2017 Traverse City Trails Festival Recap

Thank YOU for being a part of the the first-ever Traverse City Trails Festival! This past Saturday, over 200 riders took to the woods to celebrate our trails, and to help ensure their future. 

When we first thought of revamping our summer event, we had no idea how much support the idea would garner. Switching from the Long and Short's, we were looking to attract the full spectrum of our mountain bike community. From beginners to pros, kids to adults, and everything in between, the TCTF was shaped by what we hoped people would be excited to try. And after a lot of hard work, encouragement, and support, we think we nailed it. 

Ranch Rudolf is a great host, and the morning's light sprinkle died away with plenty of time for everyone to get in a dry, sunny warm-up around the ranch. As the 40 milers lined up, the sun peaked out, and on the gun, everyone was treated to a beautiful day. Shortly after, our 25 milers and two touring groups joined the action. We had riders as young as 14 on course, and rider over 65 joining them! 

We'd like to congratulate our 40 mile Elite winners, Jorden Wakeley and Lauri Brockmiller. These two local riders both blew away our expected times, with Jorden finishing in two hours and thirty-nine minutes, with Lauri finishing in three hours and three minutes! Kasey Wierzba and Kyle Macdermaid took the 25 mile crowns against some very tough competition. 

We'd also like to thank everyone who showed up and challenged themselves. Taking on 25 or 40 miles of tough singletrack isn't easy, and we are so proud of everyone who pushed their limits. Racing or touring, completing either of these two courses is truly a wonderful accomplishment. We hope the Traverse City Trails Festival becomes a mid-summer goal for local riders. Whether that's stepping up to the 40 next year, or bringing a friend to their first mountain bike event, we want to be a part of those stories and a part of seeing what you're capable of. 

Saturday, we saw racers gut out tough finishers, and not just for the glory of winning. Riders like Tim Pulliam, who crashed with over half the race to go and still managed to finish, pedaling with one leg, for a top 30 overall. We saw friends rally each other to press on in both races and both tours. We saw folks ride with complete strangers and cross the line close pals, sharing their stories over some Short's Brewing Company beer. 

Short's and all of our generous sponsors all contributed to support a massive day, especially as our first race. Their support made it possible to bring you such a wide-ranging offering of distances, races, tours, and the very exciting kid's race. 

As great as the day went, we're excited to make the event even bigger in 2017! Please send your questions and suggestions to communications@nmmba.net and we'll bring all ideas to the table to make 2018 even better. 

To see the results from Saturday, head here. 


A Trophy Worth Winning at the Traverse City Trails Festival!

It's coming up so quick! On July 22, join us for the first ever Traverse City Trails Festival. 

There are plenty of opportunities to nab some glory or take it a little easy on the big day. For those really looking to test themselves against the technical, twisting turns of the Pere Marquette Forest, the ultimate confirmation of skill comes in a heavy, custom-branded TCTF trophy. 

We think it's one of the coolest trophies around, but we know of some other cool traditions. 

There are a number of very cool trophies in the world of cycling, and we hope this one becomes one of the most coveted. We made a list of just a few of our favorites.

Brewery Vivant Farmhand Fat Bike Race. Win one of the longest, toughest races in a stacked fat bike season, and you’ve got something that’s both fitting and functional. The Farmhand winner grabs the handle of a shovel! The 3 hour race at Cannonsburg Ski Area, just north of Grand Rapids, is one of the biggest fat bike races in the country and the winner’s shovel was certainly one of the most iconic images.

Your Weight In Beer. Not so much a trophy, but a great reward. This year at the Giro d'Italia, a cafe in Italy offered up 100 beers to the heaviest riders to make it over the Stelvio pass, one of the toughest climbs in the world. The bigger guys have a lot to carry up the famous switchbacks and hairpins, but it's certainly worth it for that much great feer. 

Tro-Bro Leon. This is maybe the best out there. The small race is usually called the baby Paris-Roubaix and takes places in western France. The winner, after surviving gravel roads and cobblestones and 200 kilometers of racing, get handed the normal cash prize. He also gets a more interesting award, a piglet. Yep, they give the winner a pig.

Ready to make a run at the 2017 TCTF trophy? Find out more about the race and get yourself registered at the official website! 

Registration is Open for the 2017 Shorts Brewing Co. Traverse City Trail Fest!

Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association's biggest fundraiser of the year is July 22. You can help support our trail maintenance and advocacy efforts by having an unbelievably fun day in the woods with friends. Yep. That's all you have to do. 

Registration for the 40 mile race, 40 mile tour, 25 mile race, 25 mile tour and kids' events are all open. If you have questions, please let us know! 

We have to thank all of our sponsors, including our title sponsor, Short's Brewing Co. Short's has always been an enthusiastic partner, and without their support, NMMBA wouldn't be able to take on all of our projects. From winter grooming to summer trail maintenance, their support, and the support of all our sponsors, adds up beyond dollars. It's the commitment to our community that really has value! 

