The All-Season Guide to Biking in Thunder Bay

Whether you love to sail through singletrack, punch through snow, grind gravel, or cruise paved roads, it’s all on offer at the Lakehead.

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With countless activities always only minutes away, Thunder Bay’s breathtaking scenery, world-class dining, and rich history make it a must-visit for any outdoor enthusiast. Take in the sheer cliffs and sweeping views of Lake Superior from Nanabijou, the Sleeping Giant. Go back in time with a visit to Fort William Historical Park, and follow voyageur routes farther up the Kaministiquia River to Kakabeka Falls, the Niagara of the North. Enjoy the mouthwatering menus of the many top-notch local eateries.

There are so many things to do in Thunder Bay, and all disciplines of cycling are on that list: kilometres of singletrack are maintained all year long in Trowbridge Forest (yes, including winter), classic loops for the roadies are available in every direction out of town, and endless gravel adventures await those who love to explore. No matter what you are riding, or how you ride it, Thunder Bay has something for you.

Bike trails in Thunder Bay 

Whether you love the pounding in your chest after a steep climb and the breeze flowing through your helmet on a fast descent, or you’re just looking for a leisurely cruise with the family, or any riding in between, you can find it here in Thunder Bay.

Mountain biking 

Man with young son on mountain bike riding on rocky trail in forest
Mike and Rowan hitting the rock rollers on Prospector. Source: Michael McKenzie


The network in Kinsmen Park (Trowbridge Forest) is the place to go for Thunder Bay mountain bike trails. Known as “Shuniah Mines” to the locals, a mix of old-school tech and new-school flow weaves its way over the old silver mine that once occupied the forest floor. The Blacksheep Mountain Bike Club is the region’s facilitator of all things MTB; a dedicated crew of volunteers builds, maintains and develops the system, and has done incredible work in the past several years upgrading the trails from the rake-and-ride goat paths of old, to the well-manicured, meticulously planned routes you’ll find today. There is currently 22 km of purpose-built mountain bike tread in the riding area, with more being added every year, on top of the multi-use double track found in the adjacent Bluffs, Centennial Park and recreational land surrounding Boulevard Lake.

Cyclists of all skill levels will have a blast in this riding zone. Though there are many entry points to the Forest, Kinsmen Park by Trowbridge Falls Campground is the recommended trailhead. From there, the skill-building Prospector Trail and Fool’s Gold right off the parking lot are perfect for getting warmed up, or pulling endless laps with the kids. Across the bridge at the far end of the park you can hang a left for a leisurely ride on the Yellow Trail alongside the Current River, or head straight into the forest on Conveyor Belt, as you climb into the heart of the Mines.

The Hydro Field at the end of Conveyor is the hub of the singletrack network. From there you can session the dirt jumps to your heart’s content, head up the field for some high-speed, high-flying fun down Hill Top and Drift, or take Crossover into the classic Shuniah trails where you’ll find favourites like Grand Chasm, Doctor’s and Peekaboo. If you prefer rocks and rolls, Snakes & Ladders should give you your fill, and then head even deeper to The Otherside, where you’ll find raw, challenging Canadian Shield lines. Check out the Blacksheep trail page for more information.

Large group of mountain bikers riding closely together
Forty Miner 12-km roll out. Source: Michael McKenzie

Also worth mentioning is the Shuniah Forty Miner—the city’s flagship off-road event that attracts hundreds of riders from across the region and beyond. The Blacksheep hosts this event to cap the local mountain bike race series, which generally runs on every second Wednesday during the summer. Check out their full calendar for more information.

Person with young child in back carrier look at view of Lake Superior from high cliff
Taking in one of the many spectacular views at the Top of the Giant. Source: Daniel Fiorito

If you’re less concerned about feature-laden singletrack or chasing Strava KOMs, and more interested in seeing some of the most stunning views in the entire province, the Kabeyun Trail at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is for you. This trail meanders past stony beaches before weaving its way up to the Top of the Giant lookout where you can stand on the very edge of Ontario’s tallest cliffs, and take in the view of Thunder Bay, Mount McKay and numerous Lake Superior islands in the distance. Mountain biking the first part of the trail is recommended to help shave some time off the overall trip, and is a must-see for any adventurers travelling to the region. A bike rack is located at the end of the Kabeyun, where you can park your ride and make your way up a thousand feet over 4 km for the extraordinary views. Budget six to eight hours, and plenty of water and snacks, for this 22-km round-trip journey.

