HIBBING — Steve and Pat Gillitzer loved hitting the trails on two wheels.

“Over the last few years, they were among our most active riders,” said cyclist Henry Djerlev. “Pat would ride during the day, but join us on some of the evening rides. And they biked a lot on their own too, traveling to places where they could hit the trails.”

The couple was members of Cycle Mesabi, an active bicycle club that hosts evening rides during the week from Hibbing. The club has been in existence for 29 years now, and they were part of it for a large portion of those years, according to Djerlev.

The Gillitzers and two of their grandsons passed away as a result of injuries from a house fire on Dec. 26 at their home at 212 42nd St. E. in a Hibbing.

“When we got the call, it was a shock,” said Djerlev, who as wintering out of state. “It’s one of those times when you really don’t know what to feel or how to react. They were really nice people, and very active in the community.”

Cycle Mesabi will be holding a Memorial Bike Ride for Steve and Pat this Saturday, June 30.

It will start around 9 a.m. at the pavilion at Bennett Park.

The plan is to ride about 20 miles — 10 out and 10 back — on the Mesabi Trail toward Kelly Lake and then return to Hibbing.

Children and those less inclined can ride in North Hibbing.

The public is invited to participate.

Talk of a memorial ride surfaced while friends and family mourned and began processing what occurred. Plans continued and the date was chosen early on.

“In addition, we’ve also just put out a bench on the bike trail between Hibbing and Kerr Locations,” said Djerlev. “It’s on the Mesabi Trail, about half way over the hill, just as you go down the backside of the trail.”

A plaque made by family with the Gillitzers’ names and a beautiful saying will soon be added to the bench.

The route Saturday will be a similar path the club has taken in the past, noted Djerlev.

“It was one of our annual rides,” he said. “We used to call it the Bear Ride because we’d often see bears on the route.”

He’s talking about pedaling on an old mining byway known as Stevenson Road, which takes travelers to the Mahoning Mine.

Following the ride, participants will gather in Bennett Park for socializing.

“It will be a time for people to support each other,” said Djerlev. “There will be family members there and a lot of people that were in biking clubs that knew Steve and Pat.”

A second bench honoring the couple is to be installed in Bennett Park. Djerlev said the plan is to place it under a large tree between the North Pavillion and Third Avenue East toward Guardian Angels Health and Rehabilitation Center.

“This bench will be more accessible to younger kids and adults, to those using park,” he said. “Maybe it will be a place where people can reflect and think about Steve and Pat.”

There are also plans to plant a couple of apples trees near the bench. Both the bench and trees are memorials that are offered by the city through its parks programs, noted Djerlev.

“Steve and Pat had so many friends, and we have no other way or reaching them other than this (ride). We are just one circle of his friends,” he said. “ … I would image we’d do this in the future too, but maybe a bit more casually than this one.”

Hibbing Fire Marshal Bryan Fagerstrom said Thursday that the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

“The house will be coming down soon,” he added. “We still have a lab examining all the artifacts that were removed during (scene) processing.”


Snacking Bear 60

I drove down Friday evening after work. Slept in the van until 5:45 a.m. Walked over to the Cable Cafe for a good breakfast of eggs, bacon, hash browns and toast. It was gonna be a long day!! The owner, (sorry I forgot your name), who was retiring from her establishment this week, makes one hell of a breakfast!!

Nothing like an early season beat down on gravel, to make one feel alive!! Whoever knew one could be happy paying $30 for a good flogging on two wheels!! 👍🏻

As usual with these events; this particular one put on by Terrene Tires. Thanks again to Tim and Odia Krueger…. well played you two! 😜

I watched the fast riders pull away, knowing full well I’d see them again passing me towards the end of the day. LOL

I didn’t start “feeling it” until I hit the gravel, after 11ish miles or so. I kept my average between 11.5 – 13.5 until mile 44ish. That’s when the wheels literally feel off; in the shape of Rock Lake Road.

I saw the 1st hill and mumbled a bit to myself; climbing and I aren’t real good friends!! “Toughen up buttercup” Or remember rule#5 pussy!! Ha Ha

Well, after the 5th or 6th climb I was toasted; and pedaling with essentially one good right leg. So all the remaining large climbs were walked, with a limp!! LOL

The longest 9. Whatever miles since last summer!! I really wish I felt better hanging the left on Camp Road 38, because that section would’ve been a hoot if I was “myself.”

As usual the riders that passed me during this time were “hey you alright?”

