Favorite Trail: Southern Cross Bike Choice / Rating: Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Elite 29 4 of 5 Favorite Restaurant / Rating: The Vierling 5 of 5 Favorite Beer / Rating: Blackrocks IPA 4 of 5 A few weeks back I had the privilege of visiting and riding one of IMBA’s (International Mountain Bike Association) newest ride centers. Marquette, Michigan has just recently been added to a very select list through IMBA, coming in with a Bronze ranking. With my trusty Stumpjumper at my side, we got a good feel for Marquette; the following is a quick rundown. The Trails Marquette is home to around 100 miles of singletrack, some of which in better condition and easier to get to than others. During the trip we rode 35 miles of the South Trails, of which, most tend to be of the better marked and more visitor friendly. Getting to a trail is simple, a 2 mile warm-up ride on the in-town paved trail takes you to the start of a few runs and from there you are in the midst of some of the Midwest’s best man-made (Gorge-ous) and machine built trails (Down Dogger). With miles of trails, you can ride the entire weekend and not have time to hit them all. With another network to the north of town (simply called the North Trails) there is always a new trail to be tamed. The trails that I rode varied from beginner to advanced and this gives the opportunity for any level of rider to get out and have a great experience. The terrain differs a great deal from what we locally have surrounding the Fox Valley and this allows for some length to the downhills and in turn, a few long climbs. Benson’s Grade is a lung-pumping mile of near 12% grade that you must stay focused on in order to pick your line through the melon-sized rocks that form the trail bed. Stop by the shop to discuss more, to plan your first trip or to compare notes from your experiences up there. The Town This is in my view, what sets Marquette apart from other notable ride meccas in the area. Having a lively town to experience in addition to a fantastic trail network allows for a great balance through the weekend. With plenty of options for lodging, like the Hampton Inn which happens to be both right on Lake Superior and the town trail that leads to and from the Southern Trail Network, dining, and shopping, Marquette offers both riders and riders significant others plenty to be excited about. Between my Saturday morning and afternoon rides, I had the opportunity to check out a place called The Vierling. Great food and a nice beer selection made this an awesome mid-day stop. Later in the evening, the group of us headed over to Capers Restaurant, located on the main floor of the Landmark Hotel. After riding 35 miles over the course of the day, the food and the beer was extra great. As a self-proclaimed beer-snob, the Upper Peninsula has much to offer. A few blocks walk from dinner and the hotel, is a brewery that has taken the UP by storm. Blackrocks Brewery has it, from an outstanding beer selection to a great atmosphere; it is definitely worth a stop if you are in need of an adult refreshment. (Hint hint, a growler, 6-pack, or single can of anything from this brewery could also make a fantastic tip to your favorite mechanics at your favorite bike shop.) Nice spots to keep you going while not riding, makes Marquette a perfect spot to checkout for a weekend of all sorts of fun. While you’re up there, don’t forget to check out Lakeshore Bike, they’ll get you setup if you forgot something and let you know what trails you have to hit.