2019 Traverse City Trails Festival: Which Distance Should I Do?

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Multiple distance, races and tours, plus loads of age groups…which event should you sign up for?

In this third edition of the Traverse City Trails Festival presented by Short’s Brewing, we’re seeing interests from racers around the state and new riders from right here in northern Michigan. As the event grows, we’re excited to welcome more riders of all abilities to experience this great day on the trails. With folks asking which event is right for them, we wanted to take a second to talk about each distance and course.

The 40 Mile Race. Forty miles on a bike is nothing to sniff at. Forty miles in the woods is even tougher. Forty miles of singletrack? Now that’s a big day in the saddle. Don’t let the distance intimidate you; regular and consistent riding is all it takes to not just survive the full forty, but enjoy it! The course is twisting, flowing, and engaging; while you’ll never get bored, you’ll also have rare opportunities to hit your top speeds like in other more open, straight races like Peak2Peak or Iceman Cometh. Even with a quick pace, it’s still a big day in the saddle. For reference, our 2018 winner, Tyler Weston, finishing in two hours, thirty-one minutes. Our slowest finisher was in at four hours, twenty two minutes, with the bulk of riding finishing between three and three and a half hours.

We look at the 40 mile event as an endurance race. While the marathon mountain bike race events are often closer to 60 miles, due to the amount of singletrack, we see very comparable times to old school marathon races like Boyne Mountain, which were frequently finished in times right around three and a half hours. Whether you’re looking to win or just finish, this race is about the long haul, pacing, hydration, and riding to your own beat.

The Twenty-Five Mile Race. This distance is tried-and-true, classic cross-country mountain bike racing. It’s right on par with events like Mud, Sweat and Beers, Iceman, Yankee Springs Time Trial, and other events shaped to take around 90 minutes to complete. We certainly don’t see this as the ‘Sport’ class race, and that’s why there’s full complement of categories from Elite/Expert through Sport; if you race and ride consistently, this is the perfect race to test the legs for events later in the year, like the Glacial Hills Challenge and Bear Claw Epic.

With some open and fast mileage at the beginning and end, this course offers a shorter distance but more aggressive racing across categories. Last year’s winner, Garrett Jenema, led home a star-studded field with a time of one hour and forty-two minutes, with most racers finishing between two and two and half hours.

The 25 Mile Tour. Want to just go? Enjoy the day at your own pace, with your pals, or meet new folks to ride with. Both the 25 Mile and 15 Mile Tour are designed to get new riders and never-racers involved by offering a marked course without the the pressure of competition. By far the biggest smiles of the day last year were on the faces of riders like Don Cunkle, who spent their morning cruising through the woods, chatting with pals, and stopping for snacks along the way. The value of the tour is to experience these trails and learn them for yourself, and get the chance to meet members of our incredible cycling community before, during, and after your time on the trail.

The 15 Mile Race. Is this for beginners? Well, yes and no At nearly two hours for even experienced riders, the 25 mile race is a really tough day in the saddle if you’re pushing yourself. So, new for 2019, we decided to piece together a fun, fast, but accessible route for riders looking to save themselves ten miles and still get in between 60 and 90 minutes of racing. This also suits a large number of the Norte riders who’d find the 8 Mile kid’s race a bit short, but who may not find the full 25 mile event in their wheelhouse.

Because the 15 mile race uses the same faster, wider trails that open the 25 and 40 mile events, riders can expect to average over 10 miles and hour for the first and final three miles, with a dip in speed once they hit some smooth, manicured singletrack. We’re pulling out all the stops (and the roots, and the bumps) to make sure this is smooth, fun, and enjoyable for beginners, kids, and folks who want to be back to the party a little before everyone else!

When in doubt, tour it out. This is about having fun, coming together, and enjoying the trails. If you’re nervous about taking on a distance or racing, we really suggest taking all the pressure and anxiety out of the day and joining a tour. You’re going to find yourself surrounded by friendly, knowledgeable, and fun folks no matter what, so sign up for what YOU think will be the most fun, get you the most prepared for other rides or race, or will offer you a chance to connect and learn more about these unique trails.

