Race

NMMBA Trails Series Next Up: Short's Glacial Hills Challenge

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Our little trail series is pretty big fun! After the Traverse City Trails Festival, we go to the heart of Short’s Brewing country for race number two, the Short’s Glacial Hills Challenge on August 18.

We look at the NMMBA Trails Series as the best way to commit yourself to experiencing the diverse trails of Northern Michigan at full speed. Each of the three events on the calendar are designed to be inclusive and accessible to newer riders, but brutally challenging to even the most experienced racers. That wide ranging appeal goes hand-in-hand with how the trails themselves offer a little something different to every sort of rider.

Much like the TCTF, the Short’s Glacial Challenge offers three different distances to suit any fitness level. From the Elite and Expert 28 miler, a 20 mile miler, and a very fun half-lap at 11 miles, use your summer riding miles to take on a longer challenge or see what kind of a time you can thrown down over the two shorter options. There are also three different starts times, which means you’ll always be on course with people going about your speed.

Sunday, August 18 is going to be a really good time, and the perfect chance to make the trip north to Bellaire. It’s sort of a given that you’ll stop at Short’s after the race, but make sure you save enough in the legs to talk a walk through downtown and see what’s new!

The fun keeps rolling another neat month later with the race that really sparked the series, the Bear Claw Epic. The race is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Cadillac Pathway and played a big role in helping to get eleven miles of new singletrack approved and ready to be built!

Looking to get in a pre-ride at Glacial Hills? Patrick from Paddles and Pedals has you covered. You can check out and download the Elite/Expert, Sport, and Beginner files and get your pals out for a recon this weekend!

Ready to sign up? You can pre-register right here!

A Traverse City Trails Festival Thank You!

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After so much work, so many smiles, and so many new friends, the only thing we can really say is thank you. 

The third annual Traverse City Trails Festival presented by Short’s Brewing offered us another chance to come together to celebrate a world-class outdoor experience right here in our backyard. For the second year, rain threatened in the forecast much of the week and overhead on race morning, but we were lucky to stay dry and enjoy perfect temperatures. Just like we ordered up, we promise! 

With over three hundred riders and racers signed up online and another few dozen signing up in person on Friday and Saturday at Ranch Rudolf, we were thrilled with the support our community has given to this event. It’s different, and especially at race pace, it isn’t easy; to see this many locals show up and pedal is really something special. With the new 15 mile route, we were really happy to see so many people make this their first race, and to those who made their race debut, congratulations! 

Of course, we had plenty of veterans on the line, and the sheer speed of the fields from the 40 and 25 mile events were extremely impressive. After our two recon rides in the past two months, we were expecting to see winning 40 mile times around two hours and forty minutes, with 25 mile times hovering around one hour and fifty minutes or so. Both of those benchmarks were blown away this year, a real testament to the skill and fitness our cycling community has to offer. 

Jorden Wakeley was the only rider to break the 2:30 mark, coming home in 2:29:06 to take home the TCTF title. On the women’s side, Kaitlyn Patterson won an absolute thriller! She was just two second clear of local hero Megan Doerr, who was just two seconds clear of third place Laura Webb! After a brutal 40 miles, to see the podium separated by just four seconds is incredible! 

Things were equally close in the 25 mile races. Kyle MacDermaid took the Men’s Expert category with a perfectly timed sprint to inch out John O’Hearn for the win, ending up seconds clear of the M22 rider with a time of 1:40:16. The O’Hearn household will have plenty to talk about until next year, because Erica was in the same boat. She was just narrowly out-sprinted by City Bike Shop’s Shannon Kochis, who put down a time of 1:53:52. 

We had hundreds of riders race and tour without any concern to their results, as well. We have to thank everyone for their positive, inclusive camaraderie, especially when the courses overlapped. We did hear about some back-ups in the singletrack, but so many also involved a lot of friendly interactions and safe passing. 

At the line, our Team Bob’s Chillers were a big hit. We’ll have our post-race smoothies back for 2020, as well as GT Cycles’ granola and bananas! We sold over 100 paella lunches thanks to the Keen Technical Solutions guys, all washed down with Short’s Brewing Company’s finest offerings. 

This certainly isn’t the end of the fun, either. You’re less than a month away from our second annual VST TT! On Thursday, August 15, join us at the Vasa Singletrack for the second edition of our time trial with the Speed of Light crew; it’s the only time of the year that SOL leaves the Pathway, and it is the perfect time to really see just how fast you can complete the full loop! 

That’s a well-timed tuned up ahead of August 18 and the Short’s Glacial Hills Challenge. This Championship Points Series stop is also the second of three races that highlight NMMBA trails system in the NMMBA Trail Series. You can check all the boxes by hitting Glacial Hills and keeping the momentum going for the Bear Claw Epic, Cadillac Pathway’s biggest fundraiser of the year! 

On behalf of everyone here at Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association, thank you for support the Traverse City Trails Festival and helping us bring our region some of the best trails in the Midwest. We’ll see you back at Ranch Rudolf in 2020!


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.