Minnesota and Wiscsconsin Mountain BIking Guide

Sometimes you need a break from the same old trail you usually ride. The following guide is meant to inspire you to take a trip and enjoy some of the best mountain biking that Minnesota and Wisconsin have to offer. We’d also love to hear you favorite day or weekend trips for mountain biking. Let us know in the comments and we’ll make sure to add them to the ride guide. Click on the pictures below for more information on the trails.

 

Minnesota Trails

 

Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Area – Crosby/Ironton, MN

For roller-coaster like fun, Cuyuna Lakes in Crosby, MN cannot be beat, and offers a multitude of activities for the whole family!

For roller-coaster like fun, Cuyuna Lakes in Crosby, MN cannot be beat, and offers a multitude of activities for the whole family!

 

Wisconsin Trails

 

Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Trails (CAMBA) – Cable/Hayward, WI

Chequamegon (CAMBA Trails) is considered the Midwest mecca of mountain biking. It's easy so see why with so many miles of trails.

Chequamegon (CAMBA Trails) is considered the Midwest mecca of mountain biking. It’s easy so see why with so many miles of trails.

 

Levis-Trow Mounds, Neillsville WI

Levis-Trow Mounds in Wisconsin offers beautiful vistas and miles of singletrack.

Levis-Trow Mounds in Wisconsin offers beautiful vistas and miles of singletrack.

45NRTH Wölvhammers – Pre-order yours today for winter riding.

Yeah, we know it’s not winter yet, and after the winter of 2013/2014 you might NOT be looking forward to another 6 months of cold and snow. At Erik’s we think we know why though – you probably weren’t riding enough last winter. Fortunately we’ve got your feet covered for winter with the newly updated Wölvhammer boot from 45NRTH that will be arriving at the end of this month.

There’s one hitch though, these boots are VERY popular and once they’re in, we can’t keep them in stock! So to get you ready for the winter, we’re taking pre-orders now on the 2015 Wolvhammer.

What’s new for 2015?

  • 45NRTH removed the metal toe cleats – while these are a good idea for traction, the metal conducted heat (or in this case cold) – by removing these the warmth to your toes is improved.
  • Wider outsole than previous models
  • Higher denier nylon on the upper – greater durability.
  • Shipped with a cleat plate – by including a plate, you’ve got flexibility to ride your Wölvhammers with a flat pedal or clipped in.
  • 200 gram Primaloft® insulation for improved warmth.

 

But don’t just take our word for it, see what 45NRTH has to say:

45NRTH: 2015 Wölvhammer Updates from 45NRTH on Vimeo.

Burton Re:Flex Bindings – new at Erik’s!

In our last post, we discussed the Burton ICS system and EST bindings, both items that Burton has developed in order to create a board that flexed better, provided better contact, and a better mounting system. These ideas have been the holy grail since the mid-90s. There are a whole parade of binding names that offered the answer to this problem including Preston, Excel, Tech Nine and more. None of these were bad, in fact at the time they were the most technical thing around, but we still had to put up with bone-jarring landings and weird mounting to make it all happen.

For riders not on a Burton board using the channel system, there’s a great option to get more from your current board with the Re:Flex offering of bindings from Burton. The secret to this technology is in the disc and frame of the bindings. By using a hinged disc and removing material from the base of the binding, Burton creates a binding that is lighter, with better ride responsiveness and allows the board to flex more evenly across it’s length than a traditional 4×4 or even previous 3D hole system board.

Note the removal of material along a line between the mounting holes. By placing this perpendicular to the direction of flex, the binding can flex with the board in this spot.

Note the removal of material along a line between the mounting holes. By placing this perpendicular to the direction of flex, the binding can flex with the board in this spot.

In removing some of the material from the binding, Burton is also able to improve the cushioning under foot to create a more comfortable ride.

What Bindings are Re:Flex and which are EST? At Erik’s we have marked the bindings on our web site as EST if they are an EST binding, so anything without this designation is a Re:Flex binding. This includes the Genesis, Cartel, Mission, Custom and more – see the whole line of 2015 Burton Snowboard Bindings online or at select Erik’s Locations. Take a look below for some of the styles available.

