The Iceman Cometh is a big deal in Traverse City and around the Midwest. To support this claim, simply head to the start line in Kalkaska and see 4,500 shivering, spandex enthusiasts astride their carbon and aluminum steeds every fall. Weather be damned, they'll be at the start line every November, ready to do proverbial battle against their fellow cyclists.
Obviously, the race itself is challenging, but training for a race so late in the season is an undertaking that requires a lot of dedication, and more specifically, a decent pair of long underwear. Temperatures drop, daylight before and after work becomes sparse, and the trappings of the season make keeping your weight down extremely difficult for many. (Raises hand, sheepishly.) Since we're all in this together, I have a few tips for getting fit and preparing for the Big Dance that is the Iceman Cometh. Remember, this advice is coming from a guy who will finish 90th in the Pro class, so take these tips with a grain of salt.
TIP #1 - Having the Right Clothes is Huge
Having the right gear for any weather is key, not just for race day, but for the weeks of training before the race. Having adequate base layers, the right gloves, leggings, knee warmers and a good jacket can make your training so much more comfortable, and by extensive, more productive. I know the stuff ain't cheap, and your spouse and kids do hope to have dinner on the table most nights, but if you get a good pair of gloves, fleece-lined shoe covers and a decent jacket, your training is bound to be infinitely more comfortable than making due with your Carhart gloves and high school varsity jacket. I have some gear from GORE that I purchased from Einstein Cycles four years ago and it looks and feels like new. Clearly, decent warm clothing is an investment that's paid for itself many times over after so long. ESPECIALLY if you live in the frigid north, AKA Michigan.
TIP #2 - Take Your Training Indoors
If the weather, the lack of daylight, or just the whole work/life thing gets in the way, ride inside. From rollers to simple indoor trainers, all the way up to WaHoo set-ups that let you pretend you're riding in Mario Kart 64, riding indoors is a great way to get a good workout in a short amount of time. A ride on a stationary bike is great because there are no downhills and no coasting - it's your legs doing the work the whole ride. I teach and ride at Yen Yoga in TC, and we have quite the crew of Iceman folks who escape the wind and rain during the weeks leading up to Iceman - and we do quite well in the race, if you'd like to know.
GCN also has indoor workouts for you to follow at home so you can have some structure to your workout, rather than just pedalling mindlessly while watching Gossip Girl reruns. Not that I do that.
TIP #3 - Leave the Pumpkin Doughnuts and Halloween Candy Alone
It's cold. It's dark. Your metabolism is running full-tilt boogie due to your training. It can be so tempting to have an extra doughnut or three while taking the family through the corn maze or have an extra half of a pizza after a long ride on a Saturday. Unfortunately, you're more likely to gain weight than lose weight in the next month, so it pays to be keenly aware of what you're eating, even if this feels like the end of the season.
I know any LBS will kick me for saying it, but you're better off paying someone to follow you around to swat pumpkin spice lattes out of your hand than buying a lighter, carbon seat post to cut weight. Believe it or not, that 5" Schwalbe Husker Do around your midsection is the reason you're finishing 87th in your age group, not the 10 year-old Gary Fisher you're riding. In short, your Big Sur isn't the issue, man.
Last tip - have fun. Seriously. Ride a little, ride a lot; ride fast or ride slow, but make sure you ride and you enjoy being out there in the woods, on the roads, or wherever you train. No matter where you finish in your age class, we're all going to work on Monday. So enjoy your training, enjoy your race, and support the other few thousand goombas that congregate in the woods each fall.
Wes is a cyclist with a BMI of almost 30, a director of marketing at Swell Development, and an amateur spandex enthusiast with Einstein Cycles-Short's Brewing. You can also catch him teaching indoor cycling classes at Yen Yoga & Fitness in Traverse City.