Letters

Letters 08-31-2015

Inalienable Rights This is a response to the “No More State Theatre” in your August 24th edition. I think I will not be the only response to this pathetic and narrow-minded letter that seems rather out of place in the northern Michigan that I know. To think we will not be getting your 25 cents for the movie you refused to see, but more importantly we will be without your “two cents” on your thoughts of a marriage at the State Theatre...

Enthusiastically Democratic Since I was one of the approximately 160 people present at when Senator Debbie Stabenow spoke on August 14 in Charlevoix, I was surprised to read in a letter to Northern Express that there was a “rather muted” response to Debbie’s announcement that she has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president...

Not Hurting I surely think the State Theatre will survive not having the homophobic presence of Colleen Smith and her family attend any matinees. I think “Ms.” Smith might also want to make sure that any medical personnel, bank staff, grocery store staff, waiters and/or waitress, etc. are not homosexual before accepting any service or product from them...

Stay Home I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read the letter of the extremely homophobic, “disgusted” writer. She now refuses to patronize the State Theatre because she evidently feels that its confines have been poisoned by the gay wedding ceremony held there...

Keep Away In response to Colleen Smith of Cadillac who refused to bring her family to the State Theatre because there was a gay wedding there: Keep your 25 cents and your family out of Traverse City...

Celebrating Moore And A Theatre I was 10 years old when I had the privilege to see my first film at the State Theatre. I will never forget that experience. The screen was almost the size of my bedroom I shared with my older sister. The bursting sounds made me believe I was part of the film...

Outdated Thinking This letter is in response to Colleen Smith. She made public her choice to no longer go to the State Theater due to the fact that “some homosexuals” got married there. I’m not outraged by her choice; we don’t need any more hateful, self-righteous bigots in our town. She can keep her 25 cents...

Mackinac Pipeline Must Be Shut Down Crude oil flowing through Enbridge’s 60-yearold pipeline beneath the Mackinac Straits and the largest collection of fresh water on the planet should be a serious concern for every resident of the USA and Canada. Enbridge has a very “accident” prone track record...

Your Rights To Colleen, who wrote about the State Theatre: Let me thank you for sharing your views; I think most of us are well in support of the first amendment, because as you know- it gives everyone the opportunity to express their opinions. I also wanted to thank Northern Express for not shutting down these types of letters right at the source but rather giving the community a platform for education...

No Role Model [Fascinating Person from last week’s issue] Jada quoted: “I want to be a role model for girls who are interested in being in the outdoors.” I enjoy being in the outdoors, but I don’t want to kill animals for trophy...

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Mud-Soaked Money

How area mountain biking events are impacting Northern Michigan’s economy

Becky Kalajian - June 16th, 2014  

A surge in mountain biking events has one bike shop owner calling Northern Michigan the “Durango of the Midwest.”

The likeness to the hard-core Colorado mountain biking town is reflected not only by growing rider enthusiasm, but also in the cash this group brings to the area.

A $10,000 joint study led by Traverse Area Recreational Trails (TART) hopes to find out exactly how much, said Julie Clark, TART’s executive director.

“We know we’re getting more out of the Vasa Pathway than just trees,” said Clark, referring to the growing number of events held on the Pere Marquette State Forest trail system southeast of Traverse City.

The soon-to-be-released study weighs the economic impact of events on the pathway as well as the impact an estimated 21,000 annual day users have on the trail, Clark said.

“Lots of industries have measurements, but parks and recreation typically do not,” said Clark, who contracted the study through the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce using marketing strategy consulting firm Avenue ISR.

Recent studies released by Wisconsin and Minnesota link $533 million and $427 million in annual revenue directly to recreational bicycling. Michigan’s Department of Transportation is also about to release a twoyear study on bicycling’s economic impact in the state, Clark said.

“We have this great trail system that attracts a lot of people to our area,” she said.

“There are measurable, direct expenditures that on certain days make a big difference.”

On the Vasa, “certain days” mean mountain bike races like Bell’s Beer Iceman Cometh Challenge (5,300 riders), Mud, Sweat, and Beers (1,000 riders), and the new X100 (250 riders).

Of the three races, Iceman and MSB are Michigan’s largest and third-largest mountain bike races, respectively. Number two is Marquette’s Ore to Shore, which draws 2,500 racers in August.

Steve Brown started the Iceman 25 years ago with a group of 35 friends who paid $5 to race from Kalkaska to Timber Ridge Resort.

