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


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!


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.

2019 NMMBA Trail Series Schedule


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!

August Board Meeting Minutes

NMMBA Board of Directors Meeting

Date and Location: Wednesday August 8th, 2018 Keen loft

Board Present: Chad Jordan, Kim White, Tim Reicha, Mike Walters, Steve Mentzer & Don Clewley

Board Absent: Tom White, John Roe, Michele Andrews, Dustin Webb & Cotopaxi Sprattmoran.

Guests: Cody Sovis

Chad opened the meeting at 6:33 p.m.

July minutes were approved with a motion by Chad and 2nd by Mike. Unanimous vote.

Financials were presented to the board by Kim.

No formal report given and there were no questions.

Some highlights to point out include a net income through July standing at $14,000.00

NMMBA checking balance is $34,000, BCE balance is $16,800.00.

Kalkaska Update:

We have our route to Sands Lake flagged and 90 % maped, Jeff is working on the last few miles and then we (Jeff Snyder, Jon Throop, Myself) meet with the DNR, trying for the week of August 21st.

·     Jon Throop is just about done with the wayfinding design - waiting on the last gpx file from Jeff.

·     Going to Bid the Last week of August for signage.

·     Need to key the NMMBA board to the fact that our $28,500 signage grant is a reimbursement grant, meaning that we need to spend OUR money and the DNR reimburses that expense, the last date for reimbursement is Sept. 30st. So, we will likely need to tie up a $15-20k for up to 45-90days. 

·     I'll share Jon's design and bid documents once we meet with the DNR.

·     I'll need another person to help with the bid selection process...? 

·    Kim we will need to meet to go over the reimbursement documentation process.

Don submitted the above report but was present to add some other facts.

He recapped the routing updates and had a suggestion from Jeff Snyder to include routing for some alternative routes. Signage budget does not include kiosks. Village of Kalkaska has proposed a trailhead for which they funds earmarked.

 Payment options were discussed; ½ down? More to come from this.


Sales have been brisk. Some sizes in shirts have been exhausted. Latest numbers show 78 shirts, 37 caps and 34 bottles have been sold.

Merchandise sales at TCTF stood at $3085.00!!

There was a call to re-stock merchandise.

Chad motioned with a 2nd by Kim to budget $1500.00 for merchandise.

Unanimous vote.

With several board members absent, committee/trail updates were emailed. They follow.

Cadillac Pathway: Submitted by Michele

BCE plugging along with sponsorships and ordering medals, bibs and all the fine details.  

1.  The architect drawings were submitted to LARA last Monday - FINALLY!

2.  Gift and Acceptance agreement has been signed and submitted to Slavin and he forwarded to Lansing today.  

3.  Since the scope of our project has changed dramatically since my presentation to Rotary back in December I had to make another presentation and update the club on the current status last Tuesday.  They awarded $30,000 last Jan and I just found out today that they are still on board with scope change and will still award us $30,000 

4.  I received the final number on funds raised via the Cadillac Leadership group - $38,000 of which I can use $37,000 towards the pavilion.  they are holding $1,000 for the recognition sign.

5.  Cost of pavilion including permits, architectural drawings, insurance (just estimates as I have never gotten a call back from Gary), all materials, some paid labor, licensed builder fee and miscellaneous is coming in around $50k.  Between Leadership and funds from BCE we have enough to pay for the basic pavilion.  The additional $30k will be spent on fireplace, solar lighting of parking lot, new toilet house, picnic tables, bike racks, ski racks and bike fix it station.  (those are listed in the order of importance and will be purchased until funds run out).  

Bike Leelanau: Submitted by Coti

Bike Leelanau news:

We have received enthusiastic tentative approval to build multi use trails at Provemont Pond, starting with a beginner 1 mike loop this fall. Waiting on a sewer dude to give the final approval, or change the trail route a tiny bit. 

Construction at Palmer Woods is scheduled to begin in the next couple of weeks, we’ll see when it actually does. 

