The Top Secret Formula For Wave Assignments REVEALED!

The Top Secret Formula For Wave Assignments REVEALED!

It’s September and we haven’t had any need to dig out the shoe covers yet! Rest assured, the chill will descend on the Midwest soon, and you can expect to spend an extra ten minutes digging through bins and closets for your warmers, booties, covers, and coats. That first ride in the cold, in a misty rain, with squealing brakes and a generous deposit of sand coated on your chain; it’s a sign of the season. 

Just as important, and perhaps just as exciting, are two crucial dates for our races. First, transfers close on October 11. We really appreciate everyone who has transferred out so far, and we encourage you to do so if you aren’t going to make it. That $20 fee goes to support Norte Youth Cycling and the Grand Rapids Dirt Dawgs, two really cool programs that get kids on bikes. Additionally, you’re making a spot for another rider to race Iceman. For riders who have done this dance a time or two, it may not seem as big of a deal, but cast your mind back to your first timing lining up in Kalkaska; you won’t ever forget it. 

The second date is October 18, which is the latest date we hope to have wave assignments ready. Riders tend to think of wave assignments as a sort of Harry Potter-esque Sorting Hat; everybody wants to be in Gryffindor, everyone thinks they should be in Gryffindor, and a wave that isn’t to your liking is like getting Hufflepuff. (Sorry, Hufflepuff). If you don’t get this metaphor, ask your kids. 

First off, we hope you know that we spend a lot of time trying to get these wave assignments right. Over the years, we’ve adopted two formulas to put people where they should be, both from a competitive standpoint and from a safety stand point. Having riders of vastly different abilities and speeds on the same square foot of trail is the riskiest business, and it isn’t fun for either party. 

It all starts with the following:

Rider with past results:

Average overall place for up to the last 5 years, then doubling your best place of those results. Then those results are ranked and split up into the waves. The first 4 waves have 150 riders per wave, then the remaining waves have 80 per wave to allow room to manually move or place riders as needed.

Riders without past results, but with Strava data:

Strava riders are ranked by their total activity scores for the year. They are then placed by rank after the past results rider waves.

Using your five-year average helps us remove your worst results, whether it be a bad day, a bad mechanical, or season where you just didn’t get to train to your normal standards. We double your best result so that it makes the most of your very best day. 

For riders without a result or Strava data, we have a number of waves dedicated to specific age groups based on average and best finish times. 

The best way to influence your starting position is to race Iceman, but it isn’t the only way. There is certainly some element of ‘pay your dues’ to the system, but we take a lot of pride in working with races to look at their Training Score and helping them find a wave they will have a great experience being in. 

The other question we get a lot is how the Training Score is determined. Trust us, this took a ton of thought, trial and error, and tweaks to get right. The formula is as follows:

( Distance (Miles) + Total Elevation (Feet) + Moving Time (Minutes) ) / 20

A lot of riders say that you can skew the score by riding far, or climbing a lot, or riding a long time; the reality is that if you’re going big in any one of those categories, it’ll pay off. It’s not perfect, but it’s the same for everyone, and that makes it pretty darn fair. My tip? I took a look at my normal training ride and found it to have a Score of 80; that’s 90 minutes of riding, with 1,474 feet of climbing, and 30.8 miles. That’s a pretty doable ride for anyone, and if you need to knock off a little climbing, it won’t kill the score. Hopefully, that gives you some perspective on where your training is. 

As we ease into wave assignments, we’ve got a few things that will help make it go smooth. If you ride for a team or club, consider compiling all of your wave requests into a single email so we can process them all at once and do so with a few less emails to chase. Second, include a link to your Training Activity page so we can look at it without searching. Finally, relax. We’re going to do our best for you, and no matter what wave you end up in, you can still have a great race and a really good time. The course is fast, open, and challenging; we feel confident that by the time you hit Timber Ridge, you’ll be tired and ahead of every single rider you deserve to be ahead of. 

Questions? Let us know via email and remember, we won’t be able to change your wave assignment until after they’re assigned. Until then, get training…and maybe take a second to look for your knee warmers right now!

Under 200 Spots To Go!

Under 200 Spots To Go!

We’re under 200 spots to go, and we’ve got a challenge for you. 

Steve “Iceman” Brown has been trying to get in plenty of miles before we get really, really busy this fall. With registration taking off, we were talking about just how long it’ll take until the long race is sold out. So, in true Iceman Cometh Challenge fashion, we’re having a race. 

As of today, Iceman has 186 miles for the month of August, and there are now 167 spots remaining for the 28-mile race. So, will Iceman get to 200 before the race gets to zero? 

It won’t if Steve gives the new course a look! We spent the weekend putting in a big effort to take a closer look at a few changes at the start and final five miles of the race. Nothing is set in stone yet, but we’ve got a few wrinkles in place and a few favorite sections coming back in honor of the 30th edition of the race. 

All in all, the course is in great shape, although it’s at peak sand due to a very dry August. Things will firm up plenty after Labor Day, and we’re working with our pals at Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to do just a bit of trimming to keep the face-slappers at bay. The only spot to watch for is located in the Water Bottle Hill Bypass at roughly mile mark 9.7 from Kalkaska. There are two extremely big trees down that’ll need chainsaws and some very strong human to shift out of the way. 

