Wrapping up Leg 1

Friday marked the final day riding for the Leg 1 team, and the arrival of the Leg 2 riders Dennis Hill, Kathy Kelly, John Phillipich, and Tony Olson, along with their support drivers Doug and Ann Gurholt. John and Tony arrived in the afternoon with the goal getting a 62-mile ride in a day early—which they did.

The Friday ride offered a fresh challenge—many hills, some with long 8-degree climbs along the Mesabi Trail. After finishing a breakfast of Jay’s egg, cheese, and ham muffins, the team took off, huffing and puffing their way up the inclines with Jack and Bob comfortably leading the way. John needed occasional breathers and was happy to have Jim tackle the trail with him at something significantly less that a Tour de France pace. The trail was lined with birch and aspen trees, large ponds or lakes cut from previous taconite mining. There were numerous birches toppled by beavers obstructing the trail. Tree roots beneath the path occasionally created ruts in the pavement, a condition demanding constant attention as to what was ahead.

As Jim and John approached a section of the path overrun with water, they met a couple from the state of Virginia who were touring the Mesabi Trail—on E-assist bikes. John was fascinated with the concept of electric propulsion available to use when needed on steep climbs or when battling a head wind. They offered to let John and Jim take a short test ride, which they did. Each agreed it was a cool way to offer a way to extend riding opportunities as age becomes a factor. In fact, Jim and his wife Jean already have E-assist bikes that they often ride together. John is likely to be E-bike shopping sometime soon!

As the Leg 1 riding team finished their ride, they appreciated a final lunch serving of chicken and steak sandwiches, then showered and packed up as the Leg 2 team arrived ready to conquer the Mesabi Trail beginning to end. 

The trip home included a stop at Dairy Queen, compliments of a gift card from Kids ‘n Kinship.

Those departing agreed that they looked forward to returning to their respective homes and families, but that the three days riding together was fun and memorable. Jay’s cooking was masterful. And there is a good feeling associated with doing this honoring Christian Elder’s memory and benefiting Kids ‘n Kinship.

The team sends a word of appreciation to title sponsor Merchants Bank, and to all of those who have so generously contributed to the charity ride.

Best of luck and safe riding to Leg 2 and 3 riding teams!