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February 14, 2015
- Keweenaw Chain Drive Comes to an End

September 15, 2013
- Anderson Claims Ronde van Skandia

Upcoming Events

May 6, 2017
La Fleche du Nord

June 17, 2017
Keweenaw Tread Fest (NEW!)

August 16, 2016
Great Deer Chase

Sept. 2-3
Copper Harbor Trails Fest

Ryan Craig, Kate McCloud Claim Flèche Titles

Author: btk
May 7, 2017
road | gravel

Spectators crowded the tree-lined boulevards of Houghton this Saturday to see off a near-record number of riders in the seventh running of La Flèche du Nord, the queen of the U.P. Spring Classics, second in grandeur only to the venerable Ronde van Skandia. Squads from across the U.P. were on the start line, including host team, Red Jacket Cycling of Houghton – which had yet to land a rider on the podium, the once dominant Ace team of Marquette, 906 Adventure Team of Marquette, SISU Cycling of Marquette, a few young guns from the Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan University cycling teams, a number of unattached and seasoned veterans and several aspiring espoirs looking to impress and land a contract for the remainder of the season.

The sunshine and clear skies that beaconed the unsuspecting riders over the Portage Lift Bridge and onto Copper Island would be a grace to only one rider, the winner, as even the slightest rainfall would have masked the tears of disappointment on those who would follow in his wake. Brisk winds from the north would prove to be favorable only occasionally as the riders made their way north to Copper Harbor, frequently reaping havoc on the peloton and shredding it into fractured echelons even in the earliest moments of the contest.

Following the traditional and largely ceremonial rollout to the crest of the first unpaved climb of the day, event officials waved the riders clear to start and pulled away. The first to take the bait was Ace rider Dave Grant, perhaps stretching his legs or – more likely – breaking wind, as it were, for the benefit of those behind him. In the end, it would his only taste of life at the front of the peloton before being deposed by the cadre of young climbers lurking in the wings.

Coming off day’s first of many high-speed descents towards the shores of Lake Superior, the group coalesced for what would be the final time before the battle for control of the race began in earnest on the climb towards Bumbletown. Setting a blistering pace on the first pitch were Red Jacket rider Ian Connick and NMU powerhouse Ryan Craig. Sisu rider Zeb Johnston, who, like Craig, had previously suffered misfortune in the Flèche, courageously bridged up to the duo. The group of three wasted no time in pulling away from the imploding peloton. Cresting the toughest section of the climb together past ardent race supporters Bob and Jan Haas was a group of seven, with riders of all teams represented.

The most damning section of the Flèche can only be described as a drop into the deepest pits of hell. Sharp gravel litters the initial descent. A long stretch of sand with hidden, fist sized boulders lies in wait for those who survive the gravel. And riders lucky to have made it that far must contend with exposed rock, loose sand and the shrapnel of brass tire valves from the failed tubes that have collected over the years. All who enter the section want only one thing: to see the pavement on the other side with both tires intact. Two of the three riders at the front had made a conservative tire choice: wide and strong – their sole purpose to ply the sea of gravel unscathed. The third rider had speed on his mind and was willing to take chances, despite his past misfortune. All three would avoid the clutches of fate and make it to the sinuous Five Mile Point road together. The poursuivants would not fare so well. The first to see a chance at victory vanish into thin air was Ace hopeful Andy Stevens. For Stevens, the flat was especially bitter, having flatted in the same location last year. Just one right-hand turn from safety, Red Jacket strongman Justin Hoffmeyer was summoned to the sidelines with a puncture. In the end, it would be a quintet of chasers who emerged on the pavement: a pair of Ace riders –Dave Grant and Joe Bettendorf – Red Jacket rider Chris Schmidt, BIKE member Josh Myles, and 2016 Flèche runner-up Eric Isaacs, riding for Michigan Tech. Other riders failing to clear the section unscathed included Red Jackets John Gershenson and Evandro “Watts” Maicon as well as Ace hopeful Christina Bennett.

