Edit Blog Post
Published: August 29th 2014
On Monday August 4,2014, Jan, Marsha Brown and yours truly left West Hawk Lake by car at 0700 for our 2014 summer bike trip from Grand Rapids to Embarrass (just north of Giants Ridge). This route is a distance of about 180 kms or about 112 miles. After a brief stop at the Sioux Narrows Gift Shop, we arrived at Fort Frances at 1130 AM. We had an easy entry through customs, and then stopped at good old Border Bob's Souvenir Emporium - their stock of loon and moose stuff hasn't changed in 20 years...
The ride to Virginia on highway 53 was uneventful but we did take part in a scheduled shopping event at Menards in Virginia for a new hot water tank for the cabin. After this, our next stop was the Giants Ridge Resort for our meeting with Chris, shuttle person and trip arranger. After a quick luggage and bike transfer, we dropped our car off the B and B (Northern Comfort) and continued on to Grand Rapids.
Our Grand Rapids accommadation was at the Itascan Inn which was about as basic as you can get but presumably good value-not sure of
the price as it was all included in the very reasonable $272 price per person.(for the entire trip,shuttle, 4 nights lodging plus one dinner and one breakfast) We ate at the nearby Sam's Pizza which was pretty good and then it was early to bed in preparation for an early start in the morning. The anticipated distance for day one was 39.5 miles or about 64 kilometers.
By 6.00 AM everyone was up and doing final packing. We also did a quick re-adjustment of Marsha's pedals, taking off the cages. Breakfast was at the Country Kitchen across the street and we then hit the streets at 8.00 AM to ride to the Mesabi trail head at the Grand Rapids fairgrounds (about 5 kms away)
The Mesabi turned out to be a superb trail with lots of curves and hills including 3-8% grades on the day one agenda. After a quick ride to Coleraine everyone was quite energized by the great ride and we continued on through Bovey to Pengilly. Our plan there was to stop for snack/coffee but there wasn't a lot of edible product at the gas station. However we did meet some
very friendly people who seemed somewhat astonished at our plan to ride over 100 miles??
After Pengilly, hunger pains were setting in and everyone was glad to get to the bar in Nashwauk for beer and a pulled pork sandwich. (this seems to be a popular Minnesota meal as per last year at the Pine River Bluegrass Festival) Pengilly is about 15 miles from Hibbing. This trail is virtually deserted (only 4 other people on entire trip)
At 3.00, after 80.2 kilometers (48 miles) we arrived in Hibbing at the Hibbing Park Lodge which was quite an upgrade from the Itascan Inn. After a fast shower, I walked downtown to scope out the potential for the purchase of Mesabi Trail pins or stickers and/or Bob Dylan t-shirts. No luck so back to HPL for beer and excellent dinner at the on-site restaurant.
This trail seems easier than the Paul Bunyan but it may be the excellent temperatures this year (around 24C) However we were tired because of the distance travelled so it was early to bed again.
The next day we had breakfast at the hotel and then
St Louis County Fair
4H poultry exhibits-excellent
it was off to the Sunrise Bakery at 0830. (underwhelming) After a brief stop at the "Grand Canyon of the North" aka BFstrip mine, we rolled on to Chisholm and the St Louis County Fair. This was an excellent trip back in time for me. The 4H poultry exhibits were great including the people. We then enjoyed the 4H dog obedience trials which were fairly hilarious (my ex beagle who was infamous for her lack of obedience could have garnered a ribbon) After a quick look at the heavy horses it was off down the trail to Buhl and a "burl mine" beside the trail. (lots of great weird wood) Lunch was on the lawn at the public library in Mountain Iron (all pubs were closed) By coincidence we met the Mesabi Trail Manager in Mountain Iron and had a nice chat.(as well getting a Mesabi Trail sticker)
The next stop was the Lakeshore Inn in Virginia (total for the the day was 53.9 kms , arrival at 2.00 pm) After the obligatory shower, it was off to Main Street for beer and shopping. Our plan to have wood fired pizza was thwarted by the premature closing
of the establishment. So after beer, we went to the Saigon Restaurant (good food)
The lake adjacent to the hotel has a huge loon decoy about the size of a Kenworth. We weren't sure if was inflatable or fibreglass.
On the way back to the hotel, our team did a pre-breakfast inspection of the deli in the local health food store. It was agreed we would meet there at 0800. It turned out to be a good choice. (Virginia Food Coop)
The next day ( our last day on the trail) tires were rolling by 0830. It was an easy ride out of town then a big 8% grade. After a nice ride to just past Gilbert, we turned on to to highway #135 for a fast 5.5 mile ride to Biwabik. After a fruitless search for ice cream and a bit of flailing around we found the trail out of town and continued on to the Giant's Ridge Resort.This was the best part of the trail but it ends just north of the resort. (plans are developing to complete the trail all the way from GR to Ely) After a
Bridge over BNSF tracks
day three between Hibbing and Biwabik
few more road miles in light traffic, the three of us pulled into the yard of the Northern Comfort B and B at about 1.00 PM. (55.2 kms for a total of 189.3 Kms)
The B and B is near Embarrass, Mn which is about 25 miles from Ely. Ely is the jump off point for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. After showering, we drove to Ely for lunch and some shopping. (various sauna stuff, mosquito book, and some garden art) Wilderness canoeing ,which I thought was on the wane is alive and well in Ely. Lots of busy outfitters, canoes on car racks and Sigurd F Olson books are in reprint. Good to see and I forsee a canoe trip in our future in 2015... Our return to the B and B included beers and an excellent roast pork dinner.
The next day it was load up time after a huge breakfast. The trip home included another visit to Menards for outdoor oven refractory cement and new boat house lights--long drive home and arrival about 5.00 PM.
Tot: 2.57s; Tpl: 0.05s; cc: 15; qc: 58; dbt: 0.0452s; 2; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 3;
; mem: 1.4mb