Saturday, September 7, 2024
Mountain bikers have been climbing up and careening down the legendary Yankee Springs bike trails for over 30 years. More recently, they’ve been joined by bikers hammering the nearby gravel roads of Barry County and the Barry Roubaix race. Never have the two merged together until now at the 6th annual Lord of the Springs bike race.
Over this 19 or 37 miles, you’ll experience some amazing terrain and scenery including the glacial bowls and hills of the Deep Lake mountain bike trail, the hardwood forests in the Barry State Game Area, the beautiful Otis Bird Sanctuary marshes (a Michigan Audobon site), and classic Barry County gravel roads.
Because the singletrack is rugged, a mountain/trail bike along with mountain biking experience is highly recommended. Gravel bikes are allowed, but make sure you have plenty of experience on fairly technical singletrack trails and consider moving a wave back so you don’t have a bunch of mountain bikers trying to pass you on the trail sections. If you are new to singletrack biking, please fit in several training rides on intermediate level trails before attempting this race.
A day may come when the courage of men fails, but it is not THIS day. -Aragorn, Return of the King
- All activities begin and end at YMCA Camp Manitou-Lin, a few miles north of the top-ranked Yankee Springs bike trails.
- Address: 1095 N Briggs Rd, Middleville, MI 49333. Directions.
Races (normal Saturday/Yellow flow)
- 37-mile singletrack+gravel course – the classic. No changes for 2023.
- 19-mile singletrack+gravel course – we’ve made some course adjustments to the shorter race to make it more approachable for less experienced riders, but still plenty challenging for all. You’ll still have the first challenging singletrack section but we’ve replaced the second 4-mile singletrack section – very rugged and hilly – with a challenging but easier two-track and more direct route to the finish, cutting the miles from 24 down to 19. This reroute also eliminates the issue of the fastest 37-mile racers quickly coming up behind the back-of-packers in the shorter race on the narrow singletrack section.
- Kids “race” (free, best for kids under 12, medals). Kids will do a short loop in the field at the start/finish as many times as they can in 10 minutes. Push/balance bikes welcome too.
- Capacity limit: 500 riders (not including kids race)
- We’re offering a team competition for the 37-mile race this year! Gather a bunch of speedy teammates and your top four times count. We’ll add them up and the lowest aggregate total time wins. Each of the four get to pick a prize from our prize table.
- Enter your complete team name under the Team question in BikeReg registration.
- Trophy and prizes to the top team, 37-mile race only.
Schedule for September 9, 2023
- 7:45-9:45 am: race check-ins (no Friday check-in), Camp Manitou-Lin, athletic field
- 9:45 am leftover shirts available for sale or size swap
- 9:55 am moment of silence for 9-11, first responders
- 10:00 wave 1 37-milers
- 10:04 wave 2 37
- 10:08 wave 3 19
- 10:12 wave 4 37
- 10:16 wave 5 19
- 10:20 wave 6 37
- 10:24 wave 7 19
- 10:28 wave 8 37
- 10:32 wave 9 19
- 10:35-10:45 am: Kids loop, 10 minutes around the field at the start/finish.
- 12:15 pm: halfway cut-off at Otis Lake aid station, Mile 18
- 12:15 pm: 19-mile awards ceremony (approx.; as podiums fill)
- 1:00 pm: 37-mile awards ceremony (approx.; as podiums fill)
- 1:30 pm: cut-off at Hastings Point & Gun Lake Road, Mile 28
- 2:15 pm: end of race cut-off (anywhere on course)
Aid stations and cut-off spots share the same location. Water and Gatorade are available here as well as basic first aid supplies and “rescue” vehicles if you need a ride back to the start. Cut-offs are for safety and to allow volunteers to be done at a reasonable time.
- 12:15 pm 37-mile cut-off #1: Otis Farm Bird Sanctuary (Mile 17). That’s an average of 5-6 mph on singletrack and 8-9 mph on gravel. There is no refund if you have to get pulled at that point.
