Harbinger of Winter - The Iceman Cometh

Nov 9, 2014
by Matthew DeLorme  
 
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It's 8:00 in the morning in upstate Michigan, the air temperature hovers around thirty four degrees and there is a light rain coming down. A few cyclists are milling about in the streets, but most are huddled in their cars; heat on full blast sucking up every last bit of warmth they will feel for the next two hours. By 8:30 the pace picks up with layers put on, over boots duct taped, and embrocation applied. Coffee and hot tea are slurped down. A few riders lap the parking lot while others ride rollers. The rain picks up. Soon, there is call for the first of fifty waves to line up at the start. At nine a.m. sharp the first wave is let loose to suffer for 30 miles in less than stellar weather conditions. Welcome to The Iceman Cometh, the largest point to point race in America. Nearly 5,700 riders race during the course of the day through rain, snow, wind and every other weather condition in-between. Started twenty five years ago, it is a race where riders care less about rank and more about just surviving. For Michigan, it's the last hurrah of the season - a sign that winter is just around the corner.

Welcome to Iceman. 25th edition it s going to be cold.
  Welcome to Iceman. 25th edition, it's going to be cold.

The Michigan State Psychiatric Hospital has been renovated and repurposed into nice shops and restaurants. Much less creepy than some of the buildings look.
  The Michigan State Psychiatric Hospital has been renovated and re-purposed into nice shops and restaurants. Much less creepy than some of the buildings look.

The Old Mission Lighthouse at the tip of the peninsula.
  The Old Mission Lighthouse at the tip of the peninsula.

Winter is fast approaching and the Caribbean blue waters of Lake Michigan are looking a little less inviting.
  Winter is fast approaching, and the Caribbean blue waters of Lake Michigan are looking a little less inviting.

Docks won t be used for awhile now.
  Docks won't be used for awhile now.

Sleder s one of the oldest resturants in Michigan. Complete with plenty of wildlife on the walls.
  Sleder's, one of the oldest restaurants in Michigan. Complete with plenty of wildlife on the walls.

The old State Theatre a classic place to catch a movie.
  The old State Theater, a classic place to catch a movie.

Mike Brown the Iceman himself. Twenty-five years ago I started this race the entry fee was five dollars. I d run across the street with that money after the start and buy burgers and hot dogs to grill after for the fourty guys who raced.
  "Twenty-five years ago I started this race, the entry fee was five dollars. I'd run across the street with that money after the start and buy burgers and hot dogs to grill after for the forty guys who raced." - Steve Brown, the Iceman himself.

Has this been scientifically proven
  Has this been scientifically proven?

It s not easy to find yourself on a list of 5 700 names.
  It's not easy to find yourself on a list of 5,700 names.

That s right 2 601 and thats not even half the field.
  That's right, 2,601 and that's not even half the field.

Packet pick up looks a little like mayhem. With 5 700 racers how could it not
  Packet pick up looks a little like mayhem, but with 5,700 racers how could it not? It is all handled really quite well, considering the mob.

Light dustings of snow melt by noon. But not on race day.
  Light dustings of snow melt by noon, but race day yields a different pattern.

Bushels of apples were brought in to supply the feed stations.
  Bushels of apples were brought in to supply the feed stations.

Fire wood and fire barrels ready to keep the masses warm come race day.
  Fire wood and fire barrels, ready to keep the masses warm come race day.

Fun limit. No Braaaaping in the streets.
  Fun limit. No braaaaping in the streets.

Booties half covers or straight up naked shoes. Everyone has a different level of tollerance for the cold.
  Booties, half covers, or straight up naked shoes. Everyone has a different level of tolerance for the cold.

Keep moving to stay warm. Before the damp settles into your bones.
  Keep moving to stay warm before the damp settles into your bones.

When choosing a chomp it must match your frame color.
  When choosing a chomp, it must match your frame color.

Pro Men s start.
  Pro Men's start.

Pro Women s Start
  Pro Women's Start.

By the time the first 20 waves had gone through track conditions changed drastically. all of the leaves and loose dirt the first racers went through was ridden out.
  By the time the first 20 waves had gone through, track conditions had changed drastically. All of the leaves and loose dirt the first racers experienced had been ridden out.

There are plenty of logging road sections some are loose sand uphills. These are the times to put the hammer down throw out an elbow if one wishes to gain a few places.
  There are plenty of logging road sections, and some are loose sand uphills. These are the times to put the hammer down and throw out an elbow if one wishes to gain a few places.

