By just after noon, even with the sky beginning to cloud up and the air thick with humidity, it still hadn't rained. For over a week, the forecast had been apocalyptic for a bike race. Rain, lightning, thunder, and driving winds were enough that some riders from other parts of the state had been wavering, considering just staying home. But somehow, the Traverse City Trail Festival went off on schedule, without a single drop of precipitation!
And those who showed up were blown away. The 25 and 40 mile courses were absolute perfection, with riders of all abilities coming out of the woods and raving about the speed, the flow, and the great riding. After just its second edition, the TCTF already feels like a classic, with its own unique feel and vibe, and a cause that not only support Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association, but does a bit more, too.
The Traverse City Trail Festival is a just bit different than most races. For starters, the event offers the option to tour the race course at both the 40 and 25 distances that the competitors take on just thirty minutes before. That sort of inclusiveness is something we really, really love to see, because bikes aren't just for the spandex-clad weekend warriors. Bikes, and trails, are for everyone, and offering a chance to explore with the safety and camaraderie of your friends and fellow cyclists can be a very positive experience for riders.
Additionally, the race actually makes more trails. By designing the course to use trails specifically constructed for race day, those trails are then added to proposals that, in future, could become established, marked, and protected in the years to come. There are no other events that offer participants a chance to help shape their trails and recreational experience so demonstratively; show up and race, and you are helping make those trails a permanent fixture for future generations!
We had the Team Bicycler Hauler at the start/finish of the race. Originally, we assumed we'd be using it as a shelter to stay out of the predicted downpour. Instead, we were able to hang out in front of the trailer and use the externally mounted Wall Rail to make some last minute tweaks to race bikes before the much-anticipated kid's race. Out of over 300 riders, nearly 50 of them were under the age of 16. Everyone was so excited to see the 8 mile youth drag race that we nearly missed the adult podiums going on; it didn't matter, every head was turned to see the kid's flying through the woods.
We want to thank Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association for all of their hard work in putting on not just the Trail Festival, but what they do when others aren't looking. All those trees and sticks, all those re-routes, that seemingly appear (or disappear) as if by magic, are moved by volunteers who sacrifice time in the saddle and time with their family so that others can ride.
To support NMMBA, head to nmmba.net and pick up a membership or a hat.