Back to Biking; The 2018 Pie Burner to Be Exact!!

Almost two weeks out!!

The cold has arrived, hopefully it stays!! A light fresh dusting of the white stuff is on the ground…. things should be forming up after the three nights we’ll below freezing forecasted temps.

Look for some route updates….. soon!!

I pick up my trusty Pugsley from Bikes on Howard tomorrow…. then I ride!!

Here’s looking to a very successful 6th year event!!

For those wondering, the shirt design is done, with an online purchase link soon to follow. If you do order and pay; your shirt will be at Palmer’s Tavern on Saturday’s ride morning!!

Here’s the front in all it’s Cardinal Red glory!!

And the back Sponsorship logos of course.


ISD #701…. Name Recognition Voting!!??

Well, I made it through something that’s completely out of my “comfort zone.”

The first school board candidate forum… which was on 10/9.

Did I answer all the questions to the best of my ability?

I’d have to say no, but I feel I didn’t embarrass myself as much as I thought I would, not to bad for my first time in that kind of format.

I also feel my passion for doing what’s right for children/teachers and the district did come through.

Then my scheduled HPAT interview… 10/16…. talk about out of my comfort zone….wow!!

I wasn’t able to say as much as I’d like during my interview. Let me rephrase that….. What I did talk about was important and pertinent to the school board…. thank you Patty Miller.

Although I touched a little on the title of this post…. it was not enough for me.

So here we are!

Back to the candidate forum, and the meat of this post.

One thing that surprised me was the absence of our current school board chair. Something that I’ve since learned he does on a regular basis.

Why on earth is this man still on the school board??

If an elected official deems himself “to good” (because that’s what it looks like), to come before the public (that elects board members), to answer basic questions….. why does he still get elected??

If you were hiring someone for a J.O.B. and they didn’t show up for the interview; would you hire them anyway??

Well, this community has “hired” the current school board chair year after election year…. then we as a community wonder why our school board has been such an underachieving unit for how many years now??? Our school aged children, both HUE and AFSCME unions, the community as a whole should be demanding more!


Just because someone’s name is always on the ballot… DOES NOT mean you check the box next to his name!!

NAME RECOGNITION voting for school board members needs to stop!

Longevity does not equal smart decisions that help our communities school age children, teachers and supporting players, and district…. it builds complacency, a preconceived notion of power and or the illusion of “being untouchable,” all while losing touch with what’s important and doing things that only benefit ones self!!

This mans time has come; and as November 6th nears, you the community need to ask yourselves why??

Why is he still representing the community/children/district on the school board?

Why does he not humble himself before the community, and put himself “out there” with the rest of us?

In my opinion this is the MAIN problem with school board leadership…. when the chair has a sense of entitlement; when the chair thinks he is “to good” to answer even one question…. that’s a problem!!

Am I alone is this line of thinking??

It seems to me a little common sense would go a long, long way… in seeking true and needed change at the school board level… saying nothing about other levels above and beyond the school board.

Another issue I wasn’t able to bring up in my Hpat interview…. why isn’t anyone talking about one huge group that keeps getting ignored…. the AFSCME union. They DO NOT have a new contract either.

The AFSCME union are, the custodians, secretaries, paraprofessionals, grounds crew, technology support, LPN’s, plumbers, electricians, etc.

I get the HUE gets most of the headlines, as one would expect….. but the school district can not run without the AFSCME union members. They are the “people behind the scenes.” They are the HUE’s education partners, and the district acts like their voice does not exist.

One group does not work without the other…. AGAIN…..


It’s Starting to Become A Reality!!

After many years, countless hour of tireless background work, by a lot of nameless and faceless individuals; purpose built single-track mountain bike trails will be becoming a reality in the Northland!!

There’s already been one community plannings session, with another scheduled for…..

This is a dream come true to many riders in our area and far beyond!!

Iroc-mtb clubs most recent press release….. reads as follows.


P: 218-969-8745



Iron Range Off Road Cyclists Announces Second Planning Session for Redhead Mountain Bike Park and Recreational Area: Ideas finalized for Spring 2019 construction.

Hibbing, MN—With over two dozen people from across the area, Iron Range Off Road Cyclists (IROC) held the first of twocommunity input sessions Thursday night to gather community input on the forthcoming Redhead Mountain Bike Park and recreational area.  

The session, held at the Minnesota Discovery Center (MDC),was the first of a two part series to gather insight fromcommunity members about what they would like to see in the bike park and larger recreation area. 

