2018 Iceman Cometh: A Sampling Of All Our Great Rides
It was another incredible edition of the Iceman Cometh Challenge, the race we’ve all been preparing for since September. While the block might be eight weeks, the training and the motivation seems to reach back so much longer. Each time we shuffle home from Timber Ridge, whether things went great or poorly, there’s already the seed, the hope of the perpetual ‘next year’ already planted.
This year, we had a record 60 athletes toe the line, and while we’d love to share the story of every single one, there just isn’t enough room on the Internet. Instead, we’d like to highlight some top finishes and some personal triumphs, as well as welcome a few new faces that you’ll see in the Hive this week. We can’t wait to get back at it!
We were treated to some stellar conditions. If a bit cold at 33 degrees, at least the overnight rain let up with plenty of time to dry out a bit, making the revamped opening ten miles even faster than predicted. That change had a big impact on the race; without the short climbs and sand that used to separate riders early, we saw some huge fields stay together well into Tornado Alley and even through Make It Stick, a series of hills between Dockery and Broomhead.
A few riders that had a long time to wait yesterday were the athletes who stepped up to represent our community at the highest level. It’s an anxious, at times agonizing wait for the 2:30 Pro start, with plenty of time for the nerves to fray. While nearly everyone was finished, showered, and recovering with a beer or a cookie, these riders were only just on their way to Kalkaska! Bridgit Widrig and Susan Vigland have been racing and riding together for years, and it’s fitting that each had one of their best Iceman results on the same day. With both comfortably in the lead group, it wasn’t until the hills and attacks late that saw them distanced. Susan came in after 1:55 on course and 6th place against some of the strongest women in the country, and just a few minutes ahead of Bridget in 10th!
Tim Pulliam made his Pro race debut after spending the morning riding the Slush Cup with his son, Parker. It was eventful day; after hitting a deer en route to Timber, he made it to the line, then hitched a ride with Dan Ellis to make it to the start later on, his van’s windshield shattered! Tim rode tough, seeing for the first time just how intense the Pro men can start. He handled the pace well and was one of nearly 60 riders still in touch as the race hit Tornado Alley; that split saw him in the third chase group, and he battled in for 65th with a time of 1:43!
Perhaps the most crucial section of the Pro race and every race of the day was the 9-mile section of trail between Dockery and Williamsburg Road. Interspersed with plenty of climbing, some singletrack, and some gravel roads, gaps made here were prized open and many a result was decided. If you want a good indication of just how fast the groups were working, make sure you check out the Strava leaderboard and take a gander at some of the times and efforts right here.
Much earlier in the day, we had plenty of riders in Kalkaska for the early start. It just wouldn’t be Iceman without some snow and sleet, and the first wave stood in the midst of it, feet and tires planted on frost grass and leaves. It was a massive group of nearly 40 riders that survived to Tornado Alley, with nearly constant attacks and regroups causing a sort of ebb and flow to the proceedings. Josh Zelinski (1st AG, 59 OA) was one of the few riders willing to force the issue, as was our own Jason Johnson (2, 51) and Dave “Sunset” Scott; it was Sunset who committed late and drove the group in the final 5km to Timber Ridge, with the ever-attentive Nick Wierzba (1, 39) latched on to the back on his way to a big win.
Behind, Mike Powers (1, 53) was driving a small chase group home onto the base of Wood Chip, less than a minute behind the fastest morning BEE time set by Sunset (1:41), showing just how tight the front group was, surviving the 28 mile course this year largely intact.
We also had Brent Wiersema and Jon Zelinski in Wave One, with Jon showing some serious horsepower to drive his group to the line late, even sitting smoothly in the saddle and dropping his companion up Ice Breaker. Wiersema picks up another age group win, with Jon a strong second in his own division. Chad Jordan, Marc Brunette, Eric Grassa, and Dan Packer all had great races out of Wave 1, too.
Dan Madion (9 AG) and Rob Goepfrich (6 AG) led the way in Wave 2, with both tickling the 1:50 mark. Bryan Carps (8 AG) wasn’t far back, with Dave Walston having a stellar race on his singlespeed. He ended up 6th in the 40+ SS, a great result on a course that must have been tough to find the right gear for speeds regularly over 20mph, but still hitting plenty of tough climbs in the final 20 kilometers.
It was another 6th AG for Jon Zoutendam, spending much of the day driving his group along not far from fellow BEE Jeff Wentzloff. Jeff was 15th in his age group, which saw some of the fastest time posted from the first wave.
The Queen BEE also came from Wave 2 for a flying result, comfortably sliding in under two hours and taking an age group win in a time of 1:56. Dean Murphy, who gets started at the Hive this week, showed he’s got the horsepower to hang with anyone, posting a 2:02 and 16th in his age group.
William Shaver has raced more this season than anyone, and yet he still had enough left in the tank for another strong Iceman. The Freewheeler rider rode tough all day and nabbed 5th place in his division with a time 1:55. That 1:54-1:58 seemed to be the sweet spot for a lot of riders on the day and serves as a great benchmark for anyone’s effort. John Urbain was right in there as well, with a 1:56 that saw him pick up 14th.
Amie Elvie started in the 6th Wave, but she quickly showed that she might be moving up next year. The long-time BEE had a killer day on the bike, picking up 2nd in his age group and coming in at 2:02, a really strong time. She rode just a few minutes clear of Bob Spence, who picked up 15th in his age group. In 2019, Amie might be looking to find the wheel of the flying Beth Grassa. With a time of 2:03, her second-place finish is confirmation that she can put down the power on the flats and put the hurt on people in the singletrack, too!
We also had two BEEs making their very first Iceman appearances, something that can be a bit overwhelming. Rolling into Kalkaska and seeing thousands of cyclists lined up for what seems like miles can give you just a moment’s pause and put a few butterflies in your stomach. Julie has worked so hard this fall, and her time of 2:37 in her very first try, coming from Wave 34, shows just how much she’s earned.
New-BEE, Sara Nestor, made her first Iceman just her second mountain bike race ever, and she did so from way, way back. Starting in Wave 38, she dinged her bell until her thumb hurt, kept smiling during the dead-stopped backups in singletrack, and picked her way through riders walking the climbs. Her time of 2:29 doesn’t quite show what she’s capable of, but now we know that she’s blessed with incredible talent and even more incredible amounts of patience.
Two more ladies we were really excited to see in action were Courtney Greening and Kathleen Kerr, who’s back in the Hive with us this week. Courtney has been flying all summer, and those miles (plus her raw talent) really came to a head Saturday. Her first Iceman and her first top ten, with a flying time of 2:12. Kathleen used her experience and great handling skills to pick up 8th place with a time of 2:27.
Barb Beauregard and Beth Collins have done this dance a time or two, and they showed they know exactly how to be in prime condition for November. Barb cruised in at 2:09 for second place in his age group, with an age group win and a time of 2:22.
There are plenty of more great results, and luckily we’ll have a new block to share them all starting tomorrow! A few more numbers to think about after a huge weekend. We saw nine BEEs in the top 100 overall (if you count new instructor Cody Sovis), and we put in some serious miles as a group. Our 60 riders combined for 1,704 miles and a whopping 132,000 feet of elevation!
Make sure you check out the full results, take a look at how your pals did, and congratulate a fellow BEE on their hard work not just on Saturday, but the whole eight weeks we spent together!
This is just the start of what’s next; a new block to improve, to get stronger, to learn more about your body, and put in the work to make all of 2019’s events, including the 30th edition of the Iceman Cometh Challenge, your very best races yet!