The Search Brigade is a cross-country cycling odyssey open to anyone with the courage to follow Search and State on the back roads of the United States. On June 1st 2016 and 2017, we left New York City on a mission to discover what 'Made in America' truly means. Over 150 days of riding, and more than 10,000 miles later, each of the individuals that set out found their answer out there on the road.
Last year, we put together two short, one day events which encompassed the spirit of the Search Brigade, but distilled it down into an adventure that anyone could embark upon. Search LA and The Northern Search found riders pushing their limits, challenging the elements, and riding immense 1 day epics filled with all of the best roads and off-roads we could pack into a single day in the saddle.
The Northern Search returns for its second year on October 24th, 2017, and this time we're doing things a little differently. Last year we tested the waters with a small crew of experienced riders from Minnesota, beginning in Duluth before the dawn, and riding North along the shore of Lake Superior until we reached Thunder Bay, Ontario under cover of darkness. Temps began and ended below freezing for the team, and climbed under cloudy skies to around 45 degrees during mid-day. The wind stayed away, and overall the experience was as good as it could get, but we were playing with fire. Running a 200 mile point to point ride in November in the far northern reaches of the United States is risky, and this year we're moving things up a bit to try to catch the changing of the leaves, and try for a more balmy ride through the northland.
This year, we're putting out an open call to anyone who wants to join us, just like we do for the Summer Search Brigade cross-country ride.
Here is our route:
Here are the details -
- First and foremost. You must have a valid passport to participate. We will be riding in Canada, crossing the border twice.
- Riders will meet at The Hungry Hippie Hostel just north of Grand Marais on the evening of the 23rd of October.
- Riders are encouraged to carpool. We will be sharing information for registered riders with one another, if you agree, to help facilitate this.
- We will have printed cue cards to hand out to each rider to aid in navigation through areas with no cellular reception. We also have a downloadable .gpx file available of the route as planned so you can use your Garmin or other navigation device.
- Things will be wrapping up early, since we'll be rolling out from the Happy Hippie before the sun comes up on the 24th.
- We will roll out from The Hungry Hippie at 4am sharp.
- We plan on riding at an endurance pace of 15-20mph. While this is not a race, riders are allowed to ride at whatever pace they deem comfortable. Last year the group rode as one throughout the entire route, and held a 17mph average over 200 miles, finishing in just under 12 hours. This year, with mixed surfaces added into the route, as well as 3500 additional feet of climbing, coupled with the larger group of riders and abilities expected, we are not planning on riding together.
- Since this is the case, we will help facilitate communication among riders to find riders of comparable skill or desired ride pace to roll with along the route. We are envisioning three groups, pacing 15, 18, and 21mph respectively.
- Since this ride is an unsupported loop, you are required to bring enough food / water / money to buy supplies as necessary. The route is planned with re-supply points in mind, they are noted on the attached ride with gpx file, as well as noted below with hours of operation, which has been double-checked and confirmed by the ride leaders to insure information is accurate. If you plan on using one of these points for a re-supply for food, water, etc, please make sure you note hours of operation, we shouldn’t have an issue, but if for some reason you fall behind and are coming up in the dark and anticipating an establishment for re-supply, you’re on your own.
- We will not have a support vehicle of any kind to bring you home. Mechanicals, particularly when in Canada, should be taken very seriously, since we will not always be on main roads, and you will most likely not have cell reception to call for help.
Here's a few words about bike choice:
- An endurance road, all road, gravel, or cyclocross bike will be the best choice. We will be tackling around 70 miles of gravel on this route. Some of which will include quite a lot of climbing and descending.
- Plan your tire choice accordingly. You want something with enough volume and puncture protection to get you through a long endurance mixed-surface adventure, with confidence descending and cornering on gravel, but something that still rolls well on pavement, seeing as 65% or so of this ride will be on smooth tarmac.
What to bring:
- Food for the ride
- Hydration solution for the ride
- Clothes for changing temperatures and conditions
- Cash and credit card and ID and Passport
- Tent / sleeping situation for camping out the night before and the night of the ride.
- Plans for evac should you be stranded on the ride and need to get back to Grand Marais / Hungry Hippie.
- Lights, front and rear, and possibly a back-up front. Plan on riding for a few hours in the dark before the sun comes up, and possibly finishing in the dark if you don't make it back to camp in time.
This is absolutely a ride that will be the more the merrier. It is all about exploring what is out there, and pushing your boundaries at the same time. No racing mentality, only a desire to finish is required. Think of it as your standard group ride, just much longer, much more beautiful, and much more rad.