When you aren t in a group the long slog can zap your energy pretty quickly.
  When you aren't in a group, the long slog can zap your energy rather quickly.

Georgia Gould found a strong rythym and powered through at least a third of the pro men s field.
  Georgia Gould found a strong rhythm and powered through at least a third of the pro men's field.

The Iceman doesn t have a ton of climbing and it doesn t need to. What climbs it does have are enough when you are tired and cold and at your limit.
  The Iceman doesn't have a ton of climbing, and it doesn't need to. The climbs it does have are plenty when you are tired, cold, and at your limit.

It s a different kind of fan who will stand out in the snow sleet and freezing rain all day to cheer riders up a climb.
  It's a different kind of fan who will stand out in the snow, sleet, and freezing rain all day to cheer riders up a climb.

Getting tucked for speed.
  Getting tucked for speed.

Iceman 2014
Brian Matter has been racing Iceman for 21 years, and he has now won it four times.

If you close you mind and imagine hard enough you could be on a sunny beach somewhere.......wait. No that won t work.
  If you wish hard enough, you could find yourself on a warm sunny beach somewhere...wait. No, that won't work.

Soaking wet and covered in sand The Iceman took it s toll on people and bikes alike today.
  Soaking wet and covered in sand, The Iceman took it's toll on people and bikes alike today.

Georgia Gould brings it home.
  Georgia Gould brings it home.

Nothing left out on the track. Burning lungs burning legs frozen fingers and toes.
  Nothing left out on the track; burning lungs, burning legs, frozen fingers and toes.

Visibility was an issue. The choice was eyes full of grit and sand or you glasses can t entirely see through.
  Visibility was an issue. The choice was either eyes full of grit and sand, or glasses you can't entirely see through.

That first warm drink does wonders for the soul after pounding out two cold wet hours.
  That first warm drink does wonders for the soul after suffering through two cold, wet hours.

Some will be washing a little Michigan sand out for about a week.
  Some will be washing a little Michigan sand out for about a week.

At the end of a day like today a nice warm fire and friends to share stories with are what Iceman is all about.
  At the end of a day like today, a nice warm fire and friends to share stories with are what Iceman is all about.

The thick wet sand took it s toll on bikes. Brakes stopped working chains snapped and derailuers broke.
  The thick wet sand took a heavy toll on bikes. Brakes stopped working, chains snapped, and derailleurs broke.

Michigan silt covered all of the race support vehicles in patterns that tooked like myriad river tributaires.
  Michigan silt covered all of the race support vehicles in patterns that looked like a myriad of river tributaries.

Giant Bells beers and a swanky mink coat went to the Ice Queen.
  Giant bells, beers, and a swanky mink coat went to the Ice Queen.

Kabush takes a swig of the victors spoils.
  Kabush takes a swig of the victor's spoils.

Next level cold weather bike wash. Just remove the shower head and use a certain length of hose with a shower head fitting. No cold hands here.
  Next level cold weather bike wash. Just remove the shower head, and use a certain length of hose with a shower head fitting. No cold hands here.

A little sand down the drain never hurt anything.
  A little sand down the drain never hurt anything.

Untill next year Iceman.
  Until next year, Iceman.

iceman.com
Must Read This Week

77 Comments

  • + 22
 Great to see a piece on the Iceman!
  • + 10
 I was supposed to be in the race but I busted my clavicle two weeks ago! Frown I'm super bummed Frown
Dammit I coulda saw Georgia Gould and Emily Batty in person!! I'll register again in the spring and hopefully I'll make it next year!!
Congrats for Gould winning it her 2nd time, and Batty for finishing second!
  • + 3
 Sorry to hear. A guy I know got injured just prior also, and they allowed him to keep his registration for next year. Something to look into.
  • + 3
 Thanks, I'll give it a shot!
  • + 2
 I made it this year and had a blast!! Such a fun race and I got to meet Gould who is such a cool gal! Can't wait for next year!
  • + 1
 Nice!! My buddy ended up not using his entry. I forgot all about it. I plan do do that race in the next few years. Pisgah too. Just burned out this year.
  • + 1
 How did you do?
  • + 11
 Wow, I never thought I would see an article on my hometown like that on Pinkbike.
  • + 3
 My wife is from TC and I've visited a couple times. Its a really great town and I hope to do this race one day soon. LOVE Sleders too.
  • + 2
 I grew up near Traverse City but go to school in Colorado now. Two completely different types of riding. It's so cool to see some bike coverage from home!
  • + 6
 IceMan is "Steve Brown", not "Mike Brown" as you have in the caption.
Stunning images that really capture what we went through. Love the hotel wash setup. Sad not to see any pics of the nearly 200 fatbikers (personal bias Smile )
  • + 6
 There's also a traditional "bootleg" dh race/gathering going down today in traverse city. Would've been cool to get some coverage for that too!
  • + 4
 I agree, I made a post just like this! Link to the pictures of it on my profile and the video should be up on my profile too Smile Someone should do a story on this and put it on the PB homepage!

