#NovemberIsComing: Jeff Owens' Tips For Race Day

It’s time. Labor Day Weekend is but a distant memory (or was it yesterday?), the kids are back in school, and all eyes are focused on November 2. For some, Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge is the ultimate test of the season and every second counts. For others, it’s about finishing. My dad always talked about races about racing; whether he was in the lead group or off the back, he always measured how good his day went based on how long he was in that mindset of racing, not surviving. 

To get you prepared, we bugged a plethora of locals. From the local hero ranks, we pulled the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. In addition to running Max’s Services and traveling the globe to support his kids, Jeff Owens somehow finds time to be one of the fastest riders in town. He’s finished as high as 16th in the Pro race, and he offered his advice on how to get ready for Iceman from a few weeks out through a few miles in. 

1. Don’t kill yourself at the start or first half of the race trying to keep up with people who are faster or just flying by you. You will catch those people once they get tired. Ride your pace and get with a good fast group to conserve energy for later; make sure to help keep the pace up and don’t be content to sit in the whole time. Help with the tempo, because you need to make some friends for later in the race.  

2. The hardest part of the race doesn’t happen until you get to Rock so be ready when you get there to work hard with the group you formed. 

3. Keep that wheel in front of you on those tough climbs like Anita’s and the CC Climb, a few seconds of suffering to hang on with that rider in front of you makes a huge difference, you can recover so much faster when you have that wheel once you get over the top! 

4. Don’t forget to eat/drink even if it’s cold! Grabbing bottles and food with cold hands and bulky gloves isn’t fun, but you have to make the effort. Plan where you’re going to eat and drink ahead of time.

5.Don’t try new nutrition on race day. eat stuff you have used and works for you.  Also, try hard to wake up early enough that you can eat breakfast 3 hours before your race, you have to get that food in your system and if you’re over 25, you need those 3 hours to digest. 

Have fun. We’re all amateurs; you can only do so much. Don’t ruin the experience by getting too worked up, too nervous, or disappointed with how it goes. If you hit Timber Ridge tired, you did it right; then it’s time to crack a beer.

Adam B.

Good stuff. Eleven months after heart valve surgery, I did my first Iceman last year and was so thrilled (and cold) at the start to have been able to do the race. Too excited, I didn’t heed the advice of friends who have gone before, the same you give in #1, and ended up pushing my bike up Anita’s Hill. Will ease up the first 1/2 this time around.

Mark E Olen

Thanks, we all need good advice.On my fifth year of the iceman .Yes pace your in becoming the hard part comes after Williamsburg road  hills ,hill and more you will be glad to see Timber ridge .Good luck to all

Happy trails


#5 great advice, I tried beans with my usual breakfast before riding from Kalkaska Sat...bad idea...glad I learned that lesson now. 

Keith Cowgar

Thank you Jeff.  Great advice.

Doug Millson

I'm really bad at remembering trails and trail segment names. Which part is 'Rock'?  The right turn around mile 18? Where the support tent with fireball whiskey is (allegedly)?

Jeff Owens

Hi Doug.  you got it the rock is the right turn onto the Vasa Trail about 18 miles in.  Fireball is normally at "make it stick" where they have the drums set up about 7-10 miles from the start. 

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