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16 Essential Minnesota Winter Bike Events

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Frozen Detroit Lake makes a great surface for fat biking / Paul Vincent
Biking // Winter Sports // List

16 Essential Minnesota Winter Bike Events

By Brian Fanelli

In Minnesota, we don't hang up our bikes for the season, we ride them.

Want to push yourself to the limit on an ultra-endurance fat bike race? We've got 'em. Or what about a social city ride, or a rigorous winter road race? Yep, we've got those too.

However you like to ride, you're sure to find a winter bike event worth traveling to in Minnesota.

  1. Norpine Fat Bike Classic, Jan. 11
    Norpine Fat Bike Classic, Jan. 11

    In early January, head to Lutsen for the annual 45NRTH Norpine Fat Bike Classic. Race through the unique winter wilderness of Minnesota's north shore on a 16- or 24-mile course, and end your day at the clubhouse with live music, complementary BBQ, and beer from Castle Danger.

  2. Joyful Riders Club, Jan. 14
    Joyful Riders Club, Jan. 14

    Social rides at a social pace. On the second Thursday of every month, the Joyful Riders Club meets up at the Surly Destination Brewery in Minneapolis for an ~8 mile ride through the Twin Cities. All rides end back at the brewery for a well-earned free beer or N/A beverage courtesy of Surly. 

  3. Fatbike Frozen Forty, Jan. 25
    Fatbike Frozen Forty, Jan. 25

    Head to the trailhead at Elm Creek for the annual Fatbike Frozen Forty. Racers compete in 40-, 30- or 20-mile endurance fat bike races that offer a great mid-winter challenge on a course composed of 100% groomed singletrack. Feeling extreme? Sign up for the 100-mile ultra-endurance option, available to just 10 "lucky" racers.

  4. Arrowhead Ultra 135, Jan. 27-29
    Arrowhead Ultra 135, Jan. 27-29

    The Arrowhead Ultra 135 is broadly considered to be one of the hardest, most grueling endurance races in the world. The average finish rate? Just 50%, and it's even lower for first-time competitors. Racers depart from International Falls at 7 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 27, and have just 60 hours to ride the 135 miles south to Lake Vermillion. Riders receive no outside help, and even something as innocent as stepping into a bar to warm up results in a disqualification. It's cold, it's long, it's dangerous and it's popular.

  5. City of Lakes Loppet Festival, Jan. 31-Feb. 2
    City of Lakes Loppet Festival, Jan. 31-Feb. 2

    Like many winter festivals, the City of Lakes Loppet in Minneapolis is evolving to embrace the fat biking masses. As part of this year's festival, Freewheel Bike is hosting four fat tire events: a 37K Fat Tire Loppet, a 20K Puoli Fat Tire Loppet, a 10K Fat Tire Tour and a Sprint Relay Race. All four rides provide a unique, once-a-year opportunity to ride a fat bike on the groomed Loppet Trail, which is otherwise reserved solely for skiers. Stick around after the bike race to enjoy the rest of this perennial cross-country ski festival.

  6. 45NRTH Whiteout, Feb. 8
    45NRTH Whiteout, Feb. 8

    Compared to most fat bike races, the 45NRTH Whiteout is unique because of its single “great loop” around the park, with 30K, 20K and 10K race/ride options. This popular race takes place on the legendary Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails and has a 300-rider cutoff, so register now.

  7. Ham Lake Snowbowl, Feb. 8
    Ham Lake Snowbowl, Feb. 8

    The Snowbowl has long been "Ham Lake's premier winter event for the whole family," and these days fat bikers can get in on the fun, too. Hosted in partnership with Pioneer Cycle, the Snowbowl Fat Bike Race course winds through scenic wooded areas, over obstacles and (cold weather permitting) even ventures across frozen Ham Lake itself.

  8. Fat Bike Vasaloppet, Feb. 9
    Fat Bike Vasaloppet, Feb. 9

    Held annually in Mora, the Vasaloppet fat bike race is an exciting evolution of the long-standing cross country skiing race of the same name. Whether you're competing in the timed 38K race, or relaxing with the 10K non-timed ride, registration for the Vasaloppet helps fund trail development at the Nordic Center Skiing Complex.

