Traverse City

Your Autumn Challenge: Ride A New NMMBA Trail!

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Fall is just around the corner, but that means mountain biking in northern Michigan is just getting started! We’re lucky to have a long autumn to enjoy the trails in Traverse City and around the region, and we’ve got a challenge for you; ride somewhere new! 

You’ve got a few months before evenings are dark and the snow will have Head Groomer John Roe licking his chops. Between now and fat biking season, we want you to ride a trail that you haven’t checked out before. Whether you’re a TC local who hasn’t made it to Glacial Hills, or a Cadillac rider yet to make the trip north to Palmer Woods, make a plan to make it happen. 

One of the best things about our part of the state is that the terrain, soil, and design of our forests allow for deceptively diverse riding options. While sand is universal, the hills, the valleys, and the men and women behind creating our singletrack trail networks make each NMMBA trail feel, ride, and look different. 

Vasa Singletrack/Unmarked. In a word, ‘natural’. Both the Vasa Singletrack and the miles of unmarked singletrack that extends like a spider web out from the VST weave into the Vasa 25km Pathway, creating the Traverse City Trail Network. Much of that singletrack is hand cut, narrow, winding, and offers a feel of riding through the forests with reckless abandon. It never feels like the trails were made as much as were just there. There are no features, no wide sections, and you’d be hard-pressed to be able to spot the trail unless you’re physically on it. 

Cadillac Pathway. Much like the Vasa 25km Pathway, Cadillac’s trail offers a wider, cross-country ski trail that serves as the backbone of the network, with a mix of unmarked singletrack jumping on and off. That’s going to change with the construction of eleven miles of trail this fall, the culmination of a years-long process to bring real, marked, and thought-out singletrack to Cadillac. The Pathway is also home to a slew of new amenities, including a new Pavillion, bike rack, even solar powered lights! If you’re really looking for a chance to ride it, make sure you’ve got the Bear Claw Epic on your calendar. The BCE is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Cadillac Pathway and the final event in the NMMBA Trail Series on September 28. 

Glacial Hills. While it is wide enough to ski, the elevation that gave this trail system it’s name make this much more of a mountain bike trail! The rolling, twisting, flowing singletrack isn’t as wide as Cadillac or Traverse City’s pathways, but still allows a little room for error for riders letting gravity have its way. While there is plenty of elevation, the expert, machine-made trails allow for plenty of momentum. Do a lap and you’ll pocket nearly 1,000 feet of elevation, but it never feels like that much climbing! The closest comparison to Glacial Hills might be the Arcadia Dunes trails near Frankfort, which were shaped by the same designer. Make plans to hit Bellaire, shred Glacial Hills, and stop by Short’s Brewing, a company that supports the trails, outdoor events, and a NMMBA like no one else. 
Palmer Woods. The new trail is enjoying its first full season in 2019 and people are loving it! Instead of mile after mile of natural, Palmer Woods offers a feature-filled circuit for riders looking to practice and show off their technical skills. The Leelanau Conservancy and Bike Leelanau have put a lot of heart into creating something that attempts the impossible; keep everyone happy. We think they’ve nailed it. There are plenty of lines to make the trail system accessible to beginners and kids, but enough jumps and drops to make the drive out to Wheeler Road in Maple City well worth it.

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!

Traverse City Trails Festival Registration Is Open!

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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.

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!