My reply, for what seemed like forever…. was “yes, I’m good.”

I do have a bone to pick with one David Pramann you lie!! 😜

I did finally get to meet Mr. MountainBikeRadio himself during this time. After a quick handshake and a few words he was off.

Another thing with these gravel rides…. it never fails, (and Wisconsin is no different than Minnesota), I seem to get buzzed by whatever traffic there is!!!

Two trucks driven by older gentlemen seemed oblivious to me pedaling as far right as I could get, and buzzed me well within my 5′ comfort zone. One coming at me and the other from behind.

On Rock Lake Road, it was the wheelers. Most of the wheeler traffic was ok, minus the two side-by-sides who sped up and gave a quick swerve in my general direction. Pretty damn disconcerting when you’re going 3mph up hill.

All in all a good day to pedal my bike in a truly beautiful area of Wisconsin!!

Huge News For Iron Range Trail

3 separate areas of northern Minnesota’s Iron Range receive 5 million dollars for trail expansion!! IROC should be proud….. and kudos To Pete K. and Luther K. along with others for their unending hard work!!

My personal (and completely biased) area the “Redhead” trail 25 proposed miles, received $1.77 million.

MPR article

Duluth News Tribune

KBJR News story

And a bit of a regurgitated article, but it’s spreading the word!!

CBS 3 Duluth

Almost as fast as the money news broke, the naysayers were, and are still out in force….. “not in my backyard”….. or “what a waste of money!

Needless to say, we as a club need to step up our game, and make this endeavor work!!

I have no doubt that this group along with the others GRIMBA and Giants Ridge will not have a problem!!

Onward to awesome trails to come!!

Another article out 1/29/18 by

Minnesota Brown

Here’s something I’ve written down and would like to share….. in response to the naysayers….. mainly on the Facebook page “fighting for mining Minnesota.” They had a post up until earlier this a.m. 1/27/18 with 400 plus odd comments, where 90% of said comments were not very well informed/uneducated (on this topic), comments slamming more mountain bike trails!!

I doubt any of them will find their way here… but leaving it here just the same…..

As an avid mountain biker, mostly leaning toward the fat and plus bike side of things….. the news about receiving trail money from the IRRRB was welcome news! It’s been a long road to get to this point!

Grants have been written, donations have been gained…. plans have been drawn up, thrown away multiple times over a 10 plus years timeframe.

Flame on me all you like….. it’s ok!!


Before anyone jumps on me about being a liberal, or having liberal leanings…. I lean conservative, I’m a huge Trump supporter and I know mining is the life blood of this region.

Because I enjoy a quality adult beverage and pedal a mountain bike DOES NOT change what’s written above.

Also, as a life long citizen of the Iron Range, I was expecting and knew the blowback of this news would be fierce, pointed and at some point down right mean and hilarious at the same time!!

Oh the outrage….. I get it; everyone is entitled to their opinion…. also as a life long Iron Range resident I know there’s more than enough opinions to fill up all the area mine pits three times over, and then some!

To the comments of why can’t “you mountain bikers” use the snowmobile trails to ride on…… 85% of the snowmobile trails are built through swampland…. I don’t think that needs explaining. I’ve also ridden on snowmobile trails during the winter… (bought my trail pass in multiple years) which by the way…. was almost like pulling teeth with the DNR to actually take my money.

After many close calls with some (not all) sled heads I stopped riding the trails.

Also, why can’t the mountain bikers use the dedicated four wheeler trails? I know I have and still do….. I also have ridden every atv trail there is from Nashwauk to Virginia. I’ve also ridden every rogue atv trail, climb to the top of every iron ore waste pile aka dump within the same area.

These proposed trails will be unlike any trails that are currently available to pedal on.

Minus Lookout Mtn. Maple Hill and Legion Trails in Rapids. Which were all built by hand and with countless volunteer hours.

These new trails will be machine built, by multiple professional trail builders to the tune of 70-100k a mile…. expensive?? That fact is relative….. but build it once and build it right, with sustainability in mind…. through a corridor no more than 6’ – 8’ wide….. which will shrink over time to be about 48” wide, built to shed water naturally and will take minimal maintenance.

Maintenance by the way that will be completely volunteer based through each separate club.

A huge responsibility as anyone whose ever done trail maintenance surely knows.

Allowing atv’s, motorbikes on these trails would, to be honest, wreck the trails beyond our volunteer bases time and expertise…. and quite frankly cost more money to repair.

