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

Alexey’s Kids’ Ride Presented by Shimano and CLIF Kids

The Pros of today with the shredders of tomorrow! Last year’s runner up, Alexey Vermeulen, is back at the 2019 Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge, and he’s looking to do more than just hop up a step on the podium. This year, he’s gathered a few of his pals to lead a kids-only ride at Timber Ridge Resort from 3-4 pm to get the youngsters ready for the big day! 

Geoff Kabush. Brian Matter. Katerina Nash. Alexey Vermeulen. With just a few podiums between these guys and a huge depth of national and international racing under their belts, it’s a flock of pros your kids won’t want to miss riding with. Join us on Friday, November 1 for a thirty-minute, 2.5-mile ride through the Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge finish venue. This ride is open to kids aged 9-15, and we’ll have a few volunteers to make sure the youths don’t drop the old guys. 

Back at Timber, Geoff, Brian, and Alexey will hang out to answer questions and chow down on some healthy snacks provided by our friends at Clif Bar. We’ll also have some prizes to raffle off from Shimano, ESI, Iceman, and more! It’s a great chance to get your photo taken with these Iceman legends and get ready for race day. Get the kids excited about bikes, about getting outside, and about being healthy. 

Alexey’s goal? To see kids fall in love with the sport and the race. In thirty years, we’re hoping these kids are bringing their kids to the same event and the same race and continuing the tradition of bikes, family, and great trails in northern Michigan. Let’s start something special this November!

To learn more, RSVP to the event on Facebook. Your child does not have to be registered to race to come ride, but make sure they’re dressed for the weather and have a helmet. 

Welcome to our 2018 Pro Men!

Welcome our 2018 Pro Men!

It never gets old does it?  It’s another great year of the men’s best mountain bike racers coming to race for the title of Champion of the 2018 Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge.  It’s every man for himself out there.   Check out the full sortable list of racers.

Geoff Kabush

Winner for 2018. Kabush, 41, will be defending his 2017 title.  We think his nickname (k-Boom) says it all but as a refresher, Geoff was the winner in 2013, 2nd at 2014’s “Mudman” and 3rd in 2015. The three-time Canadian Olympian currently rides for Yeti Cycles & MAXXIS. Kabush has been racing in Canada since he was 15 and is a 15-time Canadian National Champion.  @GeoffKabush

Payson McElveen

Payson, 25, of Durango, Co. finished 2nd last year.   Payson races for Orange Seal Cycling.  He’s a 2x Marathon National Champion for 2017, 2018 and 1st at the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival.  He finished 6th in 2017 and when not riding likes writing, fly fishing and sports talk radio.  @PaysonMcElveen

Brian Matter

3rd Place for 2018. Brian, 40, and will be participating in his 25th Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge.   After his win in 2014, Brian holds the record for the most wins at 4! Rumor has it he is hungry for more. He recently finished 3rd at the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival.   Brian is sponsored by Trek / Bontrager / Shimano / Pro Gold / JTree / Rock Shox Find him at b-matter.com/ and on Twitter  @TheWiscoDisco

Ben Sonntag

5th Place for 2018. Ben, 38, grew up in Germany but lives in Durango, Co. He finished 4th in 2017 and 5th in the 2016 Bell’s Iceman.  He rides for 9niner bikes/ Team Clif Bar Cycling.  Ben got an impressive 1st at Carson City Off-Road earlier this year  @ZeGermanCyclist

Troy Wells

Troy, 34, was our 2015 Pro Men’s winner.  Hailing from Durango, Co., Troy races for Team Clif Bar Cycling. Wells recently got 2nd at a cross race in West Sacramento, but we have a feeling he wants to take that Ice Trophy home again.  His bio states “Favorite rest days are on a beach somewhere drinking margaritas watching the sunset.” Come back to TC in the summer @tdub255!

Cole House

Cole, 30, was 6th last year at Bell’s Iceman and is a 2 x National Fat Bike Champion.  He hails from Oneida, WI and is probably hoping for snow on Saturday.   According to Peloton Magazine, “House’s mother had given him the Indian name Tekastoslunti, which roughly translates as “floating feather.””  We’ve witnessed that. It’s amazing.   @Cole_House

Alexey Vermeulen

2nd Place for 2018.Alexey, 24, of Pinckney, MI finished 9thth last year and races for Interpro – Stradalli. He recently finished first at a brutal Peak2Peak race. Great to see him off the road and in the woods! http://alexeyvermeulen.blogspot.com/

Scotty Albaugh Jr.

Scotty, 25, of Waterford, MI made it into the top 10 last year. Let’s see what he’ll do this year.

