A year for riding right out of the pandemic

In 2021, Northwoods biking opportunities of all sorts for people of all ages continue to grow all over the Vilas County area.

A new trail between Conover and Phelps will be completed by mid-summer.

Essential groundwork is in place for the River Trail between Eagle River and St. Germain. A paved trail, it will add 10 miles to the nationally recognized Heart of Vilas Trail System. That paved trail system is already over 50 miles long.

In addition, this summer the county boasts seven bike-related organized events.

Work will begin this winter to clear the right-of-way for finishing the Phelps end of the Conover-Phelps Trail. By mid-summer the completed trail will extend 10.6 miles, much of it on level railroad grade with bridges over 2 creeks and running through wetlands and woodlands well away from the highway.  The completed trail will connect Conover’s Town Park at the west end to downtown Phelps and its Lakefront Pines Park at the tip of North Twin Lake.

The paved River Trail will connect Eagle River into the Heart of Vilas System at St. Germain. The trail will run right along the Wisconsin River between two municipalities.

The River Trail Commission, composed of supervisors from the towns of St. Germain and Cloverland and the City of Eagle River,  hopes that construction of River Trail can begin in 2022.

Great Headwaters Trails is working under the Commission on River Trail, and also provides boots on the ground to perform key engineering, marketing and fundraising services essential to the construction of the Conover-Phelps Trail.

For River Trail, GHT raised the funds for a professional feasibility study that was done in 2019. GHT raised all the money needed to build the entire Conover-Phelps Trail, and is providing local oversight of this summer’s completion of the trail.

Almost every Vilas-area town on a bike trail is planning an organized biking event in 2021. Though Covid concerns may lead to some changes, here is how the line-up looks so far:

May 15 – The White Deer Duathlon in Boulder Junction – Normally a triathlon, DNR event permitting restrictions due to COVID-19 have eliminated use of state forest boat landings and the water leg this year. Participants will take on a 30.5K challenge: a 6.5K run, 22K bike, and 2K run. For race details and registration information visit: www.whitedeertriathlon.com

June 12 – Lupine Junefest in Mercer – This ride celebrating the blossoming lupines and the beginning of summer offers 10, 15, 28 and 50 mile road riding options.  The fee is $35 per individual and $85 per family. For more information go to www.Lupinejunefest.org.

June 18 and 19 – Solstice Festival in Manitowish Waters – Plans are still in the works for this event that features a Friday evening ride with more festivities and more ride options (DISTANCES?) on Saturday. Registration fee in advance is $10 per individual and $30 per family. Same day registration is $15 and $40. www.solsticefestival.us

August 7 – Ride with Leinie in Land O’ Lakes – Celebrating our 10th year, join Dick Leinenkugel for a day of bike rides, Trig’s brat lunch, Leinenkugel beer tasting and raffle drawings, including two Trek bikes.  Bicycling enthusiasts will have a choice of two bikes rides: a 12-mile family friendly rustic road ride led by Dick and a 38-mile ride around the Sylvania Wilderness Area utilizing paved roads and trails. Both rides begin and end at the Forest Lake Country Store. Registration is $35 per person and all participants who have registered before July 27 will receive an event t-shirt.  For more information go to the Event tab at www.golandolakeswi.com

August 21 – Twin Triathlon in Phelps – It’s an individual or team event held on the waters and forest service roads at the tip of North Twin Lake. Individual registration is $35. Registrations for a 2-person team is $60 and for a 3-person team it’s $90. The ribbon-cutting for the new Conover-Phelps Trail may be part of the festivities following the Twin Tri. For more information go to www.phelpswi.us/event/twin-triathlon/

Sept. 11 – SepTimber Ride VI in Eagle River – Set amid the beauty of fall in eastern Vilas and Oneida counties, this ride has three options all starting at Tribute Brewing Co. in Eagle River and circling past the Three Lakes Winery in Three Lakes. Participants can choose a 28-mile ride on the Three Eagle Trail, or a 60K (38 mile) or 100K (60 mile) road loop. Participants gather for a Tribute beer sampling, a brat lunch, the awarding of door prizes and the SepTimber Ride Raffle drawing. Each rider gets this year’s long sleeve wickaway event shirt. Registration fee by Aug 1 is $50 per person and $60 after that date. (www.SepTimberRide.com)

September 11 – Fall Color Classic Bike Tour in Mercer – Offering the route options of  Lupine Junefest (see June 12 above) with the beauty of fall in the Northwoods, fees for this event are $35 per individual and $85 per family. For more information, go to the Fall Color Classic tab at www.Lupinejunefest.org.