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Managing Publisher Dave Mann

Editor Erin Monigold

Publication Designer & Production Manager Heidi Jones

Contributing Writers Cody Sovis, Heather Brewer, Kandace Chapple, Leah Clark, Erin Crowell, Danielle Musto

Photographers Heather Brewer, Bernie Riehl, Jeff Minnerick, Jason Offenbacher, Kandace Chapple, TJ Hamilton/Grand Rapids Press, BMC/Tim De Waele, Brent Bookwalter, Linda Deneen, Paula Dreeszen, Chris LaBaere, Kyle Ostrowski, Matt Tomlinson, Jessica Nichol, Rui Quinta, Andrea Tucker, Dan Socie, Danielle Musto, Cody Sovis

Mountain Bike & Power Sports Group manager Dave Mann

Advertising Sales Executive Heidi Jones

GTMTBA PO Box 215 | Acme MI 49610 Letters to the editor and inquiries: 3 SPRING 2012


elcome to the spring edition of Northern Motion Magazine... We've packed this issue with over 50 pages of mountain biking and outdoor action. Starting with our cover article featuring some expert advice from the world class cyclist, Brent Bookwalter, and continuing with our features, "Women and Cycling", "Mountain Biking is a Family Affair", "How to Find Your Cycling Posse", Barry-Roubaix and Fort Custer Stampede race coverage, a spring tune-up guide, skydiving, kayaking, product reviews, and more. You'll notice bios of the GTMTBA Cycling Team starting on page 35. We have a great mix of cyclists from around Michigan and northern Michigan who enjoy racing, trail riding, family riding, and most importantly, having fun doing what they love to do! We've been adding additional writers so that we can continue to bring you exciting and informative articles and information. If you or someone you know would like to write for Northern Motion Magazine, please contact us at We have also been investing in Northern Motion Gear. We'll be introducing cool cycling clothing with some of the most exciting designs from the best mountain biking artist we could find. Northern Motion Gear is made with ultra high quality materials to ensure this gear stands out from the crowd. We'll have more information about these products on the website very soon. Stay tuned! Stay safe on the trails and enjoy the warm spring and summer weather!

Dave Mann Northern Motion

We’d like to thank the following advertisers for their support of the Traverse Area Trails Map

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World Class Cyclist Brent Bookwalter talks Michigan mountain biking and the off-road advantage

MTB RACE RECAPS Danielle’s Barry-Roubaix 2012 Heather’s Barry-Roubaix 2012 Fort Custer Stampede 2012



Women & Cycling: Where are all the chicks?

30 34

Mountain Biking is a Family Affair Going Clubbing:

PHOTOS: ©BMC/Tim De Waeles

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How to find your (cycling) posse

42 50

Freefalling Let’s Yak about Kayaking


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PHOTO: Andrea Tucker

COLUMNS & STUFF Upcoming Events Cycling Team Bios Spring Tune-Up Getting Your Bike Ready To Roll

48 Reader’s Rides PRODUCT REVIEWS 6 Feeling the Burn Soigneur Embrocation Cream 5 SPRING 2012

Mention of products or services in either advertisements or articles does not constitute endorsement by the publisher. Publisher reserves the right to refuse advertisements for any reason. Views expressed in articles are solely those of the writers. Copyright by the GTMTBA, LLC 2012. All rights reserved. Contents may not be reprinted or otherwise reproduced without written permission from the publisher. Information subject to change at any time. GTMTBA is not responsible or liable for errors, omissions or changes in information. WARNING: Much of the action depicted in this magazine is potentially dangerous. Do not attempt to duplicate any stunts that are beyond your own capabilities. Always use discretion and wear the appropriate safety gear.

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Cyclists in Europe have been slathering it on for years, and the trend has really picked up recently in the United States. In cold weather, for training or racing, riders rub on the cream to get their muscles warmed up to perform in the cold and wet weather of spring or late fall. 6 SPRING 2012

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PHOTOS: © Dan Socie from Soigneur

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n the early spring months, the temperatures tend to get in the way of laying down a firm foundation for your tan in northern Michigan. While we see exotic pictures of European racing featuring light jackets and the occasional long-sleeve, the racers usually finish in short sleeves and without leg warmers. While a beautiful summer can’t be too far off, Michiganders adopt the same techniques as the Pros. What is even cooler is that we now have our very own embrocation cream from Grand Rapids, Michigan: Soigneur. First off, if you’re unfamiliar with embrocation cream, here’s a crash course. It’s IcyHot without the icy and with a lot more hot. Cyclists in Europe have been slathering it on for years, and the trend has really picked up recently in the United States. In cold weather, for training or racing, riders rub on the cream to get their muscles warmed up to perform in the cold and wet weather of spring or late fall. Often times, it’s the work of a dedicated soigneur in Europe doing the rubbing. Since you probably don’t have your own personal masseuse, Soigneur steps up for you. While there are a number of brands to try, I wanted to see how the local product stacked up against another brand I’ve used in the past, DZNutz. I tested out Soigneur over a period of two weeks in Michigan. As you’d probably guess, the temperature extremes in that period ranged from frigid Arctic blizzards to breezy, comfortable days in the saddle, and on more than a few occasions I experienced both in the same ride. Soigneur claims to get your legs warmed up before you’re even on the bike; as a notorious and admitted slow-starter, I was interested in the benefits. Also, many riders use it as an alternative to tights on slightly warmer days. How warm can a cream keep you? I tried it out. Using a plastic sandwich bag to cover my hand, I threw on some Soigneur and hit the road. The ‘tingle’ Northern Motion

of the cream took about three to five minutes to really kick in, and of course, the tingle means it’s working. Sticking to my normal routine of light stretching, my legs definitely felt a bit more peppy right out of the gate. Even on days when I was testing how cold using cream without leg warmers was, I noticed the first few minutes were a little smoother. My legs didn’t need to loosen up as much. While Soigneur doesn’t claim that their cream can replace leg warmers, I was interested in seeing at what temperature using the cream alone would still be helpful. After a few rough days of trying at temperatures too low, I rode for an hour and forty-five minutes in a stiff wind that brought the temperature to 35 degrees. My legs were fine, even as I walked out the door and slowly got up to speed. In addition, with no wet warmers to weigh me down or cool me off later in the ride, it was very beneficial. It also gave me a huge head start on my summer tan. So, it works. But is it as good as DZNutz? Absolutely. It also is a bit cheaper, comes in a cooler-looking tub and is a Michigan company to boot. Plus, owner Dan Socie is heavily involved in several Michigan cycling teams and events. A tub will last you a long time, so invest wisely and locally. ***Author’s note: This is serious stuff. Keep away from sensitive areas. Even a small, accidental dab of embro in the wrong spot can leave you hobbled for a solid 45 minutes crying for help. Also, don’t over do it. A little bit goes a long way, and if you layer this stuff on like coats of paint, your post-ride shower will be torture. Use less than you think, at least until you know how much you need. Pick some up on Soigneur’s website $22. Pros: Works great, smells good, cool logo, local Michigan product. Cons: Limited bike shops, need to mail order. Rating: 4.5/5 Sprockets

PHOTO: Action Sports Images

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We’d like to thank the following advertisers for their support of the Traverse Area Trails Map

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Barry-Roubaix 2012 By: Danielle Musto

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Northern Motion Photos: Danielle Musto


he biggest appeal of gravel road racing is that racers from all disciplines and abilities can compete. This was especially evident at the Barry-Roubaix start line. The huge field was comprised of road racers, mountain bike racers, cyclocross racers, and triathletes. Everyone was ready to kick-off the 2012 race season and test his or her early-season fitness. The weather the day before the race kept many racers guessing about which bike would bring home the money. While the rain helped pack down some of the loose sections of road, it also created some new muddy sections. Mountain bikes would have an advantage in both the muddy and sandy sections, but cyclo-cross bikes with skinnier tires would roll faster on the hardpacked dirt roads. Decisions, decisions. The only racers who could rest contentedly with their bike choice were those racing in the new Fat Bike category. Obviously, their choice was made the moment they registered. As usual, the men’s 62-mile race was incredibly competitive. At the start line it was evident that there were more then a few potential winners in the crowd. A high pace and a few attacks whittled down the group of racers until a small group of riders including Brian Matter, Mike Anderson and Nathan Williams broke away. The final sandy doubletrack section forced the racers off their bikes and both Mike Anderson and Brian Matter were able to run fast enough to create a small gap from the other racers. From that moment on the two racers (both were on cyclocross bikes) worked together and traded pulls on the road until the finish line. Mike Anderson took the sprint (and win) with a time of 2:51:05 and Brian Matter finished right behind with a time of 2:51:08. Nathan Williams finished in third with a time of 2:51:57 and was the first finisher on a 29’er mountain bike. Rounding out the podium were Shawn Adams and Steve Broglio in fourth and fifth place.

