MARQUETTE - The inaugural Marquette Bike Jam wrapped up on Sunday as 149 cyclists took to the woods for the 12 and 25 mile Cross Country Trail Jam, which started and ended at Marquette Mountain.
After a few falls and a mud covered jersey, William Ellerbruch of Negaunee crossed the line first in the 12-mile race at 59 minutes and 44.9 seconds.
"It was a great race, the course was beautiful," Ellerbruch said. "Course conditions were near perfect; lots of great single track. The course guys did a great job making the single track."
Jeff Shipkey of Marquette rides down the trail with competitor Brian Gesfer of Marquette on his tail during the 25 mile Trail Jam in Marquette on Sunday. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser)
Riders had about a mile before they hit the single track in the woods.
Once the trail narrowed, it made it difficult to pass. Ellerbruch said the single track factor played into his strategy.
"You try to get ahead in the beginning, ahead of people who are going to be slower and then you hope you can stay where you are," he said. "If someone is behind you, you try to stay ahead of them and then give it everything on the single track."
The plan worked as Ellerbruch finished four minutes ahead of second place rider Kiplin Hartman, of Marquette (1:03:53.5). Tom Lily cruised into a third place finish at 1:04:35.8.
In the female division it was a pair of Marquette riders leading the way.
Michelle Denbeste (1:10:54) and Christina Lehmann (1:12:52.3) cruised to the top two spots, while Allison Slavick of Cable, Wis., took third at 1:14:40.4.
In the 25 mile race, trail familiarity reigned supreme as Tyler Gauthier of Ishpeming used his knowledge of the woods to pick up a first place finish (1:36:26.5).
"This is our backyard," Gauthier said. "For the most part I've done every part of that trail so I know the turns which really helps; that way I could stay smooth and be confident with what was coming up next."
Gauthier made his push to get ahead of the pack about 100 meters prior to the single track section of the course. He said the hills play a big part of the riding in the woods.
"It's kind of gradual up until the first downhill, so I wanted to stay steady," Gauthier said. "I wanted to stay heavy and I did, and it just created a small little gap right away, so my goal was to stay hard the whole time and never really lay back and never really give anybody an opportunity to gap it back, or bridge it back on the downhills."
Kevin Wright finished shortly behind Gauthier at 1:36:26.5 and Ben Ellingson of Marquette swooped to a third place finish (1:38:07.6).
In the female division it was Abby Stigel of Madison, Wis., crossing the line first at 1:50:57.7.
Cooper Dendel (1:52:01.4) and Nicole Alexander (2:06:09.) both of Marquette finished second and third, respectively.
"It was a really good event and it was really fun to race on the trails around here instead of going to a different area," Dendel said. "It was fun to have a ton of single track and not a lot of double track."
Event director Jon Becker said he was thrilled with the turnout of the event and the amount of interest it drew in the first year.
"You have people here this weekend that have three or four different bikes with them because they wanted to participate in all of it," he said.
"That to me just shows that there's a real love for cycling in this community and that's what we like to show off, the fact that we're all connected by the two wheels."