NMMBA Iceman Course Work for 2019!

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Last year, Steve Brown approached NMMBA to become the official trail crew of the biggest one-day mountain bike race in the country. The Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge is an event that doesn’t just bring our cycling community together, but the whole sport together for one gritty, muddy, cold day of fun. We’ve been racing and loving this race for each of the past thirty editions; some of our board members also help put on the race, and all of us attend or even suit up to shred. 

As the region’s trail association, we take a lot of pride in being a vital part of the event, and this year’s edition is extra special. 2019 marks three decades of racing from Kalkaska to Traverse City, and we wanted the course to reflect what has made this race so big. We believe that’s finding a balance between sections we know and love (and hate, too) and finding new twists to keep riders on their toes. We’ve spent months working with the race organization, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and our fellow riders to shake things up. 

Our first big project is to get riders from the new start at the Kalkaska Airport and onto the ‘old’ course. After leaving the runway, riders will fly down a sandy two-track for about a half a mile. Here, normal sandy turns into a beach. So, we’re building a short trail to bypass the six-inch deep sand pits and throw riders onto the original singletrack with a bit of speed. In all, it’s roughly 150 yards of much-needed diversion. 

Second, the annual Water Bottle Hill Bypass. The original hill was so washed out and rooty that, today, it’s downright dangerous. We’ve chipped away for the past three seasons to get riders around that hill with a mix of old two-tracks and new singletrack. With approval from the DNR, we’ve got an even better way around the rough descent that may even offer riders a chance to take a deep breath and enjoy a twisting, sinuous switchback descent to the valley floor before the next climb to the section known as Make It Stick. This is still a work in progress, but it’ll be in prime shape by race day! 

Finally, we’ve worked with Traverse Area Recreational Trails to fix up the race’s newest addition, the Headwaters 5K. While new to the race, it’s an old favorite for runners, walkers, skiers, and mountain bikers, and thanks to its close proximity to the Bartlett Road Trailhead, it gets plenty of traffic. That has led to a few sandpits and overgrown corners. Tim Jenema, Chris Kushman, and a host of volunteers have pitched in to patch things up. We see this is a great investment to a popular section of the Vasa Pathway, especially with the construction of the new two-mile skill building trail known as the Acme Bike Park. It’s going to serve as the ‘next thing’ riders tack on as they learn new skills and build fitness, so we want to make sure it’s dialed, safe, and fun to ride. 

We’ve got plenty of work to do before race day, but we’re already feeling that Iceman Fever! Want to help out? Become a NMMBA member, and watch our social channels for more information on how you can build, maintain, and protect non-motorized trails across northern Michigan. 

Let's Brew It. Urban Friday Night Lights Is November 29.

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It’s back. There’s a bit of a lull in the world of mountain biking after Iceman. There’s a bit of a figurative (and literal) hangover after the biggest race of the year. The race is always followed rather quickly by the beginning of rifle season, which we take a lot of pride in respecting. But hey, we miss you guys. For the past few years, we’ve led the Urban Friday Night Lights with our pals at Brew for a ride, a few drinks, and the perfect kickoff to fat bike season. 

Friday Night Lights rides typically start when the snow flies, and we’re hoping to get the season started on November 29. Make the most of the long holiday weekend, burn off some turkey and pie, and reconnect with your mountain bike pals! For a lot of us, it’s the first time we all reconnect since Iceman, and the first chance to roll out the fat bike. Depending on conditions, all bikes are welcome; most years, we haven’t had much snow to speak of. We do ask you that you come dressed for the party, and that means warm clothes, a helmet, and both a front and rear light. 

There are few things quite as cool as riding behind the State Hospital, and we’ll all head over from Brew at 6pm sharp. Make sure you make a point of looking around; seeing a huge line of lights is seriously a special thing! We’ll ride behind the Commons for about sixty minutes before heading back to Brew. Once again, all proceeds from Short’s Brewing drinks will go straight to NMMBA! We’ll also have NMMBA merchandise and giveaways from loads of cool sponsors and partners. Bring the kids; we’ll have a youth-friendly ride, free hot cocoa, and a vibe that’s totally cool for the whole family. 

