This past weekend, I raced in the Iceman Cometh mountain bike race. It is a 29 mile race that starts in Kalkaska, MI and ends near Traverse City. This year it was appropriately named, as we had fresh snow on the ground at the beginning of the race and encountered flurries along the way as well. The course was muddy and slick in spots, and sandy in others. This is my second year racing the Iceman, and it was much harder this year than last.
I was pretty disappointed in my time. I finished in 3:03:35, where as last year I finished in 2:42:51. I actually felt stronger and in better shape this year. Some of the difference is attributable to the conditions and adjustments made to the course because of logging. It definitely didn’t ride as fast as last year, and it felt like it was a little longer. I also had a bad seeding, which put me behind a lot of riders who were out there for the first time. There were several locations on the single-track where we came to a dead stand still, and others where the pace slowed to a crawl. There was a lot of grumbling out there, some of it mine. It is frustrating to train for a race and have traffic jams really slow you down and kill your momentum.
Despite the frustrations, it was still a blast. I was fortunate enough not to have any flats, broken chains, etc., and I made it through without injury as well. I am amazed at how many bikes you see broken down on the side of the trail, and my wife had to give a few injured riders a lift to the finish. It has to be a huge bummer to train for and travel to a race and not be able to finish due to breakdown or injury.
There is something awesome about being out there with 4700 other riders on a cold, snowy, November day. This year, my family was able to come out to the race as well. They were there cheering me on at the midpoint, which was a huge boost to my morale. Overall it was a fantastic day. I hope they fix the seeding issues, but either way, I am looking forward to next year!