Norpine Fat Bike Classic

Norpine Fat Bike Classic on the North Shore

Fat bike riders unite for an epic weekend of winter riding and comradery at the Norpine Fat Bike Classic on the North Shore – Lutsen, Minnesota. Since 2017 this event has drawn winter fat bikers from around Minnesota, the Midwest, and Canada. The 15-mile Short Loop and 26-mile Long Loop offer different levels of challenge for riders of various abilities. 

The format will be different in 2021 because of Covid. It will be an informal fun-ride to encourage the fat bike community to get out into the North Woods of the North Shore for a great ride! Riders can sign up to ride either the short (14 mile) or long (20 mile) course from January 23-31, 2021. The experience described in this post represents the event pre/post pandemic. Please visit the Superior Cycling Association for more details.

Norpine Fat Bike Classic

Riders take off at the start of the Norpine Fat Bike Classic

The Hidden Gem of Fat Tire Bike Races

There’s a few reasons the Norpine Fat Bike Classic has become known as such a hidden gem in the fat bike community. First and foremost, because it takes place on one of the region’s most pristine cross-country ski trail systems – the Norpine Trail System – and it’s the only time you can ride fat bikes on these gorgeous boreal trails. Although the Norpine Trail System does have one designated fat bike trail, the race opens up a whole-nother section of ski trails for this one-time fat bike use. 

The 26-mile Long Loop boasts 2,700 feet of elevation gain, and traverses through a variety of forest types. Starting at the Lake Superior Shore, the course tracks north (inland) along the Cascade River and through a thick cover of spruce. As you reach the higher elevations in the Sawtooth Mountains, the forest turns to maple and conifer as you skirt the remote Deer Yard Lake, Lookout Mountain, and a mountain peak with one of the North Shore’s last remaining fire towers. After that, it’s an exhilarating downhill traverse to the finish at Cascade Lodge. 

The 15-mile Short Loop runs on the lower-lying trails parallel to Lake Superior. Beautiful stands of birch offer a forest of white sticks with the sun percolating in. This course has some lovely long stretches, with modest elevation change compared to the Long Loop. 

Map of Norpine Fat Bike Classic race routes – 2020

Fat biking on the North Shore, MN

The Norpine Fat Bike Classic traverses the pristine Norpine XC Ski Trails for this one-time fat bike use.

A North Shore Fat Bike Weekend

The Norpine Fat Bike Classic is more than just a bike race. It’s a weekend getaway to the North Shore and a chance for regional riders to reunite, meet, and greet. 

Cascade Lodge is the perfect home-base for the event. Its historic lodge and restaurant offer spectacular Lake Superior views. The cabins sit behind the lodge and are surrounded by Cascade River State Park. The grounds offer a beautiful, secluded forest and the scenic Cascade Creek. Not only that, but guests have direct access to the Norpine Trail System, Cascade River State Park, Lake Superior, and dozens of other local trails.

Fat bike racers stay at Cascade Lodge, Lutsen, MN

The Norpine Fat Bike Classic takes place at Cascade Lodge, Lutsen, MN

Fat Bike Race Itinerary at Cascade Lodge, Lutsen, MN

Participants check in on Friday. Head on down to the pub for live music and local beer & wine tasting provided by Voyager Brewing & the North Shore Winery

On Saturday morning riders and their supporters gather near the starting line for announcements and last-minute preparations. The casual atmosphere is abuzz with fat bikes, people mingling around the campfire, and music pumping up the mood. The race starts at 10am. 

Racers can ride to the starting line.

Stay at Cascade Lodge and ride to the start of the race

Fat bike racers gather before the start of the race

Riders and supporters gather at the start of the Norpine Fat Bike Classic

The post race party and awards take place on-site at Cascade Restaurant & Pub. Enjoy a hot buffet, live music, and more of those delicious, freshly made, local beverages by Voyageur Brewing and North Shore Winery. 

Post Race Party at Cascade Restaurant & Pub

Norpine Fat Bike Classic post race party at Cascade Restaurant and Pub

Superior Cycling Association’s Signature Events

The Norpine Fat Bike Classic is one of the Superior Cycling Association’s signature events. They also host the Satwooth Mountain Challenge at Pincushion Mountain in Grand Marais, Minnesota, and the SheRides Clinic to help women improve their singletrack skills in a fun, supportive environment.

The Superior Cycling Association was founded in 2010 to grow mountain and road biking opportunities in Cook County, Minnesota. Through various partnerships, the group has developed many miles of new singletrack, and a master plan with more on the way.

In case you were wondering – The Norpine Fat Bike Classic was started by Peter Spencer of Lifetime Fitness, who also directs the Lutsen 99er.

Partners of the Event Include: 

Visit Cook County
Norpine Trail Association
Osto Cycles
Wolf Tooth Components
The US Forest Service
Cascade Vacation Rentals

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Snowshoeing the Kadunce River Gorge
Onion River Hiking Trail
Skinny Ski Paradise – the Sugarbush Trails

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