It’s not the hardest, most selective, or most brutal part of the Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge. In fact, it’s one most riders look forward to.
There are many, many tough segments on the Iceman Cometh Challenge course that feature every single year. They might be steep hills like Anita’s, challenging descents like the Water Bottle Hill By-Pass, or just really, really fast like Sand Lakes Road. But the one I’ve always focused on and looked forward to is RallyRoundTheRock.
Since GPS head units starting offering Live Segments, we’ve all probably starred a few segments to chase. In a race, the Live Segment feature is almost more useful in simply reminding yourself when the next climb or choke point might be. For me, Rally Round The Rock was always a bright, loud ‘ding’ that not only was I past Williamsburg Road, but I was also nearing home turf and the Vasa Pathway proper.
The segment is fast, and that’s definitely reflected in some of the top times posted over the years. Alexey Vermeulen set the KOM time by in 2016 at 2:51, a single second ahead of Alex Vanias on the very same day. Last year, Christy Keely took the QOM at 3:02, with a lot of riders coming in around that three-minute mark for the early waves and pro races.
That means hitting the 1.1 mile section at twenty miles per hour! The segment includes a long straight section of quasi-singletrack that parallels Sand Lakes Road. It’s a slight descent that’s punctuated near halfway with a sharp, sandy right that shoots you across the road to the north. It’s another straight stretch before another right turn onto the gravel two-track. For locals, that two-track is the final few hundred meters of the Power Section, and the return home to the Pathway.
For a lot of racers, hitting RallyRoundTheRock, whether they know they’re on it or not, mean you’re almost done with another edition of Iceman and another season of mountain bike racing. It’s often fueled by loud cheering at Williamsburg Road, and you’re often spurred on again at the Rock, where Sand Lakes hits the Vasa.
If you need a little something to look forward to on race day, make sure you’ve got this queued up and remember, when you hit this segment, there’s no point saving anything; you’re almost done!