Bent Rim Bugle: Issue 89

December 2, 2023

In this issue:

  • Introduction
  • Fatbiking Silver Lake Sand Dunes (Scott Beal)
  • Arkansas Invasive Stilt Grass (Julie Stachecki)
  • Norte Youth Cycling Programming (Cody Sovis)
  • What We’re Thankful For… (LMB Staff)
  • Throwback to November 1987

Welcome to the re-introduction of the timeless Bent Rim Bugle (BRB), official newsletter of the Michigan Mountain Bike Alliance (MMBA)! Think shared information, stories, and advice on all things MTB and gravel from fellow members of the community.

This bi-monthly digital publication will act as a channel for members of the community to connect and will be fun, useful stuff from the bicycling community for the bicycling community. We want to hear from YOU. If it’s about biking, we hope you’ll send it in for future issues! We’re currently accepting submissions on a rolling basis. Please submit to [email protected].

The original Bent Rim Bugle became the official newsletter of the MMBA’a mountain biking and gravel riding community in 1990 with the formation of the organization. Today, we bring back the BRB name not only as a nod to the newsletter that pioneered a means for organizing the state’s off-road cyclists to work for continued access, but as a channel for members of the community to connect. 

We’re also debuting a similar publication for LMB’s on-road community, Michigan Bicyclist Mini. Both of these community newsletters aim to provide a platform for ALL bicyclists to share with and inform one another on all things biking.


Fat Biking The Dunes

Submitted by Scott Beal

Beginning on December 15th, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) welcomes fat bikers for a dune takeover at Silver Lake State Park in Oceana County that will extend to March 15th. This new recreational season provides fat bikers an opportunity for winter and spring riding that is truly unique to our region.

The Silver Lake Sand Dunes are the premier destination for ORV dune adventures from April 1st through October 31st, attracting more than 1 million visitors per year. Previously, bikes were not allowed in the park. With the creation of this new season and a season for horseback riding during the month of November, it is the hope of Silver Lake State Park and the MDNR to create ever expanding opportunities for users to enjoy the natural phenomenon of the dunes in all seasons of the year.

At the end of January, MI Playground came to take part in the Dune Fat Bike season. Read their blog or check out their video below:

Fat Biking Season Details:

  • The ENTIRE dunes ARE NOT open for cycling activities, only the regularly designated 450-acre ORV scramble area is approved for these activities.
  • The pedestrian portion and the portion Mac Woods uses is closed to bike and equestrian use.
  • Use of the state park pedestrian area parking lot for the bicycle riders to stage and enter the dunes using the down ramp of the ORV area.
  • A valid Recreation Passport is required on motor vehicles if using the parking lot.
  • Vault toilets will be available for use.

Shoreline Cycling Club and Michigan’s Edge Mountain Biking Association have worked for the past several years in cooperation with the MDNR to create a pilot program for fat biking on the Silver Lake Sand Dunes. Because of the success in these initial trials, the MDNR has designated this new fat biking season on the dunes.

Winter Season Resources
Although some businesses close for the winter and early spring seasons, there are several places to stay and eat at in the Silver Lake & Hart area while on your fat biking adventure. Those businesses are listed below. Be sure to check for seasonal hours before heading out.

Dunes Express Inn and Suites – 2248 N Comfort Dr, Hart, (231) 873-3456
Gateway Motel – 3781 N. Oceana Dr., Hart, (231) 873-2125

Restaurants Open in Winter Season:
BC Pizza – 2327 N. Comfort Dr., Hart, MI 49420 (231) 873-5555
Big Hart Brewing Company – 4086 W Polk Rd, Hart (231) 301-8226
Hart Pizza – 105 E Main St, Hart, (231) 873-4434
Kristi’s Pour House – 211 E Main St, Hart (231) 873-2378
La Fiesta – 12 S State Rd, (231)498-3202
La Probadita – 19 S State St, Hart (231) 873-4069
Open Hearth – 2430 N 56th Ave, Mears (231) 873-8800
Pink Elephant Diner – 207 S. State St., Hart (231) 873-9912

Fast Food:
McDonald’s – 4256 W Polk Rd, Hart, (231)873-8786
Subway – 2386 N Comfort Dr, Hart

Coffee Shops:
Lakeside Bagel & Smoothie Bar – 39 S. State St., Hart, (231) 0873-3566
Stella’s Coffee House – 213 E. main St., Hart, (231) 0301-8028

Close-by Provisions:
Duneland Off Road Center (located right next to the ORV parking area) – 1951 N 24th Ave, Mears (231) 873-4047
Duneland offers tire maintenance, goggles, gloves, clothing, bottled water, ice, soft drinks, and snacks.

