I didn’t originally intend for this to be an FKT route. But I needed a way to get back to my car after I ran the BRT. I had a friend drive up from southern Minnesota the first time I tried the BRT FKT a few years ago, but I don’t like asking someone to take that much time from their schedule for some silly record so I planned on biking back this time. I’d done this many times before on shorter trails, but this adventure would prove to be much more logistically challenging.
Wednesday evening I drove to the western trailhead and stashed my bike in the woods. I also set up a tent with a sleeping bag, a bear canister with extra food, and an extra gallon of water. Then I drove to the eastern trailhead and slept in my car a few hours before starting the run at 4:06 am on Thursday. I wrote up a separate trip report for the BRT FKT, but basically it was going great until a surprise snowstorm showed up. Fortunately I was moderately prepared for this with a bivy and a two lighters (musts for something this remote in my opinion). I used the bivy as a raincoat and kept running. Running in a bivy is very hard in case you were wondering.
Somewhere during this snowstorm I started wondering if the run/bike loop could be it’s own fkt route. It seemed like a natural loop since shuttling and hitching are quite difficult for the BRT. As a solo runner, the bike seems like a pretty good way to go.
When I finished the BRT, I was cold and wet and just focused on getting warm and dry. I wasn’t too concerned about a possible loop route at that point. After I’d been in my tent a while I heard a rustling sound on my rain fly. I thought it must be some kind of animal, then I realized it was the ice on my tent melting from my body heat and sliding down the outside.
I slept for several hours before waking up to a colder than expected morning. I put my wet shoes on and started riding at 9:50 am. I started a Strava activity on my phone almost as an afterthought. I didn’t want to mess with my watch since I’ve had it erase activities on me before when I’ve recorded multiple activities before syncing. I didn’t have enough clothes to stay warm on the bike, so for the first few hours I was getting off to walk periodically in an attempt to warm up.
I had some trouble finding my route between the Gunflint Trail and the eastern trailhead. I hadn’t done enough research and some roads on my map didn’t seem to exist in real life, some were covered in water. I finally made it back to my car after 7hrs 9mins of biking, around 22hrs of running, and 7+ hrs trying to get dry, sleeping and getting ready for the bike ride. I got back to my car at 5:00 pm (though the time stamp on my photos seem to all be off an hour being this close to Canada and a different time zone). Almost 37hrs is definitely not a fast time. I would like to see someone take this under 24 by doing it without sleep. Maybe I’ll try that eventually.