REGIONAL—The 700 people who took part in this past Saturday’s Mesabi Trail bike tour experienced something that riders haven’t faced before in the 13 previous years of this popular event— …
REGIONAL—The 700 people who took part in this past Saturday’s Mesabi Trail bike tour experienced something that riders haven’t faced before in the 13 previous years of this popular event— rain.
This year’s notable event was supposed to be the view from the new bridge over the Rouchleau Pit in Virginia. Yet for this veteran of the annual event it was the final 11-mile leg, from Virginia to the Mesabi Station in Eveleth, biked uphill in a steady rain with a 20-mile-per-hour headwind that will be the takeaway memory from the 2018 ride.
“That was the first time in 14 years that we’ve gotten rained on,” noted longtime ride organizer Ardy Nurmi-Wilberg. Despite the conditions, Nurmi-Wilberg said it didn’t seem to affect the mood among riders. “We may have gotten wet, but it didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits,” she said.
While the view from the bridge was somewhat obscured for many by the rain, Nurmi-Wilberg believes adding it to the route helped to boost ridership this year. Despite the forecast of rain, about 700 people turned out for at least one segment of the ride, which ran 71 miles for those who started in Bovey. The number of participants had been slowly declining in recent years. Last year, a more modest 618 riders took part, so this year’s total represented a nice rebound, said Nurmi-Wilberg.
The event remains popular with participants and is probably one of the only long-distance bike rides where you could plausibly gain weight due to all the good snacks offered up at rest stops along the way. From fruit to cookies, to granola bars, chips, and a variety of other dense, energy bars, nobody goes hungry. And the race wraps up each year with a full lunch.
Before the rain arrived around noon, the cloudy and cool conditions had been ideal for the ride, with few medical emergencies from dehydration reported. Other than the rain, the event went “like clockwork,” according to Nurmi-Wilberg. Even the rain was greeted by most riders with the appropriate esprit de corps. “There’s just something about facing adversity and conquering it together,” she said.