When Does The ‘New’ Season Start For You?

With fat bike races wrapping up and some big gravel events just around the corner, March seems like the perfect start line for cyclists in the Midwest. That’s why we are showing off a fresh website,opening registration, and hitting the road to get the world ready for another year of bikes, buds, and beer in the months leading up to the Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge.

The site upgrade is designed to make your iceman.com experience easier to navigate, offer more information, and make race day less stressful by putting everything you need to know in a tidy digital package. You’ll find information about the SRAM Ice Cycle Expo, the start line in Kalkaska, and how to get that beer once you’re in the BISSELL Celebration Zone after the race.

Our new website is just one of many tweaks we’re working on to make 2020 the best edition of the race yet. We’ve made some big changes to the traffic and parking plans at the Kalkaska Airport, plus already have tweaks in the works to the course, the finish venue, waves, and more. You’ll probably notice that much of the information on the site is from last year. Much of what you see still applies to this year, but we’ll make changes to the site as the information changes. As always, you’ll get even more Iceman goodness delivered to your door around Labor Day with this year’s edition of the Glacier Gazette.

Online registration for 2019 racers opens Friday, March 6; for the rest of the world, they’ll have access to open spots on Monday, March 9. Of course, everyone is welcome to celebrate the start of the new season over a pint of Two-Hearted on Friday at 7 Monks in Traverse City(2-6 pm), or the Bell’s Eccentric Cafe in Kalamazoo (2-5:30 pm). Swing by and kick off your weekend while you kick off your season.

Need a little motivation this spring? Make sure you’re following us on Facebook, Twitter,and Instagram, and join our Strava Club and see how you stack up against your pals.

New Year New Info

(To view this email in its original format please click here)
Happy New Year! 
 
A Note from your Race Director, Cody Sovis: 
For the Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge crew, there’s a lot of excitement in flipping the page to a new year, and we’re deep into planning the 31st edition of this legendary race. November 7 is going to be here in a flash. We’ve put together a few important dates to circle on your calendar, plus a couple of tidbits to chew on.

Registration
 Details 
You have to train for the after party somehow, so why not right when you sign up? On-site registration takes place on Friday, March 6, 2020 at Bell’s Eccentric Café in Kalamazoo and at 7 Monks in Traverse City (times to be announced).  New and returning riders can register for the 31st Iceman Cometh Challenge while enjoying some Light-Hearted fun and comradery.  Keep an eye on your inbox for additional information.

On-line registration for returning riders opens Friday, March 6th at 9:00 am; if you raced last year, you’ve got all weekend to jump into the race of your choice. For those who didn’t race in 2019,  registration opens Monday, March 9th at 9:00am. Get signed up, get committed, and get your riding buddy to register, too!

Registration costs for 2020:
Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge: $110 
               Junior Riders:     $70
Meijer Slush Cup: $80
               Junior Riders: $50
Meijer Sno-Cone: $5

Website & Registration Platform Overhaul 

Coming in late February 2020, we’ll unveil a new website and registration platform! If that sounds scary, don’t worry; it’s all good stuff.  What’s different? Here are some FAQs to let you know about what we have going on.

Where will my past results be held? All known past results will be uploaded to the new registration platform.  You’ll have to “claim” your information which can be done with your email and other identifying information.  In order to make this process smooth, please update your Ice Society Account on the current website (www.iceman.com) before March 1 so we have your correct information when everything migrates over. 

Will there still be an Ice Society? Yes…in our hearts. There will always be an Ice Society, just not a digital one on the Internet. Instead, we’ll be focusing our updates and information using the Iceman Strava Club, on our social channels (FacebookInstagramTwitter), and on the trails.

What about Strava Training Points?   You might have noticed the Training Leaderboard isn’t updating. Due to new Strava API settings and costs, we won’t be syncing data from Strava anymore. You can still see how you stack up against other Iceman athletes using the Iceman Strava Club

How will waves be determined? Waves will continue to be determined by your top three Iceman Cometh Races out of the last 5 years. We’ve thought a lot about the best way to place riders, and while there were a lot of perks to using the Strava algorithm, it did have some drawbacks. As a result, we’re taking out the other variables. Think you’re Wave One? Prove it; by taking times on the course, riders face the same hills, same mud, same traffic, and the same roll of the dice. First-time riders will be placed in waves based on age or race category.