Mountain bike rentals 

Want to explore Thunder Bay’s cycling scene, but don’t want to drag your mountain bike along from home? Rollin’ Thunder and Get Out Gear Rentals are your main sources for Thunder Bay bike rentals.

Rollin’ Thunder

Rollin’ Thunder is a full-service bike, board and ski shop that offers a growing rental fleet for all styles of riding. Entry-level hardtails start at $39, and high-end, full-suspension rigs start at $89. Trunk-mount bike racks, helmets and locks are also available upon request.

Get Out Gear Rentals

Paul at Get Out Gear Rentals will help outfit your weekend adventure with hardtail mountain bikes and hybrid bikes starting at $35, as well as offering stand-up paddleboards and kayaks should you feel the need to hit the water. Get Out can also provide bike racks, helmets and locks for your rental needs.

Road biking 

Man speeding along a street on a bicycle
Local speedster, Chris Mitchell, racing downtown. Source: Nik Fiorito

Some say Thunder Bay’s roads get better in the winter—because the snow fills in all the potholes. But no matter how notorious some of these heaving northern roads can be, you can always find great riding across the region, even on your skinny little 23s. Being situated on the floor of an ancient rift valley, you’ll find hills in every direction out of town, with endless rural roads and landscapes to explore.

The Thunder Bay Cycling Club is a great source for a number of favourite road rides, and for getting into the local race scene. The RIDES: TBay tab will suggest some routes from key starting points around the city and surrounding area. The 40-km out-and-back down Lakeshore Drive from Boulevard Lake is one of the most popular rides in town.

Group of cyclists riding on a paved road surrounded by fall colours
Cool temps and beautiful fall colours for the 2020 Thunder Grinder. Source: Daniel Fiorito

If rougher roads aren’t going to scare you off, check out the long routes for the 2019 and 2020 Thunder Grinder. This is Thunder Bay’s premier gravel road race. While still in its infancy, it’s nailed some fantastic rides over its two years of existence. Be sure to take part in the next edition, which is expected to run on a Saturday in late September 2021.

Another way to discover interesting and unique rides is to follow some key Thunder Bay Strava users. Emile Hamm, Gareth Pritchard, Dave Campbell and Cait Kelly are just a handful of the many accounts that regularly post rides of varying length, difficulty and scenery that are worth checking out. 

Man on road bike riding hard
Emilie Hamm hammering away at one of the weekly TBCC races. Source: Daniel Fiorito


For now, here are a few of our own suggested mid-length routes that provide great scenery, pit stops and some lung-busting challenges along the way. All are doable on standard road tires, but we find 28-mm tires to be the most comfortable and efficient for these journeys.

Squaw Bay + Mount McKay Scenic Lookout (44 km)

  • Start your ride at the Neebing Roadhouse on Hwy 61.
  • Cross the highway onto Mountain Road.
  • Turn right onto Chippewa Road (follow it as it turns into City Road).
  • Prepare for a short section of gravel as the road winds past Sandy Beach (road turns into Sandy Beach Road here).
  • The pavement stays rough until the causeway, at which point it becomes freshly paved.
  • Take a right on Squaw Bay Road and enjoy the great view of Pie Island and the backside of the Nor’Wester Mountain Range as you follow the shore.
  • As you make your way back up from shore, turn left up Mission Road and then take a right up Mt McKay Lookout Drive.
  • Challenge yourself up the steep initial gradient; the road winds all the way to one of the best views in Thunder Bay at the Mount McKay Scenic Lookout. Then head back down the way you came.
  • Be careful on the way down; the left-hander after the old gatehouse is fast and can be a little sandy at times. Take a left back onto Squaw Bay Road (now becoming Mission Road) and follow north.
  • Turn left on City Road, and then left on Mountain Road following it back to the Neebing for a post-ride pint. 

Slate River + South Gillies Loop (59 km)

  • Park at Slate River Dairy at the base of Moose Hill on Hwy 608.
  • Climb the steady gradient of Moose Hill as you continue up 608.
  • Turn left on Hwy 597, and enjoy the rolling hills of the rural countryside—a beautiful scene when the leaves have begun to change.
  • Turn right on Hwy 595. Make sure you have legs for the sharp climb out of Pine River (known as The Wall to locals).
  • Turn right back onto 608.
  • Rip back down to Slate River Dairy for the freshest chocolate milk recovery.

