SBFBS

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.

Beard of Zeus: Capping Off The Short's Brewing Fat Bike Series In Style

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Beard of Zeus was, in a word, stellar. If you made it out to join us at Timber Ridge, then you know what a race, what a party, what an event the finale of the Short’s Brewing Fat Bike Series was for 2019.

Last year, the race was cancelled due to ice. This year’s edition of the race couldn’t have seen a more idyllic winter day. With temps hovering in the mid-20s and the sun peeking intermittently between batches of puffy, lazy clouds, it was the perfect weather for shredding. With a two-mile course for the day, we put in a load of work to pack the dry, powdery snow. John Roe was out at 4am on race morning to give the entire course a final pat, with just an inch of fresh stuff settling over the topped of the packed base. With over 100 riders putting in 8-10 minute laps for the leaders and 15-20 minute laps for the more party-minded, the course help up just about as well as we could have possibly hoped with the dry snow.

There was plenty to race for Saturday, too, and the Men’s Open took center stage. With Sunset Scott and Rick Wetherald tied on points, whichever rider finished ahead of the other on the day would nab the Series. Previous BoZ winner Jorden Wakeley was ready to take the spoils of the day, while Series regulars like Eric Langley, Paul Olson, and Kyan Olshove were eager nip onto the podium, should the opening arise.

After riding together early, a crash saw Sunset distanced, and cost him a bottle cage ripped right out of his frame. He spent the rest of the day chasing against a 1’20” gap to Rick and Jorden. Ahead, Rick was all-in on the front to keep that big gap open, knowing that with lapped traffic and any mistakes, 60-odd seconds could disappear in the blink of an eye. Wakeley was happy to sit on and race for the last lap, while a bigger chase group that would eventually collect Langley and Olshove was headed up by the Master’s podium fight, including John Duby, Kris Sands, Rob Goepfrich, and Scott Diment.

On the women’s side, Susan Vigland easily stayed perfect with a fourth straight win, putting in a few minutes early and holding the gap for the full 90 minutes. Chelsey Schlict put in some rock-solid lap times for second, while women’s master’s leader, Cindy Duby, also stayed perfect, riding away meter by meter from Amelia Hasenohrl and Kamie Wade.

Sunset never quite got back into the hunt for the race win, and with a move with a half a lap to go, Wakeley survived the lapped traffic pitfalls to take his second win of the Series out of two starts. Wetherald came home second with Sunset third, enough for the pair to stay comfortably first and second in the final Series tally.

Paul Olson won the men’s master’s, but it was John Duby who claimed the Series after riding with metronome-like consistency since things started way back in January at Fat Chance. Cindy’s perfect season means the Duby mantle must be getting a bit crowded with medals and trophies early in 2019!

We had an absolute blast really taking on Beard of Zeus, and event we’re happy to add to our ever-expanding calendar of races and rides that covers every season. Of course, we couldn’t done it without the dozens of volunteers that manned the registration table, marshaled all afternoon, helped with parking, and contributed to make this one of the most enjoyable fat bike events of the winter! And you can feel good about being there; 100% of proceeds from BoZ go straight to NMMBA, helping us bring you the best grooming, new trails, and advocating for our sport around the region and across the state.

A big thanks to Short’s Brewing, Einstein Cycles, Bearclaw Bicycle Co., 45NRTH, Velocity, State Farm Insurance Agency, Paddles and Pedals of Bellaire, Timber Ridge, and all the folks who helped to bring this together. A very special thanks to the guys at up.bike, who turned their hand to designing some very unique medals at Fat Chance and Series trophies for us, both times on short notice!

Make sure you head over to check out the full race results and take just a second to congratulate a racer for their hardwork. We had a great experience with our old friend Jason Whittaker on hand running the timing, and it’s always a pleasure to have accurate results in hand the second the last rider rolls through.

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!

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!

Best of Luck, Fat Bike Racers!

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This weekend, the Short’s Brewing Fat Bike Series kicks off with one of the original fat bike events in the state, Fat Chance at Crystal Mountain.

So many of our pals spend their winters exploring the trails and putting down hot laps at Glacial Hills, the Cadillac Pathway, and the Winter Sports Singletrack that it’s only natural we all see each other at the races! Much of our growth over the years is thanks to the support of Short’s Brewing Company, and their passion for the trails and the outdoors is really embodied in their continued sponsorship of events like the Short’s Brewing Fat Bike Series, including the North American Vasa. Hopping into the action is just another great way to get involved!

This weekend, Iron Fish Distillery gets the SBFBS party started at Crystal Mountain with the 8th edition of Fat Chance. The circuit-style race starts at 10am, with 90 and 45 minute options and a number of age categories. Afterwards, there are plenty of prizes, schwag, and Crystal Mountain’s famous chili for participants, plus a chance to ride on the fast, flowy 2 mile course that’s been revamped to include some of the original sections of trail from the first edition of the race!

SBFBS boasts four events, and the second one always feels a bit like homecoming. The 49th Annual North American Vasa is becoming beacon of winter sports in northern Michigan. Skiers and fat bikers, once goaded into conflict, have embraced their mutual love of snow and competitive spirit, and this year’s fat bike race will run alongside the Saturday ski events yet again. NMMBA is heavily involved in the fat bike race, with board member John Roe taking the reins and always delivering what many would agree is the best fat bike race course possible; miles of singletrack, plenty of places to pace, enough elevation to keep you honest, and downhills that will have you giggling. It’s one of the few longer races left in the Midwest, with two 20km laps for the long races and a single 20km lap for the shorter option.

For the first time, the Dogman Challenge is in the SBFBS, but it’s an event that fat bikers have revered for years. It’s a full two-hour endurance race, with racers tackling a two mile loop as many times as they can in 120 minutes. The event, held at Mt. McSauba in Charlevoix, is one of the best run in the state, and nearly every rider who shows up goes home with a little something for their efforts. The noon start time makes it especially easy for folks from out of town to attend, and there’s always a thrill to toe the start line and head straight down the resort’s bunny hill to get the race going.

Finally, the Series ends on a high note with the famous Beard of Zeus, back home at Timber Ridge. It’s literally a party within a party; the race loop sticks to Timber property, with over 1,000 spectators built-in at the annual Suds’n’Snow Microbrew Festival happening at the same time! Racer fly past the beer tent every lap, resisting the temptation to stop and sip (well, trying to resist) as they put in as many laps as possible in 90 or 45 minutes. The March 2 date is often the last race of the year held on snow anywhere in our neck of the woods, while many use the race as a chance to fine tune their fitness ahead of Barry-Roubaix just a few weeks later.

For the first time, Beard of Zeus will be a full-on NMMBA event, with proceeds going to support our mission of building, maintaining, and protecting trails in northern Michigan. Your entry helps us do so much for communities in Traverse City, Bellaire, Cadillac, and across Leelanau County, and your presence means just as much. We love being able to bring riders together and help foster relationships that don’t end when the race (or ride) does.

Make sure all four of the Short’s Brewing Fat Bike Series events make it on your calendar, and we’ll see you in the woods to get ready!