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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.

January Board Meeting Minutes - The Annual Meeting!

NMMBA Board of Director’s Annual Meeting

Date and location: Sunday, January 6th, Timber Ridge Resort

Board present: Chad Jordan, Tim Reicha III, Kim White, John Roe, Mike Walters, Tim Jenema, Cotipaxi Sprattmoran, Michele Andrews and Steve Mentzer.

Board absent: Dustin Webb & Don Clewley

Guests: members

After a ride and dinner, Chad formerly called the meeting to order at 5:40 p.m.

Financials:

Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association

2018 Financial Report

Current cash situation reflects 2 solid years of excellent fundraising through our races and events;

Plans for accumulated cash include upcoming grooming equipment replacement as well as pavilions at Cadillac Pathway trail head (under way) and the Vasa Single Track trail

head (each at a cost expected to near $50,000);

New for 2018 we are the fiduciary of the Dan Morley Memorial Fund; current value

$7,908.84;

2018 equipment purchases include:

o new snowmobile for grooming at Leelanau State Park;

o new open trailer for hauling equipment for trail work bees;

o new logo canopy and feather flags;

o a down-payment on a new snowmobile for WSST (coordinating trade in of our oldest snowmobile).

We have donated over $12,000 out to community partners and programs;

Our merchandise is actually profitable thanks in a large way to Nate Farran for designing

the new logo and applying it to merchandise you all apparently want; our president

Chad Jordan for shipping out all the online orders; and Cody Sovis for marketing it online

(and enlisting his brother Wes for modeling);

Our memberships, now processed in-house, has improved by almost 400% (caveat, the

number includes almost half of 2017’s membership funds which were delayed in being

collecting from another source);

Received wonderful, large donations from several family foundations which were

specific to the new Bike Leelanau program and funded the purchase of a snowmobile for

winter grooming efforts at LSP;

Lastly, little of our efforts in fundraising would be as successful if we hadn’t been able to

obtain our charitable status; this was greatly assisted by our new by-laws and articles of

incorporation done by Dan Morley.

Chad then announced that a vote was needed to officially name Tim Jenema to the NMMBA board.

He made a motion to name Tim Jenema to the board. It was met with a unanimous vote.

Chad then gave his president’s message.

Some of the highlights:

Chad spoke about the many jobs he has had. Jobs that came with a paycheck. This was what brought he and his co-workers back every Monday. A great work environment but without the passion.

But with NMMBA it’s different. There are no paychecks but plenty of passion.

Motivation is to ride great trails, build more trails and take care of these trails so they can be ridden and loved for years to come.

The board consists of 11 members who embrace this passion.

Yes, our meetings can run long but what emerges is the imagination of what is possible for those of us that ride in northern Michigan.

He then introduced the members of the NMMBA board:

Tim Reicha III

John Roe

Kim White

Tom White

Mike Walters

Michele Andrews

Cotipaxi Sprattmoran

Steve Mentzer

Tim Jenema

Don Clewley

He then spoke of who is NMMBA and what do they do?

In the past this has been a difficult question to answer.

We are good at both building and maintaining trail but not so good at self promotion and marketing.

This was corrected with the hiring of Cody Sovis. Cody let’s our community know all our doings through social media and blog posts.

Thank you Cody!

With our ever expanding trail networks we created chapters. These chapters needed their own identity. So we turned to Nate Farran to create a brand for our 6 chapters.

Thank you Nate!

These 6 chapters are:

TC Winter Sports Trail

Traverse City Trails Network

Cadillac Pathway

Glacial Hills Pathway

Bike Leelanau

High Country Pathway

Chad then expounded on each chapter as to 2018 happenings and beyond.

TC Winter Sports Trail:

10 dedicated groomers are ready to take care of up to 22+ miles of trails for the 2018-19 season. This has allowed NMMBA to define what a four-season trail can be.

Through our record badge sales this year we have solidified a method to get out grooming reports to badge holders minutes after grooming has been completed. It also has provided funding to obtain the best equipment to keep our trails in their best condition.

Traverse City Trail Network:

Last year brought some revisions to the iconic VST(Vasa Single Track). Some of these changes were apparent at Mud, Sweat and Beers in May. It’s not always easy to make changes to a trail where most got their start in mountain biking. And we listen to each comment, good or bad and take them all seriously.

The soft opening took place at the ribbon cutting in August. It was the first ever Speed of Light and Time Trial and a summer fiesta cookout.

Lots of chicken were consumed, washed down by various libations and lots of stories about summer adventures were told.

