This is my 3rd time racing ICEMAN, and it was my last time as a Sport Racer. So before Moving on to Expert, I want to go out in a blaze of glory and had 2 goals in my mind for the weekend. Take top 5, and finish under 2:00:00 hrs. I have been working very hard with the CX training plan that JB Hancock helped put together for me, and the results have been showing. I know I am in better condition this year than I was last year, but the question was still in my head. Would training for 30-45 min CX races be enough to carry me to the podium for 2hrs of endurance racing????
We got to Kalkaska Middle school for the start of the race about 1 hr before we had to go. It was cold and I was nervous. But this is how the ICEMAN is suppose to feel. After a quick warm up, I lined up in my class as early as possible. This year I was racing Sport men 30-33. There was a total of 79 racers in my class, and I made sure my front wheel was first on the start line. As the seconds ticked away the tension thickened and finally we were off! Ben Miller (TSB Team mate) took the hole shot all the way to the double track, so I tucked in behind him. He took a few more pedal strokes and said "That's all I got, go get'em!" So I said "thanks Benny" and took off. Shortly after, about 6-7 guys launched past me, and I was catching hell to hang on. My heart was racing through the roof. So I thought to myself, don't panic. Find the groove and start griding away back up to the podium. Most of these guys will probably pop, once the hills start after Williamsburg Rd. So I popped it up in the big ring and pushed as hard as I could. About 2-3 miles of riding by myself I saw what looked to be a familiar riding style. I finally caught up on their wheel and Said "Adam, is that you?" He replied, "I was wondering where you were". So Here it is the finally Mountain Bike race of the season. The Grand Daddy of them all, and I am going to race Adam Naish head to head one last time for 27 miles. I wouldn't have it any other way. And this was the best situation for both of us to have a great race. So we both decided to pull each other through the woods and try to share the podium at the end. Adam kept up a blistering pace in the beginning and actually wondered if I would be able to hang on. I did, but man it was tough. As we got closer to the first parts of single track, our pace came to dead stop several times as a lot of people this year must of registered for the wrong class and could not ride their bikes on the down hills. It was making very angered and thought my chances of top 5 or under 2 hrs was shot, because of people riding slow, and not letting you pass. At one point there was about 20 people in a line going down hill, waiting on 1 person. I actually had to track stand my bike going down hill. Well, we finally got through that and I picked up the pace to try and make up as much time as possible. Adam did another pull a few miles before Williamsburg Rd. and Said, "The guy in front is in 3rd place". I could not believe we had made up so much ground. So I said "go get him". So Adam hopped on his wheel and started making small attacks. This guy finally realized what class we were in, and was trying anything to stay ahead of us. Adam would get in front on the flats and I would attack him on the short steep climbs and hop in front. We played cat and mouse like this until the first hill before Williamsburg Rd. At this hill I told Adam to hop on and then Poured it on! I sprinted up the hill, coasted down and then made a huge effort up the climb at Williamsburg. This is the beast part of the race! The fans go nuts. Usually about 200-250 people ringing cowbells and screaming their heads off trying to get you up the hill. We crossed the road and I poured it on again for the last 2 climbs that are just as big as the Williamsburg Rd climb. We finally got to so flat ground again, and found a comfortable gear to catch my breath and settled in for a fast spin. Adam then said, "Great job John! You cracked him!" So we were now both sitting in a podium spot, but had to keep pushing to get it. We both kept the pace high and my legs were feeling great. The past 2 ICEMANs have resulted in bad leg cramps in the last 8 miles, that have caused my performance to suffer. So this was the biggest concern on my mind at this point. But as the big hill approached, they felt strong. Anita's hill - No problem, Icebreaker hill - No problem. The finally after the new section of single track that dumps you out in front of the wood chip hill with no momentum, I clawed my way up to the top and felt fine. I looked at my clock and saw that the 2 hr mark was within my grasp! I told Adam, "All I want is a podium spot and under 2 hrs. If you want anymore than that, then go get it!" He said, "I want to break 1:57:00." With about 2.5 miles to go, I said, "well, we have a little more work to do". I pulled as hard and fast as I could to the last climb of the day. Adam slowly pulled ahead and got in front through the final finishing barriers. I was happy and pushed all the way to the end. I saw Adam in front of me cross the finishing line. And As I approached the line, I put my hands up a took a mini celebration for both of us. I reached up and gave Adam a hug. He said "we did it, I could not have done it without you!"
I just hit both my ICEMAN goals! 4th place in a time of 1:55:47!!!!!!!
As for the rest of the weekend. Nolan did his first ICEMAN this year in the Sno-cone event. He was lined up at the start 3 hrs before the race. Riding back and forth looking for the best line for the hole shot. There was probably up to 100 plus kids and he was ready to rock. As the whistle blew, he rode past with a smile ear-ear! The course was a 2 mile stretch through the same ICEMAN course as I did up to the finish line. The crowd went nuts for the kids. Nolan made his way up the last hill, and sprinted home to the finish! When he was done, he said that was hard. I thought I was going to puke.
Last, it would not be a complete ICEMAN weekend unless I got to party with my Team Sandbag team mates. And this year we had 13 racers getting it done and braving the epic course and conditions. The team rocked it out this year! as most shattered their previous times, took to the podium, or just finished to make it back to the tent for some cold beers! In Brandon's case, he couldn't wait to cross the finish line for a cold one, so he chugged one down on the course in front of the team tent! Way to get it done guys. And hear are the TSB ICEMEN for 2009!
Brad Hranach (fastest TSBer of the day 1:53!)