Amateur mountain biking is a great way to combine beautiful scenery and fresh air with adrenaline-pumping activity. Why not combine a popular mountain bike race and a much-needed lake vacation? We provide suggestions for an unforgettable vacation. And, even if you don’t want to compete, you can still be an enthusiastic race observer.Minnesota showcases the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Festival each summer, scheduled for June 13th and 14th, 2014. Some of this year’s events include Miner’s Mountain Cross Country Race, the Kids Tour De Park Races, and the Miner’s Gamble Poker Ride. The Cuyuna Lakes are a series of natural and mine-pit lakes surrounded by the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area. Allowed to return to nature once mining was ended, the lakes have evolved into scenic fishing and nature ponds surrounded by walking trails and bike paths. One small campground within the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area fills up quickly, but there are plenty of other lodging options within the surrounding area, including other campgrounds. Nearby, the Brainerd Lakes area is full of natural lakes large and small, well known as vacation destinations for hundreds of thousands of summer residents and visitors. The Brainerd Lakes provide great fishing, plenty of swimming beaches, boating, water sports, guest cabins and resorts.
Lake Tahoe, the quintessential four-season lake, is one of North America’s largest and deepest lakes. Straddling the border between California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is a favorite of mountain bikers, and the community is actively working toward creating a series of connecting bike trails to circle the 122,000-acre lake. The 2014 Lake Tahoe Mountain Bike Race is scheduled for Saturday, June 21st. Participants can choose either the 4-Hour or the 8-Hour race. Another well-known race held here each year is the Tahoe Trail 100K, a 33-mile loop on Tahoe’s northwestern shore. The 2014 race is scheduled for Saturday, July 19th. Tucked within the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Lake Tahoe is renowned for its incredible beauty and diverse recreational offerings both on and off the water. Come explore both the California and Nevada sides of the lake by water, car, bike, or on foot.This year, the California State XC and Endurance Championships will be held on Sunday, July 20th at Big Bear Lake, a popular southern California getaway about 100 miles east of Los Angeles. This US Cup Pro Series race is just one of a full season of mountain bike races taking place in Big Bear: the Big Bear Shootout #1 will be held May 31st, another Pro Series Big Bear Shootout will occur June 28th, and the Big Bear Grizzly 100 Endurance race is scheduled for July 26th. Located in the San Bernardino Mountains, Big Bear Lake is a favored weekend getaway year round. Twenty-two miles of shoreline and 2,900 acres of water offer hiking, horseback riding, water sports, ATV routes, fishing, camping, and plenty of resort lodgings near the scenic reservoir. The town of Big Bear acts as vacation headquarters for eclectic shopping and dining, while several ski resorts near the lake offer some of California’s best winter skiing. Come soak up the sun and play in the water, making sure to save some time in the leisure schedule to watch the Endurance Championship race. The Kamakazi Bike Games are scheduled at Mammoth Lakes, California for September 18-21, 2014. Located in the High Sierras, the Mammoth Lakes area is well-known as a winter ski resort destination, but it has also developed into a prime mountain biking venue in summer with a growing network of trails and events. The Kamakazi Bike Games offer age-appropriate events for everyone, from children to adults. The Kamakazi-styled races for experienced adults feature extreme speed down steep slopes, cycle-trick races and adrenalin-pumping thrill events for those so inclined. Others choosing a more leisurely pace can bike a quiet trail through the Inyo National Forest or head for some of the famous small lakes in the area such as Lake George, Lake Mary, Lake Mamie, Horseshoe Lake or the connected Twin Lakes. The lakes offer swimming, fishing, camping and plenty of small, unique shops featuring crafts by local artisans.
So, pack up the mountain bike (or rent one at your destination) and enjoy some wind in your hair and water between your toes. Mountain biking around the lake will make for one of your most memorable vacations ever.