Rosslyn to Kakabeka Out and Back (49 km)

  • Start at Whitewater Golf Club on King George’s Park Drive.
  • Turn left out of the complex and make your way south down Hwy 130.
  • Keep right onto Barrie Drive.
  • Turn right onto River Road and enjoy the gentle winding cruise down the hill along the Kaministiquia River.
  • Turn right across the river on Hwy 588, and climb the Stanley hill.
  • Turn left onto the Trans-Canada and make your way on an out-and-back to Kakabeka. Enjoy the rushing falls of the provincial park after partaking in one of the many great pit stops in the village. We recommend Metropolitan Moose for a rustic coffee break served from a log cabin, Shake Shoppe for some of the best classic ice cream in the area, and The Eddy for a fantastic meal if you’re in need of some real replenishment as well.
  • Once you’ve finished up in Kakabeka, coast back down the hill you conquered earlier on 588, and turn left before the Stanley Tavern (stop here for a vintage Stanley burger if you missed the food earlier) to wind back along the river on Harstone Drive. This turns into Rosslyn Road and will bring you back to Whitewater.

Road bike rentals 

Nowhere in the city specifically rents high-end road bikes at this time, so it is recommended you bring your own, if possible. That being said, if you find yourself in the area and want to go on a little road adventure, give the local shops a call (listed below) as they’re all filled with friendly folks who may be willing to lend out their ride to you!

Multi-use trails 

Trails and bike lanes 

Thunder Bay’s active transportation vision is slowly being realized, and has seen much progress in the recent past. While a true north-south link is still a dream for many commuters, planned routes along shared lanes and quiet streets allow hundreds of cyclists of all ages to make their way to and from work and school every day. More and more paved or packed recreational paths are popping up every year for casual and core users alike, and are a great way to see both the urban and natural highlights of the city.

It’s easy to connect some of Thunder Bay’s premier recreational areas using a variety of paths in the north side of town. Prince Arthur’s Landing (aka the Waterfront, aka The Marina) is a must-see while visiting the city. Take in views of the Sleeping Giant as you wind your way around the many piers, monuments and memorials. What the Waterfront paths lack in total distance, they make up for with the many art installations and historical sites scattered throughout the park.

Young girl with bicycle helmet looking at rocks
Penny’s favourite stop on the Boulevard loop. Can you find this spot? Source: Daniel Fiorito

Boulevard Lake is another favourite for locals on wheels, feet or paws. The park is one of Thunder Bay’s most popular recreational areas, and for good reason—the 5-km loop around the man-made lake will take you past the playground, beach, mini-putt and disc-golf course, and across a century-old hydro-electric dam (under construction until 2021). If you prefer a quiet ride through nature, take one of the many trails that snake off the west side of the lake into the LPH Greenspace, or cross Arundel Street into Trowbridge Forest’s Centennial Park for quiet gravel paths that continue along the Current River.

Court Street North is the recommended connector if you are looking to explore both Prince Arthur’s Landing and Boulevard Lake. It has a mix of bike lanes and shared lanes for the entire length, with plenty of beautifully historical homes to survey as you pedal past.

For those looking to get in some miles on the south side of the city, the newly paved multi-use path along Golf Links Road will give you the longest stretch of recreational trail in town at just over 10 km in length. Use it to connect laps in Chapples Park and the Friendship Gardens, before taking the gentle cruise up and down each bank of the Neebing River.

You can find information on all the multi-use paths and dedicated bike lanes, including a well-marked map, on the city’s website.

Fat biking 


Man riding a fat bike on snow trail in forest
Mark throwing snow in the Mines. Source: Michael McKenzie

What once made the passerby do a double-take has become a common sight around the Lakehead—fat biking in Thunder Bay has exploded over the past few seasons. The undulating terrain and relatively low snowfall are a perfect combination for ideal fat biking conditions. Pair that with the fact that the Blacksheep club regularly grooms nearly all the fine singletrack in Trowbridge Forest, and you find yourself in a fat bike paradise. Conveyor Belt, Peekaboo, BMX and Grand Chasm are favourites among the fat bike community, but feel free to explore the other trails in the system—many ride much differently when there’s a layer of packed snow smoothing out the ground beneath you.

