What. A. Ride. Iceman 2018 Was Incredible!


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There really is nothing quite like Iceman.

A frosty chill in the air, some frozen sleet and a touch of snow in the morning, and a flying-fast course will make 2018 go down as one of the quickest editions of the race in the past 29 years. 5,000 riders braved the cold to thrown down on what might be the freshest iteration of the race route in a number of years.

NMMBA put countless hours into designing a balance route that offered a little something for everyone, while always putting safety first. When you pour 5,000 riders into a singletrack, you’re putting both people and trail into a tough spot. That’s why Tom White and the rest of our trail crew offered up some new sections of gravel road before and after crucial points of the race that contributed to opening up gaps between riders, and rewarding smart positioning and good bike handling.

That new gravel road was extremely important, leading directly to what may have been the decisive point in the day for most waves. Tornado Alley is a short but important stretch of singletrack before crossing Dockery Road, and by all reports, served as the first test in both the first few morning waves and the Pro races later in the afternoon.

We were happy to receive some glowing reviews of the course, as well as very few reports of singletrack back-ups, which have been issues in years past. We also gathered plenty of feedback on our trail work the other 364 days of the year at the Expo on Friday. Thanks to plenty of volunteers from TC, Glacial Hills, Bike Leelanau, and Cadillac Pathway, were were able to talk, answer questions, and sign up plenty of new members both in person and online! Seven lucky people also strolled home with a custom, stainless steel display stand from our pals at up.bike!

Congrats to everyone who raced, and a special thanks to all the volunteers that make such a big event possible. While it might be the end of racing this fall, we’re only just gearing up for winter fat bike riding. You can help us prep the Winter Sports Singletrack this Saturday, November 10 from 9-12. We’ll get sticks, limbs, and branches cleared to avoid any issues once the snow falls. We’ve got a very narrow winter to do so before rifle season starts the following weekend, so if you can make it, we need all the hands we can get!

Iceman Course Update for October 15

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As we work to bring you the best Iceman Cometh Challenge course possible, we’re providing updates on current conditions through race day!

What a difference a week makes! Even with some warm temperatures, we saw just enough rain over the past ten days to have a huge impact on the course. In mid-to-late September, sand was the word, as it always is in early fall. This year was no different, and perhaps a touch worse; sections from Kalkaska to Dockery Road were, in the opinions of many, some of the slowest we’ve ever seen!

Luckily, a mix of cold nights and rain have gotten the course into great shape, and aside from the infamous sand pits that you just know are coming, there’s nothing out there that will make you feel like you’re at the beach.

Tom and the crew were out putting in the finishing touches on the new Water Bottle Hill Bypass. That new section of trail is bench cut and riding faster and faster every week. While it does criss-cross the old bypass, you won’t have any trouble staying on the right trail thanks to a few blue flags places at all the pertinent intersections. While the segment is too close to the previous trail to be accurate, this should give you a good look at where the bypass is on the course.

Another big confirmation from the weekend is that we’ll stick with the same Wall Bypass used in the 2017 edition race, taking a long, lazy bend left before the Wall and hopping on a few bits of two-track and singletrack before rejoining the 25km just about a half-mile from the infamous Boonenberg climb. That one-two punch is always tough, especially after a few fast miles from Williamsburg Road and onto the 25km itself.

Finally, the finale. While it’s unmarked and very tough to follow at the moment, you can count on a serpentine, sinuous sprint through some winding singletrack from the time you enter Timber Ridge, nearly leave it entirely, then come back to the line after going over and under two shipping containers!

While plenty of people were out enjoying the course, Melissa from Michigan Mountain Biking Association was at Timber Ridge helping put on the Iceman Clinic this past Saturday. 30 riders got a little instruction and a lot of confidence ahead of race day, and were treated to hot brats, chips, and a great time by MMBA and Keen Technical Solutions.

Iceman Course Design: Steve's Secret Bypass

If Steve’s Secret was already by-passed, does that make this a double by-pass?

Some of our most dedicated board members and volunteers were out the woods this weekend, but leaving their riding for Sunday. It was rather timely, too; the first really autumnal morning of the year, complete with the first blush of color in the spruce and oaks, made the morning’s work feel more like Iceman season than we’ve seen yet!

The day focused on cutting in roughly .4 miles of trail to bypass Steve’s Secret, a well-worn section of the Iceman Cometh Challenge course that has been in need of improvement for some time. It’s a section that the race has already spent time avoiding in previous editions of the race, perhaps most noticeably in 2015, the year after the incredibly wet and muddy Mudman race.

If you blocked that out of your memory banks, don’t worry. We called on super-domestiques Kyle Macdermaid and Dan Ellis, along with Tom White and Mike Walters, to get the new half-mile in shape for the up-coming pre-rides. The goal is to balance the terrain and conditions on the ground with the needs of such a big event. With 150-person waves starting just a few miles away, we have to expect a pretty steady steam of riders with very difference paces, so there’s plenty of room to pass for much of this fresh-cut section. Coming just after Dockery Road and before the Three Sisters, this is a crucial stretch in the race, and we expect plenty of folks will want to give it a look over the next month.

