Fifteen hundred mountain bikers will gather at Lutsen Mountains – just 1 ½ hours northeast of Duluth, Minn., on Minnesota’s North Shore of Lake Superior. The Lutsen 99er offers a 99-mile challenge for experienced mountain bikers and two shorter distance courses: a 39er and 19er course on Saturday, June 27, as well as free kid races the morning of Sunday, June 28. All race events start and end at Lutsen Mountains. Click on this link for a course map and spectator access points: http://www.lutsen99er.com/spectator.
“Registration is open, and we are preparing for a banner weekend in Lutsen,” says Linda Kratt, executive director of Visit Cook County. “ The number of registered riders at this point is double what it was last year at the same time. Don’ t wait! Registered riders will be capped at 1,500 for 2015. This year we are working on the infrastructure of the event to assure strategic growth and a great experience for all.”
“Riders will cover 99 miles, with about 7,000 feet of climbing, 7 percent single track, 10 percent pavement, 40 percent snowmobile/ski trail, 43 percent Forest Service Road, and 100 percent fun,” says 99er Brand Manager, Peter Spencer, from Life Time Fitness, adding that 39er riders will experience many ups and downs along the way, but none as challenging as the last few miles on Lutsen Mountain, which includes a final half-mile, 250-foot climb to the finish.
In just five years, the Lutsen 99er, a partnership between Lutsen, Visit Cook County and Life Time – The Healthy Way of Life Company has experienced unprecedented growth. It started in 2011 with just 80 participants. Last year, there were 1,400 riders, with participants from over 20 states. And this year, 1,500 participants are expected.
Lutsen 99er is family-friendly: According to race co-founder Mike Larson, local business owner and current president of the Lutsen-Tofte Tourism Association, the Lutsen 99er is not only for high-endurance athletes, but also for families and individuals of all riding abilities who want to enjoy the mountainous terrain and pristine wilderness areas of Cook County. He believes Cook County is quickly becoming a premier biking destination in the Midwest on a year-round basis. (They’re considering sponsoring a fat-tire bike race this winter.) “Local riders and visitors enjoy the trails created for the race, long before and after the event.”
The race takes place a week before the Fourth of July, Many participants come for the race and stay to celebrate the Fourth in Grand Marais. There will be fireworks and local parades in Tofte, Grand Marais and Grand Portage.
All participants in each distance/category compete for the coveted Lutsen99er axe award, which is presented to the top finishers of the race during an awards ceremony outside Papa Charlie’s at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. Prior year race results are available at http://www.lutsen99er.com/results Post-race activities will begin around 9 p.m. at Papa Charlie’s, and will include live music, beer, food and FUN!
Sponsors of the 2015 Lutsen 99er: Both Larson and Spencer say the race depends on the generous support of their 150 volunteers and sponsors: Visit Cook County, Fulton Brewing Company, Cascade Vacation Rentals, Erik’s Bike Shop, Fika Coffee, Honey Stinger, ASPIRE Beverages, Smith Optics, Fruit Share, Ptacek’s IGA, Stages Cycling, Voler, Park Tool, Life Time Construction, Papa Charlie’s, Superior Cycling Association, IMBA, Life Time Cycle and Life Time Fitness.
About Visit Cook County: Cook County, Minn. includes the communities of Lutsen, Tofte, Schroeder, Grand Marais, the Gunflint Trail and Grand Portage. Visit Cook County inspires guests to rekindle their sense of adventure by boldly escaping the ordinary, from Minnesota’s tallest mountains to its greatest lakeshore. Stay in touch via www.visitcookcounty.com, Twitter @CookCoVisitors or Facebook.