The second session, to be held Wednesday, October 24, 6:30 PM at Minnesota Discovery Center, will refine the list of features for inclusion in the park, the larger recreational areasurrounding the park and amenities at MDC.  Everyone is invited and encouraged to attend.  Admission is free.

Participants in Thursday night’s session brainstormed ideas insix key areas: what would you like to see for trails; integration of the park with MDC; community impact; getting kids outdoors; facilitating women, aging, and physically-challenged riders and rides; and other amenities for the larger recreation area.

Ideas ranged from wider trails to allow hand bikes; fun, easier trails for new, young and or aging riders; a large play park at MDC; swimming in Monroe pit; hosting an annual community mountain bike fest; kayaking; and craft beer, good coffee and excellent food at MDC.

Scott Linnenberger, construction manager for the three, iron range, off-road cycling destinations currently under development spoke at the IROC session.  

“The best projects are the done by the community, for the community,” Linnenberger stated. “Everyone can ride (off-road) with the right trails.  We want to know those needs and desires.  If we get a list of 100 ideas, we try to incorporate 99 of them into the system.”

Linnenberger has managed the construction of destination trail systems across the United States.  He is currently overseeing theconstruction of the Giants Ridge lift-served mountain bike system and the Tioga single-track trail system in Cohasset.  He is also leading trail construction at Redhead.

“We have the best builders in the Midwest working on these projects,” said Linnenberger.  “With the amount of funding from the IRRR, the speed of development, and the cooperative agreement to build three parks simultaneously, North American mountain biking has never seen a regional initiative like this.”  

“What we are building here is a huge asset,” said Benji Neff, IROC President.  “We are building community, regional, and national tourism destinations.  With the combined trail systems of Tioga in Cohasset, Legion Hills in Grand Rapids, Maple Hill in Hibbing, Redhead in Chisholm, Lookout Mountain in Virginia, and the gravity trail system at Giants Ridge, we are creating a world-class destination.  And it is already underway.”    

“I have been interviewed by national publications about our project,” said Benji Neff.  “Word is spreading.  We are starting to get calls and texts from folks out of the Twin Cities asking, how can I help?  This is an exciting time.”

Construction on the Redhead Mountain Bike Park is slated to break ground spring 2019.  The park will be located south of MDC along the shores of the beautiful Monroe Pit, visible from HWY 169.  The park will consist of 25 miles of single-track mountain bike trails, which will be open to the public, and access free of charge.  The recreational area surrounding the bike trails, including amenities at the Minnesota Discovery, may include a kinesthetic playground, camping, swimming in the Monroe pit, food and drinks, and entertainment at MDC—as designed by our community.

Mountain bike parks have become a destination for individuals and families as evidenced by the heavy traffic at Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area in Crosby, MN.  Communities with mountain bike parks have seen an increase in customers for food, drink, bike equipment and repair, and lodging.

Redhead will be a park and recreation area designed to attract riders of all ages and abilities and their families.  With a healthy list of ideas generated from the first session, IROC will work with the community on October 24 session to finalize ideas for inclusion in the project.  Women, children and families are encouraged to attend and voice their opinions.

Soon enough….. this picture will be more than just words for people from all over!!

Yes, I’m Running for a Seat on the Hibbing School Districts School Board.

I’ve been noticeably quiet over the last many months, by design….

Why did I decide to throw my hat in the political fray???

To begin, I’m an upset parent who has seen misstep after misstep by the current and former school board members, with no rectifying solution in site!!

The former superintendent allegedly lied and cheated his way to a raise.  This left the ISD#701 teachers union with NO contract in site. HE PROMISED the teachers “their time would come.” Well, he’s now the former superintendent (good thing), and yet the teachers are still WITHOUT A NEW CONTRACT.

When times were tight, the teachers did what any union and their members do…. tighten things up, and wait until things turn around. With limited financial security of the district, the union members lessened their demands.

The union has compromised, but the school board will not. It’s beyond pathetic the school board doesn’t recognize that the last 400 days without a teachers contract, states that The board by no means values the teachers, and students!

Supposedly, the district is NOT in dire financial straits.  In contrast, there is an 8-12 million dollar surplus. If this is the case, then why isn’t YOUR elected board doing more to deliver our valuable teachers a reasonable contract??

