Keweenaw Races (and Other Two-Wheeled Events)

Updated: February 02, 2015
road | mountain | racing

With no fewer than 12 events, cyclists don't have to look far for velo-centric activities. Five mountain bike races, three triathlons, a weekend of cyclocross racing and a couple non-competitive options make for a busy cycling season. Considering the size of the local population (35k in two counties), that speaks bounds for the state of cycling in the Keweenaw, not to mention the dedication of race organizers and the countless volunteers that make the events happen.

Those willing to travel out of the Keweenaw can find a few more races, including the Red Earth Classic, featuring a three-run enduro and less punishing finish to the xc race this year. Marquette's Ore to Shore Epic, held in mid-August, is Michigan's largest mass-start MTB race.

La Flèche du Nord: May 9, 2015

Location: Houghton - Brockway Mountain
Organized by: BikeTheKeweenaw / Red Jacket Cycling Team


An informal, but high-paced road training ride in the tradition of the Belgian spring classics. Starting in Houghton, finishing on top of Brockway Mountain, the 75-mile route takes riders over the most grueling topography and tarmac the Keweenaw has to offer.

Keweenaw Bike2Work Day: TBD

Location: Houghton, Hancock, Calumet, Laurium
Website: www.kb2wd.org
Organized by: Western U.P. Health Dept.
& Houghton Bike-Pedestrian Committee

Maybe you bike to work or school already or maybe you'd like to try it for the first time. Either way, join us on May 16 for the annual Bike2Work Day. Those using other non-motorized modes of transportation (such as skateboarders and pedestrians) are welcome to join us too.

Come join the fun and cycle your stress and extra pounds away on the Keweenaw Bike2Work Day!

Ride the Keweenaw: May 23-25, 2015

Location: Throughout the Keweenaw
Website: www.copperharbortrails.org
Hosted by: Copper Harbor Trails Club and Keweenaw Trails Alliance


Group rides throughout the Keweenaw, food, music, good times. New this year: enduro and downhill races in Copper Harbor on Sunday afternoon.

Tour de L'Anse: Saturday, June 13, 2015

Location:Start/finish in L'Anse
Website: www.baragacounty.org
Presented by: BCMH Rehab & Fitness

Location: Start/Finish L'Anse Waterfront Park - 10:00 a.m


Tour da L'Anse Half Century - 52 mile competitive and recreational road touring event. For the competitive cyclists, awards presented to the top three finishers for each age/gender groups plus "King of the Mountain" prizes.

There will be a shorter 22 mile recreational short ride offered the same morning - different route.

Keweenaw Chain Drive: RETIRED

Location:Start in downtown Houghton, finish at Portage Hospital
Website: www.chaindrive.org
Presented by: Keweenaw Trails Services and Keweenaw Trails Alliance


After a 20-year run, the Chain Drive has been retired. For details, visit the Chain Drive website.

Miner's Revenge: July 11, 2015

Location: Adventure Mining Company, Greenland
Website: www.minersrevenge.com
Presented by: Adventure Mining Company, The Bike Shop & Red Jacket Cycling


For the past two years, the Adventure Mining Company has played host to what is hands-down the toughest mountain bike race in the U.P. And probably well beyond. The relatively new trails feature billions-year old bed rock (not quite sliprock, but surprisingly grippy when dry), jagged mine rock, never-ending climbs, and brain-rattling downhills. Oh yeah, and 1/3 mile in a mine shaft. Head lamps are mandatory. 12 and 24 mile races. The 12 mile race feels like 24 and the 24 mile race like 100. Singlespeed recommendation for the long course: Consider the short course. It’s a very tough race. But if you insist: Mortal: 32x19 or 20. Racing to win: 32x18 or 19.

Red Earth Classic - Sat/Sun, July 18 & 19, 2015

Location: Ishpeming
Website: www.redearthclassic.com/
Presented by: bike racers Justin Koski and Matt Palomaki


12/19/32 mile xc races on Saturday featuring some of the legandary Ishpeming singletrack. Big cash payout in the long race draws some of the fastest racers in the region. Sunday will feature a 3-run enduro this year.

Check the Red Earth Classic website
for the latest information.

