A Mud, Sweat and Beers Thank You!

Photo Credit: Birgit Yetter

Photo Credit: Birgit Yetter

Folks, it was an unforgettable day at the 2018 edition of Mud, Sweat and Beers this past weekend. 

As many of you know, the directors of Mud, Sweat and Beers, NMMBA board members and volunteers, plus ample support from Norte put in a massive amount of man power to make sure this great event went off safely on Saturday. For two weeks, we pulled out all the stops (and all our axes) to shovel snow, cut trail, and literally chop ice in order to clear sections of the Vasa Pathway and several miles of singletrack to make a course that was not just rideable, but really enjoyable, too. 

All the work was well worth it. This Saturday was a truly unforgettable coming-together of our cycling community, with hundreds of enthusiastic, healthy, and friendly folks joining forces to make the 9th edition of MSB one of the most spectacular yet. We want to give a special nod to board members Mike Walter and Chad Jordan for racing even after plenty of hard work shoveling. We also need to thank Tom White, Dan Ellis, and all the other folks who manned their shovels over the past ten days to help make this course possible. We're also very thankful to Norte and Jason Plum for doing a lot of work to mark the course and make sure no one ended up in Kalkaska on race day! 

This summer, join us in supporting more great events, great memories, and great rides. Your membership helps us keep the trails not just open, but a thriving place to connect, relax, and enjoy nature. If you enjoyed this past weekend, we have great news; we're only getting started! 



We had a blast helping design, clear, mark, and sweep the course this past Saturday! Our own Kim White documented the process from conception to completion, and we'll take you along for the ride. 

See it. Before we get out in the woods, we made a provisional route that balanced fresh sections of singletrack and open trail to allow for plenty of passing opportunities. When you put 800+ people into the woods in 30 minutes, it's important for the health of the race to avoid backups as much as possible. We also examine how much traffic might affect certain sections and remove them if they may become too sandy, loose, or rutted with pre-riding or increased traffic after the race is over. 

Next, we get out there! Our board and PLENTY of volunteers got out to pre-ride the route and begin the process of marking the route. As you know, it really helps to have riders and racers marking a course. They know exactly how hard racers are going and what they're looking for headed toward every intersection. We're proud to say that everyone was on course! 

We even got in on the action! Steve Mentzer and Mike Walters were out racing with 800+ of their pals and teammates, including Chris Gallagher and Dave Bucholtz!

Then, we sweep! Liz Belt and Chris Wood provided some mechanical support on the Stout course, while Tom White headed back out for another lap after finalizing markings. 

NMMBA Race Design: Mud, Sweat, and Beers

Who better to design courses than the people that work to design and maintain the trails themselves? NMMBA is lending a helping hand to bring hundreds of racers onto the North American Vasa on May 6's Mud, Sweat, and Beers. 

There's a lot that goes into a course design, and it's certainly much more that tossing up some arrows, some ribbon, and shouting "Go!" NMMBA has worked hard to design a challenging, fun, and exciting course that is accessible to the 800 racers taking on a 10 or 20 mile course. MSB is a very important fundraiser for Mt. Holiday, a non-profit that provides year-round entertainment, skiing, and outdoor recreation for Traverse City's East Side. Having a well-rounded course is extremely important to the health and success of the event, and many hours have been put into designing just the right loop. 

First, we need to account for the number of racers. A persistent problem with events with hundreds of racers is congestion, with a wide range of abilities and fitness levels funneled into tight singletrack. The start of the race, which includes the famous mile of pavement linking the race to the woods, is very useful in breaking up the big start waves, but there's an inevitable logjam with so many folks in the woods. The 2017 route limits these choke points to later on the course, and keeps those sections short to reduce the amount of backup that could happen. 

Safety is also a huge concern, and this also contributes to how and when the race hits singletrack. Narrow, tight courses make any emergency response slower, more difficult, and less safe for any stricken racer. It's another big contributor to what singletrack sections are added or taken out of a route. For 2017, we've based the sections used on accessibility as a big factor. 

Of course, another big consideration is the health of the trails. We work with local races and rides to alternate and redirect traffic away from 'tired' or heavily used sections of trail. We've made changes to MSB and other events to allow for trail work to renovate and alter some existing trails to be more sustainable and more fun. This helps improve the longevity of the many great options we have in the woods, and the cooperation of big races like MSB is invaluable to the health of some of the very popular trails that feature in the area. 

The 2017 Mud, Sweat, and Beers course is the product of many factors, and the reduced singletrack in this edition will open up a fast and aggressive race for all categories. We're excited to work with the MSB crew going forward to keep the route fresh, with different sections added and taken out every season.