Soon after the two-wheeled bicycle became the standard for transportation available to the masses, bike racing became a popular sport. Organized bicycle racing began in 1868 and has grown in popularity ever since. Now a recognized division of the Summer Olympics and coming to widespread appreciation with such popular European events as the Tour de France, professional-class cycle racing continues to grow both in terms of events and spectators. Adding to the appeal are the scenic backdrops against which well-trained, dedicated athletes display their prowess. Some of the most popular races feature lakes around the world. These events become the perfect venue for enjoying a lake-based vacation while cheering your favorite cycling hero.One of the most awe-inspiring cycling event on the international tour circuit is the Tour de Singkarak in West Sumatra, Indonesia. Scheduled by the Union Cycliste Internationale (formerly known as the International Cycling Association), the 900+ km event is raced in stages, one of which skirts beautiful Lake Singkarak east of Padang. Part of Stage 6 circles the lake, a total course distance of 152 miles. This year’s race is scheduled for June 2 – June 10, 2014. The 26,638-acre Lake Singkarak is nearly 1200 feet above sea level, providing a cool, green oasis amidst the green Barisan Mountains. The mountains surrounding the lake are great for hiking, and white sand beaches invite swimming and sun bathing. Small locally-owned hostels and inns along the local lakefront roads are complemented by numerous little cafes and restaurants serving the famed local dish of spicy, crisp bilih fish, caught fresh in Lake Singkarak. Rent a boat or take a locally-offered cruise to see the lake. The famous surfing beaches of West Sumatra are only a couple of hours away, as are the chief cultural centers of the Minangkabau native population. Rent a bicycle and take your own slow-paced bike ride around the lakeshore of beautiful Lake Singkarak. For the first time in 2012, an international-class race featured a leg around colorful Dal Lake, India. Formerly called the Tour de Kashmir, the addition of the Dal Lake stage has changed the name and scope of the course to the Tour de India. In existence in various forms since 2000, the increasingly popular race is sanctioned by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). The 2013 race was held in early December; the dates for this year’s race have not yet been announced. The addition of the loop around Dal Lake in the Srinagar region adds an additional scenic and cultural appeal to this event for participants from many countries. Set against a backdrop of the Himalayan Mountains, Dal Lake’s 2700 acres are well-known for the ornate Victorian-era houseboats which can be rented by visitors for overnight stays. The lake offers kayaking, canoeing and windsurfing while the shoreline holds many acres of decorative gardens, several very old Mughal monuments, local craftsmen’s shops and plenty of local excursions to the surrounding area. Sanctioned by USA Cycling and the UCI, the staged Tour of Utah race is scheduled for August 4-10, 2014. As the biggest race after the Tour de France each year, the Tour of Utah is considered a top cycling event, drawing professional racers from all over the world. The race consists of seven ‘stages’, with Stage 3 this year beginning at Lehi, on the banks of Utah Lake, and Stage 4 skirting Pineview Reservoir on the route from Ogden to Powder Mountain. Utah Lake is the largest freshwater lake in the state (96,900 acres), offering boating, sailing and camping at Utah Lake State Park. Stage 6 begins at Salt Lake City near the shoreline of famous Great Salt Lake before heading south and up into the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest to Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort. Great Salt Lake (1,088,000 acres) is a must-see destination while in the area, with several nature preserves, stunning saltwater vistas, large numbers of birds and waterfowl, and beautiful Antelope Island. Antelope Island State Park offers camping, sailing and swimming in the buoyant salt lake. The well-known attractions of Salt Lake City are all within a couple of miles. The 35th annual Cascade Cycling Classic is planned for July 16-20, 2014 in Bend, Oregon. Stage 1 passes by several of the Cascade Lakes, including Sparks Lake, Elk Lake, Lava Lake, Crane Prairie Reservoir, Cactus Lake and Wickiup Reservoir along the Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway. Wickiup Reservoir is noted for its fine fishing and multiple campgrounds. Enjoy a week of water sports, trophy brown trout fishing, and camping under a canopy of stars at the 11,000-acre reservoir. Leave Friday, July 18th free to watch the bike racers pedal past. Make your lake-based vacation do double-duty this year by taking in a pro-quality cycle race. A good time will be had by all. Peddle on!
Although the Fox Chain O’Lakes and the Fox Waterway extend across 118 miles of Illinois wetland and prairie, there is another part of the Fox River to the north in Wisconsin. Sometimes confused with the better-known Fox River of northern Wisconsin which flows into Green Bay, the Wisconsin-Illinois Fox River actually begins near Menomonee Falls, west of Milwaukee. The Wisconsin portion of the Fox River meanders for 84 miles through lakes, across dams and a 1,132-acre reservoir called Tichigan Lake before it reaches the Illinois state line and widens into the famous Fox Chain O’ Lakes. Tichigan Lake and the adjacent Fox River offer over 1,200 acres of water and are two of the busiest waterways in southern Wisconsin. The rest of the Wisconsin Fox is a favorite among kayakers and canoeists, with several wildlife refuges and natural areas protecting the shoreline. The Wisconsin Fox River is a destination in its own right worthy of a look-see. The Wisconsin portion travels through several popular residential lakes in Southern Wisconsin before crossing the state line and entering 1,360-acre Grass Lake.
The Fox Chain O’Lakes area offers everything a weekend visitor could want; many vacation lodgings, water-accessible restaurants and marinas dot the shorelines of the biggest lakes. The 2,794-acre Chain O’ Lakes State Park and adjoining 32,320-acre conservation area give boaters and campers access to 488 miles of shoreline on the Chain. Hiking trails, mountain-bike trails and nature paths offer something for every visitor. The park even offers equestrian campsites and horse-friendly trails. The area is dotted with rare bogs holding endangered plants and a large number of birds. Fishing is excellent on the Chain, with certain lakes being better known for fishing than for boating. Walleye, white bass, perch, channel catfish, crappie, northern pike and bass can all be caught just a short distance from one of the numerous public boat launch sites. All boating permits and regulations are available at the Fox Waterway Agency office on Pistakee Lake. Their waterway maps are a must as the maze of waterways and channels can confuse the most experienced boater. Many of their maps and services are available on their webpage, and some permits can be purchased online.
