Last week, we had about a dozen riders head out for a low-paced recon of the 25 mile Traverse City Trail Festival presented by Short's Brewing.
It was never intended to be a race effort, but even rolling at a controlled pace, the 2018 TCTF 25 mile course was impressive. While this year's edition makes use of a mix of both new and old trail, with sections of the 2017 route used in reverse, it really rides very differently from the race's first edition.
For starters, the start. Instead of a few open miles to kick things off, this year's race is almost immediately into the woods. This will favor racers will a strong start, as well as giving the better bike handlers a chance to poke and prod the roadies early, while they're at the height of their powers. The opening four miles are still very, very fast, but passing opportunities are much more limited. After that, it's true singletrack, especially as the race spills into the Dollar Lake area.
The first reprieve for the power riders will be bursting out of the shadows and onto Broomhead for a short gravel road stretch north. That will be a good time to stretch out the back, eat, and get ready for what is a non-stop series of famous singletrack trails, with Tomtanium the first to greet the riders' return into the woods.
The final miles of both the 40 and 25 mile race are wide open but sandy gravel road. They're also very flat, so if there are any groups left together in the finale, you'd expect to see speeds in the low 20s all the way back to the Ranch. The race does hit one final, almost ceremonial section of singletrack to circumvent Main Street at Ranch Rudolf, rolling past the campground and rounding the final turn to finish between the pond and the Boardman River.
Of course, any trail is as hard as you make it, and we think that the tweaks and changes we've put in for 2018 will make the race harder and the tour easier. Because of the traffic last year and this year, the trail is much smoother and more pronounced, which limits the bumps and lumps that might get annoying. It's a great chance to see the trails and work them into your everyday rides!
Ready to go recon? The course won't be marked until race day, but if you slow down at intersections, the GPX files below are actually pretty easy to follow.
Note, both of the files below leave from the Muncie Lake XC Ski Pathway on Ranch Rudolf Road.
The 40-mile route is here.
The 25-mile route is here.