MTU MTB Rondevous - 12 Hour Race: Saturday, July 25, 2015

Location: Michigan Tech Trails, Houghton
Website: www.keweenawtrails.com/mturonde/
Presented by: Michigan Tech Nordic Skiing and cross country teams


Ronde, Dutch for lap, is an apt name for the new kid on the Keweenaw racing block. The labyrinthine course winds in and out and up and down the maze of Michigan Tech singletrack. Mostly smooth and flowing, the Ronde is full of technical downhills, gradual climbs (with a few steeper ramps) and flat twisty sections you can *almost* pedal and pump through.

The race will be a 12-hour event this year, with
team and solo division. Details coming soon!

Copperman Triathlon: August 1, 2015; Copper Harbor

Location: Start/finish in Copper Harbor
Website: www.keweenawcopperman.org
Presented by: Keweenaw Aspirus


With roots going back to the early 90s, the Copperman is among the oldest races in the Keweenaw. The race features a half-mile swim in Lake Fanny Hoe; a slightly rolling, 18-mile, out-and-back bike along Lake Superior; and a flat, five-mile pavement/dirt run past the northernmost point of US-41. Both individual and team slots are capped (195 and 50, respectively), so register early. The race fills earlier every year. Camping is available in Copper Harbor at Fort Wilkins and Lake Fanny Hoe Resort, but secure your camping spot early as well.

Great Deer Chase: Saturday, August 15, 2015

Location: Start/finish in downtown Calumet
Website: www.greatdeerchase.org
Presented by: Supporters of Swedetown Trails & Aspirus Keweenaw


The Deer Chase comes in two flavors : a 17.5-mile version and a 27-mile version. The race includes bucket loads of singletrack with ample oppurnity to pass. Thanks to the extensive Swedetown trail system, race organizers have laid out a course with minimal overlap between the two distances, each of which is a single-lap race. Though generally flat, the long version drops further down a long, gradual hill with a few steep sections (up and down) at its outer reaches. Also billed as the U.P. World Singlespeed Championships, no small share of the racers are pushing a single gear. Given the gentle topography, racers vying for the win can easily go over 2:1.

Bell's Beer Copper Harbor Trails Festival, September 6, 2015

Location: Copper Harbor
Website: http://www.keweenawadventure.com/fat_tire.htm
Presented by: Copper Harbor Trails Club and Keweenaw Trail Services


New name, same great race. If there's a heaven, we hope it's like Copper Harbor on Fat Tire Day. With miles of IMBA-certified epic trails, the course is nothing short of amazing. Climbs? Check. Flowy single track? Check. Long, long, long downhills? Check. Boardwalks that would put Atlantic City to shame? Check. 28 and 14 mile distances. Winners take home some of the most impressive trophies anywhere. And the race is only half the fun. Food, beer, music and good times test racers' endurance deep into the night. Very singlespeedable - a 32x19 is as tall as we'd care to race it, though the contenders certainly chew on more gear inches than that.

Copper Country Color Tour: Saturday, September 26, 2015

Location: Start/finish in Houghton (Michigan Tech campus)
Website: http://cycling.students.mtu.edu/events/color-tour
Presented by: Copper Country Cycling Club (C4)


Well into its fourth decade, the Copper Country Cycling Tour is an institution. Rides of 50k, 100k and 200k showcase some of the Kewenaw's finest scenery. And, if Mother Nature plays along, some of the best fall colors anywhere. The 50k ride is an out and back, with turnaround just outside of Lake Linden. The somewhat more challenging 100k route includes the hilly and low-traveled Gay to Mohawk road, returning to Houghton via McLain state park. The 200k route is the granddaddy of all Keweenaw rides and features the Lac La Belle and Brockway Mountain (optional) climbs. A lunchtime pasty in Copper Harbor at the midway point will keep you going for the second half of the ride.

Keweenaw Cup Cyclocross Race: October 17-18, 2015

Location: Copper Harbor (downtown & Keweenaw Mountain Lodge)
Website: http://www.keweenawcup.com
Presented by: Red Jacket Cycling Team


Cyclocross is alive and well in the Keweenaw. The Cup, part of the UPCROSS points series, draws racers from as far away as Duluth for two days of racing. The event opens with the Downtown Hoedown in the center of Copper Harbor on a flat course with plenty of nastiness -- sand traps, off cambers and barriers galore. Racers have opportunity to recover and relax with a pasta dinner and music Saturday evening. Sunday's Top of the World Smackdown punishes with run-ups, fast pavement sections, grass, dirt and singletrack. Though the race has, for the most part, been spared inclement weather, anything is possible in Copper Harbor come late October. There's no better way to end the Keweenaw cycling season than with a trip to the Harbor.