#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.

Victory! We saved the trail!! Thank you everyone!!!

Victory!  We saved the trail!!  Thank you everyone!!!

Thank you everyone who took the time to e-mail the county commissioners or come to the meeting.  It was standing room only at the meeting.  After debate and public comment,  the Grand Traverse County Commission decided to sell the land to the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy.  

Read the breaking story

Thank you Ice People,  GTRLC and GT County Commissioners!

Moving Fast into March: No Hibernation for Iceman Cometh Nation

Moving Fast Into March: No Hibernation for Iceman Cometh Nation

Here at Iceman HQ, all this talk of March 1’s festivities has us itching for some riding. If getting signed up for the 30th edition of the Iceman Cometh Challenge doesn’t get you fired up to ride, then you’ve been cooped up inside for way too long!

Iceman athletes haven’t been hibernating. From Nordic skiing, fat biking, and even hopping on the trainer, our racers have been working hard to maintain and build fitness for a full season that seems to add more killer events every year. Remember the off-season? Well, that’s not really a thing anymore!

Around here, there is a fat bike race nearly every other week, and that’s a sport that’s grown to include races across the state. Some of the best Strava scores of the past two months have come from events like Fat Chance! at Crystal Mountain and the Big M Fat Bike Race near Manistee.

Activities on Zwift, TrainerRoad, and Rouvy count toward your Ice Society Strava score, and there are dozens of riders who have been raking in the points since November. New virtual events and races have made indoor racing a lot more fun and make it possible to ride with bike nerds from around the world.

Of course, some folks need to swap their pedals for skis to enjoy winter, and we’ve had a blast following the Michigan Nordic ski scene from Noque to Cote Dame Marie. This weekend, the 43rd Annual North American Vasa will start and finish in the same spot as the Iceman ends at beautiful Timber Ridge Resort. For Iceman racers, it’s got to be just a bit of a relief that they get to go down Icebreaker to start their 12, 27, or 50 km ski events, rather than finish up that short but cruel little slope.

There are also two fat bike races as a part of the Vasa’s Festival of Races, and it’s a testament to Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association that racing on their expertly groomed and simply gorgeous Winter Sports Singletrack draws so many rabid fat bikers. NMMBA also played a huge role in designing and laying out our 2018 Iceman course, and they do a great job incorporating their years of racing and riding in putting together a fun, fast, and exciting route that suits a wide range of abilities.

If you’ve had a hard time peeling yourself off the couch, we really hope that get yourself signed up for the 30th edition of the Iceman Cometh Challenge gives you the motivation to get moving, and maybe even try something new before winter fades into spring. The countdown to our 30th year starts in earnest in just a few weeks with events at 7 Monks in Traverse City and Bell’s Eccentric Cafe in Kalamazoo. More details to come, but make sure you’ve got a plan in place to make this year’s race your best yet!

Course updates from NMMBA

Course updates from NMMBA

As the Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association works to bring you the best Iceman Cometh Challenge course possible, we’re providing updates on current conditions through race day!

What a difference a week makes! Even with some warm temperatures, we saw just enough rain over the past ten days to have a huge impact on the course. In mid-to-late September, sand was the word, as it always is in early fall. This year was no different, and perhaps a touch worse; sections from Kalkaska to Dockery Road were, in the opinions of many, some of the slowest we’ve ever seen!

Luckily, a mix of cold nights and rain have gotten the course into great shape, and aside from the infamous sand pits that you just know are coming, there’s nothing out there that will make you feel like you’re at the beach.

Tom and the crew were out putting in the finishing touches on the new Water Bottle Hill Bypass. That new section of trail is bench cut and riding faster and faster every week. While it does criss-cross the old bypass, you won’t have any trouble staying on the right trail thanks to a few blue flags places at all the pertinent intersections. While the segment is too close to the previous trail to be accurate, this should give you a good look at where the bypass is on the course.

Another big confirmation from the weekend is that we’ll stick with the same Wall Bypass used in the 2017 edition race, taking a long, lazy bend left before the Wall and hopping on a few bits of two-track and singletrack before rejoining the 25km just about a half-mile from the infamous Boonenberg climb. That one-two punch is always tough, especially after a few fast miles from Williamsburg Road and onto the 25km itself.

