NMMBA Iceman Course Work for 2019!

IMG_2051 (1).JPG

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. 

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!

Oleson Foundation Helps Two Trail Projects Move Forward

Oleson Foundation Helps Two Trail Projects Move Forward

Plans for projects on two trail developments will advance this summer thanks to grant funding from the Oleson Foundation. The Vasa Skills Building Trail, a collaborative project between TART Trails and Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association (NMMBA) to create a 2-mile youth mountain biking trail on the Vasa Pathway, has received $5,000 toward project costs.

What You Missed at TCTF: Northwest ORV Association


We really wanted to take a second to point out a little something you may have missed in your state of oxygen deprivation. As racers flew up the opening climb out of Ranch Rudolf, you may have noticed a little extra horsepower. 

On race day, we were joined by a few cheerful and encouraging members of the Northwest ORV Association. This group of guys and gals represent motorizes trail users across the region and work, like NMMBA, to protect trail access for their members. We have been working side-by-side with Northwest ORV Association for months to help determine safe places for both non-motorized and motorized trail users, establish communication between groups, and develop safe trail practices to minimize anything that could harm our trails or trail experience. 

We asked the ORV guys to stop by on race day and help to show our mountain bike community that we're all working on this thing together. Of course, they stole the show, with a great show of support for the racers at the height of the race's excitement and with its biggest group of the day. 

NMMBA is working with many organizations locally to better represent our members to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources both right here and in Lansing. While our mission supports non-motorized recreation, we also understand that working together and making sure that the stewardship of our natural spaces, and the enjoyment of these spaces, takes a full community to ensure. 

Thanks to the Northwest ORV Association for being at the Traverse City Trail Festival and for all your cooperation and enthusiasm!

Trail-centric Gifts For The Cyclist On Your List!


Yeah, we're less than a week away from Christmas. It's a good time to start, continue, or finish your holiday shopping with a thought to supporting local trails and healthy, active trail users. 

We're partial to gifts that make it easier to get outside, especially this year. It's crazy to think that just over two weeks ago, the Farmland 5k and Free For All saw most of us racing in long sleeves and bare legs, with temperatures into the 50s! Flashforward, and we're nearly two feet deep in snow on the Winter Sports Singletrack, Glacial Hills Trails, and Cadillac Pathway. Shoot, there's even enough snow for incredible conditions at the Leelanau State Park! 

A long winter means plenty of time to enjoy the trails, but with it means more expenses in fuel and maintenance. It's more important than ever that folks pick up grooming badges, and there's no better chance than to get them for Christmas! Grooming badges make it possible for groomers to do their thing; all you need to do is wear your badge, ride, and have fun! 

You can purchase your grooming badge at Brick Wheels, McLain Cycle and Fitness, City Bike Shop, and Einstein Cycles. You can also order a WST badge, or a Combined Bade that includes the Vasa 25km, right here. Closer to Cadillac? Put down your G&D Pizza and order your badge here. Support all things Glacial, including winter grooming efforts, here

Of course, your support doesn't end when the snow melts. If the cyclist on your list already has a grooming badge, consider picking up their annual NMMBA membership. They'll get up-to-the-minute news for all things trails in Northern Michigan, special pricing on 2018 events, and offers from our corporate sponsors. 100% of memberships stay right here in Michigan; the vast majority of those funds will never leave Northern Michigan! You can purchase an annual membership here

Need something a bit warmer? Consider picking up some cool gear from our partners at Short's Brewing Co., and make sure you tell them you love ridin' bikes! Got a youth to buy for still? We're big fans of the good work being done by Norte Youth Cycling. Maybe that kid needs a fuzzy orange hat this winter?

Watch the weather this week, and enjoy a wonderful holiday with your friends and family. We'll see you out on the trails of Northern Michigan!