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

IMG_9684.JPG

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.

Thank You For Supporting Beard of Zeus!

STS.JPG

We just wanted to pass along a note of thanks to everyone who raced, volunteered, and supported Beard of Zeus on March 2. It was our first year taking over the fun, fast event right at Timber Ridge, and we were blown away with the level of participation and the enthusiasm from everyone involved!

As the Short’s Brewing Fat Bike Series’ big finale, Rick Wetherald, Susan Vigland, John Duby, and Cindy Duby all wrapped up their season-long titles with strong rides to cap off 2019. These riders and other supported the Series and the sport at all four stops over the course of three months, and on behalf of all the race directors, thanks for making these events a priority for your winter riding.

Beard of Zeus is something we’re proud to add to our catalog of events, and we appreciated your comments in shaping it into a race that supports our mission. Our goal is to offer the cycling community a fat bike race that is fun, challenging, inclusive, safe, and supported. Great racers and riders like yourselves often take care of the fun component just by showing up, and weather conditions often provide enough of a challenge to accentuate the terrain and competition.

Inclusiveness means offering accessible race distances, course, and atmosphere that make participation equally exciting to experience fat bikers and new riders alike. We have a strong contingent of die-hard riders who have raced for close to a decade now. At the same time, each event sees new riders of all ages give the sport a try. We need to ensure new riders feel welcome, safe, and supported. Maybe the highlight of Beard of Zeus this year was seeing such a big turnout of Norte and Singletrack Sisters, two youth cycling clubs, race not just the 45 minute event but even hop into the 90 minute races. Making sure they have positive experiences is a top concern for everyone, and we want to thank the many, many racers who encouraged their fellow racers, passed safely, and kept the environment positive.

We’re working hard to offer an even better experience in 2020. While we’ll look at all possibilities, offering two start times creates some additional challenges that may be too difficult to over come. It greatly increases the load on staff and volunteers, especially registration, timers, and course marshals. In frigid conditions, we don’t want to ask volunteers to stand out in the cold any longer than they already do. There are also other considerations, including how the traffic of one race might deteriorate the conditions of the trail for the second event.

Overall, we’re really happy with Beard of Zeus and more encouraged than ever to shape that race into the end-of-year party that the event has turned into. Events like these are a lot more than a race. They’re a chance to learn, connect, and grow the sport. We’re not turning riders into racers; we’re turning riders into advocates.

Thank YOU for your support of Beard of Zeus, NMMBA, and building incredible trails- and welcoming communities.

Volunteer of the Year Award and More From the NMMBA Annual Meeting

DSC00198.JPG

Last night, trail lovers from all over northern Michigan made it to Timber Ridge in Traverse City for our our Annual Meeting. A ride, a meal, and a great way to roll into 2019!

We had over sixty riders brave slightly icy conditions to kick off the meeting. As members from across the region trickled in , the sun broke through the clouds as the temperatures limped just over freezing. While the trail was a bit slick, the casual, fun pace of the day made it a great chance for riders from as far away as Alpena, Lansing, and even the UP to chat, catch-up, and work up a healthy appetite before heading back to Timber Ridge for the meeting.

Right on cue, the taco bar from Red Mesa welcomed all riders back and allowed our President, Chad Jordan, a little time to prepare to update everyone on just what NMMBA has been up to, and what’s up our sleeves for 2019. Chad offered up news from the Traverse City Trails Network, the new Acme Bike Park (planned at the Bartlett Road trailhead on the Vasa Pathway), and welcomed new board member Tim Jenema to the team. We also learned more about the Cadillac Pathway’s new Pavilion, 11 miles of approved new trail, and Polar Bear fat bike series this winter!

Up at Glacial Hills, we have plenty to look forward to, including more and improved amenities at nearly every trailhead, a totally revamped way finding system to make navigating the trails easier and quicker, and maintaining some of the best trails in the state. Bike Leelanau, too, had a lot to look forward to, including the second and third phase of Palmer Woods, the ever-expanding bike library in Suttons Bay, and the Winter Sports Trail at the Leelanau State Park.

Perhaps the most poignant moment of the night, however, came from Steve Mentzer. Last summer, NMMBA decided to work on a new award to honor volunteer work. A small committee worked for weeks to put a name to the award, and the person we kept coming back to was that of our friend Dan Morley. We lost Dan to cancer in July, as many of you will undoubtedly remember. Dan lent his professional expertise to help us shape our bylaws and navigate legal waters for years as a volunteer, but it was his personal love of mountain biking that we will treasure. Dan was up for any ride, and distance, and few people have pulled more new riders into our cycling community; he was famous for getting friends to sign up for races before they even owned a mountain bike! It’s fitting, too, that one of the last things he asked for was someone to ride the redesigned Vasa Singletrack and capture some video so that he could see the changes for himself. Of course, he loved them.

And so, it is incredibly fitting that we awarded the NMMBA Dan Morley Volunteer Award to Dan Morley himself as a testament not just to his tireless work to help NMMBA over the years, but for the passion, enthusiasm, and joy he brought to the trails every time he went out to ride. We’ll always remember his trademark, “At dawn, we ride” and strive to continue our mission in his memory.

From the whole NMMBA family, thanks to everyone who joined us last night and helped us to get where we are today. Together, we can continue and expand out efforts to care for our trails and encouraged healthier, active lifestyles for kids of all ages. Thank you!