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is another great spot to explore if you’re looking for more of a  backcountry adventure. Its widely groomed cross-country ski trails are welcome to fat bikers, and will lead you through a winter wonderland with breathtaking views of rugged shorelines. Mary Louise Drive is a popular route that provides the course for the annual Sleeping Giant Fat Bike Loppet, but maps are available at the visitor centre if you’re looking to explore off the beaten path. 

Man in distance riding a fat bike on a snowy trail in a forest
Mark is one of the driving forces behind trail development in the city. Source: Michael McKenzie

While these two locations are the main fat bike destinations in Thunder Bay, do not be afraid to find your own adventure aboard these big-wheeled bruisers. Pedal up the snowmobile tracks around Mount McKay for a panoramic view of the city, or wind your way down the blue-ice shoreline of Lake Superior—the options are endless!

Tip: Fat biking is best enjoyed after at least a couple of days without snowfall, so the trails have time to be groomed, packed and settled. If you’re leaving big ruts, the trail probably isn’t ready to be ridden, and you’ll find yourself plowing more than you’re rolling. The Trailforks app is updated frequently with trail conditions, so we suggest using that if you’re unsure of what’s good to ride, and what might be a bit of a slog.  

Fat bike rentals

Rollin’ Thunder, Fresh Air and Petrie’s have been renting fat bikes for several seasons, each of them currently charging $50 per day. Generally speaking, weekends are booked at least a week in advance, while mid-week rentals are easier to find at the last minute. Booking earlier is better for specific dates, but if it’s your first time, we highly recommend trying to get on a fatty while the trails are solid for the most enjoyable experience. The shops should be able to provide information on the current conditions, and recommend a nice day to try based on their availability and the weather forecast.

Fresh Air

Petrie’s Cycle and Sports

Rollin’ Thunder

Bike shops in Thunder Bay 

There are five bike stores in Thunder Bay, each a little different than the next—some are new, some are old, and all of them provide both sales and services for the region. Pay them a visit if you have the time—they’re all worth checking out! If you’re looking to get bike repairs in Thunder Bay, note that spring and summer have become especially busy seasons as the sport grows. Be prepared to book an appointment, or have a short wait before the job is complete (all the more reason to buy a secondary bike… just in case!).

3RIDE Bicycle Co. 

This shop is one of the newest in town, but is well-established as one of the largest BMX outlets in the country. They’re new to selling big-wheeled bikes, but have joined on as a sponsor for the Blacksheep to help bolster their introduction to the scene. (Key brands: Kona, Santa Cruz, Haro.)

Community Spokes 

Ian has been busy creating this space for eager cyclists who are on a tight budget, or who want to do their own servicing. The co-op has a brand new shop-front that provides a free workspace for the community to repair bikes, as well as purchase used and new parts and accessories to spruce up their ride. His stockpile of bikes-for-parts can save the day if you’re looking for a quick-fix on an older rig.

Fresh Air 

An amalgamation of Fresh Air Experience and Cyclepath created one of the largest outdoor stores in northwestern Ontario: Fresh Air. They have plenty of experience in every cycling discipline, and an impressive showroom for all the activities they support. (Key brands: Cannondale, Giant, Specialized, Trek.)

Petrie’s Cycle and Sports

As the oldest bike store in town, Petrie’s has been serving Thunder Bay since 1932. With a smaller showroom packed with bits and bobs for bikes of all ages, and home to head mechanic and local legend Farzam Etemadi, you’ll be sure to catch some history at this shop. (Key brands: Felt, Surly, Linus, Electra, Raleigh.) 

Rollin’ Thunder 

Rollin’ has been heavily involved in Thunder Bay’s bike community for nearly 20 years, with several employees currently serving on the local bike clubs’ executive boards and trail committee. If you find yourself at a trail-build day, mountain bike race, gravel ride, or just out enjoying the trails, odds are you’ll run into some Rollin’ staff out there too. (Key brands: Norco, Scott, Rocky Mountain, Argon 18, Evil.) 

