HIBBING — Temperatures in the teens didn’t deter nearly 50 bicyclists from peddling for 15 miles or more Saturday morning and into the afternoon.
“It’s the perfect weather,” said Joe Sacco, organizer of The Pie Burner Thanksgiving Weekend Fat Bike Ride. “Nobody will be complaining about today’s weather.”
The ride, now in its fifth year, began with only eight bicyclists. Last year there were 37 participants.
“It’s been getting bigger and bigger every year,” Sacco said. “It’s really blown me away. I’m truly appreciative that my small, grassroots event has gotten this big.”
The event began as a small ride among friends who enjoy bicycling and being outdoors.
“A buddy of mine from Detroit Lakes came home for Thanksgiving five years ago and said, ‘let’s go for a ride,’” Sacco recalled. “… The rest is history.”
Now the event has a bigger purpose: to collect donations for the Northeastern St. Louis County Toys for Tots Foundation.
“There is no registration for this ride, however there is a ride fee in the form of a donation,” Sacco explained. “New, unused, unwrapped toys, books, stocking stuffers and/or cash or checks are also accepted as donations.”
The event began at Palmer’s Tavern at 9 a.m. The riders then headed to the west-side dumps for about a 6-mile-leg warm-up. Then they went east for a gas station pit stop prior to a short 1 mile pedal to the Old Whitney Tailings pond area.
“Which is the beginning of the meat of this ride,” Sacco said. “For those that are entertaining the idea of the 15-mile short route, their ride is over in just around 9 to 10 miles. At that point, Grace Road, you can decide to continue on or pull the plug on your day.”
Due to the winter weather, ice and snow in particular, a true Fat Bike with 3.8-inch or wider tires was recommended for the ride.
“The ride will take us on a varied terrain, which is smack dab in the heart of Minnesota’s Iron Range,” Sacco said. “Terrain varies from four-wheeler/double track, goat paths and long abandoned iron ore mining pits with the Mesabi Trail connecting it all.”
The ride also included some climbing.
“If you’ve ridden the Cuyuna trails and thought those few climbs there were OK, then you’ll do just fine,” Sacco said. “Only two short climbs in the beginning will be mandatory to continue on the route, and one entering the Whitney Tailings pond area. After that, all climbs will be rider’s choice.”
The Pie Burner Thanksgiving Weekend Fat Bike Ride is a great way to enjoy the Iron Range.
“I want to get everybody out enjoying the outdoors while also making some local kids’ Christmas a little better,” he said. “Other than that, I just hope everyone has fun, nobody gets hurt and there are smiles on all of their faces by the end.”