For The Fun Of It: The 2020 Course

Last week, we made the call. No doubt the announcement that this year’s Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge wouldn’t happen disappointed a lot of people, but we’ve been overwhelmed by the positive calls, emails, and text messages in the days since our racers heard the news. Your support has made a very tough time so much better, and we can’t thank you enough for the donations and kind words.  Continue reading “For The Fun Of It: The 2020 Course”

Heart & Heat of Summer

     We’re getting in the heart and the heat of summer! As the weather improves and the miles rack up, we’re deep in the woods looking at ways to create a unique, challenging course that will keep you on your toes.

     So, how does a course come together? One of the biggest pieces of the puzzle comes from working with Northern Michigan Mountain Biking Association and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to learn more about logging plans. Each year, the DNR harvests timber from state land, and there are times that their planes involves sections of the Iceman course.

     We try to forecast those plans and establish new ways around logging forests, or anticipate clean-up efforts in the event that the logging in finished before race day. One of the important elements of refreshing logged sections of trails is to keep them open not just for the first Saturday in November, but to ensure marked and unmarked trails remain accessible year-round for riders.

    There is one section scheduled to log this year, but no date has been set to work on the Make It Stick area we’ve used the past few editions. On the bright side, we can open up the ‘old’ route in no time, and that flexibility gives us time to work on Make It Stick if logging operations are finished with a few weeks before November 7.

     We are also looking at last year’s wave times, average speeds, and other information to inform where and how we can reduce back-ups and open racing. After a tough 30th edition made even more difficult with rain, snow, and mud, 2020 was always planned to be a world apart. Instead of one for the climbers, we’re working on a route suited to the rouleurs, the strong riders who put out a lot of power on the flats and can really put the hurt on other riders when the race hits the Vasa.

     At this stage in the season, we have a few ideas in mind and have given the proposed, top secret route to just a few locals who will be riding the course to establish some baseline times and give their impressions. With group riding slowly coming back, we will also be able to get a better idea of how the new course breaks up slightly larger groups of, say, ten to fifteen.

    Once the DNR is open and taking permits, we’ll finalize the route and create some high-quality maps to submit for their approval as a part of our event permit. Once those receive the green light, we’ve got a course!

    Want to be ready? Get riding. Plan on faster, flatter, and a shorter course that puts the emphasis on horsepower over climbing.

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. 

#NovemberIsComing: Jeff Owens’ Tips For Race Day

#NovemberIsComing: Jeff Owens' Tips For Race Day

It’s time. Labor Day Weekend is but a distant memory (or was it yesterday?), the kids are back in school, and all eyes are focused on November 2. For some, Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge is the ultimate test of the season and every second counts. For others, it’s about finishing. My dad always talked about races about racing; whether he was in the lead group or off the back, he always measured how good his day went based on how long he was in that mindset of racing, not surviving. 

To get you prepared, we bugged a plethora of locals. From the local hero ranks, we pulled the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. In addition to running Max’s Services and traveling the globe to support his kids, Jeff Owens somehow finds time to be one of the fastest riders in town. He’s finished as high as 16th in the Pro race, and he offered his advice on how to get ready for Iceman from a few weeks out through a few miles in. 

1. Don’t kill yourself at the start or first half of the race trying to keep up with people who are faster or just flying by you. You will catch those people once they get tired. Ride your pace and get with a good fast group to conserve energy for later; make sure to help keep the pace up and don’t be content to sit in the whole time. Help with the tempo, because you need to make some friends for later in the race.  

2. The hardest part of the race doesn’t happen until you get to Rock so be ready when you get there to work hard with the group you formed. 

3. Keep that wheel in front of you on those tough climbs like Anita’s and the CC Climb, a few seconds of suffering to hang on with that rider in front of you makes a huge difference, you can recover so much faster when you have that wheel once you get over the top! 

4. Don’t forget to eat/drink even if it’s cold! Grabbing bottles and food with cold hands and bulky gloves isn’t fun, but you have to make the effort. Plan where you’re going to eat and drink ahead of time.

5.Don’t try new nutrition on race day. eat stuff you have used and works for you.  Also, try hard to wake up early enough that you can eat breakfast 3 hours before your race, you have to get that food in your system and if you’re over 25, you need those 3 hours to digest. 

Have fun. We’re all amateurs; you can only do so much. Don’t ruin the experience by getting too worked up, too nervous, or disappointed with how it goes. If you hit Timber Ridge tired, you did it right; then it’s time to crack a beer.

Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge – One Wheel at a Time

Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge- One Wheel at a Time

There is a factor, an intimidation factor, for new riders when it comes to the Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge. Maybe it is because the word challenge is in the title, or maybe it is the fact that a 30-mile mountain bike race through the Northern Michigan woods in the late fall is just down right crazy sounding!?!

Regardless, of why there is a little mystery or intimidation around this incredible athletic event, we want those who are entering for the first time, with little experience, or looking at trying to challenge themselves in the future to know that they absolutely can do it.

That is why, we have recruited a rider who has done only one Iceman Cometh Challenge before, and is in the beginning stages of riding to let us all join his journey as he trains for the Iceman 30! This gala as Steve “Iceman” Brown calls it, is the perfect year to have new people join us and see what this challenge is all about.

We will be following Matt Haase as he trains for his second Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge, on his social media accounts as well as all the Iceman social media accounts. Our awesome race director Cody Sovis will be giving him training tips and even take him on a training ride or two to prep for the race!

Let me introduce you to our guinea pig *ahem* I mean our newish Iceman rider. Matt Haase is a 31-year-old corporate pilot from Traverse City Michigan. Since learning to ride bikes at the age of 5, Matt has enjoyed biking and exploring mountain biking. While he has been riding on those two wheels for a while – 31 minus 5, well you can do the math, he would still classify himself an intermediate beginner as he says, “I still don’t know what I don’t know.” But through this process he will have some mountain biking education and you learn a thing or two along his journey as well.

In his adult years, he has grown to enjoy the social side of mountain biking a lot, meeting people on and off the trails but values the fitness aspect as well which will be part of pushing himself during training. He is trying to get training in about 3 days a week which as he puts it is a jump from his zero days a week now. I think we can all feel that at one point or another!

I asked Matt what is light at the end of the tunnel is, or what is he looking for most at the end of the race, “The Bell’s Beer” spoken like a true Iceman rider. Help us cheer Matt on in his training and his ride as his goal is to finish the race in under 2 hours and 30 minutes! Hopefully joining in on Matt’s journey can help motivate you to push through on your journey as well.

To follow Matt and his training follow Iceman accounts:

Facebook @IcemanTCMI

Instagram @icemancomethtcmi

Twitter @IcemanTCMI