Watch for more course updates AND to see if we can beat Steve to across the 200 mark! Let’s hope he doesn’t do his course inspection today! 

Thanks, Dad: A father’s Day Shout Out

Thanks, Dad: A Father's Day Shout Out

Some of my earliest memories aren’t just of my dad, they’re of my dad and bikes. Growing up, my brother, Wes, and I lived to go pedal around the block with our dad. I remember those early pedal strokes vividly; I even remember the exact day our dad, Joe, took the training wheels off my 12″ wheeled Murray BMX bike and pushed me through the front yard. 

And directly into the neighbor’s shrubbery. We got the hang of it eventually, however, and graduated from rides down Ninth Street to Deering’s for 5 cent Tootsie Rolls to joining him on his ‘training rides’ behind the State Hospital. You have to give him plenty of credit for patience. We couldn’t make it up the hills, nor could we be trusted to safely get down the rough and steep descents. Joe picked out a very short loop and told us to stick to the lap. At the time, I guessed it was maybe a mile long; today, I can assure you that it wasn’t more than 100 yards, maximum. Still, after one lap together, he’d take off, doing dozens of laps in thirty minutes, with Wes and I plodding along and wondering if we’d ever, ever be able to keep up with the man who, we assumed, was the fastest bicycle rider in the world. 

When we had a babysitter, we’d get to go the to the races and watch him. He raced at Shanty Creek, Sugar Loaf, all those early 90s events in Northern Michigan. Wes and I would be so proud to see our dad out on the course at the same time as riders like Tinker Juarez; we didn’t really get all the categories yet. I know it meant a lot for him to have us there, too. I remember after one race, he joined the queue of riders at the results board (they used to print them out on paper way back in the day, kids!) and turn around with the biggest smile on his face I’d ever seen and shout, with both hands flashing three fingers, “Third place! Third place!”. Sport class hero, but hey, he was my hero. 

As we got older, we got faster. I will never forget the first time we dropped Joe. We used to ride the Leelanau Trail to Suttons Bay on the weekend. The way out was Stage One, the return leg was Stage Two, and we’d grab Clif Bars or Pop-Tarts at the gas station as a break in between. In those days, the trail wasn’t paved all the way north, and we imagined that dirt and gravel stretch as a secteur of cobblestones, like we’d seen on TV watching Paris-Roubaix. It was a hot, dry day and when I countered Wes attack, Joe couldn’t go with me; I rode up to Wes’ wheel and we stayed clear all the way to Suttons Bay. I can distinctly remember looking back and seeing my dad’s teal Giro helmet and dusty, dirty face just barely visible in front of huge cloud of twisting, thick dust being kicked up behind him. He was giving it all he had to catch us, and I don’t doubt the immensity of the moment was lost on any of us. 

In high school, Wes and I got away from cycling. Baseball, football, track all flew by, but cycling, and our dad, was waiting for us on the other side. It was my dad that let me borrow his bike to race the first-ever Barry-Roubaix, the first spring I was riding bikes again. He made it to almost all of our races, combining the roles of coach, soigneur, mechanic, and cheerleader. He’d hand us water bottles during races, clean our bikes when we got home, and no matter what the result was, he’d ask us if we had fun. To this day, that’s the question he asks first; win or lose, it was about enjoying it. 

Joe hasn’t been able to ride much the past few years, and it’s maybe a little fitting that one of his last big hit-outs was his first-ever Iceman Cometh Challenge. November is really late in the year to stay fit, so he’d never tried it before. I finally just signed him up and told him he was racing. It was 2014; every racer who was there knows how that day went. Through the cold, the rain, the frozen fingers, he finished, though I never doubted he’d do anything other than try his best…and have fun. 

Today, take a second to thank your dad and maybe get the old man out for a pedal. Even if it’s just around the block or down the street for some ice cream, we are incredibly lucky to have a sport that we can share with the people we love for our entire lives. 

From everyone at the Iceman Cometh Challenge, have a very Happy Father’s Day, and we’ll see you in the woods soon. 

May Ice Society Leaderboard: How Do You Stack Up?

May Ice Society Leaderboard: How Do You Stack Up?

May is prime time to rack up some miles, and the Ice Society sure got out and rode!

Our integrated Ice Society training leaderboard is a cool way to see how your training measures up to other Iceman racers around the state and around the world. All you need to do is link up your Strava account with your Iceman account and you’ll start showing up on the list. It’s always interesting to watch as training ramps up with the improving weather, and May saw a big jump in activities!

Paul Dodd was the lone rider to break the 4,000 point mark, with Markus Stumpp and our own race director Cody Sovis making up the top three. Those points are calculated based on miles, ride time, elevation gain, and effort level, offering up a pretty neat way to quantify riding of all kinds.

Two Iceman winners made the top ten, with Brian Matter at 3,028 points. Chloe Woodruff slid in the top ten, but did it was one very important distinction; some of her points came from a UCI Mountain Bike Short Track World Cup victory at Nove Mesto! She paired with Kate Courtney to give the US women three World Cup wins to kick off the season, the first victories in twenty years for American women. That’s a milestone for sure; we’re trying to figure out how to double the points from that ride!

To see the whole leaderboard, and see how you stack up in your age group or race category, just head to the Training Activity leaderboard and dive into the data!