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Hidden Gravel

A weeklong solo bikepacking/fishing trip in the late fall of 2012 revealed the endless gravel roads, amazing scenery, and solitude of this overlooked corner of the Nicolet National Forest. The hidden gem was a former logging railroad spur running along the boulder strewn Rat River. That abandoned spur from the early 1900s, barely brushed out, would eventually become the Rat River Trail. 

  Snow fell at the inaugural Bear 100 in early May of 2013 as riders rolled out from

T-Bob's (now JARS) Bar and Grill. The snow turned to rain and the conditions took their toll as only half of the riders finished. One long-time racer said, "Hardest day I've ever had on a bike." Another commented, "It seemed like the last 20 miles were all uphill." Those last 20 miles were mostly uphill and still are. 

In 2014, the Laona Rescue Squad started providing route support and began hosting the fall Hibernator 100. In return, 100% of the proceeds go to the Laona Rescue Squad. They use the funds to purchase critical supplies, equipment, and training which help them provide EMS services to the surrounding communities year-around. It's a win-win. 

 The Crystal Bear, a two-day 194-mile bikepacking trip from Laona, WI to Crystal Falls, MI and back to Laona, was added and quickly became a rider favorite. It recaptures the original spirit of bikepacking and exploration. Riders gather around the campfire Saturday night, tell tales, and hatch plans for new adventures.  

The events have drawn riders from as far away as Anchorage, AK and London Ontario, Canada. Many gather in Laona year after year to reconnect with old friends, make new ones, ride, and test their grit. Whether your goal is simply to finish or race hard for the win, we'll be there at the finish line to shake hands and help you celebrate.


See you in Laona...Wisconsin's Unofficial Capital of Gravel Road Cycling!

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