Let it Ride!
Yesterday when I was driving the Gunflint Trail down to Grand Marais I saw the strangest sight. A big black bear was galloping down the middle of the road. Directly in front of him was a massive grey wolf in hot pursuit of hundreds of people riding bicycles. I tried to comprehend how this could be happening. What on earth were all of these people on bikes doing on the Gunflint Trail?
When I awoke from my dream I laughed at the scene of the bear chasing a wolf. Then I remembered the bikers were real! A group of over 180 riders were heading up the Gunflint Trail yesterday as I was bringing the kids to town. Most of the ones I saw were walking their bikes up the big hill out of Grand Marais. It was almost 9 o’clock in the morning and that was all the farther they had made it. It was going to be an interesting day on the Gunflint Trail.
All day long while I was in Grand Marais I heard comments about the bikers. What in the heck are they doing riding on the Gunflint Trail? Who are these two wheeled wonders who think they can take up an entire lane of traffic and not get killed by a logging truck? Why would this group bike on a road that doesn’t even have a shoulder? How come they were spread out from Grand Marais to Gunflint Lodge and not kept in a group for their safety? I came around a corner and almost got 5 of them! I tried passing them and they wouldn’t move over so I almost got nailed by a delivery truck.
We welcome you to the Gunflint Trail folks and hope you make it off alive. In all seriousness there could have been a little better planning involved with this ride. Like having it happen in April or November for one. Or maybe a midnight moonlit ride on the Trail? Through the grapevine I heard Mr. Klobuchar, the group’s leader, wanted to keep the ride "low key" and "under the radar" so to speak. They didn’t want much fanfare or hoopla surrounding their trip. However, notifying the County Highway Engineer may have been a nice gesture.
The Gunflint Trail is not a safe place to bike ride. There are basically no shoulders and twists, turns and dips around every bend. Besides the wildlife there is other traffic in June consisting of dump trucks hauling dirt, gasoline pumpers, logging trucks, boats with trailers, tourists, locals and a plethora of delivery trucks. A couple of signs or notices to locals in the area would have been a good idea for safety’s sake as well as tourism in our area.
I’m afraid with all of the comments I have heard these bike riders may not want to come back to the Gunflint Trail. I sure hope being flipped off by carpenters, honked at by dump truck drivers and almost ran down by frenzied fishermen doesn’t discourage them from vacationing in our area in the future.
Tonight at the Community Center in Grand Marais there is a free workshop for Tourism Training. Too bad it wasn’t a mandatory county wide training on Monday night.