43rd Annual North American Vasa: Thank You, Volunteers!

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Much has already been said about the glorious weekend that was. Over two days, multiple races, and countless kilometers of skiing and biking, the 43rd Annual North American Vasa is in the books.

The Vasa is a tremendous undertaking, and while it always seems to go off so seamlessly, it take a lot of work to make all the pieces fit together. There are myriad races and disciplines within each race, putting a lot of pressure on timers, aid stations, course marshals, and our ski patrol volunteers to ensure that everyone is taken care of. There’s a remarkable tight time table to make sure those volunteers aren’t exposed to the elements for too long, and there are dozens of categories’ worth of awards, sponsors to thank, and plenty of Short’s beer to drink back in the Celebration Zone.

We just wanted to thank the race organizers, our own John Roe very much among them, for all of their hard work in fitting all of these pieces together and giving our community another Vasa to cherish. Events like this serve as a way to reconnect and reconvene our winter sports community and includes skiers and fat bikers like nothing else on the calendar. And it’s important to point out that fat bikers are skiers, and vice versa; two of the podium finishers from last year’s fat bike race were on ski podiums this year, including Jorden Wakeley! Some athletes even opted to both ski and fat bike, like Keith Conway and Joe Leppeck. One crazy person, Dan Novak skied, rode, and woke up Sunday to ski again for the ultimate Nordic experience.

Of course, no matter how much the Vasa organizers take on, there’s no way they could do it all without scores of volunteers. This year, Kelley Peterson did an exceptional job of corralling the efforts of volunteers like our own Tom White and Steve Mentzer, plus dozens of others who spent not just Saturday helping, but much of the day Thursday, Friday, and Sunday to pull everything together.

The event saw participation by our wider winter sports community, including riders who might usually call trails like Glacial Hills or Cadillac Pathway home. The Vasa also drew riders from as far away as Detroit, Grand Rapids, Holland, and Marquette, showing off our incredible trails, expert grooming, and charming hometown. We really see these winter events as a showcase of how vibrant, connected, active, and enthusiastic northern Michigan is year-round, not just during tourist season.

So from everyone at NMMBA, thank you, volunteers, to manning aid stations and registration, course marshals and podium ceremonies. You’re the ones who make all of our events possible, and the ones who make them so much fun, too!

Full results from the North American Vasa are available here.

See You At The Vasa Singletrack Ribbon Cutting + Celebration!

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No doubt you've heard about it, and now it's time to get even more excited about it! Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association is inviting everyone and anyone with a love of the trails to join us at the Vasa Singletrack on Supply Road this Thursday, August 9 at 6pm to unveil the refreshed, retooled, revisited VST! 

As you may know, we've spent over two years getting permission to change and re-route certain worn out sections of this trail system in order to offer a more fun and enjoyable experience for riders of all abilities. The exposed roots, sandpits, unsustainable sections, and just plain tired portions of the VST needed to be redone. After working with the Michigan DNR and putting in countless hours of digging, trimming, and reshaping, the trail is better than it has ever been! 

This Thursday, the weekly Speed of Light ride that normal does a lap of the Vasa 25km Pathway is moving over to Supply for a one-lap time trial of the VST! They'll be going all out, one at a time, to see who can put in the fastest time on the trail. Want to give it a shot? Show up at 6pm and they'll get you queued up for your shot at a flying fast time! Riders will start at 30 or 10 second intervals, depending on where in the start list you're at. 

Don't want to give it the beans? We'll let anyone who wants to go as a group start together as soon as the last time trialer heads out; we're expecting this to be no later than 6:20pm. Ride with friends, meet new people, and take this chance to ride the VST on its 'debut' night at your own pace! We'll have the legendary Brad Miller from City Bike Shop Racing riding as our designated sweeper, so you're guaranteed not to be left in the woods (and to hear some great riding stories if you end up with him!). 

We'll also have plenty of kids taking on the 3-mile Kinglet Loop directly after the adults are off! This is very much a family-friendly night in the woods, so bring the lil' shredders out for a ride and some food when they finish up! 

You will want to get back to the parking lot, however, because we're going to have food and drink provided by Keen Technical Solutions and Short's Brewing Company! Hang out, eat really good food off the grill from Max's Service, and meet all your fellow mountain bikers. We're also going to spend just a little time thanking all of our wonderful volunteers! From trail work to board meetings, grooming to trimming face slappers at the height of summer, this is your chance to thank the men and women who make our world-class trail experience possible! 

Riders with Speed of Light WorldTour points will start first, with unseeded riders starting based on their own seeding after all the SOLers are off; if you're feeling good, try to be toward the front! You can see the WorldTour standings, which serve as a sort of start list, here

 Questions? Send an email to and we'll help you out! 

Vasa Fat Bike Race Weekend: Fun, Sun, and Great Memories


Our team of groomers put in a lot of work to battle cold temperatures and soft snow heading into another edition of the North American Vasa Fat Bike Race this weekend! Somehow, we always get lucky on race day; the course held up extremely well even with over 100 racers on course, and the sunny skies only made the race more enjoyable. 

The weekend started off with the race itself, with the 12:30 start of the 18km Short'n'Fat Race. These guys and gals got the first tracks on a course that received plenty of attention from our grooming volunteers, including a pre-race roll from Heath Day. Doug McKibbon took the win, and you can check out all the results from the Short's race here. 

