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.

MAY

Almanzo Gravel Hill Horizontal

Fulton Gran Fondo – May 12

Grab your bike and head to Northeast Minneapolis for the 5th annual Fulton Gran Fondo: a celebration of all things bikes, bands and beers. The ride departs from the Fulton Production Brewery in the morning with riders embarking on the 100 mile "Gran", or shorter (45-50 mile) "Medio" Fondo. Not riding? The free block party starts at noon and is open to all, with plenty of live music, food trucks and Fulton beers to go around.

Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour – May 12-13

A serious ride that doesn't take itself seriously, head to Red Wing for the annual Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour. Held over two days, the ride is based on cycle touring in pre-war England. Leave behind your modern equipment and make room for your sense of adventure. Wear something appropriate for eagle watching or sitting in a café, and bring an honest-to-goodness rain cape because, of course, it rains in England. Be prepared to make new friends and be swept away by the scenery. Be prepared to stop here and there to take a photo or complain about your hard saddle or make an entry in your Tourbook. Be prepared to keep in mind it's not the destination you'll remember but the journey.

Almanzo 100 – May 19

The gravel race that started it all, Almanzo needs no introduction. One of the most iconic gravel races in the country, this 100-mile ride starts in Spring Valley and brings the pain with mammoth hills, headwinds and choppy terrain. Make no mistake: this is a difficult race to finish. There’s no support team. Out here it’s just you, your bike and 100 miles of Minnesota’s most notorious gravel roads. But that’s why we love it.

Le Grand du Nord – May 26

One of the most amazing gravel courses in the country, follow the hilly shores of Lake Superior on a 20-, 66- or 120-mile course that rolls out from Grand Marais harbor and gradually climbs to within a stone’s throw of Canada and some of the North Shore’s most scenic views. All three routes are impressive, but the expertly crafted 120 mile course, with almost 6,000 feet of climbing and a bevy of incredible Lake Superior views, is one of Minnesota's premier gravel routes. You’ll never say Minnesota is flat again.

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 2

With an uncharacteristic flourish of Minnesotan bravado, the 11th 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.

Caramel Roll Ride – June 9

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 five 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.

Luce Line Loops - June 10

With ride lengths ranging from 12 to 75 miles, the Luce Line Loops ride is perfect for families, beginner riders and experts alike. Part of the 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.

Dam2Dam Bike Ride – June 16

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!

Loop the Lake Festival – June 16

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.

Lutsen 99er – June 22-24

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, a post-race party Saturday night with live music by 4onthefloor, and three different kids races on Sunday morning.

Shooting Star Trail Ride – June 23

Now celebrating its 20th 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.
 

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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 of Saints – July 8

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!

Bike MS: Ride Across Minnesota – July 15-20

Five days, nearly 300 miles and a world free of multiple sclerosis. The Bike MS: Ride Across Minnesota (formerly known as TRAM) brings together more than 600 riders to help fund breakthroughs in MS research by pedaling through the picturesque scenery of southern Minnesota. The five day loop begins and ends in St. Peter, with additional overnights in Northfield, Owatonna, Waseca and Mankato.

Red Ribbon Ride – July 20-22

A fully supported two day bike ride to raise vital funds for HIV/AIDS services, treatment, prevention and awareness, the Red Ribbon Ride is a powerful experience for all riders. After checking in at the Mall of America, you and your bike will be transported to One Heartland camp in central Minnesota, your home base for the ride. 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.

North Shore Bike Tour – July 22-27

Follow the craggy shore of Lake Superior on this guided, six day bike tour. With just 160 miles to cover over your six-day ride, expect a relaxed pace, incredible views and plenty of delicious local foods as you traverse Highway 61 and the Gitchi Gami Trail from Duluth to the Canadian border. Tour tickets include five nights of lodging, most of your meals and sag wagon support.

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. 4

Riding the Mesabi Trail is always a treat, but its annual Great River Energy tour is truly next level fun. Choose from four routes, ranging from 11 to 71 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.

Bicycling Around Minnesota – Aug. 9-12

Founded in 2006, Bicycling Around Minnesota (BAM) is a perennial favorite for North Star cyclists. This year, BAM heads to the Iron Range for a four-day ride covering between 60-70 miles each day. Beginning and ending in Hoyt Lakes, the 2018 tour will give riders a firsthand look at the region's incredible scenery and unique mining history.

Bike Duluth Festival – Aug. 10-12

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. 10-11

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.

Apple Blossom Tour – Aug. 11

The Apple Blossom 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'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.

Tour de Pines – Aug. 18

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 ninth 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.

Honorable September Mention

Saint Paul Classic Bike Tour - Sept 9

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.

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