Wednesday, November 10, 2010

2010 Iceman Cometh Race Report

Having suffered through the drive to Michigan with the kids for the previous 2 years, we wised up and had a 2-pronged plan of attack this year: 1) leave late at night, so they would hopefully sleep for a majority of the 13-hour trip; and 2) get them Nintendo DSis for the girls' birthday/early Christmas for Max. Once their initial frustration at having to figure everything out on the game systems resolved, it was a successful plan! After the kids fell asleep in the middle of New York, I commandeered Max's DSi and occupied myself by playing Call of Duty (very thoughtfully purchased in advance by my wife). I drove for a couple hours through Canada and then napped for a little bit before crossing the border into Michigan. I woke up, rubbing sleep out of my eyes, when Cora pulled into our first Starbucks stop--thank god for Meijer's!

Boochie gaming on her new DSi--outlasting her brother and sister into the
wee hours of the night.

I slept for a while longer through Michigan, waking up in Grayling with a crusty right eye. Nice--just what I needed--a ripe case of pink-eye! I called in an antibiotic prescription to a Walmart pharmacy in Traverse City and then realized that I couldn't wear my contacts to ride--I was going to have to ride with my regular glasses--definitely not ideal. My mom saved the day by going to our house, finding my prescription riding glasses, and overnighting them to us at the hotel.

Really, really not a big fan of the Rx for riding--way too much distortion.

Our plan was to get in on Thursday morning and get out in the early afternoon to pre-ride the first half of the course--that was all well and good except I could not see and both Dave and I were tired from the drive, so we opted for a long and much-needed nap, as Cora was kind enough to take the demons to the water park.

We woke up Friday morning to low 30's and snow/rain. After a fantastic breakfast at the Omelette Shop, we went over to sign in and pick up our race packets, dragging our feet waiting for my glasses to show up so we could get out and pre-ride the second half of the course. We hoped the weather would clear, but it only got worse to the point that the pre-ride was going to be way more work than it was worth. We almost didn't go, but figured we'd better see what the course was like with all the snow and ice, so we braved the now driving snow and 3 inches that had already accumulated. Traditionally the back half of the course takes us about an hour to ride at "pre-ride" pace. We finished the day at one hour and 40 minutes--very fun but slow and quite dicey in some spots.

It is the Iceman after all!

I was secretly hoping the Big Man would refuse to ride and make me go back to the hotel--glad he did not.

The Big Man cutting his own track.

Me--Just bitching because it was cold.

On race day I was really glad that we had ridden this part of the course. It was the only really icy part, so during the race I slowed into this corner as the guy in front of me hit it way too hard and put on one hell of a yard sale.

I have made no secret that this was one of my "A" races this year, but with the weather and now both my eyes and the cold that derailed most of the prior week's training, I went to sleep content with the idea of just having a good time and that setting the course on fire was most unlikely--I slept very well.

I woke up at 6 AM which was way too early according to the Biggin' and looked outside to see a still dark yet cloud-free sky--it was at least a start in the right direction. I had breakfast and got ready only to get out of the hotel 20 minutes later than I wanted--you try to herd the little monsters and Big Dave for that matter. We got in the truck and the temperature read 17 degrees on the dash board. My panic over being late to the start and missing a very necessary warm-up was quickly surpassed by my dread of how I was going to drop race weight in a porta-potty at the start line when it was 17 degrees out and I was fully dressed in CWG (cold weather gear)--that's true panic. As I got dressed at the start, it was now 19 degrees by Dave's truck and it was a bit of a challenge not to overdress, so I went with the "start cold" philosophy. I managed to get in about 20 minutes of a very cold warm-up and felt surprisingly good as I rode to the start line. In case you are wondering, it appears that my body is willing to pass on tradition when it gets really cold--no trip to the jiffy john needed.

The format from years past was changed, so the start was very different. In an effort to free up congestion on the course, which has been a real problem in the past, they seeded everybody by their prior finishing times. The fastest guys (excluding the pros) started in heat two then went heat three and so on from fastest to slowest. Those who had never done the race before were sent off later and seeded by age group. Rather than having beginner, sport and expert you just race everybody in your age group--in my case that was all 41 year-olds. I thought the new format was a fantastic improvement as I had very little traffic to deal with. My only complaint is that because the waves were formed based on time, you were on the course with people of all ages and therefore I had no idea who I was racing--it turned out that there was only something like five 41 year-olds in my wave. In my mind I was basically racing against the clock.

The start went off and 85 guys who all went roughly the same speed bolted off the line--it was weird dynamics, there was quite a bit of bumping and it was much faster than I thought it would be. We seemed to hit the single track in single file--it did not appear that anyone had pulled away. For the most part, I rode with the same group and did not do much passing or get passed, for that matter, until the last 5K when I was able to pass a handful of riders on the hills and move up a bit.

To my great surprise, I was really psyched to find the first half of the course almost free of snow--just a little wet which made it a touch slow. As I neared the halfway point, the snow seemed to be more abundant and it was definitely slicker. I felt like I was going really well and crossed Williamsburg Road on pace to break two hours. My pace honestly seemed a little slow for how fast I felt I was going, as my average watts were up significantly. I would say about a mile past Williamsburg Road the course got slipperier (that's when the guy in front of me went down)--there was a good stretch of solid ice that slowed me down a bunch--I felt like I was riding on a hockey rink. In the last 10k, I was still feeling really good but tentative about going down the hills and around the corners, as the trail was starting to get muddy from the snow and ice melting. I was really bummed as my garmin hit 2 hours with about 1k to go. I felt like I hit the last climb really hard, passing 4 people and then managing to get by 2 more inside the barriers to finish at 2:02 and change.

Just before crossing the line I passed one more.

I mentioned that my only criticism of the new format was that you have no idea who you are racing because I really think I could have gone harder if I had known who was who. I know I was much more spent the last two years when I was done. So how did it go? All things considered, it was a great race. I never would have thought I would have done this well given the disruption in training from being sick and to some degree my eyes and the weather. With the new format my goal was a top twenty finish--I finished 12th out of 115 41 year-olds--not bad, except I really wanted to go sub two hours--which I did not. If it is any consolation, I averaged 15 more watts this year with a NP of 269 watts--that was unexpected. So as I have said in years past after Iceman, I can't wait to go back but for now I'm going to enjoy some rest and the only riding until December 1st is unstructured.

The Big Man rolled to a strong finish, given his lack of preparation. I think he's got the bug again and is already getting ready for a possible return to Leadville.

Don B killed the start and rode hard to the finish.

The highlight of the day is always the Snowcone race--the kids absolutely love it and talk about it all year long. I apologize for the lack of photos--we missed both Bella and Q-man as the race is complete chaos! Bella and Q also finished strong--can't wait to get the boys on geared bikes so the junior Jackrabbits can sweep the podium.

Congratulations--you guys made my day!

I could write a entire post on the celebratory burger-- let's just say The Blue Tractor is out and Bubba's is in--yummy!


Bigdave said...

How can the blue tractor be out? We ate there no less than 3 times. Good eats.

Anonymous said...

We ate there twice and in case you forgot, two of us got sick the second time--where you be at?