Sunday, November 27, 2011

Iceman and Off-Season

Been a few weeks, but since it is possibly the biggest mountain bike event in the nation, Iceman deserves a write up. 
 
I Headed over to Traverse City, Michigan on Friday, November 4th with Cole House.  Had amazing accommodations from the Owner’s at Six One Six Fabrication.  Awesome people making some sweet snow bikes and 650b/29er bicycles!

 

Race Day:

Had a nice breakfast with the best of the mid-west all pictured here from left to right, Matter, Schouten, House and myself on his wheel.  Sweet potatoes were a secret weapon for both Matter and I.  Included in the line-up below is a World Champion, a World’s Podium finisher, and multiple National Champions/top ten in the Nation…Mid-West had our work cut out for us.
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Here is a video of the Pro men’s start.

 
I have only raced the Pro Race here once before, so I am still slightly inexperienced.  My preparation in training and how to manage the insanity of this start was much better than last year. Making the lead group was almost too easy, I was deceptively within my limits, and I never made much of an effort to be 1st-5th wheel.  For the first quarter of the race I was riding toward the back not being too aggressive.  This race is all about positioning and I found out the hard way! 
 
While jamming motivation through his speakers on the way to the Start Cole warned me he was going to attack at “Tornado Alley”, I said “Uhh, OK”…thinking where or what the heck is tornado alley…images of Kansas and Todo in mind. 
 

Lead group a few miles into the 2011 Iceman.

Lead Group
 
So when the tornado came I was hanging out at the back, come to find out this was the first pivotal section of single-track and I was literally the last one in amongst 15 or so riders.  I was still pretty comfortable, but quickly realized some of those in front of me were not and the race was leaving in a hurry.  I took every opportunity to move up, but when moving up during attacks you have to be riding significantly faster than those attacking at the front of the field.  People were cracking left and right as I was moving up, came by Cole House, Matt Shriver, and one of the Fluckiger brothers.  Made it to J. Bishop’s wheel at the back, but I had already muscled by 7 or so riders during interspersed open sections,  once latched back on to the lead group the redline had been pushed.  A few climbs later and I was soft pedaling and waiting for the chase group to come up…

Not bad company though, with a world champ in group.  With about 10k to go Troy Wells came back to our group as well.  I was a bit frustrated as the legs were good and was out of contention due to positioning. Although one of the highlights of the day was yelling “C’MON SWISS” to a World Champ as I encouraged him to get on my wheel after a bad line through a sand pit!   We were smiling.

I waited for the climbs to start toward the end of the race and as soon as we hit “The Wall”, which kicks off a series of climbs till the end of the race, I attacked hard at the front.  Matt Shriver and Christian Tanguy were able to follow and we had a gap.  Shriver came around to pull and threw an elbow for me to pull through soon after but I was timid.  This was a bad move on my part, Wells, Fluckiger, and Isaac Neff came back to us. 

It was at this point that I saw the lead group just around the corner, I couldn’t believe it!  We were reeling them back in and I told Shriver we gotta go!  Not sure if the group understood me in the midst of the heart pounding, but I pushed it up the climbs hard and Shriver/Wells pulled along the flats.  

Coming into the venue area I was set to win the sprint for the chase group with Wells, Matthias Fluckiger, Christian Tanguy, and Matt Shriver.  It was not to be though, Wells bobbled on a downhill dropping his chain right in front of my bike.  Brought to a full stop I watched while everyone else glided away, a gap had opened I HAD to close.  Brought it back just as the attacks started and that was game over…was fighting for 8th but rode in solo settling for 11th.

Solo ride to the finish341250_2393275505508_1059516737_32395036_438870757_o

There are Great, Good, and Sub-Par results, this was edging into the last category. The field was tough, so in hindsight I am happy.

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Last year I was physically and tactically unprepared, this year just tactically, next year I will put them both together and hopefully be fighting it out in the front.  Full Results Quite the field!

 

So now that it is the Off-Season we get to watch all the CX crazies suffer.  Been following Cyclingdirt for U.S. racing, screaming at my computer screen for Matter and Schouten representing the Mid-West.  Also, been following the Superprestige and World Cups.

Controversy on this one this past week with Sven Nys and Pauwels. 

Question of the day:

What do you think, should Nys have been relegated?

Answer in the comments section below or found here.

Stay tuned for plenty of 2012 announcements and training preparations.

Nathan

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