Iceman....Snowman...Mudman...this year there was a little bit of everything!!!
Unlike previous years I didn't go up early to work the Iceman expo. After a really long week at work it was nice to sleep in a bit and not rush around in the morning. Scott and I finally left our house into the late afternoon to pick up Namrita from the airport and then we all headed up to Traverse City.
The drive up was a little disconcerting as we had our first snow of the season. Back home it was just scattered snowflakes that weren't sticking, but there was already three inches of snow up North.
Hello winter, nice to see you. Now go away.
The expo was the usual usual, and after talking with lots of people and registering we had a late dinner and went to bed. It was awesome not having to worry about an early start. In fact, with a start time of 2:30 p.m. we didn't even bother setting an alarm clock.
The first waves of the Iceman went off in the early a.m., and I could only imagine how cold it was for the racers. I think temps were in the mid-20's at best. Early reports were coming back that the course was super fast, but that there were large patches of ice in the shades sections and a lot of riders were going down.
After a late breakfast and lots of coffee we finally headed to the start venue. I was anxious to start. The late start wasn't as cracked up as I thought it would be since it gave me WAY too much time to get nervous. I just wanted to GO!!!!
My bike all ready to race....Temps were in the low-40's by the time of our start, but it still felt pretty cold. I hate being hot when racing though, so I wore a sleeveless base layer, jersey, arm warmers and track socks. The track socks were definitely not a smart choice as they are 100% cotton. They got soaked early in the race, and kept my lower legs really cold the entire time. However, I did get a lot of compliments on them from people cheering...so that's something, right?
Trying to keep warm at the start....
There were over 20 women lining up at the start. Lots of fast racers, but that's no surprise. Every year it's a complete hammerfest!
My legs felt pretty good on the road, and I found myself in a good position once we hit the first dirt doubletrack. The pace started to ramp up a bit, and our group started splitting up. I was at the tail end of the lead group (hanging on for dear life) when we started to catch the stragglers in the pro men's field. Unfortunately we caught the first couple of guys just as the trail narrowed and I lost contact with my lead group because I didn't get around the guys in time.
It was not a good situation to be in. The Iceman is basically a road race, and you can lose massive amounts of time to groups working together if you are alone....like I was. There was nothing that I could do but chase though, so that's what I did.
It was pretty surreal riding through snowy woods. In just one day it had become winter. Normally when I'm alone I instantly fall into my endurance pace, but I could tell that the last couple of XC and cross races that I raced were paying off. I was able to push the pace enough that no one ever caught me.
At least, no one caught me until the last couple of miles. I tried to avoid looking behind me but every once in a while I would sneak a peak to see if there was anyone there. It's so bad to do, but so hard to resist! Anyways, there was never anyone behind me until the last time I checked.
And there was Heather Irmiger climbing behind me. I was like," seriously???" Out of all the female racers that I would pick to battle with at the end of a race, Heather Irmiger would not be one of them. Mostly because the odds would always be heavily stacked in her favor :-)
She was on a SS, but dude....she's a former singlespeed World Champion. Not to mention XC and marathon National Champion a few times over. NOT TO MENTION completely clean! There I was covered in mud, bleeding from the eyeballs, blowing snot, and Heather looked like she didn't have one speck of dirt on her.
It turned out that Heather had a mechanical early in the race, and had gotten a ride to the half-way point so that she could at least ride the course. She had to get off of her bike towards the end to walk a few of the hills (SS thing) so I ended up riding alone to the finish. I could not believe how fast the race went by.
I ended up in 9th place and was happy to crack the top 10 in a tough field. I was NOT happy with my start, or the fact that I ended up riding alone the entire time, but oh well. All I have to say is thank goodness the starts aren't that fast for 24 hour races or I would be in trouble :-)
That's officially it for 2010 mountain bike races. It was a great/fun season and I have to admit that it was a bummer saying goodbye to some people that I won't see until next spring. I'm glad there are a few more Kisscross races left, and I hope they are good and muddy!