 

2015 Burton Stiletto Binding (Women's) 2015 Burton Mission Binding 2015 Burton Cartel Binding

AWOL x Poler Limited Edition from Specialized

We just got this awesome new ride in from Specialized, but if you want one, you better hurry – there are only 100 of these Specialized AWOL x Poler collaborations made, and we’ve got a size medium and a size large. Scroll through the photos below, specs are listed at the bottom. To see more of the AWOL line, visit an Erik’s near you. These bikes can only be sold direct to a customer, no online sales.

The AWOL x Poler from Specialized is Built for Adventure, but there's only 100 available and when they're gone, they're gone.

The AWOL x Poler from Specialized is Built for Adventure, but there’s only 100 available and when they’re gone, they’re gone.

The limited edition AWOLxPoler edition comes with a front rack and Poler panniers

The limited edition AWOL x Poler edition comes with a front rack and Poler panniers

The frame of this collaboration is a beautiful tangerine orange, detailed with pine cones and needles.

The frame of this collaboration is a beautiful tangerine orange, detailed with pine cones and needles.

With a wide range, the AWOL x Poler edition from Specialized is a rugged option for leading where the road, trail or spirit take you.

With a wide range, the AWOL x Poler edition from Specialized is a rugged option for leading where the road, trail or spirit take you.

Spectacularly detailed, the POler Limited edition AWOL from Specialized is the perfect bike for some serious adventure.

Spectacularly detailed, the Poler Limited edition AWOL from Specialized is the perfect bike for some serious adventure.

 

AWOL Poler Specs

Hit the Trail – CAMBA Trails Cable / Hayward, WI

If all you know about Chequamegon and the Cable Hayward area is the big race, take another look at this gem of a trail.

If all you know about Chequamegon and the Cable Hayward area is the big race, take another look at this gem of a trail.

Chances are you’ve heard of Chequamegon if you’ve ridden in Wisconsin or Minnesota for any period of time – you may even have been lucky enough to draw a spot in the annual race of the same name held every September on some the trails. Dubbed as the Singletrack Capital of the Midwest, the Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA) trails are an IMBA Ride Center located in the area of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. With 6 areas or clusters of trails, it is an area prime for a long weekend of riding, and the Rock Lake trail (Namakagon unit) is considered an Epic ride by the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA).

Erik’s staff member J.J. sums up the fall riding in the Cable Hayward area like this: “Cable and Hayward area in Wisconsin is one my favorite areas to ride in the fall.  From the firework like colors of the trees to the cooler temperatures (meaning less bugs attacking you), camping and riding is perfect.

Some trails are also open to Fat Bikes come winter time, as well as the American Birkebeiner ski race held every February

Erik's Employees riding the CAMBA trails.

Trail Info

Trail Length: Over 80 miles, with 27 miles as part of the Rock Lake trail, and 44 miles of continuous singletrack from Hayward to cable (Source IMBA). In fact, using double track and other trail types there are over 300 miles of trails! (Source CAMBA Trail Guide)

 

While the area is too large to fit on one map, that's a good problem

While the area is too large to fit on one map, that’s a good problem

Cost:
There is no trail pass required, but like many trails in Minnesota and Wisconsin, the CAMBA trails are volunteer and donation supported, so membership or volunteering is always appreciated. Some trailheads (Rock Lake TH, Sawyer County Forest, Mosquito Brook and OO) require parking fees.

Terrain:
Like much of the area, the Chequamegon National Forest and surrounding areas were created by glaciers, and as a result the area is sculpted into numerous small lakes and hilltops. There can be some steep climbs, and newer sections of the trail are designed in the “Flow” style. these trails are rhythmic in design and can be described as feeling like a roller coaster. As an IMBA Ride Center, however, there’s more than just flow – the variety of terrain available for different types of riders is great considering the overall length of the trail system.

Highlights:
One of JJ’s favorite rides is as follows: “By starting at the Rock Lake trail head you can combine it with other trails that makes up a 30 mile loop.  While it does include some double track ski trail it allows you to ride past Namakagon Town hall and Wilson Lake Trail Heads.  Within the past few years they have completed a section of trail that is singletrack that allows you to ride from Telemark Resort to Hatchery Creek.  It includes more recent types of trails that are called flow trails, super fun sections that will make you smile.  I tend to do the same sections two or three times before continuing my ride. “

We've corrected that whole bike issue - Dave's on an Epic now.

