The Heartland Trail takes center stage in this year's Headwaters 100.
Road construction on Highway 71 between Itasca State Park and Lake George necessitated an alternate route.
Hosted by the Itascatur Outdoor Activity Club, the biking event celebrates its 37th anniversary when kickstands go up Saturday, Sept. 23.
Organizers say the one-time change will "serve the majority of our riders, while introducing them to our backyard trails: the Heartland Trail and Mi-Gi-Zi Trail, true gems in Hubbard and Cass counties."
The Heartland Trail is the oldest Rails to Trail route in Minnesota.
The Headwaters 100 is a casual, non-competitive and family-friendly ride. This year, participants can choose between a 45-, 75- or 108-mile tour. All three routes will be out and back on the Heartland Trail.
Riders in the 45-mile trek venture through Dorset, Nevis and Akeley, then turn around at the junction with the Paul Bunyan Trail.
The 75-mile excursion takes riders to Anderson's Cove on Steamboat Bay and back to the finish line in Park Rapids.
The 100-mile ride ventures from the Heartland Trail onto the Mi-Gi-Zi Trail in the Chippewa National Forest. This beautiful trail is named for the bald eagle, "migizi" in Ojibwe. Dedicated in 2003, it circles Pike Bay on a 19-mile, paved loop through big red pines near Cass Lake.
Also new this year, riders receive a wristband with two phone numbers to call in order to receive support and gear (SAG) assistance. Riders are asked to be mindful of mile markers on the trail so a SAG vehicle can be dispatched to the nearest road intersection.
Food and beverage stops are located along the course. The Nevis Track team will serve soup, muffins, cookies and coffee at the Akeley City Park. Potatoes, pickles, PB & Js, snacks and fruit will be offered at Anderson's Cove, north of Walker.
As of Sept. 15, 284 people had registered for the event. In addition to the five-state area, participants hail from Washington, California, Oklahoma, Arizona, Ohio, Hawaii and Canada.
Organizers strongly recommend pre-registration online through ZapEvent.com.
Same-day registration runs from 7 to 9 a.m. at the Century School, but no t-shirts will be available for those riders.
Visit www.itascatur.org for rules, routes, map and online registration.
Proceeds from the Headwaters 100 will be used for the Soaring Eagle Cross-Country Ski trails and philanthropic donations.