SRAM Ice Cycle Expo & Packet Pick Up!It’s (almost) what you’ve been waiting for! The SRAM Ice Cycle Expo & Packet Pick Up for the Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge & Meijer Slush Cup and Sno-Cone is this FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1 from 10am to 9pm at the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa.
SRAM Ice Cycle Expo Vendors & Details Swing by the SRAM Ice Cycle Expo (open to the public) and visit one of our many vendors on your way to pick up your packet or register your little for the Meijer Sno-Cone! You can also purchase your wooden tokens (good for one Bell’s beer each at the BISSELL Celebration Zone) at Timber Ridge Resort’s booth! Check out the full list of vendors:
45 NRTH LIV Bikes 906 Adventure LMB Adams Sports Medicine McLain Cycle Alpen Haus MEIJER – EXPO Bearclaw Bicycle Company MMBA Bells Beer Michigan Mountain Mayhem Bike Flights MSU – Grand Fondo Bike Law Munson Medical Bliz Eyewear / Endurance Enterprises NAT-URS-KEE Blue Care Network NMMB Boogali Bikes NORTE Borah Team Wear Northern Roots BoShield NUE Series Boyd Cycling Orange Seal Brick Wheels Powell/ Ride Science Cherry Capital Cycling Club Quiring Cycles City Bike Shop ROKA CLIF Bar Shoreline Fruit / Cherry Bay Orchards Costco Specialized Defeet Socks SRAM Einstein Cycles, LLC Subaru ERG! Bar Suttons Bay Bikes Floyds of Leadville Sweet Bikes Gaylord Chamber Team RWB Giant Bikes Timber Ridge/ Kalkaska GOREC Trek Bikes Grand Rapids Bicycle Company Turtle Creek Casino Happy Trails UP-Bike Heart Smart – Melting Man VanDoIT Highway 2/Continental VASA HNM Wellness Village of Kalkaska James Knight – Louis Garneau XC HQ KOM Cycling Xmatic
Packet Pick Up – IMPORTANT INFORMATION You and you alone may pick up your packet! Seriously. Your government issued picture ID is required and will be checked. Here is your one exception – if you are the parent or legal guardian of a rider under the age of 18 you may pick their packet up. Remember that if another rider races with your plate, you will both be banned for life.
After you grab your packet, head over to the Iceman Merch table to pick up your pre-order and get some additional swag! Visit all of our amazing vendors at this years expo. See you on November 1 from 10am to 9pm at the Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge SRAM Ice Cycle Expo.
The 30th edition of the Bell’s Iceman Cometh is going to one of the most exciting editions of the race yet, and one huge reason for that is the decidedly unpredictable nature of the women’s Pro field. Just a single rider returns from 2018’s top five, which means we’re in for a wide open race in which tactics and brains will be just as important as the riders’ legs. From across North America, the top mountain bike talent will descend on Traverse City to vie for bragging rights, a big payout, and an even bigger bottle of Bell’s beer. The field of 22 just might be the most evenly matched to date, and we’re expecting some incredibly close racing for 2019!
A multi-time Czech national champion and Olympian in mountain biking and cross country skiing, Katerina Nash is a true legend of the sport. If we had to pick a favorite to win this race, it’s most certainly Nash. More than capable of winning any event she enters, the experienced Nash will look to take her second Iceman crown, with her last win coming in 2017 in dramatic fashion, just ahead of… well, see below!
Rose Grant takes up the line in the stead of her Stan’s NoTubes/Pivot Bicycles teammates Chloe Woodruff and Sofia Villafane. After having to write-off her 2018 season due to injuries, Grant has stormed back in style, winning the Leadville 100 in 2019. Grant came tantalizingly close to winning Iceman in 2017, where she was narrowly beaten by Katerina Nash. Based on her run of form in 2019, Grant has every chance to take the win when she and Nash renew their rivalry on Saturday.