For minor injuries, go to Mercy Lakeshore – 72 S State St, Shelby, (231) 861-2165
For all other needs, go to Mercy Health – 1500 E Sherman Blvd, Muskegon, (231) 672-2000

Free Wifi:
Hart Public Library – 415 S. State Street, Hart, public Wi-Fi available in the parking lot.
McDonald’s – 4256 W Polk Rd, Hart, public Wi-Fi available in the parking lot.


Ride, Clean, Repeat: Help Keep Invasive Stiltgrass Out of Our Trails

Submitted by Julie Stachecki

While riding a lap at Proud Lake Recreation Area with her companion earlier this month, Julie Stachecki, a certified arborist and owner of Site Specific, Inc., expressed serious concern for the spread of invasive Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum) on and around Michigan trails. We were discussing how to get the word out to PREVENT this infestation from blowing up along our MI Trails and here you are, offering a platform,” she told LMB.

Stiltgrass photo courtesy of Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut,

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), an invasive species like Japanese stiltgrass is one that is not native and whose introduction causes harm, or is likely to cause harm to Michigan’s economy, environment, or human health.

Invasive species like this are an issue for bicyclists because they thrive in disturbed areas, like the edges of trails. They are usually very fast-growing and often grow faster than they can be managed. Some invasive plants also contain chemicals that can irritate riders’ skin and cause a rash with repeated contact. According to the Michigan Invasive Species Program page, Japanese stiltgrass in particular is very adaptable and will grow almost anywhere from deep shade to full sun. 

Julie said, “My primary concern relates to traveling to and from Arkansas to ride the amazing trail system there. Arkansas is infested with this horrible invasive stiltgrass! Stiltgrass sets between 100-1000 seeds annually, which can be transported in soil lodged in our bike wheels! Bicyclists need to be aware and do our part to clean our bikes of all soil before transporting to new locations.”

The MDNR’s program, RIDE CLEAN REPEAT addresses this concern and is a campaign to make riders aware of invasive species and to encourage practices that prevent their spread.

Taking these three simple steps can help reduce the spread of invasive species:

  1. RIDE – Arrive with a clean bike and enjoy the trail. Always ride on the designated trail.
  2. CLEAN – After the ride, rinse your bike with water or use compressed air to blow off any mud and plant debris. If you don’t have access to water or compressed air, you can knock or wipe off dirt.
  1. REPEAT – Ride the next trail knowing you’re not carrying any invasive species with you!


Take these steps to reduce the spread of invasive species.


More on Japanese Stiltgrass:


  • Delicate, low-growing annual grass. 
  • Stems sprawl over one another and root at nodes.
  • Short (3-8 cm) alternate leaves are pale green, lance-shaped with a distinctive, shiny mid-rib, slightly off-center.

Photo courtesy of Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut,

Habitat: This annual grass is very adaptable and tolerates varying levels of soil acidity and moisture but prefers forested floodplains. It will grow almost anywhere from deep shade to full sun.

Native Range: China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia and India.

U.S. Distribution: Japanese stiltgrass was first documented in Tennessee in 1919, introduced as a packing material for goods from Asia. It has spread across much of the eastern U.S. as far north as New Hampshire and as far south as Texas. 

Local Concern: Stiltgrass produces 100-1,000 seeds per plant and can spread rapidly by water flow, wildlife, foot and vehicular traffic. Deer will browse native plants and avoid stiltgrass, which allows for additional spreading. 

Other Common Names: Nepalese browntop, Asian stilt grass, Nepal, microstegium, eulalia.

