Want To Help Us Throw A Party? Beard of Zeus Is Almost Here!

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On March 2, we’re putting on the biggest party of winter, and one of the most fun fat bike races around!

This year’s Beard of Zeus Fat Bike Race at Timber Ridge is 100% our thing, with 100% of proceeds going right back into the trails. We’re aiming to make this year’s race the most fun edition yet, and that’s no small feat. The circuit-style course on Timber Ridge’s property makes for fast, exciting racing for athletes and spectators alike, and there will certainly be spectators. The original winter party in the woods, Suds’n’Snow, starts just as we’re wrapping up, which gives us plenty of enthusiastic fans for the final few laps.

It’s the fourth stop in the Short’s Brewing Fat Bike Series, which means it’s the final chance for riders looking to pocket a few valuable points before wrapping up the season. After the Dogman Challenge, standings are tighter than ever, the Men’s and Women’s Open categories couldn’t get much tighter! Expect to see some aggressive, competitive racing from the Series regulars, as well as plenty of folks out taking on their first race ever; it’s one of the most accessible events of the whole year, so if you haven’t toed the line before, make it a priority to join us on Saturday!

If you aren’t planning on racing, we could use a few folks to help us make this party one folks won’t soon forget! If you’re available Saturday from 10-11:45 to assist with day-of registration and packet pick-up, and could even stick around to cheer, shout, and heckle, we might have some goodies for your efforts.

Registration for the SBFBS Beard of Zeus is open right here.

If you can help out, email us at communications@nmmba.net and we’ll be in touch!

43rd Annual North American Vasa: Thank You, Volunteers!

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Much has already been said about the glorious weekend that was. Over two days, multiple races, and countless kilometers of skiing and biking, the 43rd Annual North American Vasa is in the books.

The Vasa is a tremendous undertaking, and while it always seems to go off so seamlessly, it take a lot of work to make all the pieces fit together. There are myriad races and disciplines within each race, putting a lot of pressure on timers, aid stations, course marshals, and our ski patrol volunteers to ensure that everyone is taken care of. There’s a remarkable tight time table to make sure those volunteers aren’t exposed to the elements for too long, and there are dozens of categories’ worth of awards, sponsors to thank, and plenty of Short’s beer to drink back in the Celebration Zone.

We just wanted to thank the race organizers, our own John Roe very much among them, for all of their hard work in fitting all of these pieces together and giving our community another Vasa to cherish. Events like this serve as a way to reconnect and reconvene our winter sports community and includes skiers and fat bikers like nothing else on the calendar. And it’s important to point out that fat bikers are skiers, and vice versa; two of the podium finishers from last year’s fat bike race were on ski podiums this year, including Jorden Wakeley! Some athletes even opted to both ski and fat bike, like Keith Conway and Joe Leppeck. One crazy person, Dan Novak skied, rode, and woke up Sunday to ski again for the ultimate Nordic experience.

Of course, no matter how much the Vasa organizers take on, there’s no way they could do it all without scores of volunteers. This year, Kelley Peterson did an exceptional job of corralling the efforts of volunteers like our own Tom White and Steve Mentzer, plus dozens of others who spent not just Saturday helping, but much of the day Thursday, Friday, and Sunday to pull everything together.

The event saw participation by our wider winter sports community, including riders who might usually call trails like Glacial Hills or Cadillac Pathway home. The Vasa also drew riders from as far away as Detroit, Grand Rapids, Holland, and Marquette, showing off our incredible trails, expert grooming, and charming hometown. We really see these winter events as a showcase of how vibrant, connected, active, and enthusiastic northern Michigan is year-round, not just during tourist season.

So from everyone at NMMBA, thank you, volunteers, to manning aid stations and registration, course marshals and podium ceremonies. You’re the ones who make all of our events possible, and the ones who make them so much fun, too!

Full results from the North American Vasa are available here.

Ride Plans For The Week: Winter Will Be Right Back

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As we pen this near the shores of East Bay in Traverse City, it’s a balmy 46 degrees and raining like it’s May. Don’t worry; winter is swinging back into town, and soon.