The Great Lakes Commission’s analysis concludes that preventing just one invasive species from entering the Great Lakes watershed could save as much a $5 billion over a 30-year period. Already 10 species have been identified that are poised to enter the watershed from the Mississippi River if they are not divided. Also at stake are the environmental health of the world’s largest fresh water supply and the $7 billion in economic benefits provided by the sport fishing industry on the Great Lakes. The possible impact on tourism dollars hasn’t been calculated. Three possible configurations of barriers were considered in the analysis to prevent the entry of Asian carp and other invasive species, improve wastewater treatment, and still allow commercial and leisure use of the waterways. The three alternatives studied were:
•a down-river single barrier between the confluence of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal and the Cal-Sag Channel and the Lockport Lock
•a mid-system series of four barriers on the Chicago Area Waterways System branches between Lockport and Lake Michigan
•the near-lake alternative of up to five barriers near the lakeshore
A study now being performed by the Army Corps of Engineers is not due to be completed until 2015. Some interested observers say that the administration prefers to wait until the report is finalized before taking decisive action. Meanwhile, the Asian carp are moving north, breeding at a prolific rate and impacting fisheries everywhere they can reach. The Chicago-area waterway is not the only way this unwelcome fish can enter the Great Lakes: some river systems in the Midwest, such as the Wabash and the Maumee, are only separated by wetlands subject to flooding. The Maumee River, emptying into Lake Erie, is feared to be excellent prospective Asian carp spawning grounds if the carp can get to it. In Indiana, crews have finished installing a fence nearly 1,200 feet long and 8 feet high designed to prevent adult carp from using a northeastern Indiana marsh to swim from the Wabash River system into the Maumee River and then on to Lake Erie during floods. Similar to the efforts in Indiana, a 13-mile steel mesh fence splitting the narrow strip of land between the Des Plaines River and the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal has been completed to keep the Asian carp from passing between the river and the shipping canal during heavy rains. Other possible entry points are being assessed and projects planned to prevent the spread of these voracious feeders. Asian carp have been caught on Mississippi and Missouri tributaries as far north as Minnesota and South Dakota where the problem is also being assessed.Since the 1970s when three Asian carp species were imported to aid in cleaning Arkansas catfish ponds, the silver carp and bighead carp have proved highly adaptable to our waterways. At the outset, federal government agencies experimented with the imported carp for cleaning sewage treatment ponds and lagoons. Localized flooding quickly moved these fish into adjacent irrigation ditches and river systems where they have steadily expanded their range. These prolific breeders can deposit upwards of 200,000 eggs in a season and grow to over 100 pounds, devouring up to 40% of their body weight daily in the form of plankton. The plankton are thus depleted as a food source for mollusks, insect larvae and the young fry of more desirable fish, reducing the numbers necessary to support traditional fisheries. Asian carp are not good candidates for game fishing as they seldom bite baited hooks. Some intrepid carp fishermen are successful at spearing them or snagging them on treble hooks where that is permitted. Others have built entire bow-fishing businesses along the Illinois River where they take advantage of silver carp’s tendency to jump out of the water when startled. The often-filmed tendency of these fish to jump leads recreational boaters to avoid water where they have begun to proliferate, reducing pleasure boating on some popular tourism lakes and rivers; no one relishes the idea of being hit by a 60-pound flying fish.
The North American effort to halt the northward march of these fish has caught the interest of large numbers of Chinese internet users, where they are endangered and considered a desirable food fish. Schemes to harvest the carp, considered a delicacy by many Asian cultures, have not been very successful as it is now illegal to ship live Asian carp across state lines. Markets catering to Asian clientele are often far removed from the source of the fish, and their patrons prefer live fish for purchase. Areas in the Mississippi delta regions where the carp were previously raised for sale have been stuck with ponds full of the now-unmarketable fish. Some have resorted to selling the dead fish as fertilizer. Efforts at developing a commercial cannery operation have thus far not been very successful due to lack of adequate facilities for processing. Although the mildly-flavored fish is considered a good source of protein, the bony carp are hard to filet and traditionally unpopular in the United States as home-prepared fare. Some deep-south chefs have offered schemes to prepare mechanically-deboned fish for domestic markets as fish sticks and filets but are unable to proceed to profitability of scale due to financing. Some have explored the feasibility of shipping the live fish to Asia, where they are considered a preferred species and are declining due to overfishing and polluted waterways.