It’s no secret that M22 lives and breathes outdoor activity and athletic competition, so it’s difficult for us to ignore the fact that Traverse City hosts the largest point-to-point mountain bike race in the nation. With over 4,000 racers, the Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge is a mountain bike race that offers a platform for cyclists to compete from every level to a loaded pro category.
Rather than talk about the specifics of the event, we went looking for an explanation behind this so-called “Iceman Fever.” What is it that inspires, drives and excites these humans to compete? Is it for the carb load? The stomach aches? Why would you want to get out of bed on a cold Saturday morning and spend hours in the woods suffering, when you could stay home? Is the lost sleep and anxiety worth it?
In an effort to get to the bottom of this, we caught up with some of Traverse City’s finest to get a taste of what inspires them to compete in the most anticipated race of the year.
Tom White, a local celebrity and all around amazing human, races for City Bike in Traverse City. Although there is no way to sum up Tom’s inspiration, he did a great job of describing what he feels on race day:
Micah Clanton, a rookie to the cycling scene and an Iceman virgin, strolled into the store today in his Team Bob’s cycling kit. When asked if he had the Iceman Fever, he shot a look of distress and said this:
“Oh, the fever is real. I can’t talk about it or I will throw up. I’m excited and nervous.”
With a contagious smile and a heart of gold, one of TC’s top cyclists is Rob Goepfrich who races for Hagerty Cycling. Rob clearly understands the Iceman hype:
“I guess you have to understand that Iceman is like Christmas to a lot of people. It happens every year. You desperately look forward to it. You lose sleep over it. The anticipation just about kills you. You train and train for that one big dance.”
Shannon Kochis, loves to hate the pressure of Iceman. Although she is a free agent, she will be racing this years’ Iceman in an M22 kit:
“It's weird to be so excited about hitting the woods knowing that you are going to suffer for a couple of hours, but in my mind, if you aren't first, you're last- so there’s that. I plan to go out and do my best and then take in the extraordinary atmosphere that this event brings.”
Finally, the guy who everyone loves to be around and who prefers to keep his bike rides under 3.7 miles at a time, stopped by HQ today for a little chat. Tim Wharton is basically one of our favorite people so when asked if he was racing Iceman, we were surprised by his in-depth response:
“Nope. But I have a cowbell.”
Unfortunately, we didn’t find anything in our research that offers a consistent remedy for this fever. Every athlete has their own ritual to fight through this pre-event anxiety and torture. Remember this: simply finding the courage to sign up for any event makes a person extraordinary; training and completing the event automatically sets you apart.
This Saturday, November 5th, over 4000 people will line up for the Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge. Each participant will start the race with their own internal battle but they will finish with a personal story that will follow them for the rest of their life. The question should never be whether or not you will finish, but rather, how will you make sure to walk away from this race knowing you couldn’t have done any better?
Good luck racers.