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Tara Jansen and Barry Vanvolkinburg Thanks to an equal prize money, the women’s 62-mile race had its biggest and most talented field yet. Returning to the race were both last year’s winner Samantha Brode and runner-up Kim Thomas, as well as a local favorite, Amy Stauffer. A crash early in the race separated Amy Stauffer from the lead pack and forced her to chase for several miles. When she finally found a group of men that she could work with out on the open roads she had no idea what place she was in or how many women were in front of her. Eventually she and the group she was riding with bridged up to another group that included Samanatha Brode. From that point on both Brode and Stauffer were together until the final doubletrack section. Stauffer took advantage of her mountain bike background and was able to power through the sand. When she eventually looked back Brode was nowhere in sight. Stauffer rode alone to the finish and crossed the line with a time of 3:18:24. Samantha Brode finished a few minutes back with a time of 3:21:16 and Kathy Everts finished in third with a time of 3:28:23. Stephanie Swan and Amelia Moore rounded out the podium in fourth and fifth place respectively. Although shorter in distance the 36 and 24-mile races were NOT short in talent. Both the male and female categories had really large fields, with racers vying for both age group and overall wins. With 1500 cyclists competing, the Barry-Roubaix, otherwise known as "the killer gravel road race," is one of the largest cycling races in Michigan. It is held the last weekend in March and offers racers a choice of 3 distances: 65 miles, 36 miles or 24 miles. The Barry-Roubaix is named after 14 SPRING 2012

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a famous race in Europe called the Paris-Roubaix, as well as the location of the race, Barry County, Michigan. This year Barry-Roubaix was race #2 of the American UltraCross Championship Series. Both Jordan Diekema and Michael Wissink finished the 36-mile race with a blazing time of 1:44:07. Don Cameron followed in third place overall with a time of 1:44:13. Marie Dershem took the overall win in the women’s 36-mile race with a time of 1:59:27 followed by Lauri Brockmiller in second place in 2:00:55. Jane Van Hof finished third in 2:04:19. Similar to the 36-mile men, the two top male finishers of the 24-mile race also had identical times. Both Greg Brown and Tj Seiwert finished with a time of 1:24:18. John Neal rounded out the overall top three in 1:24:53. Katie Tomczyk was the overall female winner in the 24-mile race. Lise Loberg finished in second with a time 1:32:38 and Jan Toscano was third overall with a time of 1:34:15. Once again Barry-Roubaix was a stellar race. A beer tent and food vendors added a “bike festival” ambience to the event and racers stayed long after the awards, already plotting for next year. And just for the record, the overwhelming consensus from racers in all categories was that the cyclocross bike is the fastest bike for the race.

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By: Heather Brewer, GTMTBA Cycling Team


IDDLEVILLE, MI - Saturday was the highly anticipated, much feared Barry-Roubaix: Killer Gravel Road Race (BRX). The BRX offers three distances, 62 (for the Pro/Elite and the Daring), 36, and 24-miles of grinding pain through the rolling hills of scenic Barry County, Michigan. In the last few weeks Michigan has experienced an unusual, record-breaking August-like heat wave with 80-degree weather and sunny skies. I’ve uttered many prayers of thanks: I’d be racing in shorts and a short sleeve jersey! A line of storms dropped over an inch of rain on the eve of BRX 2012 and the temps cooled to a race-perfect 60 degrees. Pre-Race: Race morning I loaded my gear and to my dismay, I had a flat. A really flat flat tire. I pumped some air into it and then left to meet my friend Michelle. When I unloaded my bike the tire was flat again! We quickly pumped it full of air but it was depleted before we were able to reload it onto her car! Oh nooooooo. As we hastily made our way to the race venue we “chicked” many guys driving cars topped with bikes. As Michelle said, we had a flat tire to fix! For others, a flat tire may not be a big deal. But the last time I tried to put a tube in a tubeless tire it took 2 failed hours and 4 bike “mechanics” to fix it. Upon reflection, I question their qualifications as actual ‘bike mechanics.’ When we arrived, I was able to find one of my favorite real mechanics ready and waiting for a bike to wrench. I left my currently un-trusty steed in his care and went on to packet pick-up. Fifteen minutes later I found my bike race-ready with a new tube in the front tire—faith reinstated. Thanks, Bill! There were approximately 1500 people racing BRX. It was an overwhelming sea of brilliant colored bike jerseys—a beautiful sight for an overcast morning. The group had swelled and I was forced to line-up in the grass for the wave start. The Race: The tangled mass of bikes began to inch forward. I thought we were moving up for the next wave start but everyone kept going. My wave had started! Ooops! I quick clipped in and we were on our way for a couple hours of pain and suffering. The course rolls out on pavement for several miles before the first assault of gravel. The cross bikes had the definitive advantage here. I held on as best as I could on my mountain bike, averaging 22 mph for the first three miles. Around 7 miles in, BRX holds up to its reputation as “The Killer” when the course turns upward onto a sandy, tire-sucking two-track called Sager Road. Here the tables turned and it was the mountain bikers that gained an advantage. I steadily weaved my way through a maze of toppling cross-bikes and hike-a-bikers. I was joined by another mountain bike ridden by Roxane Kruse, a friend of mine wearing Team Priority Health green. Roxane is a 16 SPRING 2012

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PHOTO: Andrea Tucker.

strong and steady competitor and I was glad to see a friendly face. She inched her way past me and I was happy to follow her line of safe passage through the maze of carnage. Off Sager Road and onto wide-open gravel roads, I leap-frogged my way from group to group and managed to get ahead of Roxane. This was a first for me. I was hoping to find a pack of 10 or so guys to get in with for the bulk of the race, but I wasn’t having any luck. I spent many miles alone or with just one or two other cyclists. Around the 16-mile mark, a group of about 8 cyclists passed me, tucked in the middle of the group was Roxane! I knew she wouldn’t be far behind and that at any moment during the race she could come along and take me back a place. I tried to accelerate to catch a ride with their group, but there wasn’t enough power in my engine. I made a valiant effort for the next two miles to catch them, but on my own I didn’t have the speed. I settled in for a long second-half of riding alone. Considering how my race was going, I was delighted when the gravel road turned once again onto another “Killer”— Shaw Road. This marked the last section of two-track before hitting the pavement for the last 5 miles into the finish.

Around 7 miles in, BRX holds up to its reputation as “The Killer” when the course turns upward onto a sandy, tiresucking two-track called Sager Road.

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I was hopeful that my mountain bike would once again allow me to ride past some cyclo-crossers. Unfortunately, there was an impenetrable wall of hike-a-bikers. I jogged up the hill pushing my bike. I hopped back on the saddle as soon as possible for a fun and super-muddy descent. The rainfall the night before had created massive lakes across the road. We were back on the pavement for the final run to the finish and my legs felt strong. I steadily increased my pace up a long climb, doing a lot more passing than I was getting passed. On the downhill I revved my engine and managed to pass quite a few more cyclists—I was feeling good. And that’s when I spotted another woman. I had a chance to take back one place in the standings. At this point, I knew I was only going to get faster as the finish line came closer. I breezed past her, putting the hammer on the cranks and steadily accelerating the last two miles for a strong and satisfying finish. My time was 2:19:48. 15th place 30-39 Women. The top five women overall in the 36-mile race were: Marie Dershem with a time of 1:59:27, Laurie Brockmiller at 2:00:55, Jane Van Hof at 2:04:19, Danielle Musto at 2:05:56, and Chelsea Strate at 2:06:49.

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SheBikes on a weekend mountain bike outing last May to Arcadia Dunes. PHOTO: Linda Deneen

By: Kandace Chapple 18 SPRING 2012

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ny woman who bikes can tell you this: If you run into another woman on the trail, there’s an instant kinship. There’s always a hello, a nod from one gal to the other, two women representing among the men they are invariably with. Women, despite all the advances in womenspecific bikes and gear, still make up only a small fraction of the cycling community. The followers on GTMTBA’s Facebook page offer this perspective: just 27% are women. The area’s biggest mountain bike race offers similar stats: Of the 3,5000 riders in the 2011 Iceman field, 345 were female, a 10% showing. Local bike teams show more promising numbers: Einstein Racing’s website lists 36 riders, nine of which are women (25%). The Hagerty Cycling team has 18 women in their 53 riders (34%). Last year Hagerty added one woman but 2012 brought a nice jump - four new women riders, according to team president Tim Barrons. GTMTBA’s new 2012 cycling team has seven new racers, three of which are women.

