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!

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.

How You Can Save The Day, Every Day, In Just Five Seconds...

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This one goes for anyone on the trails. And that’s any trail. Please, pick up a stick.

While we host a number of trail days, most of the trail work that make the woods fun to bike, run, walk, and explore happens by our own trail volunteers. They spend hours each week heading deep into the forest to make structural changes or clear big, dangerous issues. Clearing downed trees, carefully pruning face slappers, fixing damage to trail, marking and recording future trail plans…they have a lot to do, and they squeeze all of it into daily life. They’re already sacrificing saddle time (which is dramatic enough), but they’re also missing time with family, friends, even work time to make sure we have a place to ride!

Can’t make that commitment? You don’t have to. You can join NMMBA, and you can trade those five hour work days for about five seconds per ride. How? Pick up a stick.

No, seriously. Picking up sticks, gel and snack wrappers, or any trail debris that you can address with your strong, bare hands is a huge help to our trail volunteers. Especially this spring, strong winds and a few weeks of ice and rain have brought down a lot of sticks, limbs and branches. If you can kick those clear, you’ll not only save our volunteers a ton of time, but you might also save one of your pals, too. Those sticks are rear derailleur killers, and if everyone can help out, we might be able to save a few of our friends a very long, sad, and expensive walk back to the parking lot.

Get out and ride! With the Cadillac Pathway almost completely clear and 90% of the unmarked trails in Traverse City ready to roll, this is a great week to sneak out and put in a few miles. Take a hot second each time to pick up a stick or two, pocket any stray wrappers, and let’s get things in pristine shape for the rest of spring and summer.

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!

They Survived! High Country Pathway Work Crew Enjoys Steamy Weekend

It was a real scorcher for the crew working on the High Country Pathway! 

We had ten brave, hearty souls deep in the woods this Memorial Day Week, all sacrificing leisure and the creature comforts of home for some tough trail work deep in the Pigeon River State Forest. With temperatures in the 90s, swarms of bugs and mosquitoes, and only a rustic cabin as their refuge, everyone made it through two nights and three days of trail work in good spirits. 

The High Country Pathway remains the only IMBA Epic in the state, and a true 'backwoods' experience for bikepackers and hikers seeking the most remote trail experience. NMMBA has assisted a number of other trail organizations over the year to keep certain sections, like this one near Vanderbilt, in great shape! 

A big thanks to all our volunteers, the DNR, and everyone involved to make sure the HCP stays awesome!