The following is a true story, only the names have been changed, to protect the guilty.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Heck Epic

Note; Stony River Forest rd was freakin' awesome
 The term "epic" gets thrown around a lot these days, few things come close to deserving that title. Few things, like the ride I completed on gravel roads and ATV trails in the Superior National Forest of northern Minnesota.

Mr Farrow of the (now defunct ?)   DBD  adventure society 

Two of the Three Amigos 
  The Heck Epic is a two day, 200++ mile brain child of Mr  J Kershaw, also known for the shorter, one day, 100 mile event call the Heck of the North. The Epic differs in a couple ways, first, the rider is required to carry all gear necessary for an overnight stay at the end of the initial 100+ miles, and also carry it back to the start. Second, the route,compared to the one day event, allows the rider to visit even more of the beautiful remote back roads, double track and logging roads in the S.N.F.

Don't go here if you don't arrive on something that runs on dinosaur bones

On track
   Although it's basically an out and back, from Two Harbors to Ely, both routes are different and deserve a hat's off to the organizers for laying out over 200 miles and not doing the same thing twice.
While some folks were out to truly race the Epic, I was there just to have a good time riding my bike for a long time. I was apprehensive about the event, I had not been riding much and knew it would eventually turn into a death march when my lack of fitness would catch up to my legs. The death march never really happened, my only real issue was  painful Achilles tendinitis that shows up specifically when I have not trained well enough.
Babbitt.....the town , not the bearing 

Beautiful ...ehmmmm   ELY 

   Riding long distances over many hours has it's ups and downs usually on a mental level. I was happy to ride with my bestie ArcFlash and  SalsaJon from mile 50 all the way to the finish the next day, which made the downs bearable and the ups a lot more exciting. The three of us stuck together as an informal gang, having each others back through the difficult stretches,  cue card navigation, bonking, and generally keeping boredom to a minimum through story telling.
the line up

dream car 

very cool section of the route ...familiar to me from the Gravel Conspiracy
     The first day was easy compared to the second. In hind-site, it was leisurely, and a beautiful day to ride 100 miles. The second day was that of one a cyclist dreads......windy and wet, add in some mud and not exactly warm temps and it was tough. We kept our pace roughly the same as the day before,or at least our perceived effort. Looking back we were much 1 took  6:17  ride time for 100 miles, compared to the 9:09 we spent in the saddle for 106 miles on day 2. It was truly a great experience and a well planned and executed event....Thanks: J Kershaw and all HECK crew members and volunteers.  Thanks: A.F. and SalsaJon for the companionship as well as everyone else I had the pleasure to hang out with over the weekend. pretty much was