Cyclists pedal through Keweenaw as part of 1,200-mile trek

Tour Da Yoop, Eh spurs Houghton Bike Day designation

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Houghton City manager Eric Waara, right, leads a pack of cyclists through downtown Houghton as Tour Da Yoop, Eh, begins its seventh day of riding around the Upper Peninsula. Houghton proclaimed Tuesday as Bike Day to honor the tour, which did a 117.4-mile loop starting at Bridgeview Park Tuesday morning, part of a 1,200-mile annual tour.

HOUGHTON — Before a pack of about 30 riders set off from Bridgeview Park in Houghton Tuesday morning, Houghton bicyclist Dan Dalquist gave them the phrase of the day, courtesy of former pro bicycle racer Jens Voigt: “Shut up, legs.”

“You guys are going to remember that as you go through the day,” he said. 

Riders had several reasons to keep going. The ride kicked off Houghton’s Bike Day, picked to coincide with the annual Tour Da Yoop, Eh bike race’s stop in Houghton. Dalquist and Gary Perala, both avid cyclers, had asked the city for the declaration.

“We did the proclamation because this brings people here, it shows people where we get to live,” said Houghton City manager Eric Waara. “They’re going to have a great day in the Copper Country, so why not be involved?”

Tour Da Yoop, Eh is a 10-day bike tour of more than 1,200 miles around the Upper Peninsula, starting and ending in Manistique. That’s the hometown of James Studinger, who started the ride five years ago as a way to promote bicycling. 

A triathlete, he had friends who had been injured after cars hit their bicycles, and had heard of friends of friends who’d been paralyzed or killed. When he’d come back to Manistique, he wouldn’t see any other bikes while he was training. But he would see them on U.S. 2 and M-28, two of their busiest roads.

“It just dawned on me that nobody knows where to ride,” he said. “So I came up with thousands of miles of bike routes. And I thought if I do a 1,200-mile bike ride around the U.P., it’ll raise awareness to biking up here.”

Tuesday’s 117.4-mile section, the seventh leg, takes riders from Houghton north to Copper Harbor and back. 

“The halfway point is riding Brockway Mountain, so we go up the switchback side, and get up on the top,” Studinger said. “We’ll have a water station up there. So that’ll be a fun one.”

Dalquist provided a bit of historical background, telling riders about the historic mining communities and the two national park headquarters along the way. 

About 25 to 30 people take part in each stage, Studinger said. He and several other cyclists wore red plaid jerseys, given to the riders who ride the entire distance in 10 stages on their final day. 

Tour da Yoop, Eh also raises money for a good cause. Tour Da Yoop, Eh is in its second year of partnering with U.P. Lions Serve to raise money for U.P. families struggling with childhood cancer through the Bike 4 Kids program.

“Last year, we just got it started right at the very last second, but immediately when we were done, we were all in for next year,” Studinger said. 

Once they get back to Houghton, cyclists are scheduled to have a Bike Day party Tuesday night at the Keweenaw Brewing Co. Wednesday, they set off to Marquette. 

Studinger likes the roads and the scenery. But the main highlight is the people he meets. When people are cheering them on and waving, “it warms your heart,” he said. 

“I don’t know what it is about this ride, but it attracts some of the most incredible people,” he said. “They’re so helpful. Everybody’s looking out for one another, getting to know each other. And then all the people in the U.P. that we meet, the little conversations and contacts we have, that’s what people remember the most.”

For more information on bicycle safety and the Bike 4 Kids program, go to tourdayoopeh.com.


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