The Bikes Belong Coalition ( reports that in the United States, 24% of all bicycle trips are made by women. This comes in low compared to other countries. In the Netherlands, 55% of riders are women. In Germany, 49%. So, where are the women in Michigan and what’s keeping them from the sport? British Cycling did a recent survey to find out what discouraged women from riding, and the results cited safety concerns, lack of knowledge of routes and having no one to cycle with, riding ability and physical discomfort. Let’s take a look at what area cyclists and businesses are doing to address these concerns: Physical discomfort Kris McLain of McLain’s Cycle in Traverse City, has seen first-hand the advent of women-specific riding equipment in the last 15 years. “The original thought was to take men’s equipment and ‘shrink it and pink it,’” she said. “In recent years, though, they’ve gotten serious about truly fitting equipment to women and looking at the science to it.” 19 SPRING 2012

For example, McLain recently helped a female rider move to a woman-specific helmet. “The first one she tried on fit, but it was big and bulky. The women’s model fit her too but it was smaller, streamlined and looked good,” she said. “And it wasn’t pink!” Everything from bikes to gloves to shoes now has female versions. And women don’t need to buy pink to get the right fit. “Some women don’t want the pink, but they want the fit,” McLain said. “On the flip side, some men are buying women’s models because it fits their build better. It comes down to what your shape and size is.” McLain’s recently completed their second annual “We Love Women Who Ride” promotion and the shop, coupled with unseasonably warm 70+ degree March days, was swamped. “We have seen a huge rise in women in the sport,” McLain said. “It’s good to see.” Safety concerns / No one to cycle with Kris McLain doesn’t necessarily like to bike alone but does so on the Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation Trails (TART), which is close to people and places. On secluded trails, she prefers to ride with friends. She urges cyclists to seek out a group to ride with if they aren’t comfortable riding solo.

“Dry Hill Linda” PHOTO: Paula Dreeszen

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“When you’re with a group, it can boost your confidence,” she said. “But do what you can do, find the group that is your speed.” There are occasional skill workshops offered at area bike shops that will help riders become more confident with bike repairs that would otherwise leave them stranded on the trail. Riding skills are also covered as well in some classes. One area group caters specifically to women and beginners: SheBikes, led in part by Linda Deneen. They do weekly rides, typically road rides, but they occasionally head out on their mountain bikes. SheBikes fills a niche for women who wish to begin group riding, Deneen said, but who feel unsure about their level of skill and fitness. And while the need is certainly there throughout the entire season, SheBikes is only offered at the beginning of the season. Initial participants go on to join in other area group rides, whether it's on the roads, or trails. “Women enjoy each other's company, support and camaraderie especially while learning something new,” Deneen said. “As the season lengthens, the group does split up into subgroups but no one gets dropped EVER!” Another event to watch for is Brick Wheels’ event called “Wine, Women and Wheels” held each May. This year’s May 6th event is a fundraiser for Traverse Health Clinic, but it’s also a great place to meet other women cyclists. Lack of knowledge of routes Area maps are readily available for cyclists, including GTMTBA’s new Traverse Area Trails map which includes the VASA, Single Track, TART, downtown Traverse City, and major landmarks. Again, consider riding with a group to learn area trails and become more comfortable. The TART and VASA continue to improve trail markers each season. Intimidation factor No one can deny the intimidation factor as a woman walking into most shops. Unless you do it about 10 times. And survive each time. There’s only one way around it: to go, and go again. (My take? You’ll find the boys are not only harmless, 20 SPRING 2012

but easy on the eyes. See my post on this very topic: ew-at-shop.html) Kris McLain has two women on their sales force and she has seen women prefer one or the other: “Some women come in and they want to talk to a guy,” she said with a laugh. “Then we have a brand new rider who comes in and gravitates to the women on the sales floor. We can help either way.” Something else that changes the intimidation factor? A new generation of women who will never know a bike shop without women-specific gear. Ali Bridson, who used to race on the City Bike shop team, decided recently to step down from racing and begin mentoring young women in cycling. Her new club, as yet unnamed, will have both an adult group of women riders and then another group of girls, 12-18 years old. “I’m looking to attract women who like to ride and would also be interested in leading the girls group on occasion,” Bridson said. “I hope to get 10 to 12 girls riding.” The goal? To take away all the factors mentioned above and then some. “It will be educational – they will learn how to change a bike tire and the rules of the road,” Bridson said. “But they will also gain confidence and develop skills while meeting emotional and social needs.” While women are still in the minority, the plethora of women’s products tells us the industry is willing and able to invest in women riders and that our buying power is keeping them in stores. Here’s to the upcoming season of even more women on the trail! Reach Linda Deneen at for information on SheBikes and Ali Bridson at for information on her women’s group. Kandace Chapple is a freelance writer, publisher of Grand Traverse Woman Magazine and loves to mountain bike. Visit her website and blog at Northern Motion

May 25 – Ride the Keweenaw, Copper Harbor, MI June 2 – The Grind at Boyne Mountain, Boyne Falls, MI June 2 – Harbor Springs Cycling Classic, Harbor Springs, MI June 8 – Le Tour de Mont Pleasant, Mount Pleasant, MI June 9 – Michigan Mountain Mayhem, Boyne City, MI June 16 – Lumberjack 100, Manistee, MI June 16 – Glen Arbor Solstice Half Marathon & 5K, Glen Arbor, MI June 23 – Meijer State Games of Michigan, Cannonsburg, MI July 14 – Boyne Challenge Marathon, Boyne Falls, MI August 10-12 – Cherry-Roubaix, Traverse City, MI August 11 - Ore to Shore, Marquette, MI August 19 – 4th Annual Traverse City Triathlon, Traverse City, MI August 25 – North Country Run, Manistee, MI

Photo: Cody Sovis

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PHOTO: ŠJack Kunnen Photography

By: Heather Brewer Presented by: Southwest Michigan Mountain Biking Association Augusta, Michigan Sunday, May 06, 2012 Race #2 in the Championship Point Series (MMBA)

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he weekend of May 5th and 6th was big Tencate of Founders Alger Racing who I raced for Michigan mountain bikers with Mud, against at Mud, Sweat and Beers in 2011. I Sweat and Beers taking place on Saturday chased her for several miles before a flat tire near in Traverse City and the Fort Custer Stampede the finish took me out of the competition. I was in Augusta on Sunday. We were left asking glad to see Marnie, she is always in good spirits ourselves which race to attend, or, daresay, make and I enjoy being around her. Danielle Shaver, an attempt to race both. I’ll admit that the also of Founders Alger, was at the line on her single speed. Custer Cyclery, Team Active thought had crossed my mind. In the end, I chose Fort Custer Stampede. The Racing/WSI, and Cycletherapy Specialized course was almost exclusively on single-track. Racing were also represented in the field. 3-2-1-Go! And we were off at break-neck The Southwest MMBA chapter’s efforts to do maintenance, build new, and advocate for the pace, a fight to be the first to get our wheels on track. Four of us took the trail system is obvious. lead at a steady fast pace. Fort Custer has some Hard-packed single-track of the best maintained kept our wheels spinning and fun single-track through the course. All I’ve ridden in lower four of us stayed together Michigan. for the first 5 miles as we A couple of rainy headed into the Trenches: days leading up to the a series of off-camber weekend made for a turns and whoop-de-doos. fast course, possibly I slowed my pace to too fast. Two serious give myself room to injuries reported on maneuver through the the “Camel Humps” technical section. But section caused race then second-guessed that directors’ to change the course at the last minute, bypassing them and decision and sped back up. Never second-guess yourself—always go rejoining the trail just after the stoned berm. Fort Custer Stampede hosted over 450 with your gut. I took one of the turns too fast and hit a tree competitors. The Elite and Expert racers set off at 10 AM while Sport and Beginner raced at that jumped onto the trail (they sometimes do 12:30 PM. The course was approx. 9.6 miles in that). I went over the handlebars in a spectacular length and featured sections of newly endo, landing on my head and shoulder. Marnie, just behind me, slowed to see if I was constructed trail that included a bridge. The Elite men raced 4 laps, Elite Women and Expert raced okay. I yelled, “I’m fine! Go! Go! Go!” I didn’t 3, Sport 2 and Beginner 1 lap. Winners were want to ruin her race. I got up as quickly as possible and climbed on the saddle: a little shaky, awarded with pint glasses. Over 56 children tested their legs in the kids’ a little sore, but my legs still worked. It was time race, a 1.4-mile loop that consisted of single to get back to work. Rolled 5 feet . . . then, in track and groomed field. The kids received gift my shakiness, I fell down a ravine. I got up, brushed myself off again. Now it bags and were treated to snacks and Orange Soda. was time to get to work. These women are fast, but we also still had Women’s Expert Race Seven women lined up for the Women’s Expert two and a half laps to go. I needed to put the race late Sunday morning. I recognized Marnie 24 SPRING 2012

