Endurance events, the cycling community, sleeping in outhouses, and other adventures.
Recently I had the opportunity to chat with a Keweenaw local, Justin Hoffmeyer. Justin is a lifelong cyclist and has been riding with the Red Jacket Cycling Club since 2016. He has participated in many of the hardest endurance events in the country such as the Crusher point to point and the Marji Gesick 100, which he described as “a very enjoyable day on the bike”.
In 2004 while in college for Radiography at NMU, Justin rode a Trek 4500 from Cross Country Sports to get around on campus, even in the winters. He did his first race in 2011, and after his first Iceman race he was introduced to the Red Jacket Cycling team by Chris Schmidt.
Hoffmeyer did his first Marji Gesick in 2016, and was able to buckle, which means he finished the 100 miles (and some) in under 12 hours.
Here’s some more from my interview with Justin-
How did you first get into biking?
Justin: I’ve always had a bike, as a kid, building cinder block and board jumps. I remember getting my first bike when I was six, a GT Dyno, and biking around town with my friends.
When did you get involved with Red Jacket Cycling?
Justin: Around 2016, we started doing rides with Dan and Chris, who are the original Red Jacket members. It started growing and the road rides turned into Tuesday night rides where we might get around 16 people out in a night.
What is your involvement with the racing scene today? What do your goals look like for 2022?
Justin: After 2020, when the racing got shut down, I started exploring a lot of new roads and doing new routes. In 2021 I kind of had a new mindset when it came to racing, and doing the long endurance rides were more appealing to me.
Would you do Crusher again?
Justin: I did the Crusher in 2021 and 2020, (250 mile gravel endurance event). I would definitely do the Crusher again- I look forward to those long days on the bike, being out in the woods and just enjoying the ride. Both times I’ve done it with Ken B. who got me into it in the first place. I met him through cycling friends, and he first reached out to me in 2020 to ride with him and I thank him for that, because we had a really fun adventure. In 2021, we rode straight through the night, I had a little speaker and I was belting out lyrics to keep both of us awake.
What was the hardest part of the Crusher this past year?
Justin: I would say the heat- it was really hot going through the Pelkie area. Out in the open, the sun was just beating down on us. My bottles were hot and full of Green Tea Matcha Skratch mix, which I thought was lemon lime mix.
How do you feel like these kinds of events are impacting the cycling community?
Justin: I feel like these types of events are more inclusive, what 906 Adventure Team is doing- they have an open cap on women in the Marji Gesick, which means even though there’s a cap on how many men are able to register, it’s open to as many women that want to participate. You can also do these events with friends, which makes it a lot more enjoyable.
How do you think we can get more people involved in cycling?
Justin: I think with the Chain Drive this past year, people loved that format and we got a lot of positive feedback. I think that’s something we should continue, even if we do have a race as well. It gets a lot more people out there enjoying the trails. Red Jackets have also started doing adventure rides in addition to our road rides, which we call FFF rides, which stands for Forced Family Fun. We would often hike our bikes on trails too difficult to ride, and those types of rides are just so fun with a group, and a wider range of people are able to participate.
What is your favorite part about cycling?
Justin: Exploring is my favorite part of riding, the bike can get you to so many places-into tighter spaces that you can’t get to with a car.
Do you have a favorite story about biking?
Justin: I would probably say my 2020 Crusher experience with Ken- we went through a ripping thunderstorm. We got caught in it at about midnight when we got to the McCormick Wilderness outhouse, where we found a mouse. We stuffed our dirty clothes under the door so it wouldn’t come back in, took a shot of fireball and went to bed- woke up at 4am and ate some pop tarts. I’ll always remember that experience, and I think a lot of people slept in that same outhouse while doing the Crusher that year.