11 November, 2016

The Iceman Cometh

Last weekend marked a milestone in cycling - my first mountain bike race! As I've been looking for new challenges since turning 50, this seemed a logical choice. Especially after learning that Northern Michigan's infamous Iceman ride also had a more beginner-friendly Slush Cup (8 miles, instead of the full 27). Sign me up!

I was completely unprepared for the scope of this event. Thousands of mountain bikers blasting through the woods. Races in waves to accommodate all the riders. A huge festival at the finish line. And so much more!

The shorter ride had two benefits - first my slacker training didn't kill me. And second, I've never ridden in a competitive environment on a mountain bike. As a kid, I raced bmx extensively, but the two have almost nothing in common. I had to learn to pace myself. When it was a good opportunity to pass. What it felt like to get passed. And how to spot and avoid other riders who offered the potential for danger (perhaps I was one of those riders to others).

My Specialized Stumpjumper Expert World Cup Carbon bike was awesome. Fast. Stable. Nimble. My only complaint as that the fairly narrow 1.9" rear tire was fairly scary in sandy terrain. Note to self -- time for some bigger tires.

Perhaps the most thrilling part was blasting through the finish area and then hearing my name on the PA as I crossed the finish line. Later I found out I'd scored 13th in my age category -- a nice start for my first race!

I learned a lot about myself. And I learned a lot about the sport. I will be back. Next year - full Iceman! More to follow about my awesome experience!


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