Finally, the finale. While it’s unmarked and very tough to follow at the moment, you can count on a serpentine, sinuous sprint through some winding singletrack from the time you enter Timber Ridge, nearly leave it entirely, then come back to the line after going over and under two shipping containers!

While plenty of people were out enjoying the course, Melissa from Michigan Mountain Biking Association was at Timber Ridge helping put on the Iceman Clinic this past Saturday. 30 riders got a little instruction and a lot of confidence ahead of race day, and were treated to hot brats, chips, and a great time by MMBA and Keen Technical Solutions.

Race TC’s finest Singletrack @ TC Trail Fest!

Race TC's finest Singletrack @ TC Trail Fest!

Love singletrack?  Wished you could ride the trails you see crisscrossing the Iceman course?  Here’s your chance: Traverse City  Trail Festival!

The second annual Traverse City Trail Festival presented by Short’s Brewing takes you onto 40 or 25 miles of unmarked singletrack, starting and finishing at beautiful and rustic Ranch Rudolf. That’s right, this is the only day of the year that these trails are marked, giving you the perfect chance to follow some of the best trails in Northern Michigan. 

It’s a celebration of trails, bikes, and our mountain bike community, and we mean everyone! Both 40 and 25-mile distances offer the option to race, or just tour at your own pace with friends. There’s also an 8-mile kid’s race presented by Norte, as well as a balance bike drag race! 

Registration for the 2018 Traverse City Trail Festival is open right now!

The TCTF is the biggest fundraiser of the year for Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association. Our region’s trail stewards build, maintain, and protect trails from Bellaire to Leelanau County, Traverse City, and the Cadillac Pathway. NMMBA also grooms over 50 miles of trail all winter long, offering year-round non-motorized recreation opportunities for individuals and families. 

Help Save Parts of the Iceman Course!

Help Save Parts of the Iceman Course!

Grand Traverse County is selling a 160-acre parcel in Whitewater Township. The Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy is trying to protect this land and has made an offer to the County. However, there are competing offers so we need your help to ensure that the County makes a decision that preserves the land for recreation and economic benefits.
The property is a top priority for protection and is surrounded by State Land on all 4 sides. It contains critical recreational trail corridors such as the TC to Kalkaska Trail, the Iceman Cometh Challenge route, and Mud, Sweat, & Beers – The Filthiest Thing on Two Wheels utilizes the property for a portion of its annual bike race. The main access to a the popular Bullhead Lake is through this parcel as well.

By acquiring this parcel until the DNR is able to take title, the Conservancy would consolidate state/public ownership, maintain critical recreational corridors/access and also provide opportunities to expand recreational experiences in the future.
You can help! Email the GT County Commissioners (commissioners@grandtraverse.org) expressing your support of the Conservancy purchasing this land for eventual State ownership.  Attend the County Commission meeting on Wednesday, June 7th at 5:30pm and voice your support. (Governmental Center, 400 Boardman Ave., Traverse City) #SpeakUp #ShowUp #GetInvolved

Here’s a sample email you can send to the commission.

subject – Please accept the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy’s offer for Sand Lakes Road Property

Dear County Commissioners:

Please help the Michigan Department of Natural Resources fill-in a critical piece of the Pere Marquette State Forest by accepting Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy’s offer to purchase the one hundred-sixty acre parcel on Sand Lakes Rd.

Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy has the expertise to manage the property and facilitate its transfer to the State of Michigan. By acquiring this parcel until the MDNR is able to take title, the Conservancy would consolidate state/public ownership, maintain critical recreational corridors/access and provide opportunities to expand recreational experiences in the future. 

The property contains critical recreational trail corridors such as the TC to Kalkaska Trail, the Iceman Mountain Bike Race route and Mud, Sweat and Beers mountain bike race route. The main access to the popular Bullhead Lake is via this parcel.

Please give Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy’s purchase offer priority over competing offers for the property.