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Saturday, August 9, 2008

Breaking Away or My Summer Debut on the Mesabi Trail in 51 Miles

Saturday August 9th is a familiar date for folks who live on the Iron Range. It’s the 5th Annual Great River Energy-Mesabi Trail bike tour. That’s pedal bike not motor bike by the way. What could possibly be better than spending a gorgeous day outdoors in Northern Minnesota? Perhaps watching a few films about cycling on the verandah, but when the opportunity comes to get outside on one of the premier bike-trails in Northern MN, one should never turn the opportunity down.

This year I made a promise to re-unite with Black Beauty- my 20 year old Gary Fischer mountain bike- which unfortunately had been placed into semi-retirement. After taking her up to the 2008 Winnipeg Folk Festival for a test run, I knew she was up to the 51-mile bike challenge! Like any decent Gary Fischer bike, I wasn’t disappointed.

Although the Mesabi Trail is best suited to the modern tour bikes available today, I 'm an old sentimental fool. Give me my old Fischer, or no biking at all. It doesn’t matter that I can’t go 15 miles/hour consistently, nor does it matter that I have knobby tires. I just want to ride like anyone else. Ultimately, that’s what the Mesabi Trail folks have created. A trail suited for a variety of skill levels and bike types. On any given weekend you will find families, gear-heads, duffers, and everyone in between.

The planned route this year promised to be relatively easy. An occasional uphill climb was antipcated with only a few pedal-stomps to exceed an 8% grade. Thankfully this turned out to be true, although I was still sucking wind and cramping up by the end of the 3rd leg! That's expected though. Pain is defined by the name.... learn to accept and understand it.

The overall purpose of this day is a charitable one with proceeds going toward expansion of recreational trails and for promoting Independent Public Radio (IPR). As you know, our own KAXE is one of 12 independent/community based radio stations in Minnesota, and to ride for our station was especially motivating for me. In addition, we also know that this type of physical exercise has such a positive influence on physical and mental well being. Two excellent reasons to spend a day on a bike!

As early as June of this year, I begin to mentally prepare for this tour by watching and studying several fine films that involve cycling..... more or less. I’m sure you don’t want to miss any of these so search them out today. Remember any of these?

The Bicycle Thief (1948)- Italy
Breaking Away (1979)- USA
How can we forget this gem. A charming yet goofy bike film. Anyone remember the TV series Breaking Away featuring Shawn Cassidy as Dave Stoller? Yes, a rare nugget that’s extremely hard to find. Only in the 1980’s could TV execs pull this off- it barely lasted a season. Oh where or where can we find this?

American Flyers (1985)- USA
The Cyclist (1987)- Iran
2 Seconds (1998)- Canada
Beijing Bicycle (2002)- China
Cyclomania (2002)- Finland
Hell on Wheels (2004) Germany
Le Tour De France 2005: The Magnificent 7 (2005)- France
The Flying Scotsman (2006)- Scotland

How about some highlights from my personal Mesabi Trail tour? You can check out my photo-log below:

Iron Range/Mesabi Trail Ride 2008

Brief mile-marker harbor star observations coming soon. I'm too tired to continue.

A special thanks to all of the Mesabi Trail volunteers and staff for making this a special experience. This tour would not happen with out your commitment. Cheers to all of the riders, cutters..... I mean miners, and to everyone supporting IPR / recreational trails!

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