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hammer down but it was not a panic situation Elite Women Results: Elite Women smoked the course with lap times yet. Once I was alone on the trail, I started to hovering near 40 minutes. enjoy myself. Fort Custer has a little of everything, some technical sections, scenic 1. Heather Spencer, Team Fast 2:01:16 areas—it is a beautiful, fun trail and I couldn’t 2. Erin Vicary, Quiring Cycles 2:04:45 3. Jill Meredith, Cross Country Cycle help but have a good time. 2:15:02 Nearing the end of the first lap I had managed to pull Marnie back in sight and had a lap time of 43 minutes. I could catch glimpses Sport Women of the leading 2 women. I knew they weren’t The Women’s 40+ Sport Category is proving to be a fierce competition this year. There was too far ahead. A third of the way into my second lap, a full-out brawl to the finish line for first and Marnie and I were passed by a Team second place with just 1 second separating Kim Active/WSI racer. And now I was down to fifth Owens (1:31:35) and second place Tammy Moran (1:31:36). Heather Kubiak (1:32:07), in place. Following Marnie’s pacing for most of the third place was hot on their trail. second and third lap brightened my spirits; I was having a good day. After all, Marnie blew Sport Women 19-39 Top 3: past me at Barry-Roubaix like I was going 1. Kati Rikke, Freewheeler Racing 1:27:53 2. Laurel Peak 1:31:53 backwards. In the last lap, in tandem, we headed into a 3. Stephanie Sainsbury, Cannondale Midwest Racing 1:32:06 section with short, punchy climbs with rock beds. I once again decided to slow down, creating a gap that would allow me to carry Full Results can be found here: momentum up the hills. You think I would know better. Marnie took that extra space and she was gone. I was not able to recover. Top three places went to local riders: Summer Olmstead, Angela Bowers, and Kathy Roche-Wallace. Expert Women Results: 1. Summer Olmstead, Custer Cyclery 2:14:02 2. Angela Bowers, Team Active Racing/WSI 2:14:35 3. Kathy Roche-Wallace, Team Active Racing/WSI 2:16:23 4. Marnie Tencate, Founders Alger Racing 2:19:19 5. Heather Brewer, GTMTBA 2:19:53 6. Danielle Shaver, Founders Alger 2:20:18 7. Heather McNamara, Cycletherapy 8. Specialized Racing 2:21:12

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PHOTO: ŠBMC/Tim De Waeles


By: Leah Clark 26 SPRING 2012

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PHOTO: ©BMC/Tim De Waele

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PHOTO: ©BMC/Tim De Waele


est Michigan native, Brent Bookwalter, 28, is on his fifth year traveling the transcontinental globe as a domestique on the elite pro BMC Racing Team, a formidable force of cyclists who proved their mettle at last year’s Tour de France, finishing with the yellow jersey as champions. He’s raced the treacherous cobbled streets of the Paris-Roubaix, conquered the infamous rollers to place second in Stage 1 of the Giro d’Italia, shredded skin in Beijing and shattered bones in Belgium, Austria and Spain. But when it comes to mountain biking, this roadie’s mind returns to Michigan, where he first discovered his passion for the sport on a fat-tire Trek 800 on neighborhood trails in Comstock Park. “I love Michigan mountain biking,” Bookwalter said fondly of the Great Lakes State, home to fluid, wellmaintained trails. “At some point, I just wanted to go out to the Cannonsburg Ski Area and rip this nice flowing single-track on this hardpacked dirt through the woods.” With a keen specialty for time trials, climbing and stage races,

“I love Michigan mountain biking”

Bookwalter’s career highlights span longer than his sponsor list, but if you were to ask his younger self where he’d be in 10 years, he would never anticipate wearing the proud colors of a team jersey. His childhood is one you could easily recognize as your own—being just a kid on a bike with a thrill to ride. He rode often, giving all he had, sprinting hills and racing friends on the then unpaved White Pine trail. “It was full gas, all the time,” said Bookwalter. “I’d ride every day, destroy myself and come limping home. Still, it was always 100 percent purely fun, and I was driven by the desire to compete and improve.” Bookwalter deemed his early training routines as primitive, with simple markers for improvement. He’d tell himself, “I’m going to sprint up this hill as fast as I can and see what gear I can make it up in. Oh, I was three gears down in the back; that was pretty good today.” At 12, Bookwalter signed up for his first race, the Pando Challenge Kids Race, and won first place. From there, a fire was ignited and quickly he rose up the ranks, racing Northern Motion

PHOTO: Grand Rapids Press/TJ Hamilton. The local newspaper captured this candid photo of young Brent, age 5, as he rides for the first time without training wheels. Dad, Harry Bookwalter, stands by for support and encouragement.

efforts landed him a scholarship at Lees-McRae in North Carolina, a college with a competitive cycling program and a natural transition for the next stage of his career. “The Lees-McRae program was a good fit and a nice middle ground where I could continue to develop in school to keep my life in balance,” said Bookwalter. “It’s a big part of making me into the rider I am today and the person I am too.” Nine collegiate national champion titles later, Bookwalter was introduced to road racing. He met cyclists with a salary, paid travel and free mechanical support, opportunities not prevalent on the mountain biking scene. He entered a Michigan-based development program cocreated by business owners and passionate cyclists, Mark Bissell, Rob Wynalda and Kevin Cusack, and received coaching and financial support that allowed him to compete in national and international collegiate races in the offseason. In 2005, he was presented with an opportunity to go pro for Advantage Benefits Endeavor, a domestic cycling team. “At the time, that’s not really where my heart was at,” he said. “But my heart was with the bike and I wanted to race to

statewide mountain bike races on the weekends and building a network of talented athletes and mentors along the way. He drew from their experiences, gained motivation and confidence and adapted into a more regimented training program. “With any competitive pursuit, it’s about identifying people who are better than you, listening to them and filtering all their advice, taking the good parts that are going to work for you and passing on the parts that won’t work for you,” Bookwalter said. The more he advanced, the more he became aware of the importance of details like bike customizations and maintenance. “Originally, it was pump the tires up as hard as they would go and let ‘er rip,” he recalled. That was until fellow cyclist, Russ Tiles, took him under his wing, teaching him optimal tire pressure, fork pressure and other technical nuances to maximize performance. “That’s one of the layers of the sport that you don’t see immediately as a beginner,” said Bookwalter. By senior year of high school, he had become a force to reckon with, earning trips to the cyclocross and mountain bike Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) World Championships. His 28 SPRING 2012

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PHOTO: Brent Bookwalter PHOTO: Rui Quinta

the highest level I could and max out my potential.” And as the cards would have it, Bookwalter’s road career kicked off in Belgium that summer, staking his position on the professional circuit and rising into the 6-time USA World Championship Team athlete he is today. Bookwalter attributes his success on the road to skills he learned off-road in Michigan. It’s those roots in mountain biking that have served him well technically, providing him a good base for bike handling skills, confidence in adverse conditions and the ability to do sharp, short efforts at a hard start. “Mountain biking teaches you about pacing, it teaches you about suffering, and it rounds you out,” he explained. In the off-season, he takes out his BMC Speedfox 29er to keep his skills sharp. Bookwalter cautions aspiring athletes to stay balanced and keep the sport in perspective: “For young [riders] especially, it needs to be all fun. That’s the reason we start riding and racing bikes. It can’t be too serious or too uptight.”

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Mountain Biking is a Family Affair By: Heather Brewer

Is your child ready for off-road riding? Before you go to the trailhead, spend time determining your child’s general fitness level. Take them on a few rides along the bike path, kick a ball in the backyard or even take them for a short jog.


ountain biking can be a fun and adventurous activity to do as a family. There are many reasons to mountain bike with your kids, from spending time together to developing a healthy lifestyle to building self-confidence and strength in your children. I guarantee that the feeling you had when finishing your first cross-country race will pale in comparison to seeing the mile-wide smile that your child will be wearing when they clear their first log pile. Below are some tips to keep in mind when considering taking your kids mountain biking for the first time. 30 SPRING 2012

Age appropriate bikes: Ages 1-3: Able to ride in a trailer bike. For off-road riding, I recommend the Chariot Child Carrier equipped with 20" wheels—most child carriers have 16" wheels. The larger wheels offer a smoother ride for your child and allows for greater clearance on the trail. Ages 2-4: Strider or running bikes that do not have pedals. These are great tools to teach balance and bike handling skills at an early age. Running bikes give young children the opportunity to be independent while they are not quite ready for their own pedal bike. If you don’t want to invest in a running bike, make your Northern Motion

own by simply removing the pedals from a bicycle. Ages 3-7 and up: Can ride a tag-along bike. A tag-along bike is a one-wheeled bike that attaches to the seat post of the parents bike. Ages 4-6 and up: Can ride their own bikes! When shopping, let children help choose their bicycle. It will make it more fun while letting them be a part of the process. Giving them some control will signal that this is an activity you are doing together, not another chore their parents are forcing them to do. Is your child ready for off-road riding? Before you go to the trailhead, spend time determining your child’s general fitness level. Take them on a few rides along the bike path, kick a ball in the backyard or even take them for a short jog. Can your child ride 4-5 miles on the bike path? If so, then they are probably ready to attempt a 3-mile trail ride. Bike handling skills: After countless bike rides through our neighborhood, I was convinced our 5-year-old daughter was prepared for her first trail ride. We went to what I considered an easy trail. It wasn’t until I saw her careening out of control down a slope that I realized how wrong I had been. While she could easily brake when coming to a stop sign, she did not know how to use her brakes to control her bike. That was just the beginning of a long list of ways I had failed to prepare her. To help you avoid the mistakes I made, here is a list of basic bike handling skills you can practice at home: 1) Brakes: Try playing a game of red light/green light in the backyard to practice braking. Once they have that mastered, find a gradual hill and have them practice controlling their speed as they descend. You can adapt a game of red light/green light to include yellow light.

