Without a doubt, one of my favorite parts of the job is scouting the routes for a given event. I love the discovery. I love how all five senses come alive. It’s always filled with adventure for me as I see first-hand how the courses feel. More than anything, I love the anticipation of sharing these amazing North Shore routes with you.
This scout was marked by Spring peepers calling from the bogs, snow on the dark side of the roads, and miles of beautiful Northwoods gravel. Lots of moose tracks, wolf scat and migrating birds, too. Here are my take-aways for each event:
20 Mile: This Le Grand du Nord 20 mile course is going to be more challenging than the Heck of the North’s 20. In particular, there is 1300 ft of climbing and it comes on quickly! But the course is a great introduction to gravel riding. It’s mostly unpaved, mostly really nice gravel road. The scenery is classic Northwoods with a few good views of Lake Superior. There will be a checkpoint at the halfway point with water and snacks. You must check in with the volunteer there (no matter how fast you are traveling!) The 110 mile riders will be sharing this leg of the course with you (so don’t be surprised if you see a few going past the checkpoint.) I hope your 20 mile experience is a good one!
54 Mile: This new 54 mile course is a one of my favorites to date. For safety reasons, I have avoided Hwy 61 and the Gunflint Trail for all courses (except for a 1/2 mile section for the 110 mile riders) this year. This change presented some initial challenges, but after a creative re-work, I have come up with alternative routes that I feel are better than the originals. This course highlights two amazing stretches of gravel road. There is approximately 2600 ft of climbing and the roads are all in good shape. The checkpoint will be at mile 30 with HED Cycling present making fresh crepes with toppings. We will offer our usual table of race food and water, too. I can’t wait to hear what you think of this new course.
110 Mile: As I mentioned above, I removed Hwy 61 and all but a 1/2 mile section of the Gunflint Trail from the courses this year. After scouting the course yesterday, I am convinced that I have laid out a classic Le Grand long course. In particular, you will experience beautiful stretches of gravel roads that showcase the best in North Shore riding. This year’s course has just over 6000 ft of climbing. I included a new, three mile stretch that should be a “character builder” for most riders. As of yesterday, there was snow on the furthest reaches of the course…but I suspect most should be gone by the big day. The course will pass by the official checkpoint twice: at mile 38 and 79. HED Cycling and our dedicated volunteer crew will be taking care of you with fresh made crepes, standard race food and water…and pizza (on your 78 mile pass through.) I have never seen so many moose tracks along the side of the road with plenty of wolf scat piles, too. It’s a beautifully wild course and absolutely one of my favorites in the country. I hope you have a great experience on this 110 mile adventure.
If you are still looking for a place to stay, call Visit Cook County for ideas. My friends at Cascade Vacation Rentals offer great places for extended visits. And I love the Grand Marais Municipal Campground and Marina for tent camping (it’s walking distance from the start line and right on the Grand Marais harbor.)
Thank you for making the trip to the event. I hope your Le Grand du Nord experience is a great one.
Ride the Good Line