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Race Updates

Hope you are looking forward to Saturday! We are currently at 200 racers. Thank you for racing with us, even though you might not know much about us. This is race #39 for us but it’s our first bike race (we also put on adventure races and trail running races) so we have relied on many, many of you in the bike community for your thoughts in areas where bike races differ from our other races. Thank you to all those who have provided input! Too many to name but you know who you are. Sorry for the long update but as a first year race I want to make sure everything is clear, especially to help the new racers (and reduce the number of questions I get). Grab a cup of coffee and/or skip to race day details below if you need to.

Lord of the Springs has been a labor of love, but I would never want to be in labor as long as it took to birth this baby! My course research started at Owasippe’s trails on April 1, 2016! Not quite right so I designed a course at Cannonsburg; found out it was very similar to the Double Trouble course planned there. My friends Erica and Kim mentioned Yankee which has turned out to be the best course of the three I routed in my opinion.

New Racers, More Women Racing
One of the goals of this race was to get more bike riders to try a bike race and more women racing as well. We have 28 (16%) first-time racers and 29 women. I believe that’s a higher percentage than most races, but we’re excited to have even one new person or one more woman giving mountain bike racing a try. Thank you and welcome! The challenge with this goal is that Lord of the Springs isn’t the easiest course for new racers. I’ve been impressed with those of you who have been asking questions, attending the clinic, pre-riding the course, willing to tackle some rugged singletrack. If you are worried about people behind you, just start in the back and don’t be afraid to walk any sections you are not ready for. I have a race in Marquette next weekend and I can guarantee you I’ll be walking some sections that would lead to an ER room visit if I made a mistake. None of that nastiness is in Deep Lake’s singletrack trails but if you just aren’t up for it Saturday, we can shift you to the 6-mile race in the warm-up loop and refund the difference in cost, no worries.

Weather Forecast
The weather forecast is for race time temps in the 70s and sunny with a high of 85. That beats a cold rain but you’ll want to be thinking about the last half of the race as you plan your clothing and hydration. Most new racers have way too much clothing on. While the wind will cool you, you’ll likely heat up quickly in the first singletrack section. Better to start a little cool assuming this dry, warm forecast is accurate.

I have included a couple of new racer tips at the end of this update.

Sponsors
Thanks to our generous sponsors who are providing $5,000 worth of prizes and swag (plus $1,000 for top finisher cash prizes).

  • West Michigan Bike & Fitness. Presenting Sponsor. WMBF is providing pre-race bike support, SAG (support and gear) van and prizes. WMBF was also invaluable in their advice on course design and in convincing me to go ahead with the race even though only 27 of you were on board as of August 1! Try out their great service and products with the $10 like-cash gift certificate/coupon they’ll give to every racer.
  • Metro Health Sports Medicine for providing sports medicine and medical first responder services at the race. Stop by their tent if you have a need or just a question.
  • Clif Bar, providing a pack of Bloks energy chews for every racer. Quick energy, delicious flavors, certified organic, no stickiness, easy to open.
  • Moosejaw for providing some great raffle prizes including fleece jackets. Now located in downtown Grand Rapids, across from the Downtown Market. Fun store to shop in and great gear and service.
  • Founders Brewing Co. for $300 in gift cards to one of the best breweries in the world, right here in downtown Grand Rapids (if you didn’t know). Hopefully next year will be able to get a license to have their brews on site.
  • Train Out Pain Chiropractic. As mountain bikers, they understand the unique challenges of being on a bike and how to get you back to 100% health. If I finish my Marquette race, they will get some of the credit.
  • Local Lines mountain bike guide service in Marquette for $150 of guiding certificates as prizes. Use Local Lines for an efficient, fun, safe mountain bike experience on a wide spectrum of amazing trails.
  • Honey Bum for prizes and samples that you can pick up at check-in. Honey Bum is an all natural, anti-chafing lube for cyclists, triathletes, runners and hikers.
  • Boeshield T-9 for prizes. Developed by the Boeing Company and made right here in West Michigan (Holland), Boeshield is the leading corrosion protectant and waterproof lubricant product for bikes and many other uses.