Thunder Bay bike maps 

Due to the rapidly changing networks, as more and more bike trails and lanes open up, finding a current map is a bit of a challenge. It is recommended you use a digital map when exploring the area by bike.

For off-road use, the Trailforks app is always the best bet. It is frequently updated by local users, and is the industry standard for finding new trails and routes, and even ride-tracking. It is suggested to use the desktop version for planning your ride, and the mobile version to keep you on course while you’re out riding. The Blacksheep also displays Thunder Bay’s Trailforks region on their trail page.

Thunder Bay’s Active Transportation Map highlights the lanes and landmarks for anybody travelling by bike in the city. It’s a handy tool for finding the safest commute to your destination, or for just finding a scenic urban cycling route. 


Cyclists riding fast on a downtown street
A downtown crit lapping the Red River strip. Source: Nik Fiorito


The Prince Arthur Waterfront Hotel, Delta Hotels, Courthouse Hotel and The Haven Hostel are four great bases for your Thunder Bay bike-cation. All are within a few minutes from mountain bike trails, bike lanes and great road rides, alongside Port Arthur’s vibrant dining and nightlife scene.


If you’re in need of refreshment before, during or after your journey, you’ll find countless top-notch local establishments along Red River Road, and not one will leave you unsatisfied. Notable favourites include The Sweet North Bakery for a quick breakfast pretzel, The Sovereign Room for a laid-back gastro-pub experience (as seen on the Food Network’s You Gotta Eat Here!), Prime Gelato for a delectable dessert, and Tomlin for some fine dining to cap off your day. If you’re looking to satisfy a craving closer to the trails around Boulevard Lake, a short spin east down Arundel will take you to Beefcake’s Burger Factory where all your rumblings will be cured.

There are so many fantastic eateries downtown. The Foundry Pub and Red Lion Smokehouse provide big-flavour pub food. La Poutine and Barbecupid offer a food truck-style menu for grab-and-go meals. Take a trip around the world with El Tres and Thai Kitchen. Enjoy a Thunder Bay classic at the storied Prospector Steak House. Take in unique flavours and get a more upscale experience at Bight and Silver Birch. And that’s just a handful of them—the food scene is absolutely booming. You’ll be glad you earned your meal with those extra miles (otherwise you might be moving to the next belt hole).      

Now did somebody say coffee? Purists will love the most favourable provisions at St Paul Roastery. You’d also be remiss if you didn’t stop by The Habit and take in the stained-glass facades of the converted church building. The new Windy Shores Cafe found in the old CN Station makes for a handy pit stop right in the Marina as well. Be sure to give Up Shot Coffeehouse a visit if you’re on the south side of town; they’ve been supporting local bike events with their hot java for a number of seasons. Other notable shops include Calico Coffeehouse, Bean Fiend Cafe and Bay Village, but there are so many more to discover. The coffee scene is about as exciting as the dining one, and each one is well worth the visit.

Visitor Centres 

The Thunder Bay Tourist Pagoda will fill you in on all things T-Bay in a convenient downtown location just across from the Waterfront. If you’re driving into the city from the east, stop at the Terry Fox Monument to learn more about the great Canadian icon, and take in the views of Superior before you get the tourist info you need from the visitor centre there. Visiting from the States? The Pigeon River Ontario Travel Information Centre will be the first stop on your right after the border crossing. Check here for opening hours and updates on the three locations.

Typical Trowbridge: a glimpse into Dan’s favourite place to mountain bike in Thunder Bay 

Man on mountain bike catching air in fall forest
Getting a little sideways in Shuniah. Source: Michael McKenzie

I grew up riding mountain bikes. While I love a scenic cruise on the road, my roots are in the roots, and I am fortunate to live just a few minutes from the dirt playground in Trowbridge Forest.

Nothing beats riding with friends. Unfortunately for them, I’m the guy always running just a little bit late to the group rides, so I tend to be the one hustling out of the gate to make sure they aren’t mad that I held them up. Unfortunately for me, I’m usually onto my third wind before the end of Conveyor Belt, and rightfully deserve every second of that suffering.

The dirt jumps in the heart of the park make for a great meeting place that allows us to catch our breath and work on our bike-handling skills.

“Thirteen laps tonight. We did 12 last time we were out.”

“See if you can gap it from here… you wouldn’t do it...”

“Oooh that was a close one!”