What else will be new? New this year, friends and family will be able to track you on Race Joy.  With Race Joy, you can transmit your location and current speed in real-time to friends and family.  Race Joy will also help search and rescue better located you in an emergency situation.  Your spectators will be able to track you from home or from the finish line.  This does require an app download and racers will be required to carry their phones. 

Also, there will be some newly designed Light Hearted Ale merch and new merchandise items!
 

Along the way, we hope you’ll stay tuned to news and updates from of the woods, and enjoy every pedal stroke of training, racing, and riding between now and race day.

See you in the woods, 

Cody Sovis

Famous Last Words

Three decades ago, 39 mountain bikers with nothing better to do on a Saturday morning gathered in Kalkaska. It was frigid; winter had swept in early, and for the first edition of the race, it piled up. That year, Steve Brown had put together something that was certainly competitive in spirit, while also offering a sense of adventure. It was an event that posed a rather simple question: what if?

What if we sent riders from Kalkaska to Traverse City? What if more showed up a year later, and even more the year after that? What if Iceman brought in riders from across northern Michigan, across the state, across the Midwest? What if we finished here; what if we started over there? What if we had beer at the finish venue? What if that microbrew festival turned into nearly a decade of Bell’s Brewery, and our very own ale?

Over two years ago, just before Christmas, Steve Brown gave me a book called Tai-Pan. It was about an ambitious trader in Hong Kong that built the largest, most ambitious trading company in the Far East called “The Noble House”. Just one book in an epic saga, it’s the story not of one person, but of an enterprise bigger than a single person, and about the commitment to carrying on the standards, the morals, and the idea for generation after generation. Before I was too far into the book, I started to get the idea. 

Last year, I showed up to the start line knowing that it could be the last time I race. It was quite the feeling; I’d been sick for two weeks leading up to it, but instead of being disappointed, it let me just relax and soak it all in. The nerves, the last-minute decision on what bike to ride, the long, agonizing wait for the Pro 2:30 start. Every second meant something, and that odd perspective stuck with me. What could possibly attract thousands of mountain bikers from around the country to travel to Traverse City, in terrible weather, to race bikes?

When you take that step back, what you see is that because of what Steve and Connie Brown have poured into this race, and the incredible people that they’ve tied in to make it happen, Iceman truly is more than a race. Competition is just one small ingredient of a recipe that combines tradition, hardship, passion, failure, resilience, success, and a quiet sort of relief that comes not at the finish so much as it does at the start. We have all faced challenges and sacrifices just to show up; we’ve put in the miles, we’ve traveled the hours, we’ve made it all come together for one special day in November. 

Looking at the race now, I don’t see a race by which my friends will judge my fitness or ability. I see riders that wake up at 3:45 am to ride their trainers in the basement before work so they can train and still make it to Junior’s soccer game that evening. I see a guy who lost 55 pounds riding bikes not to win his age group, but to just finish 30 miles of everything the Pere Marquette can muster. I see a woman who requested to move back fifteen waves to ride with her sister so they could motivate each other, no matter the weather. I see a dad who, though he could probably win his age group, enter the Pro race so that he won’t miss his son take on the Slush Cup. 

I’ve got two simple requests for you tomorrow. First, please appreciate those banners. Seriously. As a racer, I used to think they just appeared, already draped over the hard fencing and magically removed Saturday night. They’re not. Dozens of volunteers spend countless hours setting up the start and finish venue, and they do so in the rain, in the snow, and in the cold. Those venues aren’t just parts of the racecourse, they’re the stage for the biggest show in mountain biking. Behind every banner and sign is a volunteer and a sponsor; without them, this show wouldn’t go on. 

Finally, look out for each other. To preserve our natural spaces, to promote our sport, and to ensure that events like the Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge have a future for the next thirty years, it’s going to take every single one of us. If we do nothing else with this race, I hope we continue to grow the sense of community that is fostered by joining a local club or team, becoming a member of your local trail association, and by participating in and supporting events that have a larger purpose. 

Now go lose sleep about which tires you’ve picked out for tomorrow, and we’ll see you in Kalkaska!

