Friday, October 29, 2010

Keweenaw Cup cyclocross race caps off local cycling season

By Christopher Schmidt*

Tim Kostner of the Red Jacket Cycling Team negotiates an obstacle in the Keweenaw Cup cyclocross race held in Copper Harbor Oct. 23-24. Kostner won a third-place bronze medal in the men's A class. (Photo © 2010 and courtesy Christopher Schmidt)

COPPER HARBOR -- Capping off the end of another great cycling season, Copper Harbor was the site of the third annual Keweenaw Cup cyclocross race presented by Houghton’s Red Jacket Cycling Team. More than sixty racers from Duluth to Skandia participated in the two-day event, Oct. 23-24, which again featured venues in downtown Copper Harbor and the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge. Contested over short courses approximately one mile in length for a fixed period of time, typically 30 to 45 minutes depending on gender and ability, the races are fast, furious and exciting down to the wire.

Chris Uchytil lifts his bike over a challenging barrier during the recent Keweenaw Cup cyclocross race in Copper Harbor.

Not only were racers competing for top honors in the Keweenaw, but, as the Cup is part of the seven-race UPCROSS points series, racers were also looking to collect points for the season-long series which starts in late September and concludes with the U.P. State Cyclocross Championships in November.

The Keweenaw Cup opened last Saturday, Oct. 23, with the Downtown Hoedown in the center of Copper Harbor, where nearly 50 racers competed. Sending racers on a flat, meandering, and obstacle-laden course featuring chicanes, barriers, singletrack, sand trap, and an off-camber turn with potential water hazard, the Cup got off to a blazing start under sunny skies.

Race action moved up the hill Sunday morning to the historic Keweenaw Mountain Lodge for the Top of the World Smackdown. In a move designed to give racers on traditional cyclocross bikes an edge over those on mountain bikes, race organizers opted to make the day’s race as fast as possible by including several hundred meters of paved cart path and dirt road. All things being equal, racers with the more narrow tires typically used on cx bikes should, in theory at least, have proven faster on the course. All things are not, of course, equal in a 'cross race, least of all fate. Flat tires, broken chains and flailing elbows are an omnipresent danger that can turn a race on its head in the blink of an eye.

In the final overall standings, top honors in the women’s B category went to Tammi Lehto of Houghton, followed by Mary Connor of Marquette and E. Voschkl, also of Marquette.

In the highly contested women’s A category, Nicole Alexander of Marquette was crowned Keweenaw Cup champion. Christina Bennett of Marquette placed second and Kari Gates of Duluth finished third.

Taking home the Cup in the men’s C class was Bruce Harvey of Houghton. Second was awarded to Bruce Pletka of Houghton and third went to Finn Whalen of Marquette.

Ryan Tervo (background) is close behind Mik Kilpela as they both cross a difficult double barrier during the third annual Keweenaw Cup cyclocross race.

Claiming his first Keweenaw Cup in the men’s B class was Red Jacket Cycling Team rider Kit Cischke of Houghton, followed by Jeremy Pletka and Ian Marks of Marquette and Houghton, respectively.

And, overall champion in the men’s A class was Culvers Cycling Team rider Tyler Gauthier, who won each of the two individual races. Aaron Swanson, current leader in the UPCROSS standings took home second. Tim Kostner (Red Jacket Cycling Team) took home the bronze.

The Red Jacket Cycling Team would like to thank racers and spectators for traveling the extra distance to Copper Harbor. We’d also like to thank the Copper Harbor Trails Club for their support, Michigan Tech, Computer Mechanix, John Ollila and his dog Toivo, The Bike Shop, BlueSky Health, Banjo Brothers Bags, the village of Copper Harbor, The Mariner North and, last but not least, The Keweenaw Mountain Lodge for making the 2010 Keweenaw Cup possible.

More details and photos of the race are available at upcross.net. For results of the races Click here.

*Editor's Note: Guest author and photographer Christopher Schmidt is one of the organizers for the Keweenaw Cup cyclocross race.

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