A beautiful day for biking

Brian Matter of Arizona, winner of the Ore to Shore 48 mile Hard Rock race, crosses the finish line Saturday afternoon. (Journal photo by Rachel Oakley)

By RYAN SPITZA

For the Journal

MARQUETTE — Gloomy cloud-covered skies put a blanket of gray over Marquette on Thursday and Friday, but Saturday proved to be a different story as the sun came out in full force for the 18th annual Ore to Shore Mountain Bike Epic.

Brian Matter is used to the sun. The 39-year-old from Arizona came across the finish line with a time of 2:33:48 to win his fifth Ore to Shore race in the 48-mile Hard Rock event.

While the sun and temperatures in the 70s made for a picture-perfect day of cycling, Matter said the rain the past few days helped the course a lot.

“I thought the trail was awesome,” Matter said. “I think the rain and the water and the moisture really made for some good racing.”

Matter’s first Ore to Shore was in 2002 and won the Hard Rock in 2004, 2005, 2009 and 2011.

This one felt especially good for him after obtaining three flat tires during last year’s race and finishing eighth overall. 

Matter also mentioned that one of his partners put the pressure on toward the end.

“I was biding my time and saving my energy throughout the race,” Matter said. “Around eight miles to go, I moved up toward the front. I got ahead at Kirby’s Hill and then Pete [Karinen] who I work together with caught up to me and I beat him in the sprint.”

Karinen, a Calumet native, was the runner up in the Hard Rock with a time of 02:33:51.

The grand prize for winning the Hard Rock is $1,600 for both the first male and female finisher.

Asked what he was going to do with the prize money, Matter had one simple answer.

“I’m probably going to have to buy a plane ticket back home,” Matter said with a laugh.

Kyia Anderson of St. Cloud, Minnesota was the first female to finish the Hard Rock in 54th place overall and took the top cash prize on the women’s side with a time of 2:54:12.

In the 28-mile Soft Rock race, Garrett Jenema of Traverse City, Casey Abston of Louisville (Ky.) and Braiden Voss of Suttons Bay shared the top spot with a time of 1:21:43.

Solomon Orlowski, 46, another Traverse City native, rode the Ore to Shore event for the first time competing in the Soft Rock.

“It’s an awesome course,” Orlowski said. “The trail was great and very well marked.”

Orlowski added he’ll be returning next year for sure.

Negaunee’s Ashley Ball, 14, also competed in the Soft Rock in her first Ore to Shore and praised the trail as well.

“The trail was really good,” Ball said. “It was fun but really tiring at the same time.”

13-year-old Nick Frank of Grand Rapids took the 10-mile Shore Rock event, while 12-year-old Chase Waters of Champion won the 4-mile Junior Rock.

Race Director Scott Tuma said this year’s event couldn’t have gone any better.

“The course was in absolute perfect shape,” Tuma said. “The second half of the trail was super quick and it was such a perfect day with the sunshine and temperatures just being spot on.”

Tuma believes the Ore to Shore is one of the premier cycling races of the Midwest as it concludes its 18th year.

“It’s a premier point-to-point race which is extremely hard to have anywhere else in this country,” Tuma said.

“I think we have more amenities than a lot of races because this is not a commercial race. This is a community race put on by volunteers.”

2,204 riders registered for this year’s event, up from 1,888 last year.

Tuma encourages everybody who may be shy or nervous to race to register in 2018.

“The race course is designed so everyone can do it,” Tuma said. “Pro riders can come out and go fast and run a strategic race, but the people that ride on the bike paths or ride every once in a while, they can do this course because we specifically designed it so it’s not overly-technical or dangerous. It’s a good course to start out on.”

Ryan Spitza can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252.

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