Arcadia

Backyard Bucket List: Three Places You Need To Ride in Northern Michigan

Arcadia.jpg

It’s finally starting to feel like spring, and with warm temps and superb trail conditions, we’ve got three places you need to ride….and soon!

One of the best parts about riding in northern Michigan is that there’s always someplace new to roll. All over the region, both new trails and old favorites are always improving, adding mileage, and offering new experiences to locals and visitors alike. We’re spoiled, and all these opportunities come thanks to organizations like Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association, Leelanau Conservancy, and Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. We’ve picked one trail from each for you to put your northern Michigan bucket list.

Glacial Hills. NMMBA, the GTRLC, and Antrim County have turned Glacial Hills from a neat network of trail into the destination trail it seemed almost fated to become. Professionally designed and machine built, Glacial Hills offered the region its first glimpse of a unique blend of natural and flow trail. Using the natural terrain of Antrim County, just outside of Bellaire, and retaining the wild, beautiful views, Glacial Hills draw thousands of riders north each and every season. The trail is in peak bloom through May, with a wide array of wildflowers lighting up the trail side.

Open to bikes, hikers, and runners, the trail boasts one of the most dedicated trail crews around. Nearly two dozen volunteers take care of the trail on a bi-weekly basis, responding to downed trees within a few hours, and offering a manicured place to shred no matter what. There are three trailheads to choose from, and you’re going to want to stop by and support one of the trails biggest advocates, Short’s Brewing, after the ride.

Palmer Woods. For years, there just weren’t many trail opportunities in Leelanau County. With the footpaths at the Leelanau State Park off limits, most riders stuck to hot lap at 45 North Winery’s 3 mile trail. All that changed with the addition of Palmer Woods. The Leelanau Conservancy unveiled the first phase last fall, with all machine-built trails, rock gardens, drops, and plenty of beginner-friendly lines as well. It’s a place where riders learn new skills with a massive smile on their faces, and a great way to work a bike ride into your trip to Glen Arbor, the Sleeping Bear Dunes Lakeshore, Leeland, all points north.

Arcadia Dunes. This is really the crown jewel in the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy’s growing collection. Arcadia has been compared to Glacial Hills, and vice versa, thanks to the flowing, ribbon-like quality of both networks. Perhaps Arcadia in particular, it’s the sort of trail that sends riders up over 1,000 feet of elevation 11 mile lap, but you’re never really quite sure where or how, because it never felt that hard. Like Glacial, the Arcadia is awash with wildflowers through May and often into June. It’s also a wonderful place to simple slow down and enjoy the trails. If you come to a stop, you’ll be surrounded by peace and quiet, with the trail often completely to yourself!

Arcadia is also just across the road from Lake Michigan. Take a second after your ride to peek over the bluffs and enjoy some incredible views, and perhaps even catch sight of a freighter or two!

Looking for more places to ride…and a bike to ride them with? Stop by City Bike Shop and we’ll point you in the right direction for the perfect road or trail.

The Perfect Arcadia Grit & Gravel Bike Is...

REESE.jpg

After a glorious day of racing at Mud, Sweat and Beers, plus a full day of embracing beer and tacos on Cinco de Mayo, it’s time to look at to the next big (and local) thing: Arcadia.

Arcadia Grit & Gravel offers up one of the most unique concepts in the state. The mountain bike race has relied on a route that’s like nothing else to provide both a fun experience and a killer challenge to racers of all abilities. To start, the race combines nearly 10 miles of pavement, gravel, and two-track, plus two key climbs, to sort riders out. An opening ascent two miles in and another long, grueling climb near the 8 mile mark serve as separators, but there is plenty of time to be gained in the sinuous, rolling pavement in between.

The reward for all that cranking is arguably the best singletrack in the state. The Arcadia trail system combines two loops of flowing, winding, exhilarating trail on either side of a lonely, quiet gravel road that splits the trail in two. Riders are often giggling throughout these two sections of trail, and the final two miles back to Arcadia and the finish are simply a blur. Throw in blooming trillium at the roadside and some sunny weather, and there’s hardly a more beautiful race on the calendar.

But that sharp divide in terrain gives some riders a bit of indecision. A gravel bike for the first half, and take your chances on the trail, or is is smarter to survive the paved surfaces and thrive in the singletrack? It’s a decision that’s heavily influenced by your level of confidence in bike handling. We take a look at two options, one with drop bars and one for our mountain bikers.

Giant Revolt 2. The ideal rig for giving it a go on the gravel. The Revolt 2 comes with a 2x drivetrain that offer up a wide range of gearing options for the steep opening ascent of Erdman Road, which sees pitches over 11% and much of it in loose sand. Alternatively, you’ll have a big gear for stomping away on the pavement and will be able to stretch the bunch on the long paved downhill. But what about the trail? Well, the Revolt fits up to 700 x 48 or 650 x 2.0 tires, so you can get some pretty wide rubber on there for more traction once you hit the singletrack. You can see all the Revolt options here.

Scott Scale RC. For the singletrack shredder, going with a feather light hardtail is the way to go at Arcadia. While the race is just about 50/50 between gravel and singletrack, most racers would argue that the most important part comes with the sharp right turn into the woods at the top of Taylor Road. The ascent of the longest climb in the race almost immediately tosses riders from wide open roads to tight, twisting, trillium-lined singletrack, and if you hit it tired, you can get gapped quick. That’s why riding your lightest hardtail is a really smart option. To survive the gravel and pavement, make sure you’re running a 32t or bigger chainring to avoid spinning out. Once into the trees, slap off your lockout and get shredding! Check out the full Scale family here.

Do you have any tips for riders taking on their first Arcadia Grit & Gravel? Let us know in the comments!