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Biking through the woods…
For people who enjoy the feel of wind whipping past as they glide through tree-strewn paths and down rocky terrain, mountain biking is a worthwhile pastime — and a popular one at that.
Colin Clancy, a graduate student in the English program, has been mountain biking since high school, where he took his love of mere bike riding one step further and started hitting the trails at a state park near his home.
“I had always enjoyed riding bikes as a kid,” Clancy said. “When I realized that it was an actual sport, I really got into it.”
Junior engineering and design major Luke Tikkanen originally started mountain biking as a way to keep busy and get around, however, he started to enjoy some of the more entertaining aspects of mountain biking as well.
“You get to go to places a lot of people have never really seen, get to bluffs and see pretty sweet views,” Tikkanen said.
Besides relishing in the social aspect of getting out and biking with friends, Tikkanen said he also loves the rush he gets while outside just enjoying the trails.
“The feeling that it’s you in control — there’s no one else you’re relying on,” he said. “It’s just you and your bike cruising.”
Besides the obvious thrill of being out in nature riding the trails, the unique experience mountain biking offers is unlike any other, Clancy said.
“I love being outside, and it’s such an adrenaline rush,” he said. “And it’s exercise, but you don’t even realize you’re exercising while you do it.”
For those who want to try out mountain biking, Clancy advised they learn the rules of the trails before heading out, as well as remembering that it’s not as daunting as it seems.
“Don’t get intimidated — it can seem really intimidating when you get to a trail head, and there are a lot of people with fancy gear, but just don’t get intimidated,” he said.
Marquette is the perfect place for all outdoor aficionados, but mountain bikers are in for a real treat with the surrounding trail options.
Matt Belic, who works at Lakeshore Bike and has been mountain biking for nearly 10 years, agreed that great trails are abundant in this area.
“I really like all the Marquette trails,” Belic said. “They are very close to town; you can ride to the trails, ride them and ride back, versus using a vehicle to get there.”
Some easily accessible trails are located in South Marquette on the way to Marquette Mountain. Three great trails in this area include the Pioneer Loop, Mount Marquette Loop and the Carp River Loop, Belic said.
“The Mount Marquette loop in some places is going to be more advanced, more technical and the Carp River loop, which is in the middle of the three [trails] has the most elevation change,” he said.
Marquette also offers other options, such as trails intertwining between Harlow Lake, Hogback and Little Presque Isle.
Range Mountain Bike Trail system offers group trail riding, due to a lot of its trails being unmarked. This takes place on Wednesday nights at 6 p.m. in the parking lot of the Jasper Ridge Brewery and from there heading out to various areas, Belic said.
“The terrain can get really technical there, so you kind of need to know what you’re doing,” he said. “The Al Quaal Area is marked better.”
The Al Quaal Recreation Area is located north of Teal Lake in Ishpeming and offers a variety of different trails.
Whether bikers want to hit up rugged terrain, cruise downhill and downstream or simply save on gas, this is a pastime that’s not
… and climbing up the mountains
In a city nestled between rolling hills, with bluffs overlooking the vast Lake Superior and acres of ever-green forests, students looking for a great adventure have many different options to turn to. For some, they’ve found that adventure in a sport that’s becoming popular on campus.
Rock climbing is a trend that is increasing at Northern. With abundant rock faces to climb and even a climbing wall at the PEIF, students have ample opportunity to take on this sport.
Senior business management major Ben Maher, an instructor at the rock wall, said rock climbing attracts a lot of new students because it’s so enjoyable.
“Every day we have new people who show up to the wall,” Maher said. “We always run into somebody who say it’s their first or second time ever climbing in their life. I’d say it’s definitely gaining popularity.”
Trevor Pellerite, a senior English writing major, originally started rock climbing when he went with a group from his dad’s work three years ago and was instantly hooked.
“I like the basic idea of being outside on a cliff face,” Pellerite said. “I like knowing that I could get up a rock face should I need to, and I like pushing myself to do harder stuff.
“The technical aspect, like technique work and setting up the gear, are also appealing to me,” he added.
Pellerite enjoys the unique areas around Marquette that offer up excellent climbing spots.
“I usually go to Marquette Mountain, but Suicide Bowl in Negaunee is a great lead climbing area, and the Pinnacle at Presque Isle is good if you are pressed for time,” Pellerite said.
Bill Thompson, co-owner of Downwind Sports located on Third Street, has been rock climbing since 1986, when he took a rock climbing class at Northern.
“What’s great about this area is there are so many places to climb . you could go to any number of climbing places around here and you won’t find another climber,” Thompson said.
Rock climbing offers many different perks for those willing to try it out, including incredible views you might not normally see, the obstacles involved in reaching the top and the enjoyment of sharing the experience with others who want to reach the same goal, Thompson said.
“The challenge of trying to figure out that puzzle, I enjoy that a lot. I enjoy being outside in the climbing areas — they’re spectacular. It’s not often you can do an activity where you’re climbing up a rock above Lake Superior, seeing a sunset or a sunrise,” he said.
Rock climbing is a great way to incorporate exercise into your lifestyle, but it also gets you outside and spending time with friends, Thompson said.
“It’s the hardest workout you’ll get in five minutes; that reward of getting to the top brings such a great feeling of accomplishment,” he said.
For those who want to take up rock climbing, NMU is the perfect place to get started. With the rock wall at the PIEF and the classes that are offered here, it’s a great way to get professional assistance while learning to climb, Thompson said.
Katie Theut, fitness and informal recreation manager at the PEIF, agreed that Northern’s rock wall is a one-of-a-kind experience.
“Our university has a very, very nice climbing wall; it’s definitely a perk of being here,” Theut said.
As for the social aspect and the workouts, Theut agreed with Thompson that it’s a great way to combine the two.
“It’s a unique way to get physical activity into the daily routine: It works your upper body muscles, it’s an alternative to working out, it’s a great way to meet people, almost every night it’s full,” Theut said.
Rock climbing is more than just a good workout or social outlet; however, it’s also a great way to release energy and succeed mentally, Maher said.
“The most enjoyable aspect of climbing is the balance between physical exertion and how to get a grip mentally. It’s a really perfect balance, because the harder you push yourself physically, the harder you’re going to have to focus and push yourself mentally,” Maher said.
Maher had advice for those who would like to start climbing — go out with people who know what they’re doing.
“The best way to learn is to start climbing with people who have more experience and good judgment,” Maher said.
Thompson also encouraged students to try rock climbing even if they aren’t incredibly athletic.
“It’s not the best athlete who makes the best climber but someone who is good at problem solving and likes to be challenged individually,” Thompson said.
For more information on rock climbing hours and events at the PEIF, check out NMU’s Web site www.nmu.edu/recreation and look under outdoor recreation.