Spring

How You Can Save The Day, Every Day, In Just Five Seconds...

IMG_0139.jpg

This one goes for anyone on the trails. And that’s any trail. Please, pick up a stick.

While we host a number of trail days, most of the trail work that make the woods fun to bike, run, walk, and explore happens by our own trail volunteers. They spend hours each week heading deep into the forest to make structural changes or clear big, dangerous issues. Clearing downed trees, carefully pruning face slappers, fixing damage to trail, marking and recording future trail plans…they have a lot to do, and they squeeze all of it into daily life. They’re already sacrificing saddle time (which is dramatic enough), but they’re also missing time with family, friends, even work time to make sure we have a place to ride!

Can’t make that commitment? You don’t have to. You can join NMMBA, and you can trade those five hour work days for about five seconds per ride. How? Pick up a stick.

No, seriously. Picking up sticks, gel and snack wrappers, or any trail debris that you can address with your strong, bare hands is a huge help to our trail volunteers. Especially this spring, strong winds and a few weeks of ice and rain have brought down a lot of sticks, limbs and branches. If you can kick those clear, you’ll not only save our volunteers a ton of time, but you might also save one of your pals, too. Those sticks are rear derailleur killers, and if everyone can help out, we might be able to save a few of our friends a very long, sad, and expensive walk back to the parking lot.

Get out and ride! With the Cadillac Pathway almost completely clear and 90% of the unmarked trails in Traverse City ready to roll, this is a great week to sneak out and put in a few miles. Take a hot second each time to pick up a stick or two, pocket any stray wrappers, and let’s get things in pristine shape for the rest of spring and summer.

Updates From The Traverse City Trail Network

TCTN.jpg

This past weekend was a glorious preview of weather we hope to see consistently by the end of the month, and it gave us a nice head start on our spring trail work.

One of the first items on our to-do list is to get started on our spring trail design for Mud, Sweat and Beers. We’re back to help design the perfect course for May 4’s annual fundraiser to support Mt. Holiday, and we don’t have to tell you just how much this events means to Traverse City. MSB is more than just a fundraiser to support TC’s non-profit ski hill on the east side, but it also serves as family reunion, Opening Day, and the first big party of spring. For many, it’s the first race since Iceman Cometh the previous fall, and the first chance to catch up with all our riding buddies and racing rivals.

It’s also very popular as the first race ever for many new mountain bikers, and we work hard to ensure a course that’s accessible and safe for all, but challenging even for the fastest and most experienced racers. The balance of Vasa Pathway, unmarked singletrack, and connecting bits of trail is the perfect way to highlight the diverse riding experiences we offer, but also the ideal way to balance a course the works for everyone. We want the person completing their first Pale Ale and the Stout winner to both leave Mt. Holiday feeling tired, tested, and thoroughly happy with their day in the woods!

Our trail crew made the very most of the warm weather by getting to work on a new section of singletrack that will make its debut at Mud, Sweat and Beers. It was also a really good opportunity for us to take a look at just how much snow is still out in the woods. The open areas are remarkably clear, but anything heavily wooded or groomed is still covered with that hard packed-snow-turned-ice. A few more days of warm weather would have given us hope for spotty riding as soon as the 14th, but with cold temps this week mean it could be nearly the end of the month before we see 100% dirt.

Because of that variability, our TC Trail Network and indeed all of our trails have to be a bit flexible when it comes to schedule trail days. While Glacial Hills is good to go for their first Spring Clean-Up on April 20, Cadillac, TCTN, and Bike Leelanau will be a bit more short notice. If you’re interested in helping out, make sure you follow us on Facebook and join our newsletter to get the trail days in your inbox!

It's As Easy As Predicting The Weather...

SNOW BIKE HAHA.JPG

Just when we thought we’d seen the last of stellar winter conditions, things froze up, firmed up and shined up on trails!

Last week was the perfect example of how northern Michigan weather. From 55 degrees and rain midweek to some of the fastest, firmest conditions of the year just two days later, this time of year can be incredible variable and often extremely fun! Our groomers will be checking in with each, riders, and our friends at TART to make decisions about any further grooming efforts. It’s a bit of a process, and we need your help to make any more snow riding work.

First off, we’re heading into a freeze/thaw cycle. In many other places, this refers to frozen and wet mud; the guys down at WMMBA are already battling mornings with rock-hard mud and afternoons with peanut butter soup. For us, the cycle is more of an issue with snow. What is hard and fast in the morning gets soft by late afternoon on days when the sun is out and the temps rise quickly over freezing. If riders hit the trails while it’s soft, those tracks and ruts freeze up, meaning any other riders are riding in their frozen wake.

Now, there’s a point in the season where we just can’t fix these issues, and we also don’t really want to when we know the base is going to be gone soon, anyway. For the next week or two, we’ll be watching the 5 and 10 day forecasts to determine if we’ll invest any more grooming efforts for the season. If we see warm weather for a full five days, which is something we’ve got on our radar now, we don’t anticipate any more grooming for spring.

As these trails melt, we do ask that as dirt is exposed, riders make smart decisions on wet soil. We are likely three or four weeks away from see the forest floor again, so you won’t need to watch for a while. If you’re wondering just how much snow is still in the woods, take a step off the groomed trail. Yesterday, we sunk in to mid-thigh in many places, and it’s often even deeper on hillsides and drifted areas! Once that snow does melt, avoid riding around mud puddles, which causes wider trails and more erosion. We’ll work hard to keep you updated on trail conditions as the wet season approaches.

Conditions at Glacial Hills and Cadillac Pathway could be very different from those in Traverse City, and the Winter Sports Trail at Leelanau State Park is closed just in case we get another cold snap.

Until then, we’ll be busy. We’re already finalizing details for the 2019 Traverse City Trails Festival, putting together the Mud, Sweat and Beers course design, plus getting a head start on place for the 30th edition of the Iceman Cometh Challenge!