While some will bemoan the lack of snow, ice, and frozen digits as not a "true" Iceman experience, many would argue that the perfect weather was a welcome reprieve from what is likely to be a long, cold winter. A final weekend of sun, smiles, and miles in the picturesque setting of Northern Michigan should certainly be celebrated, and 4,000 spandex-enthusiast certainly threw one hell of a party.
Picturesque could be the word of the day for many. Under a brilliant sun and colorful leaves, many riders set new personal records on the fast, dry course. While the course may have been shortened, this only increased the intensity of the race for many, and made it at least as difficult as longer iterations of the event.
Watching the kids finish the slush cup and snow cone races was a particular treat, as spectators were able to see the toothy grins of the kids who were soaking up the adulation from parents and fans alike. Hopefully, the nice weather made the kids that much more keen to keep at this bike riding thing to give the Iceman another shot next year, too.
The Pros sure did put on a show, with Specialized's Howard Grotts taking the win for the men, and Chloe Woodruff repeating her feat from last year to take home the ice trophy again on the woman's side. While their feats are certainly impressive, it was a blast to watch the weekend warriors push themselves to fast times in the age group categories. It's pretty incredible to see 4,000 people work, raise families, have social lives and still make the effort to put a healthy past time like mountain biking on their list of priorities.
As people tell their race stories in restaurants and bars across Traverse City tonight, take a moment to appreciate your hard work, your success, and your health. Be sure to tell a fellow rider congratulations on their race. And then, start planning for next year's race. The Iceman will be waiting.