Cruising through Copper Country
Tour Da Yoop, Eh guides road cyclists around the perimeter of the Upper Peninsula
Trail riders aren’t the only cyclists that will be passing through Copper Harbor this year, as the Tour Da Yoop, Eh circles the perimeter of the upper peninsula for the second time.
Race promoter Kim Mellon says the point of the ride is to showcase and enjoy the beautiful, safe roads of the U.P.
Last year, organizer James Studinger was the only one to ride all ten stages of the 10-day, 1,200-mile course and earn a plaid Tour Da Yoop, Eh cycling jersey. This year, one more racer plans to complete the remaining parts of the race he didn’t do last year, earning his own jersey.
Other racers, like 66-year-old Copper Country resident Dan Dalquist, are just adding a couple legs to the one he did last year, working slowly but steadily to his own jersey.
“I did one stage last year,” he said. “I’m doing three this year.”
And possibly a fourth, he said.
He said he would do it all, but he hasn’t been able to train to the level he thinks is necessary to attempt it.
“To some extent, the only way you get used to doing long rides is to do them,” Dalquist said.
He said his family, including two adult children and their grandchildren, keep him busy enough that weeks-long rides aren’t easy for him to plan.
Dalquist, although retired, still works regularly as a cycling instructor and guide during summer and as a ski instructor at Mont Ripley in the winter.
“When I’m done biking, I start skiing. When I’m done skiing, I start biking,” Dalquist said.
He also rides bikes both on trails, and on the roads.
“I alternate,” he said. “Some days even both.”
Before meeting for his interview, Dalquist had already rode almost 8 miles.
“I’ll go out for two and a half hours after this, and probably do 35 miles or something,” he said.
He only carries a cell phone, some high-nutrition snacks, two bottles of water, and a repair kit with some tools including a spare inner tube and a compressed carbon-dioxide cartridge used to fill it.
He said his road bike isn’t one of the most expensive high-end bikes, but it is a carbon frame “go-fast” bike. It’s light enough to lift easily with one hand, even with the bottles of water and repair kit still attached.
He always wears a helmet, and requires it of his pupils on the streets and the slopes. He said that even at low speeds, it’s possible to twist the handlebars or otherwise crash suddenly, either flipping you over to land head-first, or falling sideways to hit the ground with hip, shoulder and head. The force of these uncontrolled falls is enough to do significant damage to the skull. Even though Dalquist has plenty of riding experience, he still takes the occasional spill, and so always wears a helmet.
Dalquist is also involved in several of the many riding clubs in the Copper Country. Keweenaw Trekkers, the MTU Cycling Club, Red Jacket Cycling Club, Cross Country Sports shop, Copper Harbor Trails Club, Rhythm Bike & Board shop, Tech Trails and Road Riders all host weekly road or trail rides, sometimes both.
This year, TDY starts on Aug. 15 in Manistique, heading west to Escanaba. The course continues clockwise around the U.P. with stops in Iron Mountain, Ironwood, Houghton/Hancock, Marquette, Grand Marais, Sault St. Marie, St. Ignace and back to Manistique.
Volunteers are still needed in every city, according to Mellon. They help with the support vehicles, food and water, and other support.
Dalquist plans to follow the course from Iron Mountain to Marquette, though he’s scheduled to be in the support vehicle instead of cycling the Copper Harbor Loop — the 116 mile loop from Hancock to Copper Harbor and back scheduled to take place on Aug. 19.
“I may ride it anyway,” Dalquist said with a grin.
Registration fees, which start at $300 and change based on how many legs of the course the rider does, include a custom riding jersey (different from the jersey earned on completion of the full course), luggage transportation, vehicle support, food and water drop offs, local discounts, GPS guidance, course marshalls and an after party. Registration is open until Aug. 14.
For a detailed course map, volunteer information, registration, and more, visit tourdayoopeh.com.