We’ve handed out 43 of the 50 bikes that McLain donated to start a Bike Library for Leelanau County. If you know any other shops looking to donate gently used bikes, please let me know. 

Also will add that Will Harper family foundation donated $5000.00 for a new groomer.

Fat Bike: Submitted by John Roe

Winter items that need to be addressed.

1) Grooming badge program finalized.

2) Purchase badges $350-$500

3) Drag maintenance and upgrades - Mike and John with some outsourcing about $500-1000

4) Skandic repair - hopefully Mike and I can fix it or it could be expensive

5) Trail prep.

6) WST signage with new logo.

7) New trail layout.

8) DNR land-use permit or MOU

About $3000 of the Fatbike fund should be available for Kalkaska signage until reimbursement.

TCTF: Tom submitted this report on TCTF

1)  Based on the financials for TCTF and the experience of the
we want to do it again?  Each board member should vote and express
concerns, etc.

2)  If no, what would replace it?

3)  If yes, I am offering to do the course for next year (see the sheets
handed out at the last meeting).  I will help with all the other
sections....but am not in charge of them.  It would be my suggestion that a
board member lead each section and build a committee beneath them to
execute.  Discussion.

4)  If the TCTF made any money, there are three investments we should
discuss.  1)  2-3 tents (10x10) with our logos.  Two for the aid stations
next year and one for the party area at the end.  2)  I am losing access to
the 8' trailer I have been using.  I recommend NMMBA buy one.  We need one
with a 3500 lb axle.  The size is nimble enough to get into the woods and
strong enough to carry gravel.  3)  We should discuss the GTRLC donation
for this year.  Do we want to do it again?

 Glacial Hills report:

Glacial Sabados (new weekly Norte ride) starts Saturday, Aug 11

·     Glacial hills Challenge Race, Sunday, Aug 19 (some of the NMMBA board is racing and volunteering, thanks!)

·     we have received a $5000 donation to start a challenge fundraiser for an ATV purchase we will promote and run this through August

·     we are struggling to find someone to move the two donated vault toilet/changing room buildings and are asking for our users to be patient with us as we continue to work on the project

·    we are installing an additional trial loop with new signage and asking for feedback as we look to improve wayfinding


Steve was very happy to report that the Dan Morley Hope shirts that were offered for donations brought in more than $1200.00!!

There was other discussions pertaining to TCTF.

Feedback from racers/tourers was very positive. Some wanted shorter distances while others were interested in lengthening the longer distance to 100K

Talk also centered on the venue. Do we continue with Ranch Rudolf? Or look to Timber Ridge or even the GOREC(Greilick Outdoor Center)

Also look at pre-order on merchandise.

Possible changes to course including more opportunities for passing.

All job duties should assigned no later than March.

Meeting adjourned at 8:00 p.m.

Minutes submitted by

Steve Mentzer, secretary

What You Missed at TCTF: Northwest ORV Association


We really wanted to take a second to point out a little something you may have missed in your state of oxygen deprivation. As racers flew up the opening climb out of Ranch Rudolf, you may have noticed a little extra horsepower. 

On race day, we were joined by a few cheerful and encouraging members of the Northwest ORV Association. This group of guys and gals represent motorizes trail users across the region and work, like NMMBA, to protect trail access for their members. We have been working side-by-side with Northwest ORV Association for months to help determine safe places for both non-motorized and motorized trail users, establish communication between groups, and develop safe trail practices to minimize anything that could harm our trails or trail experience. 

We asked the ORV guys to stop by on race day and help to show our mountain bike community that we're all working on this thing together. Of course, they stole the show, with a great show of support for the racers at the height of the race's excitement and with its biggest group of the day. 

NMMBA is working with many organizations locally to better represent our members to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources both right here and in Lansing. While our mission supports non-motorized recreation, we also understand that working together and making sure that the stewardship of our natural spaces, and the enjoyment of these spaces, takes a full community to ensure. 

Thanks to the Northwest ORV Association for being at the Traverse City Trail Festival and for all your cooperation and enthusiasm!