I signed up for the Iceman Cometh mountain bike race back on March 1, not having any clue how much mountain biking I was going to actually be doing this year. I originally signed up for a USA Cycling license to road race as part of my New Year’s resolutions to get in better shape and lose some weight. I probably wouldn’t have signed up for the Iceman if I hadn’t already had a USAC road license. I am glad I did.
While road riding is fast and smooth, the pace at the front of the pack can be daunting, as I found out at the Tour de Mount Pleasant in June. In the four road races I did in the spring, I was dropped my the pack every time. Fortunately, I always had enough left to be the next guy in after the peloton. In contrast, I have found mountain biking to be a much more individualized sport. It sends riders through some of the most dramatic scenery you can see on a bike, and the Iceman Cometh race from Kalkaska to Traverse City is no exception. Some of my favorite portions of the race were the rolling tracks through stands of trees still clung to their bright yellow leaves.
I definitely need to work on my singletrack racing. I crashed on one section about 12.5 miles in when the main line dropped off a root, but I chose the higher berm on the right. My wheel slipped out from under me, and I went over the handlebars.
I might have been spooked on the single track sections after that, as I was a touch slower, more cautious when the trail narrowed after that. Fortunately, not too much after my crash, I crossed Williamsburg Road and got a well needed “Whoop!” from Cindy and Elli. Also after that incident, my bike would not shift into the lowest gear in the back. I thought I had bent the derailleur hanger, but it was not until I was putting my bike in the van after the race that I noticed that in my haste to get back up and going, I hadn’t seated the axle all the way in. That could have been a disaster. I hate to think of my rear wheel falling out at my top speed of 29.4 mph on one of the downhills on the VASA trails.
Unfortunately, not too much after the Williamsburg Road crossing, my legs started cramping up. I would be able to spin up one hill, roll down the next, but then my right quad would sieze up. For next session, I REALLY need to work on fueling and fluids in mountain bike races. Hopefully, my new teammates on the Latitude 45/Twisted Stone team can give me some advice.
Going into the Iceman, I was freaked out about dealing with the weather conditions. While I never have a problem dressing for the conditions, I dreaded prolonged exercise in the extreme cold. I was most worried about my breathing. Fortunately, the weather was not horrible at all, so for the most part, I avoided distress in that area.
I finished with an official time of 3:04:21 which I was not happy with as I finished. I was disappointed in not being as prepared as I was in races earlier in the year, of cramping constantly in the final 11 miles. As the night wore on and I was able to think over the race, I came to the recognition of how much fun I had in my first Iceman and in placing 138th of 230 in the Men’s 40+ Clydesdale category. In talking with family and friends, I have begun talking about racing Iceman again in 2014 during the race’s 25th anniversary. We did not stay in the Celebration Zone for more than 10 minutes after I was done. We are not beer drinkers, and we wanted to get home after some shopping in T.C. Next year, we may even just make it a day trip and sleep in our own bed the night before. But for now, I know I will be waiting at my computer when registration opens up on February 28, 2014.