The Minnesota Ironman Bicycle Ride, a local cycling classic, kicks off the biking season with challenge and bravado. This year’s ride will mark the event’s 50th anniversary.
The ride was started by inspired cyclists looking to test their strength with a 100-mile trek at the beginning of the biking season. The challenge continues today—although you don’t have to ride 100 miles to prove it. Minnesota Ironman Bicycle Ride co-director Jon Ridge estimates that over the years, the event has averaged 3,000 riders each season, from 16 to 82 years old.
The event offers multiple routes and distances that all begin and end at the Washington County Fair Grounds. One of the routes, the 29-mile Gateway Trail, is a relaxed option for riders with families. Although the trail doesn’t quite make it to Mahtomedi, it gets very close. The path travels west from Lake Elmo to the Gateway Bike Trail, and then moves northeast up to Pine Point Park rest stop and loops back down to the fairgrounds.
Always held on the last weekend in April, when Minnesota weather is unpredictable, this year the ride will be on April 24. “Our ride has a reputation in some ways as one of the best-run bike rides in Minnesota, with the lousiest weather,” says Ridge. Dedicated riders from previous years have cycled through rain, snow and sometimes sun; it’s part of the challenge—and the fun.