Haley Hunter Smith had a breakout year on the World Cup scene in 2019, becoming a fixture at the front of the races and getting plenty of camera time. This is her first Iceman, so be sure to give Haley an extra big cheer as she charges up Icebreaker – maybe for the dream scenario of a debut win!
She may be from Cadillac, but we’ve been calling her a local hero for years. Kaitlyn Patterson was a late entry to the race, but the perennial podium finisher is back! She’s not just here for the beer, either. She put in a dominant performance at Peak2Peak two weeks ago, and she’s seen everything Iceman can offer in terms of competition, course, and weather.
The Dark Horses
Keep an eye on Leia Schneeberger from Wisconsin. She put on a show at this year’s Peak to Peak, coming in second place behind a dominant Kaitlyn Patterson and ahead of a bevy of exceptionally strong riders. She’s had some great races at Iceman in the past, but Leia looks to be on a whole new level entirely this season.
Maddy Frank is the pride of Grand Rapids, MI and she’s coming back to Michigan for a run at the biggest race in the Midwest. A student athlete at Lindenwood University, Frank has had a fantastic season of training and racing at the highest level in the collegiate ranks. Can she parlay that additional experience into a top five in 2019?
Susan Vigland is as fast as ever, and this could be the year that she pulls off a huge win for all of Traverse City. She’s cracked the top in this race before, and she only needs a few things to go her way to take a big step up to the top of the podium.
Vigland will have her equally strong teammate, Bridgett Widrig, available to play the role of foil, or win in her own right. Widrig has been training exceptionally hard and has the Iceman course dialed in perhaps better than anyone else in the state. Few riders in the Women’s Pro field will have the benefit of having a teammate in the mix, so this is an advantage the Hagerty women will be sure to exploit.
The Pro field also welcomes Shannon Kochis to the mix for 2019. Kochis, having podiumed in her age group in every previous edition of Iceman, she’s looking to test herself against the very fastest riders in the event. That’s what Iceman is all about; setting ambitious goals, testing yourself, and seeing where you end up. We love to see people stepping up to the big dance, Shannon!
The Pro Women leave Kalkaska at 2:33 pm, so be sure to make some noise for them as the come in just behind the Pro Men. You can view the complete entry list for the 2019 Pro women here, and check out the results of the Pro women race from 2018 here.
Canadian and drop-bar enthusiast, Geoff Kabush, returns to defend his Iceman Cometh in 2019, but a glance at the start list will tell you Kabush won’t have the race entirely his way this weekend. A deep and talented roster of riders will toe the line to see if they can dethrone Kabush as Iceman champ on a course that is uniquely climb-heavy towards our home base at Timber Ridge. An elite posse of professionals, a motley crew of locals, and thirty miles of northern Michigan hero dirt will ensure the 30th anniversary of the Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge will be one of the most exciting editions yet!
Can anyone beat Geoff Kabush? He’s on pace to win three Icemans on the trot, an exceptionally rare feat in the thirty-year history of the race. If anyone is going to unseat Kabush, we reckon it might be one of these guys.
Watching the finale last year, Alexey Vermeulen cut a determined figure in solitary pursuit of eventual winner, Kabush. Coming into the line completely spent, but just a handful of seconds behind a repeat champion, Alexey was always going to come back this year for another chance to take home the win. A former WorldTour pro, he has the talent. After another season of mountain biking under his belt, 2019 might just be the year that Alexey wins his first Iceman Cometh.
Former National Champion, Payson McElveen, will bring his mustache and good attitude back to the start line in Kalkaska for another run at the Iceman title. McElveen has come oh-so-close to victory at this race before, back in 2017, with a 2nd place behind (you guessed it) Geoff Kabush.
If Kabush is unable to defend his title, Peter Disera sure wouldn’t mind keeping the title in Canadian hands. Disera has had an incredible year on the World Cup circuit, including a mind-blowing sixth place in Les Gets, France. His first crack at Iceman came in 2018, where he impressed on his debut with a fourth place.