Pics: www.pinkbike.com/u/skigan14/album/Copper-Ridge-Bootleg-2014
Video: www.pinkbike.com/video/386025
  • - 1
 @SKIGAN14 You should do it. a href="http://www.pinkbike.com/about/faq/#how-do-i-get-my-story-on-the-front-page">http://www.pinkbike.com/about/faq/#how-do-i-get-my-story-on-the-front-page/a>
  • + 7
 @minibikeDH you can say that again.......
  • + 2
 Did it Smile
  • + 5
 I'm sorry, I didn't mean to! Frown Pinkbike was giving me an error message but submitted anyway, it looks like.
  • + 4
 3rd year doing this race and this year was CRAZY. 34 degrees and a steady rain with 2-4 inches of mud for 30 miles... Unfortunately didn't get to finish this year as the mud took a toll on my drivetrain and I was forced out after only 8 miles. Great to see "Iceman" coverage on Pinkbike! 'til next year!!
  • + 4
 Thank you for this posting-you summed up the challenging day in a nutshell! I also wanted to thank you for the shout-out to the fans. I was amomg those crazy people cheering all the riders throughout the whole miserable day while waiting for my husband. What a great event!
  • + 5
 I was surprised not to see more goggles and enduro style helmets since they are ventilated, but warmer. I guess these guys know what they are doing.
  • + 0
 they don't really know about that stuff in the midwest Smile i would've gone for a few tear offs personally.
  • + 7
 We don't?
  • + 5
 Very cool, thx for the write up! Looks like a tough one. I do miss Michigan. Went to school in Kalamazoo, drank Bell's nearly every day! I miss Two-Hearted Ale.
  • + 2
 I raced Iceman with POC helmet with Gore Tex cover and Oakley Airbrake goggles, worked perfectly, warm, perfect vision with no fog the entire race. Those Oakleys are incredible.
  • + 2
 Great write-up and pics on a classic race. Don't understand the lack of fenders here or in cyclocross. There are some small mud guards for the front that cut down the spray to the face.
  • + 1
 My thoughts exactly!
  • + 1
 Its not your personal bike that is doing the spraying, its the person in front of you..... Plus its one more thing to for mud to hold on too. Bikes will gain 10lbs of mud weight by the end of the race.
  • + 1
 Great to see this article. The Iceman was one of the reasons I got back into mt biking in 2000/2001. Still have the older race photo still hang in on the wall from this race. Makes me smile and appreciate our Pacific Northwest winters (or what I call, just a long fall).
  • + 4
 Great article, love the pics!
  • + 1
 Is it just me, or did anyone else read Brian Matter as brain matter? Razz Epic event! They should have something like this around Atlanta where you get all four seasons in one day.
  • + 2
 @mdelorme, awesome photos and captions, as always. Thanks for sharing the insight into such a rad event! Smile
  • + 1
 Any dh racers or riders who read this there is a race on the Munson hospital dh trails the day after this called the copper ridge bootleg, contact me if interested
  • + 3
 Great Job Georgia Gould!!! and everyone else.
  • + 1
 Not to mention the day after (November 9th) The Copper Ridge Riders Association has their DH race at Copper Ridge Free ride Area (Check it out on Trailforks)
  • + 2
 Added to bucket list! Maybe bring some goggles (roll offs)...sure they'd fog up tho
  • + 4
 Iceman Cometh!
  • + 1
 Belle épopée enrichie d'images suggestives alternant des nuances de noir et blanc sur couleurs des pilotes ! le reportage est trés réussi.
  • + 1
 Check out the Copper Ridge Bootleg race story (on the PB homepage) www.pinkbike.com/news/2014-copper-ridge-bootleg-race-2014.html
  • + 2
 Yeah, really, looks like fun......Wonder how many participants wished they lived in a better climate?
  • + 2
 I happen to be in Thailand right now. Sometimes I wish lived here, sometimes I don't. Actually most of the time. It's really damn cold in Canada most of the time. But I can dress for that. Thailand is really damn hot most of the time. I can't undress enough for that!
  • + 1
 Yeah, agreed it is hot here but it's the humidity that can get you. It's about 30 to 33 *C but where I am in the south and right next to the ocean there's always a breeze. There's no winter, it's just 30 to 33*C each and every day. Once you're acclimated......
