The 2020 Heck of the North Productions Season

Photo by  Tone Coughlin

Late Fall is a great time to be up North. Time to be outside during one of the most beautiful months of the year (October) and also time (November) to begin planning for the upcoming season (actually, that happens as riders are coming across the line at the Heck of the North in September!)

This year, registration for all three events will open on Thursday, January 2, 2020, at www.heckofthenorth.com. We are trying this to allow better planning for riders. We are also predicting, based on registration trends from 2019, that our rider limit caps for the events will be reached at a much quicker pace when compared to the last two years. So, begin thinking about your cycling trips soon in order to secure a spot. We hope to see you there.

Here are some early details about the 2020 season:

Le Grand du Nord: Saturday, May 23, 2020 Grand Marais, Minnesota

  • We will again offer three course distances: 20, 50-ish and 100-ish.

  • Registration opens January 2, 2020 via www.heckofthenorth.com

  • We will cap this event at 600 total riders this year

  • Don’t miss one of the most beautiful gravel courses in the USA. And, one of the coolest small towns in Minnesota!

The Heck Epic: Friday, July 17- Sunday July 19, 2020 Two Harbors-Ely-Grand Marais-Two Harbors, Minnesota

  • This year, we are adding another day to the event! Three days of bikepacking as we bring Ely, MN. back into the event. It’s going to be great to have three of my favorite towns connected by some amazing North Shore wildness.

  • Expect daily course distances to be between 100-115 miles each.

  • Mandatory meeting on Thursday, July 16 in Two Harbors (at approximately 7 pm, details to come.)

  • Rider cap for this event is 150

  • Registration opens January 2, 2020 via www.heckofthenorth.com

The Heck of the North: Saturday, September 26, 2020 Two Harbors, Minnesota

  • Our 12th annual running of our original gravel cycling classic

  • We will continue to build on more camping, more food (food trucks being ordered already!) and more bonfires at the event!

  • We will continue to offer courses of 20, 50-ish and 100-ish miles.

  • We welcome all types of cyclists! Just come prepared for a challenge and with a bike that you know can handle the rigors of the day.

  • We will cap this event at 600 riders total.

  • Registration opens January 2, 2020 via www.heckofthenorth.com

The Flight

  • The Flight is our three event challenge: Le Grand du Nord 100 mile, The Heck Epic (three day event), and The Heck of the North 100 mile event (again, ONLY 100 mile events and the Heck Epic!)

  • We will offer a special discounted price for those determined enough to be part of our entire season.

  • We will offer a special award to those who complete The Flight challenge. Last year, 24 tough souls got it done. Congratulations to them!

  • Registration opens January 2, 2020 via www.heckofthenorth.com See special registration button for this event.

Gravel for Good

  • This year, we will encourage participants to “offset” their event racing mileage with equal amounts of commuting mileage (either by cycling or walking.)

  • We believe that cycling contributes to healthier people, communities and world.

  • Stay tuned for a special tracking app that will allow riders to log their Gravel for Good mileage.

We thank you for making the 2019 season one to remember, in the best sort of way. These events are my passion. They would not be the same without the incredible people that bring them to life, though. Thank you to the riders, volunteers, communities and sponsors that are part of Heck of the North Productions!

We welcome comments and suggestions for the upcoming season. If there is something that you would really like to see, please email me, Jeremy Kershaw, at jeremybkershaw@gmail.com

And, a special reminder to ride with our Canadian friends at the Thunder Grinder, Thunder Bay, Ontario (Sometime in August, 2020 DTBD.) If you have not already noticed, they have some really talented cyclists and some beautiful country, too. I’ll be there. Hope to see you.

So, keep riding, keep advocating for cycling, and Ride the Good Line!

Jeremy Kershaw

Two of our finest Heck riders!

Two of our finest Heck riders!



Welcome to The Heck of the North!

Photo by  Tone Coughlin

Photo by Tone Coughlin

Welcome to the 11th annual Heck of the North gravel cycling classic! We are so glad you are able to join us.

We are expecting a record number of cyclists this year. Our first goal is to make sure all riders feel welcomed and part of the Heck experience. Whether you are a seasoned veteran or a first time gravel rider, we want your Heck experience to be a rich one. Please keep the great gravel tradition of hospitality alive and well this year at the event. Take a second to say “Hi” to people you may not know. We have some of the most amazing people in sport today. Thanks for being great gravel riding citizens!

Here are some important details:

  1. The Heck of the North is a SELF-SUPPORTED event. Please come prepared! There is very limited cell coverage. Please know how to take care of yourself and your bike while on course. We do not offer sag support. We have great volunteers helping at our checkpoints. Please be courteous and thankful for these people supporting you and the event!

