New Year New Info

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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

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.

Famous Last Words: A Note From The Race Director

Famous Last Words: A Note From The Race Director

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!

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!

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
Packet Pick Up – IMPORTANT INFORMATION 
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.

2019 Pro Women Preview

2019 Pro Women Preview

The 30th edition of the Bell’s Iceman Cometh is going to one of the most exciting editions of the race yet, and one huge reason for that is the decidedly unpredictable nature of the women’s Pro field. Just a single rider returns from 2018’s top five, which means we’re in for a wide open race in which tactics and brains will be just as important as the riders’ legs. From across North America, the top mountain bike talent will descend on Traverse City to vie for bragging rights, a big payout, and an even bigger bottle of Bell’s beer. The field of 22 just might be the most evenly matched to date, and we’re expecting some incredibly close racing for 2019!

The Favorites

A multi-time Czech national champion and Olympian in mountain biking and cross country skiing, Katerina Nash is a true legend of the sport. If we had to pick a favorite to win this race, it’s most certainly Nash. More than capable of winning any event she enters, the experienced Nash will look to take her second Iceman crown, with her last win coming in 2017 in dramatic fashion, just ahead of… well, see below!

Rose Grant takes up the line in the stead of her Stan’s NoTubes/Pivot Bicycles teammates Chloe Woodruff and Sofia Villafane. After having to write-off her 2018 season due to injuries, Grant has stormed back in style, winning the Leadville 100 in 2019. Grant came tantalizingly close to winning Iceman in 2017, where she was narrowly beaten by Katerina Nash. Based on her run of form in 2019, Grant has every chance to take the win when she and Nash renew their rivalry on Saturday.  

Haley Hunter Smith had a breakout year on the World Cup scene in 2019, becoming a fixture at the front of the races and getting plenty of camera time. This is her first Iceman, so be sure to give Haley an extra big cheer as she charges up Icebreaker – maybe for the dream scenario of a debut win!

She may be from Cadillac, but we’ve been calling her a local hero for years. Kaitlyn Patterson was a late entry to the race, but the perennial podium finisher is back! She’s not just here for the beer, either. She put in a dominant performance at Peak2Peak two weeks ago, and she’s seen everything Iceman can offer in terms of competition, course, and weather. 

The Dark Horses

Keep an eye on Leia Schneeberger from Wisconsin. She put on a show at this year’s Peak to Peak, coming in second place behind a dominant Kaitlyn Patterson and ahead of a bevy of exceptionally strong riders. She’s had some great races at Iceman in the past, but Leia looks to be on a whole new level entirely this season.

Maddy Frank is the pride of Grand Rapids, MI and she’s coming back to Michigan for a run at the biggest race in the Midwest. A student athlete at Lindenwood University, Frank has had a fantastic season of training and racing at the highest level in the collegiate ranks. Can she parlay that additional experience into a top five in 2019?

The Locals

Susan Vigland is as fast as ever, and this could be the year that she pulls off a huge win for all of Traverse City. She’s cracked the top in this race before, and she only needs a few things to go her way to take a big step up to the top of the podium. 

Vigland will have her equally strong teammate, Bridgett Widrig, available to play the role of foil, or win in her own right. Widrig has been training exceptionally hard and has the Iceman course dialed in perhaps better than anyone else in the state. Few riders in the Women’s Pro field will have the benefit of having a teammate in the mix, so this is an advantage the Hagerty women will be sure to exploit. 

The Pro field also welcomes Shannon Kochis to the mix for 2019. Kochis, having podiumed in her age group in every previous edition of Iceman, she’s looking to test herself against the very fastest riders in the event. That’s what Iceman is all about; setting ambitious goals, testing yourself, and seeing where you end up. We love to see people stepping up to the big dance, Shannon!


The Pro Women leave Kalkaska at 2:33 pm, so be sure to make some noise for them as the come in just behind the Pro Men. You can view the complete entry list for the 2019 Pro women here, and check out the results of the Pro women race from 2018 here.

2019 Pro Men Preview

2019 Pro Men Preview

Canadian and drop-bar enthusiast, Geoff Kabush, returns to defend his Iceman Cometh in 2019, but a glance at the start list will tell you Kabush won’t have the race entirely his way this weekend. A deep and talented roster of riders will toe the line to see if they can dethrone Kabush as Iceman champ on a course that is uniquely climb-heavy towards our home base at Timber Ridge. An elite posse of professionals, a motley crew of locals, and thirty miles of northern Michigan hero dirt will ensure the 30th anniversary of the Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge will be one of the most exciting editions yet!

The Pros

Can anyone beat Geoff Kabush? He’s on pace to win three Icemans on the trot, an exceptionally rare feat in the thirty-year history of the race. If anyone is going to unseat Kabush, we reckon it might be one of these guys.