“Two more, skip the last.” (Never call last run on the jumps, because you know that’s going to be the time somebody really hits the deck.)

This is generally where we spend more time bantering than riding, but that’s half the fun.

Group of friends sitting on mountain bikes posing for a picture
Riding with friends is always more fun. Source: Daniel Fiorito

A quick spin up the hydro line and we find ourselves lapping the high-speed twists, turns, jumps and berms of Hill Top and Drift, where we’ll do laps until everybody feels they got the line they wanted, or are too spent to do another climb back to the top. Circling back down the field, we’ll do another lap on the jumps—you ride right by, it’s too hard to resist—as we make our way back into Crossover, and pedal up Peekaboo and into Snakes & Ladders. The techy rock loop in that trail always claims somebody’s pride, but cleaning the section is a satisfying feeling, no matter how many times you’ve ridden it.

Man on mountain bike jumps on new Drift
Kevin testing the jumps on the newly built Drift. Source: Michael McKenzie

From there we’ll spin over to Doctor’s for an underrated little blast–tight, fast and flowy. The hard-right up The Stranger is a good one to rub tires and brush bars until we regroup at the entrance of Grand Chasm. This trail is a long-standing favourite; it was one of the first new-school builds to be installed in Shuniah—the fences barricade the “Mines” portion they speak of, so stay safe and steer clear. After the Chasm, cranking up Dagobah will take us back to the top, where we take a trip to The Otherside, Yo Mitchell and Milk & Cookies. It’s slow, it’s old school and it’s a blast. Undergoing some rehabilitation in 2020, these trails are a total throwback to what used to cover the forest. Our network has come a long way, but it’s always a bit nostalgic riding the rocky lines and dodging inconvenient trees on the narrow, winding paths in this section.

Man on mountain bike high in air after a jump in forest
Michael is the current director of Blacksheep’s trail development. Source: Mike Barten

We make our way back to the bottom of Doctor’s and do that Stranger climb again so we can rip down Peekaboo, which is my personal favourite in the Mines. There’s a moment where you catch the mossy forest floor and low ferns reflecting the golden light flowing through the trees, as your tires hook up just perfectly on the small ruts in the corners to swiftly weave you down to the tunnel of spruce that marks the end of the trail. There’s not much to it, but there’s just something different about that little ribbon of singletrack.

We’ve ridden it in the pitch black with only strobe lights, bashing into trees the whole way down. We’ve ridden it in thunderstorms, where the water felt like it was coming all the way up to our hubs, gritting our teeth as we mourned our poor bearings. We’ve ridden it on the morning of a fellow rider’s wedding, reminiscing about all the times like these we’ve slipped and slid our way down that same tread (but how we could not crash that day). Maybe it’s just me, but Peekaboo is that perfect little descent that lets you forget about everything except your wheels on the ground, totally enthralled in the quiet surroundings—until you can’t help but let out a little hoot and holler. At this point, the light is getting low, legs are getting tired, and we make our way back to Crossover and Conveyor, back to where we started.

Group of mountain bikes laying flat on rocks in front of a river
A little bike-shorts swim to end a warm summer ride. Source: Daniel Fiorito

Fortunately, that’s not where it ends. We refresh ourselves in the river’s cascades at the end of the day, enjoying the company of friends while recounting the numerous mishaps, close-calls, slick whips and new lines we nailed. Not much can match a gentle, post-ride waterfall massage, as we watch the 10 p.m. sunset between the shale cliffs of the picturesque Current River. The fact that this place is free to use, and only minutes from downtown, takes the experience to another level—there aren’t many places that exist quite like this.

The total kilometres aren’t huge, and the elevation isn’t massive. But the unique mix of trails, the care that goes into them, and the stories to be had before, during, and after each and every ride make Trowbridge Forest pretty special. I hope you get a chance to enjoy it too.

Bike Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay’s breathtaking scenery, world-class dining and rich history make it a must-do destination for any outdoor enthusiast. Bikers love the singletrack, classic road loops and endless gravel adventures. No matter what you are riding, or how you ride it, Thunder Bay has something for you.

About Daniel Fiorito

Daniel Fiorito, lifelong Thunder Bay resident and store manager of local bike and ski shop, Rollin’ Thunder, says: “Remember to wear tropical-print on Maui Mondays.” 

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