I had less than 1 week to recover from promoting the Chagrin River Cyclocross Challenge before I had to head to that state up north for for the Iceman Cometh mountain bike race in Traverse City.
We rolled out of Cleveland at around 12noon on Friday with 4 people, three bikes and lots of gear bags. This was to be my first Iceman race and it was good to be traveling with people who had done the race multiple times. Throughout the 6+ hour drive, I quizzed Dave Cramer and his wife Beth along with Tom Keller about what to expect from the start, the course, etc.
We arrived in Traverse City aound 7:30pm and went directly to race headquaters at the Grand Travese Resort & Spa. What a fabulous place! Definately want to try and stay there next year. There was a pretty large expo area with lots of cool bikes to drool over, including the 2009 S Works Epic...I need to figure a way to get one of those (hint..hint..Dan!). From there we grabbed some dinner at the Macinow Brew Pub. After dinner and a few beers, we checked into our room at a very nice Hampton Inn. Got the gear laid out, completed some last minute bike prep, and went to bed around midnight with vision of holeshots and top 10 placements dancing in my head.
We woke up at around 6am the next morning and I crushed the free breakfast. The temps were around 40 with chance of rain, so I adressed accordingly. We did the 25 minute drive to the Start area and Tom and I had enough time to do a 30 minute warm up, which included riding the first 2-3 miles of the course. My waive (35-39 expert) was second to go at 9:05am. I got a excellent start (can you say "holeshot"), actually leading the race for the first mile or so. I settled into 3rd or 4th until the first sandy uphill where I took a bad line and was back to 10th.
Not knowing what was ahead, I tried to ride conservatively. Lots of wheel sucking. The only paved section, I ended up riding by myself, which was not ideal. I blasted that section and bridged up to a group of 10 and dropped all but two of them. We worked together for a while, but two of them got away from me. Later on I got into a good group or 3 to 4 and I sat at the back of the train and tried to rest a little for the last 5 miles where reportedly there were some climbs. I had a hamstring cramp at the top of a steep climb at about 4 to go, but was able to pedal though it. I rode the last 3 miles by myself and managed to finish 21st of 100 in the 35-39 Expert Class. My finish time was 1:49:30 or about 9 minutes off first in my class and 21 minutes behind Jerimiah Bishop who won the Pro Class. The S Works Hardtail, was the perfect ride for this course. Full results are here.
After the race, we hung out and watched as the 2,500 or so other racers finished up. Tom Keller and I got into the Jim Beam a little bit (he hurt his shoulder, so I was just trying to help out:). Eventually we headed back to the hotel, checked out the hot tub, got cleaned up and went to the awards ceremony. Hung out with Twining for a bit (he got 20th in Pro Class, 5 minutes behind Bishop!!). Drank a few more delicious beers and then went to dinner and had a yummy steak plus a few more beers. After dinner, we went back to the hotel room and crashed EARLY, like at 10pm (lame old guy, I guess). I would like to go back next year and shoot for a top 10 placement in the 40-45 expert age group. The course suits me as it has mostly short climbs and favors a bike handler that knows how to draft...that's me!