Everything comes back to timing. Calendars, clocks, watches, and luck. If this year’s Heck of the North were held 24 hours earlier, we would’ve spent the day riding through autumn rain on sloppy roads and ATV trails. Instead, we were treated to hard, packed gravel and ideal weather by anyone’s definition for bikes, fall colors, type-two fun.
Heck of the North is an event we look forward to every year. It’s held near Two Harbors, Minnesota on the North Shore of Lake Superior. Fall can come early in this part of the state. Past years experienced frosty tents in the morning, rain, sleet, and sometimes even snow. But this year, weather timing lined up and fall colors were paired with cool temps and partly sunny skies.
The event has three distances: 100 miles, 50 miles, and 20 miles. Riders select their distance based on their ambition. Some choose to race against others, some choose to race against their personal clocks, and some choose to slow roll the course for a 100-, 50-, or 20-mile party with friends. There’s no wrong way (or right way) to enjoy gravel.
A big draw for Heck of the North is the fall colors. The courses combine gravel roads with ATV trails with some technical sections to keep riders on their toes. Brilliant orange and red maples are mixed with golden birches and evergreens under blue skies for a spectacular show. It’s a challenge just to keep your eyes on the trail with scenery like this. Peak leaf in this part of Minnesota is typically early October. Barring the Gales of November coming early and blowing away every last leaf, a race in late September is perfect for the best fall colors. Again with timing.
Fortunately for everyone who wasn’t able to ride (or those who were too focused on their computers to enjoy the course), we’ve got lots of photos from the day. We worked with photographer Evan Frost to tell the story of Heck of the North 2021 in photos.
View and download photos here: https://otsocycles.pixieset.com/heckofthenorth2021/
Use password ‘otso’ for access. Images are free to download. Please credit @efrostee and tag #HeckOfTheNorth if you post on Instagram.
Thanks to all Heck riders, their families/support crews, and spectators for keeping things fun and friendly on the course. Thanks to volunteers for making this experience possible. And thanks to Jeremy Kershaw and Heck of the North Productions for creating an event that shows the very best of Minnesota cycling. We hope timing works out and that we can do it all again with everyone next year.