A Michigan Mountain Biking Test

Don't Stick Your Foot In There While Moving.

Don’t Stick Your Foot In There While Moving.

This is what happens when you try to knock snow off your foot by taping it on your front fork while riding. You can very easily miss the fork and stick it in the front wheel, catapulting you up over your handle bars and onto the ground in, oh I don’t know, less than a second? I’m amazed that all I did was bend a spoke. The wheel even stayed true (until I started riding it that way). It’s a Velocity Blunt. I’ve had issues with the SL’s on my rear wheel, but this one has been bullet proof, and now that I’m back to the base model Blunt on the rear again, I’ve had no issues there, either.

Anyway, I mentioned in an earlier post that I was working on a couple of projects that I’m excited about. The first is a lo-fi mountain bike stage challenge that incorporates most of the West Michigan mountain biking trails. What’s lo-fi you say? Well, all of the participants will be timed by using Strava and completing the Strava segments that have already been set up at each of the trails. Each rider will have 72 hours to complete all 8 trails. And to eliminate the need for offering all of the various race categories, I’ve developed a handicapping system to help level the playing field. I like to think of it as the BCS of Michigan Mountain Biking. But, because nothing like this has been developed before (that I’m aware of), I’m having to do it by hand. This has been very tedious.

Essentially, what I’m doing is going through about 10-15 races from last year, including the highly attended Barry-Roubaix, Yankee Springs Time Trial, Ore-to-Shore, and Iceman, and creating a ‘par’ completion time by averaging the finish times of the fastest 5% of the riders at each race. This is pretty simple for point-to-point and single-lap races because everyone rides the exact same course (I consider the different distance options at the BR and O2S as separate races). Many of the MMBA’s CPS races, however, require a little finagling because depending on your race class, you complete a different number of laps than the Elite riders (typically the make-up of the fastest 5%). To solve this, I went through everyone’s lap times, and when necessary, added 5% to the previous lap time to come up with the following lap time as many times as it took to equalize the number of laps for everyone. Finally I took the difference between my participant’s adjusted time (AT) at each race, subtracted the par time (PT), divided it by the AT and multiplied it by 90%. The 90% was to create a slight disadvantage for completing fewer laps. This works well for riders who may ride at the top of their class, but could very well compete in the class above them (possibly like me last year).

What you end up with, is a percentage of deviation from PT that you can average using all of the races that a rider completed and apply to each rider’s actual times for each Strava segment in the challenge. Add them all up from each of the trails and compare them to everyone else’s to see who was the fastest that weekend.

So part two of my project, which is actually where I had started and ran into the idea above, is to create a Michigan Mountain Biker Ranking. I had the notion to come up with something about a year ago, but didn’t really start mapping out how that might work until late last fall after Iceman. Some of the factors that need to be considered in putting a list like this together is not only normalizing the number of laps at each race like I did for my Strava Challenge, but also come up with some sort of trail rating in order to appropriately differentiate the race difficulty, or maybe better described as the trail type. The theory there is that some riders are better at certain types of races than others. I’m more of an endurance rider and do better at longer races with mid-to-more total elevation gain.

I’m still working out what calculations I might use to come up with an overall rider ranking, but in the meantime I ended up creating what I believe to be a fair trail rating equation that uses three factors: elevation gain per mile; trail length; and technical difficulty. Of those three factors, technical difficulty will be the most subjective, while elevation gain and trail length have been some of the more difficult data to find. For that I have gone back to Strava. Because that data is based on GPS information which is somewhat subject to each device’s reception there is some discrepancy and inaccuracy (or lack of precision), if I use the same type of data for all of the courses it should still provide a good comparison. This is what I have come up with so far:

