No better way to end the season, or heck even start a season, with the late November date, then by doing the Iceman Cometh Challenge. My father and I drove up Thursday to Traverse City, more specifically Kalkaska where I would begin my second mountain bike ride of the year getting a look at this years course. So under non seasonal conditions with the partly cloudy skies, and temps in the upper 60's I took off on my adventure that would end Saturday afternoon.
I met my dad on the trail after 17 miles at Williamsburg road and we rode the last 11 miles on the Vasa trail together before heading back to the car. I began to get a bit excited after my first ride after feeling rather comfortable on the course. Especially since there were not to many technical single track sections and of what there was, it was rather short. The other big tactical concern, other then weather related, is the sand.
There are plenty of sandy sections that our marked out along the way. Although this year it seemed to be in really good shape with a good track either threw it, or a 'cheater' line either on the right or left.
Friday morning came along and we pretty much did the same thing as the day before. Expect my dad rode the beginning instead of the end, and I rode the whole thing. Seeing everything twice could only help and make me feel better. The only concerns would be how would I feel going faster or following others? Only time would tell.
I think my father was feeling good after a couple of days of pre riding. Not quite sure though.
I saw this sign while out pre-riding. Something about it seemed familiar. Could it be Wirsing sending me a message like he did all season over hills later in a race? I think so.
Saturday morning came and more predominate weather conditions that we would come to expect for Iceman had came across the Kalkaska/Traverse City area, with temperatures in the mid 30's and with the occasional sleet/drizzle. I dropped my dad off for his 9:20 start and watched his race progress from start to finish as it crossed a few of the area roads.
Here he is dodging through the trees near Dockery Rd.
He must have dropped everyone as no one else is in sight. He would come in at a very respectful time, considering only 5 weeks of training, in under 2 hours which was his major goal. He would end up finishing 12th in his group.
So I pick him up along with our friend Forest who also raced and we dashed back to the hotel where they could shower and could get my things ready for my race. We showed up to the race, got my bike out of the car and were putting on my wheels when we noticed one of brake pads had slipped out and we didn't have it. You know how hard it is now adays finding a brake pad for V-brakes? After asking around for 35 minutes and catching up with others we had tracked one down. Who needs a warm-up anyways? Mountain bike races start slow, kind of like when you start a kilo on the track. So yeah...
I had a decent spot on the start line, but by the first corner which was maybe 50o meters away I was 3/4 of the way in the back. I thought I was going hard, but just wasn't absolutely killing it. So I payed for that as I had to spend the first few miles trying to get around everyone else to get back to the front. Then of course as I was trying to squeeze into a spot I shouldn't have I ended up going down and getting run over. So I got up dusted my self off and continued my full on sprint. This was by far the longest kilo of my life.
By now things had stretched out a bit and I would jump from group to group trying to get as far to the front as possible, which unfortunately was long gone.
Trying to get going back to the front, to bad for these fellas I got by them just before this section of single track. I hope I didn't slow them down to much. The fun part of the whole race was as it went on some of the riders I had been with for a longer period had known to dive in front of me in every single track. Two guys in particular put in some sick moves to get in front of me. It was awesome. Wish I had a helmet cam!
Unfortunately I had to much of them. Maybe I should have left the brake pads out.
I finally settled into a group of 5 that was chasing the 8 leaders. At one point we were about 20 seconds away, but never made it. Apparently Mike Simonson was just drilling it like always on the front, who just so happens to be the guy who started in front of me. That was the last time I saw his wheel.
Well anyways there were a few tight single track sections in the last 2 miles and I lost a few spots, gained a few spots back in the two track, and lost one or two again in the last, but gained one back before the end and finished in 11th. Just outside of the top 10, which was my goal. Oh well it was a blast and I can't wait for next year.
Rounding the corner for the finish.