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Training day

Area cyclist prepares for upcoming competition

June 12, 2012
By KYLE WHITNEY - Journal Staff Writer ( , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE - The last weekend in June is going to be a busy one for Ishpeming resident and cyclist Dan Hill.

In addition to helping with a downhill bike race, he is racing in a mountain bike event, a criterium race and a 60-mile road race.

The events are all part of the Marquette Bike Jam, a three-day cycling party that kicks off downtown on June 29.

Article Photos

Jason Swiatlowski of Grand Rapids leads the group at the start of a criterium race during the 2009 Superior Bike Fest. This year, the Marquette Bike Jam will replace the Bike Fest, with a number of road and mountain bike races in the Marquette area. The Bike Jam will be held June 29 through July 1. (Journal file photo)

"It's kind of unusual just because you have the criterium races and then the road bike, then the mountain bike," said Hill, who has been riding for more than two decades. "It's just a great weekend of cycling. You don't get to do that too often."

He said he is looking forward to the criterium, an event that blends stock car racing with cycling and sees riders travel a repetitive, high-speed loop around a single city block.

The Bike Jam is serving as a replacement, of sorts, for the Superior Bike Fest, an annual event that was cancelled in 2011 due to a dearth of registered riders.

This year's event will span three days and will include downhill competitions at Marquette Mountain, mountain biking races on the south trails and lengthier fondos on area highways, in addition to the criterium, said event director Jon Becker.

Proceeds from many of the events will go to local biking organizations and to the YMCA's Strong Kids campaign.

He is hoping for a fair-like atmosphere on June 29 in downtown Marquette, where there will be a kids bike rodeo, a sponsor and vendor expo and a screening of the film "Strength in Numbers."

"Friday, downtown will be a block party atmosphere on Main Street between Front and Third, with vendors and bike shops" he said. "And we're planning an outdoor movie and we're also going to do a matinee showing of that film on Sunday at the Delft."

As for the actual cycling, Becker said the 31- and 62-mile-long fondos, which kick off June 30 at Marquette Mountain, should be fun events.

The 62-mile trip takes cyclists west along Marquette County Road 492 and south on M-35, before swinging east through Gwinn and finally north on M-553 to Marquette.

The goal, Becker said, is to create a largely non-competitive tour atmosphere.

Hill said he is looking forward to that laid-back atmosphere, but added that he anticipates some competition near the front of the group.

Still, as an avid cyclist, Hill hasn't found it necessary to step up his training for the Bike Jam. Last year, he completed the Tour Divide, a 2,745-mile trek from Alberta, Canada, to New Mexico.

As that grand trip took him more than 22 days to complete, he doesn't flinch when thinking about the 62-mile fondo that he will face later this month.

"I guess it's relative to what you're used to," he said.

Still, Hill thinks the Bike Jam is a great thing for the community and he thinks it will prove to be quite popular.

"From what I've seen, if you put on a first-class event, it grows," he said. "The Ore to Shore speaks for itself. Look at where it started and what it is now. This definitely could be the same type of event."

Though organizers are still working out all the kinks, Becker expects 250 riders to register by the time June 29 rolls around.

Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. His email address is



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