Monday, November 04, 2013

20th Iceman Cometh

It's hard to believe that I've now raced the Iceman 20 times.  My first Iceman was in 1993.  I missed one somewhere in the late 90's when I was living in Tucson.  I can't believe how its grown over the years.  I remember we used to all do a mass start.  I remember going down the back roads of Kalkaska on ice with major carnage in the first huge sandpit.  I remember finishing at Mt. Holiday.  I remember snow, and closed highways, friends, Omelettes Karaoke, and so much more...

Its definitely one of my favorite races of the year and even more so lately with the amount of talent at the top end of the race.  It really gives me a chance to go and compete with some of the best.  It makes me want to do even more cool Mountain Bike races and try to improve.

This year I was feeling pretty overextended 3 weeks before the race.  I had just driven thru the night on my way home from the Boulder CX race and was still recovering from China. I decided no more racing till Iceman.  Its amazing what 2 weeks of solid training and no travel on the weekends can do to your confidence, energy levels, and fitness.  I really needed that 2 weeks to get ready for the Iceman and it paid off.  The first week I just went out and road endurance miles.  The 2nd week I did 2 * 20 intervals 4 times in a 5 day period.  Nothing fancy just pedaling hard.  Scroll down and look left and you can check out all the training rides on Strava.  Then it was a little rest and a final VO2 workout before traveling to Traverse City.

We arrived after a long rainy drive up and over Lk Michigan.  The scenic route wasn't so scenic this time, but still better than Chicago any day!  We rolled into town and hooked up with my dad and the Buermans for dinner.

Friday morning was relaxing in bed watching the Koppenburg CX race on a hacked feed from the internet, followed by a great pre-ride w/ Trav, Chloe, Katharine Pendrel, and the Adv 212 crew.
We picked up our packets and had a good pasta buffet at the Grand Traverse and then it was early to bed.

Race day temps were a little chilly and a little wet but really not bad.  I raced w/ a long sleeve base layer under a long sleeve skinsuit, a hat under the helmet and leg warmers...perfect for me.  The start to me seemed much more controlled and less chaotic than normal.  Maybe it was because the one line in the course was really dialed and the wet leaves and sand weren't quite packed to cement status off the main line.  There was one crash not too far behind me early on that scared me a little.  The puddles were a new factor to consider, but everyone again seemed pretty respectful.

I felt like the group was still pretty big after the first Tornado Alley singletrack section.  Somewhere in the middle after a long singletrack section Kabush, Finsty and Ettinger really put the hammer down and started to split the group...maybe 10-11 guys....after Williamsburg it was down to 7.

Jeremiah Bishop went off the front shortly after Williamsburg but the group had him safely in check the entire time.  Cole must have done a huge effort on the early parts of the Vasa trail to bridge back on, but was only to be popped back off up Anita's Hill.    The group was working together really well and caught Jeremiah with 4k to go.  To my surprise we didn't fly by him...we actually slowed up and let him sit in and was at that moment that I should have attacked but I missed my split second window in confusion as to why we slowed so much....I was also a little further back than I should have been because I was taking a free ride while the others were chasing JB. 

The battle began, but in my opinion it was a slow mo battle to get Kabush's wheel not go hard.  Lots of chopping and shifting of positions from 3k-1k to go.  In the end I funneled into the first short singletrack piece in 5th....too far back.  On the IceBreaker descent Finsterwald passed me and I was 6th....way too far back.  I still had gas in the tank for the final push and was able to go around Finsty and Ettinger, but Kabush Wells and Bishop already had 2 bike lengths and it was too late.  4th.  I know its a great result, but I'm a little bummed I didn't try to go harder year :)

My Superfly PRO SL was dialed and worked perfect.  It was light and fast and I could definitely tell the XXX 29er wheels made life a little easier on all the rollers.  Huge thanks to RACC and all my other sponsors for the support for another great MTB season.

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