Helmets Gloves First Aid Kit (Band-Aids, Neosporin Spray, etc.) Bug Spray Cell Phone Snacks Hydration Pack/Water bottles

Krista, age 7,with Mom Sarah at Lutton PHOTO: Bernie Riehl

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GTMTBA Traverse Area Trails Map Northern Motion

Green is coasting or pedaling, yellow is slow down, and red is come to a complete stop. 2) Power Pedal: This is a technique used to begin riding. To execute a power pedal, have your child straddle the bike (not sitting on the saddle), put a pedal in the upright position. In one smooth motion, have them step on the pedal, propelling the bike forward while they sit on the seat and begin pedaling. 3) Turns: There are some twisty turns on Michigan trails. To prepare your child for tight cornering, set up several cones in your backyard creating an obstacle course. Or have them ride in tight circles around just one cone. How small can they make their circle? Then try going in the opposite direction. 4) Bike Position: Have your child practice standing while riding their bike, coasting and pedaling. This will help them become comfortable with the proper body position needed for off-road riding. 5) Obstacles: Urban areas are filled with fun obstacles that can simulate the off-road experience. Try riding up and down curbs, down a shallow flight of stairs and ramps, etc. Explore, have fun, and find new challenges when riding with your kids. Keeping your child energized: Little bodies use a lot of energy. Keep in mind their fuel tanks are a third the size of an adult’s. Children will need lots of breaks with water and snacks to help them stay fueled.

Granola bars, fruit snacks, orange slices, apples and bananas are all good options to pack when planning your ride. Avoid "performance" and "energy" gels/snacks and drinks that may contain caffeine or other stimulants that can cause unhealthy side effects in children. Time to shred: Setting your child up for success will help them build confidence and enjoy mountain biking. For the first ride, choose an easy section of trail that does not have steep hills. If possible, ride to a destination. Kids like having a goal, setting a destination gives them motivation to ride their bikes. Pick a stream, lake, interesting wooded area, etc. where you can stop for a break. Make it a game: Keep a "scavenger hunt" list in my hydration pack for our trail rides. When we stop for our breaks, I pull out the list. This gives us a chance to explore while creating a game, keeping the kids’ interest piqued. Remember, this is not your training ride. Take lots of breaks and enjoy being together. You are helping to develop an active and healthy lifestyle for your child. While trail rides may require lots of patience in the early years, before you know it, you will be chasing after them while enjoying having a life-long cycling partner.

PHOTO: Bernie Riehl Photos. Thanksgiving MTB trip to Lutton.

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Sarah, Lily, and Krista Riehl.

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We’d like to thank the following advertisers for their support of the Traverse Area Trails Map

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Iceman pre-ride. Kandace rides the Iceman route a few weeks before the 2011 race with a group of riders. PHOTO: Kandace Chapple


’ve been in a few bike clubs over the years, all of them informal - changing, falling, and climbing from one season to the next. And each year, whatever group of riders I’ve fallen into has become this: my salvation. The first group came the summer after my mother passed away. Nothing was darker than the moments at dusk when I was alone with my thoughts. Nothing was a sweeter escape than Monday nights when I matched pace with my friend Rodney who liked cycling and pizza consumption as much as I did. In a few short summer weeks, we had gathered a group of five, all women except Rod (smart man). We wheeled the trails at Lost Lake Pathway and Lake Ann Pathway, sometimes ending the night with a pizza at the Hofbrau in Interlochen. As we passed the nights together, I found that my bike, and the friends that came with it, proved salvation indeed. When the group fizzled the next year, I instead rode with friends here and there, Some of the Boone’s crew gathers at the Peak2Peak finish line at Crystal Mountain last fall. PHOTO: Kandace Chapple

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enjoying both solitude and companionship in turns. A few summers later, I was adopted into a group of yellow jerseys quite by chance. And I remembered again the heady enjoyment that comes with a pack of like-minded people who make you laugh and race you up the hills. If you’ve never been in a pack of cyclists (big or small, serious or giggling), this is the season to give it a go. Here are some things to consider if you want to form your own posse: Punch in at work on two wheels. You might find the guy in the cubicle next to you wouldn’t mind knocking off a bike ride after work once a week. With a little smooth talk, you and a few co-workers might be able to talk the boss into bike jerseys with the company logo on it. It’s built-in camaraderie. You’re a part of the club whether you’re on a single speed taking the podium or on a cruiser navigating the single track for the first time. At the end of the ride, you’re all the same team. The crew at Boone’s Long Lake Inn in Traverse City has been riding together for five years. “It started as a social and competitive thing,” said Jake Kaberle, assistant general manager. “Now it has evolved into more of a lifestyle thing for many of us.” The group started with five riders then added a couple each year. They now number about 15 from beginner to expert. Some of their regular customers have also joined the outings and sport the Boone’s bike jersey sold at the restaurant. Several riders sign up for the Iceman or Slush Cup each year so the rides get more intense in the late summer and early fall. Then, Northern Motion

texts are going out in a flurry most days to see who can ride and when. “Because we all work together, we get an opportunity to rib each other quite a bit about past races and upcoming events,” said Kaberle, who is still smarting from his 2009 Iceman where a regular Boone’s customer beat him… and won’t let him forget it. Look into non-cycling social clubs. There are groups in town that might have their own subset of cyclists in hiding. If you are a member of anything from a professional networking group to a knitting club, put out the word. The handlebars might start surfacing. The Traverse City Senior Center, for example, has a regular group that bikes all around the area, according to Ericca Hovie, program coordinator. The age range of the group is 55-75 and the group size ranges from 8-12 and sometimes up to 30. “The group goes all over,” Hovie said. “There are rides out in the Betsie Valley and Green Lake areas that the group enjoys. There are also rides in town along the trail.” The group is free and is led by a facilitator who monitors attendance and carries a cell phone for emergencies. “No one is left behind,” she said. “It’s noncompetitive unlike some cycling clubs. The structure is loose and ride days are e-mailed a few days ahead of time. There is no need to RSVP, whoever shows up at the designated place and time can participate in the ride.” The Senior Center has a Spring/Summer Sports Rally scheduled for May 19 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. where those interested can register for any of their summer sports programs. They will

have the sports facilitators, including the cycling facilitators, on hand to answer any questions. Facebook it. Facebook is all about camaraderie so put it to work for you. Post about your bike rides and see who comments. Watch for friends who also chat about biking. I have Facebook connections that I never met but instead “met” through my biking friends and then, eventually, on rides. Make the connection first online and then, later, on the trail. Call the bike shops. Area bike shops have the latest on clubs and want to get you the information. Check out their websites or stop in to chat and check their bulletin board. Get organized. Small groups sometimes stay just that, small and intimate, a few friends on a quiet trail in Interlochen. Sometimes, they grow into more and begin to formally organize for social purposes or activism. You might consider seeking out a group whose focus is keeping trails open or seek out a group who simply gathers each spring to clean debris. If you and a few friends want, there are many resources online to take your group to the next level and formally organize. With a little footwork and the willingness to meet new people, you will soon find a group of people to pedal with be it for sport, exercise or laughter. Kandace Chapple is a freelance writer, publisher of Grand Traverse Woman Magazine and loves to mountain bike. Visit her website and blog at

Kandace is the adopted child in the Boone’s group. Notice her missing yellow jersey. They granted her one after her Peak2Peak finish at Crystal Mountain. PHOTO: Kandace Chapple. 35 SPRING 2012

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cycling TEAM BIOS

City: Traverse City, MI 2012 GTMTBA Races: Yankee Springs TT, Mud, Sweat and Beers, Arcadian Grit and Gravel, Battle at the Burg, Peak2Peak, Iceman Cometh, and more.


Favorite Place to Ride: VASA Single Track and Arcadia Dunes.

