Rock-Solid Reasons to Love Mountain Biking in Central WisconsinMarch 28, 2022
Granite Peak, Red Granite Grinder and Other Rock-Solid Reasons to Love Living in Central Wisconsin. What do you love about the Wausau area?
Some say skiing at Granite Peak and mountain biking at Nine Mile. Others like the friendly folks and craft beer. Still others are here for career opportunities and that small-town feel with big-city amenities.
For Rebecca Tuley, it’s outdoor recreation and races.
"When I started my journey back into fitness, I didn't know as much about mountain biking as I would have liked," said Tuley. "So, I reached out to CWOCC and organized Wausau's first women's mountain biking clinic."
Women make up a third of Central Wisconsin Offroad Cycling Coalition (CWOCC) membership, which is about 320 total.
In addition to being a physician assistant for Aspirus, Tuley is coach and mentor of Tuley Trails. She started the guide service in 2019 to teach others — especially women and youths — about outdoor adventures like biking and triathlons.
Not too long before that, this Army veteran and working mom found herself in a rut. Mountain biking and mentoring got her back on track. "My goal is to inspire others to be active and find something they enjoy doing that keeps up their heart rate," she said.
In 2019, premier racing events really took off with the Ironbull series that's home to 10 incredible events showcasing the beauty of Central Wisconsin. The Red Granite Grinder has permission from the state to use Rib Mountain State Park for approximately three miles of the bike race.
"It's a privilege to use Rib Mountain for that one and only race," said Andrea Larson, executive director of Ironbull. "We're a case study of how all park users can coexist on multi-use trails."
Larson is also a well-rounded athlete and active user of the trails system, whether it’s for running, biking or snowshoeing.
Rib Mountain State Park does not currently have mountain bike trails, but cyclists are hopeful that change is on the horizon as the DNR reviews the 2005 Master Plan.
Rib Mountain stands as a tall example of what gravity mountain biking can do for an International Mountain Biking Association Ride Center. The recreation alternatives for mountain biking include lift-assisted trails and close to 20 miles of trail that traverses the park's perimeter — an exciting possibility for families with varying abilities.
"Races make communities better," Larson said. "Not only do they draw people to an area and provide economic growth, but also bring awareness to sports."
Ironbull's events are growing every year, drawing folks from all around the Midwest. The Red Granite Grinder grew from 100 riders in 2019 to about 200 in 2020 and 330 in 2021. In 2020, over half of the racers in the Essential Gravel Bike Ride — a free event to get cyclists familiar with riding on that red gold — were new to the event.
"It's great to see our community coming together around outdoor recreation," Larson said.
Mountain biking enthusiasts will have an opportunity to share their thoughts with the DNR during a public input period coming soon.
Share this email with others interested in growing outdoor activities at Rib Mountain State Park so they too can stay informed and sign up for email updates at ElevateRibMountain.com.
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