By Kate Flynn
HANCOCK --The annual Portage Health Keweenaw Chain Drive Festival was held on Saturday, June 19, under partly cloudy skies. About 300 bikers started off at the Franklin Square Inn in Houghton around 10 a.m., crossed the Portage Lift Bridge and completed either a 16- or 32-mile cross-country race on the the Maasto Hiihto/ Churning Rapids trail system in Hancock.
Participants in the 2010 Portage Health Keweenaw Chain Drive Festival whiz past spectators after crossing the Portage Lift Bridge from Houghton to Hancock. The Chain Drive Festival is held annually in conjunction with Bridge Fest -- this year celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Lift Bridge. (Photos © 2010 Kate Flynn)
Terry Kinzel, a local biker and member of the Red Jacket Racing team, participated in the race and also helped with some of the cleanup afterwards. He openly admits that he is not very competitive, but still enjoys taking advantage of what the event has to offer.
"It was a wonderful day," he said. "It’s a very neat event."
Kinzel also explained that the event relies heavily on human power to make it a success. While the event’s organizers, Christine Young and Lori Hausworth, did the majority of the preparation work, Kinzel’s cycling team also contributed volunteers.
"It requires scores of volunteers," he added. "Red Jacket always helps out. We go over all the trails, flags and markings and help with the cleanup."
The overall first-place winner of the 32-mile race was 32-year-old Brian Matter of Sheboygan, Wis. Pete Karinen, 14, of Painesdale, Mich., received first place in the 16-mile race. Sara Kylander-Johnson, 38, of Duluth, Minn.,won first place in the 32-mile Women’s Expert division, while Kate McCloud won first in the 32-mile Women’s Age Group division. Parker McColl, age 15, and his father, Doug McColl, 55, of Oconomowoc, Wis., won first place in the 16 and Under Father-and-Youth Team 16-mile division, while Adam Tripp, 28, of Hudson, Wis. and his father, Russ Tripp, 57, of Spooner, Wis., won first place in the 17 and Over Father-and-Youth Team 16-mile division.*
The Junior Chain Drive was held Saturday afternoon, June 19, at the Portage Health campus, using a single-track trail in a wooded area east of the hospital. This event includes timed races for youth ages 8-13 and non-timed races for those age 7 and under.
The 7-and-under age group lines up for the Junior Chain Drive. They completed a 0.5 mile race.
The Chain Drive Festival is held traditionally on Father's Day weekend, in conjunction with Bridge Fest activities.
"It’s a pretty big deal," Kinzel said of the festival. "There’s a pretty active biking community in the area, and almost everybody that can rides it."
*For complete results of the Chain Drive races, visit Keweenawtrails.com.
Editor's Note: Guest reporter Kate Flynn is a student at Beloit College. She is doing an internship in journalistic writing for Keweenaw Now and for the L'Anse Sentinel this summer.