Sunday, November 11, 2007


This year marked my 4th Iceman attempt, but the last time I raced was in 2000. Lots has changed from what I remember. Maybe part of it was racing in the 19-24 category. I guess most of it was because of the expert-nature of the 19-24 category. That was the fastest and most sketchy start of any race I've ever been in. I figured things would sort out (and slow down...) after the first 2-3 miles. Not quite. This reminded me of the worst cat 4 race I've ever been in. The speed wasn't bad, it was the sand that was killer. And the frosty leaves. And the fact that there were 20 guys plus myself that wanted to be in first going into the singletrack. Combine 2-wheel slides, frosty leaves, sand, a crazy fast start and you have yourself one FUN race!

I guess I'm getting ahead of myself. To start out the morning I managed to screw up my normal pre-Iceman food of pancakes. I figured the next best thing would be oatmeal. I messed that up too. How can you mess that up? Trust me you can. I managed to leave on time but with an uneasy feeling of things not quite going right for my return to the MAN of ICE race.

I loaded up the truck and headed out to Kalkaska to be greeted with the coldest Iceman I've ever raced. Come to think of it, there was even crusty snow (old) on the first single track. That marks the first time I've raced the Iceman with snow!

In the parking lot I unloaded the F3000 (sorry Giant, some old classics just don't go out of style...but their forks break). After my first spin to warm up I found that my front tire was punctured with a slow leak. A smooth change of the tube got me back into business, but with less than the perfect warmup. I managed to line up in the 2nd row a full 15 minutes prior to my 9:30 start time.

The gun went off and it was on. Full speed onto the first narrowing; we had a really nice group rolling right along. Then we hit the first singletrack section and things splintered.

The next half hour or so of racing kind of blurs together, but I remember putting in a monster pull on the dirt-paved road. Two other guys were with me and we managed to close a gap of about 10 seconds on the group of 5 in front of us. In that group were the likes of Tom and brother Torrence from Colorado (Pearl Izuimi). Dangling off the back of our new group by about 30 seconds was a U of M rider in my category. By the time we hit mile 17 I think I was in 4th or 5th place in my category.

After the hills by Williamsburg road was the first sign of difficulty. I started to get those light tingles in both of my lower quads. A quick shift took care of them...but with 10 miles to go it was a sure sign that things were going to get extremely difficult.

It really hit the fan with about 7 to go (I think...). The U of M rider caught me after the "wall" downhill and I was unable to raise the pace (due to the leg crampage getting into the painful to very painful range). Since the last 7 miles of the race have the steepest of the climbs in it I prepared for the worst and dropped it back to a comfortable pace. I figured we had done a lot of damage to those behind us, and if I maintained a moderate pace while trying to spin the cramps out I could still manage a place in the money (top 7).

Well let's just say things didn't go as planned. It all really came to a head on the LAST single track section (about a mile to go) after I had been passed by (seemingly) everyone and their brother. The cramps were bad but managable until we slowed and turned into the right-hand drop into single track. When I briefly stopped pedaling to make it around a turn both legs (quads, calves, and hamstrings) simultaneously siezed, forcing me off the bike completely. Talk about the absolute worst pain I've ever experienced on a bike...

With 1 km to go the last racer in my category to finish ahead of me would pass me. I was again on my bike at this point but with every pedal stroke I could feel the pain seeping back into my muscles. Finally over the bridge and across the finish line. Ouch.

The bottom line is that I had roughly 21 miles of the best MTB racing in my life followed by the absolute worst racing (and pain) on a bike in my life. I was very happy to be finished and greeted by Kristie, my dad, Shannon, and Patrick, but I was dissappointed by my last half hour of racing. End race time was 1:55.09. For someone who starts concentrating on 45 minute 'cx efforts in JULY that doesn't seem too terribly bad, but what is bad is that I was with the group that finished in 1:49 (for 5th place), meaning that in the last 7 miles of racing I lost 7 places and 6 minutes (ended up 12th). Not exactly what I had hoped for.

With all the negative things done with, I have to say the majority of racing was fun, which is exactly why I like racing. The cramps are something I can deal with by preparing for a 2 hour effort, but let's not joke anybody by thinking that I would ever give up a season of 'cx for one Iceman. I'll definitely SIGN UP IN THE LOTTERY to get into next year's event.

Some good news: Kona got her stitches out last week so she's all better and shopping like a little shopper. Kristie started her official coaching career (AHS JV girls basketball!!!!!), which will be an exciting experience for her!

Also, mad MAD props to Jeff Weinert who returned to the Iceman after 8 years to DOMINATE the single speed class with a win (1:42.36)!!! Maybe those naysayers commenting on tms should quiet down before they awake the little giant again...

2 races left (Munson cx and the state championships...) Then it is time to RELAX and skate ski with Kristie. That is if we get any snow...


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