Heck of the North

Heck of the North

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The Heck of the North is a Gravel Classic held in Northern Minnesota. The course is about 185 kilometers long, approximately 75% gravel/dirt road, with 15 kilometers of trail and as little pavement as needed to make it all come together.

The front few groups of this race go for the win, while the rest of the field simply enjoy a fun day out on the bike, riding one of the most challenging and exciting routes in the quickly-emerging gravel scene.

Mixing gravel roads and ATV trails, this race is home to some of the most innovative bicycle concoctions you’ll ever come across, from drop-bar fat bikes to race-tuned Graveur machines. Leave your road machine at home; you’ll need fast 32mm tires at least in order to survive the trail sections.

More information on the Heck of the North site. Registration is $54 before July 15; $65 before August 15; and $76 until September 15. Registration ends September 15 or once the 400 rider limit is met.

The Heck of the North is not a Cogal, but Velominati is a sponsor of the event and will be providing exclusive prizes. See you there.

Official site: http://www.heckofthenorth.com/

Event Details

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Date/Time
Date - October 04, 2014
12:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Location
Castle Danger Brewery (Two Harbors MN)

Cogal Details
Route Details

Ride Classification

// Event // Rule V (Hard Ride)

  1. Size is all fine and dandy, but more curious about tread. marko, can you weigh in on wet and dry tire recommendations?

  2. @Dave R im generally happy with clements, but i find the mso a mediocre tire for NE riding. Sidewall tears up/apart easily. Heavy. irregular tread pattern doesnt seem to excel in any certain terrain. rubber ball effect at higher pressures to ward off pinch flats, lose lose.

    their ush otoh is all business. Biggest complaint is how porky it is. Rolls fast on hardpack dirt, gravel, and sand. Grippy over roots, decent in mud. Poor in snow. Descends like the dickens off road. Will step out on high speed turns on pavement. Scary as shit.

    challenge also has a few gravel oriented tires out.  file treads for the most part, but the are buttery!

  3. Thanks Frank – and tyres was my next question…

  4. Less than 4 weeks to the Heck!

    Panic

  5. @CanuckChuck yup

  6. @CanuckChuck

    Heh, heh. My plan is to carry my denial right into the ride–as far into the ride as I possibly can–and then to survive (just) on sheer buttheadedness.

  7. @PeakInTwoYears It’s going to be a journey for sure.

  8. Dont stop, believing!!!!!

  9. I’m going full Perry on this one.

  10. Have fun. I’ve hiked and camped the Superior Hiking Trail from Duluth to Canada. It can be wicked, but with great views of Lake Superior. Lot’s of mosquitoes. And bears.

  11. @Minnesota Expat

    Have fun. I’ve hiked and camped the Superior Hiking Trail from Duluth to Canada. It can be wicked, but with great views of Lake Superior. Lot’s of mosquitoes. And bears.

    Im more worried about the mosquitoes.

  12. Where’s everyone staying?

    We two from NorCal will be at the Country Inn in Two Harbors.

    Looking forward to meeting fellow Velominati.

  13. @Dave R

    Where’s everyone staying?

    We two from NorCal will be at the Country Inn in Two Harbors.

    Looking forward to meeting fellow Velominati.

    Several of us will be getting there on the 1st and staying at the Superior Shores Resort.

    My email is julian.e.santana@gmail.com or you can look me up on FB.

  14. Me and Mrs Engine will be at Superior Shores from the 1st.

    Mrs Engine is available for DS duties if we can prevent her arguing with Frank…

  15. @the Engine

    Me and Mrs Engine will be at Superior Shores from the 1st.

    Mrs Engine is available for DS duties if we can prevent her arguing with Frank…

    I’ll be disappointed if the Mrs Engine does not argue with Frank  Full report expected!

  16. Mrs. Engine will take no guff–not from Frank, bears, or wolves (all of which will be present).

  17. Less than a week to go. At least the bike is ready.

  18. @RedRanger

    Several of us will be getting there on the 1st and staying at the Superior Shores Resort.

    Thanks RedRanger. Superior Shores looks to be a beautiful spot. I’m really looking forward to returning to the North Shore after 16 years away.

    We arrive the evening of the 2nd. Country Inn, where we are staying, is right in town. We’ll be doing an easy ride on Friday.

    Oh, and nice bike. Mine will need preparation after tomorrow’s last pre-trip ride on the gravel. Here she is after the last race.

    See you all soon. Cheers!

  19. @Dave R I was riding her today and busted the chain. going in to get that fixed tomorrow. Ill be bringing a stand and what tools I have with me(Im driving from Wisconsin) hit me up if you need to borrow anything. Also bringing some 12 packs of a local brewery for good measure. I figure 4 will get us started.

    BTW, I fucking love that color scheme on a Stevens.

