Dakota County — Miesville, MN


The Miesville FiftySix is still in its infant stages, but it got its start from nothing more than a passion for riding. Friend and pioneer of what was once called the Miesville Grinder, Marsh Jones, took a love for riding the back country gravel roads of Dakota County and paved a way for what is one of the larger gravel rides in the state.

Right in the heart of small town Miesville sits some great things. Beautiful St. Joes Catholic Church, the Miesville Mudhens baseball complex (aka Jack Ruhr Stadium), and a little bar called King’s. And from that stadium, past that bar, and in front of that church rolls a wonderfully great start to what is becoming a popular and radical gravel ride.
The Miesville FiftySix is a gravel road ride which consists of approximately 56 miles of mostly gravel roads through Dakota County Minnesota. Starting in Miesville, heading north and west toward Hastings, through Vermillion, south into New Tier (making it’s way toward Cannon Falls), then straight east back toward Miesville, traversing west again toward Cannon Falls, making its way into the Village of Welch before heading back up and out of the river valley going straight north into the heart of Miesville once again. And done.
Long rolling hills through the farmland, no maintenance roads right down the gut of rural neighborhoods, fast dusty gravel stretches end to end to end, followed by some fierce descents and some heavy duty climbs. Partner that up with breathtaking scenery of the cannon river valley, rural landscapes of Dakota County, and the beauty of nature and fresh air…you’ve got one hell of a ride.
Miesville map

A Riders Perspective.

My cousin Sean and his friend AJ organize this totally awesome ride in the spring. This whole website was in fact inspired by the idea behind this ride.That idea is to Just Ride. It is not a race, you don’t need to worry about your average speed, your cadence, don’t fixate on being the first. This is about getting out on gravel roads, enjoying the countryside, interacting with other riders, and of course riding your bike. And it’s a great ride.

It’s also not an easy ride. There are significant hills, slightly technical downhills, and miles of open gravel roads. You only ride a couple short sections of pavement (which can be a relief). But, there is no support, so you need to carry the proper gear. Just in case, you should have at  least one extra tube, a patch kit, pump, chain tool, water, and food. You decide on your own rest stops. Eat when you’re hungry, or where there’s a particularly great view of the landscape. And by all means, make sure you have enough water to stay hydrated.

The Miesville 56 maps out as a ride through the country, up through some hills, down a minimum maintenance road, then down to the river, back up to the plateau and home to Miesville where one can talk up and hear about the experience on the gravel in the local bar. I guarantee that King’s Bar and Grill will be packed full after this year’s ride.

The weather, as we know in Minnesota, is unpredictable this time of year. It could be chilly. It could be wet. It could be hot. Last year (2015) was cloudy and we did catch some drizzle and rain towards the end of the day, but all in all it wasn’t bad weather for spring. There was a breeze, but not the kind that holds you back. You ride in pretty much every direction, so if there is wind, you’ll experience it as a headwind, tailwind, and crosswind at various points in the ride. The terrain is pretty varied, so while some portions are very exposed to the wind, others are quite sheltered.

Cyclocross bikes are great for this ride, but you’ll see all sorts of bikes on the road. Fatbikes, mountain bikes, cargo bikes, even some road bikes. My 1994 Bianchi Peregrine mountain bike was my choice for the ride. I guess I don’t think of it as a vintage bike, but it was pointed out by another rider that was, “old school” – in a good way though. It made it through the day without incident, and I was so glad I didn’t ride my single speed cyclocross bike (some people did), I however would’ve been walking a number of hills had that been my choice.

I started riding the Miesville ride last year so I could be in better shape for the Minnesota Ironman ride. A plan that worked well, but this year the Ironman will be getting me in shape for Miesville. It’s a hard day in the saddle, but well worth it. Unfortunately the 2016 Miesville 56 is at capacity. Those lucky enough to get registered and are repeating it, will find almost twice as many riders on the gravel as were there last year. Which is great – get out there and ride Minnesota.

Find out more at miesvillefiftysix.wordpress.com

Or just ride it yourself ridewithgps.com/routes/7163465