Towns along the ride

Thursday marked the Leg 1 riders’ second day riding, and the last day on the Heartland/Paul Bunyan Trails. At the end of Thursday’s ride the team left the beautiful lakeside Akeley campsite and headed to set up at the Grand Rapids county fairgrounds, which is the trailhead of the Mesabi Trail.

Once again Jay fueled up the riders with a breakfast, this time scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast. Plus he prepared a lunch pack for the team to take with them that included steak sandwiches.

Again the riders took off on a chilly morning, with a blustery west wind blowing, but again they were well sheltered by the wooded trail. They were relieved to discover that the air was free of the aspen cotton that plagued them the day before. The small towns they ride through are each unique in their own way. Novis features a small ice cream/treat establishment, whereas Dorset has a billboard declaring it to be the ‘Restaurant Capitol of the World.” At least one establishment must feature Mexican food as the often named Main Street is Fajita Street in Dorset.

With the day’s riding behind them, the team departed for Grand Rapids. Settling in there, they were greeted by Al, the camp host, and his rescue dog, Penelope. Like camp neighbor Jeff from the night before, Al gave them an update on how he has spent his retirement years, and how he came to rescue Penelope from Mexico. Finishing the visit, Al took a picture of the RV license plate, and several of the Mother Ship from all angles. The team speculated that Al was getting information to run a criminal background check on the Leg 1 group.

The Grand Rapids county fairground features the Itasca County Speedway, a quarter mile dirt track—and it was opening night for Thursday Night Thunder. As Jay was cooking a banquet of chicken on the grill and another Dutch oven filled with potatoes and veggies, the engines were roaring and dust was flying just over a wooded hill from the camp site. After dinner, the team went over the hill, and into the wooded area and had a “knothole” view of the action. Turns out a car they had spotted earlier in town came from the back of the pack to win.

They finished the evening with a chocolate-cherry dessert that Jay prepare, once again in his Dutch oven.