After months of anticipation, Iceman 2017 has quickly come and gone. The Super Bowl of the cycling season has a tendency to go by in a flash, leaving participants waking up on Sunday morning wondering what to look forward to next. Thanksgiving? Meh. Christmas? No thanks - too many in-laws. So, the countdown to Barry-Roubaix begins with only a few hundred days to go.
So with ample time on our hands, it's worth thinking about what a special day in the woods this Iceman was. Riders and fans alike largely avoided the deluge that was forecasted for the entire week prior to the race. The worst of the weather came in the form of big, fluffy snowflakes coming down as the early morning waves took flight towards TC. If you use the term "fluffy" to describe weather for Iceman, you got off pretty damn easy, if you ask me.
From my position at the back of Wave 2, I saw a few hundred people in front of me and a few hundred more behind as we shivered and waited on the start line. To get some idea of the massive scale at which this race is run, just think that every three minutes, for almost four hours, over 100 people per wave took off from Kalkaska. You don't see 4,500 riders all summer, let alone all in one place at one time. It's really something special to be part of.
As you may have heard, my own race got off to a rough start on Friday night. While messing around, getting #SICK air, I may have got a landing wrong. May have crashed. And it certainly was hilarious to watch. Obviously, going into Iceman with bruised or broken ribs isn't ideal preparation. I had texted Cody Friday night saying I wasn't racing - the pain was way too much to lay on my back, let alone race a bike. In true brotherly fashion, Cody encouraged me ("Don't be a wuss. You'd better race tomorrow") to at least start the race to see how it went.
I lined up at the back of Wave 2, not wanting to get in anyone's way in case the pain was too much. But once I got going and my blood started moving, not to mention all the adrenaline in my veins, I actually didn't feel terrible. Sure, it hurt to breathe, and each bump was like getting kicked in the side, but I actually could block out the pain once we were underway. I also had a really relaxed start due to being towards the back of the wave, which meant I didn't go into the red the entire first half of the race. That really helped me cross Williamsburg road feeling stronger than in any previous editions of the race. Somehow, I came home 3rd in my age group and 137th overall. I didn't stay for my moment of glory on the podium because the finishing times were goofed up and I thought I was in 8th, plus I ran out of adrenaline and the pain in my ribs was becoming unbearable. Anyway, the check and medal are in the mail, so as soon as that $90 check hits, I'll give my boss my notice and turn Pro for real. (Seriously. Thanks for the money, Iceman!)
The best part of the race is seeing people kick butt, or even seeing them at all. It was really cool to see Andrew Shafer out there, who hasn't been able to ride much the last few months because life is super busy with kids and work. Quinn Raftery has worked his tail off at Brockmiller, lost 30lbs, and rocked his first Iceman in under 3 hours. Two of my Yen Cycling All-Stars also had killer rides - Amy Coneset was 10th in her age group and Neil Vajda was 12th among the almost 40-year-olds. Also, so cool to see "Little" Timmy Coffey rock the Pro race and Keegan "Goat Boy" Korienek take the Juniors race. Those kids, as well as the over 60 Norte Youth Cycling kids who raced on Saturday, are what it's all about. Let's make sure those kids and more are still doing this "bike riding" thing for the next 29 Icemans, okay?
Until Farmland 5K, I'll probably see you on the trainers. I might try going for a run. I hear that's so hot right now. Thanks for making Iceman 2017 such a blast, all. Let's do it again next year.
Wes is a middling cyclist with a sales hobby that takes up 40+ hours a week and pays his bills. Most of them. He's sponsored by Breakaway Cafe & Coffee Bar, located on the #EASTSIDE of TC. Follow him on Insta or whatever.