Since 1990, the Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge has been the mountain bike race in Michigan. For more than thirty years, racers have made the annual pilgrimage from Kalkaska to Traverse City. The 29-mile is equally likely to see snow as the sun, ice as rain, and you can usually expect to see the weather change a half dozen times throughout the day.
The Iceman Cometh Course
While the course changes slightly from year to year, the route is always a mix of singletrack, two-track, and gravel roads connecting Kalkaska to Traverse City through the Pere Marquette Forest. The course includes several punchy climbs along the way, but much of the course is relatively flat. (You may disagree with this statement on race day.)
Iceman Cometh Challenge Registration
Race registration opens in March and the event usually sells out by July or August. If you don’t get in at first, don’t give up. There’s a sizeable transfer pool that offers riders a chance to grab the registrations of riders who can’t make the race for any reason. Transfers usually take place in October.
So When Is The Race?
Iceman is always the first Saturday in November unless the first Saturday in November is the first. Got it? Good. We can’t be expected to race the day after Halloween!
The 2022 Iceman Cometh Challenge is November 5, 2022.
Iceman Training Rides
The (in)famous Iceman Cometh Challenge Out’n’Back is a Northern Michigan tradition. Nearly any weekend from September to November, at 8 or 9 am, there’s a good chance you’ll find a group of riders heading out to Kalkaska from Timber Ridge and riding back on the course. The ride out is about 17 miles and most groups get to the start at the Kalkaska Airport* in around an hour.
Make sure you join the Strava Club for Iceman training rides starting in September.
Iceman Cometh Challenge Results
A huge library of Iceman race results is available online. Unfortunately, few records from the pre-digital era exist. Those would be fascinating to see.
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*Please do not ride on the airport runway because it’s an airport, people.