Iceman

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!

It's A Big, Big Weekend : Iceman, Memberships, and Palmer Woods!

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You’ve got plenty of things to look forward to kick off November in northern Michigan!

It’s a sort of Holy Week for mountain bikers all over the Midwest, but we all know, no one has it better than us! The Iceman Cometh Challenge is the biggest one-day mountain bike race in this hemisphere, but there’s a lot more to this final weekend of racing than just the iconic (and often grueling!) jaunt from Kalkaska to TC. We’ve got your itinerary planned!

Friday night’s SRAM Ice Cycle Expo kicks things off. Part packet pick-up, part flea market, part of the fun, the Expo serves as a chance for riders to see old friends, check out the latest gear and the best deals, plus make sure they’ve got everything they need for race day. For NMMBA, it’s a chance to see hundreds of members face-to-face, shake hands, answer questions, and connect with folks we often see blurring by while we work on the trails.

This year, it’s also YOUR chance to win one of seven custom stainless steel display stands from up.bike. Just join NMMBA or renew your membership online or in-person on Friday, November 2, and you might pick up a little something special!

We’ll also have trail reps from every trail system, plus special shirts, hats, and stickers from your favorite places to ride. Show the world your hometown trail, or the one you always hit when you’re in the area! We’ll have as much stock as possible to make sure no one goes home without a chance to grab a shirt from Cadillac Pathway, Glacial Hills, or Bike Leelanau.

And it’s Bike Leelanau that is going to keep you going Sunday. After you’ve emptied the tank on Saturday, you’ll be able to meet up with pals and relive all the action at Palmer Woods! That’s right, the long-awaited, much-anticipated trail is finished, and we’re all heading out to Glen Arbor to celebrate. The plan is to sleep in, then meet up around 1 pm. You can track all the event plans here. Put in as many laps on the 3 mile finished section as you feel like, take in the gorgeous colors of Leelanau County in November, and reflect on just how many amazing opportunities we have to race, ride, and enjoy the great outdoors in northern Michigan.

Iceman Cometh Membership Drive: Iceman Doesn't Mean We're Done Riding!

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Iceman isn’t the end! While it used to be that mountain bikers tended to hang up their bikes (often still covered in mud) after the biggest race of the year, that’s definitely not the case now! We’re more excited than ever to help offer year-round riding at NMMBA trails, as well as continue to work with local governments and organizations to advance your interests as a mountain biker at every level of decision-making.

This year, celebrate that commitment to year-round riding and hard work by joining Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association. On Friday, November 2, every individual or family that joins NMMBA for the first time or renews their membership will be entered to win one of 7 NMMBA branded bike display stands from up.bike. Made of stainless steel and designed to fit any bike, it’s a little extra incentive to join us in the mission to bring fun, natural, non-motorized trails to outdoor enthusiasts all over northern Michigan.

2018 was huge, but we’re hoping to make 2019 even bigger. From the new pavilion at the Cadillac Pathway, new bathrooms and outbuildings at Glacial Hills, and the 3-mile head start of trail building at Palmer Woods, there’s a lot to look forward to heading into next spring. Of course, there’s plenty to look forward to much sooner than that! With grooming programs kicking off December 1 in Traverse City, Cadillac, the Leelanau State Park, and Glacial Hills, you’ll be able to ride some of the best groomed trails in the Midwest with just a grooming badge and a sense of adventure.

You’ll also be able to look ahead to our ambitious course design work for the Iceman Cometh, Mud, Sweat and Beers, and more local events in the years to come, plus another year of the NMMBA Trail Series presented by Short’s Brewing. Each of our three races, the TC Trail Festival, Glacial Hills Challenge, and Bear Claw Epic, grew in size and in reach this season, and we’re making plans to keep the momentum building in 2019!

Your support also helps us support local organizations like Norte and even the Michigan Mountain Bike Association, who advocates on behalf of all mountain bikers in Lansing.

Look for our booth at the SRAM Ice Cycle Expo on November 2 to check out our NMMBA gear, join up or renew, and meet some of the men and women that make northern Michigan just an incredible place to ride. Can’t make it? Join online, too!

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!