Next up was the TCTF. Despite a dismal forecast, bikers of all abilities were able to race a fully supported and marked “unmarked” trail system. This is NMMBA’s biggest fundraiser and it cannot happen without the efforts of our sponsors and dedicated volunteers.

The crew stepped up again when asked to layout the Iceman route. It took a lot of work compacting, grading and re-routing but the result was a fantastic route for what proved to be the Super Bowl of mountain biking. Right here in our own backyard.

Cadillac Pathway:

Often one is asked can one person make a difference? The answer is yes!

In regards to the CP, Michele Andrews has set the bar high with her vision for that trail system.

Like the TCTN, CP lies all within state land. They are paving the way with improvements to the amenities as well as a new soon to be completed pavilion.

The structure is the result of a multi-year process. Considerable paperwork, design approval, insurance, acceptance of concept, contractors, organizing volunteers and working with the DNR have earned Michele high marks in patience and perseverance. Combined with this is trying to raise $50,000 to get it done! Bravo!

The Bear Claw Epic race every 4th Saturday in September contributed nicely to the fundraising in that last years race saw a jump in riders by 115! Now boasting 415 participants.

Also approved by the DNR was an additional 11 miles of single track. The result of a two year process.

Glacial Hills Pathway:

GHP has seen many improvements over the summer.

Parking lots at both Vandermark and Orchard Hills.

Changing rooms, vault toilets and maintenance storage to name a few.

Over 2000 man hours provided by a dedicated crew of volunteers kept the trails enjoyable for all riders and especially the Tuesday and Wednesday rides.

New maps and wayfinding signage to be installed in the spring of 2019.

Added 5 miles to the already 7+ miles for winter groomed snow biking.

Bike Leelanau:

Cotopaxi came on board a year ago and wanted change in her home of Leelanau county. And she stepped up and lead the way.

She partnered with the Leelanau conservancy(LC) to bring the first flow trail to northern Michigan at Palmer Woods. Together they have identified 20+ potential miles of trails to be developed over the next few years.

Working with the DNR BL has provided oversight with their Leelanau State Park(LCP) floating trails.

Provided funding and acquisition of a new grooming sled.

Organized the grooming crew and kicked it all off with a Trail Day party!

Their future vision includes getting more people on bikes.

This will be done through Spring Earth day for kids, establishing a bike library and hosting a series of women’s and coed skills clinics.

High Country Pathway:

Although a bit out of the way the HCP is a real gem. And a yearly clean up organized by past NMMBA president Glen Ruczynski has been happening for over a decade. Over 80 miles of trails await you.

Be sure to put this on your bucket list.

2019 and beyond:

What does 2019 and beyond hold for NMMBA?

A continued partnership with

Michigan DNR

TART

Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy

Leelanau Conservancy and

Local municipalities

Projects slated for 2019 and beyond:

WVASA

VST pavilion

CP trailhead improvements

NMMBA emergency response system

Continued phases at Palmer Woods

Master plan contributions at LSP

GH improvements and wayfinding signage

The meeting ended with the awarding of the inaugural Dan Morley volunteer of the year award.

This award had been discussed for months but came to fruition at the December board meeting.

With the help of up.bike an award was fashioned that captured the spirit of the award perfectly. A drivetrain symbolizing the way that volunteers drive NMMBA.

The recipient was was also discussed and the name that kept coming back was Dan himself. His efforts with NMMBA and other organizations around the state will last for years.

Steve presented the award to Betsy, his wife. It was a very emotional moment.  Betsy accepted to a standing ovation. And she gave a brief speech that accurately captured Dan’s passion with mountain biking.

On this note the meeting was adjourned at 6:30 p.m.

Submitted by

Steve Mentzer, secretary


NMMBA Annual Meeting: January 6, 2019

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Meetings are never this fun! Join us at Timber Ridge on Sunday, January 6 to ride, eat, and learn more about our big plans for 2019 and beyond!

We work hard to keep our members informed and engaged with everything we’ve got going on, and that’s a lot! We’re working on trail days and a full season of winter grooming at the Winter Sports Trail, Cadillac Pathway, Glacial Hills, and Leelanau State Park. But beyond the next several months of fat bike fun, we’ve got trail proposals and trail building opportunities all over our region. We want to get our members together to let them know what’s on the docket, put more names to faces, and get in some saddle time.

We’re back at Timber Ride for a full afternoon of fun to kick off January. Just as the new year starts to get revved up, we’re calling on members to join us for a ride, a meal, and an opportunity to voice your own priorities, questions, and concerns. We’ll get things rolling, literally, with a group ride at 3pm, with at least two groups heading out to enjoy the Winter Sports Trail, including a few new miles that have been added for this season! We’ll all be back by 5pm to dig into a potluck, so consider bringing a little something to share.