West Michigan Mountain Biking Alliance is our charity partner for the race and will have volunteers out there as well. A portion of race profits will help maintain this trail and others, build new trails and advocate for bike and trail use. Consider becoming a member of the WMMBA if you benefit from the trails we care for.

Thanks also to our partners Epic Race Timing for chip timing and Rob Meendering Photography for his great eye as he take photos of the race.

More Volunteers Needed!

  • Thanks again to all the volunteers who will be working a lot of hours to help this race go smoothly. Please thank them as you run by them if you have a breath to do so!
  • We have had six volunteers cancel this week so could you ask around and help us replace these spots? Ideally, all intersections have a volunteer to ensure you turn the correct way and to stop vehicles. They can sign up here and email me to discuss roles available.

Camping

Bib #s and Check-in Process

  • If I have access to wi-fi on Friday evening, I’ll send your bib number to you by email to make check-in go faster. If I can’t, just show up and look up your name and bib number on our check-in sheet.
  • Shirts. If you decide you want the shirt, we’ll have some extras available after the race for $15. Later in the day the price will drop to $10.
  • You MAY pick up bibs and shirts for friends as long as you coordinate who is getting them. Get their bib # in advance or look it up on your phone or our posted lists at check-in.

Location & Parking

  • All activities begin and end at the Deep Lake Campground and mountain bike trailhead in Yankee Springs Recreation Area
  • Address: 2526 S Yankee Springs Rd, Middleville, MI 49333 (do NOT go to “Deep Lake Road” that may pop up online)
  • Parking will be easy. Please drive straight ahead/north into the campground. Look for the DNR/campground staff for direction on where to park. Don’t see anyone? Park on the right/east side in the field or any campsite along the further east road.
  • Please do NOT park in the mountain bike trail staging lot at the guard shack. We need to leave this open for general public parking.
  • You may be used to races with huge start/finish trusses, lots of banners, fancy finish chutes. Maybe we’ll do some of that in year 2, but our focus has always been on a well designed, well marked course, a laid back vibe, good communication and lots of prizes so hopefully we deliver on those.

Tents

  • You are welcome to bring a tent for your group or team and set it up between the check-in tents/start and the portajons on the other side of the playground field.
  • You can line them up along the road (leave 15 feet space from road so there’s room for bikers lining up at the start) or behind this, closer to the swing set. No charge,  no reservations needed. No team competition this year but maybe in the future.

Schedule of Events

  • Check-in: 8:00-9:45 am (no Friday/early check-in)
  • 26-mile Start: 10:00 am (mass, clock start)
  • 6-mile Beginner/Youth Start: 10:15ish, warm-up loop/mountain bike staging lot (where you entered complex)
  • 2-mile Kids Race and Push/Balance Bike Start: 10:20 & again 12:30 if needed, warm-up loop (so family members racing in the 26-mile race can finish and bike with/watch their kids)
  • 26-mile Awards: 15-30 minutes after the podium spots have finished (likely first or first and second)

Weather Policy

  • Just in case we get storms before or during the race, check out our Adverse Weather Policy and procedures to know what to do.
  • When in doubt, shelter in your car. During the race, shelter at the nearest house or volunteer vehicle.

Safety

  • This is an open course; no roads will be closed for the race. Follow the standard rules of the road for biking in traffic per the Michigan Vehicle Code.
  • Although the goal is to stop vehicles so you don’t have to, it’s still your responsibility to make sure that the intersection is clear before proceeding. Always assume that a volunteer won’t be able to get the vehicle to stop.
  • Keep an eye out for drivers who have no concern for human life, especially if it’s riding on two wheels. Most in Barry County have welcomed gravel road riders, but there are a few hostile ones out there.

