2018 TCTF Course Preview: Files And First Impressions


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

Now get signed up! 

TCTF Countdown: Get Your Recon Rides Planned!


The second annual Traverse City Trail Festival is coming up quick! Are you ready for a big day in the saddle on July 21?

Tom and our trail crew have been putting the final touches on the 2018 Traverse City Trail Festival course, and aside from some very minor connecting pieces, the 40 mile route is 99.9% finished! The goal this year was to retain some of the racer's favorite sections from 2017, as well as mix in some new trail and new sections to keep racer's on their toes and help the tour crowd to go even deeper into the wolds of the Pere Marquette Forest! 

As you may have heard, there is even more of a challenge to the 2018 TCTF in that it's just the first of three races in the new NMMBA Trail Series! Three races over three months, we're challenging riders of all abilities to sample the diverse trail experiences at TCTF, the Glacial Hills Challenge, as well as the Bear Claw Epic at the Cadillac Pathway. Racers who complete all three events will pick up a free water bottle to show the world they can handle anything the Northwoods throw at them, as well as their dedication to supporting the people who support the trails! 

Of course, the TCTF wouldn't be possible without the support of the area's incredible community and our wonderful sponsors. As you gear up for a full summer of racing and riding, don't forget to support the folks who help us keep the trails open for business! 

The best way to get ready, of course, is to get out there! We've got the most accurate GPX file available right here. Using this link, you'll be able to ride the full ride from our beautiful start/finish venue at Ranch Rudolf, but you can also use it to hop on and off the trail to suit your needs on each ride! 

It's just over a month away, who's excited to ride?

Register for the Traverse City Trail Festival today!

A Mud, Sweat and Beers Thank You!

 Photo Credit: Birgit Yetter

Photo Credit: Birgit Yetter

Folks, it was an unforgettable day at the 2018 edition of Mud, Sweat and Beers this past weekend. 

As many of you know, the directors of Mud, Sweat and Beers, NMMBA board members and volunteers, plus ample support from Norte put in a massive amount of man power to make sure this great event went off safely on Saturday. For two weeks, we pulled out all the stops (and all our axes) to shovel snow, cut trail, and literally chop ice in order to clear sections of the Vasa Pathway and several miles of singletrack to make a course that was not just rideable, but really enjoyable, too. 

All the work was well worth it. This Saturday was a truly unforgettable coming-together of our cycling community, with hundreds of enthusiastic, healthy, and friendly folks joining forces to make the 9th edition of MSB one of the most spectacular yet. We want to give a special nod to board members Mike Walter and Chad Jordan for racing even after plenty of hard work shoveling. We also need to thank Tom White, Dan Ellis, and all the other folks who manned their shovels over the past ten days to help make this course possible. We're also very thankful to Norte and Jason Plum for doing a lot of work to mark the course and make sure no one ended up in Kalkaska on race day! 

This summer, join us in supporting more great events, great memories, and great rides. Your membership helps us keep the trails not just open, but a thriving place to connect, relax, and enjoy nature. If you enjoyed this past weekend, we have great news; we're only getting started! 


Tom White's Iceman Cometh Course Preview


It's the last weekend before Iceman! For most folks, that means it's the last chance to take a look at the 2017 Iceman race course. Our own trail expert Tom White has been in the woods a lot the past few weeks making sure this year's race balances room to pass, plenty of speed, and that old school Iceman vibe of wild and rocking singletrack! 

From the horse's mouth, here are the re-routes, changes, and more: 

The start is the same as last year - short, moto style from the Fairgrounds. 

There is only one minor course change between the start and Dockery Road. The Tornado Alley single track will see the 187* corner repealed and replaced with a much more flowing corner.  Riders won't even notice the new trail....they will just realize that a major course bottleneck has been removed.  Since most do not know where Tornado Alley is, it is the piece of
single track right before the first aid station which is right before Dockery Road.

There are two reroutes after crossing Dockery Road.  The first is a flowing downhill single track that requires only about 5 pedal strokes to complete. This reroute rejoins the course in a way that allows riders to carry a decent amount of momentum and eliminates a large sand trap and a hill climb from a dead stop.  This reroute actually removes a single track that was sketchy and made riders feel like a pinball and replaces it with a mini-roller-coaster-feeling single track that is 98% downhill.  A guy actually hugged me after he rode it.