Russell Finsterwald is back again for the race, and we love having this guy in our Pro Men field. His fearless, attacking racing style has made him a fan-favorite and everyone would love to see him take a well-earned maiden Iceman win.
With his last win coming in 2014, Brian Matter is just plain due for a victory at Iceman. He knows this race like the back of his hand, and he only needs to read the race correctly in order to put himself in with a shot at winning. It’s a recipe he’s gotten right on more than a few occasions, and everyone at the finish line would love to see a true Iceman legend take another victory.
A late addition to the race, Ted King flies the flag for Cannondale and maple syrup enthusiasts everywhere. The former WorldTour rider for Cervelo Test Team and Cannondale has been ‘retired’ for a few seasons now, but that’s simple meant he’s been traveling the country to crush skulls at gravel events both big and small. With race cancellations due to the Getty fires in Los Angeles, he’s swapping dry heat for cold, soggy fun for the first time.
The Dark Horses
Matt Acker’s Beard is better known for 24-rides than short sprints like Iceman, but don’t count him out. The nastier conditions are, the better we like Acker’s odds for pulling one over on the favorites to take a W.
Cole House rode a gravel bike at Peak to Peak two weeks back; perhaps a sneak peek at his steed of choice for Saturday? In any case, the perennial top ten finisher is someone to watch on Saturday.
Nick Zambeck enters the Pro race with zero pressure and flying under the radar. A season of road racing has given him some off the charts fitness, and paired with his bike handling skills, he has the ability to hang with just about anyone. If Zambeck can get to the front group by Sand Lakes Road, he’s golden. For him it’ll be about managing his efforts of the last climbs and giving himself a chance to spring a surprise after Wood Chip.
Jeff Owens is 135 pounds of positive energy and Traverse City’s nicest refrigerator salesman. Jeff whips up on us all summer long without so much as breaking a sweat, and his smile never fades, even if you’re going all-out trying to drop him. It’s infuriating! But he’s just so nice. It sure is great of all you fast guys to come up to TC to make Owens push himself. For once.
When it comes to crunch time at Iceman, Jordan Wakeley always seems to be there. He’s been on the wrong side of the deciding split on a few occasions, but if he makes the front group on the right side of Williamsburg road in 2019, even the biggest names will have their hands full trying to beat the Tower of Power from Grayling.
Jamison Sheppard was a DNF last year, but this guy is the real deal. He’s a rider without a weak spot, equally comfortable on climbs, in singletrack, and blasting through two track sections. He’s due to raise more than a few eyebrows in 2019.
The Young Guns
We have to give a shoutout to a host of young guys taking on the Pro category. Keegan Korienek was a jaw-dropping 26th in his Pro Men debut in 2018, and we can’t wait to see what he can do this year after another season of riding and racing in his legs.
Hagerty’s duo of Garrett Jenema and Max Meyer have shown themselves to have talent and work ethic in equal measure, which is the ideal recipe for brewing up fast cyclists. These guys will undoubtedly test their more experienced counterparts come race day and for the next thirty years of Iceman to come.
Braiden Voss is another incredible young talent from Suttons Bay, MI, who is coming home from school to show everyone his stuff. He’s developed from a raw talent into a race-savvy competitor, and he’ll be in with a shout if he can get to the front before the fireworks begin.
Almost a decade ago, we met this short, round kid from Cadillac and got him to race for the bike shop Cody worked at. This kid is now way taller and way, way faster than us. Tim Coffey is now a collegiate stud at Brevard, and he’s taking another shot at impressing his local fans with some Iceman glory. Papa Coffey must be so proud of this kid’s dedication to his sport and to school.
Due to the exceptional class of riders this race attracts, this preview gets more and more difficult to write each year. If we missed a rider who you think will hoist the big bottle of Bell’s at Timber, be sure to tell us in the comments.
The Pro Men take off from Kalkaska at 2:30pm. Get ready to yell your heads off for them along the course and at Timber Ridge in particular. Check out the complete start list here. Decide for yourself who to watch out for by taking a look at the 2018 results.
