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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Lily Gouin
Lily Gouin
Assistant Sports Editor

Hi! My name is Lily Gouin I am in my third year here at NMU. I am from Appleton, WI majoring in communications and double minoring in multimedia journalism and public relations. In my free time, I like...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

‘Cats host race at Marquette Mountain

The NMU cycling club team, along with riders from six other universities, flocked to Marquette Mountain this past weekend as the Wildcats hosted their first home event in the club’s history.

After the two-day mountain biking competition concluded, the Northern team, which began in the winter of 2006, had posted an impressive finish.

“We had our best race ever,” senior and NMU cycling president Ben LaForce said. “The [total] scores are not actually figured out yet, but we definitely won it. We’ve never done that before.”

The contest consisted of three separate events: a cross-country race, a downhill race and a time trial. So many people compete that the cross-country event is broken down into three classes, based on difficulty. Even after breaking the field up, some races had two dozen participants.

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Classes were A-C, with the class determining the overall distance the riders will cover in the cross-country race. Class A riders made three laps around a six mile loop, while Class B made two laps and Class C, one.

Northern took first and second in the cross-country men’s Class A and Class B races. Phil Ott and Andrew Hanson topped the Class A leader board, while LaForce and Matt Claucherty finished ahead of all Class B riders. Senior rider Lynn Maki took second in the women’s cross-country.

In the downhill portion, NMU riders took nine of the top 13 spots in Class A. LaForce was the top Class A Wildcat in Sunday’s time trial, finishing seventh.

Every rider that finishes a race gains points for the team and the fact that more than 20 bikers took to the trail for NMU helped the ‘Cats, sophomore rider Eric McCoy said.

“We didn’t have to travel,” he said. “We have a lot of guys that ride here locally and don’t usually race with us and we did very well because of the number of people.”

The NMU team, which also has a separate road cycling season in the spring, is a part of the Midwest Collegiate Cycling Conference (MWCCC). The inaugural home race drew competition from the University of Michigan, Michigan State and the University of Illinois, among others.

The fact that the Wildcat racers typically ride Marquette Mountain was also an advantage, Maki said.

“The trails up here are much more technical than anything any other school in our conference could present-minus (Michigan) Tech-so we knew we could host a pretty sweet race,” she said.

The work that went into planning a race on that scale, though, posed a challenge for Maki and her teammates, who had been ironing out final plans throughout the summer.

Each MWCCC team that wants to host a race must submit a bid to the conference, LaForce said, who submitted NMU’s bid five months ago. No other schools made a request for the same weekend, and the race was granted.

“It was the first time (we had applied) and we were really happy,” he said. “That’s when everything kind of started. That got the ball rolling for us.”

The group quickly began to prepare for the event, something LaForce said was the hardest thing he had ever done.

It all came together, however, and by the time the first race kicked off on Saturday, the team had secured everything from land to race on to official time-keepers and emergency personnel.

“It’s a good thing [the emergency workers] were there, too,” Maki said. “During the downhill portion of our race, one MSU rider cut a decent-sized piece of skin out of his cheek and another MTU rider broke his collar bone.”

Cycling club continues growth

When Northern Michigan senior Ben LaForce started the NMU cycling club just a couple of years ago, he was one of four riders at the inaugural race.

More than 20 NMU bikers took to the trails this past weekend for the club’s first home race.

“It’s grown a lot. It’s only two years old and we have a lot of interest,” LaForce said of the club. “Now we have regular group rides and hosting our first race really put our name out there on the map for everyone else in the conference.”

Something else that has helped to draw attention to the team is the time that LaForce and his fellow riders put into recruitment. This year, the team had a table at NMU’s Fall Fest and a large number of potential members signed up, LaForce said.

The cycling club at Northern has grown to the point that LaForce now receives e-mails from prospective university students asking him about the team and the possibility of riding if they choose to attend NMU.

After hosting their first event, LaForce feels that the team is now more visible than ever and with an ever-growing base of incoming riders, the team can’t help but glance toward the future.

The riders get the upcoming weekend off, before facing the end of their mountain biking schedule. There is a race at the University of Michigan on Sept. 29-30 and one at Michigan Tech on Oct. 6-7. The Regional Championships will then be held at Lindsey Wilson College in Kentucky.

The team, however, must pay for most of their travel.

By LaForce’s estimation, the team spends around $10,000 per year on travel, lodging, race fees and other expenses. Last season, they received $500 from the university to help cover the cost of operation. Due to the costs, the team doesn’t know how many members will be able to attend the remaining events.

“I know we’re planning on going to Tech and I know some guys were talking about Michigan,” sophomore rider Eric McCoy said. “We’re just planning on having fun, doing a little more racing and then we’ll start training for the road season in the winter.”

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