The second reroute takes riders around Water Bottle Hill.  I would describe this reroute as a more classic Iceman single track.  It is rough (bumpy) has a fast downhill with fairly tight corners considering the speed potential and involves two punchy climbs.  As of this writing there are no
highly developed lines and the ground is covered in short, dense grass so riders can choose one of two lines.  Neither is demonstrably better than the other.  No rider will ride this section fast regardless of bike type or skill level.  Love this section or hate this section, it will slow the field right where the first pack separation normally happens.  This section will add spice to an already tough and spicy part of the course.

The section immediately following Water Bottle Hill is unchanged and the huge hill (Make it Stick) is again out there waiting for you to insure you hit your max heart rate.  The next section is called the Hero Section and nobody seems to know why.  Look for a reroute at the very end that transitions riders onto the beach sand ladened snowmobile trail with much more momentum and simultaneously eliminates a common crash point of the course.  This has been a very popular course change and both shoulders of the sandy snowmobile trail have been mowed to allow bicycle passage.

Immediately following the Hero Section reroute the downhill 167 degree left hand, sandy hairpin has been removed.  Now racers turn ahead of last year's hairpin and enjoy a very short downhill single track that allows riders to coast up half of the next hill versus the climb from a dead stop in 2016. The single track is not technical and involves turning the handle bars
slightly only twice.

The Sand Lake section to Williamsburg Road is unchanged.  As always, promise to buy beers for anyone that will pull you through this section. Sand Lakes Road is no place for solitary soul searching.  Immediately after Williamsburg Road riders will turn right and parallel Williamsburg Road for 1/8 mile.  The trail is a single track but there are no trees on either
side.  Just a groove in the grass.  After 1/8 mile riders will transition onto a grassy two track with a short slight uphill grade.  At the top riders will continue on a mossy, smooth and flat two track and transition back onto the old course as if by magic.  The two sandy and root infested climbs after Billyburg road are history.

No changes on the trail to the 25K (VASA) except the sinkhole just before crossing Sand Lakes Road has been expertly repaired by our friends at the
GT Regional Land Conservancy.  Be sure to whisper or shout your gratitude
to the Gods of Recreational Land Conservation as you pass through.
Wouldn't hurt to write a donation check too.  The Iceman will match what
you donate!

The next change is the wall reroute.  This year we blow right past last
year's wall bypass and use the 'old course'.  Immediately after passing last
year's wall bypass racers have to deal with two punchy climbs and then a third before taking a HARD left just before the actual wall.  Be sure to wear your tinfoil hat under your helmet as you ride under the EMF spewing gigantic metal power lines.  The trail is grass and rough and slightly
uphill....but it is short......maybe 100 yards.  Once clear of the power lines, a gentle two track climb awaits the rider.  The reward for the EMF, bumps and climbs is a long (by TC standards) two-track downhill.  There are some tight corners in there to keep you sharp so rest your legs and not your mind.  The rest of this section is the same as the 2016 course.  In fact, the rest of the trail is the same all the way back to Timber except that we are once again going to use Madeline's which includes the legendary Mt. Gary.

The finish is always secret, but the word from the very top is that riders will go down Woodchip Hill and then climb Icebreaker.  Once in the park, the trail will go left in an intestinal shaped pattern including bulges and restrictions in the trail width.  Be sure to check it out.  What the finish might lack in length this year, it makes up for in quirky turns.

Have fun out there and ride like it is your last race of 2017....because it probably is. Odometers have ranged from 29-31 miles, depending on what you believe in. I believe in pedaling until someone tells you to stop. 

Introducing the 2017 Traverse City Trails Festival!

Get ready for a beautiful day on the trails! On July 22, we're inviting all the mountain bike enthusiasts to Ranch Rudolf for a day of singletrack, beer, and fun. Short's Brewing Company is helping us bring you the first annual Traverse City Trails Festival, and you won't want to miss it. 

Race it, or tour it! For those looking to test the legs, they'll be able to choose from 40 or 25 mile race distances that use the very best singletrack in the Pere Marquette Forest. If you just want to enjoy the day, you can ride those two distances for some self-supported touring with friends. If 25 miles sounds like a bit much (or you just want to get back to the beer) there's even a 15 mile shortcut option. 

This event is all about celebrating our community and our trails. It truly is a day for cyclists, by cyclists, with all of the event's sponsors integral parts of the sport in the region. Short's Brewing has always done so much to support healthy, active outdoor lifestyles in Northern Michigan, and as you well know, they sure know how to put on a party once the race is done! 

Stay tuned to the site over the coming weeks as registration opens and we have more news about the course, the race, the prizes, and the fun heading into July 22. Until then, happy trails! 

You can also follow us on Facebook for updates and photos!