Growing up, my dad would always leave my brother and I on the start line with two pieces of advice. As we fiddled with our gloves and gave our tires a final pinch, he’d slap us on the shoulder and say, “Hey, remember; it’s a race. But don’t take any chances”. Being punk kids, we’d nod and sort of shoo him away, rippling with pre-race nerves and a teenager’s embarrassment of having our dad hanging around on the start line.
Now, in my old age, I get what we he meant. This isn’t a spin in the County; this is the biggest race of the year for thousands of riders, and if you’re lining up, you’re there to try. Try to win, try to place, try to finish, try to have fun. The goals might be different, but there’s an effort that goes into getting from Kalkaska to Traverse City, and you owe it to everyone else on the course to respect that. There’s nothing for you to do but empty the tank and see what happens.
Of course, that sort of respect pairs with some basic etiquette that most mountain bikers are all too happy to practice. Cycling is a sport that lives and breathes because of countless unwritten rules and learn nuances. There are things you do, and there are plenty of things you don’t. It’s now, just as the jitters start to multiple and the nerves tighten up that it’s worth taking a deep breath and a step back to remember a few of those more concrete practices that are going to keep this race fun for everybody.
On Your Left. With 5,000 people in the woods, we can promise you two things. First, you’re going to pass a few people. Second, a few people are going to pass you. Knowing that, make an effort to overtake slower riders carefully and respectfully, and help those passing you by moving over whenever and wherever the course allows. Announce your approach, verbally indicate which side you’d like to pass on, and wait for the slower rider to verbally call you through. If you’re in a bunch, communicate how many riders might be passing with you. If everyone talks, stays calm, and does their level best to cooperate, then both the faster and slower riders are going to have a faster time in the long run. Do you know the best $8 you can spend this week at your local bike shop? It’s $8 on a nice, loud bell. Seriously.
Walk It Out (or Over). Some of the hills out there are brutal. Loose sand, big bunches, and the grind of a tough day in the saddle can turn these short, sharp inclines into formidable ascents. If you do need to walk, it’s cool. Once you’ve got your feet on the ground, make an effort to move as far to one side of the trail as you can to allow other riders with momentum to keep riding. Most walkers tend to move to the right, but use your best judgement about where to go to keep both yourself and other athletes safe.
Play Fair. We’ve got 55 waves slated for Saturday, and you’ve found a happy home in one of them. Start in that wave; as you know, starting early will get you DQ’d. Starting in a later wave is still not great as your time starts when your wave does. We understand things happen just know that you timing starts when your wave crosses the start line not your bike. Additionally, don’t try to line up in an earlier wave and then linger in the chute, assuring yourself a front row spot. There was a rash of this in 2018, and I’ve been deputized to put an end to it. If you’re caught, you won’t just get held back for your wave, you’ll be held back with me listening to stories about how fast I used to be. That’s a miserable way to spend a morning, just ask Steve Brown. Remember, riding with someone else’s number plate puts our medical and search and rescue team in a bad position. Doing so gets you banned for life, so don’t even try it.
Drop Out, Shout Out. Look, sometimes it just isn’t your day. If you do drop out of the race for a non-medical emergency, let us know. There’s a phone number on the back of your number plate to communicate your DNF. We can help you get to the finish by car, or you can make your way to the nearest aid station for extraction. You may have to wait a little while, but there will be snacks and a blanket for you, so it isn’t all bad.
Perspective. Look, we all want to do well, but remember why we’re all out here. For 99% of us, this is a hobby. That first place check spends quick, but how you act, how you treat your fellow racers, and how you represent your family, club, and community doesn’t go away. I couldn’t tell you what place I finished in a particular year, but I will never forget how I raced and the friends I spent an hour and forty minutes in the wood with. For the next year, you’ll remember what and how it all happened, not the digits on the results sheet.
