Damp Northern Michigan weather on the days leading up to the 30th edition of Bell’s Brewery made the 2019 Edition of the race a story of grit and grind.
Not a tale of resilience and perseverance, but one of the grinding sound the bikes made as they popped and ghost shifted up every incline of the trail between Kalkaska and Traverse City.
It was muddy.
Not “2nd guess your tire pressure in the corners and take a dirty-face selfie at the finish” mud, but “you will wear out your pulleys, brake pads, chain, cleaning brushes and find dirt in your ears two days later” mud.
My strategy for this race has always been the same.
Ride within my limits until Williamsburg road, then empty the tank.
I did exactly that and I was grateful for my three available speeds as I rode myself cross-eyed on the 2008 throwback course with all the favorite quad killing hills,
Every lactic-acid thrashed muscle in my body was stoked to climb the final ice breaker hill into the finish shoot for high fives, familiar faces and those famous Meijer chocolate chip cookies.
I finished 7th in the 39 and under Fat Bike category, 1 second from 6th place, for my best Ice Man result in 14 attempts.
My 2019 season wrapped up with 19 total events, 6 Age group podiums and 3 first places. My highlights include an Ice Man and Chicago Triathlon top ten finish.
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2020 race plans and fitness goals will start to take shape after a hard-earned rest block.