Plus, Meet Adam Malmanger
A Biker Who Started April 1, 2019
and Never Stopped!!
Biking is a sport that has exploded in popularity in the Northland in recent years; in large part, due to the availability of the “fat tire bike,” which is exactly what it sounds like. Fat tire bikes, featuring thick, cushy tires, allow riders to easily bike year-round – in Minnesota - no matter what Mother Nature throws our way.
There are plenty of races, gatherings, and events specifically geared toward bike enthusiasts. One special (and worldwide) event, which takes place annually in April, is the 30 Days of Biking Challenge.
The Challenge, which was started in Minneapolis in 2010 by Patrick Stephenson, is open to anyone and everyone who wants to commit to 30 days of biking. There are no rules, no trophies, and no acclaim – just a personal commitment to yourself to bike every day in April.
One proponent of this event is Dan Cruikshank, owner of Spokengear in Two Harbors. Spokengear provides bike sales and service, bike rentals, and accessories. Cruikshank also owns Cedaero (which sells bicycle packs) and Cedar Coffee Company, which are all housed under the same roof.
It should come as no surprise that Cruikshank himself is an avid biker. He personally owns a fat bike (what the biking industry calls them) and enjoys biking the Lake County Demonstration Forest, located about seven miles north of Two Harbors.
“I bike almost every day,” Cruikshank said. “I’m always in a better mood when I ride. Some of my best ideas come when I’m riding my bike. Another benefit is that it can be a social event, too. And, even if you have diminished strength, you can use an e-bike.”
Spokengear is a proud supporter of the 30 Days of Biking Challenge. “We’ve been doing a kickoff ride to the 30 Days of Biking Challenge for the past three years,” Cruikshank said.
“This year, we’ll gather at 10 am on Saturday, April 2nd. Anyone can show up and ride. We’ll leave from Spokengear, use the trails in Two Harbors and through town, cross Highway 61, pass the Burlington Bay Campground, and ride to Lighthouse Point. Then, there will be treats on the patio of Cedar Coffee afterward.”
“We want to bring more people into the sport, and encourage them to ride,” Cruikshank added. “It’s a commitment to yourself. There’s no prize. You just gain the satisfaction of knowing you did it. If you can do that, maybe it gives you the confidence to try new things and set new goals.”
Event Celebrity Adam Malmanger
One Two Harbors resident, Adam Malmanger, has become a 30 Days of Biking “celebrity” of sorts. He started the 30-day-in-a-row challenge on April 1, 2019, and enjoyed it so much that he just never stopped! Malmanger, a talented photographer, also documents his biking adventures on his Instagram Page. On Thursday, March 31, 2022, he will achieve the 3-year mark for riding a bike ride every single day!
Malmanger is a busy guy – he works at Kwik Trip and McQuade’s Pub & Grill. But when he’s off the clock, you’ll often find him biking.
“I first learned about 30 Days of Biking from Dan when he had the Spokengear kickoff group ride on March 31st, 2019, and I never looked back,” Malmanger said. “I was intrigued by the premise: a challenge to bike every day, especially in a month where you get all four seasons in the same week.
“In 2019, I finished out the rest of the year at over 2,700 miles. My 2020 goal was 4,000 miles, and my 2021 goal was 5,000 miles. I have not set a total mile goal for 2022, but I would very much like to beat the 5,000 miles.”
Malmanger shared some of his favorite places to bike. “I typically do a 6–7-mile loop on the trails that go around Two Harbors and out to the break wall on Lake Superior, but that isn't going to rack up the miles if you are setting higher mile goals. So, I also enjoy driving to Lester Park, then getting the bike on the Lake walk and making it across Duluth to the Munger Trail, and then heading towards Carlton. I also enjoy driving up past Gooseberry Falls and getting on the Gitchi-Gami State Trail to Silver Bay.
“Today, which is Friday, March 25th, 2022, marked 1,091 consecutive days of biking for me. In that stretch, I have had some ‘bike-around-the-block’ days, but I've also had 100+ mile days. If you want to reach 5,000 miles, you do need an average of around 14 miles a day.”
Change of Heart
Despite Malmanger’s now-prolific status in the local biking community, he required a change in perspective before he got started. “Believe it or not, I used to be one of those people who didn't agree with all-season biking, but that was before I knew about fat tire bikes,” he said. “The thing about winter in Minnesota is that it needs to be embraced.”
Malmanger himself now rides all varieties of bikes. “I got my first ‘bike shop bike’ after a test ride in 2012, which is my Specialized Crosstrail - a flat bar, front suspension hybrid bike for path/slight off-road riding. A few years later, I acquired my road bike; in the fall of 2016, I got my fat tire bike; in 2019, I got my gravel bike; and just last year, I got my dual suspension mountain bike.”
For brand-new bikers, Cruikshank and Malmanger have a few pieces of advice. “Visit a bike shop to see what type of biking you are interested in,” Malmanger said. “Do some test rides or rent one out. Get fitted for your bike and find your match. And, consider joining a group ride … you never know, it could just change your life.”
“Ride what you have,” added Cruikshank. “But bring it to a local bike shop to make sure everything is safe before you get started.”
There are many benefits to biking. For Malmanger, the beauty of our area is a big draw.
“I love that biking transports me to the Lake and its beauty,” he said. “I am blessed to live in this beautiful part of the state, and by biking every day, I make sure I get to experience the beauty that I don't want to take for granted.
“Biking is an experience, an adventure, and an escape,” he added. “A few days ago, I was biking under the stars on the Lake walk, around midnight, and I kept thinking how most people are now dreaming, but I'm out here on the bike living the dream.”
“Adam’s dedication is really inspiring people,” Cruikshank said. “I asked him to co-host our kickoff ride this year, and he said ‘Yes, absolutely.’ It’s become who he is. I hope he continues on. I’m not sure what the world record is, but it’s certainly something for him to aspire to.”