Have fun, go fast, and most important of all, look out for each other.
Preparation for a race like the Bell’s Iceman Cometh is extensive. Our racers ride up to a few hundred miles per week, putting in endless hours of physical exertion in the hopes of a fast ride on one special Saturday in November. They open their wallets to make sure they have the best equipment, the lightest parts, and the most aerodynamic gear to ensure they’re leaving no watt unused. Months of preparation all boil down to how two hours unfold with 4,000 of your friends.
But sometimes, it’s all for naught and the race doesn’t go quite to plan. In this scenario, it’s just as crucial to be prepared for all of the uncomfortable questions post-race; mostly, “How’d your race go?”
To help you prepare for that question in the event of an off day, here are some free excuses to keep in your back pocket. For added effect, we’ve translated these excuses into their actual meaning for bystanders so they know what really caused you to finish 168th place ride in the men’s 56-57 year old class.
Oh man, I was flying until Headwaters, and then the lights just went out and I bonked hard.
Translation: “I sucked wheel all the way to Headwaters and then got dropped like a sack of potatoes.”
My race went ok, but I got stuck behind people on a singletrack section and lost a ton of time.
Translation: “I sat-in and refused to take a pull on the front of the group on the fast flat sections, then complained people in front of me were going too slow in the singletrack.”
Legs just didn’t have it today.
Translation: “I drank way too much beer last night.”
My stomach didn’t like that new energy mix I tried.
Translation: “I drank way too much beer last night.”
I don’t really care where I finished. I was just out there to have fun, man.
Translation: “Maybe I should have done the Zwift races on the trainer instead of watching Golden Girls on Netflix all October.”
I didn’t do great, but it’s just because I haven’t had much time to train.
Translation: “I’ve been drinking way too much beer.”
Boom. You’re now completely prepared for the race and we can’t wait to see you in Kalkaska on November 2nd. At the end of the day, we just hope everyone makes it to Timber Ridge safely and has one heck of a good time. Whether you’re out there to take on Geoff Kabush or if you’re wearing a tutu and rocking a unicorn costume, we want you to make your Iceman Cometh experience your own. We’ll keep the fires roaring and the Bell’s beer cold for you.
Know what makes it really feel like the Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge is just around the corner? 40 degrees and rain.
I always smile the first time we see this kind of weather because of something my friend Sean Kickbush said while lining up at Peak2Peak a couple of years ago. We were doing that awkward dance before the Elite start; pedaling around in small circles just a few yards from the start line because we didn’t want to be the first to line up, but didn’t not want to be first, either. It was cold and, as if often the case, windy at the base of the ski hill. Nerves, as you’d expect, were frayed. Just then, ten minutes before the start, a few sprinkles fell, followed by something more steady. Sean, tense but smiling looked over and voiced his opinion on conditions. “You know what’s better than racing in 40 degrees? Racing in 40 degrees in the rain. Yeah, that’s a fun idea.”
Of course, we all clamor to do it when it’s Iceman. Some of you nutcases even do your snow dances or hope for freezing weather. Once the gun goes off, the weather doesn’t matter. This is Michigan, and this is Iceman; we all know what we signed up for, and we’re going to give it hell no matter what.
This past Sunday, a few of the crew made the short trip up to Timber Ridge to start preparing for 10,000 of our friends to party. It was the perfect Iceman morning; grey, cold, and just damp enough to control the sand. As I pulled in, a solid group of riders from all over the state were pumping up tires and sliding snacks into their pockets. I’ll admit, this weekend was the first time I had a fuzz of jealousy of the folks racing. Those guys and gals looked excited, eager, and ready for what is always an adventure.
