Get Full: Trek Top Fuel Offers Squishy Option for Race Day

As we roll into June, the days counting down to November seem to quicken pace. With better weather in the forecast and a full slate of fun rides and races filling up the calendar, there’s plenty to be excited about as we hit peak summer.

Here in northern Michigan, we’ve had a wet and chilly May. Those cold days are finally giving way to more seasonable and comfortable temperatures, and that’s gotten us all into the woods to explore the trails. We’re really to have miles and miles of trails, only a fraction of which feature on race day. Many of those trails are twisting, turning, hand-built trails, and that’s gotten a lot of us off our Iceman Cometh hardtail and onto something with a bit more squish.

Last week, Trek Bikes unveiled the 2020 Trek Top Fuel, and we really like what we see. The long-time consensus at Iceman has been that a hardtrail 29er is the proven way to go, and that’s probably still true. The line is a bit more blurred, however, with how light and efficient full suspension bikes have gotten in the past two or three years. We consistently see bikes coming out of the stand at 23, 21, even 20 pounds with 120mm front and 115 rear suspension.

The latest offering from Trek fits that bill. What’s got us even more excited is the number of builds. Whatever your budget, there’s a bomb-proof build ready to rock. With the right set-up, you’re definitely going to have way more fun, and not just on the first Saturday in November. As huge as Iceman is, getting a new bike that’s suited to the other 364 days of the year is the smart way to go, and for where and how we’re riding these days, full suspension is turning into a very viable option.

What are you looking for in your next bike? What tips would you give a rider looking to break two-hours at Iceman with a new rig?

NMMBA’s Traverse City Trails Festival: Summer Fun for a Good Cause

NMMBA's Traverse City Trails Festival: Summer Fun For A Good Cause

Last year, the Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association joined our team as our go-to resource for course design and preparation. For twelve years, NMMBA has served our local mountain biking community as a dedicated, passionate steward of the trails, and for the third time, they’re bringing that experience and know-how to their very own event, the Traverse City Trails Festival.

Now in enjoying its third edition, the TCTF offers up one of the most unique trail experiences of the season. That’s because each of the forty, twenty-five, and fifteen-mile course take place almost entirely on trail that isn’t marked 364 other days of the year. Absent on a map and on any trailhead kiosk these trails exist as the notorious ‘unmarked’, with even the total mileage of these trails a somewhat vague and oscillating number in the sixty to seventy-mile range.

That’s why locals are just as eager as visitors to hop in this race or to simply tour it. Both options are available, and both use the only lightly-traveled trails marked so briefly to offer an incredibly fun day in the woods. The unique race also helps create more trail; new shortcuts, bypasses, and re-routes are often later incorporated into trail proposals submitted to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The changes and additions allow NMMBA to retire old, unsustainable bandit trails and replace them with improved routes keep vital sections connected and rideable.

The Traverse City Trails Festival takes place at Ranch Rudolf, a rustic resort and campground that serves as start, finish, and party zone throughout race day. With the Boardman River passing just yards away from the finish banner, it’s become a tradition in this neck of the woods to finish off your race or ride with a chilly dip in the river before enjoying some barbecue food, beer, and the pleasure of friendly company.

For those really looking for a race, this one is as about as challenging as it gets. After some fast miles to spread things out, the forty-mile course offers relentless mile after mile of singletrack, punctuated only at length by a few dirt roads to gulp down some water, choke down a bar, and then dive back into the high ferns of late July. The forty-mile race is certainly a test of endurance, while the twenty-five mile serves as a more traditional cross country distance on par with Mud, Sweat and Beers, another local landmark.

Newer riders often elect to round up their pals and ride the twenty-five or fifteen-mile routes as a group, stopping for snacks, snapping photos, and hurrying only to make sure they get back to Ranch Rudolf in time to grab a beer for the bar shuts down.

All proceeds from the race go to support Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association and their efforts to build and maintain world class trails like Glacial Hills, the Cadillac Pathway, and the new Palmer Woods Trail in Leelanau County. For more on the race, and to get yourself signed up, head over to the race site.

November will be here before you know it, and with a few race days circled between now and then, you’ll not only build fitness but build an appreciation for the people and trails that make northern Michigan such an incredible place to be a mountain biker.