Started Mountain Biking: Dave started riding in August 2010. His first race was in October 2010 More Details About Dave: Dave says, “I'm a 40 year old former Marine and father of six (think the Brady Bunch). I'm happily married to my best friend Mrs. Stacy Walston, a real keeper. I've worked in sales/purchasing and management of the forestry and lumber industry since 1994. I enjoy all types of outdoor activities, especially the ones that can be done with my family. Camping, kayaking, backpacking, and archery all top my list of top outdoor activities to do.” Dave’s favorite place to visit is anywhere in the Caribbean with his wife. His favorite foods are Mexican and Italian cuisine, and just about anything with chocolate or peanut butter. He’s Most Looking Forward To: Dave says he is most looking forward to improving his fitness and abilities on a bike this year. 2011 was his first season of competition of any sort in a long time, and he can't wait to see some more changes! “I want to feel physically and mentally better each year by being more active on the bike and training more between rides. I can't wait to enjoy this upcoming season with this biking community that I've so luckily stumbled upon.” Editor Note: You can also check out Dave’s personal blog at

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2012 GTMTBA Races: Iceman Cometh Challenge and several Michigan triathlons.


Favorite Places to Ride: Dan’s favorite place to ride is “Mann Mountain”, also known as his back woods. He’s been building trails there for several years. He also loves hitting the trails at Boyne Mountain, Boyne Highlands, the VASA, and the North Country Trail. More Details About Dan: Dan has been biking for over 20 years. Dan has two cycling trips that stand out from the rest. He says, “In 1994, I rode 3,200 miles across the United States from Seattle to Michigan. In 1997, I rode down Highway 101 along the Pacific Ocean. I would do these again at the drop of a hat.” Dan started doing triathlons thereafter, followed by mountain bike races after moving back to Michigan from Duluth, MN in 2000. If you live in the Charlevoix area, you may also recognize Dan as he bikes to work every day – no matter the type of weather. Interests include spending time with his kids, cross-country skiing, telemark skiing, home brewing, and jamming on his guitar. He’s Most Looking Forward To: Dan is most looking forward to racing in the 2012 Iceman Cometh. He couldn’t compete last year due to an injury. He’s also super excited that his son will be competing in the Iceman’s Sno-Cone race this year for the first time. Dan says, “We are both in heavy training – watch out!” Dan also hopes to conquer Metallica’s Fade to Black solo on his guitar, make a beer run by bike to the famous Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids. That’s a pretty good trip by bike from Charlevoix to Grand Rapids.

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City: Charlevoix, MI

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cycling TEAM BIOS

City: North Muskegon, MI


2012 GTMTBA Races: Barry-Roubaix, Fort Custer Stampede, Lumberjack 100, Peak2Peak, and Iceman Cometh.

Favorite Places to Ride: Heather’s favorite place to ride was Owasippe. The closing of Owasippe in 2010 was devastating and left many Muskegon area mountain bikers with nowhere to ride. Her support goes to the WMMBA who has been working hard to get mountain bikers back into Owasippe. Started Mountain Biking: Heather’s love for mountain biking started as a kid. She says, “When I was a kid, my parents rented an RV and we traveled cross-country to Durango, Colorado to visit relatives. One of my older cousins there raced mountain bikes. I thought that was the coolest thing ever. However, I didn’t think anyone in Michigan mountain biked considering we don’t have mountains in Michigan. Many years later, a hot young man approached me at a bar. After talking for a while, I learned that he raced mountain bikes. I was still curious and wanting to try the sport. Now, I’m not saying that I gave him my number because of mountain biking, but it helped. A few short months later we were married. My husband took me on my first trail ride at Owasippe. My longest ride at that point was about 5 miles on the bike path; I was not prepared for an 11-mile loop on technical, hilly single track. There may have been tears, but I did not quit. One thing I learned that day was that mountain biking terrified me. I took up road riding. Eventually I met several women who liked trail riding and I started mountain biking with them. While it still scared me, there was a great sense of accomplishment when I somehow managed to survive each ride without fatal injury. My first mountain bike race was the XTERRA Blackhawk Triathlon. Once the gun fired at the start, my adrenaline kicked in and my competitive side took over. Sections of trail that typically paralyzed me with fear became mere blurs in my peripheral vision. I was focused on the trail ahead and the rider in front of me. I became a different person. I was no longer timid and afraid; I was confident and strong. After that, I was addicted. More Details About Heather: Heather and her husband have two kids. Their son, Bear, is almost 3 years old and their daughter, Sage, is 6. She is a Senior Designer at a publishing company and has worked there for 13 years. Heather enjoys reading and spending time with her family in the great outdoors, including biking, camping, hiking, going on adventures, and trying new things. Watch for Heather’s new family section in our magazine! She’s Most Looking Forward To: Heather says, “I’m mostly looking forward to sharing my love of cycling with my kids. This will be the first year that we will bring them to the Iceman, and my daughter is hoping to tackle the beginners’ lap at Peak2Peak. We also have an epic trip planned to Brown County this summer. I’m equally excited and nervous about attempting my first Lumberjack 100. The longest trail ride I’ve done to date is 30 miles. I should probably start riding longer distances soon…“ Editor Note: You can also check out Heather's personal blog at

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City: Saint Joseph, MI 2012 GTMTBA Races: Barry-Roubaix, Lowell 50, Mud, Sweat, & Beers, Arcadian Grit & Gravel, TK Lawless MTB TT, Lumberjack100, Iceman Cometh and probably a few more scattered races throughout the season. Favorite Places to Ride: TK Lawless, Rum Village (Northern IN), Yankee Springs, and the Barry-Roubaix dirt road course (Middleville, MI). Started Mountain Biking: Emily began mountain biking (after the glory days on the Huffy White Heat) in May of 2010. Started Racing: In July of 2010 and the rest is history. More Details About Emily: Emily describes herself as “I’m sarcastic, love to laugh, love my family, I named my 29er MTB “Dick”, and I can’t express how much fun I have introducing him to new people since I ride him a lot. My nickname is “Awesome Badass” or “ABA” for short. My license plate reads 29RCHIK. I am an Adapted Physical Education and Health teacher for K-12 students. Oh, and I LOVE Detroit - I grew up in Dearborn Heights, MI and it will forever be considered “home” in my heart. My favorite professional sports team is the Detroit Tigers. I enjoy wine tasting, good sushi, and homemade pasta noodles. “ Emily has a Masters from the University of Virginia and a Masters Teaching Endorsement from Grand Valley State University. She’s Most Looking Forward To: Attempting to break 12 hours at Lumberjack100 since the race is ON her 30th birthday. The sooner she finishes, the sooner she gets to celebrate!

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cycling TEAM BIOS


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cycling TEAM BIOS


City: Interlochen, MI 2012 GTMTBA Races: Rust Shaker, Mud, Sweat and Beers, Boyne Marathon, Battle at the 'Burg, Pando Challenge, Peak2Peak, Lowell 50 (Fall Event). Favorite Place to Ride: While Joe is pretty much up for most any ride, his favorite trail is the VASA single track off Supply Road. He also often rides a 21-mile dirt road loop near his home in Interlochen. Started Mountain Biking: Joe says, “I started mountain biking around 1986 out in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. That was a couple of years before my boys were born. I rode with a few guys I skied with; they were the ones that got me into mountain biking. I knew nothing about mountain biking until they took me out in the canyon outside of town. I rode competitively a few times in 1993 here in Michigan. After that, I helped and sponsored my boys racing bikes until they were old enough that I felt comfortable riding when they were out on the trail. I've been racing a little more since about 2009, doing maybe four or five races a season. I'm looking forward to riding for GTMBA. I feel it's a great chance to do more events than I have in the past. More Details About Joe: Joe loves to ride with his twin sons, Cody and Wes (Cody is a writer for GTMTBA). Joe says, “They are fast, so it's fun to try and keep them in sight.” He’s Most Looking Forward To: Joe’s biggest goals for 2012 are Mud, Sweat and Beers and Peak2Peak in the fall. He says, “They are great races right around Traverse City; both are very fun courses.”

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City: Kalkaska, MI 2012 GTMTBA Races: Iceman, and Mud, Sweat & Beers. More Details About Chad and Aimee: With four very active kids, Chad and Aimee spend a lot of time trying to schedule time to work out. They have become active mountain bikers for the past five years and enjoy competing and testing their capacity in tough conditions. When they are all done they love to relax and enjoy a nice cold local Michigan brew. When they aren’t mountain biking, they also love to camp, run, kayak, and compete in triathlons. However, they have made it a habit to base their camping trips with their four children (Alaina 15, Natalia 12, Lydia 6, and Sara 5) around the mountain bike trails of Northern Michigan. A new favorite of the Bissonettes’ is to mix up their camping trips with some backpacking and tent camping around northern Michigan. The Bissonettes say, “There is so much to do and to explore here in the north woods, and a lot of it is not very well known - we tend to like that!” Most Looking Forward To: The Bissonettes agree that they are both looking forward to promoting and representing mountain biking in the area through GTMTBA and look forward to a successful race season!

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PHOTO: Joel Gaff

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By: Erin Crowell


he first thought that entered my mind was, I’m not attached to anything. There was, of course, Luther Kurtz – my instructor who, strapped to my back by buckles and clips, served as my only lifeline. The difference between landing softly or meeting my death as we hurled 120 mph towards earth. I was skydiving; and while the plane we exited just moments before floated farther and farther away, it dawned on me how dangerous this could be. Then the next thought entered my head: I’m kind of chilly.