I’m not pretending I know what’s what, but for PetesSake…..… Why is OUR school board refusing to negotiate in good faith with OUR valued teachers?

Furthermore, another issue of utmost importance is mental health assistance for students.

MInnesota has the 4TH worst student to counselor ratio in the United States. This is a travesty. Nationally the average is 481 students to 1 counselor, in Mn. It Is 723 students to 1 counselor.

Minnesota HAS THE 4TH WORST STUDENT/COUNSELOR RATIO in the country!! How embarrassing is that??Some Mn. school districts are dealing with 1,035/1!!!??

I’ve since learned ISD#701 has hired one or two more counselors… but I’m getting vague information. Either way the ratio is still NOT what it should be!!

Some more facts (from the article linked above)…. the American School Counselor Association advocates for 250/1. Far removed from the national average.

In 2016 the Minnesota Legislator worked to address the shortfall.  They approved a 12 million dollar grant program for matching funds, this grant lasts 6 years. Was ISD#701 one of 77 Minnesota districts that applied? If not, do they have any intention of applying in the 6 year timeframe?

Kids Mental Health Issues:

1 in 5 have mental health problems.

43% increase in ADHD.

37% increase in teen depression.

100% increase in suicide rate in kids 10-14 years old.

With the iPads being such a HUGE part of the learning curriculum of this district, the mental health curriculum also needs to be improved……. If a child is struggling with mental illness, how possibly can an iPad help?????

The district has given children “Pandora’s Box” and just left them alone with it!!

That’s wrong on so many levels!!

The district has no foresight in regards to electronic learning.

Medical studies are already indicating the long term detriment of repetitive electronic exposure.

The board demonstrates little to NO knowledge as to how their decisions are damaging our children.

A few examples…. Billy and Johnny talk amongst themselves about drugs during the school day…. they both can look up whatever they want about said drugs once their at home, or anywhere they can connect to WiFi. The same can be said about Suzy and Sally after talking about sex during the school day with their peers. Am I the only one who sees a problem with the districts refusal of implementing more mental health protocols in the 7th – 9th grades and beyond??

In my job as a school bus driver for district ISD#701 via Shubat Transportation, I am witness to the need for expanded mental health care.

Teachers see it first hand. What is the district doing to help the teachers assist their students in getting the help they need??

In reference to this…. 3/22/17 school board meeting.

The three community members who spoke are 100% correct!! Something needs to be done before it’s too late…….. I believe Mr. Finco needs to DO HIS job for a change.

My intent is to bring to the school board the voice of reason and common sense.

I DO NOT have a personal agenda.

I WILL put ALL youth at the fore front of my actions.

In fact, the actions of the current school board members in NO way shape or form represent the needs of the students or teachers!

I’m a firm believer one CAN NOT move forward  without looking to the mistakes of the past.

The goal of the future school board should be to learn from past mistakes, while improving the outlook for the school district.


Another issue I’d like to see done, is job performance evaluations of all ISD#701 administrators, this evaluation should be done by teachers and other staff, these evaluations must be taken into account for future salary increments and continued employment.

Also, the technology department should be given the same evaluations.

With the increase of students with special needs, the class size must be decreased. It is ridiculous that class sizes are close to 30 with at least 2/3 of these students needing more assistance than one teacher can provide…… And if money is short when it’s time to upgrade iPads NO MONIES shall be taken from any school fund that furthers the arts!!

No band fund, no art fund, no drama fund, no knowledge bowl fund… NOTHING!!

If money is short for new iPad purchasing it comes from sports team budgets PERIOD!!

No more taking money from the arts!!

Continuing….. Girls sports need to have the same gym time as boys sports!! In recent years, girls sports have been second to boys.

Also, older school sports kids will practice at later times, while the younger school children in sports will have early practice times.

This is common sense, yet it doesn’t seem to exist in the current scheduling.

I want to change the current trend of the school board.

Personal agendas and close-minded attitudes need to be a thing of the past. The priority MUST BE THE STUDENTS, THE TEACHERS AND THE DISTRICT.

Please DO NOT vote for me….. if you DO NOT want to hear the truth, have people called out for not doing their jobs to the best of their ability, for the salary they receive; or if straight common sense talk makes you uncomfortable

My goal is to have ISD#701 be the POWERHOUSE OF EDUCATION that it once was!!

This sight has been lost for years with the current school board.

The time has come for needed change, OUR children deserve it!!

Thank You!!

-Joe Sacco


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??