The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Bike riders take inaugural tour across UP


Ian Minielly/Daily Globe

A GROUP of cyclists participates in the inaugural Upper Peninsula Iron Belle Trail Ride Thursday along U.S. 2, near Marenisco. They began in Ironwood just before 8 a.m. and plan to be in St. Ignace on Saturday. Organizer Bob Jacquart is third from the left.

IRONWOOD - Eleven cyclists took off from Ironwood Thursday morning on what they called the inaugural Upper Peninsula Iron Belle Trail Ride, with a goal of arriving in St. Ignace on Saturday.

The riders will cross the Upper Peninsula on the non-motorized Iron Belle Trail, which is designated to cross the entire state, uninterrupted from Ironwood to Belle Isle in Detroit.

Locally, Bob Jacquart helped muster the ride, gaining support from the city of Ironwood, Department of Natural Resources, Department of Transportation, Michigan State Police, as well as the Michigan Fitness Foundation, Michigan Trails & Greenway Alliance and the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness, Health and Sports.

The riders began just before 8 a.m. from Mile Zero of the trail, on the bridge over the Montreal River, and headed east on the paved trail to Bessemer. From Moore Street in Bessemer, where the recently improved portion of the Iron Belle Trail ends, the group continued over to U.S. 2 for the ride to St. Ignace.

U.S. 2 is a designated bike route. The Western Gateway Trail Authority is continuing its efforts to extend the paved portion of the trail from Bessemer to Ramsay and then to Wakefield.

Thursday's riders were supported by an Ironwood school bus, pulling a trailer, that will be used to port the riders back home.

Organizers began planning the event in February and had hoped to cross paths with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, as he is in the U.P. this week, but it appeared Thursday those plans weren't going to work out. Snyder was the one who announced efforts to create the trail, which also has a second hiking route that uses much of the North Country Trail across the U.P.

"Ironwood is the western gateway to Michigan's Upper Peninsula," said Jacquart. "We want to thank Gov. Snyder, along with all our state and foundation partners, for their support of Ironwood's important role as the starting point of the Iron Belle Trail."

"The Michigan Fitness Foundation is proud to support the inaugural U.P. Ride as part of our work to ensure completion of the Iron Belle Trail," said James J. Tighe, CEO of the Michigan Fitness Foundation. "We are grateful for the ongoing support of all our Iron Belle Trail partners, from Ironwood to Detroit."

-Larry Holcombe


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