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Full speed ahead with Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout mountain biking celebration

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CROSBY — John Denver sang of coming home to a place he’d never been before.

Rocky Mountain High, Colorado.

For the first Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout mountain biking celebration, the anthem has a similarly awe-inspiring vibe.

Yawkey Mountain High, Cuyuna. And for mountain bikers coming to this place, whether they’ve been here before or not, the plan is quite simple: Leave them in awe.

“We have to do this top-notch,” Aaron Hautala of the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew said at a meeting Thursday night at the Hallett Center officially announcing Whiteout, scheduled March 2-3 in and around the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area. “It can’t be second-rate. We want everyone walking out saying, ‘This is amazing.’

“Yawkey Mountain High, Cuyuna — it’s the perfect bumper sticker. That’s the stuff we have to create that people bring back home with them.”

The celebration will revolve around the new winter mountain biking trails in the Sagamore Unit of the CCSRA, not far from the world-class mountain biking trails that opened in the CCSRA last spring/summer. The Yawkey Unit will be open that Saturday (March 2) only, featuring bobsled-like runs that are expected to dazzle riders.

“Yawkey being open is a crowning jewel,” Hautala said.

“We were kind of wondering if it (Yawkey) was a possibility,” he added of Whiteout. “It (Yawkey) is the gem of the whole event. It’s a great ride in the woods. (People will be saying) ‘Am I in the Rockies?’”

The roller coaster-like trails in and around the mine pit lakes give riders that feel. But the main trails are too dangerous for winter navigation. Sagamore, however, is not. Even, say, in the dark.

Whiteout will kick off with the Sagamore Friday Night Ride at 6 p.m. March 2. Registration for Saturday’s races and a pasta feed are other highlights of the first day.

The second day features Yawkey runs from sunrise to sunset. Races at the Sagamore Unit start at 9:30 a.m. March 3 and culminate with the Cuyuna Lakes Fat Tire Drag Race Championship on Serpent Lake at Crosby Memorial Park.

“It’s a 100-yard dash. We’re not looking for the race to be serious, we’re looking for it to be fun,” Hautala said. “Any bikes (are welcome). You can bring your stationary bike if you wa Most of the action will be at the Sagamore Unit. More snow is still needed before those trails will open for the first time to fat-tire bikes.

The Cuyuna Lakes Arctic Outdoor Market will be open both days and will feature goods made in — and unique to — Cuyuna lakes country. And the Seth Doud Band will perform a live concert from 2-5:30 p.m. March 3, featuring the Yawkey Mountain High theme.

“It’s not just about biking,” Hautala said of Whiteout. “It’s the Cuyuna experience — Cuyuna food, Cuyuna beer ...”

“It has the opportunity to be a real good time and to rally the community,” said Nick Statz, Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew dirt boss.

Also the second day, the lighting of the Cuyuna Lakes Fire is scheduled at noon at Crosby Memorial Park. After all, what’s a winter celebration without a fire?

“Friends around the campfire and everybody’s high.”

Yawkey Mountain High.

BRIAN S. PETERSON may be reached at or 855-5864. To follow him on Twitter, go to For his blogs, go to