For the racers, Tom White has put together a great course that takes some of the best singletrack in the Pere Marquette forests and weaves together trail systems that many riders don't always connect on a single ride. Aside from the first and last few miles getting out of Ranch Rudolf, this is a true singletrack smorgasbord, and we can't wait to see some of the local mountain bike legends show their stuff. 

We'll keep you updated on the race favorites, plus any groups that are planning to ride the 40 mile or 25 mile tours and stick together. Want to learn how to navigate some of these trails? Want to show your pals the world-class trails in our backyard? Here's your chance! 

Registration is LIVE! right here: Get Signed Up Today! 

Motorin' Into PA 288 ORV Changes

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources met to continue discussions on just how and where ORV users can access trails on state land around the state. Here in Traverse City, most ORV traffic takes places east of the Vasa trail network, although many ORVs access those trails using forest roads and two tracks that criss-cross both designated and unofficial non-motorized trails. It's an issue of access, sustainability, conservation, and fairness, and it's a conversation NMMBA has enjoyed a passionate and active voice in since the beginning. 

Throughout these talks, we've maintained a positive and inclusive stance with three main interests at heart. 

First, we want all discussions to center around maintaining a level of safety for all trail users, both motorized and non-motorized. We understand that intersection and mixed-use trails increase the likelihood of accidents, and we want to work with all trail users to reduce the chances of collisions using intelligent and effective trail design and construction. 

Second, sustainability is at the very core of the NMMBA mission, and it's a high priority for other trail users, too. Our goal is to ensure that we protect environmentally sensitive areas and minimize the impact of our recreation anywhere in the Pere Marquette Forest, whether it's motorized or non-motorized. 

Finally, we want to identify, form, and build strong relationships with all trail user groups. Building a network of contacts will help us communicate needs, damage, changes, and maintenance efforts between diverse outdoor enthusiasts, such as ORVs, mountain bikers, hikers, and more. We have a strong common interest in minimizing our collective impact on the trails and forest, and the more we work together, the stronger our community and better our trail experience.

Last night, our own Tom White was very active at the DNR's meeting in Cadillac, where diverse interests came together. Many passionate people were on hand, and after a very informative presentation about the current trail openings and closures, as well as a look at the proposal, we feel confident that we can work to create a fair and equitable system that works on the basis of our three core principles. 

We invite you to communicate your questions, concerns, or feedback as mountain bikers with us, and with the DNR director. Tom also relayed some facts that might help form a better idea of the current state of affairs and timeline to contribute your input.

- The public comment forums end July 15. 
- The foresters will incorporate the public comments into a new proposal and submit to the DNR director for review in October.
- The DNR director will make the final decision or ask for revisions to be
completed in November.
- The official maps come out in December of 2017.
-  January 1, 2018 the law takes effect.
-There were approximately 7,600 miles of roads mapped in Lower Michigan.
-Approximately, 1,000 miles are designated as closed.  Approximately 86% are open.

We have proposed to work with representative from all user groups, including the ORV, skiing, hiking, and other interested parties to construct a functioning proposal to show our respective communities and offer to the DNR before the deadline closes. 

For more, we recommend visiting the DNR's page on PA 288. 


An Uncommon Challenge: Mountain Biking At The Old State Hospital Grounds

The old Conquer the Village MTB race, which used the Commons' trails. 

The old Conquer the Village MTB race, which used the Commons' trails. 

It's quick, fun, challenging, and extremely convenient. There are many organizations involved in developing more sustainable and attractive trails to the Commons, and at some point, we'll see some elements come together.

Pat Sullivan's recent article in the Northern Express highlighted the efforts and energies going into the trails located behind Building 50 and the Commons area. Formerly the home of a mental institution, the revitalized campus has sprouted up as home to some wonderful shops and businesses and has given Traverse City a new place to shop and relax. Its trails have always been in use, shaped by hikers and cyclists for decades. With no plan or focused building, the trails wind around wildly, go straight up hills, and are largely unsustainable. 

With so many organizations involved, NMMBA has largely filled a consolatory role, ready to help with design and building once all trail users have had the opportunity to voice their opinions on the redone trails. Part of what makes the Commons so attractive is its accessibility; dog-walkers, mountain bikers, and hikers all can access the trails quickly from town. It's also an extremely condensed trail system; it's only a few square miles, and any influx of traffic can be felt quickly.

Bellaire's economic boost is certainly exciting, and agree that the combination of the Commons, the Vasa Singletrack, and miles of unmarked singletrack, not to mention the incredible trails of Glacial Hills and Arcadia, make Northern Michigan an attractive destination for cycling. Further development would only enhance the events, trails, and other activities that make Traverse City a draw for families and cyclists from all over the world. 

The future of the Commons is truly unknown, but with so many eager and interested people involved, the health of its technical and winding trails is in very good hands. It's a place near and dear to us all, and we value a smart, sustainable and inclusive design over everything else.  


Victory! GTRLC Bid Accepted By GT County


With no one sure how the evening would turn out, only a single member of the Grand Traverse County Board voted against a motion to sell the 160 acre Whitewater Township property to the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. The rest were convinced that the GTRLC bid offered more value than what could be measured in dollars. 

