CBS Viewing Party at ONYX Sports Bar – December 1

CBS Viewing Party at ONYX Sports Bar - December 1

We’re back on the airwaves Sunday, December 1 on CBS Sports! For the second year, the Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge airs across the country to highlight our racers, our winners, and our partners from sea to shining sea. And we’re inviting you to tune in with us! 

This year’s viewing party will be hosted by ONYX Sports Bar inside Turtle Creek Casino. We’ll be there by noon so we have plenty of time to settle in and loosen up before the Iceman program premiers at 1 pm EST on CBS Sports. The hour-long feature will highlight the history of the race, the perks of the region, and the demanding conditions of the 30th anniversary of this incredible event. Get a taste of the Bell’s and feel the chills of the Pro finish with all your pals, and get ready for 2020. 

Watch for drink specials at ONYX and take time to check out the casino during your visit. Can’t join us at 1 pm? The program re-airs for the West Coast at 9 pm our time, so you’ll have a second chance on that same day.

SRAM Ice Cycle Expo & Packet Pick Up

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
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.

Iceman Etiquette

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.

Excuses for Why Your Iceman Didn’t Go to Plan: A Free List

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. 

Alexey’s Kids’ Ride Presented by Shimano and CLIF Kids

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. 

NMMBA’s Traverse City Trails Festival: Summer Fun for a Good Cause

NMMBA's Traverse City Trails Festival: Summer Fun For A Good Cause

Last year, the Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association joined our team as our go-to resource for course design and preparation. For twelve years, NMMBA has served our local mountain biking community as a dedicated, passionate steward of the trails, and for the third time, they’re bringing that experience and know-how to their very own event, the Traverse City Trails Festival.

Now in enjoying its third edition, the TCTF offers up one of the most unique trail experiences of the season. That’s because each of the forty, twenty-five, and fifteen-mile course take place almost entirely on trail that isn’t marked 364 other days of the year. Absent on a map and on any trailhead kiosk these trails exist as the notorious ‘unmarked’, with even the total mileage of these trails a somewhat vague and oscillating number in the sixty to seventy-mile range.

That’s why locals are just as eager as visitors to hop in this race or to simply tour it. Both options are available, and both use the only lightly-traveled trails marked so briefly to offer an incredibly fun day in the woods. The unique race also helps create more trail; new shortcuts, bypasses, and re-routes are often later incorporated into trail proposals submitted to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The changes and additions allow NMMBA to retire old, unsustainable bandit trails and replace them with improved routes keep vital sections connected and rideable.

The Traverse City Trails Festival takes place at Ranch Rudolf, a rustic resort and campground that serves as start, finish, and party zone throughout race day. With the Boardman River passing just yards away from the finish banner, it’s become a tradition in this neck of the woods to finish off your race or ride with a chilly dip in the river before enjoying some barbecue food, beer, and the pleasure of friendly company.

For those really looking for a race, this one is as about as challenging as it gets. After some fast miles to spread things out, the forty-mile course offers relentless mile after mile of singletrack, punctuated only at length by a few dirt roads to gulp down some water, choke down a bar, and then dive back into the high ferns of late July. The forty-mile race is certainly a test of endurance, while the twenty-five mile serves as a more traditional cross country distance on par with Mud, Sweat and Beers, another local landmark.

Newer riders often elect to round up their pals and ride the twenty-five or fifteen-mile routes as a group, stopping for snacks, snapping photos, and hurrying only to make sure they get back to Ranch Rudolf in time to grab a beer for the bar shuts down.

All proceeds from the race go to support Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association and their efforts to build and maintain world class trails like Glacial Hills, the Cadillac Pathway, and the new Palmer Woods Trail in Leelanau County. For more on the race, and to get yourself signed up, head over to the race site.

November will be here before you know it, and with a few race days circled between now and then, you’ll not only build fitness but build an appreciation for the people and trails that make northern Michigan such an incredible place to be a mountain biker.

And so it begins…SRAM EXPO

And so it begins...SRAM EXPO

The Sram Ice Cycle Expo is in full force! Open until 9pm!

Come meet the Pro’s!

Jorden Wakely  at the M22 Booth    4pm-7p

Troy Wells, Todd Wells, Ben Sonntag, Haley Baten and Olympian Catharine Pendrel at the Clif Booth 4-6

Steve Ettinger and Spencer Paxon  at the Einstein Cycles Booth. 4:30-6

The Clothing Store is Open!

We have lots of your favorite Iceman gear to buy!

Book Signing 

The parents of Dr. Kenneth Johnson wrote a tribute to him.  Dr. Johnson passed away 3 years ago while racing.  Stop by their booth to grab a book or say hello.