- 1:30 pm 19-mile cut-off #1 (Mile 14) AND 37-mile cut-off #2 (Mile 28): Hastings Point & Gun Lake Road intersection. Primarily for the remaining 37-milers; the goal is to not allow struggling riders to do the final singletrack section which is very rugged and takes a lot of time to get through.
- 2:15 pm end of race cut-off. We reserve the right to pull you off the course at this point. If you disagree, staff or volunteer can remove your number plate and you are on your own with no medical or support & gear (SAG) help.
All racers will receive a Lord of the Springs glass pint).
- To avoid back-ups at the singletrack section (mile 5), we will group racers into 37-mile and 19-mile waves based on past Lord of the Springs times or a time from another race adjusted to be comparable to Lord of the Springs times based on the difficulty and distance of other regional races (e.g., Iceman, Barry-Roubaix, Ore to Shore, Cowpie, Dirty 30).
- When you register, we will ask you to provide your mph pace from past races.
- Age group/category waves (rather than pace-based waves) do not alleviate backups as slow racers in those waves would cause even more backups at the singletrack.
- The start will be a “gun” start. Your time will be based on the start of the wave, not when you cross the start. This way in a close finish you will be racing against each other rather than the clock.
- Park in the grass fields on the west side of Briggs. Look for the attendants.
- There may be back-ups into the parking area after 9:00 am as camp staff fit everyone into the parking spaces. Please be patient. You may be asked to park in the Day Camp/Horse Camp area to the southwest.
- The A-Field in green on the map below is Race HQ.
- Restrooms are located in two locations:
- Cheff Lodge, just northwest of the start/field (your best bet for an open stall).
- White building north of the check-in/start/finish area, toward the lake.
- Showers are located in the bathhouse just 50 meters west of the start/finish. Only four showers total so we’ll have a hose in the southwest corner of the Cheff Lodge parking lot if you want to do a quick wash off of your body (and your bike).
- Post-race food: Street Chef Shaw food truck! We’ll also have some fruit snacks and cookies.
- There’s no charge for setting up a team tent.
- You can use the area behind our check in tents in the grass A-field just east of the start/finish. Stop by at the check-in tents and we’ll point out where to put them.
All race courses will be marked with directional arrows. We will also use pink streamer posts (turn in the direction of the post) which are unlikely to be stolen. The 19-mile and 37-mile courses will have volunteers or sheriff monitors at key intersections in addition to arrows but racers are still responsible for crossing when safe to do so.
37-Mile Surfaces (84% dirt)
- Gravel: 18 (49%)
- Single track: 9 (24%)
- Seasonal/two-track: 4 (11%)
- Paved miles: 6 (16%)
19-Mile Surfaces (75% dirt)
- Gravel: 10 (40%)
- Single track: 6 (32%)
- Seasonal/two-track: .75 (3%)
- Paved miles: 4 miles (25%)
Bike & Tire Type
- Mountain, cross, gravel, fat, tandem. Traditional “skinny tire” road bikes are not allowed due to rugged singletrack and two-track trails. E-bikes are not allowed.
- Those who raced last year advise against the use of cross/gravel bikes because the singletrack trails are quite rugged. If you are unsure about cross/gravel vs. mountain, please ride the singletrack trails with both bikes well in advance and especially under dry/soft conditions (Tues, Thur or Sat. to get correct race-day flow).
- If in doubt, we recommend the mountain bike for speed, safety and comfort with a locked out shock for gravel sections and low-knob tires.
- We recommend a tire width of at least 2″ (50 mm). Generally speaking, a little wider tire does NOT cause a reduction in speed. In fact, research shows that there is a slight increase in speed on rougher surfaces.
- A first bike race can be intimidating. We foster a low-key vibe (like at our adventure and trail races) and encourage those of you who might not normally participate in a bike race to give this a try, especially if you are comfortable with trail biking.