Let’s make the most of the transitional season from fall to winter with a ride! As always, the ride is free; if you want to see more rides like this, just make sure you’re a member. Make sure you RSVP to the event on Facebook to stay up to date on ride news!

Bear Claw Epic: Great Race, Strong Community!


That was fun. On behalf of everyone at Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association, thank YOU for showing up and throwing down at the Bear Claw Epic. 

Races aren’t all about trophies and bragging rights. They’re also about bringing people together, and no event accomplishes that quite like the BCE. After five years, race directors Michele Andrews and Dustin Webb haven’t lost an ounce of their enthusiasm for putting on one heckuva show. 

This year’s race saw some real September weather. Two years ago, riders battled some hot, hot heat and dust, while last year saw temperatures hover just above freezing as the first riders toed the start line. In 2019, however, it was that happy, seasonable medium, with some forgiving cloud cover to boot. The Beginner classes got first tracks, and we were really proud to see a number of kids make the jump up from the Bear Cub Epic and into the big show. We also spoke with a lot of riders that made the BC their first-ever race, and that’s something we’re especially proud of! More new riders means more riders, and that kid of inclusiveness is what we’re all about. 

The Sport and Intermediate fields were the biggest of the day, another good sign that we’re getting more people involved. New or not, they’re quick; event the Elite riders were commenting on just how fast the early races were and setting the tone for the final races of the afternoon. The women’s Elite race saw Laura Webb take the win ahead of Susan Vigland and Courtney Greening, a very cool mix of experienced veterans and some fresh blood, too. 

That was definitely the case on the men’s side. Last year’s second-place, Alec Shau, was back on the exact same step, but was joined by two riders that prove that the kids are plenty quick. Kyan Olshove gave Norte Youth Cycling it’s first Elite podium ever, while Garrett Jenema’s win cemented the ‘next’ generation of riders as contenders right here, right now. 

You could say the same for the race’s heart and soul, the Cadillac Pathway. Contributions from the race and local partners have completely revamped the trails over the past few years. From a beautiful new Pavilion, solar-powered lighting, more parking space and eleven miles of trails on the docket, the Pathway is becoming what it always promised to be, and that’s due in large part of the support and energy that comes with the Bear Claw Epic. 
For all the results, head here. Want to be a part of the Pathway’s bright future? Join us here and let’s build something special.

NMMBA Board of Directors Meeting - September

NMMBA Board of Directors Meeting

Date and location: Wednesday, September 11th, 2019 Keen loft

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

Board absent: Cody Sprattmoran and Tim Jenema

Guests: Cody Sovis, Molly Steck, co-founder Bike Leelanau and Andy Batteiger/Hagerty Cycling

Chad opened the meeting at 6:39 p.m.


Kim went over the financials. She informed the board that she had created new categories that give a clearer picture of total dollars we have in our general fund.

This general fund will be the amount we have to spend on capital projects, for example Supply road pavilion. 

The general fund currently holds $9247.00. These dollars can be put towards the pavilion project. Also the Morley fund which stands at $7908.31 can also be used towards the pavilion. At the discretion of Betsy.

A large percentage of the TCTF expenses will be reflected in the August statement.

Community comments:

Andy Batteiger was representing Hagerty cycling. 

He stated the desire for Hagerty, the areas oldest and largest cycling club to be better aligned with NMMBA and further our cause. He wanted to explore what options the club might utilize to achieve this goal,

He admits that they were hesitant in the past to pursue this because of misconceptions surrounding NMMBA. 

NMMBA was seen as a fundraising organization. And to add to that a big percentage of membership dollars went to IMBA. So, monies donated were not staying in the area.

While true at the time, as of January 2018 all dollars now stay in the area to maintain and create new trails. This was accomplished through NMMBA obtaining it’s 501(c)3 non-profit status. 

A few different ideas as to how Hagerty could help out NMMBA were tossed around.

