September Update And A Stroll Down Memory Lane

We’re nearly halfway through September already! Normally, we’d be gearing up for the final sprint from October to race day, but even without a race, we’re staying busy! 

First, we really want to thank everyone who chose to invest in keeping this race alive and well into 2021. By donating your entry, you’re helping the non-profit Festival Foundation weather the toughest year of its long history. Without your help, the Foundation wouldn’t be in a position to offer their events next year, or let the Iceman crew support our local partners and fellow non-profits that allow our community to thrive. 

So, what are we up to? Well, last week, the staff sat down to dial up the nearly 700 riders who haven’t decided on what to do with their 2020 entry. Over the next week, we’ll be dialing up each and every single person to help make sure they’re aware of their options and to help them tuck this away. If you haven’t made the decision yet, or if you aren’t sure, you can always reach out to confirm your entry. If we haven’t heard from you in the next few weeks, your entry will be automatically be donated. 

Because we want to give people time, we are holding off on our giveaways for a while longer, but that’s a good thing! We’ve gotten more schwag from our friends at Clif, Bell’s Brewery, Trek Bikes, Saris, and more. We’ve also started to get in more and more logo gear, including some sweet hats, shirts, and more from Borah! Those will start shipping out soon, but you can still order Iceman Cometh Challenge gear, so get yourself a little something this fall. My personal favorite item is the Ardent Wool Jersey. I picked up one of those last year and it’s become my go-to for September and October rides! 

Oh yeah, riding. You should. Rain over the past several days in Traverse City has turned all the trails and the Iceman course into a highway! If you are planning on getting in an Out’n’Back or two this fall, get after it. I’d really like to hear what you think of the 2020 course, and we might be using it, or big slices of it, next year, just because I really think it could make for an incredible race for the Pros and really every wave! 

A few weeks back, a small group of us did put in an Out’n’Back that really brought back memories. I’ve been really lucky to have some memorable outings at Iceman, which include plenty of highs and lows. Riding with a very small group to stay safe, it was just so great to ride that route and remember all the incidents and highlights that pop up nearly every inch of the 29 miles between Kalkaska and Timber Ridge. It’s also so neat to hear the stories and experiences of friends. Dave ‘Sunset’ Scott could point to the exact spot he jammed a chain while leading Wave One; as the chase group parking like a pack of baying hounds just a minute back, Sunset’s chain locked up between the cassette and the frame. He thought he was screwed; but out of nowhere, Ross Williams, who was racing Pro later, popped out of the woods, fixed his chain, and gave him a shove just in time for Sunset to hop back into the chasing bunch. 

It reminded me of my very first Iceman, too. I ambitiously signed up for the Pro race and, even more ambitiously, chose to ride a cyclocross bike. It may come as no surprise that I wasn’t exactly in the hunt, especially after narrowly avoided a stopped Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski two miles into the race; he’d had a rider slap his derailleur into his spokes, and was hanging in the middle of the singletrack. 

After watching the front of the race disappear into the woods ahead of me, I found myself in a neat and tidy group of six until we spilled down a steep descent. Suddenly, I was on the ground. Bouncing over some roots, my wheel had flexed so much that my one of my front brake pads got stuck under the time! Over the bars and face-first into the mud, I was fine, but I couldn’t for the life of me get the brake dislodged. I started running; I was convinced I was going to run to Timber Ridge. It would have been my first half-marathon. 

After a minute or two, my brain switched back on. I stopped and used my mechanical skills (punching, kicking, and slamming the wheel into the ground) to get the wheel free, but breaking the brake cable in the process. I was back in the saddle, just in time to hop in line behind the women’s pro field. I held on for dear life as long as possible, and thanks to a bit of cat and mouse, I was able to stick in the wheels until Anita Hill. After a slight cap, I was even able to give Emily Batty a short wheel to get back in touch, only to watch her absolutely fly up Anita; the pros pedal the exact same on the flats, the descents, and the hills. Incredibly smooth. 

That was my introduction to Iceman, and it had it all. Mud, cold, mechanicals, personal bests, and more than a few humbling moments, too. Very humbling, in fact. The final 7km to the end were a nightmare for me, and I was very much aware that I was likely racing not to get last. I finished in 2:09, second to last and over a half an hour behind the winner, Sam Schulz. 

I was hooked. 

Everyone has similar stories and memories, and part of what we’re missing right now isn’t just making new ones, but reliving the moments sparked by every turn and climb. 

This fall, be safe, ride smart, and let’s get through this so that we can not only enjoy the 2021 Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge, but all of the races that bring our community together. We’ve got races to ride and memories to make. This fall and winter, lock it down and let’s hope spring looks much brighter. 

Thanks again for all your support, and stay tuned for updates on when we’ll get to announce who wins all this cool stuff, including my Trek Top Fuel!

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