Course & Course Markings

  • The course will be well marked with blue flags on the trail and large black arrows at road intersections. They are NOT labeled as Lord of the Springs because generic signs tend to lower the chance of someone taking them or flipping them the wrong way.
  • There will be no lead biker (but there will be a lead vehicle at the start of the roads near the Long Lake Outdoor Center). Keep blue flags on your right throughout the singletrack trail. Never cross the line of blue flags. You will not see blue flags where the course direction is obvious.
  • At the 3.5 mile mark, you will take a sharp left turn at Emergency Access E, a short sidetrail that will get you onto the Graves Hill two track leading out of Yankee Springs Rec Area. We will have a black arrow pointing left and a volunteer there but it comes up quickly and doesn’t flow well at all so be ready for it.
  • A navigation tool (e.g., Garmin, Strava) is NOT required. It is recommended for the leaders in particular just in case a sign gets turned around or a volunteer doesn’t show up. Download the gpx file under Course Info on the race site. It has not changed since around August 24 when we tweaked the finish.
  • If you do not have a navigation tool, we recommend you print the cue sheet which gives you turn by turn instructions for the road portion of the course just in case something happens to a sign or volunteer. Note that the very last instruction about turning left onto Bassett Lake Road is more of a diagonal across M-179 and then up a fun hill. Embrace the challenge!
  • Please bike THROUGH areas that are wet or muddy to help keep Yankee a singletrack trail. The trail drains so well that mud is unlikely.
  • West Michigan Bike & Fitness will provide pre-race neutral support at their tent near the start/finish along with a SAG (support an gear) van out on the course, sweeping up and down the field of racers.

Rules & Guidelines

  • We recommend that everyone carry their mobile phone as there are long stretches in between some intersections.
  • No headphones please for safety.
  • Rear bike light recommended.
  • Please call “on your left/right” or “on your left/right when you can” to pass on singletrack trails. The person being passed can then move slightly to one side if possible.
  • If walking a technical section, please walk off to the side of the trail.

Beginner/Youth and Kids Races

  • Start at the Warm-Up Loop trailhead near the guardshack where you drove into the complex.
  • Small group (under 20) for these races so it will be really low-key and you shouldn’t feel much of any pressure from other bikers behind you.
  • Beginner/Youth race is 3 laps of the 2-mile loop. A volunteer will mark your race number at the end of laps 1 and 2. All adult finishers will receive our stainless steel pint. All kids will receive a medal. The 1st place adult male, adult female, boy and girl will receive a gift card or similar prize.
  • Kids race is 1 lap. We will defer to you if you want to bike along with your kid – if you can keep up! All kids will receive a medal.

Warming Up/Pre-Riding

  • Map with options for warming up and pre-riding some of the course on Saturday.
  • Please do NOT turn around on the trail and bike against traffic!
  • A. Start at Dumpster. Bike first short section included challenging rooty, rocky climb. Hike-a-bike a few feet onto Yankee Springs Road. Bike back into Deep Lake Unit. It’s important that you see this climb for your own benefit but also to get more people up it without stopping so things don’t back up. If almost everyone sends it (finishes the climb without stopping), chances of early back-ups diminish. So send it. Those roots at the top may be more of a mental barrier than physical. During the race, if you have to get off your bike here step aside so person behind you has a chance to send it.
  • B. Start at dumpster. Bike to Gun Lake Road. Hop off road, bike east to Yankee Springs Road and back to Deep Lake
  • C. Start at dumpster. Bike to Gun Lake Road, continue to the right/west. Take sidetrail on your right and connect with last section of the course. Ride to finish. This is your best preview, as long as you know where to hop onto the final part of the trail.
  • D. Start at warm-up loop trailhead near pit toilet. Bike 2-mile warm-up loop.

Start

  • Mass, gun start. This was affirmed by several bike racers as best option for a race of our size. Waves or chip-timed starts could result in an overall male or female or age group racer first across the line, but losing to another who finishes behind them physically but started behind them. That would be stupid. We want the overall and age groups to be mano y mano, first racer to the finish line wins.
  • Please position yourself at the start based on where you normally finish a race. You will have 3/4 mile through the campground to sort things out. It gets really narrow just right of the dumpster (look for the chute) as you enter the singletrack trail system.
  • If it’s tough to pass, just know that at about 3.5 miles you will have 17 miles ahead of you with plenty of passing. Work with a group if you have lost ground.
  • We do a post-race survey at every race so we’ll find out how this format goes. If it was problematic, next year we’ll try a LeMans (running) start or go with Expert/Sport waves or another option.

