Sunday, May 23, 2010

Hancock, Calumet join Houghton for Bike 2 Work Day

Ann Pace of Hancock, a member of the Houghton County Bike Commission, offers snacks and bike safety information to biking commuters early Friday morning, May 21, during Bike 2 Work Day. Pace prepared the snacks, and the nearby 5th and Elm Coffee House donated coffee. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

By Kate Flynn

HANCOCK -- Residents of Houghton, Hancock and Calumet left their cars at home this Friday, May 21, to participate in Keweenaw Bike 2 Work Day.

The event, organized in Hancock by John Silvon and his wife, Ann Pace, is in its first year on the north side of the bridge. Houghton hosted the first Bike 2 Work Day on a Friday last year. Pace, a member of the Houghton County Bike Commission, says that the event is intended to increase awareness of biking as a mode of transportation.

Hancock City Councilor John Slivon, who coordinated Hancock's participation in this year's Bike 2 Work Day -- held Friday, May 21 -- puts finishing touches on one of the signs for the event. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

"The bike subcommittee," Pace explained, "examines the feasibility of biking and walking in Hancock. Houghton is pretty far along in plans for bike trails, but Hancock is just starting out."

Ann Pace prepares raisin bars (a special recipe!) for the morning Bike 2 Work snack table and energy bars (containing whole wheat, wheat germ, apricots, almonds, walnuts and organic canola oil) for the afternoon. "I wanted to provide snacks that I would actually eat myself," she said. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Dan Dalquist, a Hancock resident who has been riding since 1984 and now bikes six to seven days a week, including to and from his job in Calumet, describes his love of cycling as "a passion." On Friday, he helped to put air in bike commuters' tires and to troubleshoot other bike-related problems at the Bike 2 Work snack and information station at Dave’s BP in Hancock.

Dave's BP was the site of the afternoon snack and information station in Hancock on Bike 2 Work Day. (Photo © 2010 Kate Flynn)

"I got into [cycling] to rehab a bad knee," Dalquist said. "It worked. Now I ride to work, on pleasure rides, and on trails."

Heather Wright-Wendell, a member of the Red Jacket Cycling Team, volunteered at the Houghton Bike 2 Work snack and information station, located on the Waterfront Trail at the bottom of Quincy St. near the Ambassador Restaurant. She herself commutes to Houghton on a regular basis.

Members of the Red Jacket Cycling Team, including Terry Kinzel, second from right, and Heather Wright-Wendell, right, volunteer at the tent for Houghton's Bike 2 Work Day. (Photo © 2010 Kate Flynn)

"I started when I came to school here in 2001. I’ve found a really strong biking community in Houghton," Wright-Wendell said. "I’ve met avid racers as well as people who are more laid-back. There are a variety of groups and a lot of good trails."

Kyle Bordeau, a Michigan Tech student from Alpena, Michigan and the president of the Copper Country Cycling Club, was also present at the Houghton tent to take a look at commuters' bikes.

Kyle Bordeau, right, a Michigan Tech student and president of the Copper Country Cycling Club, tunes up a commuter's bike. (Photo © 2010 Kate Flynn)

"I’m basically just giving them a free bike check -- shifting, tire check, brakes," Bordeau said. "The main thing is to make sure it’s safe. If it’s not, I’ll send them to a bike repair shop."

In Calumet, a snack and info station was set up on U.S. 41 near Calumet High School in the morning. Returning commuters had the opportunity to receive free bike check-ups by the professionals at the Cross Country Sports snack station on Oak Street.

Cyclists "caught in the act of safe cycling" were given a water bottle by a Bike 2 Work Day volunteer or city police officer in each of the three locations this year.

Those using other non-motorized modes of transportation (such as skateboarders and pedestrians) were also welcome to participate in the event and enjoy the snacks.

To encourage participation among local businesses, this year's Bike to Work Day featured a business challenge. Certificates will be awarded to the businesses with the greatest level of participation in several different categories. A catered coffee break will be raffled off among the winners in each community. Winners will be announced on Friday, May 28.

Sponsors of the event are listed on the Bike 2 Work Day Web site.

Editor's Note: Guest reporter Kate Flynn, who also took some of the photos for this article, is a student at Beloit College. She is doing internships in journalistic writing for both the L'Anse Sentinel and Keweenaw Now this summer.

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