By Adelle Whitefoot
MARQUETTE – For the second year in a row, Cole House won the 48-mile Hard Rock by seconds in the 14th annual Ore to Shore Mountain Bike Epic Saturday in Marquette County.
House, of Oneida, Wis., finished first overall with a time of 2 hours, 26 minutes, 36.1 seconds. Second place went to Brian Matter of Sheboygan, Wis., with a time of 2:26:37.2.
House said he wasn’t feeling the best at the start of the race.
“Today, when I jumped on my bike, I didn’t feel good at all. But once I got going, I felt good,” he said. “So it feels great to win because this morning, I was kind of panicked.”
House said the course felt fast this year with just some standing loose sections. With about 28 miles left in the race, House said there was a significant gap between he and Matter, and the rest of the top pack.
“Just before Misery Hill, Brian put in a little move and everyone let him ride off. I took it upon myself to chase him down,” House said.
“I walked the first section of the hill, but Brian was up a little ways so I figured I’d run the last half to get to him before the top.
“From there, I thought everybody else was behind me, but when we started coming off the power line section, I looked back and we had quite a big gap,” he added.
The first group to cross the finish line in the Hard Rock race was about five minutes after House and Matter. The first female in the Hard Rock to cross the finish line was Jenna Rinehart of Mankato, Minn., coming in with a time of 2:43:36.7.
This was Rinehart’s fifth time being the top female finisher and seventh year competing in the Hard Rock.
“I usually try to find a strong men’s group to ride with that’s just a little bit stronger than me,” Rinehart said. “I just tuck in their draft and get a good speed going.”
According to Rinehart, she thought the course was fast, but still had a good mix of tall grass, puddles and mud.
The winner of the 28-mile Soft Rock was Pete Karinen of Painesdale with a time of 1:22:46.2.
The top female finisher for the Soft Rock was Mindy McCutcheon of Salt Lake City, Utah, with a time of 1:29:29.5.