Aid station

  • There will be one aid station on the course, at the 16 Mile mark. Intersection of Whitmore and M-179 at the Blarney Stone (now known as Yankee Bill’s).Water and Gatorade.
  • If you need food, please bring with you (e.g., Clif energy bloks you received)

Cut-Off

  • We are setting a somewhat flexible cut-off time of 12:30 pm at the aid station/16 miles. That’s an average of 5 mph on singletrack and 8 mph on gravel.
  • If there are several people not quite to the aid station, we will let you keep biking if you’d like. If there are just one or two people and they are quite far back, we will give you a no-shame ride back to the finish. Sixteen miles on this course is a HUGE accomplishment. If you would like to keep biking, remove your bib and then you can do up to five laps of the warm-up loop and get your 26 in.
  • The reason for the cut-off is so volunteers and paid help can be done with their duties at a reasonable time.

Finish

  • Returns in reverse of the start except it does not do the organizational campground loop. Simply turn left back where you started. We’ll have caution tape, signs, cones and people to help guide you but potential leaders should watch this final stretch clip of how the last 200 meters or so will flow to be safe.

Lunch

  • Yankee Bill’s Snacks will have lunch and snack food. Cash only.
  • The planned menu includes: hot dogs, pretzels, nachos, fruit, yogurt, coffee, juice, and soda pop.
  • Alcohol is not allowed at Deep Lake. Head up to Founders Brewery in Grand Rapids after the race if you have time.

Results

  • Posted near the Epic Race Timing tent at the start/finish. Results will be on printouts on boards and via a receipt print-out system with your finish data on it.
  • Shortly after the race, you can also look up results full screen (computer) or your phone. We’ll provide the link on Friday. We’ll also email a Race Recap with results later in the day or Sunday at the latest. Or find them on Epic’s site. Lots of options.

Awards

  • Once we get a podium full of top finishers, we’ll do their awards so they can get home if they need to.
  • The first place finishers in each division will get a handcrafted barnwood trophy and can pick a prize from either the first place (highest value prizes) or the 2nd/3rd place tables ($250, $150 and $100 to the top three overall male and female finishers).
  • 2nd and 3rd place will pick from their table.
  • That way you get something you want and also first place division winners who complete their race later will still get to pick from the best prizes at the first place table.

Raffle
Congrats to the raffle winners – scroll down to see if you won. All of you were entered via your registration. Pick the prize you want from our raffle box/table when you check in on Saturday. We’ll have some West MI Bike gift cards, Founders gift cards, Honey Bum anti-chafing lube, Boeshield drip bottles and more.

If you are camping at Deep Lake Friday night, feel free to stop by site 64 if you have a question or want to say hi. Looking forward to seeing you on Saturday!

Mark for Greg

Raffle Winners
Kraig      Stephenson
Nayden Krupp
Mike      Jorritsma
James    Hayes
Mike      Crandell
Brian      Putney
james    visser
Tim        Reeb
Jeff        Bohach
Jeffrey   Jacobsen
Bob        Wright
Matt      Hoffman
Kegan    Zimmermann
Erica      Stehouwer
Todd      Nieto

First-time Racer Tips
Riding in sand. It appears that the remnants of Hurricane Irma will probably not pack down the sand pits in the first singletrack section (in particular) when they come through tomorrow. I keep in mind 3 S’s for floating through sand.

  1. Straight – keep your front wheel as straight as possible
  2. Steady, higher cadence. No mashing.
  3. Speed – hit that sand pit fast to help maintain cadence and straight path. Of course a wider tire and lower tire pressure help but you have to balance that with the gravel roads you’ll face after the sand!

Hydrating. You may like the idea of not having any weight on your back during the race but if you aren’t used to grabbing water bottles at race pace, a hydration pack might be best if you have one. Packs also allow you to sip smaller amounts more frequently which the body handles more efficiently than infrequent guzzling. And with a warm day forecasted, you may want the extra fluids.

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