Every year, on the last Saturday of June, Lutsen plays host to a series of mountain bike races that take riders through the vast wilderness of Northern Minnesota. Cutting through dirt, mud, weeds, and maneuvering around rocks, racers start with a 1,000 foot climb up Caribou Trail and then part ways through a challenging course along miles of bike trails, snowmobile trails, Forest Service roads, and single track. This race series is known as the Lutsen 99er.
The race currently offers 4 challenging courses: the 25er, the 49er, the 69er, and the 99er. Racers vary from beginners to life-long ultra-marathon racers, both young and old. They gather together at the Lutsen Mountain ski area where the race begins and ends.
The Lutsen 99er is a rare event where there really is something for all levels of biker. Events include the main races on Saturday and then a free children’s day on Sunday, where young riders can get a feel and start their passion for mountain bike racing.
The race has also grown considerably since it’s humble beginnings in 2011 when 70 racers came together to compete in the 39er and 99er races. The next year, 2012, brought 425 racers. 840 racers made their way up to the North Shore in 2013 and then the race sold out with 1200 racers in 2014. In 2015 it was expanded to allow 1600 racers. Since 2016 race participation has maxed out at 1800 racers (and it does sell out about a month in advance every year!).
The growth of the Lutsen 99er has brought a much-needed boom to the North Shore Area during a time that is usually slower-paced. Ski season has ended and the summer season hasn’t quite reached full swing. But now local businesses and accommodations find themselves busier than ever on the last weekend in June thanks to the racers who come up to not only enjoy the scenic ride but the many other attractions the area has to offer.
Cascade Vacation Rentals is proud to serve as Race Headquarters for the Lutsen 99er events. Our office at 5335 Highway 61 in Lutsen has informational packets as well as fellow racers who are anxious to push themselves to the limits. About half of our staff participates in the race each year. If we’re not on bikes, you can also see Cascade Vacation Rentals staff with cameras in hand on the course and at the finish line doing race photography.
Head on over to the Lutsen 99er Official Website for more information on the best locations for spectating, view results and photos, and to register for the Lutsen 99er races. Remember that the races have sold out about a month in advance of the races in recent years! You can also follow the Lutsen 99er Facebook page for more information.
Lutsen 99er Film by Drew Bentley