Team 3 Riders: Justin Elder, John Konrad, and Kyle Swartout
Support Driver: Matt Stepanek
For CEM team 3, the morning was full of promise and hope. The goal was to have all riders picked-up and on the road by 6:35 am. Everything was on schedule until Justin had an unfortunate coffee explosion in the transport vehicle before even leaving the driveway. The cleanup was time consuming, and the result was the teaming departing a full 30 minutes behind schedule. The rest of the drive was without incident, and the group arrived at the Grand Rapids starting point at 10:30 am. The jovial attitude among the riders quickly turned to an impending sense of doom as they realized they were in fact going to be riding their bikes for 70 miles today.
The hills of the Mesabi Trail are no joke, and the riders quickly realized a 70+ mile day was going to be a real challenge.
EDITOR’S NOTE: FROM THIS POINT IN THE DIARY, JUSTIN HAS WRITTEN THE POST TWICE ALREADY WITH COMPUTER GLITCHES DELETING IT BOTH TIMES! APOLOGIES BUT DAY THE REST WILL BE BULLET POINTS…
- Plan was to ride from Grand Rapids to campground in Gilbert, approximately 74 miles
- Matt drove to meet Team 2 riders in Gilbert to swap vehicles
- Matt was waiting on Team 2 riders to return from their final ride and was unable to leave campground in a timely fashion leading to a long delay in providing nourishment to Team 3 riders
- Team 3 became very hungry and weary
- John’s bike got a hole in the tire, and riders were unprepared
- Riders got eaten alive by mosquitos changing back-to-back flat tires on John’s bike
- John’s bike was disabled, Matt had to find a bike shop in Virginia to get a new tire, further delaying his arrival with food
- John walked his bike to a nearby town and sat for an hour being bit by bugs before Matt arrived to pick him up and meet Justin and Kyle in Buhl, MN
- After 55 miles of riding, Justin and Kyle finally got food and replenished their empty water bottles. They found an abandoned and dilapidated gas station and had lunch under the gas pump canopy. A lady pulled up in a Cadillac and was displeased the camper was parked at this location. She informed us she was the owner of this place. After a brief back and forth, she sped away
- Seven hours after departing Grand Rapids, Justin and Kyle finished in Virginia with 70 miles, John rode all the way to the campground and finished with 55. A much longer day than planned
- A lovely evening of dinner was had, followed by dessert made by John’s wife Missy
- Off to bed by 10:30!