IN THE BOOKS Skydive Harbor Springs has been throwing people out of perfectly good airplanes since 2002. Located in the Harbor Springs Airport, the company serves as the call center for other skydiving schools and dropzones located in Virginia, Florida, Phoenix and Los Angeles.

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Kurtz has jumped as far as Hawaii and New Zealand, but it’s northern Michigan he says that is the most beautiful. “That’s why I live here,” he says matter-of-factly. “I could live in San Diego or Phoenix, but it’s not the same as here.” Kurtz started skydiving after mulling over the idea for two years. “My friend gave me this card after he did it, and I just carried it around for awhile,” said Kurtz. The same summer he made his first jump, Kurtz was jumping every weekend. Since then, he has made over 8,000 jumps, including a record he and his sister accomplished last summer. On June 30, Angela and Luther completed 105 tandem jumps in 24 hours, breaking the Guinness Book of Records previous number of 103. With a crew of 60 people, the team fought fatigue, nausea and numbness. In the process, they raised money and awareness for the Top of Michigan Trails

Council. As an avid mountain biker, Kurtz also utilizes the trail system to access several dropzones throughout the area. COMBINING LEISURES Last August, Kurtz and his crew made a second tandem jump…this time from a hot air balloon. “No one in my circle has done a tandem jump from a balloon as far as I know,” said Kurtz. “A balloon pilot I jumped solo with in Phoenix awhile back said he’d never heard of anyone jumping tandem from a balloon, either.” Kurtz and his fiancé, Mary Berg, made the leap together from Jeff Geiger’s aerostat, “On Air” – a 10-passenger hot air balloon that is part of the Grand Traverse Balloons fleet. Along with a friend who was making his first solo jump from a balloon, the three boarded and we climbed to nearly 9,000 feet that morning. We floated in that thin layer of air for a few moments. Below, Northern Motion

the roads appeared as tiny veins. In the basket, It wasn’t until 1922 when an airplane pilot everyone’s adrenaline was pumping. performed the first aircraft bailout with a parachute. Berg, who had only skydived twice before in Then, in 1925, people began experimenting with her life, kept her eyes closed like vices as Kurtz “stable, extended freefalling” (a.k.a. skydiving). climbed up to the edge…his back to the void. By the mid-1950s, skydiving schools began “Just fall back, don’t kick off,” Geiger advised popping up all over the U.S. after hitting the propane one last time. Everyone in Today, millions of people skydive every year. the basket crouched, preparing for the basket to The U.S. Parachute Association reports that nearly shoot up due to a sudden loss of weight. 3 million of their members, along with first-time With that, the pair let go. They disappeared over student jumpers, make the leap every year. the edge like a pebble brushed off a bridge. Like most recreational sports, skydiving also “Ahhhhhh!” has a competitive side, with categories in Berg’s voice faded farther and farther away. Formation Skydiving, Canopy Formation, We watched as they fell closer to earth. From Freestyle Skydiving, Freeflying, Freefall Style, our perspective, that moment didn’t appear too far Accuracy Landing and Vertical Formation away as they blended in with the Skydiving. landscape…then…a sudden burst of blue and white But for those who just want to experience that as Kurtz released the parachute. free-fall, here is the logistics of how skydiving “That. Was. Awesome!” I laughed. works as I experienced jumping with Kurtz a The experience was also off the charts for Kurtz. couple years ago: “It’s different jumping from a balloon versus a First, you drive to the airport. For me, the jump plane,” he explained. “In a plane, you’re moving was happening in Traverse City, a trip Skydive forward at about 85mph. When you jump off a Harbor Springs makes at least once a year. We met balloon, you just tumble. You’re not used to it and at the old airport terminal where we signed our it’s actually kind of scary. You get a little of that waivers and got geared up. This includes a fullstomach drop.” body harness and goggles. The majority of skydiving gear is handled by the instructor, including the ever-important parachute. THE LOGISTICS OF A JUMP There were a handful of people skydiving that Skydiving, or parachuting as it was referred to, actually originated from ballooning. The modern day, but only two pairs could fit at a time into the history of the sport began in the late 18th century plane. We sardined ourselves into the plane, sitting on when Jacques Garnerin, a Frenchman, performed display jumps from balloons flying over Europe, the floor with our back to the pilot. As the plane according to the U.S. Parachute Association. made a switchback pattern ascent, Kurtz made casual conversation, asking me what I did for a

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living, where I grew up and any other questions that would get my mind off the fact that we were getting higher and higher. “The best tactic for making people comfortable is just talking to them,” said Kurtz. “You can banter, ask them questions…just keep the conversation going. I also do safety checks so they know what’s supposed to happen.” Kurtz said he’s had plenty of nervous jumpers, but not one has ever backed out. When we reached our optimal altitude, Kurtz slid open the door, sending a wall of air and noise into the plane. With Kurtz firmly attached to my back, he slid us over to the edge and I sat on air— suspended over Grand Traverse Bay—just moments before we tipped forward. The actual fall lasted only a few seconds, enough for me to register what we were doing. I was literally falling, yet it simply felt like a wall of air as the bay didn’t appear to be coming any closer than when we first exited the plane. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Kurtz’s hand move forward as he checked the altimeter attached to his wrist. Then, a slight jostle and WHOOSH! as Kurtz pulled our chute. Only then did I feel the effect of gravity as the expanding nylon slowed our speed, eventually leaving us floating, feet down, over the landscape below us. With a pull of his arm, Kurtz turned us a sharp right and we spiraled. He did it again with his left. He even let me take a turn with the canopy, directing us wherever I pulled with my arm, but I couldn’t stomach the spins for long.

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“I’ve been puked on 10 times,” laughed Kurtz, who has taken jumpers from age 18 to 93. Although vomiting never happens during freefall, the speed of the descent on parachute is enough to force anything from below to come up. “People throw up when you’re moving forward at about 25 mph,” he explained. “It’s like sticking your head out the back window and someone puking in the front seat.” As the ground slowly made its approach, I saw where Kurtz was directing us the whole time. We soared just a few feet over the flag held in the outstretched hand of a Skydive Harbor Springs employee and glided gracefully into the field next to Black Star Farms, landing on our feet. It was a peaceful ending to a spectacular adventure. If you are interested in skydiving, contact Skydive Harbor Springs at 231-242-8822 or visit them online at Tandem jumps, as well as an accelerated jump program for those brave enough to go solo, are available.

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Getting Your Bike Ready To Roll By: Cody Sovis


pring Tune-Up: Cautiously, we might be able to say it is spring in Northern Michigan. With the weather more than capable of turning on a dime and coaxing one last snow flurry from Mother Nature, we are far enough along to bring out the bikes for good. But before you go off for a ride, make sure your trusty steed is in solid and safe working condition. Whether you are just heading around the block or for your first century of the season, here’s a simple checklist you can follow to make sure everything is still bolted on that should be. We won’t get into extensive repairs. For a full-on tune-up that will look at every detail and replace worn parts, head down to your pals at the local bike shop. But before you do that, take a look at the bike and see if there is anything glaringly wrong. Are the tires flat? Does anything look like it is especially worn, rusted or broken? Check the handlebars, grips, pedals and seat to make sure they are secure and perform correctly. Even this simple visual once over is a pretty effective way to make sure the bike is working safely.

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Tires - After a long winter, it’s worth making sure your wheels are still in good shape, starting with the tires. Check for any cracking or bald spots. For a mountain bike, see how much tread is worn down. If the rear tire is much more worn out than the front, you may want to look at replacing it in the near future. Less tread means less rubber and more flats, not to mention lost traction. Bearings - Next, check the bearings by trying to tilt or move the wheel laterally. It should be stiff. If there’s any play or side-to-side movement, you may need to have the bearings repacked or replaced completely. While you’re doing some light pushing and pulling, grab the front brake and try to push the bike forward and back. If the stem and handlebar are moving, the headset may need some attention. The steering bearings in the headset can come lose or seize up, but it is a relatively quick fix for an experienced mechanic. Transmission - A lot of cyclists would also recommend checking the transmission, which

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is the chain, chain rings, cassettes, and derailleurs. Chains and Chain Rings - A worn out and stretched chain can cause some serious shifting issues and wears out the other parts of your bike very quickly. There is a tool to measure chain stretch, but you can tell if you need a new one two ways. First, look at the bottom of the chain ring with the chain in the biggest gear. If there’s a gap, or you can see an entire tooth on the ring, the chain is pretty much shot. If you ride a lot, and ride hard, it’s pretty common to go through a chain every other month or so. Cassettes - When the chain goes, the cassettes are sure to follow. Chains and cassettes wear at the same rate, and they actually wear to each other. Putting a new chain on an old cassette won’t do much to improve shifting because the cassette is worn a particular way and won’t line up very well with a fresh, tight chain. Some mechanics preach that replacing the chain when it is at about 75% wear makes it possible to keep the same cassette for much longer. A somewhat common practice is to use switch the cassette every two chains, or roughly 3,000 miles. If you ride hard and push a big gear, it might be better to change both at once.

