Monday, November 4, 2013

Iceman Cometh Challenge -- 2013

Iceman Cometh Challenge - 2013

20ish years ago Scott Booth and I made the trek to Traverse city to ride in iceman in it's 4th or 5th year. We had steel mountain bikes thrown on the roof rack, started the race at Kalkaska high school, ended at Mt Holiday, and rode through 3 feet of snow along the way. We were cold as hell...and a tradition was born. Iceman was my first endurance mountain bike event, and is the one I go back to every year. I managed to skip a few for getting married, the birth of Anika, and the wedding of Jason Frankena and Rebekah Wolford. But for the most part, the 1st Saturday of November means getting to Traverse City, hanging with awesome friends, thrashing the trails through 30 miles of sand, mud, and the (rare) snowstorm. The race has humbled me with 2 DNFs, 1 4:30+, and many finishes with good stories attached. 

This year was a banner year with a 2:22, Dave Hunter running a 2:21, and Conrad Wasmer running a 2:15. PRs all around, and much happiness and draining of Bell's cups at the end. we missed Cliff and Scott this year, but no doubt they'll be back 

The race was really fantastic. A magic combination rain, a little cold, and the mud and sand seemed to turn the entire course into hero-dirt. That black tacky soil that lets your tires stick no matter how hard you crank or how far you lean. I felt great. I've clearly got some fitness left over from the last race (that one in Colorado...). Riding on cloud nine as I passed multitudes huffing and puffing up climbs as I flicked the thumb for a bigger gear. I even cleaned Anita's hill. Haven't done that, ever. I was pretty convinced I was finally going to win among the little gang i ride with, but Dave and Conrad were out there having even better days. To that I say...see you on November 8, 2014! 

But this race is about so much more than hammering through the woods. Iceman is real. Iceman is 4000+ people putting their wheel on the line to see if they might make it fast enough to get some beer before the taps run dry. Iceman is great friends -- some of whom I know because of this race (yeah, that's you Hunters), kids ringing cowbells, and my home state on proud display. Iceman is a bonus Christmas where I get to see people I don't see but once a year and for 72-96 hours forget all about whatever I'm sending email about day in and day out. Iceman is Bells beer at the finish, Michigan natives beating national champions, and the smell of pines and fall leaves in the north woods. Iceman set me on a path that winds through forests, mountains, over a few passes and up a few peaks. Iceman keeps me sane, and every once in a while shows me I can do more than I think I can. and this year, they took this picture of me. awwww yeah

Showboating on the last jump

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