Why can’t the new trail system be multi use?? See above…… but……

Are we talking multi use with atv’s? Hikers? Motorbikes?Bikers obviously. But who else? Equestrians? See extra maintenance costs here also.

And how would we mitigate the speed difference? The safety issues? You have to admit hikers 4 mph tops…. bikers maybe 15-20 mph in short bursts or downhill, or the really “in shape” riders?

Compare that to the speed of an atv…. you CAN NOT compare….. human powered to the press of a thumb, or twist of the throttle. See costing more money in trail maintenance here also.

The Redhead trail system has been in the works for over 10 plus years, has been moved from sites in Hibbing twice and finally found a home in Chisholm with the Mn Discovery Center.

I have no leanings one way or the other about the Mesabi Trail…. I buy my yearly pass, myself and my children ride the trail on a yearly basis. We also ride and pay our fee for the Great River Energy Mesabi Trail Tour…. not cheap for a family.

To the point of people saying mountain bikers don’t travel well….. I say hogwash!! Mountain bikers travel very well, and spend money doing it. How do I know this?

When we travel to ride different area trails….. we spend lots of money (not in our area) to the tune of $125 – $175 daily, and that’s on the low end; this is not including lodging if we spend the night.

I will admit we as a club have our work cut out for us….. as does GRIMBA and Giants Ridge…… also as any club would, who receives this amount of money should have. I believe we are up for the challenge.

One good thing in all of this back and forth???

The Crosby/Ironton area went through these same back and forth conversations when they first proposed their trails…….. very good things came from those exchanges…. I have no doubt the same will happen here!!

I’ve also read “these trails will dilute the area for riders” I disagree…. there will be groups of riders that will make loops from Duluth, to Cuyuna through these newly proposed trails on a yearly basis…. both in summer and winter…..staying over night wherever they want to end their day.

I’ve been active in the mountain bike community for 20 years plus, throughout the state, and know this exact thing will happen. Poo Poo me right now all you like…. we can talk again in 2-5 years. If I turn out to be wrong, I’ll admit it; if you’re wrong, will you??


The 2017 Pie Burner Put To Bed….

The Sunday before the ride, trail conditions were perfect!! Come the Friday before the ride it was 44 degrees and raining!!??

Mother threw a monkey wrench at us; but the ride still went off without a hitch. Saturday mornings temperatures were perfect, mid teens…… with only a high of 28ish.

Studded tires were the buzz word of the day; certain sections of the trail were like a skating rink. Multiple riders went down multiple times; with only one having to pull out after 6ish miles. He’s alright, but bruised up good.

56 riders showed up; and the event got some long overdue local love from the Hibbing Daily Tribune, thanks Mr. Tony Potter!!

With this events growth, look for some changes to come for the 2018 version of the Pie Burner. I’m thinking of having two groups of riders leaving at different times, but arriving back at Palmers within an hour of each other. More on that in the coming months.

When we reached the halfway point, half the riders gladly headed back to Palmers Tavern and waiting for the rest of us to finish up the long route. All the long route riders returned between 3:30 – 4:00 pm.

Eating, drinking and ride giveaways were handled in time; and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

A huge shout-out to my family, again!! You guys rock!!

Also a shout-out to the volunteers, without you this ride would not be what it is!!

And to all the sponsors….. I DO NOT have words for how much your generosity helps this event thrive…. THANK YOU!! Especially Surly Bikes!!

And to Sandy and Brooke; and staff at Palmers Tavern your willingness to work with me and go above and beyond is greatly appreciated!!

Then today I was made of aware of a nice “kudos” write up by fellow fatbiker Sheri Schrock of Cohasset, Mn. In the Hibbing Daily Tribune. Sheri was the nice lady who was pedaling the sweet Otso Voytek on ride day.

Sheri on ride day…..

Thank you for the kind words Sheri, and by those words….. we know what we’re doing, is being done the correct way!!

Here’s a few shots (out of a few 1,000 photos) thanks Zack….. of the day

We’ll see you in 2018!!

Pie Burner Recon Rides

The past two days have seen me riding the 1st two legs of the 2017 Pie Burner….. snow cover isn’t horrible, but I do foresee some trail breaking on leg 3 of the ride…… I’ll know for sure at some point in the next 7-8 days.

There will be plenty of frozen water to ride upon…. plan accordingly.

Things are looking promising to be an awesome year to check out fat biking in the heart of northern Minnesota’s Iron Range!!

A few shots from the past two days…..