Roll Into 2019 Right: Your January Ride Forecast

VST GRoom.JPG

While the weather doesn’t look nearly frightful enough for a true fat biker, we still have a full slate of rides coming up to get you moving into the New Year!

The trails are calling, and even if the snow has stuck around the way we would have liked, the riding is still really good if you can get to your local trailhead. Most of the trails in the region are offering a thin layer of crust that has yet to turn into ice, and even if you go later in the day, it’s still giving a bit of grip to make the riding enjoyable.

The snow is sure to come, and with our fingers crossed for it to happen sooner rather than later, we’ve put together just a few local rides to look forward to, no matter how much snow is on the ground.

If you are around Traverse City this weekend, you can join the up.bike Christmas Ride at 9 am at the Winter Sports Singletrack on Supply Road. They’ll have coffee and cookies, plus a number of groups rolling out throughout the morning to explore, enjoy, and savor the WSS before the big holiday.

We’re already looking forward to a new year, and what better way to ring in 2019 than by bike? For the second year in a row, the Cadillac Pathway is hosting the New Year’s Eve Gathering on December 31 from 6-9 pm. Check out the expanded parking lot, the new Pavilion, and celebrate the growing cycling community in Cadillac with a group picture at 6 and a ride to follow. If there’s snow, there will also be plenty of skiers and snowshoers, so tell your pals to meet up!

Believe it or not, there are still plenty of folks who have yet to throw a leg over a fat bike! If you’re looking for something to get excited about every winter, the best way to find a snowy hobby is to get out there and try them all! TART and NMMBA will both present at Winter Trails Day, a chance to try out fat biking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing absolutely free. We’ll have group rides going on throughout the day, plus you’ll be able to check out our winter grooming equipment, all on Saturday, January 5. There’s still a lot of winter left to enjoy, and having something you’re passionate about makes the cold and snow so much more fun!

On Sunday, January 6, Timber Ridge plays host to our NMMBA Annual Meeting! It’s a chance for trail-lovers from all over the region to come together to ride, eat, and learn more about our big plans for the year ahead. We’ll have a group ride rolling out at 3pm, with a potluck ready to rock once we’re back from playing in the woods. After the meal, we ask that you stick around to hear trail updates, event plans, advocacy initiatives, and NMMBA goals and projects that are continuing or kicking off in 2019. We’ll have updates on the Traverse City Trail Festival, Glacial Hills Permanent Signage update, Palmer Woods and other Bike Leelanau goings-on, plus news from Lansing as well!

Finally, January also sees the start of the 2019 Short’s Brewing Fat Bike Series. The longest-running fat bike series in the state, things kick-off at Crystal Mountain for yet another edition of Fat Chance! The race that started it all is back with more singletrack and a reprise of the original course from 2012. On January 20, you’ll want to hop in for 90 or 45 minute circuit-style races, great food, and a fun start to the Series with event sponsors Iron Fish Distillery. Registration is open, and make sure you check out the Vasa Fat Bike Race and Beard of Zeus, two more of the series races, both right in Traverse City at Timber Ridge!

There are so many great rides, races, and events to look forward to next month, and we’re really excited that we get to start of 2019 riding bikes with all of our pals. Make sure you join us for a few of these, and if you want to see more, make sure your membership is renewed for another big year with Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association!

Urban Friday Night Lights at Brew!

brew.png

It’s back! We’re heading back to Brew on Friday, November 23 for a fun, casual night ride at the Commons and chance to support Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association the easy way…with Short’s Brewing beer.

Last year, we had dozens of riders join us for jaunt into the darkness in spite of the rain for 60-75 minutes of fun, giggle-inducing riding behind the State Hospital. Because it can be tough to keep everyone together, make sure pick a riding buddy (dibs on Don Marsh) and meet-up at the Green Spire School before we roll back to Brew, where the ride starts and finishes.

Once back, you’ll have two Short’s Brewing options that will be good for 100% of proceeds going directly to NMMBA! This money will go to help NMMBA gear up for the ambitious grooming season head, as well as support trail projects, our NMMBA Trail Series, and a whole lot more.

2018 was our most ambitious year yet, and we’re ready to bring you even more in 2019. From new trails at the Cadillac Pathway, more miles at Palmer Woods, trail proposals in Traverse City, and the peerless perfection of Glacial Hills, Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association is working to bring you fun trails that you can ride year-round. We’re proud of what we’ve done, and more motivated than ever to do even more.

Bring the kids, too. Brew will have deals on food and drinks, and no one makes a hot chocolate like Sean Kickbush. No one.

No time to ride? Short’s Brewing proceeds from 5:30 until 9 pm go toward the fund, so stop by for dinner!

The snow is here, the fat bikes are out, and it’s time to fight the darkness with bright lights and great friends!

NMMBA Fundraiser 5:30- 9 pm at Brew. 108 E. Front Street

Optional bike ride from 5:30-6:45. All skills welcome. Bring lights.

We’ll regroup at Greenspire School at 6:20 to roll back to Brew together.

You DO need to wear a helmet and ride with a light. Dress for the conditions and remember, it’s not a race, it’s a rolling party! Let’s see those bikes lit up!

For updates on the ride, check the event page here.