Watching the finale last year, Alexey Vermeulen cut a determined figure in solitary pursuit of eventual winner, Kabush. Coming into the line completely spent, but just a handful of seconds behind a repeat champion, Alexey was always going to come back this year for another chance to take home the win. A former WorldTour pro, he has the talent. After another season of mountain biking under his belt, 2019 might just be the year that Alexey wins his first Iceman Cometh.

Former National Champion, Payson McElveen, will bring his mustache and good attitude back to the start line in Kalkaska for another run at the Iceman title. McElveen has come oh-so-close to victory at this race before, back in 2017, with a 2nd place behind (you guessed it) Geoff Kabush. 

If Kabush is unable to defend his title, Peter Disera sure wouldn’t mind keeping the title in Canadian hands. Disera has had an incredible year on the World Cup circuit, including a mind-blowing sixth place in Les Gets, France. His first crack at Iceman came in 2018, where he impressed on his debut with a fourth place. 

Russell Finsterwald is back again for the race, and we love having this guy in our Pro Men field. His fearless, attacking racing style has made him a fan-favorite and everyone would love to see him take a well-earned maiden Iceman win.

With his last win coming in 2014, Brian Matter is just plain due for a victory at Iceman. He knows this race like the back of his hand, and he only needs to read the race correctly in order to put himself in with a shot at winning. It’s a recipe he’s gotten right on more than a few occasions, and everyone at the finish line would love to see a true Iceman legend take another victory. 

A late addition to the race, Ted King flies the flag for Cannondale and maple syrup enthusiasts everywhere. The former WorldTour rider for Cervelo Test Team and Cannondale has been ‘retired’ for a few seasons now, but that’s simple meant he’s been traveling the country to crush skulls at gravel events both big and small. With race cancellations due to the Getty fires in Los Angeles, he’s swapping dry heat for cold, soggy fun for the first time. 

The Dark Horses

Matt Acker’s Beard is better known for 24-rides than short sprints like Iceman, but don’t count him out. The nastier conditions are, the better we like Acker’s odds for pulling one over on the favorites to take a W. 

Cole House rode a gravel bike at Peak to Peak two weeks back; perhaps a sneak peek at his steed of choice for Saturday? In any case, the perennial top ten finisher is someone to watch on Saturday. 

Nick Zambeck enters the Pro race with zero pressure and flying under the radar. A season of road racing has given him some off the charts fitness, and paired with his bike handling skills, he has the ability to hang with just about anyone. If Zambeck can get to the front group by Sand Lakes Road, he’s golden. For him it’ll be about managing his efforts of the last climbs and giving himself a chance to spring a surprise after Wood Chip.

The Locals

Jeff Owens is 135 pounds of positive energy and Traverse City’s nicest refrigerator salesman. Jeff whips up on us all summer long without so much as breaking a sweat, and his smile never fades, even if you’re going all-out trying to drop him. It’s infuriating! But he’s just so nice. It sure is great of all you fast guys to come up to TC to make Owens push himself. For once.

When it comes to crunch time at Iceman, Jordan Wakeley always seems to be there. He’s been on the wrong side of the deciding split on a few occasions, but if he makes the front group on the right side of Williamsburg road in 2019, even the biggest names will have their hands full trying to beat the Tower of Power from Grayling. 

Jamison Sheppard was a DNF last year, but this guy is the real deal. He’s a rider without a weak spot, equally comfortable on climbs, in singletrack, and blasting through two track sections. He’s due to raise more than a few eyebrows in 2019.

The Young Guns

We have to give a shoutout to a host of young guys taking on the Pro category. Keegan Korienek was a jaw-dropping 26th in his Pro Men debut in 2018, and we can’t wait to see what he can do this year after another season of riding and racing in his legs.

Hagerty’s duo of Garrett Jenema and Max Meyer have shown themselves to have talent and work ethic in equal measure, which is the ideal recipe for brewing up fast cyclists. These guys will undoubtedly test their more experienced counterparts come race day and for the next thirty years of Iceman to come.

Braiden Voss is another incredible young talent from Suttons Bay, MI, who is coming home from school to show everyone his stuff. He’s developed from a raw talent into a race-savvy competitor, and he’ll be in with a shout if he can get to the front before the fireworks begin. 

Almost a decade ago, we met this short, round kid from Cadillac and got him to race for the bike shop Cody worked at. This kid is now way taller and way, way faster than us. Tim Coffey is now a collegiate stud at Brevard, and he’s taking another shot at impressing his local fans with some Iceman glory. Papa Coffey must be so proud of this kid’s dedication to his sport and to school. 

Due to the exceptional class of riders this race attracts, this preview gets more and more difficult to write each year. If we missed a rider who you think will hoist the big bottle of Bell’s at Timber, be sure to tell us in the comments. 

The Pro Men take off from Kalkaska at 2:30pm. Get ready to yell your heads off for them along the course and at Timber Ridge in particular. Check out the complete start list here. Decide for yourself who to watch out for by taking a look at the 2018 results

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. 

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.