Jorden Wakeley

Jorden, 28, finished 11th last year and is racing for Giant Bicycles/Northbound Outfitters.  He finished his first ultra-marathon this year, so if he has a mechanical, he might just pick up his bike and run it in. And still beat most racers.  He’s also the 2015 Arrowhead Ultra winner so you know the worse the weather, the stronger he is. @JordenWakeley

Russell Finsterwald

Finsty, 27, comes from Boulder, Colorado, and races for SRAM | Troy Lee Designs Race Team.   Russell is a seasoned Bell’s Iceman veteran at only 27. He had some injuries in the last year, but we’re all glad he’s back and tough as ever.  @finsty  http://finsterwald.bike He’s also a darn fine photographer: Check it out! https://www.rfphoto.net/

Floyd Landis. 
Do we need to say anything more?  Cool. Welcome to Northern Michigan Floyd and Floyd’s of Leadville.

Scott Quiring

Scott is a 3x Bell’s Iceman winner from the late 90’s and he is still one of the fastest dudes out there. He has his own bicycle company and after completing the LumberJack 100 this year, the Bell’s Iceman is gonna feel short!  @QuiringCyclesLlc

Please welcome these Bell’s Iceman newbies:

David Zabriskie, 39 from Salt Lake City, Utah. He’s a newbie to Bell’s Iceman so everyone be really nice to him on the course. Mr. DZnuts https://www.dz-nuts.com/ has done a race or two in his time and is business partners with Floyd Landis. Welcome Dave Z.

Tristan Uhl
Tristan, 30, from Smithville, TX races for Giant and Live Co-Factory Off-Road Team.  Tristan has some impressive race results and they will not be overshadowed by his impressive mustache. Can’t wait to see what he can do on these cold, northern Michigan trails! @ biketuhl

Peter Disera
4th Place for 2018. Peter, 23, from Horseshoe Valley, Ontario, and races for the Norco Factory Team XC. He finished 1st at the Canadian National Championships in Canmore this year. Please note his bio says he is not a vegan!  

Ryan Steers
Ryan, 33, is from Agoura, CA, and races for GIANT. He’s a pro cyclist and a wine nerd.  https://manlightning.wordpress.com

Don’t forget our top local racers who know the course and plan on giving the pro’s a run for their money: 

Jeff Owens, will be racing for Keen Technical.  He’s one of those really nice guys who smiles while making his friends cry from pain while riding with him.

Cody Sovis, racing for 3T Q+M, has the impressive overall rank of 2nd for the Pro/Cat1 racers and was first last year in Ice Society.   He’s fast and he’s funny.  Check out his website: https://kolotc.co/

Braiden Voss, 16, returned home from the Miller School of Albemarle to race this year.  That’s pretty cool. Watch out, this kid is the real deal.

Tim Pulliam, 44, made a last-minute call and stepped up to the Pro race.  He’s fast and fit this year, and he’s racing for his company, Keen Technical.

Sean Kickbush, never one to register too early, is back in the Pro race and looking to break into the top 20. He races for 3T Q+M.

Is it Saturday yet?

Welcome out 2017 Pro Men!

Welcome our 2017 Pro Men!

It’s another great year of the men’s best mountain bikers, coming to race for the title of Champion of the 2017 Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge.  Everyone’s a contender and it’s going to be amazing to watch.  Don’t miss it.  Check out the full sortable list of racers.

Howard Grotts

Howard, 24, the winner of the 2016 Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge, is back to keep his title. He was first in the Leadville 100 this year, won his third consecutive cross country mountain bike national championship, and won the Breck Epic. He’s going to be tough to beat.  He races for Specialized and for the 2017 Ice Trophy.  @HowardGrotts

Brian Matter

Brian, 37, finished 2nd in 2016.  After his win in 2014, Brian holds the record for the most wins at 4!  Will 2017 make it a 5th?  We can’t wait to find out.  Brian is sponsored by Trek / Bontrager / Shimano / Pro Gold / JTree / Rock Shox.  He also rocks the Bell’s After Party.  Don’t miss it.  Find him at b-matter.com/ and on Twitter  @TheWiscoDisco

Carl Decker

Carl, 42 racing for Giant took us all by surprise and worked hard for 3rd in 2016.  He won the 2017 Lost and Found gravel race, and we can’t wait to see if he can win the Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge. A Native Oregonian, according to Carl the worst place on earth is “On a TT bike”.  @deckerator

 Todd Wells

Todd Wells, 41, of Durango, Co., races for SRAM/Troy Lee Designs, and has announced his retirement.  We’re not sure if this is his last race, but we are sure glad we get to see him crush it on our course. When asked about retirement he said, “…I’m looking forward to being more present and taking the time to enjoy the ride. And eating more cookies.” We’ve got cookies at the finish for you Todd.   @yotwells 