First off, we really want to thank everyone for their patience over the past 48 hours. After over a week of frigid temperatures and plentiful snow, Mother Nature did a full 180 degree turn and slammed some spring-like weather onto northern Michigan. All of our trails remain closed through Monday, but a quick glance at the forecast cast shows we have a great week of riding coming up.

Tuesday will see below-freezing highs, but hit the trails with just a bit of caution. Some sections of the trails are sure to be very slick and icy, and until we get a change to scrape things up a bit, studs won’t be necessary, but they’ll be handy. The snowfall on Wednesday and Thursday should be a big help in combining fresh powder into icy surfaces, and we should have incredible conditions for riding Thursday through the weekend!

And it’s a big weekend, too. This Saturday is the 43rd Annual North American Vasa, which happens to include the King Vasa Fat Bike Race as a part of its Festival of Races. The bike events start at 11:50 am, with 40 and 20 kilometer options available. Our crews have been working hard to keep the trails in stunning shape, and not even this freakish warm-up is going to affect a really stunning trail experience for racers. As the second stop in the Short’s Brewing Fat Bike Series, it’s another chance to pick up points and rack up race miles as the Series hits its halfway mark.

If you aren’t racing this weekend, consider volunteering on Saturday or Sunday and helping keep this event fun, safe, and well-supported!

From everyone at NMMBA, the Cadillac Pathway, Bike Leelanau, and Glacial Hills, thanks again for helping keep the trails in great shape as we gear up for plenty of winter riding in February!

January Board Meeting Minutes - The Annual Meeting!

NMMBA Board of Director’s Annual Meeting

Date and location: Sunday, January 6th, Timber Ridge Resort

Board present: Chad Jordan, Tim Reicha III, Kim White, John Roe, Mike Walters, Tim Jenema, Cotipaxi Sprattmoran, Michele Andrews and Steve Mentzer.

Board absent: Dustin Webb & Don Clewley

Guests: members

After a ride and dinner, Chad formerly called the meeting to order at 5:40 p.m.

Financials:

Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association

2018 Financial Report

Current cash situation reflects 2 solid years of excellent fundraising through our races and events;

Plans for accumulated cash include upcoming grooming equipment replacement as well as pavilions at Cadillac Pathway trail head (under way) and the Vasa Single Track trail

head (each at a cost expected to near $50,000);

New for 2018 we are the fiduciary of the Dan Morley Memorial Fund; current value

$7,908.84;

2018 equipment purchases include:

o new snowmobile for grooming at Leelanau State Park;

o new open trailer for hauling equipment for trail work bees;

o new logo canopy and feather flags;

o a down-payment on a new snowmobile for WSST (coordinating trade in of our oldest snowmobile).

We have donated over $12,000 out to community partners and programs;

Our merchandise is actually profitable thanks in a large way to Nate Farran for designing

the new logo and applying it to merchandise you all apparently want; our president

Chad Jordan for shipping out all the online orders; and Cody Sovis for marketing it online

(and enlisting his brother Wes for modeling);

Our memberships, now processed in-house, has improved by almost 400% (caveat, the

number includes almost half of 2017’s membership funds which were delayed in being

collecting from another source);

Received wonderful, large donations from several family foundations which were

specific to the new Bike Leelanau program and funded the purchase of a snowmobile for

winter grooming efforts at LSP;

Lastly, little of our efforts in fundraising would be as successful if we hadn’t been able to

obtain our charitable status; this was greatly assisted by our new by-laws and articles of

incorporation done by Dan Morley.

Chad then announced that a vote was needed to officially name Tim Jenema to the NMMBA board.

He made a motion to name Tim Jenema to the board. It was met with a unanimous vote.

Chad then gave his president’s message.

Some of the highlights:

Chad spoke about the many jobs he has had. Jobs that came with a paycheck. This was what brought he and his co-workers back every Monday. A great work environment but without the passion.

But with NMMBA it’s different. There are no paychecks but plenty of passion.

Motivation is to ride great trails, build more trails and take care of these trails so they can be ridden and loved for years to come.

The board consists of 11 members who embrace this passion.

