Classic Barry County Gravel Roads.
Legendary Yankee Springs Deep Lake Singletrack.
Saturday, September 9, 2023
See the other page in this section for the latest race updates.
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 Lord of the Springs bike race.
Over this 24 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.
Schedule for September 9, 2023
- 8:00-9:45 am: race check-ins (no Friday/early check-in), Camp Manitou-Lin, athletic field
- 10:00-10:20 am: 37-mile and 24-mile wave starts, likely every 3 minutes
- 10:35 am: Kids loop, around the field at the start/finish
- 12:30 pm (approx.; as podiums fill): 24-mile awards ceremony
- 1:30 pm (approx.; as podiums fill): 37-mile awards ceremony
- 1:30 pm: cut-off (you may be pulled off the course at this time so volunteers can get home)
- 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 race (ages 14+ due to riding on open-to-traffic roads but exceptions may be granted); wave starts
- 24-mile singletrack+gravel race (ages 14+ due to riding on open-to-traffic roads but exceptions may be granted); wave starts
- Kids “race” (free, under 14, 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: 450 riders (not including kids race)
- SWAG Upgrade! The first 400 registered racers will receive this stainless steel pint or 2 glass pints if you prefer.
- New or existing West Michigan Mountain Biking Alliance members will also receive an Orange Mud buff/neck gaiter, glass pint or similar swag.
Top finishers will receive custom barnwood trophies or wood medals and prizes for each division.
- To avoid back-ups at the singletrack section (mile 5), we will group racers into 37-mile and 24-mile waves based on their 2021 or 2019 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. This avoids the issue of a rider starting in the back of a wave beating another rider even though they got beat at the finish.
- 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.
- The A-Field in green on the map below is Race HQ.
- Restrooms are located in the Cheff Lodge, just northwest of the start/field and just west of where you parked in the Day Camp area. They are also located in the white building north of the check-in/start/finish area.
- Showers are located in the bathhouse northwest of the start/finish. Only four showers total so we’ll have a hose at the Cheff Lodge if you want to do a quick wash off there.
- Post-race food: fruit, cheese sticks, and cookies
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 24- 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%)
24-Mile Surfaces (80% dirt)
- Gravel: 10 (42%)
- Single track: 9 (38%)
- Seasonal/two-track: .75 (3%)
- Paved miles: 4 miles (17%)
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 under many conditions.
- 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.
You are welcome to bring a tent for your group or team and set it up near the check-in/start area in the campground. No charge, no reservations needed. No team competition but hopefully in the future.
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, Gun Lake Motel (budget), 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.
- Start/finish: Water and Gatorade, post-race food, Metro Health Sports Medicine team
- Mile 17 of 37-Miler (Otis Farm Bird Sanctuary): Water and Gatorade, drop-out transport back to start available here (may require waiting until all racers come through)
- 6 Miles to Go/End of Yankee Singletrack: Water
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.
- Cut-off #1 (37-mile race only): Otis Sanctuary (Mile 17), 12:15 pm. 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.
- Short-Course/Cut-off #2 (both races): Hastings Point/Gun Lake Road intersection (9 miles to go), 1:30 pm. You must either take a ride back to the finish or take the short course option depending on what time you arrive here. This is up to the volunteer. If you disagree, they will remove your number plate and you are on your own.
- The reason for the cut-offs and short course is so volunteers and paid sheriff officers can be done with their duties at a reasonable time.
Short Course Option
For anyone who misses the cut-off or is struggling on the 24-miler, not up for the rugged, hilly second section of singletrack, or really concerned about the fastest 37-milers who might fly up behind you on that section, we are offering an optional 19-mile short course. At the Hastings Point and Gun Lake Road intersection (mile 14), let the volunteers and sheriff deputies know that you are taking the short course. Turn west on Gun Lake Road which becomes Briggs as it curves north and takes you all the way back to camp. You’ll have a good shoulder to bike on and just need to take care when crossing Chief Noonday/M-179 as we won’t have anyone there to stop traffic. You won’t be eligible for category prizes, but you probably aren’t doing the race for those anyway, right? We’ll call you a short course finisher and award you a Lord of the Springs glass pint since you won’t be getting as many miles in.
- 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.
Shirts & Merchandise
- Due to supply chain issues, shirts may not available after 8/31. We may have a few extras at the race.
- Race shirt $15. Long-sleeved, unisex crew neck, poly/cotton/rayon blend.
Post-Race Food & Drink
- Located at the start/finish (or Cheff Lodge if inclement weather)
- Complimentary cut fruit, string cheese, granola bars and cookies.
Awards & Raffle
- Awards will be given out at a ceremony following the race once 1st-3rd place racers have finished and placements are confirmed.
- We will raffle off some sponsor goodies, likely including a Velocity USA wheel set.
- We’re providing $5,000 over 5 years from race profits 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.
- And we’ll provide a donation to the Otis Farm Bird Sanctuary for their willingness to set up the aid station there.
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.