Sign up today. Your registration goes straight to NMMBA’s efforts to build, maintain, and protect non-motorized trails all over the region. Aside from becoming a member, signing up to race or tour the TCTF is the very best thing you can do to support trails!

Still can’t decide? Contact our Communications Director, Cody Sovis and he’ll help you pick the distance and category you should be in based on what YOU want out of the Traverse City Trails Festival.

May Field Trips: Palmer Woods Work Bee, Arcadia Grit & Gravel

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Your May challenge? Hit Palmer Woods. And help, if you can.

Palmer Woods is rolling into its first full season in action, and we want to challenge you to get out and see if for yourself. The new trail is a the product of grassroots support and advocacy from Leelanau Conservancy, pushed by Bike Leelanau and bike-lovers all over Leelanau County. The first phase of construction has already given us one of the most unique places to ride in the state!

Flowtrack Mountain Bike designed the trail and opened things up for riding last fall. Closed for winter, spring has given Palmer Woods its first chance to impress locals and riders visiting our region. We want to make sure everyone gets to experience the trail in prime shape. That’s why the Conservancy, Bike Leelanau, and Suttons Bay Bikes are hosting a trail day on Thursday, May 16. We’ll be looking to address trail debris, clear face-slappers, and make some minor repairs from a long, soggy winter and spring.

At the same time, volunteers from the Leelanau Conservancy will be tackling a spreading nuisance. Garlic mustard is an invasive species that’s been a huge problem in the area, and they’re calling on as many hands as they can muster to stop the spread at Palmer Woods. They’re looking for at least a dozen willing, strong-armed people who aren’t afraid to get dirty. That effort will run in conjunction with the bike work bee, which means Palmer Woods will be swarming with do-gooders. Make sure you bring your bike, too; there’s a very high chance a bike ride will break out after the trail work!

This weekend is also a great chance to go explore Arcadia. The Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy manages Arcadia Dunes and has worked hard to developed the trail into one of the most fun, exciting, and flowing mountain bike trails in the area. This Saturday, Endoman Promotions hosts the Arcadia Grit & Gravel, a half gravel race, half mountain bike race that puts riders on 10 miles of dirt roads before tossing them into 11 miles of singletrack goodness. It’s one of the most unique events in the state, and one of the most beautiful. The race weekend always seems trillium in peak bloom; riders blur past hillsides and ravines covered in a blanket of brilliant white flowers over a vibrant green undergrowth.

A portion of the proceeds from the race go to GTRLC, helping preserve both the Arcadia Dunes and the many other ambitious conservation projects Glen and the gang have cooking. For riders in northern Michigan, who are so spoiled to have trails like the Traverse City Trail Network, Palmer Woods, Cadillac Pathway, and Glacial Hills right in their backyard, races like Arcadia Grit & Gravel are the perfect excuse for a field trip!

Traverse City Trails Festival Registration Is Open!

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Last year was great. Let’s make 2019 even better.

Registration for the 2019 Traverse City Trails Festival is LIVE and already gathering up riders for our even on July 20. If you’ve made it for the previous two editions of TCTF, you know what it’s all about. This is race. It’s a tour. It’s a party.

NMMBA works hard to build and maintain trail all over northern Michigan. On the Traverse CIty Trail Network, that trail experience is divided up into the Vasa Pathway (or 25km), the Vasa Singletrack (from Supply Road), as well as nearly 70 miles of unmarked singletrack that stretches from Bunker Hill Road to Supply Road, Timber Ridge to Kalkaska. The vast web of trail offers months, even years of opportunity to explore. Even locals that ride all the time often know only a small portion of the vast spiderweb of interconnecting trails.

One day a year, we create a 40, a 25, and 15 mile course and map out those otherwise hidden trails to offer racers and riders alike a unique chance to experience these gems without worrying about navigating or getting back to our start/finish venue, Ranch Rudolph. This race also gives us the opportunity to create a few miles of new trails and expose riders to these freshly created sections and begin to incorporate these inventions into their normal rides!

