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.

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. 

The Ten Commandments of Bell’s Iceman

The Ten Commandments of Bell's Iceman

Our security team, in conjunction with Grand Traverse Sheriff’s Office and Metro Fire Department, works to ensure that all participants and spectators have a safe and enjoyable experience while watching the racing action at Timber Ridge Resort. They have compiled a list of some practical “Do’s and Don’ts” that are really basic social etiquette that will keep everything flowing smoothly throughout the afternoon. (All of these suggestions come with a big PLEASE and THANK YOU FOR YOUR COOPERATION from all of our staff.)

1. Thou shall race a clean, fair race.

2. Thou shall be Courteous while racing. (Announce yourself when you pass.)

3. Thou shall respect the Handicap Parking area at Timber Ridge for those who truly need it.

4. Thou shall ONLY drink Bell’s Beer in the BISSELL Celebration Zone.

5. Thou shall only pack dry clothes—no beer—in your clothing bags.

6. Thou shall keep moving on the staircases over the course.

7. Thou shall use the bike exit so you don’t have to drag your bike up the stairs.

8. Thou shall update your Ice Society profile with Emergency Contact Info

9. Thou shall support our Sponsors

But most importantly…

10. Thou shall Haul Ass and have a great race!

Bell’s Iceman Cometh is here – Keep checking for Updates

Bells Iceman Cometh is here - Keep checking for updates

Caption – Left, Iceman riders from Tennessee at the SRAM Ice Cyle Expo. Right, expo is getting busy. Race day tomorrow!

Packet pick-up and the SRAM IceCyle Expo is upstairs at Grand Traverse Resort in the Michigan Ballroom. Head in the front doors of the resort and veer left and you’ll find it. Remember to check out the Central Market Place at Timber Ridge Resort for more vendors, and more swag. The Ice Cyle Expo at the resort runs from 10-9 on Friday and the Central Marketplace at Timber Ridge runs from 12-6 on Friday and 9-5 on Saturday.

Calling all Volunteers! We are looking for drivers to transport competitors’ bikes in Penske trucks.  No special certification needed, just a great attitude and a licensed driver over 18!  Shifts are 6am-noon and noon-6pm; we currently need 5 morning drivers and 13 afternoon drivers.  There is also an option to bring a buddy and do an all day shift!  Snacks and refreshments will be provided, Contact me today with your shift preference!

*Routes will be assigned on Saturday, please confirm your shift preference to Stacy Farrell at or 231-620-0953.  Specifics will be provided upon confirmation. The starting location is the Penske office located at  2615 N US Highway 31 S, Traverse City, MI 49684

The race hotline phone number that was printed on the front of the number plates is incorrect. If you have a non-life threatening emergency, or are abandoning the race use 231-944-5437 instead of what’s printed on the front of the plate. If you have a life threatening emergency, call 911 first.

Parking at Timber Ridge is not included with any race entry, Iceman, Sno-Cone or Slush Cup, there are frequent shuttles from Rasho Farm to Timber Ridge or you can purchase a parking pass at Timber Ridge at any time. Parking passes for Timber Ridge will be available at the SRAM IceCycle Expo until about 6pm Friday night.

What’s New for 2017?

What's New for 2017?

It’s going to be another great year for Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge.  Here’s what new this year:

Central Market Place @ Timber Ridge

We have created a “Central Market Place” for exhibitors right next to the finish line inside the BISSELL Celebration Zone on Friday from 12-6 and Saturday 9am-5pm. As an added bonus, you can purchase you’re beer tickets on Friday too! So go ride the finish, grab a Bell’s beer and shop on Friday outside. 

Water Bottle Hill Re-route

Your water bottle (and fillings) are safe for 2017 as we’ve re-routed the (in)famous decent. 

No Outside Booze:

Based on our liquor license and agreement, no outside alcohol is permitted. This year our security team will be searching bags and confiscating all outside alcohol before entering the celebration zone.


All racers (even Slush Cup and SnoCone) and spectators must park at Rasho Rd. to access Timber Ridge with ONLY THREE exceptions:

  1. Disability/Handicap Parking 
  2. Subaru owners will still have VIP parking at Timber Ridge
  3. Paid Timber Ridge permit holders. Timber Ridge’s guests and campers have the first priority over Bell’s Beer Iceman riders. Parking at Timber Ridge will cost $25.00 pre-paid or $35.00 day of the event. The proceeds will benefit the Timber Ridge Foundation.

The FINISH Line:

It’s all new and something you won’t soon forget! But we won’t spoil it for you.  Check it out Friday either before or after the Expo!

Two Words: Beer List

Two words: Beer List

Bell’s Iceman Expo @ Grand Traverse Resort
Two Hearted 
Winter Whitens
Kalamazoo Stout 
Porter Lager
Winter White
Two Hearted 
Double Cream Stout 

Bell’s Iceman Timber Ridge (Friday & Saturday)
Christmas Ale
Winter White
Two Hearted
Best Brown
Hell Hath

Bell’s Iceman Party Union Street Station
Two Hearted
Winter White
Best Brown
Kalamazoo Stout
LL Soura