Trail / Race Course (Per lap) Elev. Gain per Mile Climb Rating Tech Rating Length Length Rating Overall Course Rating 3
Addison Oaks 0.0 10.0 6.0 8.3 6.1
Al Quaal 0.0 10.0 12.2 4.1 4.7
Al Sabo 0.0 10.0 5.9 8.5 6.2
Allegan SGA 18.8 8.9 9 16.0 3.1 7.0
Anderson Park 0.0 10.0 7.0 7.1 5.7
Arcadia Dunes 104.3 3.7 3 11.5 4.3 3.7
Aspen Park 0.0 10.0 6.0 8.3 6.1
Bald Mountain 0.0 10.0 12.0 4.2 4.7
Barry Roubaix 24 66.7 6.0 8 24.0 2.1 5.4
Barry Roubaix 36 61.1 6.3 8 36.0 1.4 5.2
Barry Roubaix 62 45.2 7.3 8 62.0 0.8 5.4
Bass River 18.8 8.9 2 8.0 6.3 5.7
Bennett Park 0.0 10.0 8.0 6.3 5.4
Betsie River Pathway 0.0 10.0 10.0 5.0 5.0
Big M 100.0 4.0 4 40.0 1.3 3.1
Black Mountain 0.0 10.0 30.0 1.7 3.9
Bloomer 0.0 10.0 8.0 6.3 5.4
Boyne Challenge 133.9 2.0 2 9.3 5.4 3.1
Boyne Mountain 125.0 2.5 2 16.0 3.1 2.5
Brighton 0.0 10.0 14.0 3.6 4.5
Bruno’s Run 0.0 10.0 9.0 5.6 5.2
Burchfield 0.0 10.0 10.0 5.0 5.0
Cadillac Pathway 0.0 10.0 13.0 3.8 4.6
Cannon Township MTB Trail 0.0 10.0 1.2 41.7 17.2
Canonsburg Ski Area 97.4 4.2 4 7.7 6.5 4.9
Canonsburg State Game Area 60.0 6.4 5 7.5 6.7 6.0
Cheboygan 0.0 10.0 7.0 7.1 5.7
Chippewa Hills Pathway 0.0 10.0 6.6 7.6 5.9
Clear Lake 0.0 10.0 4.0 12.5 7.5
Clinton River Park Trail 0.0 10.0 4.5 11.1 7.0
Copper Harbor 0.0 10.0 25.0 2.0 4.0
Deerfield 0.0 10.0 7.5 6.7 5.6
Eagle Run Trail 0.0 10.0 7.0 7.1 5.7
Edwards Creek 0.0 10.0 7.5 6.7 5.6
Ehlco 0.0 10.0 26.9 1.9 4.0
Ella Sharp 0.0 10.0 11.0 4.5 4.8
Fort Custer Stampede 0.0 10.0 4 11.6 4.3 6.1
Fort Custer Trail 0.0 10.0 4 20.0 2.5 5.5
Frankenmuth Trails 0.0 10.0 2.0 25.0 11.7
Gladwin Trail 0.0 10.0 6.0 8.3 6.1
Grand Island 0.0 10.0 23.0 2.2 4.1
Grand River 0.0 10.0 4.0 12.5 7.5
Greenville Shearer Rd 0.0 10.0 5.2 9.6 6.5
Hanson Hills 0.0 10.0 21.0 2.4 4.1
Harlow Lake 0.0 10.0 18.0 2.8 4.3
Hartwick Pines 0.0 10.0 10.0 5.0 5.0
Heritage Park 0.0 10.0 8.0 6.3 5.4
Hewens Creek 0.0 10.0 4.5 11.1 7.0
Hickory Glen 0.0 10.0 6.5 7.7 5.9
High Country Pathway 0.0 10.0 80.0 0.6 3.5
Highland 167.0 0.0 14.7 3.4 1.1
Holdridge 106.9 3.6 14.0 3.6 2.4
Hungerford Lake 0.0 10.0 13.0 3.8 4.6
Iceman Cometh 82.4 5.1 5 30.0 1.7 3.9
Ionia 0.0 10.0 7.5 6.7 5.6
Island Lake 52.0 6.9 13.0 3.8 3.6
Jailhouse Trail 0.0 10.0 5.5 9.1 6.4
Kensington to Proud Lk Connector 0.0 10.0 2.5 20.0 10.0
Lake Ann Pathway 0.0 10.0 5.8 8.6 6.2
Lakelands Trail 0.0 10.0 13.0 3.8 4.6
Lakeshore Park 0.0 10.0 10.0 5.0 5.0
Lightning Bend City Park 0.0 10.0 7.0 7.1 5.7
Love Creek 0.0 10.0 4.2 11.9 7.3
Luton Park 66.7 6.0 3 9.0 5.6 4.9
MacKenzie Trail 0.0 10.0 12.0 4.2 4.7
Madeline Bertrand 0.0 10.0 2.2 22.7 10.9
