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Peak2Peak Memories
October 9, 2017, 12:00 am

It was eighty degrees yesterday. I've never done an Iceman Out'n'Back under such brilliant weather. By the first weekend in October, we're already accustomed to layering up and braving the cold, wet and grey weather Northern Michigan traditionally begins to conjure up. This year has been a strange but welcome treat, with plenty of sunny days and warm temperatures that feel a bit more like August than early October. 

As different as it may be, there are a number of milestones that make autumn as sure as the calendar, no matter the weather. One of those things is Peak2Peak. The mountain bike race that claimed status as a 'Classic' in its first year has moved past its pugnacious claim as 'just an Iceman tune-up race' into a true, bona fide classic that racers from all over the Midwest look forward to. 

My first Peak2Peak capped off what was, for me, a return to racing. I grew up watching my Dad race mountain bikes all over Northern Michigan. He was the quintessential weekend warrior; he worked 50+ hours a week and had to make time for us kids as well. His training was mostly done on the weekend, and often his training was racing. I did a few races between the ages of 11 and 14, but team sports drew both my brother and myself toward the dizzying heights and accolades of high school football, baseball, and track. It wasn't until college that we got back on the bike, racing the first-ever Barry-Roubaix on 26" mountain bikes and just trying to keep up with anyone else on the course. 

At Peak2Peak, we'd had a full summer of riding, although the degree of seriousness wavered based on work schedules and interest. That year, it stormed almost all week leading into the race, and when we pulled into the parking lot at Crystal Mountain, a steady mist made everything as damp as if it had never truly stopped raining overnight. We had a pop-up, open-sided tent, but a southerly wind made that all but useless. Using some binder twine and a tarp, we made an improvised wall to cower behind, all three of us electing to skip our warm-ups. 

At the start, I remember standing there and looking around and wondering, "Why did all these people pay to ride in the rain?" I had done the same thing, obviously, but the mass of people seemed happy to do it as well surprised me. We took off, and Wes had an incredible race. As was typical of that season (and the next season, too), I rode almost the entire race completely by myself. My only interactions were riders from waves behind me asking to pass, which I did with a sort of embarrassed resignation. Hear the shout; shoulders shrug, weave over and let a handful of riders by. The first pedal strokes after letting racers through, I'd always try to hop on the back of their little group. It rarely happened. 

I finished, and I don't remember what place, but I remember being completely and totally shocked that I wasn't last. In fact, I wasn't last and there was a big list of riders who'd pulled out, quit, or had mechanicals. That was the first time I realized what Peak2Peak and all amateur races are about. You just have to try. You have to see what you can do, and no matter where you end up, having the confidence to even toe the line is something to be proud of. 

I haven't missed a Peak2Peak since. We've had beautiful days, like the weather we're having now. We've had downright brutal days, including the year the Expert and Elite races were shortened to just two laps. I remember racing Expert class that year, and seeing Race Promoter Tad Peacock halfway up the hill, shouting "Down the hill and you're done, down the hill and you're done!" and thinking it the best sight I'd ever seen, the sweetest words I'd ever heard. 

In just two weeks, we'll be back at Crystal Mountain for another Peak2Peak. Then, it will finally feel like fall, with the leaves every color imaginable and the chairlift carting up spectators to watch riders of all abilities and speeds pour downhill to the start/finish. It could be any weather, but for everyone in Northern Michigan, it's truly autumn when you're at Peak2Peak, and afterwards, all anyone can talk about is being just a little bit better in two weeks. 

 

 

Inspired By Norte: Bring A Friend Mountain Biking!
October 2, 2017, 12:00 am

This Sunday, get a new friend into the woods with Norte! 

Fresh Rubber Part Duh: Schwalbe Thunder Burts
September 25, 2017, 12:00 am

We know there are two races on your radar this fall, and in most conditions, there's one great tire for what you're shooting for. It's almost like Schwalbe made the ideal Peak2Peak and Iceman tire when they crafted the Thunder Burt. 

Fresh Rubber: Panaracer Gravel King SK
September 17, 2017, 12:00 am

After a slew of different rides, we're giving the Panaracer Gravel King SK a big thumbs up. 

Cool Kicks: SCOTT MTB Team Boa Shoe
September 11, 2017, 12:00 am

Keep your feet happy with some fresh kicks this fall. We take a look at the Scott MTB Team Boa. 

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