  • + 1
 I like the shower scene. Bate's Motel with a bike. I'll have to try that sometime.
  • + 1
 So is chomp attached to your tube something you eat, or stick on your forehead after you bonk?
  • + 2
 Great photos Matthew Delorme! Thanks.
  • + 2
 I oughtta go XC racing the next time an event pops up nearby
  • + 2
 Do I see quite a few rigid bikes there? Niners?
  • + 1
 Niners and not only. For smooth trails a fully rigid MTB works great.
  • + 1
 Yes, quite a few rigid bikes, including myself. Some actually chose a cross bike as a weapon but regretted it later as the trail turned into peanut butter. I am scared to go over the damage to my bike, but was a blast nonetheless!
  • + 1
 @jimo746 yes mostly rigid niners or at least hard tail niners, it's a dirt road race, definitely need to have you conditioning in check or you'll get smoked here
  • + 1
 There's been quite a big debate on 29er vs CX bije on Swedish fireroad rallies where you basicaly ride miles of fireroad with few short "technical" sections (that is easy singletrack with worst obstacle being wet exposed rock faces). Majority of non hipster dudes said 29er is better, even on fine gravel as it just rolls better. Some people ride those quasi CX bikes with room for fat 29" tyres. CX works best in deep slush mud as well as peanut butter mud as thin tyres dig deep finding decent grip and carry less mud. They also corner better in apple pie turns. But bumpy hardpack? Nope
  • + 2
 Notice: None of the pros on rigid forks, and the guys I know that raced in the pro event didn't have their forks set up super hard.
  • + 1
 PRos are probably sponsored by suspension manufacturer and none of them makes rigid forks. Then contrary to many conservative spandex opinions, the suspension is made to increase efficiency by improving roll over and traction rather than being a necessary evil for downs. Depends on the track.
  • + 1
 @ Waki - you got that one right Smile
@ LeDuke, that is an interesting point. The only explanation that comes to my head would be the the pros may actually ride the flat/uphill bits with the forks locked.
  • + 3
 The pros use suspension forks mostly because they are hitting bumps at a faster speed. Me being an intermediate with average conditioning caused me to be fatigued at about mile 25 on a rigid fork. I could have gone all the way on my fox float but I would be giving up time on the long fast straights, acceleration out of corners and climbing. It's a trade off, maybe next year I'll try with a suspension fork.
  • + 1
 What is really touching for me is that... There is not a single mean comment towards XCish crowd here under this article, even though it's as close to fireroad rally, as it gets... Impressive
  • + 2
 When xc riders understand the skill and different fitness requirements for dh I can respect them. I understand how brutal this race can be on your legs/lungs from a conditioning stand point, no need to bash a different group of cyclists for enjoying a different style of mountain biking.
  • + 1
 Great write up of an epic Iceman. I for one am glad that this one is in the books.
  • + 2
 Great finish for Kabush!!
  • + 2
 Great photos! Race was awesome! Fat bikes for the win
  • + 2
 Nice job getting on the podium buddy!
  • + 1
 Love those pics Matt! Great article about an awesome even no one ever hears about.
  • + 3
 Great coverage thanks
  • + 1
 these guys are hardcore, no fenders.
  • + 1
 Wow! Nice pics...captures the emotion of the day.
  • + 2
 Sweet pics mate : )
  • + 1
 GREAT read!! GREAT pics!!
  • + 2
 Epic event and galley!
  • + 1
 The Founder of Iceman Cometh is Steve Brown not Mike Brown. Great Photos!!
  • + 1
 Thanks for catching that late night multi tasking confusion on my part.
  • + 1
 Hey is that Chuck Norris?
  • + 1
 That's exactly why I plumbed hot water to my outside hose.
  • + 1
 I put hot/cold mix valve outside on a short hose with a shower head you can take on/off so it doesn't freeze. Best thing i ever did for my self, prob extended my ride season by 2 months.
  • + 1
 decent
  • + 1
 fantastic photo essay.

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