Iceman Update: A Crisp Start To The Finish (Venue)

Know what makes it really feel like the Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge is just around the corner? 40 degrees and rain. 

I always smile the first time we see this kind of weather because of something my friend Sean Kickbush said while lining up at Peak2Peak a couple of years ago. We were doing that awkward dance before the Elite start; pedaling around in small circles just a few yards from the start line because we didn’t want to be the first to line up, but didn’t not want to be first, either. It was cold and, as if often the case, windy at the base of the ski hill. Nerves, as you’d expect, were frayed. Just then, ten minutes before the start, a few sprinkles fell, followed by something more steady. Sean, tense but smiling looked over and voiced his opinion on conditions. “You know what’s better than racing in 40 degrees? Racing in 40 degrees in the rain. Yeah, that’s a fun idea.” 

Of course, we all clamor to do it when it’s Iceman. Some of you nutcases even do your snow dances or hope for freezing weather. Once the gun goes off, the weather doesn’t matter. This is Michigan, and this is Iceman; we all know what we signed up for, and we’re going to give it hell no matter what. 

This past Sunday, a few of the crew made the short trip up to Timber Ridge to start preparing for 10,000 of our friends to party. It was the perfect Iceman morning; grey, cold, and just damp enough to control the sand. As I pulled in, a solid group of riders from all over the state were pumping up tires and sliding snacks into their pockets. I’ll admit, this weekend was the first time I had a fuzz of jealousy of the folks racing. Those guys and gals looked excited, eager, and ready for what is always an adventure. 

Instead, I joined Mark Frick and Dave Heim on breaking out the stuff that makes the Iceman Iceman; the banners. Well, they may not be the most important or exciting part of the event, but this infrastructure is precious. We popped open the massive shipping container and started organizing by the sponsor; a massive pile of Bell’s signs, Trek banners neatly stacked next to Bontrager, a bunch of BISSELL close-by, and the Subaru VIP signs next to the golden VIP Parking banners. Seeing the container slowly empty was a great feeling, but the real treat was when Mark rolled out the barrels. Literally. The Bell’s Brewery barrels, for me, immediately send a jolt of electricity through me; this thing is SO CLOSE!

Throughout the morning, we also got a few updates from Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association and their trails crews. They’ve been working every night well past dark to get some of the course’s re-routes finished up and packed in. Much of these re-routes will be flagged and started by the weekend, but there’s plenty more to do to get them up to NMMBA’s exacting standards. When you see a few guys in the woods over the next few weeks, make sure you give them a shout and say thank you! 

Last week, transfers officially closed, which means we’ll be polishing up wave assignments over the next few days. We’ll be doing what we can to get people where they should be, if not exactly where they want to be. Our registration crew has been getting 60-80 emails a day for the past two weeks with questions and requests, and they’ve given me two tips to pass along to those looking to skip up a few starting positions. First, just remember that we can only do so much shuffling. Second, Jessica and Denine like Two-Hearted Ale in a bottle. 

Finally, the weather. I’ll admit, I caught myself checking the long, long-range forecast the other day, and finally smacked my own hand away from the weather app. It’s northern Michigan; the weather is going to change a dozen times between now and November 2, and another dozen times during the race. Don’t sweat it. Just like the course, we’re all in the same rain, snow, wind, or heatwave, and we know it’s not going to stop you from finishing…or hanging around to party.

Iceman or Injury

Iceman or Injury

We all know that sinking feeling, when that twinge of pain has stayed with us a little longer than we thought it would. When we are starting to consider that a call to the doctor might be more needed than just a trip to Meijer. When you know you probably shouldn’t push through the pain this time.

This is unfortunately what happened to our wonderful amateur rider Matt, he graciously agreed to let us follow his training for his second Iceman race. After some pain in his ankle he went into the doctor and on his order Matt will not be racing in this year’s Iceman but hopes to be back with us next year.

I am sure two questions come to mind… first what happens to his race registration? And is anyone taking his place? Those are both great questions I am glad you asked.

If you find yourself in a similar situation to Matt, and cannot race in this year’s Iceman even though you have already signed up, you can do exactly what Matt did. Transfer out of the race, you can do that right from your registration on the website. There is a list of excited people who are waiting to transfer into your spot so don’t wait if you know you can’t race! Also transfers close October 11th so make sure you transfer out soon, to get your money back. You will receive your registration fee back minus $20 which is donated to youth cycling teams.

