Since the trail system at Copper Harbor is an IMBA Silver-level Ride Center, that’s what I’ve mainly heard about here in Minnesota whenever talk turns to mountain biking in the U.P., especially in the Keweenaw Peninsula. So the cool thing about the annual Ride the Keweenaw, I discovered, is that you get to experience many of the other trails in the area.
IMBA’s Midwest Regional Director Hansi Johnson and I arrived in Houghton on Friday afternoon to ride some of Michigan Tech University’s network of mountain biking trails. We luckily arrived at the same time as Oliver Cooper, MTU engineering student and avid mountain biker. He led us on some very cool technical trails (rocks, roots, mud) that included some fun man-made obstacles like the Dragon and the Dorkscrew shown above (photos extracted from the poster).
A late addition to the Ride the Keweenaw schedule was a Friday night ride on some of the Southern Keweenaw (SöKē) trails around the Adventure Mining Company in Greenland, about 40 minutes south of Copper Harbor. Staffer Rob Peters (and course designed of the annual Miner’s Revenge Mountain Bike Race) graciously led the ride and opened up the trail through the mine for us. Very cool. (Other than the group shot on the left above, I didn’t take photos, so I’ve grabbed two of the mine tunnel from a Flickr album of the 2009 race by Christopher Schmidt. I’ve linked his photos to his set.) Some rocky sections of the trail we rode were the most technically challenging and fun I’ve ever ridden. If you love the gnarly stuff, especially steep, rocky downhills, go there. “The Adventure Trails are free use public trails open 7 days a week for hiking, running, and mountain biking.”
Saturday’s 9 am group rides were held at Michigan Tech’s network of mountain biking trails (supported by a trail pass honor system). I was thrilled that they offered 4 choices ranging from beginner to expert because my legs were mush from the 4 hours of riding on Friday. I chose ‘intermediate’ and was barely able to keep up.
Post-ride food and refreshments were provided by co-owners Caleb Wendel and Steve Vizanko of The Bike Shop in downtown Houghton. Steve also did some jump coaching in the MTU terrain park (beginner and advanced jumps, a pump track, and a dual slalom course). I was thrilled to be able work on my form on the beginner level table tops that first learned how to do at Ray’s Indoor Bike Park back in Feb. See the May 26 Mining Gazette article, Riders practice jumping during Ride the Keweenaw, for more.
At noon, most riders departed for more group rides at Churning Rapids MTB trails near Hancock (1 pm) and the Swedetown MTB trails near Calumet (3 pm). Alas, not me. I departed for Copper Harbor to give my legs some recovery time so that I’d be able to get in at least one run on a downhill trail there.