Most importantly, this is a ride about everyone. We’re proud to have some of the fastest mountain bikers in the state line up for the 40 and 25 mile events. But we’re just as honored to see riders of all abilities seize the opportunity to explore together by signing up for the 25 and 15 mile tours. Take on the day, and some big miles of singletrack, at your own pace, with your very best pals. It’s the perfect no-pressure platform for someone who doesn’t want to race, but wants to get more involved in the event and the community. We see this as the ideal day to bring together Elites and Beginners, trail gnomes and first-timers. Put a name to face, meet people for the first time, and celebrate our world-class trail experience; together.

We have a whole website dedicated to providing information on race categories, the day’s schedule of events, and more. We can’t do it without the support of our sponsors, especially Short’s Brewing Company. In addition to picking up Mud, Sweat and Beers, they remain the title sponsor of the TCTF and the three-race NMMBA Trail Series, which includes the TCTF, Short’s Glacial Hills Challenge, and Bear Claw Epic.

There’s plenty of time for more chatter; get yourself signed up and help us out by posting the event on Facebook, emailing it to a friend, or making a donation to further your support of what is our biggest fundraiser of the year.

Mud, Sweat and Beer Trail Day: Thanks For All Your Help!

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It was a busy weekend on the trails! From our trail day to course marking we got a lot done thanks to a lot of hardworking people!

Mud, Sweat and Beers is just days away, and that meant this past weekend was crunch time to clean up and clearly mark the 2019 route. Tom and the crew have put countless hours of thought and planning into crafting a course that offers just a bit of everything, but without some rakes on the ground, it’s all just imagination and theory.

Sunday was all about getting things done. The short section of private land that links the Holiday Village neighborhood to the Vasa Pathway always needs a bit of work, but after a long winter and with a few twists added, it needed more attention than usual. Luckily, we had a few folks raise their hands and hit the woods with us. We spent a few hours raking and clearing from the pavement to the power lines, offering riders a safe, fast trail to link up the opening few miles of the race to the real meat and potatoes of the 2019 course.

And that’s where McLain Race Team took over. They had nearly their entire team out marking the course, putting up pink Stout and blue Pale Ale arrows, taping tight corners, and adding a racer’s perspective the the course that we’ll all really benefit from on Saturday. Board member Steve Mentzer and a dozen other riders handled one section, while the Ernsts and another crew split off to cover more ground.

Of course, it wasn’t all work. Sunday was one of the last nice, sunny days in the forecast leading into race week, which meant it was the last chance to recon the course. The Norte crew had dozens of kids riding the Stout and Pale Ale course, putting in some impressive times and showing everyone how to really rail the singletrack. There were all sorts of groups soaking up the sun and making notes on important sections trail that might play a big role in on Saturday.

Thanks to everyone who dedicated their free time to helping us get things primped and primed, and to everyone who went out and made all that hard work worth it! DIg what we’re doing? Make sure you re-up or join NMMBA and help support more work just like this all season long.

April Board Meeting Minutes

NMMBA Board of Directors Meeting

Date and location: Wednesday, April 10th, 2019. Keen Loft

Board present: Chad Jordan, Kim White, Tim Reicha III, Mike Walters and Steve Mentzer

Board absent: Tom White, John Roe, Tim Jenema, Michele Andrews, Dustin Webb, Cody Sprattmoran and Don Clewley.

Guests: Nate Farran

Chad opened the meeting at 6:30 p.m. There was no quorum present.

March meeting minutes were formally approved.


Financials:

Kim led the discussion on the financials.

Kim had presented the balance sheet for NMMBA. She had designated separate accounts for the different trails. Among those accounts was one labeled General funds.

She indicated that the fund balance stood at $9160.96

Contributing to this total was the revenue generated by the Beard of Zeus fatbike race. Also all costs associated with that race were volunteer generated so no billing went out.

Kim also touched on the Morley fund. Betsy Morley had indicated that some of the monies were to be used for the future pavilion to be located at the Supply road trailhead.

Kim is advocating that the fund be put into a  separate interest bearing account.

As to the pavilion, Cherry Capitol Cycling Club(CCCC) is still interested in contributing to the pavilion. So any discussions going forward should include Bill Danly, president of CCCC.

Other notable numbers from the financials include account balances.

BCE checking acct balance stood at $31,614.94

Bike Leelanau/NMMBA balance stood at $47,038.65

Merchandise Branding:

Nate unveiled the color representing Traverse City Trails Fest(TCTF).