  20. My goal for the week is to come back to boston with a moose on the hood

  21. @roger

    My goal for the week is to come back to boston with a moose on the hood

    what about a moose on the handlebars

  22. You know me, im not fussy. Handlebars, hood, lap, its all good! Forecast had it puking rain up there. Is there such a chance that hotn truly will be too much of a good thing?!

  23. @RedRanger

    @Minnesota Expat

    Have fun. I’ve hiked and camped the Superior Hiking Trail from Duluth to Canada. It can be wicked, but with great views of Lake Superior. Lot’s of mosquitoes. And bears.

    Im more worried about the mosquitoes.

    I’m guessing you’ll be riding faster than a mosquito can fly (Minnesota mosquitoes are big, stupid and slow), even on an old logging trail! Of course, a black bear can sprint to 50kph. Just sayin’ (insert emoticon here).

  24. At MSP getting readboat board for Duluth. Any of the Velominati interested in an easy spin tomorrow? My email is de_riggs@sbcglobal.net.

    Cheers,

    Dave

    P.S. Gutted that our Keeper Frank won’t be here to crush us and enforce rule compliance (with appropriate gravel interpretation and discretion of course).

  25. Uhh, right. “… ready to board…”

  26. @Dave R

    At MSP getting readboat board for Duluth. Any of the Velominati interested in an easy spin tomorrow? My email is de_riggs@sbcglobal.net.

    Cheers,

    Dave

    P.S. Gutted that our Keeper Frank won’t be here to crush us and enforce rule compliance (with appropriate gravel interpretation and discretion of course).

    Not as much as I’m gutted over it!

    Good luck, Pedalwan. I am expecting loads of photos.

  27. @Dave R we plan on doing a ride sometime this morning. I would guess around 11 or noon.


  28. This is me with every HOTN update.  Ahhhhhhhhh!!!

  29. Suffer nobly, brothers. Looking forward to the reports.

  30. Is there a VSP for HOTN? Pick the Velominati in the right order? Or by whoever comes home wearing the most Flemish toothpaste?

  31. Thanks @Nate.

    Great to meet the 10 or so other Velominati here today. Yea, it’s Rule #9 time.

    NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DULUTH MN
    700 PM CDT FRI OCT 3 2014

    .UPDATE…
    ISSUED AT 659 PM CDT FRI OCT 3 2014

    UPDATED FOR NEW AVIATION FORECAST DISCUSSION.

    &&

    .SHORT TERM…(THIS EVENING THROUGH SATURDAY AFTERNOON)
    ISSUED AT 341 PM CDT FRI OCT 3 2014

    MAIN CONCERNS IN THE SHORT TERM REMAIN FOCUSED AROUND THE WINTRY
    MIX OF RAIN/SNOW CURRENTLY MOVING THROUGH THE NORTHLAND…AND A
    SECONDARY BAND OF SNOW AND RAIN EXPECTED TO ROTATE SOUTHEASTWARD
    THROUGH THE REGION THIS EVENING AND TONIGHT. COULD SEE UP TO AN
    INCH OF SNOWFALL ON GRASSY SURFACES THROUGH EARLY SAT MORNING. THE
    GUSTY NORTHWEST WINDS WILL ALSO BE OF CONCERN THROUGH SATURDAY.

    This is either perfect or fucked depending on your perspective. We’re going with perfect… For now.ask me again in 24 hours.

  32. @Buck Rogers me as well

  33. @Steampunk

    Is there a VSP for HOTN? Pick the Velominati in the right order? Or by whoever comes home wearing the most Flemish toothpaste?

    can we get a startlist?

  34. @Dave R both perfect and fucked, at the same time, I reckon.

  35. @RedRanger

    @Buck Rogers me as well

    Ha!

  36. FOLKS!  There was gads of Fuckin HELL at the HOTN yesterday and our Boys in Black and Orange did us proud!  Hats off to them!  Fuckin Chapeau to them in Spades!  I’ll let the true warriors/survivors tell it but I followed along in my warm house via the computer while they sweated and froze and fought their way through!  VERY much looking forward to hearing their stories!  Raise a glass to them today!

  37. On the plane home. Thanks, Buck. Wish you’d been there. I think you would have enjoyed it. In a sick way.

    I did not cover myself in glory. I did get to enjoy everything the course and course conditions (ridiculous) and the weather (nippy and sideways) had to offer.

    And what awesome fucking people. That was the best part.

    PeakInTwoYears

  38. Although I’ve posted a bit on this thread and a few others, I’ve been mostly a lurker here. I’ve taken much from the community, especially inspiration for awesome cycling experiences like the Heck of the North. So it’s time I try to give a bit back. Hopefully this report is a step in that direction. Sorry for the length. I didn’t have time to be concise.

