Four-Day Festival Highlights Road, Mountain, & Historical Tours Throughout Region
LA CROSSE, WI — The La Crosse Area Convention & Visitors Bureau invites newcomers and residents to celebrate bicycling in the Driftless Region of Wisconsin with the 5th Annual La Crosse Area Bicycle Festival, September 4-7, 2015. This free event, centered around Cameron Park in historic downtown La Crosse, allows participants the opportunity to enjoy four days of on- and off-road cycling, including road rides ranging from 30 to over 100 miles. The long list of activities include BMX and mountain biking, urban rides, guided historical tours, ice cream rides, coffee and muffin trips, family-friendly outings and two gravel adventures. All of these events — both self-supported road rides and guided interest tours — will leave from the registration tent in Cameron Park, unless otherwise noted. See http://www.explorelacrosse.com/ bikefest/ for details.
Registration for all the rides is entirely free, thanks to sponsorship from Mayo Clinic Health Systems and other local supporters. A new “premium” registration level gets participants a packet with special discounts, offers, and gifts.
The 2015 Bike Fest begins Thursday, September 3, with a kickoff party at Stolpa’s Stein Haus, 324 Jay Street, from 4:30 – 8:00 P.M.
Riding begins Friday morning with the North-East Route, a winding 63-mile road ride through the bluffs and farmland east of La Crosse to Bangor, and eventually the famous Mindoro Cut, a favorite among motorcyclists from all over the Midwest. This road ride, like all other long rides at the festival, is self-supported: riders pick up maps or download turn-by-turn directions, and can leave Cameron Park at any time Friday morning, stopping at marked convenience stores or rest stops along the way. Some volunteer Ride Ambassadors will also lead groups out of town for the featured daily rides, though riders can leave on their own.
Other Friday rides include the 14-18 mile Advanced Mountain Bike Ride through Hixon Forest and the Upper Hixon Trails, and “Slow Ride Through History”: a historical tour of La Crosse led by slow bicycle movement organizer Scott McCollum and author-archivist Laura Godden. The tour ends at Old Crow Bourbon Bar & American Gastropub. Period dress and retro bicycles are welcome on this ride, but not required.
Saturday’s featured ride heads westward into Minnesota for the Driftless Region’s Most Scenic Ride, a challenging 82-mile adventure providing numerous vistas of the Mississippi and Root River valleys. This route, and the 59-mile option, includes plenty of opportunities to refuel with three convenience stores along the way and a coffee shop at the midway point.
Other Saturday rides include an all-new mixed gravel ride, a 64-mile route to Nodine, Minnesota featuring six gravel sections and five big climbs. This busy day also includes a preview run of the Hixon Forest Epic, the newest stop on the Wisconsin Off Road Series (WORS) mountain biking circuit. There will also be a morning coffee ride; the Hear, Here public history ride (participants can use their phones to learn the history of La Crosse from the voices of community members); an architectural tour of La Crosse’s historic 10th & Cass, 17th Street, and 23rd Street districts; a kid- and family-friendly mountain bike ride in Upper Hixon Forest; one of two scheduled Ice Cream rides; and another offering of “A Slow Ride Through History.” This edition winds up at 4 Sisters Wine Bar & Tapas Restaurant.
This year’s festival also marks the first collaboration between the La Crosse Area Bicycle Festival and Pearl Street Brewery’s annual Tour de Pearl, a summer-long beer-and-bike promotional event in which participants visit up to 42 “stages” via bicycle. The Tour de Pearl wraps up with its End of Tour party on Saturday, September 5th, at Pearl Street Brewery, 1401 St. Andrew Street.
Sunday’s featured road ride is the Norski Tur, an exploration of the beautiful bluffs and farm country southeast of La Crosse, with 50, 75, 100, and 125-mile options. Sunday morning also features the La Crosse Gravel Classic, a 56-mile race/tour on the gravel backroads of Southeastern Minnesota.
Other rides on Sunday include the Pedal Paddle, 15-mile trail and street ride to Lytle’s Landing in Brice Prairie. There, cyclists will switch over to kayaks and explore the backwaters of the Black River. There will also be a City Tour, another Ice Cream ride, and the Dark La Crosse Tour, an evening exploration of the city’s sometimes-notorious past. The ride is an easy two miles, but subject matter may not be suitable for children. Sunday’s lineup also includes a 5 P.M. screening of Mysteries of the Driftless, an Emmy-winning documentary exploring the natural wonders and rare ecosystems of the Driftless Region.
The festival winds up on Monday with one more featured outing, Barista’s Epic Coffee Ride, a 44 or 55-mile journey across the Mississippi and along the Root River Valley to Houston, MN, where Barista’s Coffee House provides a convenient stop at the halfway point. There will also be another Pedal Paddle Ride on Monday morning, to Goose Island and onto the quiet backwaters of the Mississippi River.
For a full Bike Fest schedule, including more information on all rides and festival events, visit www.explorelacrosse.com/bikefest. This page includes links to detailed route descriptions at
www.bicyclelacrosse.com, a website which promotes year-round road riding in the Driftless Region and provides resources and information, including downloadable routes and maps, to local cyclists. Explore La Crosse teamed up with Wyatt Bikes to launch this valuable resource site in January 2015. Through September 4, 2015, visitors to the site can sign up to win a Wyatt Driftless fatbike, valued at $1300. Recently, the site was named to the Ride with GPS Ambassador Program (www.ridewithgps.com), becoming the first site based in the Midwest to earn the distinction.
For more information about the La Crosse Area Bicycle Festival and bicycling resources and events in the La Crosse area, or to volunteer to help, please visit www.bicyclelacrosse.com.