Ben Sonntag

Ben, 37, from Durango, Co finished 5th in the 2016 Bell’s Iceman.  He rides for 9niner bikes/ Team Clif Bar Cycling.  Ben got 4th in the Grand Junction Off-Road and 4th at the Iron House Bicycle Classic. We heard he had a bad crash in August, so we’re glad he’s come to race! @ZeGermanCyclist

Payson McElveen

Payson, 24, of Durango, Co. races for Orange Seal Cycling.  He’s had some big races this year including Marathon National Champion for 2017 and 3rd at the  Leadville 100.  He finished 6th last year but we think he’s got more in him than that.  @PaysonMcElveen

Stephen Ettinger

Stephen, 28, finished 7th in 2016.  He is also a member of Team USA.  He comes from Bellingham, WA and finished second at the USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships this year right behind Howard Grotts. We’ll see if that order changes on Saturday. @settinger_

Russell Finsterwald

Finsty, 26, comes from Boulder, Colorado and races for SRAM | Troy Lee Designs Race Team.   Russell has had some close battles this year with fellow pro racers but it’s his history with Iceman that could be the winning combination Saturday.  He’s been racing Iceman since the time when he’d try to get a fake i.d. to get into the After Party and now he needs to pass it to Christopher Blevins.  @finsty  http://finsterwald.bike

Troy Wells

Troy, 33, was our 2015 Pro Men’s winner.  Hailing from Durango, Co., and races for Team Clif Bar Cycling. He’s know for eating a ridiculous amount of food, including a burrito the size of a large house cat.  Whatever works but we know Troy is fast, and we’ll see if they Ice Trophy will be his on Saturday. @tdub255

Geoff Kabush

Kabush, 40,  was the winner in 2013, 2nd at 2014’s “Mudman” and 3rd in 2015. The three time Canadian Olympian currently rides for Scott Cycles and recently won the Trans-Cascadia and the Downieville Classic, so our Northern Michigan trails should be easy for him. Kabush (k-Boom) has been racing in Canada since he was 15 and is a 13 time Canadian National Champion.  @GeoffKabush

Travis (TJ) Woodruff

TJ , 34, races for his own coaching company Momentum Endurance, and Pivot Cycles, his best finish is 7th.  His aspirations are to “Help athletes reach their best.”  We can’t wait to see his best on Saturday! @tjwoodruff

Cole House

Cole, 29, is the 2107 National Fat Bike Champion.  He hails from Oneida, WI.   According to Peleton Magazine, “House’s mother had given him the Indian name Tekastoslunti, which roughly translates as “floating feather.””  We’ve witnesses that.  He took last year off but we’re glad he’s back!   @Cole_House

Isaac Neff

Isacc, 31, rides for Neff Cycle Service.  His best finish was 6th in the infamous 2014 Mudman, so if the rainy/snowy weather continues, he might be in his element. He’s also the first  two-title winner taking the 2017 Singlespeed Cyclocross National Championship.  The man’s got grit. @neff_Isaac

Adam Morka

Adam, 31, is both a racer himself and coach to Emily Batty.  Emily isn’t racing this year but we’re excited to see Adam jam on our trails.  He’s finished just outside the top ten in the past. @adammorka

Scott Quiring

After taking a few years off, Scott Quiring is back!  Scott is a 3 x Bell’s Iceman winner from the late 90’s. He has his own bicycle company, did some grueling races this summer (Leadville, Marji Gesick, and more) and is ready for the start line. @QuiringCyclesLlc

Please welcome a Bell’s Iceman newbie:

Christopher Blevins

Christopher, 19, races for Axeon Hagens Berman.  He’s our youngest pro but don’t underestimate him. Welcome Christopher! @chrisblevs

Don’t forget our top local racers who know the course and plan on giving the pro’s a run for their money: 

Jorden Wakeley

Jorden is racing for M22 and Suttons Bay Bikes. He’s expanded his types of racing this year, he’s suffered and he’s got the whole crowd cheering for him.  He’s also the 2015 Arrowhead Ultra winner so you know the worse the weather, the stronger he is. @JordenWakeley

Alex Vanias 

Alex, (Team OAM Now), placed 11th last year.  He finished 8th at Peak 2 Peak, but we’re pretty sure that was just a warm-up for Saturday.

Jeff Owens

Jeff will be racing for Keen Technical.  2016 was his first time racing Pro for Iceman.  He learned a lot from the experience and we’re going to see that put into action Saturday.