    I can thank @Nate for guiding me to the synopsis of this race up thread when I said the weather forecast, combined with the course, was either perfect or fucked. He reckoned it was both at the same time, and that was exactly right. I think the other 10 or so Velominati there were, like me, in search of some sort of Rules #5 and #9/P-R/ gravel/leg breaking/character building challenge that treads the boundary between Type I and Type II Fun (see Fun Scale here: http://kellycordes.wordpress.com/2009/11/02/the-fun-scale/ ). HOTN did not disappoint.

    What a course! Around 177km of mixed riding:

    A wealth of superb gravel roads through the boreal forrest of Superior’s North Shore, mostly flat but with enough rollers to yield just over 1500m of ascent

    A creek ford about 16 k’s in – so 160 km with waterlogged shoes and socks

    The notorious trail secteurs, where, as Frank rightly warned, the selections are made and one must drive the bike; single track, double track, tall grass hiding goat head rocks, mud, peat bogs, roots, everything

    A wonderful little surprise (to me anyway) – the beautiful winding climb up Seven Bridges Road out of Duluth’s Lester Park after the drop bag resupply station; a morsel of Lombardia-esque falling leaves before buckling down to empty the tank on the remaining 50km of gravel and last trail secteur back to Two Harbors.

    And finally, a proper finish venue at the Castle Danger Brewery.

    Chapeau to organizer Jeremy Kershaw.

    And, yes, perfectly fucked conditions. Start line temp of ~3C rising to only 4.5C. Rain, a brief snow squall, and most critically those steady and gusty NW winds. The course layout was such that there were very few segments with a tail wind. Head or cross. HTFU. That’s what we came for right? It’s a fairly big trip from California to Minnesota, and I know I’d be a hell of a lot less satisfied sitting here back home now had it been dry, warm or calm.

    Here’s a little footage some dude captured from the first half of the race. It gives a pretty good sense of the riding mid-pack:

    http://youtu.be/9cPKjcdRj04

    Of course the whole experience was greatly enhanced by sharing it with fellow Velominati, who, as @PeakInTwo Years, says, were “awesome fucking people.” I hope y’all got as much out this as I did. And of course I look forward to riding with you again. Please be in touch if you visit Northern California. You’ll have welcoming riding hosts in Marin and Tahoe.

    A few miscellaneous final notes: First, for the gear nerds – I was asking and stressing about tire selection before the race. I ended up running Clement 40mm MSO clinchers on WTB Crisscross rims (25ish mm). I found them to be advantageous for the very wet conditions. It dumped rain all week before, and the puddles, bogs and mud ruts were pretty deep (I know the Engine and Mrs are laughing their Scottish asses off at that). For drier conditions or a course without the trail secteurs, narrower would be better. Second, I lived in Michigan for a number of years before moving to California, and this trip reminded me that upper Midwest endurance/adventure scene has a cool vibe – kind of a Flanders meets Boulder, or something like that. Hardy and committed folks milking what’s special in their geography to create uniquely awesome events like the Heck of the North. My good friend Tom and I were psyched to be the first non-Minnesotan finishers. Finally, sorry Frank. You said you expected loads of photos, but I only have a few, and they are of mediocre quality. Was trying to race my bike and all. Anyway, here they are.

    Cheers,

    Dave

  39. @Dave R awesome write up, that red & white tape set up is bitchin!

  40. @Dave R love ya work

  41. @Dave R Outstanding write-up!  Hope to see some more from your fellow riders soon!

  42. @Dave R  Agreed. Crackin’ write up (and I especially like the Kelly Cordes reference)!

  43. @Dave R you guys killed it out there. Amazing stuff.

  44. @Dave R fantastic write up!

  45. @Dave R

    You’ve captured the course perfectly. Bridges, though? There were bridges on the climb up from Lester Park?  I must have been preoccupied somehow.  I remember not being able to read my computer for the mud on it and the mist in my vision.

    I knew it was going to be interesting at the stream crossing ten percent of the way in. I’d just gotten really happy and even a wee bit smug about that first trail section–so much like the singletrack I ride all winter–when I was brought to a first intimation that, no, it wasn’t to be like that at all. Then, of course, shortly thereafter was the long carry through bog water and moss…

    It was great meeting you and Tom, and you guys’ ride was simply inspiring. Seeing you on your return leg was most impressive. I hope we can all gather in CA one of these days.

  46. @Dave R Riding in the mud with friends.  Always nice.

  47. Local news vid with various Velominati sightings, most notably @the Engine flying his flag at the start.

    http://www.wdio.com/article/stories/s3583370.shtml?cat=10348

    P.S. Thanks for the responses to the ride report. And anyone up for four days of heck across California next year?  Check this out – https://www.facebook.com/events/718129301593857/

  48. @Dave R have you heard any reports of this years Reno Mendo?  I searched but haven’t seen any. I wonder if the sasquatch got all the riders…

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