And, exhale. Another Iceman Cometh is in the books, and it was one that people will be talking about for the next thirty years of the event. We saw incredible wins in the Pro races, along with thousands of brave rides in the amateur waves. If you even toed the line on Saturday, you showed some serious moxie. The legions of fans and volunteers who stood out in the woods all day can’t be thanked enough for making sure everyone made it to Timber Ridge safely.
So, how in the world do we recap a Saturday like that?
The race was always going to be a tough one in the mud, but the challenge was elevated significantly after 4,500 people made the Iceman course into 3-inch-thick sections of peanut butter. If you thought it was tough sledding in the morning waves, the Pros were certainly getting the worst end of the stick.
Michigan’s own Alexey Vermeulen has been wanting to win this one for a long time now, and on Saturday, he finally made it happen. With a great attack before Headwaters, he got a gap and made it stick ahead of multi-time champions Geoff Kabush and Brian Matter. Matter, racing in his 26th Iceman Cometh, was in his element in the mud, rolling back the years to 2014 when he won that equally muddy edition of the race.
Michigan boys had a great day in the mud, led home by Matt Acker’s beard with an incredible 8th place. Jordan Wakeley cracked the top ten for 9th, Scotty Albaugh was 13th, and TC’s Sean Kickbush was 14th, even after finding himself in last place at the start after a crash brought down a portion of the Pro field.
Pre-race dark horse Jamison Sheppard made me look like I know what I’m talking about, coming home in 16th. Our very own Dan Ellis had an awesome race, coming home in 69th.
Check out the full Pro Men’s results here.
It almost boggles the mind that 30 miles of mud, ruts, snow, and ice wasn’t enough to open a gap wide enough for light to come through between Hannah Finchamp and Katerina Nash. But as the two came into Timber, it was neck and neck all the way to the line. The experienced Nash got the perfect positioning going into the last bend, making Finchamp come from behind on the sprint to the line. Nash’s legs held on for the win, and Finchamp’s runner-up finish in her first ever Iceman should be more than enough motivation for her to come back and take a run at the top step in 2020.
Leia Schneeberger and Lindsey Kriete were also battling all the way to the line, with Schneeberger able to just hold on for third. It was the Pride of Cadillac, Kaitlyn Patterson, in fifth place and rounding out the podium. KP’s late edition to the race was well-rewarded, keeping her podium streak at Iceman intact.
It was the Hagerty duo of Bridgit Widrig and Susan Vigland coming home in 6th and 7th, representing Traverse City in the top ten. Maddy Frank came home to Michigan for the race and put in one heck of an effort for 11th.
We also want to give some mad props to Shannon Kochis, who took the big step up to the Pro class this year. battling chain issues the whole race, Shannon plugged away and refused to quit. Her reward was seeing her friends and family at the finish and getting cheers with a level of volume that rivaled that of Nash and Finchamp.
See the entire list of Pro Women results here.
Dave “Sunset” Scott has been quietly chatting about going solo to the line at Timber all fall. At a post-ride coffee meet-up, we were talking about where it’d be smart to launch a move that could stick to the line. While not entirely sure where he launched his race-winning move, he had a massive gap at Williamsburg, and that gap only grow all the way to the line. Chad Wells put in one of his best Icemans yet to be second in Wave 1, but it was a rather distant gap behind Sunset. Wells was in the mix with all the usual Wave 1 heroes in the forms of Josh Zelinski, Paul Olson, Dan Hofstra, Colton Lock (Go Lakers!), Joe Thomas and Brent Weirsema. Joe Lampen confirmed his fine form at Peak to Peak with another incredible ride.
One ride really stood out in the amateur waves, and that was Eric Mannix. Mannix has to be one of the most improved riders over the last few years, and his 3rd place in the exceptionally fast 38-year old category is certainly up for MVP honors. Mannix’s ride is what Iceman is all about. Earn your way to the fastest waves through hard work, dedication, and then make the most of the wave to get yourself a podium. He’s Wave 1 material for 2020, and the perfect example that if you work hard, you can get up there yourself.
Iceman is about making it to the finish line. Period. How fast you do it is irrelevant. Abby Havill made it to the finish line and did it with a smile. Keeping a positive attitude in the face of miles of mud, snow, and cold temps tells the world a lot about a person, and Abby should get a medal for crossing the line with what might have been the biggest grin of the day.
Scott Quiring doesn’t age. The guy is still kicking it in the Pro class, and still getting fantastic results. 21st place in a stacked Pro field is just the coolest, and Scott is showing zero signs of slowing down. He’s proof that with a diet of leafy greens and humble pie, you can ride and be fast for as long as you’d like.
If you’re a car tire salesman, you need to thank Bryan Warner for keeping you employed. Bryan’s job has him driving to the U.P. and back on a weekly basis, and in the fall, he doubles his miles to go watch his son play football for Traverse City Central. Even with the craziness of his job and kids, Bryan makes the time to ride, even if it’s on the trainer in the middle of summer. You can’t coach this level of dedication, and Bryan is a hell of a role model for those of us who balance a job, family, and this crazy fun hobby that requires a lot of time.
A race of this size takes a small army to organize, so we need to thank all the volunteers for their help in the weeks leading up to the race. Equally cool to see, and what some people don’t know, is that the Iceman Cometh organization makes pretty substantial donations to the organizations that come out to donate their time and energy. The Kalkaska Wrestling team and the Traverse City Ski Club, in particular, did exceptional work over the race weekend and made life so much easier on the Iceman staff.
NMMBA put in hundreds of hours over the summer to make the Iceman course unique, fun, and challenging. If you thought the trails were bad Saturday, I can guarantee you that they’re five times worse or even impassable without the energy and expertise of the NMMBA trail gnomes. Hell, Tom White was out there during the race in an effort to drain some of the water pooling up on Hot Sister and other spots.
Lastly, from everyone in the Northern Michigan community, thank you for coming up to our little slice of Heaven for a bike ride. We honestly do get pretty geeked out to show you our trails and our town, so thank you for coming all the way up here in the shoulder season to get muddy and tired with us. We hope you all love this race as much as we do.
Thanks, Steve, Cody, and the entire Iceman squad. Congrats on 30 years, and let’s keep this dance party going for at least another three decades.