  2. Registration check-in is Friday, September 27 at Spokengear/Cedar Coffee in Two Harbors between 5-8 PM. Please park in the ShopKo parking lot next to the store.

  3. We will offer a brief check-in on Saturday morning between 6:30-7:30 AM before the event at the start area (NOT Spokengear). Please try to register on Friday if possible. Thank you!

  4. Camping! We are encouraging camping at the start area this year! But please camp in the northern lot (not the southern lot where the Heck start tent is located.) If tenting, please keep tent near your vehicle and try to save space for others. If bringing a trailer, please place your rig here. We have limited spots for trailers, so keep it organized on that lower edge of the Northern lot. Please feel free to have a campfire etc. But please be self-contained. We will have porta-toilets but no water. Please come prepared with food and water. Please practice Leave No Trace ethics. Thank you!

  5. The finish line will be in the southern parking lot. We will have awesome Heck merchandise for sale all day (including some cool new A.C.E. Wraps and Hold Em’s) This year, Otso Cycles will be helping us party at the finish. We are planning more bonfires, a food truck or two and places to hang out and share your tales from the day. Not quite Burning Man…but we really want to grow this part of the Heck experience. Bring an instrument and add to the fun.

  6. We will hand out cue cards at time of check-in. If this is your first time using them, read THIS first. We will not be providing gpx files for the courses.

  7. Please contact Jeremy at jeremybkershaw@gmail.com if you know you are unable to attend. It is OK to pick up packets for other riders just be sure that each rider gets the appropriate bib # corresponding to their name.

  8. If, for some reason, you do not make the start line after picking up and checking in, please text Jeremy 952.303.2101 with this info.

  9. During the event, if you drop out, please contact Jeremy or a volunteer to relay this information to our time keepers.

Thank you again for being part of this event. Please visit our Sponsor Page if you are out and about shopping or looking for strong supporters of gravel cycling. Safe travels to the event and we will see you soon!

Ride the Good Line

Jeremy Kershaw

jeremybkershaw@gmail.com

2019 Heck of the North Route Scout

Frank Lundeen thick into the 100 mile route

Frank Lundeen thick into the 100 mile route

This week I had the pleasure of scouting the 100 mile Heck of the North course with a new friend, Frank Lundeen. I could not have asked for a better chap to spend the day with. Thanks, Frank!

The Heck of the North 100 course is actually 108 miles this year. I added some bonus miles that will certainly change some people’s opinion of me. But I think this new design (based on the bones of many Hecks before) is a true classic. It has a bit of something for everyone. I will be naming “sectors” of this route similar to that of its original namesake, the grand Paris Roubaix. There are many miles of beautiful North Shore gravel. There are also a few miles of bone-shaking, frame pounding, tire testing two track. But I have designed it all to flow, in what I think, in a very rideable way. I hope you agree.

The price of adventure sometimes

The price of adventure sometimes


The 50 mile and 20 mile routes will remain the same as 2018. These, too, I feel are very good routes that offer a true taste of a Heck event. Sometimes I am able to leave well enough alone for at least two seasons in a row.

We will be offering one checkpoint at about the halfway mark for the 50 mile course. A light water stop and snack grab will be available for the 20 mile racers, too. Those tackling the 108 mile course will see a full water/snack checkpoint at mile 58 and most likely another at mile 85. Our amazing volunteers plus our friends from Otso Cycles will be assisting with checkpoints and finish line fun, too. Thank you to those folks!

As to gear and bikes…as always, ride the bike you know will feel fast AND comfortable for many miles/hours. I really gravitate toward 40 mm tires these days, especially for the rocky sectors of this year’s course. Have that rig of yours well tuned and supplied with the provisions you need for basic maintenance, nutrition and hydration (in between checkpoints.) This is a SELF SUPPORTED EVENT! Yes, we offer basic aid at a couple of checkpoints…but there are few others out there except your compatriots! Cell phone coverage is spotty at best. AND absolutely no support from teams, family, early supply drops or the like. Thank you for respecting this tradition. We do allow spectating and think that is pretty awesome (but no handouts from your sweeties.)

We will be handing out route cue cards at the packet pickup on Friday at Spokengear, 5-8 pm. We will also have a brief packet pickup on the morning of the event at the start area between 6:30 and 7:30 am. We do not offer gpx files because I strongly believe in the tradition of cue cards and gravel cycling. Please bring a working odometer of some fashion.

Please email me with any questions at jeremybkershaw@gmail.com. I, and many others, are happy to answer any questions about gravel cycling and the Heck of the North.

Ride the Good Line!

Jeremy Kershaw

R5A00076.jpg

2019 Heck of the North

Photo:  Tone Coughlin

Welcome to the 2019 Heck of the North!

