The Trans Mni Sota Wheel Race is a solo, single-stage, unsupported 1,200 mile road bikepacking challenge around Minnesota. It starts at 7:00 am in White Bear Lake, MN on June 20th, 2021, and finishes at the same location whenever you get there. The clock does not stop. There is no prize money; there are no awards. The course was purposely curated in a way to set participants on an adventure along four specific geographical regions of Minnesota; travelling through river valleys, rolling prairie and farmland, lake country, winding river roads, and tough forested hills and ridges of the Superior Upland. Read More.
The 2021 route, the most current course, lives here:
Please note: the course will not significantly deviate but is subject
to change & will be finalized a couple months before the start.
The Trans Mni Sota Wheel Race
course has a number of distinct sectors with very different characteristics. I am very
curious to see what times can be set on this route; but more interested in the narratives
and stories of adventure these regions will create.
The sectors are:
1. The River Valleys of the Driftless Region
2. Rolling Prairie of the Dissected Till Plains
3. Lake Country and the iconic Great River Road
4. The Superior Upland; including the North Shore
There are five (5) control points on route; they are NOT manned. (details to follow)
The course will start and end in White Bear Lake, MN
more about the route.
This challenge was inspired by other ultracycling and bikepack races including: the Trans Am Bike Race, and the Transcontinental. Similar to these races, the rules for the Trans Mni Sota Wheel Race are relatively simple and largely self-regulated. For more information on the rules head to the rules page.
As with Minnesota itself, this course has a number of distinct segments with different characteristics. The route that I have curated sets participants up for a serious epic adventure through unique and beautiful sections of this state.
Segment One will see cyclists immediately throw down on the southeast trek following the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi River. WI35-Great River Road is an amazing road full of scenery and rolling hills. The first 200 miles travels through the Driftless Area; an area that escaped the glaciation period during the last ice age. Because of this, cyclists will be challenged by steep, forested ridges, and hills in and out of deeply carved river valleys, a gravel road or two and be witness to more than a few rivers, creeks, streams and waterfall.
Segment Two will take you through the Minnesota River Valley and Mankato into the Dissected Till Plains. In Southwest Minnesota you will ride pass farm fields and prairie grasses on seemingly flat, lonely country roads. Multiple wind farms can be seen in the distance as you pass small town after small town. Granite is strewn over this section of the state in between tall , prairie grasses. There is a unique beauty to this agriculturally-rich land but look out, the wind can certainly catch you out on the prairie! This will be a challenging section, from Mankato to Pipestone up to Alexandria and Lake Country. A challenge because of the wind and the monotony of space. It is where I got my start in cycling as a kid and am excited to throw a race through this area. Boom.
Segment Three heads from Alexandria to Grand Rapids. Lake country will begin to appear near the end of the previous segment, in route to Alexandria; here you will hit the Central Lakes Trail and enjoy some car-free bliss for ~60 miles before heading north up the Great River Road. The Great River Road follows the Mississippi close to its headwaters and passes by lake after lake after lake. This is the Young Lake Plains, an area that formed during the last ice age and deposited thousands of lakes through the region. Indeed, many of the lakes that make Minnesota the "Land of 10,000 Lakes" can be found here. The eastern part of this region contains a great deal of both hardwood and softwood forests, and once had rich iron ore deposits. Most of the route parallels the Mississippi River; even past a former iron ore range; now Cuyuna State Park.
Segment Four inhabits the Superior Upland and North Shore before you enter back into East Central Minnesota and Minneapolis/St. Paul. Participants will ride almost the entirety of the Mesabi Bike Trail; 75 miles from Grand Rapids to just outside Virginia. Cliffs and rugged ledges await you closer to the shores of Lake Superior but before you zip down to the shore; you will wind through the Cloquet Valley along low, rolling hills surrounded by aspen and birch. After this racers will join up with US Bike Route 41 and the legendary Munger Trail. In Wyoming, MN you will head west to Anoka/Champlin before following the Mississippi River back into Minneapolis.
Most bikepacking routes and races tend to avoid urban areas or at the very least spend a minimal amount of time in them; but TMWR lets you enjoy the vibes of urban cycling as you ride through Minneapolis/U of M Campus and onto the finish in White Bear. Cyclists will have the opportunity to ride a few cobbles leading up to the legendary Stone Arch Bridge and experience a few favorite, local cycling sections too; like the U of M Transit Way from the University of MN to the MN State Fair grounds.
I am excited to share this with you. I am excited to ride with you. Storytelling can only, barely, highlight the beauty of this route. I hope you register, join us and take part in the inaugural Trans Mni Sota Wheel Route. Contact us & check out the Facebook Page.