Trail Conditions: For up to date trail conditions, see the CAMBA Website

Directions:

From Minneapolis Saint Paul, there are a number of ways to get to the area, but to reach Cable/Hayward, take I-35 north to Exit 165 and head East on 70 through Rock Creek, Grantsburg, Siren. and Spooner. At Spooner, Follow US-63 East until you reach the town of Hayward continue on this to head to Cable. It’s about 3 hours drive time.

From Madison and Milwaukee, take I-94 West to Eau Claire and take the US-53  North exit (Exit 70) through Chippewa Falls, Rice Lake and Spooner. Turn Right onto US63 on the north end of Spooner and continue on to Hayward and Cable.

 

Technology Spotlight – Burton Channel System

icschannelclose

What are those slots on Burton Snowboards? How do you mount the bindings on this snowboard?

If you’ve never seen a board with their Infinite Channel System (ICS), it may look a bit odd at first. If this isn’t your first season snowboarding though, the benefits become easy to see. In short, better adjustability, more durable and better ride quality. Depending on the day or your riding style this stance adjustability has huge pay offs when it comes to getting the most out of your board and your riding. There’s little question why Burton has gone to using this technology in nearly all of the boards in 2015.

Read on for a breakdown of this technology… Read More…

Hit The Trail – Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails

The views from atop Miner's Mountain are second to none!

The views from atop Miner’s Mountain are second to none!

Drop whatever you’re doing – Grab your bike, load it on the rack and point it to Cuyuna right now! Where last week’s trail was right in the middle of most Erik’s locations, this week we’re headed to an exciting ride destination in North Central Minnesota – making it a bit further drive for riders coming from Madison and Milwaukee, but this is a cycling destination that is pulling in cyclists from around the world

Located among a collection of old open-pit ore mines, Cuyuna is a fantastic example of a new  style of mountain bike trail emerging all over the country. Cuyuna is considered a Flow trail – namely that it has been designed in and around the terrain it is in. Tailings (Overburden/leftovers) from once busy mining operations have been worked around or shifted to benefit the design and durability of the trail. The topography is classic Midwest – with very few long grueling climbs, but definitely some short, steep efforts. Trail difficulty ranges from beginner to expert, with something for everyone. Everyone in the family can ride Dragline, Boot Camp and Easy Street, which accesses a multitude of other areas and intensity levels.

Don’t take our word for it though – the MN DNR has some information on the trail as well as this original video:

Trail Info

CLMTB_TrailsIMBALogo

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

To Download PDF version of map for best viewing, click the image above.

To Download PDF version of map for best viewing, click the image above.

Trail Length: 25 miles currently with plans to add more – the adjacent Cuyuna Lakes State Trail has 6.7 miles of paved for more casual riding.

Awards:

  • Best trail in MN (StarTribune) – 2013
  • Best trail in MN (WCCO) – 2013
  • Top 50 Trails in US (Bike Magazine) – 2013
  • Top 25 Trails in the World (Singletracks.com) – Ongoing
  • Nominated at Interbike for an Interbike PlacesForBikes Award – 2014
  • The first designated Ride Center by IMBA, currently one of 27 Ride
    Centers in the world.
  • Sand Hog trail is one of 8 designated Flow Trails in the world

Cost: There is no cost to ride the trails at Cuyuna

Terrain: Built in what was once a series of open-pit ore mines, the Cuyuna State Recreation Area was once a thriving area for the mining of iron ore and was active until 1984, when the last shipment left. Today, the pits and piles of left by this mining have been shaped into twists, turns and climbs that challenge and excite riders of all ability levels. Known for its red dirt as a result of its iron content, people often say “shred the red” in reference to the local trails. Trail surface drains very well – often to the point of being one of the fastest drying trails in the state following a rain, but be sure to check trail conditions at the Cuyuna Lakes MTB Crew’s Web and Facebook Page before you go. Trails range from gentle and meandering to fast and flowy. The Mahnomen unit is currently wrapping up a 1.2 million dollar construction project for a new entry point and rally center making this the site of future events as well.

