Copper Harbor Fat Tire Festival

To all those naysayers that say that Copper Harbor is too far to drive for mountain biking is crazy. It is only a 10 hour drive to some world class trails that are in my opinion better than many of the trails in North Carolina! Toss in the Marquette trails on the way up to split up the drive time and you have a vacation in the making.


We (Jeff, Earl, Brad, Paul, Matt, Rick) loaded up the Michigan Coast Riders van early Thursday morning and made the trip to Marquette. We arrived in plenty of time go go for a ride with the guys from Lakeshore Bike Shop. The South Trails were a blast and far exceeded my expectations. The last time I was up there I wasn’t that impressed but some locals have taken the trail system seriously and began mapping and marking everything very well. You can also tell they know how to build sustainable trails now. Very cool.

The next day we arrived in Copper Harbor after about 4 hours of driving. We checked into our cabin and then rode some of the trails for a few hours. Wow! More awesome singletrack and unbelievable cedar bridge/boardwalk work in many places. Copper has so many rocky areas that they need these boardwalks to crest some of the climbs and span some of the swamps. One in particular has a corkscrew effect, see below.


On Saturday Jeff, Earl and Brad wanted to do the Super D race, a time trial format down the “Flow” trail which is 2.65 miles of downhill banked turns and whoop de do’s. Jeff and Earl tied for 8th after it was all said and done! How the hell does that happen? Brad place very well in his age division as well. Later that day we all enjoyed some more riding but Brad broke a shifter and Paul pulled a muscle in his back. Unfortunately that took both of them out of the XC race on Sunday. After riding for 3 days in a row I had determined I was just up there for the riding and could care less about “saving” myself for the race.

The race on Sunday started at 2 pm and made for a very strange start to the day, being a lazy morning person, it suited me just fine. We had pasta for brunch and hit the town about 1pm. It was a steady drizzle for most of Saturday night and early Sunday morning but by 2 pm we just had cloudy skies and temps in the 60’s. Perfect weather for racing!


Results came in while we drank our generous team beer supply. Earl, 3rd of 16 in his class, Jeff was 12 of 27, Rick placed 9th of 14 and Matt took 16 in the same class as Jeff. The 27 mile course was the best I have ever raced on. The course would best be described as a mountain bike trail, that may sound funny but considering the courses we have under the bridge I would call most of them road races on dirt. You need skills for this one!


I really recommend everyone check this area out. With Marquette, Copper, Swede Trails, Mich Tech trails you can be busy for a week. And for the race itself, that was top notch too. The locals know how to have a party! Plan you trip north now and tell Sam and Aaron I sent you.