Orange!

Aligns with the DNR and also presents a high visibility to it that will promote safety.

Nate also showed some more apparel samples which will be marketed to the local bike shops(LBS).

NMMBA logo will always be evident on all merch. T’s, cups, caps, etc.

He will present a sell sheet to the LBS.

Looking down the road the LBS will have the technology and capability to sign up memberships in store. Either through an ipad or scanning a QR code on a hangtag.

Nate also proposed logowear for the board members in the form of a vest or jacket. It would be a way to identify board members at functions and events. If we went with this idea the logo would identify and label each “board member” instead of title.

Another idea was using a lanyard with a card inserted to identify each board member. Could be incorporated into branding. More to come.

Nate also proposed the idea of a guided mountain bike service. The idea being that you purchase a membership to NMMBA and are awarded a free guided tour on the VST. These tours would be led by our current members or board members. It would be another way to engage our membership base.

Discussion about eliminating the intimidation factor people have when heading out to ride. These tours would have both a leader and sweeper. No one gets dropped. A bit of history and trail etiquette would also be a part of the tours for newer riders.

This program would benefit both NMMBA and the bike shops.

It was suggested that we start with one shop and grow it from there.

City Bike shop in Traverse City and McLain’s in Cadillac would be the pilot programs.

Nate to meet with the merchandise committee.

Check in with Mark Mueller as to the progress on the marketing doc to be presented to Nate.

MSB update:

Mike led this discussion as to the upcoming MSB race. And what is needed. With trails having been added and re-routed, new signage is needed. Also new maps for the trailhead kiosk are needed. New riders heading out  from Supply will not have current information. Could lead to some lost riders. Safety is paramount!

In other MSB news, race permit is still not in hand. GPX file with new routes should be completed by Monday the 15th.

Strombolis Lake section is complete and just a bit more work is needed on the ditch pickle section.

McLain race team is set to mark the course.

Round Table:

Steve brought the board up to date with the Insurance situation. Received a quote from Fischer agency in Bellaire. Policy premiums are very close in cost. Most likely from quotes coming from the same carrier. Michigan Miller.

Few more numbers have to come in then board will make their decision as to remaining with Larkin or switching companies.

Meeting adjourned at 8:30 p.m.

Submitted by

Steve Mentzer, secretary

Committee reports:

Cadillac Pathway:

finalizing the pavilion over the next couple of months.

Working on Bear Claw Epic-Saturday September 28, 2019.

TCTF:

()  MSB race route review is complete with the DNR.   Awaiting approval. 3

new sections of single track this year.  Look for new/better trail in the

F-Bomb area (just off Special K), Tom's Cruise Down will hopefully be in

this year.  The next phase of Strombolis Lake is complete and rides like it

has been there for a year.  The course will clock in at 23 miles this year

and will be fun and playful mix of single track and open stuff.  Team

McLain is marking the course this year.  Woohoo! Thank you!!!!!!

() Single Track Love Machine Cutting Head is still on track for mid July

delivery.

()  Meeting set up for May 11th to review final phase of Strombolis Lake

with DNR.  Goal is to have the Strombolis Lake trail 100% complete by TCTF.

Total Strombolis Lake trail is just over 4 miles of money shot single

track.  Work will commence IMMEDIATELY after MSB and DNR approval.

Tom

Glacial Hills

  • Spring work day: Saturday, April 20, 10am-1pm meet at Vandermark (see you at Short's after) (*I'm riding my bike out, leaving at 7:30am from top of Holiday Rd if anyone wants to join, hit me up)

  • there are still many trees down on the trail from the winter, they are gradually being cleared by volunteers

  • working on finalizing maps and kiosk signage to place massive sign order to complete wayfinding redesign before summer

  • 1/2 mile connector will be built in the next month as a shortcut for long route between Eckhardt and Vandermark

  • laying groundwork for disc golf course to be constructed this year

    • obtained initial permission from Village and Bellaire public schools to plan/layout course for final approval

  • also in initial planning with GTRLC for MNRTF grant application for property acquisition and trail construction to connect the Village of Bellaire to the trail

Happy trails!