Now the behemoth 29-mile event sells out in minutes each year at $75 a pop and bills itself as the “largest, single-day, point-to-point mountain bike race in North America.”

Brown says the mass appeal lies in mountain biking’s accessibility regardless of speed or ability.

“I could be 90 minutes behind the winners in a mountain bike race and still have a lot of fun,” said Brown, a former road bike racer. “But in a road race, if you get dropped, the fun is over.”

Brown, who helped finance TART’s joint study, is anxious for the results to come in.

He estimates his racers bring “millions” to Traverse City each November, with the typical racer profile – 44-year-old professional male making $60,000-100,000 a year – “ready and willing to spend.”

“These riders come to town and eat, shop, and sleep here…we’ve always known that,” he said. “Now we want to know how much because it could potentially grow our recreational infrastructure.”

Traverse City is not the first town to pay attention to mountain biking. Bellaire, home to the roughly 20-mile Glacial Hills Natural Area bike trail, has “definitely seen an uptick” in business since the trail opened about eight years ago, said Patty Savant, the executive director of Bellaire’s Chamber of Commerce.

“I’ve lived here 69 years and this place used to be a sleepy town,” she said. “The traffic, the cars coming in with the bike racks … it’s noticeably different.”

Short’s Brewing Company, a natural end to a Glacial Hills ride, said business has been boosted from the incoming riders.

“We have definitely seen significant activity,” said Matt Drake, the company’s chief operating officer. “There’s a lot of people who drive here to ride and hit the pub.”

Although pubs may be the second stop for bikers, the first stop is the bike shop.

Latitude 45 in Petoskey said that though casual bike path riding makes up 50 percent of their sales, mountain bikes are a close second at 30 percent … and growing.

“We’re starting to see more and more people convert to mountain bikes as the excitement of flat riding wears off,” said Chris McKay, the 14-year-old shop’s sales manager. “That’s why we love these entrepreneurs who start these races: It’s getting the casual rider looking for the next challenge.”

One such entrepreneur has really upped the ante for mountain bikers.

John Kolarevic started the X100 last August. The 100-mile race in the Pere Marquette State Forest used unmarked single track, two-track, and part of the Vasa pathway to create a loop that began and ended at Ranch Rudolf in Traverse City.

Kolarevic said he expects his race to almost double this year up from 250 riders last year.

“I wanted to have the most adventurous endurance race in the Midwest and with the trails we have available to us, I think we’ve done that,” said Kolarevic, who has loops ranging from 10 to 100 miles.

Like others, Kolarevic feels that more events earn the entire region cache among outdoor enthusiasts.

“I’ve ridden these trails for years and it’s never the same twice,” he said. “Most people check out all these events online and say, ‘I gotta try that – that’s cool.’” Bob McLain, who’s owned McLain Cycle & Fitness for 36 years, says the swell of mountain biking events echoes a similar spike when the sport first peaked in the late ‘80s.

Then, McLain and Brick Wheels’ owner Tim Brick ran the Sleeping Bear Mountain Bike Classic, the first World Cup race in the country and second largest race in the circuit, after the Mammoth Cycling Classic in California.

From 1985-1996, the race attracted 2,500 riders to various locales, including The Homestead, Sugar Loaf Mountain, and Shanty Creek Resorts.

“It was really exciting at the time,” said McLain, who saw mountain bike sales “take off ” during those years.

McLain said that mountain biking is expanding here because of more events, new products like larger and fatter tires, and road bike riders becoming weary of texting drivers.

A bigger reason? Northern Michigan’s trail system.

“I have relatives come here from Lake Tahoe and go nuts over what we have in our backyard. They think it’s the best thing ever,” said McLain, whose three stores sell hundreds of bikes each year. “Traverse City is the Durango of the Midwest and because of that, we influence mountain biking.”

NORTHERN MICHIGAN’S MOUNTAIN BIKING CALENDAR

Now that summer’s here, mountain bikers can fill their calendars with the following events:

• June 21: Lumberjack 100; lumberjack100.com

• Aug. 9: Ore to Shore; oretoshore.com

• Aug. 23: X100; x100race.com

• Sept. 21: Rock Road 50/50; rockroadrace.com

• Oct. 18: Peak2Peak; endomanpromotions.com

• Nov. 8: Bell’s Beer Iceman Cometh Challenge; iceman.com

• May 2, 2015: Mud, Sweat, and Beers; mudsweatandbeers.com

• May 16, 2015: Arcadian Grit & Gravel; endomanproductions.com

• May 23, 2015: Conquer the Village; conquerthevillage.com

 
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