Searching for Virginia

The Leg 2 group of riders Kathy Kelly and Dennis Hill, along with support drivers Ann and Doug Gurholt, arrived Friday evening to take over for the Leg 1 group. Riders John Phillipich and Tony Olson were already out on the trail logging miles. We exchanged stories briefly while the Leg 1 team loaded bikes on the transport vehicle bike rack. It was quite a comical effort, reminiscent of a scene from the movie Grumpy Old Men. In the end they decided to leave one bike with the RV, since they could only manage to get 3 on the rack without damaging Batman Jack’s fancy bike.

We were a slow-moving group on Saturday morning. After a delicious tator tot eggbake breakfast, we took off on the Mesabi Trail around 10:30. On the way to Marble, Kathy zigged right into Coleraine while the other riders zagged left to toward Bovey and Taconite. After a phone call to Doug, she quickly corrected her path, although she said that only she could get lost on a trail. In Keewatin, Tony raced ahead across railroad tracks within 3 feet of a train, while John got stuck behind waiting for the train to pass. Tony claims he made the bold move to rescue a child playing near the tracks, but nobody witnessed nor can verify the claim.

Outside of Chisholm, we came to a “trail closed ahead” sign. While the rest of us stopped to debate our options, John pedaled straight through, grumbling “50% of the time there is nothing blocking the trail anyway.” Dennis was thinking “and 50% of the time there is a washed-out trail 5 miles ahead.” Actually, they were both partially correct. We arrived at a raging, swirling water crossing, and without hesitation we plowed through it at great risk, Tony leading the way. Nothing is going to stop us today!

When we arrived in Buhl, Doug and Ann were talking to a couple and their adult daughter. We learned that the wife is a candidate for State Senate and that they are working on building a Boys and Girls Club in the local area. They were quite interested in our charity ride, and they took a handful of photos of our group. We may or may not be featured in a political ad.  

After a final snack break in Buhl, we rode to the final stop (we thought) in Virginia. Neither Waze nor Google Maps was cooperating for Doug, so our support drivers couldn’t find the park along the Mesabi Trail where we intended to finish. They ended up on a highway to Eveleth, and on their return trip to Virginia, they saw John and Tony biking in the opposite direction on the bridge outside of Virginia. Since Doug and Ann weren’t at the scheduled endpoint, John and Tony decided to continue riding to our campground in Gilbert. Dennis and Kathy, luckily for them, pulled into the Virginia park at precisely the same time as the support team. Kathy, for sure, would have been very unhappy to continue the extra miles to Gilbert, so a mini crisis was averted.

We had a great evening, enjoying a dinner of grilled pork chops, cheesy hash browns, and green beans before sitting around the fire for a conversation and fresh brownies straight from the oven. Thanks Anni, just what we needed to cap off our day!