Highlights: For the best views in all of the trail system, make sure to check out Miner’s Mountain just north of Huntington Mine Lake. For a fast and twisty decent, take Ferrous Wheel down. For an out of this world experience, experienced riders will be thrilled by The Yawkey Unit, especially Bobsled. For less experienced riders it’s best to start on Easy Street, and it’s worth including the Mucker Mountain and Little Sidewinder trails to get accustomed to.

Know before you go: Cuyuna is a challenging place in that there is not a nearby Erik’s location and its best to be prepared before you go with what you might need. Last week’s list found here is a good start, but we recommend being prepared for tire cuts and punctures including tire boots and even a spare tire in the group. Nothing will ruin a weekend like a shredded tire, and Cuyuna’s terrain makes this a possibility.
It’s also a good idea to consider leaving your light colored gear at home – the red dirt literally creates rust stains in white socks, and while it’s a badge of honor to be marked with the red, not everyone wants their favorite jersey to be a rust-orange after a fall.Wipe down your bike at the end of the day – the major component in that red dirt (iron) is basically metal – keeping your drive train properly lubes and sensitive areas like suspension wiped down at the end of each ride will save you time and wear on your parts in the future.

Hit the Trail – Levis-Trow Mound Trail, WI

With fall in full-swing, now is a great time to enjoy a weekend destination with comfortable riding days and often great trail conditions!

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing some of our favorite trails in Minnesota and Wisconsin to get out and ride on. These trails are often favorites of Erik’s customers and staff alike! To learn about any of these great trails click the links within or ask our staff, we’re happy to share. If you’re new to mountain biking, we can help with that too – talk to our staff about what mountain bike is right for you!

Located smack-dab between Minneapolis/Saint Paul and Madison, Levis-Trow trail system is a gem in the upper Midwest and is considered an Epic trail by the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA).  Clocking in at over 25 miles of trail, the singletrack trails offer rewarding views – especially amongst the fall colors.

Photo (c) Dave Siefert, Used with permission

With great views along the trail, no one can fault you for taking a break amongst these great trails

Trail Info

Trail Length: 25 miles

Elevation Minimum: 900 feet

Elevation Maximum: 1200 feet

Cost: A daily pass will set you back $5 and an individual season pass is $25 Passes can be purchased at the trailhead or online

Terrain: Tight and twisty singletrack – no killer climbs in length, but short and steep at times.

Highlights: Plumbers Crack is often photographed and can be seen below; you really shouldn’t miss a thing about Levis, but if you’re just passing through, you’ll be glad you got to Plumers Crack.

Free maps are available at the trailhead, but getting lost anywhere else just wouldn't be as fun.

Free maps are available at the trailhead, but getting lost anywhere else just wouldn’t be as fun.

Levis offers something for riders of all levels and interests, but with some exposed cliffs, be aware of your surroundings and don’t be afraid to walk the bike if you don’t feel comfortable. Trails range from fast and flowy to tight and technical, but as always you control the speed, so ride safe!

Trail Conditions: Trails are open year round, but be sure to check trail closures and conditions at the Levis Mound page as well as their Facebook Page.

Directions:

From Minneapolis and Saint Paul Metro, take Interstate 94 East to Exit 105 in Hixton, then turn left onto Hwy 95 for 18 miles until you reach Fisher Avenue. Turn Left and follow the road until you reach the Levis Mound Trail Center on the left hand side.

From Madison/Milwaukee, take Interstate 94 West to Exit 115 at Black River Falls. Turn Right, heading North on US-12 / Hwy 27 – turn Right at County Road E towards Hatfield. In Hatfield, take a left onto County Road K and follow it until County J. Make a right onto County J and continue for 4 miles where the Levis Mound Trail Center Will be on your left hand side.

 What To Bring:

Your bike of course, but with any day of riding, you should be prepared for anything that might happen. Here are some things we recommend:

  • Extra layers – especially in the fall, days can start cool and warm up nice, but be prepared for a shift in the weather and plan accordingly.
  • Helmet
  • Eyewear
  • Hydration Pack filled with water
  • Multi-tool
  • Spare tube
  • Patch kit/Tire Boot
  • Tire Levers
  • Spare chain link
  • Spare derailleur hanger
  • Food
  • First aid kit
  • Headlight

If you’re staying for a long weekend, it’s never a bad idea to bring spares of consumable parts like brake pads, tires and tubes – it’s no fun to cut a trip short because of a cut tire. If you’re not comfortable working on your own bike trailside, bring a capable friend along or enroll in our Park Tool School Course.

