Winter

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!

Thank You For Supporting Beard of Zeus!

STS.JPG

We just wanted to pass along a note of thanks to everyone who raced, volunteered, and supported Beard of Zeus on March 2. It was our first year taking over the fun, fast event right at Timber Ridge, and we were blown away with the level of participation and the enthusiasm from everyone involved!

As the Short’s Brewing Fat Bike Series’ big finale, Rick Wetherald, Susan Vigland, John Duby, and Cindy Duby all wrapped up their season-long titles with strong rides to cap off 2019. These riders and other supported the Series and the sport at all four stops over the course of three months, and on behalf of all the race directors, thanks for making these events a priority for your winter riding.

Beard of Zeus is something we’re proud to add to our catalog of events, and we appreciated your comments in shaping it into a race that supports our mission. Our goal is to offer the cycling community a fat bike race that is fun, challenging, inclusive, safe, and supported. Great racers and riders like yourselves often take care of the fun component just by showing up, and weather conditions often provide enough of a challenge to accentuate the terrain and competition.

Inclusiveness means offering accessible race distances, course, and atmosphere that make participation equally exciting to experience fat bikers and new riders alike. We have a strong contingent of die-hard riders who have raced for close to a decade now. At the same time, each event sees new riders of all ages give the sport a try. We need to ensure new riders feel welcome, safe, and supported. Maybe the highlight of Beard of Zeus this year was seeing such a big turnout of Norte and Singletrack Sisters, two youth cycling clubs, race not just the 45 minute event but even hop into the 90 minute races. Making sure they have positive experiences is a top concern for everyone, and we want to thank the many, many racers who encouraged their fellow racers, passed safely, and kept the environment positive.

We’re working hard to offer an even better experience in 2020. While we’ll look at all possibilities, offering two start times creates some additional challenges that may be too difficult to over come. It greatly increases the load on staff and volunteers, especially registration, timers, and course marshals. In frigid conditions, we don’t want to ask volunteers to stand out in the cold any longer than they already do. There are also other considerations, including how the traffic of one race might deteriorate the conditions of the trail for the second event.

Overall, we’re really happy with Beard of Zeus and more encouraged than ever to shape that race into the end-of-year party that the event has turned into. Events like these are a lot more than a race. They’re a chance to learn, connect, and grow the sport. We’re not turning riders into racers; we’re turning riders into advocates.

Thank YOU for your support of Beard of Zeus, NMMBA, and building incredible trails- and welcoming communities.

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

VASA SMiles.jpg

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.

Ride Plans For The Week: Winter Will Be Right Back

DSC00585.jpg

As we pen this near the shores of East Bay in Traverse City, it’s a balmy 46 degrees and raining like it’s May. Don’t worry; winter is swinging back into town, and soon.

First off, we really want to thank everyone for their patience over the past 48 hours. After over a week of frigid temperatures and plentiful snow, Mother Nature did a full 180 degree turn and slammed some spring-like weather onto northern Michigan. All of our trails remain closed through Monday, but a quick glance at the forecast cast shows we have a great week of riding coming up.

Tuesday will see below-freezing highs, but hit the trails with just a bit of caution. Some sections of the trails are sure to be very slick and icy, and until we get a change to scrape things up a bit, studs won’t be necessary, but they’ll be handy. The snowfall on Wednesday and Thursday should be a big help in combining fresh powder into icy surfaces, and we should have incredible conditions for riding Thursday through the weekend!

And it’s a big weekend, too. This Saturday is the 43rd Annual North American Vasa, which happens to include the King Vasa Fat Bike Race as a part of its Festival of Races. The bike events start at 11:50 am, with 40 and 20 kilometer options available. Our crews have been working hard to keep the trails in stunning shape, and not even this freakish warm-up is going to affect a really stunning trail experience for racers. As the second stop in the Short’s Brewing Fat Bike Series, it’s another chance to pick up points and rack up race miles as the Series hits its halfway mark.

If you aren’t racing this weekend, consider volunteering on Saturday or Sunday and helping keep this event fun, safe, and well-supported!

From everyone at NMMBA, the Cadillac Pathway, Bike Leelanau, and Glacial Hills, thanks again for helping keep the trails in great shape as we gear up for plenty of winter riding in February!

Support The Winter Trails at Leelanau State Park with Just An Email!

LSP.jpg

Let's keep the momentum going! Help Bike Leelanau, NMMBA, and winter enthusiasts everywhere by raising your voice to keep the Winter Sports Trail for 2018-2019. 

This past winter, a big group of businesses, volunteers, and reps both the DNR and NMMBA came together to create, groom, and enjoy the Winter Sports Trail at the Leelanau State Park. The new winter-only trail offered more mileage and options for winter enthusiasts from all over Northern Michigan, especial Northport locals who could access the trail with just a short drive. By bike, ski, and snowshoe, adventure-seekers, families, and day-trippers enjoyed a whole new way to experience Leelanau County! 

We want to make sure this season trail is back in 2018-2019, but we need your help! If you had a chance ride, ski, or walk the trail, or if you're eager to give it a try, consider writing a quick email to make it happen. Email the LPS Lead Ranger Stephanie at ROSINSKIS@michigan.gov and let her know that you loved the trail, supported local businesses, or just can't wait to have it back next year. Your comments could prove vital to the bringing the trail back, or even expanding it! 

Thank you for your involvement!