Instead, I joined Mark Frick and Dave Heim on breaking out the stuff that makes the Iceman Iceman; the banners. Well, they may not be the most important or exciting part of the event, but this infrastructure is precious. We popped open the massive shipping container and started organizing by the sponsor; a massive pile of Bell’s signs, Trek banners neatly stacked next to Bontrager, a bunch of BISSELL close-by, and the Subaru VIP signs next to the golden VIP Parking banners. Seeing the container slowly empty was a great feeling, but the real treat was when Mark rolled out the barrels. Literally. The Bell’s Brewery barrels, for me, immediately send a jolt of electricity through me; this thing is SO CLOSE!
Throughout the morning, we also got a few updates from Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association and their trails crews. They’ve been working every night well past dark to get some of the course’s re-routes finished up and packed in. Much of these re-routes will be flagged and started by the weekend, but there’s plenty more to do to get them up to NMMBA’s exacting standards. When you see a few guys in the woods over the next few weeks, make sure you give them a shout and say thank you!
Last week, transfers officially closed, which means we’ll be polishing up wave assignments over the next few days. We’ll be doing what we can to get people where they should be, if not exactly where they want to be. Our registration crew has been getting 60-80 emails a day for the past two weeks with questions and requests, and they’ve given me two tips to pass along to those looking to skip up a few starting positions. First, just remember that we can only do so much shuffling. Second, Jessica and Denine like Two-Hearted Ale in a bottle.
Finally, the weather. I’ll admit, I caught myself checking the long, long-range forecast the other day, and finally smacked my own hand away from the weather app. It’s northern Michigan; the weather is going to change a dozen times between now and November 2, and another dozen times during the race. Don’t sweat it. Just like the course, we’re all in the same rain, snow, wind, or heatwave, and we know it’s not going to stop you from finishing…or hanging around to party.
As the weather changes and available daylight wanes with each passing day, it’s very tempting to hop on your indoor trainer. However, even if you have a solid indoor setup that can seemingly mimic hilly conditions, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an indoor environment that can truly simulate the Iceman course. We suggest logging in as many trail miles as possible – though not just on any trail.
“This race is full gas from start to finish,” cautions Johanna Schmidt, PT, DPT, a physical therapist at Mary Free Bed at Munson Medical Center who has completed Iceman six times. “You’re breathing hard the entire time so you’re not really prepping yourself properly on a single track.”
The avid cyclist – who also co-founded the youth-focused, cycling advocacy organization Norte with her husband Ty – recommends familiarizing yourself with the actual Iceman trail itself if you’re local. Still, the most optimal training can happen right in your own backyard. Schmidt says she owes her best race results (placing 6th) to combining both road racing and mountain bike training, including multiple treks up Wayne Street, a hilly road running alongside Ashton Park in Traverse City.
2. Train on Your Race-Day Bike
Just as important as replicating your environment is training consistently on the same bike you’ll be racing with next month. This will allow you to be comfortable and familiar with the fit, the gearing, and the control of your equipment. Another bonus? Training on your race-day bike may alert you to aches and pains, such as knee pain, that the bike itself may be causing. These physical warnings can signal a few needed tweaks, such as adjusting your saddle height. And if your own adjustments aren’t hacking it, you still have time to seek help from a professional bike fitter in your area who can better pinpoint any biomechanical issues.
3. Get a Tune-up
Perform a proper tune-up of your bike before the event. This includes checking the condition of the brakes, chain, and derailleurs. If you’re new to racing or just not mechanically inclined, it’s a good idea to have a professional do it.
4. Pace Yourself
It’s always critical to pace yourself according to your ability and the quality of your training. If you are new to racing or you are pretty certain you are not going to win the race or be in contention, then it’s probably not a good idea to start at the front of the line. “If you’re a first-timer or you’re not racing to win, seek out a group toward the back whose pace is more in line with your own,” says Physical Therapist Josh Thorington, PT, DPT, Manager of Rehab Services at Mary Free Bed at Munson Medical Center. “It will help you manage the race better. Plus, you don’t want to have to drop out of the race because you’re too tired from pushing yourself too hard at the start.” Regardless of your ability, remember that Iceman is a long race: don’t use all of your energy to the point that you can’t finish.