Here are some more photos from Levis-Trow; we hope to see you on the trail!

Plumber's Crack at Levis-Trow

Levis-Trow Mound Trails

2015 Specialized Sneak Peek – Fatboy SL and Venge LR

Erik’s Product Managers and Training Staff begin the second day at Specialized Dealer Event in Monterey California today, but they’re not relaxing in the sun. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s first sessions and a look at some cool things for 2015. Take a look and tell us if there’s anything you’re dying to know more about from the 2015 Specialized lineup!

The concept of a lunch ride at Specialized and Erik's is generally a fast paced effort of just under 20 miles - it's likely you could be the Lunch Race World Champion on this machine that sports a single chainring up front.

The concept of a lunch ride at Specialized and Erik’s is generally a fast paced effort of just under 20 miles – it’s likely you could be the Lunch Race World Champion on this machine that sports a single chainring up front.

The 2015 Venge LR reportedly  refers to "Lunch Race" - Erik's crack team of staff at the Dealer Event wouldn't give more info than a couple close up shots, but this version is running a 1x11 drivetrain for pure go power.

The 2015 Venge LR reportedly refers to “Lunch Race” – Erik’s crack team of staff at the Dealer Event wouldn’t give more info than a couple close up shots, but this version is running a 1×11 drivetrain for pure go power.

Building on the success of the popular Fatboy, Specialized has developed the SL (Superlight) version to trim weight and improve performance all around.

Building on the success of the popular Fatboy, Specialized has developed the SL (Superlight) version to trim weight and improve performance all around.

With an anodized finish on the frame, the new Fatboy SL looks clean and ready for action. Spec'ed here with 1x11 drivetrain,  you COULD route a front derailleur if that's more your speed.

With an anodized finish on the frame, the new Fatboy SL looks clean and ready for action. Spec’ed here with 1×11 drivetrain, you COULD route a front derailleur if that’s more your speed.

Weighing in at 24 lbs stock, the Fatboy SL takes an already great platform and adds HED Big Deal rims and other upgrades to trim weight.

Weighing in at 24 lbs stock, the Fatboy SL takes an already great platform and adds HED Big Deal rims and other upgrades to trim weight.

Erik’s Women’s Racing Program “Why I Race” by Renee

I wish I could say that I got into racing for some noble cause or because a coach noticed how fast I was and recruited me. But I can’t. In all honesty, my motives were much more simple and common than most women probably think. I had just gotten out of an unproductive relationship and needed something else to occupy my mind and keep me active. I knew of a triathlon that was a couple months away and decided to sign up. I had no idea that that one small decision would open up a whole new world to me.

That decision to sign up for my first triathlon led to me opting to sign up for duathlons, another triathlon, and a couple criterium races. While I haven’t been on the podium in a single race, the lessons I’ve learned and people I’ve met keep me coming back for more. In my experience, the female cycling community is absolutely one of the most supportive, friendly, and encouraging groups around. Don’t get me wrong- we’re all competitors once we cross the start line, but before and after races, no one is hesitant to ask you how your weekend was or give you some race tips.

Racing the State Fair Affair Crit this summer at the MN State Fair Grounds.

Racing the State Fair Affair Crit this summer at the MN State Fair Grounds.

While my decision to start racing wasn’t exactly inspiring or even notable, I’ve come to realize that my initial intent doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I put myself out there, and started racing because I wanted to. I not only gained self-confidence, but also a sense of independence and achievement that I never could have anticipated. I truly do encourage all female cyclists to try out racing. Whether you’re doing it to lose weight, make new friends, or just to face a new challenge, do it for you.

Interested in racing?

If you’re a woman interested in racing (whether that be road, mountain bike, or cyclocross), consider our Women’s Racing Program. In support of women racers, Erik’s will be at select races to provide mechanical assistance, a warm up/cool down area, and other race essentials. For information on this program, check out the link above or join the Facebook group.

 

byline photo for Erik's Renee is a “roadie”, sales associate at Erik’s Bike and   Board, Erik’s Women’s Racing Program Representative, yoga instructor, and outdoor enthusiast. She loves racing her bike and is probably trying to figure out how to adjust her derailleurs right now.

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