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Opinion

Mesabi Trail through Iron Range provides fun ride

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March 7, 2014

A lot of the manmade lakes in the hills of the Iron Range of northern Minnesota have a vibrant turquoise color. This unusual hue comes from the iron deposits within and surrounding these lakes.

The first time I ever saw these lakes was while I was participating in the Great River Energy Mesabi Trail Ride. More commonly just referred to as the Mesabi Trail Ride, it is an annual, organized bike ride that follows the Mesabi Trail through the Iron Range.

The paved trail is well taken care of and takes riders through many different types of areas including cool, thick forests, tiny, charming ‘up north’ towns, open prairie-like areas and the historic and beautiful iron mining hills.

The Mesabi Trail Ride is open to the public and will be celebrating its 10th anniversary this summer on the 2014 ride. It has been announced on the website, which is www. mesabitrail.com, that they have something special planned for the 10th anniversary though it has not been revealed what exactly.

The ride traditionally happens on one of the first days of August. Riders must register for the trail ride in advance and it is suggested to register before a midsummer deadline after which the price will increase. This year’s midsummer registration deadline is July 23. Yes, it does cost money to register for the ride. The cost is $45 for an individual and $90 for a couple or a family, which is considered one or two adults with children under 18.

The family price remains the same no matter how many children the family has, meaning that children basically get in free. However, the amount of free stuff riders get and services provided as well as the amazing experience makes sure that the Mesabi Trail Ride more than pays for itself.

The way that the ride is set up is that there is one finish line in the town of Coleraine but several different starting points for riders to choose from. The ride can be as long as 69 miles if the rider chooses to start at the farthest point in Fayal Township or as short as 12 miles if they choose to start in Calumet.

There are two other midway starting points, which are 53 miles at Mountain Iron and 33 miles at Hibbing. The past two years that I have done the ride, I have started at the second farthest point.

I would only recommend the farthest point for people who have already done the ride and feel confident in their abilities or people who are already avid long-distance bikers. A family with younger children is best off doing the 12-mile version.

There are suitable distance options for all types of riders and levels of experience. The night before the ride starts, riders can take their bikes to the finishing point at Coleraine and the Mesabi Trail Ride volunteers will ship their bikes to the rider’s chosen starting point in the morning for free.

All of these points are along the same trail and serve as rest stops with food and entertainment once the race has begun.

There are free food and entertainment I might add. Refreshments at each stop include water, Gatorade, fresh fruit, bread, energy-packed trail mixes and cookies. At every stop there is good, live local music and sometimes other activities too. At one of the stops there is a lake and they provide kayaks and life vests to use if you want to take a break from biking and at another stop is the historic Greyhound Bus Museum, open for the public to peruse.

When the riders reach the finish line they are greeted with more live music, a free homemade buffet style lunch and a free water bottle and T-shirt.

It is also important to note that the ride is something that greatly helps out northern Minnesota economically, since it has been pretty tough up there now that most of the mining has left.

The Great River Energy Mesabi Trail Ride is something I definitely recommend you try out this summer if you like biking or northern Minnesota, or if you would just like to try something new that is a lot of fun.