As the lead groups made their way towards Eagle River and the base of the arduous Garden City climb, the two groups wheeled and dealed amongst themselves, making soon to be forgotten promises of leadouts and payoffs in exchange for long pulls at the front and mercy on the climbs. The trio at the front made headway and countered the efforts of the chasers, their number now down to four after Myles succumbed to the feverish pace of the chasers.

Cresting the first pitch of the Garden City climb, the trio of leaders looked back in unison to take in the majestic view of an endless Lake Superior and were surprised to see a group of four starting the climb ¬¬– in the same spot they had passed only minutes before. Their labored movements and downcast glances led the leaders to believe that they had crushed the spirits of the chasers. They needed only maintain their pace, and the podium would be theirs. Retelling the story of the tortoise and the hare amongst themselves, the trailing quartet found new strength, reorganized and pushed onward to the base of the looming Delaware climb. Red Jacket rider Chris Schmidt cracked on the first pitch the longest climb of the day, leaving the other three to continue the chase. The north winds increased in strength as the riders neared the summit, lending a false sense of strength to the trio and giving Schmidt renewed energy. As a result, the quartet reformed at the summit just as the silhouette of a lone rider came into view. Passing Delaware Mine, four became five, a faltering Zeb Johnston joining the chase.

With only two riders up the road, a spot on the podium had opened. A mere ten miles remained and the chasers viewed one another with increasing suspicion. Would there be a surprise attack? Would the two leaders be caught? Clicking off the poisonous hellingen that litter the final miles of US41 at high speed, the group worked to reel in the leaders in brief period of truce. The short, steep climbs left Johnston increasingly in the red and eventually detached him from the original four chasers. Shortly afterwards, another figure dangled in the distance. The telltale red jersey of Red Jacket Ian Connick came into view and Ace quickly hit the brakes, preferring to allow the competition to dangle off the front and further deplete his reservoirs. Connick had cracked hard, however, shattering hopes of a Red Jacket victory. Again five, the chasers worked their way towards Copper Harbor and the Brockway Mountain finish. Ryan Craig powered on alone at the front, victory within reach.

The final mile of the Flèche features nearly five hundred feet of vertical and two pitches in excess of 20%. Many a man has been left crying in the gutter and it is deemed a shortcoming of no man to conquer the final walls by foot. Though Craig was in the lead as the climb started, a group of five was less than two minutes behind. Victory was a possibility for all at this point. Isaacs was the first to take up the chase, with Grant and Bettendorf battling for third behind him. Schmidt was being distanced behind them and Connick had clicked out of pedals and ascended by foot. As Craig entered the final straightaway, Isaacs caught sight of him. The gap was too great to be closed however and Craig was given the hero’s welcome by the spectators who lined Brockway Mountain three of four deep in places. Dave Grant claimed his second podium finish and the first for Ace within recent memory. The battle for fourth was hard fought, as Schmidt caught a tiring Bettendorf on the final rise, crossing the line in Grant’s long but fading shadow. Behind Bettendorf, Ian Connick salvaged sixth place, a solid finish after a powerful start to his day.

Though the Red Jackets were once again not able to claim a podium spot in the men’s contest, Kate McCloud gave the team a long-sought moment of glory by crossing the line as the first woman.

Behind the leaders, countless riders trickled in, telling tales of woe, showing battle scars deep and painful, lamenting flat tires and broken bars. Stories were told long into the night at the Mariner North in Copper Harbor – depleting their stock of Belgian ales over talk of what could have and should have been and giving warnings of what awaits at the upcoming Ronde and in next year’s Flèche. The queen of the U.P. classics may be over for another year, but the stories will live on, as will¬ – for all but the winners – hope of better fortune next year.

A huge thank you to everyone for making this year’s Flèche a success, especially the numerous members of the Red Jacket Cycling Team for setting up and tearing down the course, Red Jackets Sharon Stoll and Bruce & Robyn Harvey for support during the ride, Esme Schmidt for manning registration, Rhythm Bike and Board for hosting the start and the Mariner North for their continued support of all types of cycling in the Keweenaw.

