This past weekend I headed to the North Shore to ride the 3 day Gravel Conspiracy. The ride started in Grand Marais on Friday afternoon with about a 50 mile ride to East Bearskin Lake. Saturday's stage was 125miles to Ely, followed by a 115 mile ride back to Grand Marais on Sunday.
There were around 50? starters on Friday and I was able to see some old friends as well as make some new ones. The ride started off pretty fast with a 24mph jaunt up hwy 61 for a half hour or so. We then took a left and hit the gravel. I popped off the group at this point and rode my own pace. I was able to hook up with Robin Bennett of Benett's cycle in Mason City, Iowa as well as Frank from CyclovaXC for a while. I eventually tagged on to another group with Tri and a few others and finished the stage. At Bearskin Lake we stayed in the lodge via a late invite from JoshP. Josh, Ted Loosen, Tri, Grelk, Wilson, and myself became roomates for the night. A soak in the hot tub, grilling out (shortened by rain), and some interesting conversation followed before calling it a night.
Sat was overcast and rainy with temps in the 50's. Started off my with new roomates until about mile 35. Ted, Grelk and Drew rolled off the front just as I was rolling off the back. Ted soon had a flat and we were all together again minus Drew, who was forging on ahead. We picked up Robin and Aaron and had a lot of fun riding together. Just after mile 100 there was a mix up on the directions. GPS route was off and we spent some quality time riding/hiking though the bush. We ended up in Ely at dusk. A lengthy meal at the Ely Steakhouse and we found our gear and were in the hotel by 10pm.
One of the many cool roads we were on:
No riding pics of Drew/Grelk as I was trying too hard to keep up at that point!!
Day 3 started with a waffle at the hotel and then a slight delay getting going. Tri and I ended up having an extra cup of coffee with new friend Casey Martin of Clear Lake, IA. I look forward to riding with the Cleak Lake peeps in the future.
The usual crew took off with the addition of Eddie Karow (see pic), a beast of a man riding a single speed. We were in awe of his biceps and the choice of a single speed. Word around the campfire is that he does not own a shirt with sleeves. 115 miles of beautiful weather, rolling gravel, and sketchy ATV trail. My poor bike handling skills were showcased on the ATV trail. My mtn biking bretheren were kind enough to wait for me, thanks guys. A couple of large climbs around miles 70-90 tested our weary legs. One of them was called Heartbreak Hill and we were again in awe of Eddie who was the first one at the top. He celebrated his climb by whipping out his toothbrush and giving his choppers a good brushing. I see a Colgate/Crest sponsorship in his future. A quick tethter ball game broke out at a romote watering hole called the Trestle Inn. The rest of the ride went quickly. We caught a few early starters on the way back into town. The last several miles were downhill and we covered them in a paceline at over 30mph.
It was a great weekend. Thanks to Josh Stamper and all of the sponsors. It was one of the cooler rides I have done. Kind of like transiowa meets Ragbrai on the north shore. I have to give a shout out to my roomates/riding partners, thanks for not dropping me and making me laugh. Also to the people from my adopted home town, Clear Lake, IA. Frank from CyclovaXC, and a few guys I rode with from from Grand Rapids--Coach, Kid, and Aaron (poopy pants).
I rode my Van Dessel CX Gin and Trombones with 32c tires. The tires were too narrow, but no flats. The 28T cog in the back was a bit steep, but with Eddie riding a 44x17 SS I will not complain. No mechanicals, although I did lose 2 chainring bolts at some point. There is a creaking in my BB that was not there before as well. My Garmin started acting up (and I lost all of my data), but a quick phone call hopefully resolved everything.
Thanks for reading. Next up is the Almanzo Gent's ride with some friends/coworkers. Should be another good ride.