Polar Roll brings hundreds to area

From left, Lisa Labar of Marquette, Scott Berry of White Lake, Wisconsin, and Margaret Twichell of Negaunee take part in the first ever Polar Roll Fat Tire Bike Race. The 15-mile racers as the ride along the bike path in down town Marquette on the last leg of the race before finishing at Mattson Lower Harbor Park. The 35-mile race rolled-out in down town Ishpeming and the 15-mile rolled-out on the Iron Ore Heritage Trail behind Border Grill on Washington Street Saturday morning. (Journal photo by Elizabeth Bailey)

ISHPEMING — Hundreds of fat tire biking enthusiasts will be on a roll in Ishpeming this weekend — a Polar Roll.

The third annual 906 Polar Roll fat tire bike race is set to kick off Saturday morning from Division Street in Ishpeming.

The fledgling nonprofit adventure race is the largest fat tire bike race in Michigan, with 300 to 400 bikers converging on Marquette County from all over the country to participate.

The race has also earned recognition from the state Legislature as one of three finalists in the Extraordinary Event category of the 2017 Governor’s Fitness Awards. The winner will be announced in Lansing on April 20.

Race Director Todd Poquette said the ultimate goals of the event are to encourage the local community to stay active and entice newcomers to Marquette County.

“We didn’t know what we were getting into, but we did have a goal: promote the fat-bike grooming efforts of Range Area Mountain Bike Association and Noquemanon Trail Network single-track in an effort to attract more people to Marquette in the winter. Friends, family, volunteers, local businesses and the trail organizations have helped create an event featuring the place we call home and the people who make it a special place to live.”

Poquette said the race course will be different this year, with both the 25-mile race and a 13-mile race beginning and ending in downtown Ishpeming.

The 906 Polar Roll is the sixth event in the Great Lakes Fat Bike Series sponsored by 45NRTH, an outdoor and sporting goods company.

In years past, the race has started in Ishpeming and ended at Mattson Lower Harbor Park in Marquette.

“We totally revised the race course, because the U.P. 200 is this weekend,” Poquette said.

According to the event’s Facebook page, more of the course will be in downtown and residential areas than in the past, so racers must adhere to the rules of the road by stopping at road crossings when traffic is present.

The course for Saturday’s race will feature fat bike trails in Ishpeming groomed by the Range Area Mountain Bike Association, while Sunday’s Enduro race will feature the south trails on the Noquemanon Trail Network single-track in Marquette.

The 906 Polar Roll is part of the Midwest Great Lakes Fat Tire Bike Series with all proceeds going to local trail organizations or youth bike groups.

Poquette said the mission of the race is to give riders of all abilities an event that focuses less on the racing aspect and more on the winter adventure aspect.

“We welcome everyone — pro racers, weekend warriors, new fat bikers, old fat bikers, youth, men and women. You can race it for the win or ride it for the experience,” Poquette said. “We want people to get out and be active; winter can be a pretty depressing time.”

Community involvement is an important element of a successful race, Poquette said.

Members of the community cheering on the sidelines means a lot to the riders.

“I have read many race reports and one of the things the majority of people who travel here say is they are impressed about the support they get from the local community,” Poquette said.

He encourages people to line the streets, especially at the beginning of the course as racers travel east on Division Street and climb Jasper Street.

“What would be really cool, is if people could line the course on Jasper and up Hill Street,” Poquette said.

Poquette said the course will be especially challenging to riders, but that’s the fun of it.

“You will be tested physically and mentally,” Poquette said. “There will be times you’ll push and pull your bike. But just about the time you are ready to quit, our Bacon & Hugs Aid Station will be there to make sure you don’t.”

The weekend schedule is as follows:


• 5 to 9 p.m. — Packet pick-up hosted by Marquette Mountain at 4501 M-553 in Marquette.

Saturday, Polar Roll

• Start and Finish Line located at east Pearl Street and south 3rd Street in Ishpeming.

• 6 a.m. — Packet pick-up begins.

• 8 a.m. — 13 mile race begins.

• 8:15 a.m. — 25 mile race begins.

• 9:10 a.m. –13 mile race winners expected.

• 10:15 a.m. — 25 mile race winners expected.

• 10:15 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Anticipated finish timeframe for remaining racers.

Sunday, Enduro at the South Trails

• Race starts at the South Trails Pavilion on 553, not far from Marquette Mountain.

• 10:30 a.m. Enduro Start

• 2 p.m. Podium

For more information on the race-day events, visit the 906 Polar Roll Facebook page or the 906adventureteam.com website.

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is lbowers@miningjournal.net.