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Mountain biking update for the KML, Summer 2020

COPPER HARBOR — 2020 has been an exciting time for cycling around the world. Mountain bike sales have surged across the U.S.A. with the public’s renewed interest in getting outside and seeking out remote places. The Keweenaw Mountain Lodge stepped up it’s mountain bike program and hired Chris Guibert, a guide for Adventure Cycling and Board member of the Copper Harbor Trails Club. He brings over 30 years of mountain bike experience to the team. Chris has been guiding organized rides every weekend throughout the summer season and will continue into the fall. These rides are free and open to the public. Friday evening is an intermediate happy hour ride from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The theme is “ride then socialize”, after the ride we usually sit at the picnic tables with a beverage and trade biking stories. Saturday morning there is a 10 a.m. beginner ride on the Back 9 Trails. On this ride we discuss some basic bike skills and try them out on the trails – this ride is geared towards families with kids. Then at 1 p.m. we offer an adventure ride where we explore the vast Copper Harbor Trail System.

A multi year plan for MTB infrastructure was also launched in the early summer. The first project was building a bike wash and work station for guests to be able to clean and work on their bikes. The wash holds three bikes at a time and has a hose and brushes to use. The workstation has a ParkTool THS-1 Trailhead Workstation metal tool box that has eight tools and a place to hang your bike. We then mounted an additional bike clamp on the backside of the post for more extensive repairs. Wooden Adirondack chairs line this area for people to socialize while their friends work on their bikes. The final part of the work area is a Saris stainless steel bike pump and wheel chock that are nearly indestructible and manufactured in the Midwest; we expect this to be installed in September.

You can find the bike wash and work station located on the Golf Course Road (the dirt road that heads out the back of the Lodge towards the Red Trail). Next to this area is the new trailhead parking area for day trippers, located across from the cart barn. Riders unload their bikes and soon discover the new map station next to the trailhead. Two giant maps were printed on a waterproof board and mounted onto posts. Here riders can discuss their plans before heading out. And finally, you may notice that the Keweenaw Adventure Company now drops off their guests at this location centralizing the mountain bikers where the resources are.

The Back Nine Trails have soared in popularity with the surge of riders coming to Copper Harbor this summer. Originally cross-country ski trails, these trails were multiple-purposed in the Summer of 2019 and are some of the easiest trails in the Copper Harbor Trail System. They attract beginners and families from across the Midwest. To make navigating easier, the KML added color coded diamonds along these trails to simplify their somewhat-confusing layout a little easier to follow. A new trail map was made for these trails and is available for free inside the Outdoor Activity Center. With the push to meet the demands of the public’s interest in getting outside for hiking and biking we changed the golf pro shop to the Outdoor Activity Center (O.A.C.). This helps us move towards shifting the focus of the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge to an outdoor wilderness resort with an equal focus on golf, hiking and biking.

The retail shop at the O.A.C. expanded to include more items geared towards an active lifestyle. We added a line of cycling attire from Club Ride Apparel, who mixes a casual look with advanced features into their clothing. We have both men’s and women’s short sleeve jerseys with the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge logo on the front and our “Fun – Joyous – Adventuresome” motto on the back. Cycling and hiking socks from the Sock Guy and Tifosi cycling glasses are also available. Coming this fall are flannel-style, long sleeved cycling jerseys from Club Ride and top-of-the-line riding gloves from Giro.

Looking forward into 2021, the O.A.C. will have a fleet of fourteen Trek rental mountain bikes. We decided to team up with Trek Bikes (who are based in Wisconsin) because they have been a long time supporter of the Copper Harbor Trails Club. With the explosion of bike sales across the country, we recently placed our order to secure these bikes for next year’s riding season. All sizes will be available in the highly sought after Fuel EX 8. These bikes are the ideal trail bike for mountain bikers who want a versatile full suspension ripper that is well suited for the trails surrounding the Lodge. They boast an Alpha Aluminum frame, 140mm front and 130mm rear suspension, and a SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain. There will also be 4 children’s mountain bikes available: 2 Roscoe 24s and a boys and girls Precaliber for the little ones. All of these bikes will be available for full or half day rentals and include a helmet and a souvenir KML water bottle.

This Fall we are planning the second stage of the MTB infrastructure development; adding a pump track and skills area. The pump track will be located near the entrance to the Moose on the Loose Trail. Copper Harbor based Rock Solid Trail Contracting will handle the construction and will incorporate theme elements of the original WPA building style of the Lodge. There will be a second area next to the pump track that will have some skills features for mountain bikers to practice on and to be utilized in various clinics. The projected project completion date is July 4, 2021.

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