MARQUETTE - The rattle of cowbells filled downtown Marquette Friday as fans packed the streets to support the inaugural Marquette Bike Jam.
The hometown fans weren't disappointed, either, as a pair of Marquette locals took first place in both the men and women's Serious division of the Speed Jam Criterium.
The Serious race was the final competition of the night as men and women raced together. Nicole Alexander edged out fellow Marquette rider Christina Bennett in a neck-to-neck race to take the women's championship with a time of 48 minutes and 15 seconds.
Ryan Grim, left, heads North on Washington Street during the Marquette Bike Jam fat tire race in downtown Marquette on Friday night. At 10 a.m. today, competition in the Traffic Jam 50- and 100-kilometer races will be held at Marquette Mountain, followed by the Gravity Jam at noon. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser)
"It was a lot harder then I thought it was going to be. It was hot and Christina was with me the whole time, so it was really challenging," Alexander said.
"It's really fun when you see your friends and they're all cheering for you, so it gives you a little extra motivation when they're cheering for you."
On the men's side, 18 of the 27 riders remained within seconds of each other for the majority of the race. In the final lap, it was Steve Kuhl of Marquette edging the pack to be crowned the Serious champion with a time of 47:02.8.
"I was scared at the start," Kuhl said. "I'm not use to these (Criteriums). I've only done a couple. I just got lucky, right place at the right time."
Coming in right behind Kuhl was Tyler Gauthier at 47:04.5 and Colby Lash took third with a time of 47:04.8.
The top 18 finishers were all within 13 seconds of each other and each completed 43 laps.
The second longest event of the night was the Dudes race. Riders grinded it out for 30 minutes before a final lap was announced. Four riders exchanged leads and stayed within a second of each other the entire race.
On the 26th and last lap, Dalton Guggemos of Houghton made his push on the back stretch to pull away from the pack in 31:57.2.
"I had to make a move, so on that second-to-last corner (Front Street), I just knew I was faster down that hill, so I just took the inside and stood up for that last lap and went for it," Guggemos said.
"I made my move right there, pulled up right next to him (Jon Kilpela) coming up Spring (Street) and up that last hill, I just tried to really gut it out."
In the Chicks race, two riders faced off with Kieran Devere (20:40.6) of Madera, Calif., beating Mary Connor of Marquette (21:08.9). Devere, 14, is a USA Triathlon Junior and Youth Champion whose family owns a cabin in Marquette.
She said the high temperatures and strong winds are good training for her triathlons.
"You have to drink a lot of fluids and draft. I drafted for like six laps," Devere said. "It was fun. I'd like to come back next year and do it again."
Along with the competition, race fans were also treated to some humor during the Klunker event. Twenty-one racers sported everything from tandem bikes to Speedos for the two-lap race.
Marcus Bush, donning a wrestling singlet outfit. was able to snag first place (2:12.1).
The Speed Jam got kicked off with the Youth race. Brandon Kaski of Marquette beat a field of six (9:16.9,) with Wyatt Clement of Marquette taking second (9:30.2).
The other event of the night was the Fatty race, which was for mountain bikes and snow bikes that feature larger tires. Kirk Harger of Munising cruised to a first place finish in 15:31.8, with Bryan Geshel capturing second (16.26.2).