There will be someone taking Matt’s place, so you still have a virtual training buddy! Let me introduce…

Garrett Boyd, when he is not training for his next event you will find him at his day job as a Pharmacy buyer for Munson Medical Center. Not new to mountain biking but to mountain bike racing so break him in easy, but he should be able to hold his own! He has decided to take on the Iceman Cometh Challenge after completing the Ironman Traverse City, and he was looking for his next challenge. He is looking forward to getting out of his element and spending more time out in the woods as that is one of his favorite parts of mountain biking. He is training 4-5 times a week to try to accomplish his under 2.5 hour goal for the Iceman Cometh Challenge. Follow Garrett on Facebook or Instagram at gboyd03 to see how his training is going and pick up some extra tips! Good Luck Garrett!

Call to Action: Mountain bike park at Sugar Loaf?

Call to Action: Mountain bike park at Sugar Loaf?

Cody Sprattmoran is working on a proposal for a mountain bike park at Sugar Loaf. Have thoughts about it?

There will be a public meeting this Friday 10/20 @ 11am at the Leelanau County Governmental Center Lower Level located at 8527 E. Government Center Dr., Suttons Bay MI 49682.

Can’t attend the meeting?  Send an e-mail to the Leelanau County Board of Commissioners

Thank you for supporting Mountain Biking!

Transfer spots still available for Bell’s Iceman, deadline Friday the 13th.

Transfer spots still available for Bell's Iceman, deadline Friday the 13th.

The 2017 Bell’s Beer Iceman Cometh Challenge has sold out again. We are looking forward to a great event and welcoming riders, new and veteran, to Traverse City. Here’s a brief refresher on the transfer process.

New Rider (Attempting to transfer in)

  1. Join Ice Society
  2. Obtain a USA Cycling account (and add that to your profile). (A USA Cycling account is free and takes about 2 minutes to obtain. Go towww.usacycling.org and in the upper-right corner look for the “sign-in” button. Choose “create account”. -You don’t need to purchase an annual license.)
  3. Sign up for the race, you’re not actually signing up but joining the “I want in” list.
  4. Once an entry becomes available from the “I want out” list, we will send you an email and you will 24 HOURS TO COMPLETE the registration process. So be sure to check your email.

 (Transferring Out)

  1. Log in to your Ice Society profile
  2. Check the Gold “Transfer” button in your profile page. Your profile will then be listed on the transfer page of the Ice Society as with an entry to sell.
  3. You will receive an $80 credit (just like buying something, only you get $ back) when your entry is taken by another participant.

**Please note all money transactions for the transfer will be handled through the Ice Society and take a few days to process.

Kids’s Win Free Iceman Cometh registration

Kid's Win Free Iceman Cometh registration

Last year, ten-year-old Cici Copenhaver was entered into the #MIKidsCan Iceman Cometh complimentary entry contest by her grandmother, Barb Svalstad. Cici started riding bikes with Norte! Bicycle Club in the summer of 2016. When she started participating in Norte’s Vasa Domingos Sunday rides she could not get up a single hill. Yet, she stuck with it and learned a lot about drinking lots of water and eating a very healthy diet. Improvement is a process and not always an easy one. Her engagement with bikes even got the rest of her family to ride together.

During last year’s Slush Cup race she walked just one hill and it was a bruiser. Cici finished 2nd in the 10 & Under category and earned a spot on the Iceman podium!

Her coach from Norte!, Ty Schmidt, says that Cici exhibits everything that is positive about cycling. “She’s gritty. She’s tough. And she does it all with a smile. Plus, she wears streamers in her helmet! Who doesn’t love that,” he asked. For the 2017 Slush Cup race, Cici moves up to the 12 & Under category and says balancing school, sports, and Iceman training will be her biggest challenge.

If your daughter or son thinks they could be the next Iceman Slush Cup champion, Blue Care Network is giving away 10 entries so they can prove their mettle! Go to ahealthiermichigan.org and search for Slush Cup by September 15th to find details about training rides, tips and how your little bikers can earn a free race entry.