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Boreal Community Media

RESCHEDULED: Local Photographer Bryan Hansel Completes Bikepacking Trip on Proposed Border-to-Border Route

Feb 20, 2024 01:45PM ● By Content Editor
Bryan Hansel during his bikepacking trip. Photo provided by Bryan Hansel.

By Laura Durenberger-Grunow - Boreal Community Media - February 9, 2024


**********************February 20, 2024 update: This event originally scheduled for February 21 has been rescheduled to March 13 at 7-8 PM.*****************************


Cook County resident and photographer Bryan Hansel recently embarked on a 10-day, 625 mile adventure on the proposed Border-to-Border Touring Route, a gravel bike path traversing northern Minnesota. Driven by both curiosity and his love for bikepacking, Hansel set out to experience the route firsthand despite its unfinished status and local controversy.

 Photo by Bryan Hansel. 


"I wanted to check it out for myself," Hansel told Boreal Community Media. "It looked like it would be a good gravel bike ride, and I was curious after all the debate about it."

The Border-to-Border Touring Route, spearheaded by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), aims to utilize existing roads to create a scenic off-road vehicle (ORV) touring path stretching from the North Dakota border to Lake Superior. Initially, the proposed route utilized roads into Cook County, however, faced opposition from local government officials, who were concerned about potential environmental and economic impacts. The route now ends in Silver Bay, something Hansel appreciates. 

Hansel's route, from RidewithGPS.com


Hansel charted his own course, following select branches of the proposed route that offered the most promising gravel riding opportunities. While the route itself has over 800 miles of road, Hansel "didn't ride all of them," he clarified. "But everything I rode was part of the B2B trail."

 Photo by Bryan Hansel. 


Relying on state parks, USFS campsites, and occasional wild camping (where permitted), Hansel encountered minimal traffic aside from grouse hunters during the season. Yet, he found the biggest surprise awaited him on the western leg of the journey.

"I've driven through it before," Hansel shared, "but only by riding my bike was I able to understand how flat it is. My bike computer didn't register a hill until just outside of the town of Blackduck!" (The town of Blackduck is located in North Central Minnesota.)

 Town of Blackduck. Photo by Bryan Hansel. 


Beyond the flat terrain, Hansel was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the route itself. "The DNR has designed a great route, despite the concerns and opposition," he shared. "It was really fun. I highly recommend it to other bikepackers or bike riders." His journey wasn't without its challenges, like a long day after a planned campsite turned out to be closed for the season - where he didn't get his tent up until after sunset. 

 Photo by Bryan Hansel. 


Hansel will be giving a presentation about his bikepacking journey at the Grand Marais Public Library on Wednesday, February 21, from 7:00-8:00 pm. The presentation will consist of personal stories, impressions, and of course, photos, including a stunning fall foliage one he took along the way. "It ended up in my 2024 calendar that I sell, and I've sold enough prints of it so far that it paid for the trip," he added. 

The event is free, and no registration is required. Seating begins at 6:30 pm. 

To learn more about the event, click here.

To learn more about Bryan Hansel and his photography, visit his website here.