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In the Northwoods of Wisconsin, there’s a unique bicycle event that has been drawing riders and Leinenkugel Beer fans in for more than thirteen years.

On Saturday, July 27, 2024, the Ride with Leinie fundraiser will once again return to Conover for the 13th annual ride with Dick Leinenkugel and daughter Katie Leinenkugel. The event offers something for everyone with five ride options including an all new 100k road ride on scenic Northwoods roads.

The event was the brainchild of Mark Gostisha, former owner of Forest Lake Country Store in Land O’ Lakes. Mark wanted to highlight the recent completion of a paved bike trail in Land O’ Lakes by the Wilderness Lakes Trails System. Mark knew Dick Leinenkugel, the President of Leinenkugel Brewing Company at the time, and thought “Ride with Leinie” sounded like a great name for the event, so he approached Dick with his idea.

Dick signed on to lead a 12-mile ride on part of the trail nearest to the Forest Lake Country Store and around Forest Lake. A longer 40-mile ride went into the Sylvania Wilderness to Watersmeet, Michigan, and down to Land O’ Lakes, returning to the store. Participants gathered after the ride to enjoy a brat lunch and plenty of Leinenkugel’s beer on draft. 

Dick Leinenkugel

After ten successful rides, the volunteers at the Wilderness Lakes Trails decided not to continue the event. According to Dick, “With nearly 200 participants per year, I thought it would be a shame if the ride did not continue so I asked my friend, Mike Bishop, a member of the Great Headwaters Trails (GHT) board if they would be interested in continuing the ride. GHT jumped at the opportunity to bring awareness and fundraising for their trail system.”

The change in organizers led to the ride relocating in 2022 to the nearby town of Conover and trailhead of the Conover-Phelps Trail (C-P Trail) which is part of the GHT proposed eastern Vilas County system. The C-P Trail, completed in 2021, is 10.2-miles long and connects the towns of Conover and Phelps. The surface on the first 8.7 miles is hard packed crushed stone with flat terrain as it travels the former bed of the Chicago Northwestern Railroad. Riders cross bridges over two creeks and travel through scenic wetlands and woodlands. The final 1.5 miles is paved and hilly as it descends into Phelps.

The ride now attracts more than 300 riders each year.  Participants may choose from a 20.4-mile trail ride led by Dick Leinenkugel on the C-P Trail from Conover to Phelps and back, a shorter 10.4-mile trail ride led by Dick’s daughter, Katie on the C-P Trail, and 20-mile, 40-mile, and 62-mile road-ride routes. The 62-mile ride, or Metric Century Ride, is new for 2024. Both the 40-mile and Metric Century Ride will take riders from Conover to Land O’ Lakes and Phelps, and back to Conover.

Following the ride, participants will gather at the Conover Town Park for the after-ride party where Dick will emcee the festivities and there will be plenty of Leinenkugel’s on tap.  

This year, in addition to raffle drawings, GHT will be auctioning off some unique items including a vintage Trek Gary Fisher mountain bike with the Leinenkugel’s Honey Weiss branding on the frame, an Aldo Leopold cedar bench with Leinenkugel’s engraved on the backrest, a one-of-kind stained glass artwork, and a custom-made cribbage board with the Ride with Leinie logo engraved on the top.

GHT is a nonprofit, volunteer organization based in Eagle River. Their mission is to develop and support a system of family-friendly community bicycling and walking trails in eastern Vilas County. GHT is currently working on developing the River Trail, which will connect Eagle River to St. Germain and the Heart of Vilas County Bike Trail System.

Dick and Katie Leinenkugel

“The Ride with Leinie showcases the beautiful Northwoods and helps raise awareness and funds for GHT. Funding is important, but so is raising support for our initiatives to build more trails for safe biking and walking. Connecting Eagle River and other communities to the nationally recognized Heart of Vilas County Bike Trail System is important for Northwoods visitors and our residents.”  

Laura Van Valkenberg, Ride Director

For more information and to register for the ride, visit the Ride with Leinie event website.

Special Bike Fed Member Registration Opportunity

GHT is extending a $10.00 discount to the first 65 Wisconsin Bike Fed Members who register online for the 13th Annual Ride with Leinie. To receive the discount code, active members may check the email sent on May 1st, and new/renewing members may may contact the Membership Team at membership@wisconsinbikefed.org or 414-626-1540.