile ride, with all ride options concluding back at Gooseberry. And, in celebration of the ride’s 17th birthday, riders aged 17 and under ride free with a paid adult.  

Honorable September Mentions

Mountain Biking at Giants Ridge by Rod Hasse
The GRIND mountain bike race at Giants Ridge offers scenic views to riders in search of a challenge. Photo by Rod Hasse.
 

GRIND – Sept. 2

Because of its extreme difficulty level, it’s a good thing the Giants Ridge Iron N Dirt (GRIND) falls toward the end of summer – you’ll want a few extra months of training to compete in this one. Whether you choose the long (35-mile) or short (18-mile) GRIND, expect an extremely tough mountain bike race utilizing the most scenic and challenging terrain the Iron Range has to offer. Hosted at Giants Ridge resort, rest assured that your family will enjoy a relaxing weekend while you suffer through the race.

Saint Paul Classic Bike Tour - Sept 10

The Saint Paul Classic is a showcase for the handsome parks and parkways of St. Paul, and a fundraiser supporting the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota. Riders can choose a 15-, 32-, or 47-mile route. The attraction for many riders is the ability to ride with a minimal amount of traffic. Rest stops are spaced evenly throughout the course to provide beautiful views, hot coffee, cool beverages, tasty treats, live music and more. In 2016, riders ranging in age from zero to 89 enjoyed the Classic.

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