Including a push for memberships among the Hagerty riders, more involvement in our sponsored events;TCTF, Glacial Hills Challenge, Bear Claw Epic among others. And volunteering at said events.

Sharing NMMBA social media announcements on the Hagerty team pages.

Or email blasts to the team regarding promotions and specific events.

Tom White explained that trail/race usage numbers are of course driven by more people taking part in them. With an increase from area clubs in these events shows the Michigan DNR that our efforts in our trail work, etc is paying dividends.

Bear Claw Epic:

Race day is drawing near and Michele told the group that registration numbers were about at the same level as this time last year. About 120.

She indicated she would be wanting the tent, flags and podium steps for the race. And for someone to work the merch tent from approx. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Event date is September 28th. And is hoping for a lot of promotion from all. As well as good weather.

Groomers Symposium:

Ride and after party at Short’s is set for Sunday, September 29th.

John is encouraging all groomers to attend.

He also discussed Global Fat Bike Day. Traditional date is set for December 7th. In the past it has conflicted with other local events which has produced lower attendance numbers. Among other dates thrown out were the New Years Day ride being declared Global Fat Bike Day. This event always draws big numbers.

Trail Menu Diversification:

 This agenda topic spurred a lot of discussion regarding the technical levels of existing and proposed trail.

As far as e-bike use, last month’s meeting minutes stated that the DNR was revising their position on e-bike usage. A DNR representative attended our meeting to inform us, and educate us to their plans for community outreach.

But we (NMMBA) is concerned that NMMBA is seen, incorrectly, as the enforcer of the rules by some in the cycling community. The DNR enforces the laws via their Enforcement Conservation Officers  

We have stated repeatedly that we are NOT anti anything!

Our mission statement states that we promote  responsible mountain bike use.

And to that we also have fielded some criticisms about the lack of technical aspects to the VST.

This brings us to the diversification of our trail system.

A letter was received by Cody Sovis outlining the writer’s complaint of our VST trail system. It was remarked that the roots and washed out areas that the VST previously held were preferable to the flowy trail that is offered by the VST, Glacial and Arcadia. However the number of riders taking to the marked VST after several reworkings would belie that assertion. However, the concerned party seemed to want NMMBA to champion the former.

If technical is what is wanted Palmer Woods or some of the unmarked TCTN trails will fill that need.

Keen’s, Short’s Out n Back bash:

Tom will have the cantina at Timber Ridge for this kickoff bash.

Rides begin at 9 a.m. with several speed groups available.

Ramp to take the plunge into Justin Timberlake has been built. Brats and beer to follow.


Kim led this discussion on memberships.

The expired list this month totaled 77 members.

Notice had been sent out via NMMBA Communications rather than Mail Chimp.

There are new features which will be evident when renewals are realized.

Auto-renewal is one which will eliminate chasing folks down to renew.

Roundtable discussion:

John spoke about grooming badge costs. He has opted to go with stickers to differentiate the trails vs different colored badges.

It will make the cost of each badge .67 cents. Based on 500 badges we are looking at a total of $375.  So, the breakdown for each trail will be: 200 for Traverse City, and 100 each for Glacial Hills, Cadillac Pathway and Bike Leelanau. 

Molly let the board know that the Leelanau Conservancy is in phase II of their fundraising efforts for Palmer Woods. Trail length is up to 6 miles and flows much better.

Tom discussed a meeting TART and he had with Merrill White, trail builder from Bentonville Arkansas. Talked trial wants and needs and possibly some financial support for NMMBA from the Walton foundation.

Meeting adjourned at 8:50 p.m.

Submitted by

Steve Mentzer, secretary

Committee reports:

Cadillac Pathway:

Keen Technical Solutions installed 3 solar lights in our parking lot last week.  Getting positive feedback from the community and DNR.  

Waiting on DNR to install the bike/ski rack, bike fix it station, pump, concrete sidewalks, final grade of parking lot, and final landscaping around the pavilion.  

Missaukee County is updating their recreational plan to include the approval of building trail.  Looking for assistance to write grants. Pursuing some grants needs to come from a governmental entity and not a non-profit.  

