MARQUETTE - The ski lift usually stops running at Marquette Mountain in early spring, but it was in full swing Saturday as bikers made the trek to the top of the hill for the Gravity Jam of the Marquette Bike Jam.
In all, 90 racers traversed the mountain in three different events that tested their speed, technique and head-to-head capabilities.
Riders got to test their skills in the Downhill, Super D and Dual Slalom races. Event director Jon Becker said each track is set up different.
"The Downhill is faster and more technical," he said. "Turns, rock drops, steeps, just being prepared for the unexpected. The more technical something is, the more bike-handling skill it takes to get through."
Becker described the Super D as a faster course, with a wider track that still requires some climbing.
The Dual Slalom was a head-to-head battle in which riders rode on tracks that mirrored each other.
Quick Stop Bike Shop owner Phil Ott of Marquette, who focuses primarily on downhill racing, said race officials have been working on making the Downhill course faster.
"It's pretty fun, it's super fast," Ott said. "We changed it up a little bit for this year, trying to make it faster, rockier, gnarlier, try to take out all the slow spots, pretty much."
The changes worked in Ott's favor as he snatched a first place finish in the Downhill event with a time of two minutes, 13.67 seconds.
"It always feels awesome to win at home. You've got a lot of people watching and it's just really cool," Ott said. "It gets the confidence up going into different races."
Paul Mayes came in behind Ott at 2:14.7 and Marquette native Tyler Horton finished third at 2:16.23. Horton, who has lived in Oregon the last six years, said the Downhill event requires serious precision.
"You have to study your lines beforehand and make sure you nail them. If you don't, you're generally going to crash into the woods," Horton said.
"I rode a smaller type of bike and a disadvantage would be the rock garden. There's a really gnarly rock garden that was sketchy on a small bike, but then, there's also a good section to pedal where my bike had an advantage over the downhill bikes."
Horton separated his shoulder in a crash during the Super D race, but was still able to find the finish line.
"It was towards the bottom. I don't remember exactly. I just drifted toward the outside and found a tree and wrapped myself around it," Horton said.
The day ended with the Dual Slalom races and bouquets of bike gears handed out as trophies to the winners.
Ott said he was thrilled with the turnout for the event and sees a bright future.
"It's pretty huge. It just kind of shows everyone that there's definitely a big mountain bike scene here," Ott said.
Results of the Super D and Dual Slalom will be published in Monday's Mining Journal.