Fat Bike

Thank You For Supporting Beard of Zeus!

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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.

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!

43rd Annual North American Vasa: Thank You, Volunteers!

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Much has already been said about the glorious weekend that was. Over two days, multiple races, and countless kilometers of skiing and biking, the 43rd Annual North American Vasa is in the books.

The Vasa is a tremendous undertaking, and while it always seems to go off so seamlessly, it take a lot of work to make all the pieces fit together. There are myriad races and disciplines within each race, putting a lot of pressure on timers, aid stations, course marshals, and our ski patrol volunteers to ensure that everyone is taken care of. There’s a remarkable tight time table to make sure those volunteers aren’t exposed to the elements for too long, and there are dozens of categories’ worth of awards, sponsors to thank, and plenty of Short’s beer to drink back in the Celebration Zone.

We just wanted to thank the race organizers, our own John Roe very much among them, for all of their hard work in fitting all of these pieces together and giving our community another Vasa to cherish. Events like this serve as a way to reconnect and reconvene our winter sports community and includes skiers and fat bikers like nothing else on the calendar. And it’s important to point out that fat bikers are skiers, and vice versa; two of the podium finishers from last year’s fat bike race were on ski podiums this year, including Jorden Wakeley! Some athletes even opted to both ski and fat bike, like Keith Conway and Joe Leppeck. One crazy person, Dan Novak skied, rode, and woke up Sunday to ski again for the ultimate Nordic experience.

Of course, no matter how much the Vasa organizers take on, there’s no way they could do it all without scores of volunteers. This year, Kelley Peterson did an exceptional job of corralling the efforts of volunteers like our own Tom White and Steve Mentzer, plus dozens of others who spent not just Saturday helping, but much of the day Thursday, Friday, and Sunday to pull everything together.

The event saw participation by our wider winter sports community, including riders who might usually call trails like Glacial Hills or Cadillac Pathway home. The Vasa also drew riders from as far away as Detroit, Grand Rapids, Holland, and Marquette, showing off our incredible trails, expert grooming, and charming hometown. We really see these winter events as a showcase of how vibrant, connected, active, and enthusiastic northern Michigan is year-round, not just during tourist season.

So from everyone at NMMBA, thank you, volunteers, to manning aid stations and registration, course marshals and podium ceremonies. You’re the ones who make all of our events possible, and the ones who make them so much fun, too!

Full results from the North American Vasa are available here.

Ride Plans For The Week: Winter Will Be Right Back

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As we pen this near the shores of East Bay in Traverse City, it’s a balmy 46 degrees and raining like it’s May. Don’t worry; winter is swinging back into town, and soon.

First off, we really want to thank everyone for their patience over the past 48 hours. After over a week of frigid temperatures and plentiful snow, Mother Nature did a full 180 degree turn and slammed some spring-like weather onto northern Michigan. All of our trails remain closed through Monday, but a quick glance at the forecast cast shows we have a great week of riding coming up.

Tuesday will see below-freezing highs, but hit the trails with just a bit of caution. Some sections of the trails are sure to be very slick and icy, and until we get a change to scrape things up a bit, studs won’t be necessary, but they’ll be handy. The snowfall on Wednesday and Thursday should be a big help in combining fresh powder into icy surfaces, and we should have incredible conditions for riding Thursday through the weekend!

And it’s a big weekend, too. This Saturday is the 43rd Annual North American Vasa, which happens to include the King Vasa Fat Bike Race as a part of its Festival of Races. The bike events start at 11:50 am, with 40 and 20 kilometer options available. Our crews have been working hard to keep the trails in stunning shape, and not even this freakish warm-up is going to affect a really stunning trail experience for racers. As the second stop in the Short’s Brewing Fat Bike Series, it’s another chance to pick up points and rack up race miles as the Series hits its halfway mark.

If you aren’t racing this weekend, consider volunteering on Saturday or Sunday and helping keep this event fun, safe, and well-supported!

From everyone at NMMBA, the Cadillac Pathway, Bike Leelanau, and Glacial Hills, thanks again for helping keep the trails in great shape as we gear up for plenty of winter riding in February!

Vasa Fat Bike Race Course Info

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We are just over a week away from the North American Vasa, the highlight of winter here in northern Michigan!

The 43rd Annual North American Vasa is a true festival of races, inviting winter enthusiasts to test themselves against the trail and the elements in freestyle and classic skiing, plus 40 or 20 kilometers of fast, fun fat bike racing later in the afternoon. It’s an event that as grown and re-shaped itself to serve the winter sports community over the years, and the current iteration of the Vasa offers a little something for everyone, while bring all sorts of athletes to celebrate winter in all its glory.

The fat bike races are known as some of the prestigious and beautiful event on the calendar. It’s a rare holdout in that it doesn’t rely on short, 1-2 mile laps like many fat bike races. While those are really fun for racers and spectators alike, most were born out of necessity; it takes a lot fewer resources to groom a mile or two compared to maintaining 10 miles or more! We’re committed to grooming not only our normal Winter Sports Singletrack, but have added sections of Riley’s Loop and Logger’s Run, plus helping clean up section within Timber Ridge, to offer racer a chance to explore the full cornucopia of trail flavors we are so lucky to have access to here in Traverse City.

The two races take on one and two laps of the 20 kilometer course. The lap includes an exciting mix of singletrack and wider two-track to allow for plenty of passing opportunities, which you’ll want to take full advantage of before spilling into Yeti’s Revenge, a seasonal ‘floating trail’ floating singletrack that has become a local favorite. It’s a course that is as fun as it is challenging, and whether you’re going for the crown or going for fun, it’s really a treat to ride.

Last year, a number of riders finished the 40km race inside two hours, while plenty of others were comfortably withing two and a half hours. It’s a race that is very much dependent on snow conditions, and with that in mind, our groomers have been in the woods almost non-stop since this recent blizzard fired up. We’re working hard to clear and compact trail, and the warm-up this weekend should be a big help in turning a great base into a firm and fast track for race day.

We also wanted to point out one of the unique and incredibly cool ways to take on the Vasa. The race offers two combination races, the SkiFatalon and the Triple Threat Challenge. The SkiFatalon combines your time from the 27km ski and the 40km fat bike race, a grueling way to get in both of your favorite winter sports in a single morning. If that isn’t enough, you can always do more, as in doing the full 50km ski, the 40km fat bike race immediately after, plus hopping in the 35km Classic race on Sunday!

If you’re ready to go give the 2019 course a look, you can use the gpx files right here. We’ve also got all the Vasa maps you need uploaded to the Vasa site right here.

See our incredible trails for yourself on February 9; sign up for the 43rd Annual North American Vasa and see the best singletrack around!