La Flèche du Nord: Spring Classics Come to the Keweenaw

Updated: May 3, 2017
Author: btk
road | events

The Red Jacket Cycling Team is proud to present the seventh annual La Fleche du Nord, an informal, but high-paced ride in the tradition of the Belgian spring classics on May 6. Starting in Houghton, finishing on top of Brockway Mountain, the 70-mile route will take riders over some of the toughest terrain the Keweenaw has to offer. A ride unlike any other, La Fleche features six sections of dirt that account for nearly half of the total distance and will give riders the opportunity to see the Keweenaw from an entirely new perspective. Though not a race, the event will be anything but a leisurely tour to the top of the peninsula.

Gear
In spite of an endless winter, it is expected that the standard course will again be used this year. The route features sections of packed dirt, rough gravel, chewed asphalt, loose sand and possibly flowing water. Riders have fared will on standard road times. Beefier is better, however, as flats are a common occurrence. For gearing, 39x25 (minimum) or a compact or triple crank are advised for those not wanting to walk the 20% pitches that await riders on Brockway Mountain and several other short, steep sections.

The course will be marked; maps will be available at the start.

Everyone is welcome to hit the Mariner North in Copper Harbor afterwards for lunch (eveyone is on their own).

As this is a one way ride, riders will be responsible for organizing return transport from Copper Harbor to Houghton. A limited number of seats will be available for those unable to secure return transport. Please send a note to cts@bikethekeweenaw.com by May 2 if in need of a ride. If planning on riding, please either send a note or rsvp on the event Facebook page.

No entry fee, no support, no feed zones, no aid stations, no prizes, no glory. Just old-fashioned pain and suffering.

Schedule:
May 6, 2017
9:00a.m.: Rider sign-in at Rhythm Bikes and Boards of Houghton
10:00a.m.: Unofficial start (rollout through Houghton and Hancock)
2:00p.m.: First riders expected on Brockway Mountain

Local Area Finishes #1 in 2015 National Bike Challenge

Author: bike!
November 20, 2015
bike! | commuting

ATLANTIC MINE, Michigan - November 18, 2015 - Houghton and Keweenaw counties took the top spot for local challenges in this year's National Bike Challenge, organized by People for Bikes and locally hosted by Bike Initiative Keweenaw (BIKE!). The annual challenge is in its fifth year as a nationwide event, and promotes recreational and transportation bicycling through friendly competition between riders on local, state, and national levels.

This year, 281 riders in Houghton and Keweenaw counties logged over 119,000 miles during the challenge, which ran from May 1 to September 30. Nationally, 92,419 riders covered more than 37 million miles in all. Local challenges are ranked in points per capita, which makes it possible for less populated areas to compete with big cities.

Bike Initiative Keweenaw, a local advocacy group focused on empowering people to ride more often, hosted the local challenge again this year. Each month the group organized a casual ride to celebrate points logged and to share experiences.

Local businesses also stepped in to support the local challenge. Cross Country Sports, Michigan House Cafe & Brew Pub, and Rhythm Bike & Board Co. contributed resources as well as enthusiastic challenge participants.

"Our workplace enjoys a good challenge," said Kristin Schmitt of Hancock. "The National Bike Challenge gives us a nice opportunity to positively affect our own personal wellness goals, while also sprinkling in a little friendly inter-office competition too."

Lorri Oikarinen of Calumet said, "Joining the National Bike Challenge and our local challenge was one of the most fun things I did this summer. It was a great way to get out there and ride every day!"

Curt Webb of Atlantic Mine pointed out another benefit of the challenge. "It's a fun way to encourage people to ride more, and the more people who ride, the safer it is."

Bike Initiative Keweenaw plans to continue hosting the yearly local challenge, and welcomes involvement by individuals and groups. BIKE! can be reached at bikeinitiativekeweenaw.org, Facebook, or Twitter. Find out more about the National Bike Challenge at nationalbikechallenge.org.

