Cranking Up The Excuse Machine by Tim Bottrell


kolo t.c.’s big man pens a gem to get you even more nerved up for Iceman. Our starting power forward lays out some of the best excuses you’ll hear before, during, and after Iceman not just this year, but every year. 

A lot of times in bike racing we fall short of the results we were hoping for.  In the last fifteen years of my Iceman racing, I think I’ve heard, or overhead, just about every reason why people didn’t quite podium or didn’t finish in under two hours.  I’m sure I’m as guilty as anyone in noting how many factors outside of my control have slowed me down rather than it being my own legs and lungs.  If you need some help explaining your poor Iceman result, I have compiled a few classics for you.  We’d also like to hear some of your favorites.

Start Wave:

Ahhh, the ole start wave.  This is as classic as they come.  How can you go fast if 149 people in your wave are slower than you?  Also, how the heck did you get in such a slow wave???  This HAD to cost you a solid 5-8 minutes.


Duuuuude, I was crushing it until that 4th section of singletrack, that is just off of that sandy two track, when this road rider got in front of me.  He was braking on every downhill and wouldn’t let anyone pass.  This will cost you 3-4 minutes, easy.

Tandem Riders:

Never mind that this tandem pulled you at 27mph down gravel roads and you weren’t smart enough to ask them if you could pass before the single track.  What matters is that they don’t handle well in tight single track, and that probably cost you your podium spot.


Pileups in the sandy spots, people walking up some of the hills towards the end of the race, these walkers can cost you 2-4 minutes and crush all of your dreams.

Tires/Tire Pressure:

Too much pressure, too little pressure.  Heavy tires with a lot of tread, light tires with little tread.  There’s a way to work these into any scenario that can cost you 3-5 minutes.  On a side note, I rode 29+ tires last year.  Just sayin’.


This time of year people are coming down with stuff left and right.  The key in this scenario is to plant the seed a few days early by mentioning it on Facebook, Strava etc.  “Throat feeling a bit itchy, NOT ICEMAN WEEK.”  Then if you have a good race, you are even more impressive since you weren’t feeling well.  Our own Cody Sovis is kind of planting this seed now.  You can’t go wrong here.


Ever try to climb Anita’s Hill when your bike won’t shift?  These excuses are really fun because you can make some of the noises that your bike was making while explaining.  This is also a doozy, cause if you compare your strava PRs to your actual race climbs, this could cost you ten minutes!

New Single Track:

It was bumpy and bottlenecked, I was stuck behind 50 people.  This is a wildcard excuse because you can grab a few previously listed excuses and combine them here.  New single track with a road rider in front of you?  Forget about it.  Tandem in front of you AND the wrong tires?  How did you even finish?


This is kind of reaching, since ya know, the weather is the same for everyone.  The only way to take this one is that you under-dressed or over-dressed.  Cold toes and fingers can cost you a few minutes for sure, but you are risking being labeled a bit soft.

Bike Choice:

Coach Finstock from the movie Teen Wolf says it best, “look at the shoes on those guys. If our guys had shoes like that there’s no telling what they could do.”  I would guess someone has developed a way to handicap each level of bike ridden in a race, but I’m too lazy to look.  Just know that if you were on a full carbon rig, you’d cut 10 minutes off your Iceman time, maybe even fifteen.  Your spouse/significant other will agree.

I hope you had a few laughs at yourself and your friends here.  Enjoy your Iceman and stay safe out there.  I’ll look forward to hearing some post-race stories.  Please report back to Kolo if you hear any dandies.

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