Sean Kickbush 

Sean, (M22 racing) was a late registrant this year.  Maybe he was trying to throw off the competition but we know he’s got an strong engine and is ready for Saturday. @skickbush

Cody Sovis,

Cody (Norte), has the impressive rank of 1st for Pro/Cat1 racers on Ice Society for October.  He has dedication, time in the saddle and this race is in his backyard. Trifecta.  Kolotc.wordpress.com

It doesn’t gets much better.

Mourning the loss of Mike Seaman

Mourning the loss of Mike Seaman

We are all mourning by the loss of Iceman racer Michael Seaman.  Mike was hit by a car while riding his bicycle in Mt. Pleasant.  

Mike embodied a true athlete. He raced multiple Iceman’s, was the only person to race every Lumberjack 100,  and competed in many other races and sports.  

Read this beautiful tribute to him. Donations can be made to the League of Michigan Bicyclists on his behalf.

Stay safe friends.

Red, White, and Aqua Blue! Warbasse Wins US Road Cycling National Champs!

Red, White and Aqua Blue! Warbasse wins US Road Cycling National Champs!

Today, Larry Warbasse racing for Aqua Blue won the US Road Cycling Championship.  He now will have the honor of wearing the Stars and Stripes Jersey for a year.  We hope we see that jersey riding around Traverse City some time soon!!! 

Larry is quoted saying, “I’m in disbelief. I think this has been the best two weeks of my life.”  

We believe it Larry.  We never had any doubts.  

Along with Larry, 2 other riders from Michigan rounded out the top 6.  These include Alexey Vermeulen and Brent Bookwalter. Congrats men!

Read the full article here

Local TC rider Larry Warbasse wins Stage 4 of Tour de Suisse

Local TC rider Larry Warbasse wins Stage 4 of Tour de Suisse

Racing for Aqua Blue Sport, Larry Warbasse  won the summit finish in Villars-sur-Ollon, Stage 4 of the Tour de Suisse from an early break away, giving him and his team their first world tour win! 

Larry started his racing career right in TC and was known affectionately among cyclists as “little Larry”.  His first Iceman was in 2003 at 13 years old.  And now he’s winning stages.  

Iceman and TC couldn’t be prouder to be a part of his cycling career!

Steve Tilford dies in I-70 accident

Steve Tilford dies in I-70 accident

It’s with a heavy heart we report that Steve Tilford, 57, the first US mountain bike national champion in 1983, died early this morning in a car crash on I-70 in eastern Utah. Tilford was an ageless bike racer winning multiple national championships and a UCI Masters World Championship over his decades long career. He was the Iceman champion in 1999 and 2000 beating riders almost 20 years younger. It didn’t matter if he’d been riding or training recently, if there was a race that captured his interest, he’d be there. He had an ability to focus his spirit and drive onto that particular event that set him apart from the rest of the field……and his “form” was always “coming around”. We’ll miss you, Tilley.  Like (1) Dislike (1)

Pro Update: Howard Grotts

Pro Update: Howard Grotts

Specialized pro rider Howard Grotts won the 2016 Bell’s Beer Iceman Cometh Challenge with a time of 1:23:36 on a day that saw perfect “niceman” conditions.

He knows he got lucky with the weather but plans to return this year.

“No matter what the weather,” he added.

“I’d always heard about the race. Never had a chance to make it out, it’s kind of a fun time of year,” he said.

Coming at the end of the season he said conditioning is always varied amongst the pro riders, but the $6,500 payday for winning ensures the pros give it everything they’ve got when the tires hit the trail.

“Everyone is treating it as a fun race, but they put in a hard effort,” he said.

Grotts recently returned from South Africa and the Cape Epic stage race. He and his partner rode in support of Specialized Bike’s “A team”. They are allowed to help with a spare tire or bike in case of a mechanical failure. The team they were in support of finished the 7 day race in second place, 8 minutes down to the leaders.

Grotts is looking forward to a year of domestic races this year after racing UCI World Cup events in preparation for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

“It’s a good time to step back from hunting UCI points,” he said.

He’s headed to events similar to Iceman to mingle more with fans in the United States.

“It’s an important aspect of being a pro racer, interacting with all the folks that are buying the bikes that I’m riding,” he said.

Entering his 6th year as a pro he’s still having fun and looking forward to races he plans to do for the first time this year, the Leadville 100 and the Breck Epic as well as the Epic Rides Off-road race series.

Grotts enjoys the early part of the race season.

“You constantly see results from training,” he said.

His weekly schedule includes two rest days, Monday and Thursday generally, sandwiched between rest days are an interval training day, tailored to whatever the next race is followed by a longer endurance day. For Leadville he’ll work on longer (30 minute) intervals, shorter races mean shorter intervals he said.

And yes, his job is still fun.

“Getting to explore new trails, whether they are in Africa or California, that’s probably the best part of this job,” he said.