To report invasive species: 

Use the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN) online reporting tool or download the MISIN smartphone app and report from your phone –


Norte Youth Cycling Programming

Submitted by Cody Sovis

Norte Fall Mountain Bike Club riders take a break during practice.

Our Fall Programs Report

As Norte Youth Cycling nears its tenth anniversary in May 2024, we’re celebrating another successful year of bike programs in Traverse City and surrounding communities. Behind the miles and smiles are countless hours of preparation, thousands of kids with unique personalities and needs, and dozens of coaches and volunteers. It takes a lot to make after-school programs work, but we know they’re worth it. 

A Blueprint for Bike-Friendly Programs in Michigan

We’re proud of our role in popularizing bike-centric programs across Michigan, but you can be sure our work is never done. Every year, we put every element of our Spring, Summer, and Fall programs under the microscope. The combination of rapid growth in 2018-2019, the COVID-19 pandemic, and increased childcare needs across the state have made every Norte offering unique and, at times, fluid. 

Childcare Costs

Childcare costs have risen nationwide, and Michigan families aren’t immune. The average cost for a toddler in childcare is now over $11,000 on average in the state. Since 1990, childcare expenses have increased 220% and now account for nearly 40% of the total income of a single working parent. 

About 14% of Michigan children under the age of 5 have one parent out of the workforce due to the high cost of childcare. 

Norte’s programs provide an affordable childcare option for parents during the summer months. Our week-long programs offer flexibility for parents who can’t afford seasonal childcare during summer break or simply can’t find a spot for their child. 

Access to Bikes

Not every kid has a bike. Like financial support, bike ownership poses a barrier for lower-income families. Wealthier families in the US are nearly twice as likely to own a bike as financially challenged households. US families are more likely than European nations and developing countries to view bikes as pure recreation instead of a viable alternative to car ownership. That could change; Americans are driving less, offering more opportunities to use bikes for short trips. 

Norte alleviates the access barrier with several Bike Libraries in Traverse City, Elk Rapids, and nearby communities. One of our key missions in 2024 will be to expand our Bike Library initiative to at least one new city. 

Mental Health and Social Well-being

Many of us enjoy cycling for the physical benefits at first, only to appreciate the many social benefits as we become part of the close-knit, two-wheeled community. For kids, cycling is a unique sport for finding a social circle, especially for young adults who lack skills or interest in traditional team sports. Cycling is considered one of the best activities for building social connections, reducing stress, and improving sleep hygiene. 

Over the years, we’ve seen incredible growth in social skills, confidence, and independence in many program participants. In many cases, the most timid riders at the start of a Spring or Fall after-school program show the most progress on the bike and off. It’s not just our coaches, either; cycling inspires camaraderie that mirrors and, at times, surpasses traditional team sports. 

Keep Youth Cycling Rolling, Wherever You Are

Michigan has seen tremendous growth in youth cycling over the past decade, and we’re excited to be a part of getting kids on bikes for years to come. Make time to support youth cycling in your community by donating financially or investing time as a volunteer or coach. Every cyclist in the state has the opportunity to help kids discover a lifelong love of cycling, whether as a racer, a commuter, or a casual fan of bikes. 

Cody Sovis is Communications Director of Norte Youth Cycling. He’s been racing and riding since he was three years old and enjoys early mornings on Old Mission Peninsula. Learn more at


What We’re Thankful For…

Having celebrated Thanksgiving last week, LMB staff took a moment to reflect on what we’re thankful for:

Nicky Bates, Development and Membership Director

“I’m grateful for my bike and my legs – both take me on incredible adventures in cool places.”


Gina Apone, Communications Coordinator

“I’m thankful for my riding buddies – they make every ride more fun and are always up for hitting the trails and exploring new routes.”


Throwback to November 1987

The original Bent Rim Bugle became the official newsletter of the MMBA’a mountain biking and gravel riding community in 1990 with the formation of the organization. Today, we bring back the BRB name not only as a nod to the newsletter that pioneered a means for organizing the state’s off-road cyclists to work for continued access, but as a channel for members of the community to connect. This publication has transformed in many ways over the years, but has remained committed to carrying the torch to connect the off-road community.

Take a look at this issue from November 1987 to see the publication then v. now and how it’s come along since then!


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