Ore to Shore (O2S) Mountain Bike Epic is touted as Michigan’s largest mass-start, point-to-point mountain bike race in the beautiful Upper Peninsula. Over the years, it has become an incredibly popular endurance mountain biking race in the region, and one that the team at Strambecco considers to be one of the Best Mountain Bike Events in the Midwest. Integral to Ore to Shore (O2S) Mountain Bike Epic’s success is the stunning natural geography of Marquette County, boasting terrain that’s challenging yet accessible – the gradual decline towards Lake Superior ensures that even the toughest climbs have their rewards.
Event & Course Info
Taking place in and around Marquette, MI, the Ore to Shore (O2S) Mountain Bike Epic courses utilize much of the same trail as the popular Noquemanon Ski Marathon. There are six events to choose from with the most challenging being the Hard Rock & Soft Rock races. The race routes winds through a significant amount of private land, offering riders a rare opportunity to traverse terrain that is not normally accessible to the public, adding a touch of exclusiveness to the event.
The Hard Rock covers a challenging 48-mile course that begins with a mass start at 10:00 a.m. in downtown Negaunee, the birthplace of iron ore in Michigan. The race commences with a pavement roll-out, transitioning to dirt trails as riders make their way to Ishpeming. After a brief detour through downtown Ishpeming, the journey continues on the undulating terrain, offering breathtaking views of lakes, rivers, ponds, and local wildlife. One of the most notable challenges on the Hard Rock course is the iconic “Misery Hill,” a 400-meter rocky uphill climb that tests the mettle of even the most seasoned riders. The reward, however, is worth every ounce of effort as riders are treated to a panoramic view that stretches as far as Lake Superior. The terrain varies from hard-packed dirt to gravel and grass, occasionally interspersed with rocky segments and sandy stretches. The course’s beauty lies not only in its challenging climbs but also in its tranquil backwoods passages, streaming streams, serene inland lakes, and historically significant sites.
The Soft Rock option offers a 28-mile race, starting at 9:00 a.m. from the shores of Negaunee’s Teal Lake. After a short roll-out on pavement, riders transition to dirt trails. Around the 4-mile mark, the Soft Rock course merges with the Hard Rock route, treating participants to the same splendid vistas as they journey towards the shores of Lake Superior. Aid stations are located along both the Soft and Hard Rock courses.
After the race, celebrate at Lakeview Arena with music, beer and the Awards Ceremony. There is even a category for Fastest Family for three or more immediate family members in any combo of the 4 mile, 10, 28 or 48 mile races. Trophies and cash prizes will be awarded to the Top 5 overall, families with the fastest average speed.
The Ore to Shore (O2S) Mountain Bike Epic is more than just a race; it’s a journey through history and nature with the race course winding through historic landmarks like Cliff’s Shaft and Rope’s Gold Mine Haul Road to the splendid overlooks of Dead River and Lake Superior – every stretch of the Ore to Shore course is infused with the spirit of adventure. The dedication of hundreds of volunteers ensures that participants receive unmatched support, making the entire experience a memorable and outstanding one.
Area Accommodations & Things to Do
The recommended accommodation option for Ore to Shore (O2S) Mountain Bike Epic is the temporary campground offered by the town of Negaunee which is extremely convenient for the start of the race, and also close to the RAMBA and Iron Ore Heritage trails. Other camping options include Heritage Hills or this private Northern Oasis. For those that prefer to sleep in a bed, there are plenty of hotels in and around Marquette icnluding, Superior Stay Hotel, the Staybridge Suites, and Nestledown Bed & Breakfast. Alternatively, if you enjoy cooking your own meals in a kitchen, there are also a plethora of vacation rentals from modern cabins to well equipped cottages.
In regards to food, visitors will be pleasantly surprised with the amount of options available in this northern Michigan town, from traditional German cuisine and brew at Steinhaus, to trendy Zephyr Winebar & Cafe and Velodrome Coffee Co. for your morning java.
Those that are making a longer trip out of the event will not be bored with the amount of activities available to them in this part of Michigan. From trail running through lush forests to kayaking on the pristine waters of Lake Superior and experiencing the rush of mountain biking on world-class trails, Marquette, Michigan, and its surroundings offer outdoor athletes a wide array of exhilarating activities to enjoy during the summer months.
Marquette’s Noquemanon Trail Network offers a paradise for outdoor athletes, particularly trail runners. With over 50 miles of interconnected trails winding through diverse landscapes, you’ll find trails suitable for every skill level. Start your adventure with a run along the Carp River Trail, which follows the scenic Carp River and leads to panoramic overlooks. For a more challenging experience, take on the Easier Said Than Done trail, known for its technical terrain and breathtaking views of Lake Superior. The well-maintained trails are a mix of singletrack, rocky sections, and lush forests, making for an exhilarating trail running experience.
Marquette’s proximity to Lake Superior and its surrounding inland lakes offers a haven for kayaking enthusiasts. Launch your kayak into the crystal-clear waters of Lake Superior and explore the striking shoreline, witnessing awe-inspiring rock formations and stunning cliffs. For a more tranquil experience, paddle along the serene waters of Teal Lake, surrounded by lush forests. Adventurous souls can try sea kayaking, an exhilarating way to encounter the lake’s waves and currents. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced paddler, Marquette’s waterways provide an unforgettable kayaking experience.
Those that need a little more dirt under their tires will find their haven at the Marquette South Trails. These world-class mountain biking trails cater to various skill levels, ensuring an exciting experience for everyone. Start with the “Gorge-ous” trail, a beginner-friendly option that combines flowing sections with mild challenges. Advanced riders can tackle the “Down Dogger” trail, renowned for its technical features and thrilling descents. The diverse network offers everything from smooth berms to rocky drops, keeping mountain bikers engaged and enthralled. The breathtaking scenery of dense forests and occasional lake views adds an extra layer of magic to your mountain biking adventure.
Lastly, we recommend that all first timers to the “U.P.” make time to visit Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore to have your mind blown from its stunning natural beauty, just over an hour drive from Marquette.
While Ore to Shore (O2S) Mountain Bike Epic is the only event produced by its organizer, there are many other top mountain bike events in Michigan including Marji Gesick 50/100 which is part of the National Ultra Endurance Race Series (NUE), and Lumberjack 100 which is organized by the same producers as the Fargo Sub 48 and the famous Barry-Roubaix Gravel event, one of the Best Gravel Cycling Events in the Midwest. For our multi-sport athletes out there, check out other Strambecco best-rated events taking place in Michigan, such as Hallucination 100 / Run Woodstock trail running event one of the Best Trail Running Events in the Midwest.