I recently completed the mapping of both the 100 and 50 mile courses for this inaugural Le Grand du Nord. Here are some thoughts to consider before taking the start line this Saturday, May 28.
Every time I see this picturesque harbor village, I can’t believe I’m still in Minnesota. Maine? Nova Scotia? Yes. Minnesota? Hard to believe we have a place like this: numerous good restaurants, locally made beer (our registration is at Voyageur Brewing Company), and art galleries- all right next door to bait shops and hardware stores. Grand Marais is my type of town. And the harbor is right there. And we will be starting a stone’s throw from the water. You have to see it to believe it.
I have dreams about a course like this (that’s how nerdy I am about Heck courses). Lake Superior, forests, rushing streams, hills, sustained climbs, sweeping descents. Remote. Really remote. Moose sign, wolf sign, spring frogs, broad winged hawks, merlins, white throated sparrows. The occasional hay field. More woods. The roads are mostly dirt with glacial gravel on top. Occasional crushed limestone. Some serious frost heaves (large lumps of earth pushed upward by the freeze-thaw cycle) every now and then. Yesterday, the roads were really pretty good. Snow piles still tucked in under the north facing ditches. And yes, climbing. Prepare for some serious climbing on both the 50 mile and 100 mile routes. Not the punchy southern Minnesota Driftless variety. Climbs that last for a few miles. But the pay-off is sweet.
- We will have a checkpoint with water, Skratch Labs hydration, Honey Stinger waffles, fruit, and PB&J. This will be at mile 67 for the 100 mile course and 26 for the 50 mile course. The 100 mile riders should carry enough water and nutrition to get them to this checkpoint. There are no options on the course to resupply. Please be prepared with all necessary repair tools, tubes, accurate odometer and pump. You are allowed to help one another, but outside help from teams, sweeties, friends or family is strictly forbidden.
- This is a self supported event. You are largely responsible for yourself. Meaning, we DO NOT offer shuttle services for mechanicals, drop-outs, scratches, etc. Please consider this before starting the event. And please contact (phone or text) the event directors if you decide to drop out during the ride.
- Cell coverage is spotty at best.
- Please dial 911 for emergencies. Help to your fullest ability.
- Please read the Cue Card Primer if you are unfamiliar with gravel grinding navigation.
- And please be great gravel cycling citizens! Do not litter. Be discreet with nature breaks. Wave hello to the locals. Thank your volunteers. Enjoy your cycling partners on this ride. And don’t forget to appreciate this amazing part of the world we get to cycle in.
Thanks! Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for any other questions.