5. Dress Strategically on Race Day
It’s northern Michigan and you just never know what you’re going to encounter. Our advice? It’s easier to shed layers than it is to add them. Dress in clothing that you can easily peel off or slide down. Think vests that keep your chest warm but your arms cool, arm warmers (which you can slide down once you’re warmed up), and even clothing you don’t mind losing permanently should you need to lose a layer en route. Schmidt recommends underdressing, a tactic that has personally worked for her. “People tend to overdress,” she shares. “But when you’re overheated, it can be difficult to go fast. Even if it’s 40 degrees, a mile or two in, you’re already sweating.” In addition to a vest and arm warmers, Schmidt wears a jacket at the start line and gives it to a loved one right before start time. “Or bring something you don’t care to ever see again and discard it before you get going.”
6. Manage Injuries Now
As we mentioned above, pain can stem from something as simple as crank length. However, if you injure yourself or you’re experiencing pain such as a sore back or aching joints and muscles both on and off your bike, it’s important to manage your injury now. The rehab Team at Mary Free Bed at Munson Medical Center can evaluate you to determine the exact issue and provide interventions that will get you back in shape for race day. “Our goal is not only to get you back to racing pain free but to keep you racing pain free by creating a program that is tailored specific to you,” says Thorington.
Specialized, coordinated care is what you can expect through Mary Free Bed at Munson Medical Center. This unique collaboration gives our region’s athletes access to one of the largest and most comprehensive rehabilitation hospitals in the United States. Learn more here.
The Pros of today with the shredders of tomorrow! Last year’s runner up, Alexey Vermeulen, is back at the 2019 Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge, and he’s looking to do more than just hop up a step on the podium. This year, he’s gathered a few of his pals to lead a kids-only ride at Timber Ridge Resort from 3-4 pm to get the youngsters ready for the big day!
Geoff Kabush. Brian Matter. Katerina Nash. Alexey Vermeulen. With just a few podiums between these guys and a huge depth of national and international racing under their belts, it’s a flock of pros your kids won’t want to miss riding with. Join us on Friday, November 1 for a thirty-minute, 2.5-mile ride through the Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge finish venue. This ride is open to kids aged 9-15, and we’ll have a few volunteers to make sure the youths don’t drop the old guys.
Back at Timber, Geoff, Brian, and Alexey will hang out to answer questions and chow down on some healthy snacks provided by our friends at Clif Bar. We’ll also have some prizes to raffle off from Shimano, ESI, Iceman, and more! It’s a great chance to get your photo taken with these Iceman legends and get ready for race day. Get the kids excited about bikes, about getting outside, and about being healthy.
Alexey’s goal? To see kids fall in love with the sport and the race. In thirty years, we’re hoping these kids are bringing their kids to the same event and the same race and continuing the tradition of bikes, family, and great trails in northern Michigan. Let’s start something special this November!
To learn more, RSVP to the event on Facebook. Your child does not have to be registered to race to come ride, but make sure they’re dressed for the weather and have a helmet.
Mud. Cold. Rain. Snow. Countless hills and one of the most competitive fields in the country. You wouldn’t think any racer would possibly want to make the Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge harder. Then, deep into the race, you realize the guy or gal sprinting up every hill is doing it with just one gear. Singlespeeders are some of the toughest riders in the woods, and they’d tell you going without a derailleur isn’t much harder, just a different kind of hard. We check-in with Singlespeed wizard/legend/good dude Kyle Macdermaid on why not shifting holds so much attraction and the best ratio for the drag race between Kalkaska and Traverse City.
It’s been a few years since I have raced Iceman Singlespeed, (but man do I miss it sometimes.) Many people believe SS is a lot harder than running gears, but to me, it’s never seemed that much harder. It’s harder at times and easier at others. SS forces you to use momentum, use your fellow riders (find a wheel when you’re at 120rpm and tuck in) and works as a natural rev limiter. On fast sections, you are forced to draft, or just rest a bit as you only have so much gear. Yes, the hills are going to be a battle, but you attack them and run if you have to.
