TCTF

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!


Prepared For Anything: What You Need In Your Flat Kit

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With more riders putting in longer rides to prepare for the Traverse City Trails Festival, we take a look at what we bring in our flat kits.

This past weekend, we had dozens of riders out on the 40 and 25 mile Traverse City Trails Festival looking to get ready for July 20. Putting in big miles deep in the woods is fun, freeing, and a chance to explore trails that they may never have experienced before! The whole point of the TCTF is to encourage riders to take new turns, try new routes, and start to piece together more of the sixty miles of unmarked trails in the Pere Marquette Forest.

Taking on those remote trails does require a bit more forethought, however. As we rolled out for Saturday’s pre-ride, we noticed a a bit of a new set-up from the more experienced riders, and we thought it might be a good idea to share what riders bring for a three, four, or five hour ride in the woods.

The first thing we noticed plenty of riders grab is a hydration pack. They’re really handy to have for three big reasons. First, it’s much easier to drink with the tube while flying through singletrack than trying to reach down, grab a bottle, drink, and get the bottle back in the cage. Second, you can bring just about as much water as you’d ever need for a ride in the back. Many riders will run straight water in their pack and have a isotonic or sports drink in their bottle, often with more calories. Third, it’s another place to store the extra snacks you’ll want for such a long day in the woods. Being able to quickly and easily get to both food and water is a great way to avoid the dreaded bonk and prevent dehydration or heat stroke!

That extra storage also means you have plenty of room to bring the right tools and supplies you need to fix a mechanical issue even if disaster strikes on the most remote part of the course. Even when riding in a group, bringing tools, tubes, and even first aid is a really good idea.

  1. Tube and Air. Tubeless or not, bringing a spare tube and a way to re-inflate is elemental is riding safe. We recommend bringing at least one tube and a way to inflate it after a flat, whether it’s with a pump or a CO2. For rides like the TCTF recon, it’s worth bringing a second cartridge, just in case. A patch or two can also come in handy!

  2. A multi-tool. A 12 or 16 function multi tool can get you out of a lot of jams. A set of Allen keys can do everything from tighten a loose seat clamp to adjust your brakes.

  3. Chain breaker. A chain tool is a must for big days in the woods. In case of a broken chain, having a way to break a chain and use a quick link gives you a way to avoid a really, really long walk. Like a lot of these tools, it’s okay if you haven’t used them before or aren’t sure you can use it. If you have it, someone you’re riding with will almost certainly be able to help.

  4. Quick link. Always bring one. If you do break a chain, having a quick link will let you either fix the chain as good as new, or at least allow you to turn your geared bike into a singlespeed. Some people bring an 11 and 12 speed link, in case a buddy breaks down; just make sure you know which is which!

  5. Cell phone. The ultimate fix. Even if you don’t have service everywhere, you’ll be able to get to points in the forest with full bars. If you can’t make a repair, you’ll be able to call a friend and direct them to a safe place to get out of the woods. Phones are also a great way to allow friends and family to follow your progress and even get alerts in case of a crash or incident. Features like Beacon from Strava are a nice feature to improve your chances of getting out of the woods without calling Search and Rescue. If you use a GPS unit like Garmin or Wahoo, check with those companies to learn how to set up confidential live tracking features.

  6. EPI Pen and Bandages. First aid often gets overlooked, but bringing some basics is never a bad idea. Stuff a few bandages in your flat kit in case of light cuts and scrapped knees. We’ve even seen Band Aids pressed into service as patches! Zip-ties, tweezers, and gauze aren’t a bad idea, if you can find the space. If you’re allergic to bees, make sure you have your EPI pen with you; don’t put other trail users in a bad position by be unprepared. Plus, you may be able to use the EPI pen on someone who doesn’t know they’re allergic! With temperatures on the rise, bees are more and more active, and many hives are on the ground and may be disturbed by riders in more remote areas.

Be prepared keeps the rides fun. If you can bring it, bring it; you never know whose day you’ll save by having the right tools on hand.

TCTF Recon Ride Schedule: Saturday's Game Plan

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You spoke (well, typed) and we listened!

This Saturday is your first chance to get the gang together for a fun morning in the woods. We’re leading a number of different groups over different distances to give everyone a closer look at the 2019 Traverse City Trails Festival courses. When we put up an 8am start time, only the early birds (who do get the worms, it must be said) smiled. And so, we’ll be splitting into two start times.

The faster-paced 40 mile group will be busting at out 8 am from the Muncie Lake Pathway Trailhead, just up the hill from the race’s official start at Ranch Rudolf. Expect a steady tempo with an finish time of roughly 3.5 hours to complete all 40 miles. You can nab the file here, and we’ll have limited, low profile marking in place for just a few hours that morning to help you out.

Need a little more beauty sleep? No problem. Tom White and a number of other NMMBA board members will be shredding the 25 mile route at 10 am. We’ll have different groups and different speeds available, so the more people who show up, the more likely you’ll have a solid crew knocking along at your pace. Here’s the 25 mile file, too.

Bring plenty of snacks and water and let’s enjoy a morning in the woods! Make sure you’re following along on the event page here for any updates with weather; things look just a tiny bit iffy, but we that could chance (several times) before the weekend.

Grab a friend and join us!

Let's Ride: June Events You Won't Want To Miss

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Block it off, circle the date on your calendar, and grab a friend. On June 15 and 16, you’re going to be riding.

June is the real start of summer, and we’re making it easier than ever to get out in the woods with three different rides to choose from!

Traverse City Trails Festival Recon Ride presented by Team Bob’s

First up is our TCTF Recon Ride on Saturday, June 15 at 8 am. This is your chance to join NMMBA Board Members on group rides of July 20’s Traverse City Trails Festival 40, 25, and 15 mile routes. Each group will roll out to take a closer look at route favorites and new sections added just for 2019. Every ride will have an established speed based on the goal finish time; go fast, go slow, but either way, you’ll find a few folks your speed.

The TCTF is all about getting people out in the woods and learning new trails and new ways to appreciate the Traverse City Trail Network. The recon ride won’t just give you an idea of what to expect on race day. It’s an opportunity to add new trails to your portfolio with the added assistance of the people who know these trails best.

You can RSVP and stay up-to-date with ride plans by joining the event on Facebook.

Bike Leelanau Women’s Mountain Bike Skills Clinic. June 15.

For the second year, our pals at Bike Leelanau are hosting a weekend of skills clinic. On Saturday, it’s all about the ladies! Head out to Palmer Woods for a full day of fun, great instruction, and plenty of knowledge. Packed with skills, tricks, and tips, this is a safe, supportive place to learn more about handling your bike and stepping up your game on features and obstacles. Saturday’s June 15 clinic is all about getting more women on bikes; if you identify as a woman and want to get more comfortable in the saddle, you can sign up here.

Bike Leelanau / NMMBA Skills Clinic

On Sunday, the fun is open to everyone! Spin out Saturday’s TCTF pre-ride with a day at Palmer working on your skills and learning how to shred that little bit harder. Sunday’s clinic is open to men and women, as well as kids over 16. You can expect some delicious food, great instruction, and the cool comfort knowing you’re going to leave the day a better bike rider than when you showed up. Sounds fun, doesn’t it? Sign up here.

It’s a BIG weekend for bikes in northern Michigan, and we hop you can join us for these and all our events throughout the year!

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.