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A chain ring, however, lasts much longer than both. When the teeth of the chain rings get shorter and sharper, it may be time to replace it. Ask your mechanic when the right time comes. Derailleur - The derailleur is a complex, fickle and testy component that has a huge impact on the quality of your shifting. Luckily, making sure they are working is as easy as turning the crack and trying to move the chain around the cassette. Make sure the derailleurs are tight by grabbing them and moving them side-to-side. If there is some lateral play, carefully tighten them if you feel comfortable. If the derailleur is way off, look to see if there is worn paint above or below the derailleur. If you see some chipped off, the entire derailleur may have moved, throwing it off-line of the cassette or chain ring. Try to line it back up and make sure everything is lined up straight before tightening the derailleur back down. These are some quick and easy ways to make sure your bike is up for a new season of fun and adventure. These simple checks make your ride safer and the bike last longer, so try to look them over every once in a while. Keep it safe, keep it clean, and keep it rubber side down in 2012!

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Reader’s Rides Kingsley, Michigan Image Description: Pre-season skills training. My backyard at my house when I lived by Silver Lake. My brother and I had built a short pump track, complete with a see-saw and a shed set inside of a small hill that I would use for technical training when I couldn't make it to my local trails. Where I ride…

Houghton, Michigan

State Hospital Grounds, Traverse City

Grawn, Michigan

Image Description: Taken in dorm Image Description: Friday Night room, while my roommate yelled at Why it rocks… Live Demo. iTrials group, 2 me for all the dirt dropping off the Wheel Technique putting on a The State Hospital is my local trail, bike. demo of controlled bike skills in and it is not for the faint of heart. I downtown Traverse City during used it for my climbing workout, Where I ride... Friday Night Live. because it is just as fun to work When I'm supposed to be studying: toward the incredible views of Copper Harbor, Michigan Tech downtown TC as it is to descend to Where I ride… Trails and the Marquette South the historical hospital buildings and On the trials: I bike anywhere Trails toward town. My friends that raced XC and Nordic ski couldn't even keep that is feasible on the mountain When I'm home: Bloomer Park, up with me there. I hike, run, and ride bike, mostly Copper Ridge and Stoney Creek, and Addison Oaks there whenever I need a moment the VASA singeltrack. away from town. It's also fun to Why it rocks... watch downhillers and free riders on Why it rocks... the more extreme terrain. It has survived 4 incredibly rough Showing people what they are seasons. While the only stock capable of not only on a bike, but components remaining are the fork also in a more general sense in (which is blown out and works at the world, while having a great random) and brakes, the bike has time. never let me down. It has survived my attempts at dirt jumps and all the downhills that I have thrown myself down over the years. Upgrades include Azonic Outlaw wheels, a SLX drivetrain, and Crank Brothers 5050 flats. Photo credit goes to Jessica Nichol, 2009, as part of her photography class at NMC.

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We’re investing in ultra high quality materials and working with some of the best talent to deliver premium quality gear that you will want to be seen in! 49 SPRING 2012

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PHOTO: Jason Offenbacher

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1. PLATTE RIVER The spring-fed Platte River is a dichotomy where adventure meets tranquility. A fast, thrilling current eventually slows to a casual pace, as it flows through Loon Lake and empties into Lake Michigan. Those who take on the Upper Platte should be prepared for choppy waters coupled with sharp, narrow turns, and overhanging branches. In contrast, the Lower Platte is family-friendly, providing a scenic and leisurely float. Rentals: Kayaks, Canoes, Tubes

PHOTO: Jason Offenbacher

ayaks are a familiar sight in towns everywhere. Strapped on roof racks and banked on riversides, these candy-colored water vessels are icons of the fastest-growing outdoor sport. Paddlers of all experience levels flock to Northern Michigan, a region carved by a network of picturesque lakes and streams. We narrowed it down to our top seven picks to consider trying this summer:

For a complete directory of paddlesport providers and other resources, visit www.michiganpadd and browse rentals and liveries by river.

2. TORCH LAKE See why National Geographic named Torch Lake the “Third Most Beautiful Lake in the World”. Kid Rock even gave props to its famous sandbar in his song, “All Summer Long”. Despite its reigning popularity, Torch Lake is a natural vista of serenity with clear, Caribbean-hued waters, enhanced only by majestic swans and bald eagles that call it home.


PHOTO: Jason Offenbacher

Akin to its name, the Crystal River boasts clear waters and a gentle current that winds through fragrant pine and cedar forests of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. Observant paddlers may see bald eagles, whitetail deer, blue herons, turtles, frogs, and even otters.

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4. BOARDMAN RIVER Ranked as one of the top 10 trout streams in Michigan, the Boardman is a sandy-bottomed Blue Ribbon Stream with crystal-clear waters that flow into Northern Motion

Grand Traverse Bay. Boardman River is the only major wintering area to non-native mute swans, and thus a draw for bird watchers. Opt for the trip further upstream if it’s a challenge you’re after.

PHOTO: Jason Offenbacher

5. GRAND TRAVERSE BAY To experience the open water, venture out to the picturesque Grand Traverse Bay off Lake Michigan. Lined by cherry orchards, its sparkling blue waters lap the sandy shores of the great Cherry Capital of the World, attracting vacationers from near and far.


Nestled in a wide, sloping valley, the Jordan River is the first designated as “wild-scenic” in the Michigan Natural Rivers Program. The largest tributary of Lake Charlevoix, Jordan River has superior water quality, a robust trout population, and rugged shorelines of northern hardwoods.

7. BETSIE RIVER The Betsie’s moderate to fast current flows through the Betsie River State Game Area, stomping grounds for whitetail deer, ruffed grouse, snowshoe hares, wetland mammals and other small wildlife. To make your trip more interesting, look for signs of beaver activity, such as skid trails leading up the bank, and cut branches gathered by a den.

PHOTO: Jason Offenbacher

Got a favorite river destination that didn’t make our list? Post your pick (and photos if you got ‘em) to the GTMTBA Facebook page!


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Platte River Rentals: Honor Canoe Rentals (Honor) Rentals: Kayaks, Canoes, Tubes Call: (231) 325-0112

Lyf Motiv Adventures (Traverse City ) Rentals: Kayaks, Stand-Up Paddle Surfing, Beach Cruiser Bikes Call: (231) 944-1146

Riverside Canoe Trips (Honor) Rentals: Kayaks, Canoes, Tubes, Rafts Call: (231) 325-5622

Ranch Rudolf (Traverse City ) Rentals: Kayaks, Canoes, Tubes Call: (231) 947-9529

The Honor Trading Post (Honor) Rentals: Kayaks, Canoes, Tubes Call: (231) 325-2202

The River (Traverse City) Rentals: Kayaks, Canoes, Paddleboats, Tubes Call: (231) 883-1413

Torch Lake Rentals: Alden Outfitters (Alden) Rentals: Kayaks, Guided Tours Call: (231) 331-6979 Crystal River Rentals: Crystal Lake Adventure Sports (Beulah) Rentals: Kayaks, Canoes, Stand-up Paddleboards, Skim Boards and More Call: (231) 882-2527 Crystal River Outfitters (Glen Arbor) Rentals: Kayaks, Canoes Call: (231) 334-4420 The River Glen Arbor (Glen Arbor) Rentals: Kayak, Canoe Rentals Call: (231) 334-7888 PHOTO: Jason Offenbacher

Boardman River Rentals:

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Grand Traverse Bay Rentals: Blue Sky Rentals (Traverse City) Rentals: Kayaks, Water Trampolines and Motorized Boats Call: (231) 645-2628 Break'n Waves (Traverse City) Rentals: Kayaks, Sailboats, Paddle Boats, Water Trampolines, Parasailing and More. Call: (231) 929-3303 The River (Traverse City) Rentals: Kayaks, Canoes, Paddleboats, Tubes Call: (231) 883-1413 Paddle Away (Traverse City) Guided Kayak Tours Call: (231) 715-1454

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Jordan River Rentals: Jordan Valley Outfitters (East Jordan) Rentals: Kayaks, Canoes, Tubes, Rafts Call: (231) 536-0006 Betsie River Rentals:

PHOTO: Jason Offenbacher

Alvina’s Canoe & Boat Livery (Interlochen) Rentals: Kayaks, Canoes, Boat Rentals Call: (231) 276-9514

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Northern Motion Magazine - Spring 2012  

The Official Publication of the Grand Traverse Mountain Bike Association. Welcome to the spring edition of Northern Motion Magazine... We've...

Northern Motion Magazine - Spring 2012  

The Official Publication of the Grand Traverse Mountain Bike Association. Welcome to the spring edition of Northern Motion Magazine... We've...