Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Iceman 2015. Mt Gary comes of age.

This is all Very Serious

Bike racing is serious business best undertaken by serious men, and seriouser women.  Cheering at a bike race must follow certain established rules and decorum, and must remind all participants of their suffering. After all this is serious business.

Before we get into too much, 900ft shot this sweet video of the course.  It's just over 2 min of your life.  Watch it:

Iceman 2015 hosted by Dead Blow and Tickleticklepuke and as always enabled by the Iceman himself was a fantastic addition to the series.

For the racers, conditions were near perfect.  The just right amount of rain kept the sand in check without creating mud bogs. Hero dirt on the climbs virtually eliminated wheel slip, translating to descents with the left hand wrapped around the bar, and just a little braking for us cowards. Skies were overcast steel grey Midwestern fall, letting loose some rain and sleet as racers dressed for a 40 degree start to feel uncomfortably warm

Serious Men
Putting the hammer down off the line and keeping it pinned as much as possible left one pretty clammy at the finish. Those November North Michigan temps quickly turned the finisher into an ice cube, looking for a recovery beverage and a trademark Iceman bonfire to warm up and dry off.

Bad Dad Recovering
Wool hats and puffy coats were probably best for spectating.
Unless the coat needed to be shed to allow some ventilation for efforts incurred while screaming for world class pros like Chloe, Georgia, Katerina, and Evelyn, plus some dudes with names like Troy, Todd, Brian...

Pretty sure this sign pushed Chloe onto the top step
I am fully confident the Mt Gary crew made the ride for some racers.  Maybe some didn't like it -- after all, this is serious business. Can't say any definitive moves were made at our little patch of awesomeness -- too far from the finish really -- but more than a few gave us a smile, a wheelie or a fist pump. We were only flipped off once, we think.

Troy, Brian, Geoff, Todd...
Cheering for the fast women and very serious men who amaze us with their feats of aerobic intensity and quads of steel is certainly a fun time.  If we've done it right, those folks will think to themselves "Iceman...shitty weather, kinda short, kinda flat course, a long way from where I am....but I'm not missing out on my icemaniac love this year!" Those fast women and serious men will drag themselves out of the mountains of Arizona and Colorado again next fall. We'll be there, on My Gary, and it will be very serious. Very. Serious. Indeed.

Of course there's the Mt Gary friends and family.  Bad Dad, 900ft, Dead Blow, Captain Sloe, Der Roadie, Fast Lady (hello...3rd in her category), and Bike Boy all made it happen this year.  Of course there is The Elder.  Who, at 13 finished...ummm.....faster than all of us, and 2nd in his age group.  Barely 90 seconds off the lead.  I heard he rides a 1x10, but only uses 7-10.  Somebody get that boy a bigger chainring.  It was probably his sister in the "Unicorn" suit that gave him those last few watts. 

Fast Lady on the Barrel!

The Elder.  He's on the right.  He'll get a few more

There's another element to Mt Gary. By 12:30 or so all of the racer boys and fit chicks have come through. They're clicking their Garmins, seeing if they got a new PR, realizing they lost to their buddy by under 3 minutes AGAIN (3 god damn minutes. 2:45 actually. Did I mention the 2:13:30 was a PR?  And that I had to stop and tighten my handlebars about mile 10, which took about 3 minutes?  Ok, back to the point). They're downing Bell's, taking selfies and checking the leader boards to see if they made the podium and calculating their wave starts for next year.

Bad Dad and 900ft Post Race

That's when the heroes show up. The people who have to work for this.

First timers at Iceman who were pretty sure they could get their mountain bike from Kalkaska to Traverse City. People who have had Iceman in their "maybe one day" list for years. People who move more mass than 2 of those racer boys (and their bikes) put together. People with grand kids. Great grand kids. People who have taken 4 shots at Iceman and dammit, they are going to finish this year. Guys racing with their dads. The guy has kids.  People who are going to F-ING KILL their friend who told them this would be fun, then dropped them on Nettie's hill, 3 miles into the race.

These folks make the downhill left hander after the short sharp uphill from the road, drift into the uphill left-right S turn that starts the 1/3 mile climb, and stop. They are finished. This hill, which you cannot see the top of from the base (the only one I can think of at iceman) is a freakin' wall at Mile 28. They pull their feet off the pedals, look up, drop their head, and start pushing. Some sit down. Some eat something. Most get the zombie-look of someone who just wants it to end. Those who do stay on their bikes are spinning a 1:3 gear as hard as they can, and they just keep moving.

This is where we come in.

These people get cheers. They get encouragement. They get vuvuzuela-ed.  They are told there is beer and water at the top (there is, really) and they get a push if they can mount up. Sometimes we help them find an inhaler. We help them get a GU or a sandwich out of their packs. We also let them know they need to keep moving. Because we know, you can't give up. They made the cut off at Williamsburg road...maybe just barely. But they need to keep racing. Even 3 miles from the finish at the bottom of the hill, the sweep is coming. The quad sweeper and the Motos that clear the way for those who take this hill in 45 seconds or less while talking to their neighbor or pulling a wheelie are coming fast behind...and these folks want and need to finish.

Most of the gang has DNFd iceman one year or another. Some of us more than once. We cheer for these people so that today it won't be DNF for them.  After all, these folks had the guts to start, they need to finish. No DNF. Not once you get to Mt Gary.  Feel the love.  See you 11/5/16

Showing the Love

900ft.  moving his small mass

Captain Sloe worked traffic all day pulled a PR

Dead Blow.  Hammer wrapped in a sandbag

Bike Boy and his Baggies

Sweep Marhall gets Love too!


  1. I was thrilled to be part of the 12:30 crowd for the first time ever - after spending the last three years of cycling being the zombie walkers coming up the last 'big' hill on the course, regretting every bagel and pedal stroke that the prior 4 hours took for me to get there. Your cheers in the past were recognized and appreciated. I never expected to be part of the cheering crowd. I look forward to another PR next year, and getting my ass to the top of Mt. Gary to continue to hand up water and fireball and beer shots to my heroes, the folks who DO have to work their asses off to get to that point in the race.

  2. You know this almost makes me want to take my bike to Kalkaska next year...