Writing a recap for a race with 400 riders is one thing, but how can you accurately describe what happened in a race with over 4,000 spandex warriors taking part? It’s not exactly an easy thing to do. There are 4,000 different versions of a single race; some stories of triumph, some of disappointment, some stories of just wanting to get the line for a Two Hearted and a brat in a pretzel bun. All stories worth reading and sharing, especially the brat and pretzel bun one. Below you’ll find a very brief overview of some of the fastest races of the day, but it certainly doesn’t mean that anyone’s race was any less important. From everyone at kolo, we want to congratulate every single person who threw their helmet into the ring and took on the Iceman Cometh Challenge.
When Geoff Kabush posted on the ‘gram he was taking on Iceman astride a CX rig, a few eyebrows were raised at the decision. However, it wasn’t as crazy of an idea as some people may have thought. Many have used drop bars to great effect at Icemans past, including our very own Cody Bear; he rode the Pro race last year on his 3T. Riding a cross bike at Iceman is one thing, but winning on one is something entirely different. Could the crazy Canuck pull it off?
If there was a year for a drop bar bike, 2018 was it. A gravel road replaced the oft-sandy two tracks that create havoc the first few miles of the race in most editions, and even the trails in the woods were packed tight from a perfect blend of rain and tire traffic. As Kabush and Michigan’s own Alexey Vermeulen broke away from the front of the Pro field, the two-time Canadian CX Champ had just enough in the tank to hold off Vermeulen to successfully defend his win from 12 months ago. Brian Matter, racing his 25th Iceman, took third to capture yet another podium to go along with his four wins. Canadian MTB National Champ Peter Disera came away with a very impressive fourth place in his first attempt at Iceman, with Ben Sonntag from Durango, CO cracking into the last podium spot.
Just behind the rock stars of the American cycling scene, Michigan riders had a hell of a day. Grayling’s Jordan Wakeley took 13th, with the Pride of Suttons Bay, Braiden Voss taking 20th – and I don’t think the kid is old enough to vote yet. Braiden finished just ahead of the legendary Jeff Owens, who probably smiled and gave out compliments to riders the entire 28-mile race. Kolo founder, Cody Sovis, finished a very fast 33rd, with kolo rider Dan “Hottest Dad of 2018” Ellis taking home a very impressive 41st.
A special shoutout to Leadout’s Dan and Keegan Korienek. It was really something special to see father and son finish the pro race together, and doing so at the pointy-end of affairs, no less. I can’t imagine how proud Dan was to see Keegan’s years of hard work pay off with a spectacular 26th place finish.
It was a small women’s field, but what it lacked in quantity, it more than made up for in quality. Choosing a likely winner seemed almost impossible prior to the race, with folks choosing American Chloe Woodruff to repeat, others touting a win for former World Champion Catharine Pendrel. We also had people saying with conviction that Sofia Gomez Villafane, the Argentinian National Champ and Utah resident, was going to bring her serious CX speed to TC for the win. Amy Beisel was also tipped to be up front, and local favorite Kaitlyn Patterson is always a threat.
About halfway through the race, there was a decisive split in the field that defined the rest of the day. Woodruff, Pendrel, Gomez-Villafane, Beisel and Patterson made the split, leaving Traverse City’s big hope, Susan Vigland and Megan Doerr, chasing relentlessly from behind. Rachel Langdon rode on in no-man’s land, refusing to drop back to the group behind or give up on regaining the lead group.
Coming into Timber Ridge, Woodruff held a slender advantage over Pendrel and her Stan’s NoTubes teammate, Gomez-Villafane. As Woodruff pressed her advantage, Gomez-Villafane played her role of teammate perfectly, jumping Pendrel on the last climb into Timber to make it a perfect 1-2 for Stan’s Notubes-Pivot Cycles. Kaitlyn Patterson may have gotten the biggest applause of the day as she rolled in for fourth, with Amy Beisel maintaining her charge to the line to finish a very strong 5th.
With the course changes, the start of the race has never been more important as it turned out to be in 2018. Wave 1 is always quick, but the gaps formed in the first few miles of the race became race-defining for most of the day. A group of twelve or so of the fastest dudes around got away early, with Josh Zelinski and Dave “Sunset” Scott doing the lion’s share of the work to keep the front group away. Among that group was Virginia’s Ryan Beurman, who may have not been recognizable to others in the first group, but they’d remember him by the end of the day.
In the second group, Jon Zelinski did what he could to keep the chasers moving, without eating too much into his brother’s group’s lead. The second group on the road was as big as 25 riders after Dockery Rd, easily twice its normal size. At Broomhead, the gap to the group was a minute and a half. By Williamsburg, it was two minutes. There was simply no matching the pace of the front group, even with prodding accelerations by M22’s John O’Hearn and others. As the groups broke up over the final climbs of the race, it was Buerman taking the Wave 1 win, just ahead of Grand Valley State Alumni (I had a class with him!) Colton Lock, with Sunset Scott, Nick Wierzba, and Dan Hofstra rounding out the podium.
A special shout-out to the Cross-Country Cycle’s Joe Lampen in the wave 1 field for giving me one of his bottles halfway through the race. I lost mine about two miles in, and I was starting to really bonk. The sporting gesture saved my race – thanks, Joe! I drank about half the bottle, then gave the rest to Brent Wiersema, who had lost his bottle early in the race too. Carbon bottle cages look cool and are super light, but I think I’m switching mine out for an old-school aluminum cage; ain’t no one ever lost a bottle out of one of those things.
At the end of the day, the results are very much second in importance to celebrating bikes, healthy lifestyles, the outdoors, and our cycling community. I know it’d be easy to hang up your bike and throw on your snuggie once it gets a bit chilly out, so thank you to everyone who kept on training to make the trip up to TC for our own spandex-heavy version of the Super Bowl. It’s such a thrill to share our trails, our town, and our community with people from all over the world who share the same passion for riding bikes as we do. Thank you for being part of it, and we really hope to see you all again next year.
To Steve Brown, his staff, and the army of volunteers that make the Iceman happen, thank you so much for letting us feel like champions every November. Your work is appreciated more than we could ever say.
Until Iceman 2019, enjoy every ride.
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