Short’s COO Matt Drake loves mountain biking and finding ways to share this passion with other like-minded souls. We interviewed him and asked him to recap this past weekend’s Long & Short’s ride. He also filled us in about all things Long & Short’s, as well as some other events coming up later this year.
Q: What is the Long & Short’s ride?
A: It is a fully supported ride on a really remote stretch of the North Country Trail. It concludes with a catered dinner, plenty of Short’s Beer, and a campsite. It is the only fundraising event for the Northern Michigan Mountain Biking Association, our local IMBA Chapter.
Q: Why not a race?
A: We just wanted to do something different. We thought it would bring everyone together in more of a fun, social setting. The trail is a lot more rugged and challenging than a race course, so you have to work with fellow riders to make your way. It’s a refreshing change of pace. We end up making a lot of new friends.
Q: What does “supported” mean?
A: Typically if you went out on the NCT in the middle of the rugged wilderness, you’d have a hard time finding your way and there wouldn’t be anyone around if you ran into trouble. For this event, the NMMBA goes out and marks all of the turns. We ride as a group. And there are food/aid stations along the way with a bounty of fresh and delicious foods. The course volunteers check you in and make sure everyone is doing okay and that
no one is lost out there.
Q: What distance did you ride this year?
A: This year I did the medium distance, which started at the Muncie Lake Pathway, south of Traverse City, and concluded in Kalkaska. It’s rugged, backwoods riding. Our GPS readings measured about 27 miles. A longer option started at the High Rollaways near Mesick, and a shorter version started at Sand Lakes Quiet Area. Each option was on the same trail and we all ended up in the same spot.
Q: What were some of the highlights of this year’s event?
A: Riding with several Short’s co-workers. Our group of eight rolled out together, except for pubtender Nate Moreland. He took off like a bat out of hell. Joe is pretty competitive and wanted to catch up to him. We all followed. Pretty soon, Tim Reicha (Fest and Events Manager) and I were riding at the front of the breakaway pack. I was on my fatbike and so was Nate, who we were chasing, so I thought it was pretty cool that fatbikers were setting the pace.
Q: Other than Short’s, who is behind the Long & Short’s?
A: First, there’s Glen Ruczynski, the NMMBA past President, and his wife Ali. Those two have been the most integral part of this event over the past few years. This year, they were joined by Don Clewley, the Chapter Vice President, President John Roe, and several other amazing volunteers. Along with Short’s, we had a bunch of awesome sponsors like Cherry Capital Suburu, Moosejaw, Einstein Cycles, Superior Physical Therapy, Kalkaska Screw Products, Oleson’s Food Stores, and One Day 100 Miles. Geogina’s, this really amazing Asian-Latin fusion restaurant catered our dinner and Northwood’s Soda provided refreshing soda pop. And Steve Brown, the “Iceman,” rode as the course sweeper.
Q: Which beers were on tap?
A: Prolonged Enjoyment, Nicie Spicie, and Cerveza De Julie.
Q: What do you see as the future of this event?
A: From here it will continue to grow. It’s always fun to see new faces at this event. And of course we always want to explore more ways to make the after-party even more fun.
Q: What else do you have planned for this year?
A: Short’s is sponsoring a Tailwind Racing event on the new Glacial Hills trail network near our pub in Bellaire on August 3rd, the morning after Short’s Fest. This is the first race on the trail network that Short’s helped get built in our backyard.
Q: Was there anything else that you wanted to say in this interview?
A: Just that I wish someone had been videotaping all of our sweet riding skills this past weekend so that I could show them to you. It was pretty awesome, I must say.