My first Iceman…in the pro race! It did not disappoint!
For anyone that knows me, my race season ends when duck season starts. I am also not much of a cold weather rider, but that is changing with training. I registered for Iceman this year simply because my 11yo son was racing it. Given it is a point to point race and his wave time being 12:12, I registered for the pro race. I could sweep him up in case anything happened. Peer pressure from a few good friends helped!
I really lucked out this year. The weather was beautiful. 55ish degrees and sunny at the start...and a really fast course. I can tell you with guys like Alexey, Kerry, Jorden, and other really big names kinging up...I was more nervous than the day I said "I do." I went in with a few simple goals: do not embarrass Infinit Nutrition, do not embarrass myself, and do not be last.
I was a little late to the chute, so my starting position was less than ideal. I was also so nervous, that some extra pit stops were required. The race started fast. I did not get the best start and really had to dig to make up some spots right from the gun. The entire group stayed together until we hit the first bit of two track. I focused on not leaving gaps and making sure I took good lines. There were several sand pits and this was where I lost a lot of time. There were several crashes and I had to put a foot down twice. It was very clear that some of the pure roadies lacked MTB handling skills. Back on the two track, the roadies cranked out the watts and we starting bridging back up to the next group. However, when we hit the first single track, it was clear that just power was not going to work. Two of us made a quick pass and in a matter of a minute, we gapped the group and were making progress again. Two of us hammered just keeping sight of the group in front of us. The college racer started to fade and fortunately a very powerful MTBer caught us...and promptly flew by. I latched onto his wheel and we picked off rider after rider. We were hammering on the Vasa with about 6 k to go when I looked back and saw Katerina Nash and the other leading pro women. They were vicious! Bumping elbows, rubbing tires, and pushing each other around. I grabbed their wheels but backed off because I did not want to be in that mix on the last section of single track.
I was running close to empty and hit the final climb, Icebreaker. Hearing so many people yelling and a ton of people yelling my name, I made one more dig and stayed in front of the chasing pro women for 70th. It may not seem impressive,but when comparing to mu age group, I was 2 min faster than 1st, so I am pretty happy with the result. My XC custom blend was perfect for this race.
It was an eye opener for sure and I added a new goal for next year. Don't get caught by the pro women!