The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Trails fest attracts all ages of riders


September 9, 2019

Tom LaVenture/Daily Globe

Austin Sturbenz, 11, left, and Logan Holm, 10, both of Ironwood, keep the pressure on one another in trying to reach the finish line first at the end of the children's trail run Saturday at the Copper Peak Trails Fest in Ironwood.


Ironwood - The cool weather proved perfect for around 135 mountain bike riders who participated in the Copper Peak Trails Fest on Saturday in Ironwood.

With 7-mile sport race and 16-mile expert race courses navigating the Black River and ascending nearly 600 feet to the Copper Peak ski flying jump, the riders would have overheated in hot weather, said Paul Anderson, race director. The downhill ride was fast and winding with jumps and bridges, he said.

"We built our mountain bike trails here as the first in the area and really focused on developing these trails for the past eight years," Anderson said. "We have some really, really top quality mountain bike trails here and it's nice to showcase the trails for people who come here to race from all over northern Wisconsin, Minnesota and the Upper Peninsula.

In addition the event offered a 7-mile trail run and a non-timed kid's race with one mile and three mile routes, and a strider run of a few hundred yards to encourage all ages and levels of riders to participate. The Copper Peak summer festival was held simultaneously so that participants could enjoy rides, a bouncy house, food vendors and entertainment.

Austin Sturbenz, 11, of Ironwood, peddled hard at the end of the three-mile run to be edged out by friend, Logan Holm, 10, also of Ironwood. The experience was great, he said.

"It's hard for sure, Sturbenz said. "You can have fun and visit with your friends. It's a fun thing to do on your free time and it's a good workout while you are having fun."

Russ Johnson, the oldest mountain bike rider at the event at age 75, said the bikes today are a lot nicer and he enjoys pushing himself as he does as a ski instructor. He enjoys the competition but said it's really about the fun and hanging with friends who feel like comrades after the ride.

"I ride out here a lot. I really enjoy it. It's a lot of fun, and just a great time," Johnson said. "I wish I would have got into this sport a long time ago."

Andrea Newby, program director with the Gogebic Range Health Foundation, said her foundation provided a profits match for the event of up to $8,000. The health foundation collaborates with fundraisers where there is a similar mission, and the Sisu Dirt Crew, a mountain bike trail development and advocacy organization based in Ironwood, also promotes healthy activities, and getting kids and families outside riding bikes, she said.

"The purpose of this race is to build more trails and advocate for biking in the community and so as a health foundation we think that is a priority for us," Newby said. "Sisu Dirt Crew holds weekly mountain bike rides during the summer and we have groups that do trail building and other events throughout the year."

The overall winners in the expert 16 mile race was Ronnie Lajoie, of Iron River, Wisconsin in the women's 40 to 59 age group, who won $250. Candace Jacobs, of Ironwood, won ski passes for winning the women's 13 to 39 age group, and Sylvia Knust, of Minocqua, Wisconsin won a swag bag for second place.

Aaron Swanson, of Ashland, Wisconsin won $250 for winning the men's 40 to 59 age group in the expert 16 mile race. Nikolai Anikin of Duluth, Minnesota, won the ski passes and Casey Lajoie, of Iron River, Wisconsin won the swag bag in the men's 13 to 39 age group.

In the 7 mile trail run Carolyn Warren, of Ironwood, won a ski pass for winning the women's age 13 to 39 group. Jason Lindelof, of Duluth, won the ski pass for winning the men's 13 to 39 age group.


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