Yes, our meetings can run long but what emerges is the imagination of what is possible for those of us that ride in northern Michigan.

He then introduced the members of the NMMBA board:

Tim Reicha III

John Roe

Kim White

Tom White

Mike Walters

Michele Andrews

Cotipaxi Sprattmoran

Steve Mentzer

Tim Jenema

Don Clewley

He then spoke of who is NMMBA and what do they do?

In the past this has been a difficult question to answer.

We are good at both building and maintaining trail but not so good at self promotion and marketing.

This was corrected with the hiring of Cody Sovis. Cody let’s our community know all our doings through social media and blog posts.

Thank you Cody!

With our ever expanding trail networks we created chapters. These chapters needed their own identity. So we turned to Nate Farran to create a brand for our 6 chapters.

Thank you Nate!

These 6 chapters are:

TC Winter Sports Trail

Traverse City Trails Network

Cadillac Pathway

Glacial Hills Pathway

Bike Leelanau

High Country Pathway

Chad then expounded on each chapter as to 2018 happenings and beyond.

TC Winter Sports Trail:

10 dedicated groomers are ready to take care of up to 22+ miles of trails for the 2018-19 season. This has allowed NMMBA to define what a four-season trail can be.

Through our record badge sales this year we have solidified a method to get out grooming reports to badge holders minutes after grooming has been completed. It also has provided funding to obtain the best equipment to keep our trails in their best condition.

Traverse City Trail Network:

Last year brought some revisions to the iconic VST(Vasa Single Track). Some of these changes were apparent at Mud, Sweat and Beers in May. It’s not always easy to make changes to a trail where most got their start in mountain biking. And we listen to each comment, good or bad and take them all seriously.

The soft opening took place at the ribbon cutting in August. It was the first ever Speed of Light and Time Trial and a summer fiesta cookout.

Lots of chicken were consumed, washed down by various libations and lots of stories about summer adventures were told.

Next up was the TCTF. Despite a dismal forecast, bikers of all abilities were able to race a fully supported and marked “unmarked” trail system. This is NMMBA’s biggest fundraiser and it cannot happen without the efforts of our sponsors and dedicated volunteers.

The crew stepped up again when asked to layout the Iceman route. It took a lot of work compacting, grading and re-routing but the result was a fantastic route for what proved to be the Super Bowl of mountain biking. Right here in our own backyard.

Cadillac Pathway:

Often one is asked can one person make a difference? The answer is yes!

In regards to the CP, Michele Andrews has set the bar high with her vision for that trail system.

Like the TCTN, CP lies all within state land. They are paving the way with improvements to the amenities as well as a new soon to be completed pavilion.

The structure is the result of a multi-year process. Considerable paperwork, design approval, insurance, acceptance of concept, contractors, organizing volunteers and working with the DNR have earned Michele high marks in patience and perseverance. Combined with this is trying to raise $50,000 to get it done! Bravo!

The Bear Claw Epic race every 4th Saturday in September contributed nicely to the fundraising in that last years race saw a jump in riders by 115! Now boasting 415 participants.

Also approved by the DNR was an additional 11 miles of single track. The result of a two year process.

Glacial Hills Pathway:

GHP has seen many improvements over the summer.

Parking lots at both Vandermark and Orchard Hills.

Changing rooms, vault toilets and maintenance storage to name a few.

Over 2000 man hours provided by a dedicated crew of volunteers kept the trails enjoyable for all riders and especially the Tuesday and Wednesday rides.

New maps and wayfinding signage to be installed in the spring of 2019.

Added 5 miles to the already 7+ miles for winter groomed snow biking.

Bike Leelanau:

Cotopaxi came on board a year ago and wanted change in her home of Leelanau county. And she stepped up and lead the way.

She partnered with the Leelanau conservancy(LC) to bring the first flow trail to northern Michigan at Palmer Woods. Together they have identified 20+ potential miles of trails to be developed over the next few years.

Working with the DNR BL has provided oversight with their Leelanau State Park(LCP) floating trails.

Provided funding and acquisition of a new grooming sled.

Organized the grooming crew and kicked it all off with a Trail Day party!