New Shirt: Our Lady of Cross

Author: btk
November 1, 2015
cx | race

The second annual Michigan Tech 12 Hour Mountain Bike Rondevous is scheduled for July 25, 2015, at the Michigan Tech Trails. Race start is 9:30, with race-day registration and packet pickup available from 8-9am in the Race Secretary's building. Course is approximately 7.75 miles, which will allow 12 hour competitors to complete the race without requiring a headlamp. With both a 2- and 4-person team option for the 12 hour race, and a solo category available for the 6 hour race, there's something for everyone! Awards go to the top 12 hour teams, as well as the top 3 individual 6 hour competitors.

Course includes some sections of ski trail for passing and recovery purposes, as well as an abundance of singletrack. More information as well as the latest course map can be found at www.mturonde.org. Race is hosted by the Michigan Tech Men’s and Women’s Cross Country, Nordic Ski, and Track and Field Teams, and all proceeds benefit the teams. Hope to see you there!

Keweenaw Bike to Work Day: May 28

Author: Ray Sharp
May 25, 2015
road | commuting

Local cyclists will take to the streets Thursday, May 28 to celebrate the seventh annual Keweenaw Bike to Work Day. The event, coordinated by Bike Initiative Keweenaw (BIKE!), a local bike-advocacy group, aims to raise awareness of bicycle commuting as a transportation alternative, bike safety, and the importance of sharing the road. Bike commuters, and other non-motorized travelers including pedestrians, are invited to visit one or more of eight rest stops in Houghton, Hancock, Calumet, Lake Linden and South Range on their way to or from work or school. Volunteers at each station will offer free refreshments, bike safety booklets and giveaway items, advice on bike commuting routes and gear, and, in some cases, even simple bike fixes like topping off tire pressures and checking brakes. Six stops will operate from 7-9 a.m. and 4-6 p.m., at the following locations:

- In Houghton, on the Waterfront Trail east of the lift bridge, and near the Michigan Tech Outdoor Adventure Program building on Townsend Drive
- In Hancock at McGann’s Building Supply parking lot
- In Calumet on Highway 41 near the CLK School in the morning and at Cross Country Sports on Oak Street in the afternoon
- In Lake Linden at the Lake Linden Park gazebo,
- And in South Range at the BP station.

Two additional stops, on Campus Drive in Hancock near UP Health System-Portage, and at the corner of Sharon Avenue and Portage Street in Houghton, will be staffed during the peak hour of 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. Bike to Work Day co-coordinator Curt Webb said the event has grown by adding one new site per year and enjoys great community support. “This year’s new stop is at the MTU Credit Union on Sharon Avenue,” Webb said. “The Houghton Middle School Builders Club, a youth service organization, is sponsoring it.” Webb said that rain or shine, the event will be a success if it reminds people to operate both bikes and motor vehicles safely. “Cyclists need to obey traffic laws and wear bright clothes so they are visible to motorists,” Webb said, “and drivers should watch for cyclists and pedestrians along the roadway and at intersections.”

There is no fee to participate and no registration required. For more information, visit KB2WD.org.

La Flèche du Nord on for May 9, 2015

Author: btk
May 3, 2015
road | gravel

The Red Jacket Cycling Team is proud to present the fifth annual La Flèche du Nord, an informal but high-paced training ride in the tradition of the Belgian spring classics on May 9, 2015. Starting in Houghton and finishing on top of Brockway Mountain, the 65-mile route will take riders over some of the toughest terrain the Keweenaw has to offer. A ride unlike any other, La Flèche features five sections of dirt that account for nearly half of the total distance and will give riders the opportunity to see the Keweenaw from an entirely new perspective. Though not a race, the event will be anything but a leisurely tour to the top of the peninsula.

Gear
For the first time in three years, the course will feature five healthy servings of gravel. Conditions on the dirt sections range from freshly graded to hard pack to soul-sucking sand to the damp dregs left behind by the still-melting snowpack. The choice of tire is, thus, crucial. Recon took place this weekend on standard race tires (25mm) with no flats. With the exception a half-mile descent off the top of Bumbletown (which involves loose gravel and a couple short sections of soft sand), the course is very rideable on a regular road bike. Riders may opt to select a beefier tire for the Bumbletown descent, or simply ride it with extra care.

