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Children of the Corn Minus the Scythes: Patrick Moore's Gray Duck Grit Recap

Patrick Moore brought his Heck of the North spirit to Northfield, Minnesota for the Gray Duck Grit gravel race recently. Here he shares about his time riding driftless gravel, playing mind games, and enjoying the hills that were alive with the sound of anguish.

Words by Patrick Moore

Living in Duluth, I’ve developed a complicated love/hate relationship with the challenging courses that Jeremy Kershaw and the Heck of the North team come up with each year. In the moment, usually around mile 60, they can destroy you both mentally and physically, but after it’s all said and done, the sense of accomplishment is hard to beat.

So this year, excited about some smoother gravel, I threw some skinnier tires onto my Salsa Cutthroat and hit I-35 south for Northfield for the 2nd ever Gray Duck Grit.

The 110-mile course was breathtaking. Farms dot the rolling landscape as the wind whips through the tall corn stalks, offering a soundtrack like no other; think Children of the Corn minus the scythes. Friendly waves from farmers driving combines was a regular occurrence.

The gravel was indeed smoother, but the hills... The hills were alive with the sound of…anguish? The hills simply did not stop. It was an absolute roller coaster of rolling hills through the northernmost parts of the driftless region. My Wahoo Roam indicated upwards of 13% gradient climbs. But as the saying goes; what goes up, must come down. The descents were fast and exhilarating and just long enough to psych you up for the next bluff.

At mile 75, I engaged in a fairly one-sided conversation with a curious cow about the humor of the word bluff as I struggled up one. Definition 1: bluff: a steep slope formed in sediment (loose material such as clay, sand, and gravel) that has three feet or more of vertical elevation (three feet is a gross understatement). Definition 2: bluff: an attempt to deceive someone into believing that one can or will do something (yes, I called the bluff’s bluff and made it up all of the bluffing bluffs…pardon my French).

I crossed the finish line with a strong sense of relief. Although my time was slower than I had hoped for, I had a ton of fun. I also gained some great experience in not underestimating the demands of bluff country. But best of all, I met some fantastic people (and cows). I’m already looking forward to the 3rd Gray Duck Grit!

A huge thank you to Mark and Kris Jesse and their amazing team of volunteers for putting this event on.




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