Their future vision includes getting more people on bikes.

This will be done through Spring Earth day for kids, establishing a bike library and hosting a series of women’s and coed skills clinics.

High Country Pathway:

Although a bit out of the way the HCP is a real gem. And a yearly clean up organized by past NMMBA president Glen Ruczynski has been happening for over a decade. Over 80 miles of trails await you.

Be sure to put this on your bucket list.

2019 and beyond:

What does 2019 and beyond hold for NMMBA?

A continued partnership with

Michigan DNR

TART

Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy

Leelanau Conservancy and

Local municipalities

Projects slated for 2019 and beyond:

WVASA

VST pavilion

CP trailhead improvements

NMMBA emergency response system

Continued phases at Palmer Woods

Master plan contributions at LSP

GH improvements and wayfinding signage

The meeting ended with the awarding of the inaugural Dan Morley volunteer of the year award.

This award had been discussed for months but came to fruition at the December board meeting.

With the help of up.bike an award was fashioned that captured the spirit of the award perfectly. A drivetrain symbolizing the way that volunteers drive NMMBA.

The recipient was was also discussed and the name that kept coming back was Dan himself. His efforts with NMMBA and other organizations around the state will last for years.

Steve presented the award to Betsy, his wife. It was a very emotional moment.  Betsy accepted to a standing ovation. And she gave a brief speech that accurately captured Dan’s passion with mountain biking.

On this note the meeting was adjourned at 6:30 p.m.

Submitted by

Steve Mentzer, secretary


Vasa Fat Bike Race Course Info

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We are just over a week away from the North American Vasa, the highlight of winter here in northern Michigan!

The 43rd Annual North American Vasa is a true festival of races, inviting winter enthusiasts to test themselves against the trail and the elements in freestyle and classic skiing, plus 40 or 20 kilometers of fast, fun fat bike racing later in the afternoon. It’s an event that as grown and re-shaped itself to serve the winter sports community over the years, and the current iteration of the Vasa offers a little something for everyone, while bring all sorts of athletes to celebrate winter in all its glory.

The fat bike races are known as some of the prestigious and beautiful event on the calendar. It’s a rare holdout in that it doesn’t rely on short, 1-2 mile laps like many fat bike races. While those are really fun for racers and spectators alike, most were born out of necessity; it takes a lot fewer resources to groom a mile or two compared to maintaining 10 miles or more! We’re committed to grooming not only our normal Winter Sports Singletrack, but have added sections of Riley’s Loop and Logger’s Run, plus helping clean up section within Timber Ridge, to offer racer a chance to explore the full cornucopia of trail flavors we are so lucky to have access to here in Traverse City.

The two races take on one and two laps of the 20 kilometer course. The lap includes an exciting mix of singletrack and wider two-track to allow for plenty of passing opportunities, which you’ll want to take full advantage of before spilling into Yeti’s Revenge, a seasonal ‘floating trail’ floating singletrack that has become a local favorite. It’s a course that is as fun as it is challenging, and whether you’re going for the crown or going for fun, it’s really a treat to ride.

Last year, a number of riders finished the 40km race inside two hours, while plenty of others were comfortably withing two and a half hours. It’s a race that is very much dependent on snow conditions, and with that in mind, our groomers have been in the woods almost non-stop since this recent blizzard fired up. We’re working hard to clear and compact trail, and the warm-up this weekend should be a big help in turning a great base into a firm and fast track for race day.

We also wanted to point out one of the unique and incredibly cool ways to take on the Vasa. The race offers two combination races, the SkiFatalon and the Triple Threat Challenge. The SkiFatalon combines your time from the 27km ski and the 40km fat bike race, a grueling way to get in both of your favorite winter sports in a single morning. If that isn’t enough, you can always do more, as in doing the full 50km ski, the 40km fat bike race immediately after, plus hopping in the 35km Classic race on Sunday!

If you’re ready to go give the 2019 course a look, you can use the gpx files right here. We’ve also got all the Vasa maps you need uploaded to the Vasa site right here.

See our incredible trails for yourself on February 9; sign up for the 43rd Annual North American Vasa and see the best singletrack around!