In 2016, Freedhem 76 officially began, when a few buddies threw together a group ride, around the 4th of July, to celebrate Independence Day. The route was something that a few local riders, Brent, Matt and Mike, had been exploring, riding and recording over a few years prior. This gravel ride was a tongue-in-cheek nod at Freedom and our independence as a country in (17)76. It was rather convenient that Freedhem, Mn, and the Swanson Bros. Freedhem Store, was a destination to start the route. A dozen riders showed up and got down on some fine Morrison and Crow Wing County, in 2016.
Freedhem 76 was a group ride for a couple more years, and was always a blast. I really enjoyed participating in other gravel events around the state, but there was definitely a vacancy of organized events in North Central Mn. I ran the idea of making Freedhem 76 and event past the founders, Mike and Matt, in 2018. They both said… NO! However, in early 2019, another friend, Josh, had mentioned that he’d like to make it an event as well. I asked Mike and Matt again. They said if I wanted to do it, that would be great, so the planning began…
I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew what I liked, and didn’t like, about different events that I had participated in. With great mentors, like Trenton Raygor, and Sean Ez Pease; and hosts and partners, like Marian, at The Freedhem Store; Panaracer; Ben Doom, at Revolution Cycle and Ski; 1upUSA; Pactimo; Ed and Sarah Shaw; Jack Pine Brewery and others, including my ever supportive, creative, and patient wife, Melody, Freedhem 76 p/b Panaracer was an event in 2019! The first year, we had 85 riders toe the line at Freedhem. It was more ride than race, but we had a great time!
2020…ugh…Pandemic! After spending months organizing and planning, we had to pull the plug on hosting a live event, and instead went to a virtual/solo/socially distant event, over 3 weeks, in late June and early July. Even mid-pandemic, we still had 83 riders that recorded their rides for awards and prizes! The real heros of the 3 weeks event, were our mid-ride oasis hosts, Melissa and Lindsey Raddatz. For 3 weeks, they greeted and met dozens of you at mile 43, and provided shade and ice-cold water to parched riders. It was HOT!!!
2021 -We went back to our live, one day event. Thanks to our wonderful hosts, sponsors, volunteers and riders, we were able to see 176 riders toe to the line and ride the 76 and 46 mile routes. We gave podium awards to our top 3 finishers in each category, and lots of swag to everyone who came and rode with us. David Markman, from Markman Outdoor photography documented the day with photos, and we had live music, by Jon Theis, to compliment the great food, catered by Sage on Laurel.
2022 – We have some great sponsors on board already, and are making plans now to make Freedhem 76 an awesome, can’t-miss-event for 2022. The next Freedhem 76 is set for 9:00 am CST, July 2, 2022. Registration opens at Bike Reg on December 21, 2021. Stay tuned!