Well it’s been over a month since the ICEMAN race here in Northern Michigan (The race starts in Kalkaska and travels through the woods for 27 miles to Traverse City) and it’s time for me to give a brief recap of the race.
This was my first ICEMAN race and I have to say I was very impressed with the entire event. It helped that the daytime temp ranged from 38 to 55 degrees this year with very dry conditions. With the dry, cool weather the race course was very fast and everyone had record times.
I did a pre-ride of the route 5x before the race and having the knowledge of the route was very useful. There are about 5000 cyclist in the race and the cyclist are split into groups (waves) of about 100 riders each. Each wave is filled with riders within the same level of ability; unless you haven’t competed in an ICEMAN race before, then they just stick you in one of the last waves (I started in wave 32 – which means I had over 3200 riders in front of me). The first 10 waves are the very fastest riders (except for the pros, they race later in the day) and they finished with times ranging from 1hr 34min to 1hr 55min. For comparison I finished with a time of 2hrs 5min; not bad for starting in wave 32.
Earlier this summer I was thinking about what team I wanted to ride for, I talked to several local guys that I respect and I still couldn’t figure out what jersey to wear. Finally in the early fall I had coffee with a fellow cyclist and asked his opinion of the various teams and what he thought I should do. Specifically I asked him; “Steven, I’m a local pastor, what do you think of me riding for team ______”. This is what he said to me; “No way man, you’re a pastor you need to have a big cross on your chest. You need to represent Christ. Start riding for ChristianCycling.com. They have great looking kits and it’s exactly who you are.”
So, based on that advise I looked into Christian Cycling and liked what I found. I bought a cold weather jersey for the ICEMAN and was ready for the race.
Wearing the Christian Cycling jersey in a race brings some responsibility with it. First, I need to represent my Savior with excellence. Second, I need to be encouraging with the other riders around me. I hope I accomplished both.
My wave (32) started at 10:30am with a start time temp of 45 degrees and sunny, not bad for my first ICEMAN race. I wasn’t very nervous with the start of the race because I really didn’t have anything to lose. I was starting in Wave 32, I have over 3200 riders in front of me and it is impossible for me to win any category. SO, just ride my race, have fun and encourage those around me. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am very competitive I want to win and do my best; but reality is that starting that far back put me at a huge disadvantage.
Okay, so at 10:30 my wave went off and things were fine till I got to about 2 miles in when I hit the first sand climb. I had my line to take and was attacking the hill. As I was climbing my line on the left a guy fell on my right (ahead of me). He proceeded to get up and walk ACROSS the trail to the left (right in front of me). DUDE, just pick up you bike and move ONE STEP to the right… NO, he walks ACROSS the trail (a two track) and I ride right into him and flew over my handle bars. I get up check my bike and continue riding.
As the race continued I had a great time chatting with other riders, enjoying the gorgeous weather for a November weekend in Northern Michigan and riding my Mountain Bike. I had few more crashes (2 more) but nothing big and I was feeling great as I crossed Williamsberg Road (approaching the final 3rd of the race). But by the time I got to the final 3 miles I had run out of gas – I was content not passing any more riders and I just wanted to draft the guy in front of me. By this time I had passed more than 1500 other racers and it had taken it’s toll on my endurance. I climbed the last two major hills and rolled into Timber Ridge Resort to the Finish line. The ICEMAN was an awesome experience for me. I am hoping to move up to at least wave 15 and hoping for wave 9 or 10 next year. I had several other friends race with me and we had a great time afterward reflecting on the event and sharing stories.
I am taking a few weeks off from any type of bike riding or inside bike training. I am focusing on different muscle groups and training techniques during the month of December (I’ll blog about this next week). I will get back into bike training in January and hope to race at least 4 local races in 2017.
Below is the Pro Race from one of the racers who finished 11th; check it out.