Traverse City Trails Festival Registration Is Open!


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.

It's A Big, Big Weekend : Iceman, Memberships, and Palmer Woods!


You’ve got plenty of things to look forward to kick off November in northern Michigan!

It’s a sort of Holy Week for mountain bikers all over the Midwest, but we all know, no one has it better than us! The Iceman Cometh Challenge is the biggest one-day mountain bike race in this hemisphere, but there’s a lot more to this final weekend of racing than just the iconic (and often grueling!) jaunt from Kalkaska to TC. We’ve got your itinerary planned!

Friday night’s SRAM Ice Cycle Expo kicks things off. Part packet pick-up, part flea market, part of the fun, the Expo serves as a chance for riders to see old friends, check out the latest gear and the best deals, plus make sure they’ve got everything they need for race day. For NMMBA, it’s a chance to see hundreds of members face-to-face, shake hands, answer questions, and connect with folks we often see blurring by while we work on the trails.

This year, it’s also YOUR chance to win one of seven custom stainless steel display stands from Just join NMMBA or renew your membership online or in-person on Friday, November 2, and you might pick up a little something special!

We’ll also have trail reps from every trail system, plus special shirts, hats, and stickers from your favorite places to ride. Show the world your hometown trail, or the one you always hit when you’re in the area! We’ll have as much stock as possible to make sure no one goes home without a chance to grab a shirt from Cadillac Pathway, Glacial Hills, or Bike Leelanau.

And it’s Bike Leelanau that is going to keep you going Sunday. After you’ve emptied the tank on Saturday, you’ll be able to meet up with pals and relive all the action at Palmer Woods! That’s right, the long-awaited, much-anticipated trail is finished, and we’re all heading out to Glen Arbor to celebrate. The plan is to sleep in, then meet up around 1 pm. You can track all the event plans here. Put in as many laps on the 3 mile finished section as you feel like, take in the gorgeous colors of Leelanau County in November, and reflect on just how many amazing opportunities we have to race, ride, and enjoy the great outdoors in northern Michigan.

NMMBA Steps Us As The Stewards of the Iceman Cometh Course


This is a really big deal. For 2018, Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association will be the go-to organization for all-things course design for the biggest race in North America, the Iceman Cometh Challenge. 

For nearly 30 years, the Iceman Cometh Challenge has been a legendary part of the mountain bike season not just in Michigan, but for riders across the country. At nearly 5,000 riders, it's the biggest one-day point-to-point mountain bike race in North America, and we don't always appreciate just how lucky we are to have an event like this in our own backyard. From World Champions to the best racers in the Midwest, and from first-timers to the local heroes, Iceman is more than a bike race; it's a pilgrimage from Kalkaska to Traverse City, a turn from fall to winter, and a bridge from one racing season into the next. 

We also don't always realize just what a monumental task it can be to maintain a safe, fun, and sustainable course, and as a part of our race course design expertise, we'll be working to bring you the best possible course for 2018. Steve Brown and his team of Ice-people have asked us to help get the course into shape, and we're honored to have the opportunity to help create a course that Northern Michigan can be proud of. 

A big part of Iceman and the full experience starts well before race day, and we realize that weekly Out'n'Backs are a fun and important part of training for November. You may have already noticed that huge swaths of the course are clear of face-slappers and downed trees; we've had crews in the woods addressing these issues and more for a few weeks now, and we'll continue to keep the course clear all September and October. We want to offer the course to riders locally and to those making the drive to Traverse City for a recon and help every accomplish the right of passage that is your very first Out'n'Back. 

Stay tuned all fall for more course updates, and make sure you join us and our pals from kolo t.c. on October 13 for the BIGGEST Out'n'N'Back of the year. One week before Peak2Peak and three before Iceman, it's the perfect time for riders of all abilities to give the full Out'n'Back a go, especially if it's your first time. By that time in the fall, you've had plenty of rides in to get fit, and the October 13th ride is a great chance to see where you're at. 

Not ready for a full 43 mile mountain bike ride? That's totally cool. Michigan Mountain Bike Association is hosting a clinic session and pre-ride of the Slush Cup the same day, also at Timber Ridge. You can gain some comfort, skills, and confidence from experienced riders, and meet some friendly folks stepping into Iceman action right alongside you.

Ready to ride? Here's the most up-to-date GPX file of the 2018 course. Note, there are plenty of changes to come, but this will hit 95% of the trails you'll see on race day! 

The Traverse City Trails Festival Will Be BACK for 2018!

Great news! After a quick and unanimous vote by the board, you can count on another fun weekend of singletrack from Ranch Rudolf in 2018. 

That’s right! We’re happy to confirm that we’ll be back for the second edition of the Traverse City Trails Festival on July 21 at Ranch Rudolf.

We want to thank everyone for supporting our first-ever race, and we’re extremely happy with the feedback. The venue, the schedule, the course, the markings, the aid stations, and the party after got great reviews. We will be taking another look at how results are handled, but we’re really appreciative that everyone put having a good time ahead of posting a good time on paper.

Based on your responses, we’re going to work on a more diverse and more simple post-race meal option as well, so hold tight on that. We have some great ideas that will turn you afternoon from a “party” to a two-syllable “par-tay”.

We’re going to encourage more people to camp Friday night and consider staying overnight Saturday with us as well. The sleepover options also include very nice rooms at the Ranch, which give you a cozy place to crash and the ability to flip a switch for air conditioning!

We’re going to experiment with the opening 10 miles of the course and attempt to offer more passing options and reduce any backups in tight singletrack in the opening hour of racing.

and we’ll make any arrangements necessary, whether it be local or communications@nmmba.netAnd we are certainly going to promise an improvement in the timeliness and accuracy of the race results. We have a list of people who have different results than what they may have been shown on race day, as well as a list of riders that may not have received their award due to either confusion or just having to take off. If you think you need an award, please email us at pick-up or mailing it.

An Uncommon Challenge: Mountain Biking At The Old State Hospital Grounds

The old Conquer the Village MTB race, which used the Commons' trails. 

The old Conquer the Village MTB race, which used the Commons' trails. 

It's quick, fun, challenging, and extremely convenient. There are many organizations involved in developing more sustainable and attractive trails to the Commons, and at some point, we'll see some elements come together.

Pat Sullivan's recent article in the Northern Express highlighted the efforts and energies going into the trails located behind Building 50 and the Commons area. Formerly the home of a mental institution, the revitalized campus has sprouted up as home to some wonderful shops and businesses and has given Traverse City a new place to shop and relax. Its trails have always been in use, shaped by hikers and cyclists for decades. With no plan or focused building, the trails wind around wildly, go straight up hills, and are largely unsustainable. 

With so many organizations involved, NMMBA has largely filled a consolatory role, ready to help with design and building once all trail users have had the opportunity to voice their opinions on the redone trails. Part of what makes the Commons so attractive is its accessibility; dog-walkers, mountain bikers, and hikers all can access the trails quickly from town. It's also an extremely condensed trail system; it's only a few square miles, and any influx of traffic can be felt quickly.

Bellaire's economic boost is certainly exciting, and agree that the combination of the Commons, the Vasa Singletrack, and miles of unmarked singletrack, not to mention the incredible trails of Glacial Hills and Arcadia, make Northern Michigan an attractive destination for cycling. Further development would only enhance the events, trails, and other activities that make Traverse City a draw for families and cyclists from all over the world. 

The future of the Commons is truly unknown, but with so many eager and interested people involved, the health of its technical and winding trails is in very good hands. It's a place near and dear to us all, and we value a smart, sustainable and inclusive design over everything else.