It's a big week for mountain bikers in Northern Michigan. And Southern Michigan. Shoot, the whole Midwest gets pretty excited for the Iceman Cometh Challenge. Each year, riders of all abilities flock to Traverse City and put themselves on a course that might seem innocuous, but offers both a scenic tour of the Pere Marquette Forest and and white-knuckle race that offers speed, speed, some beer, and more speed.
We asked a few of our board members to share their favorite Iceman memory as we gear up for the big day. You'll be able to check out all things NMMBA on Friday at the Ice Cycle Expo, where we'll be posted up with Melissa from Michigan Mountain Bike Association for a full day of fun.
"One year I was having a horrible race. My whole body was rejecting being on the bike. My legs weighed a ton, my head was pounding and my lungs felt like they were the size of kidney beans. Racers around me could see it on my face and hear it in my breathing as they went by. One by one, my competitors slowed their pace and encouraged me to keep chugging. These guys were strangers to me and they formed a V formation and pulled me into the finish from Sand Lakes Road! I am racing buddies with these guys to this day. Only in the Iceman!" ~ Tom White, Trail Director and MTB Legend
"In my previous 17 Icemans there have been weather issues (2003) and a good share of good samaritans. But I would have to reflect on my very 1st Iceman. The year was 2000. I hadn't trained much and was riding a department store Huffy. Its weight alone is heavier than my Fatboy and road bike combined! I could sense the looks and hear the snickers as our wave toed the start line. I walked most of the steep climbs and the ones I did manage to climb left me struggling to catch my breath at the top. But I conquered it and crossed the finish line in 3:40. But I had been bitten by the same bug we all have encountered. The next year I bought a new bike ($700.00!) and trained religiously. In 2001, I climbed all the hills and shaved an hour off my time." ~ Steve Mentzer, Secretary and Beer Aficionado.
“My wife and I decided did our first Iceman after purely spectating the year before. We were inspired by the distribution of abilities completing the event. We dedicated the next year to training, entering local races, overhauling our lifestyle and establishing health as a priority. After completing it, we were consumed with emotion to the point of joyful tears in the finish chute. I can not begin to imagine how many people’s lives have improved because of this event.” Chad Jordan, reViSiT Director and Ride Guide
As is more than deserving, Kim White gets two stories.
“At the after-party Steve & Connie throw for the staff, one year, the Brown boys and a few friends were pretty wound up; not unusual, really. However, that year (2010) there was a bet going on that involved a cream pie to the face. The receiver ended up being Cam. The next photo is Hayden pulling out his money to pay Greg, who actually pie'd him. It all happened VERY fast... the photo I have of the actual pie to face is SOOO blurry I'm not going to even send it (not like these others aren't!). The guy holding the camera in the blue shirt is Elliott Putnam.
The other story is about 2015, when Gary Fisher actually placed in his age group (65-69; 5th). This isn't the year he was ceremoniously dropped at the Rock by Tim Brick and rode into the finish but wasn't scored. He actually started in Kalkaska and raced. I tried unsuccessfully to get him on the podium with his peeps all afternoon. So I brought the medal and his check ($35! hahahaha!) to the after party. We had Steve give him his honor." ~ Kim White, Treasurer