A few flats occur every year, so riders are advised to be prepared and carry a tube (or two) and a pump. For gearing, 39x25 (minimum) or a compact or triple crank are advised for those not wanting to walk the 20% pitches that await riders on Brockway Mountain and several other short, steep sections. A few sections of snow were still present as of May 3 on the Delaware Crosscut; all should be gone by May 9, however.

The course will be marked, and riders will be given a map at the start.

Everyone is welcome to head to the Mariner North in Copper Harbor for food and beverages after the ride.

As this is a one way ride, riders will be responsible for organizing return transport from Copper Harbor to Houghton. A limited number of seats will be available for those unable to secure return transport. We may also try to run a shuttle up to Copper Harbor on Friday evening (5/8) to drop vehicles. Please send a note to cts@xmatic.com if in need of a ride or if interested in dropping a vehicle in CH.

No entry fee, no support, no feed zones, no aid stations, no prizes, no glory. Just old-fashioned pain and suffering.

Route: http://www.mapmyride.com/us/houghton-mi/la-fl-che-du-nord-2015-route-87318937

Schedule:
May 9, 2015
9:00a.m.: Rider sign-in at Rhythm Bikes and Boards of Houghton (downtown)
10:00a.m.: Unofficial start (rollout through Houghton and Hancock)
~11:00a.m.: Clothes drop at top of Fisherman Road.
2:00p.m.: First riders expected on Brockway Mountain

La Flèche du Nord on for May 9, 2015

Author: btk
February 16, 2015
road | race

The fifth annual La Flèche du Nord, an informal but high-paced training ride in the tradition of the Belgian spring classics, is scheduled for May 9, 2015. Starting in Houghton and finishing on top of Brockway Mountain, the 75-mile route will take riders over some of the toughest terrain the Keweenaw has to offer. A ride unlike any other, La Flèche features numerous sections of dirt that account for approximately 30 miles of the total distance and will give riders the opportunity to see the Keweenaw from an entirely new perspective. Though not a race, the event will be anything but a leisurely tour to the top of the peninsula.

Gear
In the 2014 edition of the event, the gravel sections of the route not covered by two feet of snow were found to be rideable on standard (22-25c) road tires. A few flats did occur, so riders are advised to be prepared and carry a tube (or two) and a pump. For gearing, 39x25 (minimum) or a compact or triple crank are advised for those not wanting to walk the 20% pitches that await riders on Brockway Mountain and several other short, steep sections.

The course will be marked, and riders will be given a cue sheet and map at the start. As of late March, the Keweenaw is buried under four feet of snow. A decision on the course will not be made unti late April or early May depending on temperatures and snowmelt. If the dirt roads on northfacing slopes are still snowcovered, the course may be routed over the south Keweenaw.

A post-ride fest is planned in Copper Harbor; orgainzers are working out the details.

As this is a one way ride, riders will be responsible for organizing return transport from Copper Harbor to Houghton.

No entry fee, no support, no feed zones, no aid stations, no prizes, no glory. Just old-fashioned pain and suffering. Because the course may use low-traffic or closed sections of road, riders are advised to plan for all eventualities. Spare tubes and a pump are required.

Schedule:
May 9, 2015
9:00a.m.: Rider sign-in at The Bike Shop of Houghton
10:00a.m.: Unofficial start (rollout through Houghton and Hancock)
11:00a.m.: Clothes drop and official start at top of Fisherman Road (near Calumet)
3:00p.m.: First riders expected on Brockway Mountain

Photo: Adam Griffis

BIKE!

February 16, 2015


BIKE! works to empower people in the Keweenaw to ride bikes more often through education and community outreach, encouragement, and advocacy and regional development. For info, visit the BIKE! website.

The Keweenaw?

March 1, 2011

A lonely peninsula jutting into Lake Superior at the northern tip of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, the Keweenaw isn't a place one passes through by accident. You need to want to come here. And if you ride a bike – road or mountain – this is a place worth wanting to get to. Hundreds of miles of low-traffic roads, six top-notch mtb trail systems, endless water and temperate climes, it's worth discovering if you haven't already checked it out.