This is the event that started it all. Created in 2009 after many hours scouring county maps and scouting miles and miles of north country gravel, it continues to evolve every year. The Heck of the North is born from the premise that you the rider are ultimately responsible for getting to the finish. Limited support. No sag wagons. No signs guiding you home. Just your ability to spin miles of forested gravel roads. Just your ability to navigate by cue card (see Cue Cards). Just your strength to see it through to the end. And the opportunity to ride with some pretty amazing people!
The Heck changes every year–we are always looking to evolve and make improvements. 2016 marks a significant year in that regard. We will be staying well north of Duluth this year (say goodby to Seven Bridges Rd and Lester Park.) Thanks to some ingenious route discoveries, we will be bringing you even more north-country wildness! This year we will be starting and finishing in one of my favorite locations: a perfect entrance to the course just 8 miles north of the awesome North Shore town of Two Harbors, MN.
We will once again be offering two beautiful courses. The 105 mile course will feature miles of amazing gravel roads, two track, rough and rocky logging roads and some famously tough snowmobile trail connectors. The 55 mile course is equally challenging and scenic (minus the snowmobile trail sections.) Each course will have it’s own checkpoint somewhere near the middle of the course (Skratch Labs Hydration, Honey Stinger Waffles, water and all the usual snacks to keep you rolling.)
Yes, these are gravel cycling events. I still think 35 mm tires (and larger) are the way to roll. But, as always, ride whatever you think is comfortable and capable of delivering you 100 plus miles (29er’s, fatbikes, beefed-up touring bikes.) The Heck is about the challenge, not necessarily how fancy your bike is. You are the engine. You have to be tough.
I hope to shake your hand at the finish line. Thanks for riding with us this Fall!