322 S Union St.
Traverse City, MI 49684
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November 12, 2018, 12:00 am

It’s winter! Here in Traverse City, that doesn’t mean we’re stuck inside for seven months. Thanks to the hard work of Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association and TART, we have some world-class trails right in our backyard to make it fun to get outside no matter how much snow we get. In fact, the more snow, the better!

NMMBA and TART partner to groom places to ride in Traverse City, including the Winter Sports Singletrack, Vasa Pathway, and the Leelanau Trail. Additionally, NMMBA works with local volunteers to groom Glacial Hills, the Cadillac Pathway, and the Leelanau State Park! The trails all over a unique experience and add year-round value to their communities, keeping cyclists rolling during months that would have otherwise been spent solely indoors.

We love having the option to supplement indoor riding with fat bike rides. It’s tough to beat the convenience of hopping on a trainer for an hour or two when time is short, especially when you know there’s a great trail to hit on the weekends. But there is something about revisiting our trails in winter, many of them unrecognizable under a blanket of snow. It’s almost like having a whole new place to ride, and in the right conditions, snow can be just as fast as dirt...and even faster!

Those trails get in such great shape thanks to a half dozen NMMBA volunteers who use a snowmobile and custom-built drags to groom nearly 20 miles of trail every time it snows. These volunteers often set-off into the early morning darkness to groom, or head out late at night to clean up the tracks or recent snow from throughout the day. Each groom can take between four and eight hours, with two sleds being enlisted after especially heavy storms. The day’s groom is often decided by NMMBA’s fat bike expert John Roe, who uses feedback from groomers to help decide what sort of equipment to use, where to groom, and how many passes to make. It’s a complex process that operates on a relatively small budget, almost entirely funded by grooming badge purchases.

Each trail system, from Glacial Hills to Cadillac Pathway, offers their own badge, with the funds playing a crucial role in grooming plans throughout the season. The more badges are sold earlier in the year, the easiest it is for groomers to forecast how many grooms they can make per season, helping them make important decisions and stick to a well-informed budget. We’re proud to support those efforts, and encourage anyone who loves to use the trails to pick-up a badge online, or swing by for the Urban Friday Night Lights with Brew on Friday, November 23.

Dressing for fat biking can be a bit tough, but with a little practice, finding the right layers for how you ride is very doable. Opt for breathable base layers, warm gloves, and something to cover your neck and ears. Since you’ll likely be riding in temperatures below freezing, consider using flat pedals so that you can comfortably use your warmest winter boots.

If you love to ride, consider stopping by to learn more about fat bikes, where to ride, what to wear, and what to expect once rubber hits the snow. If you head out into the woods ready to enjoy stunning views, great trails, and more than a bit of adventure, fat biking might be the thing for you. We're proud to offer Scott Bikes, Borealis, REID, and Giant fat bikes; stop by and take one for a spin!


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