Perfect day for a ride

2,500-plus bike during Ore to Shore events

In the photo above, Ore to Shore Mountain Bike Epic participant Cole House (99) of Oneida, Wisconsin, starts the 48-mile Hard Rock race in downtown Negaunee on Saturday. House was the overall winner in 2 hours, 32 minutes and 27.2 seconds. In the photo at right, Hard Rock participants, foreground from left, Aaron Mock, Daxton Mock and Emma Swartz prepare for the start. Swartz, of Madison, Wisconsin, was the top female finisher in 2:53.03.1. (Journal photos by Corey Kelly)

By RYAN SPITZA

Journal Sports Writer

MARQUETTE — Sunshine and temperatures in the 80s set the stage for the 19th annual Ore to Shore Mountain Bike Epic on Saturday.

Michigan’s largest mass-start, point-to-point event, the Ore to Shore draws thousands of cycling enthusiasts to Marquette County each August.

Race organizers called the event a success once again, with estimates of more than 2,500 riders who registered.

The cyclists competed across six different events. The 48-mile Hard Rock, 28-mile Soft Rock and 10-mile Shore Rock all kicked off in the morning, while kids events that included the four-mile Junior Rock, one-mile Little Rock and half-mile Littlest Rock took place late in the afternoon.

The featured event of the day, the Hard Rock, got underway in downtown Negaunee at 10 a.m.

Cole House of Green Bay, Wisconsin, won the overall Hard Rock title with a time of 2 hours, 32 minutes and 27 seconds for his fifth Ore to Shore victory. Emma Swartz of Madison, Wisconsin, was the first female to cross the line at 1:44:50, good for 68th overall.

The win wasn’t necessarily easy for House’s, who crashed on the trail with about 10 miles to go.

“I was going around a turn and leading,” he said. “I was peddling and all of a sudden I was upside down in the air and knocked the wind out of myself.

“I had to gather myself up and chase back. It took a couple of miles to get back, but I had good fitness (today) so I figured I could probably catch them.”

A seven-year veteran of the Ore to Shore, however, House said he was prepared for the challenge.

“Every race is different,” he said. “You never know what to expect, you just prepare for whatever. I’ve been here and done this before, so just stay cool and do what I’m good at and ride bikes.”

The victory in the female division felt good for Swartz as well after crashing out in the Hard Rock two years ago.

A delighted Swartz said she wasn’t even thinking about her position in the lead.

“Sometimes when I passed people they were like ‘You’re in first,'” she said. “I said ‘I don’t want to believe it until I cross the finish line.’

“It was really fun, the rain (on Friday) made it a little interesting in some places, but it’s a fun course with a lot of fun downhills and rocks and I had a really good time.”

Other notable Hard Rock results included Pete Karinen of Green Bay, who finished in second place and 2017 winner and five-time Hard Rock champion Brian Matter of Prescott, Arizona, finishing third.

Garrett Jenema of Traverse City repeated as Soft Rock champion coming across the line in 1:22:53. Marquette’s Daniel Dehlin finished second while another local, Michael Sadler of Marquette, came in ninth. Emma Schwab of downstate Williamsburg was the female winner of the Soft Rock coming in at 18th overall with a time of 1:29:21.

In the Shore Rock, Griffin Schwab also of Williamsburg took first place in 45:07. Calumet’s Sam Karinen finished second while Jack Anderton, Matthew Shelp and Barney Banton of Marquette and Ryan Kerkela of Negaunee all had top-10 finishes. Jorja Jenema of Williamsburg was the first female finisher, fifth overall in 50:27.

Race director Scott Tuma said feedback from riders on the course was positive and he called it another great year.

“It was a fast course, the rain last night helped tamp down the sand so it was rolling good,” he said. “Everybody was real happy with the course. It was a fast and safe course.

“This year was a total success. The weather turned out to be absolutely perfect. Sunny and blue skies but not too hot with a little breeze. The course was perfect and this has really gone well.”

Email Ryan Spitza at sports@miningjournal.net.