If you have ever heard of or been to Kalkaska or Traverse City, Michigan chances are you have done or heard of the Iceman Cometh. The Iceman Cometh is a 30 mile point-to-point mountain bike race in northern Michigan held yearly on the first Saturday of November, that’s the 3rd for 2018. What started off as a small event with only a handful of racers has turned into an end of the year party drawing over 4,000 racers. Even though there is a lot of talk about the after party, many riders like to finish off the year on a high note with a good result.
Iceman Cometh has a few key features which this training plan focuses on. Of course, the biggest variable is the weather which can be anywhere from 70 degrees to 20 degrees and 6 inches of snow or anything in between. Each week has a training day dedicated to skills. You should look to ride in different trail conditions such as sand and mud so you will be ready and confident.
Iceman is said to be a road racer’s course with all the two track and dirt roads. You will need a huge aerobic engine as you will be spending a lot of time riding as close to your FTP as possible while being able to make those anaerobic efforts getting over the short steep climbs.
From the start, you have to be ready to go Full Gas. This is true regardless if you are looking for a result or just to do a personal best time. For those looking for a result you will need to get in position to hit the trails in the front, and for those looking for a fast time, you will want to take advantage of the draft from the other riders. You will be sprinting off the start line and fighting for position to get to and stay near the front for the first 2 miles. Once you hit the trails it is single file and there is very little passing. Without a good position, you can find yourself losing the leaders, and or being held up by slower riders and crashes. With Iceman being more a road course it is crucial to draft and stay with the leaders. You don’t hit the first single track until 8 miles into the race.
You get 2 miles of single track after the fast start and need to keep up. Again any mishap or slow up will cost you as the race heads for Steve’s Secret and some tough climbs before opening back up on some two track and dirt roads.
After 4 miles of fast two track and dirt roads, you will be approaching the Williamsburg road crossing. This is a great opportunity to get a feed or make sure you are eating and topping off with fuel. You will have a fast mile or two before hitting the Vasa Trail.
The Vasa Trail can either be your friend or enemy! If you have been able to sit in the draft, been staying fueled and have put in the training you can really enjoy the last 8 miles. Here you will find many little climbs that can make or break your race. These hills will take you 1 – 4 minutes at a full gas effort. You want to stay smooth through here and keep the pressure on over the top of the climbs. Use the last ones as a launch pad to try to separate yourself from the rest. You’ll want to be in the front before you hit the last twisty mile through the campground as you will find little opportunities to pass.
For the first build cycle of this training plan, you will be focusing on your aerobic engine with just hint of anaerobic efforts. You will begin with sweet spot and some long tempo intervals to help build up your aerobic engine to be ready to race hard for 2 – 3 hours. The plan mixes in the anaerobic efforts with tempo burst workouts during the week and the weekends mix in Zone 5 and 6 efforts in with aerobic intervals. In a race, you will very rarely just sit at a steady pace throughout. By mixing in these surges it trains your body to be able to respond and recover from harder anaerobic efforts.
During the second build cycle, you will start working on your FTP with threshold intervals. Having a high FTP for Iceman is important as you will be spending a lot of time at it and above.