We are planning another special edition for this 11th running of our original North Shore gravel cycling classic. We look forward to seeing both new gravel cyclists as well as seasoned veterans. The Heck will offer 100, 50 and 20 mile routes to challenge you. Our participants are some of the most friendly, tough and talented cyclists in the world. Please feel free to contact me or one of our participants with questions you may have about gravel cycling or the Heck of the North.

Here are a few updates about 2019:

  • We will offer two different places to camp for free. We are encouraging riders and family to camp at the start/finish area this year. We recommend that you are self contained with needed water and food supplies. We will have porta-toilets and plenty of space to set up a tent, build a campfire, or park a small camper/van. This location is quiet, safe, close to all of the action and beautiful. Our second location is right on the north side of Two Harbors at our Heck “Basecamp.” This is property owned and generously offered to us by Rich and Lynne of Crushing Mechanics. This area is close to town, offers up to 20 participants a place to put up a tent and for sure a bonfire each night. Please see website for these two locations.

  • We are welcoming our friends at Otso Cycles this year. They’re going to be helping us at the checkpoints and finish line. Thank you!

  • Packet pickup will be at Spokengear Cyclery Friday, September 27 from 5-8. We will offer another pickup at the start area, Saturday September 28 from 6:30-7:30 am before the start of the event.

  • We will cap the event at 500 total participants. We are quickly reaching this limit. Thanks for respecting this time frame!

  • Please contact me at jeremybkershaw@gmail.com with any questions about the event, gear, bikes, etc. We’ll be happy to help out.

  • We will be using cue cards for navigation. There will NOT be gpx files or maps of the course available. We do this for a few reasons. I know that many would appreciate a gpx file. At this time, I am sticking to the tradition of using cards to navigate a gravel cycling event. I’m that guy. Thanks for respecting this decision.

Thank you for being part of the Heck of the North experience. I hope you enjoy the challenge, routes, community and and beauty of the North Shore in Fall.

Ride the Good Line!

Jeremy Kershaw

2019 Heck Epic Update

A particularly good section toward the end of Day 1. Enjoy!

A particularly good section toward the end of Day 1. Enjoy!

Here we go!

We scouted key sections of the 2019 Epic course yesterday. As always, one of my favorite activities in life. 2019’s course features some of my favorite parcours on the North Shore. Rolling, small roads. Red Pine lined two-track. And a few miles of rough stuff to keep people honest.

I will supply gpx files a week before the the start date. We will also mandate that racers carry a paper cue sheet, as well, supplied at the MANDATORY July 19 meeting. Regarding the meeting, we look forward to seeing you at Spokengear/Cedar Coffee in Two Harbors at 5 pm on Friday, July 19. We will discuss any updates to the route or event, answer questions and otherwise enjoy the company of a great group of people.

As to gear, bikes, what to bring…a few thoughts. By now, you should have your bikepacking rig pretty well dialed. I am a HUGE proponent of proper bike fit/comfort. It is the #1 concern for this style of riding (and frankly, just about any type of cycling.) The goal is to be comfortable for many miles. Any twinge, rub, or ache will only intensify as the hours/miles pass by. Seek the advice of an experienced rider/fitter for issues! Tires…I have settled on a 2.2 inch tire for most of my cross-country needs. A balance of speed (efficiency) and shock absorption. Yes, you could get away with riding a gravel width tire on this course…but you will regret that decision on many sections of this event. Fat tire? Well, also doable but really not necessary.

As always, riders are required to carry their OWN sleep system for the event. Some of you are riding with your partners. This is great! But the individual ethos still applies. Please observe these rules. Racers are allowed to assist other riders on course. But please come prepared (knowledge and gear) to take care of yourself during the event. I highly encourage participants to enjoy the company of others…that’s what this event is about. At the same time, The Heck Epic is about testing yourself and knowing that you have the ability to go it alone and thrive.

We will have aid stations on both Day 1 and Day 2. Day 1 will be at about mile 70 (the town of Finland at about mile 45 has cafe, grocery) with water and snacks. Day 2 will be located at about mile 56 (water and snacks.) At about mile 100 on Day 2, is a small tavern/convenient store for last minute needs before the finish.

Supper on Saturday, July 20 in Grand Marais is on you. I will set up a list of recommended places to eat with probably a discount or two, as well. There are many great choices and our camping location is within easy walking distance of this beautiful downtown.

Breakfast on Sunday morning will be at the campground pavilion. We will have an ample spread of coffee, breakfast sandwiches, fruit, yogurt and granola provided in large part by our friends at the Java Moose . I think you will be well fueled for the day. We will roll out by 0700 or as soon after as possible on Sunday, July 21.

Please email me (jeremybkershaw@gmail.com) with any last minute questions. Thanks for being part of the Heck Epic experience.

Ride the Good Line

Jeremy Kershaw