Marquette South Trails 0.0 10.0 20.0 2.5 4.2
Maybury 0.0 10.0 7.0 7.1 5.7
Merrell Trail – Red Direction 101.7 3.9 3 5.9 8.5 5.1
Merrell Trail – Yellow Direction 101.7 3.9 4 5.9 8.5 5.5
Michigan Tech Trails 0.0 10.0 18.0 2.8 4.3
Mid Michigan Community College 0.0 10.0 10.1 5.0 5.0
Midland City Forest 0.0 10.0 13.0 3.8 4.6
Midland-Mackinac Trail 0.0 10.0 11.4 4.4 4.8
Milford Trail 0.0 10.0 5.0 10.0 6.7
Morton-Taylor Trails 0.0 10.0 8.0 6.3 5.4
Munson 0.0 10.0 5.5 9.1 6.4
Negwegon 0.0 10.0 10.0 5.0 5.0
North Country Trail 73.7 5.6 25.7 1.9 2.5
North Higgins Lake 0.0 10.0 6.5 7.7 5.9
Norway Ridge Pathway 0.0 10.0 7.0 7.1 5.7
Ogemaw Hills Pathway 0.0 10.0 13.6 3.7 4.6
Olson Park 0.0 10.0 5.0 10.0 6.7
Ore to Shore 31.4 8.1 5 49.5 1.0 4.7
Orion Oaks 0.0 10.0 10.0 5.0 5.0
Ortonville 0.0 10.0 3.5 14.3 8.1
Owassippe 124.9 2.5 11.0 4.5 2.4
Pando Ski Area 100.0 4.0 5 6.0 8.3 5.8
Pigeon Creek 0.0 10.0 9 10.0 5.0 8.0
Pine Haven 0.0 10.0 9.0 5.6 5.2
Pomeroy/Henry Lake 0.0 10.0 50.0 1.0 3.7
Pontiac Lake 110.0 3.4 11.0 4.5 2.6
Porcupine Mountains 0.0 10.0 25.0 2.0 4.0
Potowatomi 88.2 4.7 17.1 2.9 2.5
Proud Lake 0.0 10.0 10.0 5.0 5.0
Refuge Bike Park 0.0 10.0 3.8 13.2 7.7
Rifle River 0.0 10.0 15.0 3.3 4.4
Riley Trails 41.7 7.5 6 6.0 8.3 7.3
River Bends 0.0 10.0 6.9 7.2 5.7
Robinette’s 0.0 10.0 5.0 10.0 6.7
Rolling Hills Park 0.0 10.0 3.0 16.7 8.9
Rouge Park 0.0 10.0 3.0 16.7 8.9
Ruby Campground 0.0 10.0 5.0 10.0 6.7
Seven Lakes 0.0 10.0 5.0 10.0 6.7
Sharon Mills 0.0 10.0 3.8 13.2 7.7
Shingle Mill Pathway 0.0 10.0 14.0 3.6 4.5
Sleeper 0.0 10.0 4.0 12.5 7.5
Sleepy Hollow 0.0 10.0 10.0 5.0 5.0
Stony Creek 64.0 6.2 14.0 3.6 3.2
Swedetown 0.0 10.0 33.0 1.5 3.8
T.K. Lawless 0.0 10.0 9.0 5.6 5.2
Tisdale Triangle Pathway 0.0 10.0 10.1 5.0 5.0
Upper Macatawa Trail 100.0 4.0 3 2.0 25.0 10.7
Valley Spur Bike Trail 0.0 10.0 26.0 1.9 4.0
VASA Singletrack 0.0 10.0 13.0 3.8 4.6
Wakely Lake 0.0 10.0 16.5 3.0 4.3
Waterloo 0.0 10.0 5.0 10.0 6.7
Whiskey Creek 0.0 10.0 22.0 2.3 4.1
Wilderness SP 0.0 10.0 16.0 3.1 4.4
Wildwood Hills 0.0 10.0 9.5 5.3 5.1
Yankee Springs 90.0 4.6 4 13.6 3.7 4.1
Yankee Springs Time Trial 109.1 3.5 5 22.0 2.3 3.6
Averages 83.3

So that’s what I had been working on before I got crazy busy, and I should be able to get back to it again over the next couple of months to finish it up. In the meantime, I’m working on ramping up my training for my first race, which is now a month away. I’m really looking forward to racing again and I’ll be sure to keep my feet out of my wheels from now on


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