The big question with SS is always, gearing, gearing, gearing. What gearing are you running? How many gear inches are you pushing today? What’s your gain ratio brah? For Iceman, my plan has always been to run a couple of hills. Event 1 is almost always a run unless you hit it really clear in your wave, as people slow down too much for an SS rider to make it up in the sand. I would plan on potentially having to run the top of Make It Stick if need be, and I always plan on running Anita’s. I made Anita’s once on 36×16 and it was some of the worst race strategies I’ve ever had. That level of effort, especially late in the race was akin to a race-finishing all-out-sprint effort, and I completely exploded at the top. I pulled 10 seconds back on the person I was chasing (Collin Snyder) but lost more than a minute from the top of Anita’s to the finish as I was so blown up.
Okay, as to my actual gearing advice for Iceman:
If you are a general racer, just looking to finish with a good time, I would suggest dropping one tooth in the rear over typical go to singletrack gearing. If you ride 2:1 or 34×17 normally, go to 34×16 for iceman.
If you are looking to podium Iceman in SS, (and it’s not a mud year) you are going to need a taller gear. I would say a minimum of 62 gear inches (or 36×16 on a 29er.) If you are really shooting for the win, you might be able to squeak it on 62 gear inches if you can really spin, but something like 64 or 65 would be better. If I were racing SS this year, I’d be on 37×16, running a 29×2.2 tire.
Some single gear race advice:
-You really need to work with your geared brethren. Even if you are running a big gear (64+ gear inches) you are going to be spinning out on fast sections like Sands Lakes Road, parts of the VASA, etc. If possible, try to latch on to a good group of geared riders during the flat/fast sections, (even if you have to sit up for a couple of seconds so they bridge to you.) Stay in the draft and then jump to the front of them when you hit the hills as they’ll probably dump gears and slow you down.
-Run Anita’s. Yes, it’s possible to make it up it, but run it.
And remember, even if some geared people beat you, (which they will) you’re still cooler as you did it on one gear.
Need help with your gearing? Check out this handy gear calculator to determine your set-up, or see your range with your current gears, too.
We all know that sinking feeling, when that twinge of pain has stayed with us a little longer than we thought it would. When we are starting to consider that a call to the doctor might be more needed than just a trip to Meijer. When you know you probably shouldn’t push through the pain this time.
This is unfortunately what happened to our wonderful amateur rider Matt, he graciously agreed to let us follow his training for his second Iceman race. After some pain in his ankle he went into the doctor and on his order Matt will not be racing in this year’s Iceman but hopes to be back with us next year.
I am sure two questions come to mind… first what happens to his race registration? And is anyone taking his place? Those are both great questions I am glad you asked.
If you find yourself in a similar situation to Matt, and cannot race in this year’s Iceman even though you have already signed up, you can do exactly what Matt did. Transfer out of the race, you can do that right from your registration on the website. There is a list of excited people who are waiting to transfer into your spot so don’t wait if you know you can’t race! Also transfers close October 11th so make sure you transfer out soon, to get your money back. You will receive your registration fee back minus $20 which is donated to youth cycling teams.
There will be someone taking Matt’s place, so you still have a virtual training buddy! Let me introduce…
Garrett Boyd, when he is not training for his next event you will find him at his day job as a Pharmacy buyer for Munson Medical Center. Not new to mountain biking but to mountain bike racing so break him in easy, but he should be able to hold his own! He has decided to take on the Iceman Cometh Challenge after completing the Ironman Traverse City, and he was looking for his next challenge. He is looking forward to getting out of his element and spending more time out in the woods as that is one of his favorite parts of mountain biking. He is training 4-5 times a week to try to accomplish his under 2.5 hour goal for the Iceman Cometh Challenge. Follow Garrett on Facebook or Instagram at gboyd03 to see how his training is going and pick up some extra tips! Good Luck Garrett!