If you wear spandex and ride bikes in the woods on the #EASTSIDE of Traverse City, the Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association’s Traverse City Trails Festival is a bigger deal than you may realize. If you like non-motorized mountain bike trails, want more of these sick (it’s what the kids say now) trails, want them maintained and expanded, then this race is of massive importance to our cycling community.
Hold onto your chamois. We’re getting into this.
NMMBA’s Main Fundraiser
Over the last few years, we’ve been so fortunate to see some awesome developments on our trails. The VST is seeing continuous maintenance and improvement, our fat bike trails are the best-groomed in the state, and as a by-product of these efforts, this has gotten more people on bikes and into the woods. New faces on the VASA 25K, VST, and unmarked trails are so cool to see, and much of that is down to NMMBA’s hard work. Of course, you can have enthusiasm and dedication, but trail building and maintenance takes time, knowledge, and equipment. I mean, you can be gung-ho as all get out, but if you don’t have a stump grinder, your trails aren’t going to get any better.
Without funds, none of the cool stuff gets to happen – no new trails, no maintenance, and way more trainer time in the winter since the trails aren’t groomed. We (and I mean we as a cycling community, not just NMMBA) need to help make sure the guys and gals putting in the time and effort to grow our trail systems have the resources they need.
We Get New Trails
This year’s TCTF will feature seven miles of new, pristine singletrack built exclusively for the race. But guess what? We then get to ride that seven miles of trail forever. What other race adds quality trail mileage to our riding ecosystem? I can’t think of one, and not just here in TC, but anywhere where new trails get built every year for a single event.
We only get this new trail because we have an organization (NMMBA) and a race (TCTF) to show the DNR folks we can build, maintain, and use this trail now and forever. The DNR isn’t going to let just some dude or dudette go out into the woods and hack open a trail. Stated plainly, without an organization and mass participation in an event, new trails are exceptionally hard to get built.
Showing Growth to the DNR
As noted above, signing up for the race is hugely important for NMMBA’s efforts. As soon as the TCTF is over, the DNR will want to know how many people participated – and the number is a big deal. Granting a permit to the race puts the DNR at risk. Accidents and injuries are a great way to put the DNR in hot water. It’s crucial to show the DNR that letting NMMBA put on this race and letting them build more trail will get more people into the woods, on bikes, and participating on their land. In short, the DNR needs to see that the TCTF is worth sticking their necks out year in and year out. Growth is the best way to do that.
Lastly, this race is doable. Yes, there is singletrack. But there are also plenty of open, fast places to pass, or if you’re me, eat a snack and catch your breath. Heck, there’s even a short cut that makes this a 16-mile ride, if you want to cut it a bit short! You can think of it as a race if that’s what get you fired up, but this is really a day in the woods with an added benefit of being an investment in our mountain bike community for years and years to come.
Sign up for the race here and be sure to thank all the NMMBA guys and gals for their year-round efforts to make our mountain bike scene the envy of the Midwest.