Bear Claw Epic:

Dustin and I are working diligently on putting on a flawless event.  Registration is right on target with last year at this time. Please encourage your friends to sign up.  Share the event on your social media please.   

DNR is helping me work on a re-route around an eroded hill this morning.  


1)  The TCTN is up to its eyeballs in cleaning up after various logging

projects.  The Iceman logging clean up should be finalized by 9/14.

2)  Part 2 of the water bottle hill reroute is on the schedule for this

fall, but not yet fully mapped out.

3)  The End of Summer Splash event is scheduled for 9/15.  This is a joint

effort with Keen with hopes to make it an annual event.  The Cantina will

be there (Timber Ridge).  NMMBA to decide the level of involvement.

4)  The formal hand off of the TC to K trail to NMMBA from the Hiking Club

is ready to happen.  Details are being worked out.  Bridge repair/rebuild

will be needed to make the trail passable.  Having this trail become one of

ours fits into our master plan to connect TC to Kalkaska's loop.

5)  Iceman course prep will be constant from this point forward.  Extensive

ORV erosion must be fixed our routed around.  We will address what we

can....as best as we can.

6)  The Single Track Love Machine is in the final debug and safety guarding


7)  Pavilion grant funding has been submitted to CCCC and a meeting with

Emily from Casey Cowell's Boomerang group is scheduled for 9/17 to show her

the site and continue the review and consideration of our grant request.

8)  Meeting was had with TART and Merrill White (trail coordinator at

Bentonville).  Notes were compared, challenges, victories and regrets were

discussed.  Possible donations from the Walton Foundation to NMMBA were


Tom and Mike

Glacial Hills

  1. Trail volunteer refresh (retraining) was held last Thursday. Brad Gerlach worked hard to replace some bad habits that the volunteer crew has developed over the last year. This was very valuable.

  2. Work begins this Thursday on a new one mile plus novice loop from Eckhardt. This will connect to the existing 3/4 mile novice loop and potentially to a 3-5 mile novice plus loop (around a big hill instead of up it) in the future.

  3. The sign committee is still waiting on final proofs from GTRLC to have new trail and kiosk signs printed then install.

  4. Currently researching grants to fund electric/water well installation at Eckhardt trail head.

Keen Technical Solutions and NMMBA Out'n'Back Cook Out!


September is one of the best months of the year to ride! This weekend, help us cap off summer and celebrate fall with the first big Out’n’Back of autumn. 

In northern Michigan, Labor Day Weekend is infectious. Once the kids are back in school, the temperatures start to dip, and a few more days of rain mean the trails are absolutely perfect for plenty of saddle time. September is a transitional month, blending warm days and chilly nights to give us a gentle shift to a new season, with the biggest race of the year creeping ever closer. 

This weekend, Keen Technical Solutions is hosting a BIG Out’n’Back at Timber Ridge. Starting at 9am, rider of all abilities can hop in and put in some miles before peeling back for brats, burgers, and a chance to cap off summer with a dip in Timber Ridge’s new Justin TimberLake! 

Here’s the game plan. We’ll have three main groups. One group will add on a little more to a traditional Out’n’Back, riding as much singletrack as possible until hopping onto Sand Lakes Road near Williamsburg Road. Another group will head straight out Sand Lakes Road at 17-19mph, shooting to ride the full course back in about two hours. A third group will take it a little easier, shooting for 75 minutes out and 2.5-3 hours back, with a regroup at Broomhead. 

You’re going to want to make sure you’re there early, too. Keen is going to have cookies and coffee from Breakaway Cafe at Timber Ridge for us! Meeting up early will help everyone find a group to ride with and listen for any last minute instructions. 

Once you’re back, plan on sticking around. Keen is grilling up brats for everyone, with the new NMMBA Cantina parked up and bringing the party! We’ll also have some refreshments from Short’s Brewing Company, and if you can, consider bringing chips or a dish to pass. 

Love events like this? Join NMMBA and support great trails and a strong mountain bike community!