There’s a lot more work to do, but your support makes it possible! If you’re ready to check out the 2018 course before race day, make sure you join kolo t.c.’s Out’n’Back on October 13 at 9 am from Timber Ride. Not sure you’re ready for a full Out’n’Back? You can also join the MMBA Clinic that same day to learn some skills and take a look at the Slush Cup course. There will also be food from Keen Technical Solutions and a lot of great folks there to ride!

It’s awesome to see the mountain bike community already excited for Iceman, and we’re working hard to make every inch of the course not just nice for race day, but nice for the whole month of October!

NMMBA Steps Us As The Stewards of the Iceman Cometh Course

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This is a really big deal. For 2018, Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association will be the go-to organization for all-things course design for the biggest race in North America, the Iceman Cometh Challenge. 

For nearly 30 years, the Iceman Cometh Challenge has been a legendary part of the mountain bike season not just in Michigan, but for riders across the country. At nearly 5,000 riders, it's the biggest one-day point-to-point mountain bike race in North America, and we don't always appreciate just how lucky we are to have an event like this in our own backyard. From World Champions to the best racers in the Midwest, and from first-timers to the local heroes, Iceman is more than a bike race; it's a pilgrimage from Kalkaska to Traverse City, a turn from fall to winter, and a bridge from one racing season into the next. 

We also don't always realize just what a monumental task it can be to maintain a safe, fun, and sustainable course, and as a part of our race course design expertise, we'll be working to bring you the best possible course for 2018. Steve Brown and his team of Ice-people have asked us to help get the course into shape, and we're honored to have the opportunity to help create a course that Northern Michigan can be proud of. 

A big part of Iceman and the full experience starts well before race day, and we realize that weekly Out'n'Backs are a fun and important part of training for November. You may have already noticed that huge swaths of the course are clear of face-slappers and downed trees; we've had crews in the woods addressing these issues and more for a few weeks now, and we'll continue to keep the course clear all September and October. We want to offer the course to riders locally and to those making the drive to Traverse City for a recon and help every accomplish the right of passage that is your very first Out'n'Back. 

Stay tuned all fall for more course updates, and make sure you join us and our pals from kolo t.c. on October 13 for the BIGGEST Out'n'N'Back of the year. One week before Peak2Peak and three before Iceman, it's the perfect time for riders of all abilities to give the full Out'n'Back a go, especially if it's your first time. By that time in the fall, you've had plenty of rides in to get fit, and the October 13th ride is a great chance to see where you're at. 

Not ready for a full 43 mile mountain bike ride? That's totally cool. Michigan Mountain Bike Association is hosting a clinic session and pre-ride of the Slush Cup the same day, also at Timber Ridge. You can gain some comfort, skills, and confidence from experienced riders, and meet some friendly folks stepping into Iceman action right alongside you.

Ready to ride? Here's the most up-to-date GPX file of the 2018 course. Note, there are plenty of changes to come, but this will hit 95% of the trails you'll see on race day! 

2018 TCTF Course Preview: Files And First Impressions

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Last week, we had about a dozen riders head out for a low-paced recon of the 25 mile Traverse City Trail Festival presented by Short's Brewing. 

It was never intended to be a race effort, but even rolling at a controlled pace, the 2018 TCTF 25 mile course was impressive. While this year's edition makes use of a mix of both new and old trail, with sections of the 2017 route used in reverse, it really rides very differently from the race's first edition. 

For starters, the start. Instead of a few open miles to kick things off, this year's race is almost immediately into the woods. This will favor racers will a strong start, as well as giving the better bike handlers a chance to poke and prod the roadies early, while they're at the height of their powers. The opening four miles are still very, very fast, but passing opportunities are much more limited. After that, it's true singletrack, especially as the race spills into the Dollar Lake area. 

The first reprieve for the power riders will be bursting out of the shadows and onto Broomhead for a short gravel road stretch north. That will be a good time to stretch out the back, eat, and get ready for what is a non-stop series of famous singletrack trails, with Tomtanium the first to greet the riders' return into the woods. 

The final miles of both the 40 and 25 mile race are wide open but sandy gravel road. They're also very flat, so if there are any groups left together in the finale, you'd expect to see speeds in the low 20s all the way back to the Ranch. The race does hit one final, almost ceremonial section of singletrack to circumvent Main Street at Ranch Rudolf, rolling past the campground and rounding the final turn to finish between the pond and the Boardman River. 

Of course, any trail is as hard as you make it, and we think that the tweaks and changes we've put in for 2018 will make the race harder and the tour easier. Because of the traffic last year and this year, the trail is much smoother and more pronounced, which limits the bumps and lumps that might get annoying. It's a great chance to see the trails and work them into your everyday rides! 

Ready to go recon? The course won't be marked until race day, but if you slow down at intersections, the GPX files below are actually pretty easy to follow. 

Note, both of the files below leave from the Muncie Lake XC Ski Pathway on Ranch Rudolf Road. 

The 40-mile route is here

The 25-mile route is here

Now get signed up!