After eating and spending some time to talk to all of our trail reps, we’ll have a short formal presentation from the board and highlight some of our goals for 2019, 2020, and beyond. You’ll get updates from each trail, a schedule of NMMBA events, including the Traverse City Trail Festival and Bear Claw Epic, updates on the Glacial Hills signage project, and a lot of big things happening in Leelanau County, including more on Palmer Woods.

We are really excited about what we have lined up to offer quality, natural, fun, and sustainable places to ride and reconnect with nature. The trails are such a vital part of the northern Michigan way of life, and we take that connection very seriously. Providing individuals and families a safe place to unplug and a great place to learn and develop a passion for mountain biking is at the heart of our mission. In 2019, we’re stepping up our game even more!

Make sure you check out the Facebook event to stay up-to-date on ride and meeting details here.

Urban Friday Night Lights: Thank You!


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The second edition of the Urban Friday Night Lights was even better than last year! We had nearly 60 riders join us for a nocturnal romp behind the historic Old State Hospital Grounds to kick off winter in style, and raise some funds, too!

With rifle season in full swing, this is the second time we’ve opted to kick off fat bike season in town, and the first time we lucked out with perfect weather for it. Day-long temperatures in the mid-to-low 40s made the riding rather comfortable, but didn’t do much to melt the linger snowfall in the woods just a few blocks away from our start and finish spot, Brew.

We had nearly 60 riders light up Seventh Street on the way over to ride, with all sorts of groups sorting themselves out and putting in some very vertical loops. We were lucky to have Brew owner Sean Kickbush show us some of his favorite singletrack circuits, and Norte’s Varsity super-star, Kyan Olshove, absolutely shred the downhill descents.

Once back at Brew, we had dozens more friends and NMMBA members join us for some Short’s and Starcut Ciders refreshments. The Mosa cider was the hot (or cold?) ticket for the night, pairing surprisingly well with Brew’s famous homemade Cheeseburger-and-Beer Soup. We also got a chance to show-off our full line-up of NMMBA hoodies, t-shirts, hats, and memberships.

Altogether, we raised nearly $2,000 on the night, a huge help as we gear up for some ambitious projects, including supporting the proposed 11 miles of new singletrack in Cadillac, trail proposals at Lake Dubbonet, new permanent signage at Glacial Hills, plus winter grooming at all our trail networks!

Thanks to Brew and Short’s for hosting this event, and thanks to everyone who showed up and took the opportunity to reconnect with all their biking buds for the first time since Iceman at the start of the month.

Did you miss the chance to join up? You can always become a NMMBA member online right here!

Urban Friday Night Lights at Brew!

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It’s back! We’re heading back to Brew on Friday, November 23 for a fun, casual night ride at the Commons and chance to support Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association the easy way…with Short’s Brewing beer.

Last year, we had dozens of riders join us for jaunt into the darkness in spite of the rain for 60-75 minutes of fun, giggle-inducing riding behind the State Hospital. Because it can be tough to keep everyone together, make sure pick a riding buddy (dibs on Don Marsh) and meet-up at the Green Spire School before we roll back to Brew, where the ride starts and finishes.

Once back, you’ll have two Short’s Brewing options that will be good for 100% of proceeds going directly to NMMBA! This money will go to help NMMBA gear up for the ambitious grooming season head, as well as support trail projects, our NMMBA Trail Series, and a whole lot more.

2018 was our most ambitious year yet, and we’re ready to bring you even more in 2019. From new trails at the Cadillac Pathway, more miles at Palmer Woods, trail proposals in Traverse City, and the peerless perfection of Glacial Hills, Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association is working to bring you fun trails that you can ride year-round. We’re proud of what we’ve done, and more motivated than ever to do even more.

Bring the kids, too. Brew will have deals on food and drinks, and no one makes a hot chocolate like Sean Kickbush. No one.

No time to ride? Short’s Brewing proceeds from 5:30 until 9 pm go toward the fund, so stop by for dinner!

The snow is here, the fat bikes are out, and it’s time to fight the darkness with bright lights and great friends!

NMMBA Fundraiser 5:30- 9 pm at Brew. 108 E. Front Street

Optional bike ride from 5:30-6:45. All skills welcome. Bring lights.

We’ll regroup at Greenspire School at 6:20 to roll back to Brew together.

You DO need to wear a helmet and ride with a light. Dress for the conditions and remember, it’s not a race, it’s a rolling party! Let’s see those bikes lit up!

For updates on the ride, check the event page here.