Andrea and I rolled out to Traverse City, MI on Thursday. It was an awesome drive along the northern shores of Lk Michigan. We arrived and instantly were hit up by the local TV station for the 10 o'clock news report! Good Sign. Then we were out to dinner with a bunch of old friends from Pinckney, MI including my youth soccer coaches, the fine folks who took me to my first ever race, and the owners of Joshua Tree.
Clif Bar tent w/ womens World Champion Catharine Pendrel.
I'm not going to lie...I was nervous for this race....the most nervous I have ever been. I knew I had the ability to win. My training was perfect, I knew I was the strongest I have been in my life, and I really wanted to win. Saturday morning was a long wait before making it over to Kalkaska for the start.
Luckily the time passed and before I knew it we were off....I was positioned in the top five the entire race. I don't think I ever was further back....smart racing = step 1. Mistake number one though was heading into the first singletrack near Tornado Alley. I was 5th...which is good, but there were two riders between me and the strongest guy in the race.....Lu-Flu. On his wheel was Cole House...another guy who had the ability to win....so coming out of that singletrack and watching those 2 ride away was not good....Cole came off of Flu's wheel and I thought the race was over....I immediately started chasing....I was in no man land. After 5 minutes of full effort the gap remained the same at approx 15 seconds. 5 minutes in no mans land w/ 4 strong riders chasing me was not a good spot to be in for saving energy....I would have loved to been off the front and working with Lukas or sitting in and letting the others chase.
The four eventually caught me and then Troy, JB, Sam, and I started working together and closed the gap to Lukas. Tristan was tagged on the back. The race was then neurtalized....JB tried a counter attack, but it didn't get more that 5 seconds. We were they same way 15k later when the huge crowds at Williamsburg Rd. revived my spirits after the hard chase. The cheers for me were amazing...thanks everyone!
The race was going slower and slower and eventually Trav and Mike Phillips caught on making the lead group 8 strong(4 WORS riders!!!). Mistake #2 - letting the dollar signs flash in front of my eyes and thinking the difference in $ was pretty significant from 1st - 8th. We hit the Vasa Trail and continued to go slower and slower. I wasn't sure if everyone was afraid or everyone was tired, but I was starting to get cold and legs were starting to get tight from not riding hard enough...it seems this happens every year after the Wall.
So just like every year I had to do something....I pushed the pace up Anitas Hill to see if I could crack anybody...I think I might have lost Troy with a mechanical. Everyone let up so I tried my first attack....Lukas covered with what seemed like zero effort. Wow this guys is strong!
I tried another small move, but Lukas went back to the front and the race was neutral again. Lukas put in two or three World Cup style attacks, but it could not shatter the group. We approached singletrack number one...JB jumped and took the lead...I was 4th...we came up the IceBreaker and my legs were starting to feel better! We entered the venue for the first time.
As we exited the venue the pace slowed....I saw my golden opportunity. I jumped from 4th wheel to lead into the final singletrack w/ 1k to go. I led the group up the final wood chip climb, the sun was right in your eyes, the superfans were loud, I was going for it full gas. JB came up by my side and I accelerated to match his pace. We crested the hill, he was on my inside, we took the next right hander side by side w/ 800 meters to go and I went down. Race over...I did manage to get up and catch Tristan who had passed me just as I was getting on my bike. I had enough to left in the tank to sprint him in the final 100 meters....too bad I'll never know If I would have had enough for a 2nd Triple Crown had I not crashed.
The crash was completely my own fault. Mistake #3 - In races like the Ore To Shore, Chequamegon, and Iceman where the action is so fast, so tactical, and so intense there is no room for error. I think I managed to overcome the first 2 mistakes, but nodody in the world is going to overcome a mistake with less than a K to go. On the positive side of things...I would rather get 4th while going for the W any day over riding in 4th and not giving it a go......next year we'll all line up and do it again!
However disappointed I was you can't go away from the Iceman unhappy. Andrea raced and won. My dad raced for the first time in 12 years...thats a victory in my book. It is the single biggest race in the country and in my book the best race in the country. If you have never done the Iceman do yourself a favor and make the trip the Traverse City for the first Saturday next November.
Final Iceman facts: Ride of the Day goes to Mike Phillips.
Best part of the weekend for me was to see and talk with Jakub Malarz and his father who I haven't seen since Iceman 96 or so....Jakub and I had so many battles back in the glory days of junior racing in MI. I guess not only Jakub, but all the old MI friends, Frank and Matt from the Poto, Anhtony Bruley, Jim Colflesh....the list goes on and on....we finished the weekend like always at the Omlette Shoppe.
For lots more Iceman action be sure to check out cyclingdirt....somebody ought to give Colt a lot of money so he can get some more cameras out there!