Race

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

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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.

Traverse City Trails Festival Registration Is Open!

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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.

Tom White's Mud, Sweat and Beers Preview!

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It’s becoming a tradition just as exciting as race day itself! Tom White talks you through the 2019 Mud, Sweat and Beers course!

Things have changed a TON since the first few editions of MSB. Those races rarely strayed far from the wide-open and fast Vasa Pathway, and while still absolutely thrilling, those events didn’t offer riders much more than a tease of singletrack. When NMMBA stepped up to help design a course, the goal was always to ask more of the rider. We wanted to balance a safe, fun, and accessible route with something that would challenge more than just the engine of the rider, but also demand some amount of technical skill and tactical nous as well. We think our 2019 is the best iteration of MSB yet!

Tom’s turn-by-turn narration is included below, and we also have a file that includes much of the course available here. We do want to stress that riding on private property anytime outside of race day is prohibited. You can access the course from a number of places, and if you hop on the 25 km from Bunker or Timber, you’re going to see markings in no time.

Tom White’s MSB Turn-by-Turn

- Same start and finish as last year.
- Ample passing for the first 5.5 miles.
- The first piece of single track after the private land is the "F-Bomb"
area.  We plan to revamp this crappy section so it flows.
- This will flow into the "Das Boot" section and into the always popular
Jam Sesh single track.
- A fun portion of the winter sports trail is next.
- The course opens up to the rolling part of the the 25K and then into two
rolling hills in Jack Pine Valley.
- A very short single track takes you out of Jack Pine and onto another two
track to intersect the new section of VST by Post #5 (Saplings).
- The "saplings" section transitions into a 1 mile section of new single
track in Strombolis Lake (we will build in April).
- Same gas line and single track as last year (The Other White Meat).
- A 3/4 mile section of Sand Lakes Road is next to allow for passing and
roadie power to shine.
- New section of VST (Ditch Pickle and Tingling Bits) is next.
- After Tingling Bits we transition to some bits and pieces of unmarked
single track and then onto a downhill piece of Perch Lake Road.
- Then it is back into unmarked around Perch Lake and onto the two track
that will take you to the base of the Wall.
- From there we hit a portion of the Vasa 25k and then turn left onto a
seldom used piece of Tom's Cruise.
- Next we hit the Vasa 10k, then two tracks to the private land for a open
and high speed finish.
- There will be a safer merge with Pale Ale riders.
- Approximately 23.5 miles long.

Want to help Tom, Mike, and the whole TC Trail Crew get the course ready for race day? Join us at Mt. Holiday on Sunday, April 28 at 12:30. You can stay up to date on the game plan right here.

2019 NMMBA Trail Series Schedule

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All three of our races are confirmed! We’ve got three dates for you to circle in deep blood red on your calendar this summer and fall.

The NMMBA Trail Series is all about celebrating and enjoying our trails. Northern Michigan offers some incredible riding opportunities, but it isn’t always easy to make the drive or plan the trip to a new place to ride. Summer and fall as insanely busy for cyclists, plus day-to-day life tends to make long drives to different trails tough without having it set in stone weeks or even months ahead of time. Races make it easy to ride a marked trail, often designed to let you enjoy the best sections designed by NMMBA or the local trail crews to make sure you leave smiling from ear to ear.

This summer, we’ll be offering the same trio of trails you enjoyed last year, though you can count on some big changes at each event to keep them fresh and to help you discover new trails, new sections, and more fun than ever.

Traverse City Trails Festival, July 20. We’re headed back to Ranch Rudolf for the third edition of the TCTF! Tom White’s pipe dream has turned into the premier singletrack event in the state, offering 25 or 40 miles of racing or more laid back touring! The race plays a vital role in adding more singletrack to Traverse City’s ever-expanding network of both marked and unmarked trail at the Vasa Singletrack, Vasa Pathway, and all over the Pere Marquette Forest. As always, the race will finish alongside the creek at Ranch Rudolf, with great food and beer to help you recover and enjoy the day!

Short’s Glacial Hills Challenge, August 18. The second leg of the triple header, Glacial Hills is in prime shape in August! Under sunny skies and with flying-fast conditions, Brent Walk and the Fun Promotions LLC. crew is back with another event that not only draws some of the best riders from around the state, the event also raises money for the trails. The local trail crew does an incredible job getting the trail in simply perfect condition, and riders of all ability enjoy their one or two laps on course. It’s also the event that brings us all to Short’s Brewing Company’s backyard, and while our friends at Short’s have a massive presence at every event, it’s a little extra special when you can hit the pub after your race!

Bear Claw Epic, September 28. The summer racing season caps off at the Bear Claw Epic, the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Cadillac Pathway. Few races have grown as consistently as the BCE, and with good reason. Offering tons of categories and a course that is equally challenging to elite racers and beginning riders, the event has morphed into the perfect way to cap off summer and bridge into the fall campaign in the long lead in to the Iceman Cometh Challenge.

Racing one, two, or all three of these events supports the local trails and NMMBA, and we challenge everyone to hit all three. Pre-register for every NMMBA Trail Series event and you’ll pick up an exclusive water bottle, which you’ll be able to proudly show off at Bear Claw Epic. Race, tour, explore, and support these trails by showing up and having fun. Questions? Let us know!

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.