The 42km Short's Grand Fat kicked off 30 minutes later, with Jorden taking his second win of the day after crossing the line first in the 28km ski earlier in the day. All the races agreed that the inclusion of the all-new Yeti's Revenge completely changed the race from previous editions, adding some short and sharp climbs before the longest section of singletrack just a miles later .The softer snow was also a challenge, but didn't stop Wakeley from holding an average speed of 14.87 miles per hour! Dave "Sunset" Scott and Cody Sovis rounded out the men's podium, while Christa Hoyt was an equally dominant winner on the women's side ahead of City Bike Shop teammate Cindy Duby in second and Erin Reicha in third. You can see the 42km results here

Jorden Wakeley rolls through Timber Ridge at the end of the first lap.


IMBA Executive Director Dave Wiens joined us for the awards at the Short's Brewing Party Tent after the race, and even made it down to Brew for some post-race chat and a discussion about the future of mountain biking and trails around the country. We even got the six-time Leadville 100 champion out on the Winter Sports Singletrack on Sunday morning. It was an absolute treat to have Dave in Traverse City, and we really appreciate him braving the blizzard that hit the lower part of the state to make it up for our big weekend of fat biking! 

Thanks to everyone who helped make this weekend happen, including our many volunteer course marshals and the whole North American Vasa crew that keeps this Northern Michigan tradition going strong. 

2018 King Vasa Fat Bike Race Recon


We hosted nearly 50 this Saturday for a roll of the 2018 Vasa Fat Bike course. 

Winter is back, and just in time for fat bikers and skiers to prepare for the North American Vasa's Festival of Races. Slated for February 10 and 11, the fat bike races caps off Saturday's events with a 1pm start from Timber Ridge. 

Eager to see how it all fit together, nearly 50 people were on hand for a low-key recon ride. Riders of all abilities were ready to roll out, and with over six hours of grooming in the bank on Friday, our groomers had the course almost perfect! 

We have to give a big thanks to the local snowmobile club for using their groomer to fix some dangerous 4x4 tracks on Riley's near the Supply Road Parking Lot. After their machine went through, you could hardly tell there was any damage at all. Easily ridden by fat bikes, there were tracks indicating that more than a few skiers made quick work of that short section as well. Thank you! 

The opening miles of the course are wide open and fast, with a short section of the Winter Sports Singletrack coming after two miles of Logger's Run. After just over a half a mile, it's back onto the Vasa 25km Pathway and Riley's Loop, where riders should hold speeds around 15-17mph for a big stretch before spilling down Riley's and by the lakes. It' s a short but very steep climb up away from the water, with gradients as steep at 17%. It's another few miles until the section that should decide the race, Yeti's Revenge. It's just shy of a mile, but the steep climbs and fast descents will see some big gaps form, especially for riders on their second lap in the 42km event. 

After a dash along the WST, there's a short section of Riley's before a relatively straight shot back to Timber Ridge, with just enough twisting and turning to get out of sight. 

We're planning on hitting the trails again tonight, with an emphasis on WST and the Riley's section from the Supply Road parking lot to the Kinglet turn off. 

Having fun on the trails? Make sure you grab your badge, there's plenty of riding left this winter! Celebrate the trails by challenging yourself at the Vasa Fat Bike Race, or consider volunteering. 

Here's a look at today's two lap ride of the course, hitting the full 42km (26 miles) on the docket for next week. You can also sign up for the 18km single lap race and be a bit quicker back to the Short's Brewing beer! 

It's Snowing In Time For The Vasa!


We are getting lucky with snow! Just two weeks out from the Vasa Festival of Races on February 10 and 11. 

After an unseasonable warm-up, somebody opened the fridge just time for some fresh snow to really revitalize the trails ahead of the North American Vasa. Northern Michigan's biggest ski race now celebrates fat bikes as well. The weekend offers a smorgasbord of freestyle and classic ski races over a number of distances.

In true Vasa fashion, you've got choices for your fat bike racing, too. This year, we have a 42km and 18km line-up that lets you experience the diverse and exciting trail system we're so lucky to have here in Traverse City. The two distances take on slightly different lap, which includes Vasa fixtures like Logger's Run and Riley's Loop, two wide-open and fast sections that are punctuated by sections of flowing singletrack. 

You'll also get a chance to test your mettle in the new sections of singletrack we've added for 2017-2018, the new Outer Loop and the Yeti's Revenge! The additional mileage and unique terrain have made these additional miles feel like a whole new trail system, and we're expected the Vasa Fat Bike race to be the perfect way to show off our network to fat bikers from all over the state! 

There's more than just a fat bike title on the line, too. This year, the Fatathalon is BACK! Earn the crown of the most Nordic person in the world by taking on the 28k freestyle and 42k fat bike race, with your combined times up against anyone else willing to do the double. You can even take on the Triple Threat, which includes the 51K Okerstrom freestyle, 42K Short's Grand Fat bike plus Sunday's 34k Lombard Loppet classic race! 

Keep your eyes on our site, Facebook, and Instagram account for a lap preview of the 2018 fat bike course this weekend! 

Register for the Vasa Fat Bike Race here.