The GTRLC was supported by dozens of trail users that gathered at the Governmental Center, almost all of them raising green cards to support the many points in favor accepting the Conservancy's bid. Throughout public statements and a presentation for on the four bids, it was clear to both the board and everyone on hand that public opinion was strong behind the 'third' big, as presented in order of receipt from Coldwell Banker Schmidt.  

After hearing from the GTRLC and DNR, the board acknowledged that public opinion had pointed out the value of the recreational use and existing recreational zoning. The GTRLC was not the highest, but the short-term advantages of $95,000, the difference to the highest bid, are hard to measure without knowing how the loss of the parcel would harm the influx of tourism for the Iceman Cometh, Mud, Sweat and Beers and other area events that use the 160 acre parcel. 

The board reminded itself, really, that the parcel was purchased for just $60,000, making any sale to any party a solid investment. The GTRLC's plan to sell the land to the DNR in the future, and with both parties voicing their commitment to paying taxes on the land, were enough to convince any doubt on the board, save one. Commission Clous' most immediate concern was the $5,000 difference in fees the real estate company would lose by not taking the higher bid, a concern not shared by the room filled with his constituents whose interests he represents. 

Tonight, we came together to support the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy's efforts to provide protection and stewardship in our area. This parcel of pristine Pere Marquette Forest has a value beyond dollars and provides a value accessible to everyone with a love of the trails. Thank YOU for your hard work, your time, and your efforts in emailing, calling, and rallying to the Governmental Center tonight. It was your emails and your efforts that truly gave this bid to the right group, and for all the right reasons. 

Protect Our Trails: The Sand Lakes Property Meeting June 7

We've reached an important milestone in the future of our forests and trails. County and state land, or perhaps more accurately, public land is a vital feature of our area, as those forests are the protected, undeveloped homes of all sorts of recreation. It is of vital importance that those bits of property, woven together like a quilt, stay strong and continue to provide all trail users with access, especially access to multiple trail systems. 

The public recently learned that a 160-acre parcel located east of Traverse City on Sand Lakes Road would be sold by Grand Traverse County, ostensibly as a small part of a larger effort to help cover a $53 million shortfall in pension funding. Grand Traverse County has already fielded bids on the property, ranging from $200,00-250,000, including an offer above the asking price on behalf of our friends at Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. 

The GTRLC has had this property on their radar for a long time and were quick to not only put in a bid, but appeal to the greater community for support in showing the value of the property for trail users and in keeping natural spaces in that area. For mountain bikers, it's an extremely important stretch of land that helps to connect the K to TC Trail, sections of the famous Iceman Cometh Challenge, parts of the Mud, Sweat and Beers MTB race, plus important connecting trails that link up the Vasa Pathways 25k, the Vasa Singletrack, plus Sand Lakes and Muncie Lake trails. 

The parcel also includes the access to picturesque Bullhead Lake, in addition to simply existing as a part of 20,000 acres of state land on all four sides. The loss of this property to commercial development would be devastating to the area, and put the future of those trails at serious risk for the future and disrupt these connecting trails immediately. 

We believe the GTRLC offer should be accepting, with the long-term plan of the group to be to sell the property back to the public through the DNR when further options are in place. GTRLC has a long and successful history of conservation and stewardship that includes trails like Glacial Hills and Arcadia Dunes that show that their involvement would be to the environmental and perhaps even economic benefit of the public. We believe the sale of the property to any other entity would be to insult the purpose of these publically-owned parcels and all public land. 

We do not believe the public, and specifically, local trail users, should have to pay in lost trail access and natural resources for the mismanagement of County officials. Budgeting issues have a monetary value, and a moral obligation that promises made should be promises kept. However, to penalize trail uninterested organizations and parties not for a dollar amount, but for a permanent loss of natural forest and public land, would be compounding the issue and putting the County even further at odds from doing the right thing. Even the amount of the transaction is a small drop in the budget in the pension gap, and we believe there are other solutions that are will do far more to correct the problem. 

We're asking you to join us at the Governmental Center on Boardman Ave on Wendesday, June 7 at 5.30 for a meeting on this issue, and to voice your support for the GTRLC's bid, mission, and proven record of outstanding stewardship. 

The 2017 Traverse City Trails Festival Site Is LIVE!

We're really excited about the TCTF this July, and the new site is going to help us get you all the information, course maps, and great photos to get as jazzed as we are! 

One of the races sponsors, Everpresent Marketing, put this quick site together for us to share news heading into July 22's big day. You can check the site for the maps, news, sponsor information, and links to registration once it's live. We're holding off on registration until the DNR confirms our event permit, but we're confident it's all going to come together. 

We do have the race categories finalized, and you can check those out here. Note, both the 40 mile and 25 mile routes have non-competitive, self-supported tour options. Don't feel like racing? Go explore at your own pace or with friends, make full use of the aid stations, and just make sure you're back before the beer is gone...and with Short's Brewing Co. in charge of the party, we won't be short of refreshment! 

You'll always be able to contact NMMBA for updates on the race by emailing communications@nmmba.net and we'll get right back with you. We'll also be adding to our FAQs in the coming weeks, so keeping checking in with us! 

Check out the new site here!