  9. Joyful Riders Club: Valentine's Day, Feb. 13
    Joyful Riders Club: Valentine's Day, Feb. 13

    Social rides at a social pace. On the second Thursday of every month, the Joyful Riders Club meets up at the Surly Destination Brewery in Minneapolis for an ~8 mile ride through the Twin Cities. All rides end back at the brewery for a well-earned free beer or N/A beverage courtesy of Surly. To celebrate Valentine's Day, come to this ride "with a valentine to the hardiest season and we'll go around the group to share our affection for icy roads, gray skies, piles of snow and frozen smiles."

  10. Ely Skinny-Fat, Feb. 15
    Ely Skinny-Fat, Feb. 15

    The Ely Skinny-Fat is what you get by mixing one part ski tour, one part recreational fat bike ride and one part 20K nighttime fat bike race. Add a kid's race, heaping portions of great food and a communal bonfire to keep you toasty, and you've got all the ingredients for a legendary event.

  11. Winter Bike Week: Bikes & Bites Tour, Feb. 15
    Winter Bike Week: Bikes & Bites Tour, Feb. 15

    Celebrate Winter Bike Week with this pedal-powered culinary cruise through Duluth, the Bites & Bikes Tour. This family-friendly guided group ride begins at Zeitgeist Arts Cafe for registration and coffee, tea and juice for the kids, then heads to Duluth Cider for lunch from OMC Smokehouse (vegetarian and kid-friendly options will be available), and ends at Bayfront Family Center for s’mores by the fire, hot cocoa, and ice skating for those who would like. Free for kids under 18. 

  12. Winter Camp at Cuyuna, Feb. 21-23
    Winter Camp at Cuyuna, Feb. 21-23

    Grab your friends, form a team and sign up for this two-night winter bike camp for adults. Registration includes team competitions (can you say ice auger tests of strengths?), excellent food and lodging in the industrial-chic cabins at True North Basecamp. All profits go to the Cuyuna Mountain Bike Crew.

  13. Snow Crush Fat Bike Race, Feb. 22
    Snow Crush Fat Bike Race, Feb. 22

    Head to Faribault for the fifth annual Snow Crush Fat Tire Race on the groomed cross-country ski trails at River Bend Nature Center. Hosted by Milltown Cycles and Cannon River Off-Road Cycling and Trails, the Snow Crush features 8-, 12- and 16-mile race courses for every level of rider. After the race, meet back up at Corks and Pints/10,000 Drops Craft Distillers in downtown Faribault for race awards, SWAG giveaways, drinks and hot food!

  14. Northland Fat Bike Rally, March 7
    Northland Fat Bike Rally, March 7

    Because the Northland Fat Bike Rally encourages participation from first time riders, experts, and everything in between, expect more "rally" than "race." Head to this fat bike rally in Bemidji featuring multiple distances to suit everyone from beginner to advanced riders.

  15. Joyful Riders Club, March 12
    Joyful Riders Club, March 12

    Social rides at a social pace. On the second Thursday of every month, the Joyful Riders Club meets up at the Surly Destination Brewery in Minneapolis for an ~8 mile ride through the Twin Cities. All rides end back at the brewery for a well-earned free beer or N/A beverage courtesy of Surly. 

  16. Twin Cities Bicycle Club Swap Meet, April 4
    Twin Cities Bicycle Club Swap Meet, April 4

    A long standing Twin Cities Bicycle Club tradition, the annual swap meet is free, open to the public, and brimming with bargains. Head to the Hopkins VFW Post 425 to discover a variety of ready-to-ride bikes, bicycle frames, components, trailers, accessories, cycling clothing & shoes, bicycling books & videos, and much more.

Brian Fanelli

Brian Fanelli is a writer and editor for Explore Minnesota. When he isn't writing about life in The North, you'll find him browsing the sci-fi shelves in a local bookstore, biking one of Minnesota's spectacular trails or walking his Chihuahua around Minneapolis.