- That said, the Yankee Springs singletrack trails are challenging so you’ll want to check them out and practice often if you are new to mountain biking. This is a fairly exhausting race on moderately rugged (occasionally very rugged) terrain.
The board is set, the pieces are moving. We come to it at last, the great battle of our time.
Pre-Race and In-Race Support
West Michigan Bike & Fitness will provide pre-race neutral support at their tent near the start/finish and a support vehicle out on the course, sweeping back and forth to help racers. If you don’t see them, call us and we’ll try to get them over to you or arrange pick-up due to mechanic or medical issues.
- Yankee Springs Recreation Area campgrounds.
- Other options: Best Western Plus in Wayland, Bay Pointe Inn, search Gun Lake (southwest) or in the city of Hastings (east) or Grand Rapids if you prefer lots of food and hotel options with a little longer drive as a trade-off.
Race organizers reserve the right to cancel the event in the case of extended severe weather or any emergency situation. The Deep Lake trail drains extremely well so we do not expect cancellation due to muddy trails. We will do everything possible to get the event in, but refunds are not available if it is cancelled due to significant costs we must pay in advance of the race. We will offer a small discount for next year’s race if the race is cancelled.
Roads will NOT be closed for the race. You are responsible for obeying the Michigan Vehicle Code as it applies to bicycles. We will provide police or volunteer monitors at most intersections but if limited with volunteers, some of the low-traffic intersections may not have a volunteer. All turns will have signs, although if a sign is stolen the morning of the race it is your responsibility to know the course. Bring the cue sheet from online or load the gpx file. Please follow their direction (but check for vehicles yourself).
This race is professionally chip-timed by Epic Race Timing. Results will be posted at finish line and on Epic’s website shortly after the race.
- Road bikes (traditional super skinny tires) not allowed due to rugged terrain.
- No bike swaps mid race! 🙂
- Music via headphones/earbuds is not allowed.
- No electronic or non-traditional bikes
- Other rules and guidelines to be sent in race updates as the race approaches.
- We’re bringing back the classic logo shirt this year.
- Purchase online by Aug. 29 as supplies at the race will be very limited. Pick up on race day.
- $15. Short-sleeved, men’s/unisex crew or women’s v-neck, poly/cotton/rayon blend – soft with a little flex.
Post-Race Food & Drink
- Fruit, cheese sticks, cookies, fruit snacks
- Located at the start/finish (or Cheff Lodge if inclement weather)
Awards & Raffle
- Awards will be given out at a ceremony following the race when the majority of podiums have filled and placements are confirmed. See the Divisions & Prizes page for details.
- We will raffle off some sponsor goodies including a Velocity Blunt SS Comp Wheelset for our raffle. The Blunt SS is an ideal choice for an event such as Lord of the Springs with it’s varied terrain. It is incredibly lightweight and able to accommodate everything from your favorite 45c gravel tire to a singletrack-devouring 2.5” MTB tire for when things get extra adventurous. Made right here in Grand Rapids, MI! Retail value $792.
- We donate a portion of race proceeds to fund trail maintenance at Yankee Springs and other West Michigan Mountain Biking Alliance trails, along with efforts to increase membership, primarily for advocacy clout and building new trails. Become an Ally and protect your trails at www.wmmba.org/membership.
West Michigan Bike Patrol
The West Michigan Regional National Ski Patrol has spread its wings to include a new section called the West Michigan Bike Patrol! This patrol is made up of our Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC) first aid responders certified through the National Ski Patrol program. The team is growing and continuing our “Service and Safety” motto from National Ski Patrol (NSP) to the dirt single track. If you are interested in joining the bike patrol or ski patrol, feel free to reach out to our Bike Patrol Advisor, Madison Willemstein, at email@example.com. We will be out volunteering our services at the Lord of the Springs race. Look for us in our red jersey’s with a white cross!”
Questions? www.facebook.com/lordofthesprings is a great place to ask questions and get answers so others can learn from your question. For questions specific to you, email Mark VanTongeren, race director.