MARQUETTE - Marquette County offers many outdoor recreational activities and has been recognized by numerous magazines.
Perhaps the most popular and fastest growing activity is bicycling.
With major cycling events like the Ore to Shore, 12 Hours of Potluck endurance bike race, Tuesday bike night and the vast number of routes both off road and on road, cyclists of all skill levels can find a trail suited to their needs.
Team Priority Health member and Negaunee native Tyler Jenema rides up Main Street while competing in the Men's USAC Pro, 1, 2 Twilight Criterium of the Superior Bike Fest in downtown Marquette in June 2009 (Journal file photo by Andy Nelson-Zaleski)
Next weekend brings an unusual biking event. The eighth annual Superior Bike Fest begins Friday evening in downtown Marquette. This is a three-day event with multiple types of races.
The races includes Friday's twilight criterium; Saturday's 35-mile, 55-mile and 100-mile road bike races and downhill mountain events; and wraps up with Sunday's mountain chase race and circuit races. With this type of variety the bike fest has it all.
The festival isn't for the ordinary cyclist. It is geared toward the more avid riders.
The Superior Bike Fest is an event that most cyclists train for all year.
Cyclists like mountain bikers Collin McWebb and Rachel Vanderhoff and team road cyclist Derek Anderson have been doing just that.
For mountain bikers McWebb and Vanderhoff, training has been on the race course on an almost daily basis
"Since I live in Marquette, I hike the race course three to four times a week to get to know the course," McWebb said. "Hiking up Marquette Mountain is a workout in itself, especially with a bike."
When he isn't riding the downhill course he rides his trail bike.
"I ride my trail bike for endurance," he said.
Vanderhoff said that she trains with McWebb.
"We ride different lines to get comfortable with the terrain," she said.
The course is not your average trail course.
It is set on part of Marquette Mountain's backwoods trails. The steep decline with exposed rock faces, tree roots and a number of sharp turns is the main cause of injuries and must be ridden with caution.
"The thing about this course is that the lines on the trail change every day, especially on the day of the event, so riding the course is important," said McWebb.
The road race portion of the bike fest requires a little more preparation.
For Derek Anderson, who races for team Chocolay Ace Hardware, preparation includes training year-round.
Anderson is competing in the criterium masters race Friday, a 55-mile road race Saturday and the circuit race on Sunday, so training and perpetration year round is very important.
"That is the lure of bike fest to get people from out of the area and compete in three days of racing," Anderson said. "This creates three days of racing with different disciplines."
This type of racing requires a cyclist's maximum physiological effort over three days of competition. "It is something that is not common in a lot of sports," he said. "For example, during a running race competitors might run hard for one day and have two day of rest. Were this race is like a mini version of the Tour de France."
Most of the people serious about bike racing will have a scripted training plan. This plan entails two main components - volume and intensity.
The most common type of plan includes a winter training where a cyclist will have high volume and low intensity training through the winter and early spring. "Someone might ride between 10 to 15 hours a week to get a base fitness," he said.
The cyclist will move from a "base phase" to a "build phase" of fitness. This building phase of training includes a lower volume but a higher intensity.
Anderson said, "Now you are riding 8 to 12 hours a week but they are harder workouts."
As race time draws closer, a cyclist will enter into the peak phase of fitness. At this phase, the volume of training gone down even more and the intensity increases.
Over the next week, it is more than likely the number of cyclists riding along many county roads will increase as bike fest draws closer.
As spectators next weekend, we can encourage the riders, and remember the time, effort and hard work each put in to complete the events.
Andy Nelson-Zaleski can be reached at 906-228-2500 ext. 256. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.