Dress For Success: What To Wear For Iceman


We’ve all gotten that text. It’s six in the morning on race day. You’re sipping your last cup of coffee and staring at your closest. The phone pings, and your pal is asking the same question that you’re asking yourself, “So, what are you going to wear today?”

Part of the challenge of Iceman is handling the conditions. Every year is different, and the weather can change drastically in the days leading up to the start. It’s even rather common to see the weather change throughout the morning, with early waves lining up in the snow and later waves lining up in sunshine!

The big temperature swings and variable precipitation means having the right clothing is key. We put together a rough outline of what to wear for a few temps, but with an important caveat. Everyone is different, and what works for one person could be uncomfortable for someone else. Take the next ten days to experiment and get outside for your training rides. See what combination of covers, warmers, and jackets works best for you. 

20-30 Degrees. This is the coldest weather you can expect, and that means wear it all. You can always unzip jackets or roll up sleeves, but one you’re on the course, you can’t put anything more on. The biggest focuses here should be feet and hands. At these temperatures, your extremities will be the first to go. Many riders will consider wearing cycling winter boots in addition to wool socks. Wear thick gloves, and bring a chemical hand warmer or two in your flat kit to use in case you have to stop for a mechanical. 

Head: Buff or thin cap to cover ears
Core: Base layer, long sleeve jersey, shell jackets
Legs: Themal bibs or leg warmers
Hands: Thick gloves
Feet: Boots or shoe covers

30 to 40 degrees. This is probably the hardest to dress for. You’re almost sure to be a little too cold at the start and a little too hot at least once throughout the race, but when in doubt, warmer is better than cold. That’s because your body’s reaction to cold has a bigger impact than to heat, especially in how it metabolizes calories. These temps are especially important to be able to shed layers, or at least unzip. 

Head: Buff or thing cap to cover ears
Core: Base layer, long sleeve jersey, wind vest or jacket

Legs: Knee Warmers or leg warmers

Hands: Thermal gloves

Feet: Shoe covers

40 to 50 degrees. Just a normal ride, right? This one is easy, as you have probably been riding and training in these conditions for a few weeks. Stick with what has worked best for you and resist changing things up too much. 

Head: Just a helmet!

Core: Short sleeve base layer, long sleeve jersey or short sleeve with arm warmers

Legs: Bibs, knee warmers optional

Hands: Thermal or normal gloves

Feet: Normal shoes with covers optional

Final note: Remember, there’s more to the forecast than just looking at the daily high temperature. Odds are that you won’t be riding when the day finally gets warm. Check the weather for Kalkaska, not Traverse City, and look at the overnight low. This time of the year, mornings are at their coldest just as riders arrive at the start venue, so bring plenty of clothing to warm up in!

2019 Iceman Cometh Challenge: Four Tips For Race Day

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Transfers are closed, the temperatures are cold, and we’re less than two weeks away from race day. The 30th Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge is almost here; are you ready?

Each year, we offer up just a few tips to be ready for the annual drag race from Kalkaska to Traverse City. To have a great day on the bike in these conditions, it takes a bit more planning and preparation than most events to make sure you’ve dotted the ‘t’s and crossed the ‘i’s...well, you know what we mean. We try to make this as Iceman-specific as possible, and we hope you find it useful. 

  1. Race Morning. The 2019 course features two notable changes. The first literally comes first. The new start venue at the Kalkaska Airport means parking, warming up, and taking off (ha!) all happen in the same space. If you’re lucky enough to have a friend dropping you off, remember that they can do so without going into the parking lot by heading west on Island Lake Road to the designated spot at the Snowmobile Clubhouse. From there, riders can stash a bag with the Penskes to be transported to Timber, and be within hearing-distance of the start line and quick-running distance of the PortaJohns. 

  2. Take-Off. The new start sends riders on a long, flat, fast loop of the airport. We’ve had a spy ride it, and it’s safe to say that it’s a lot harder than the old pavement rollout in town. This 1.5 mile loop sees some pavement, some gravel, but plenty of rough, power-sapping grass, too. With another half of a mile of two track and grassy terrain once you’re off the airport and onto state land, the war of attrition will have already started. Time your first push to move up about two minutes in; this will put you near the front with some fresh air and lines once across Island Lake Road. 

  3. Make It Stick. One of the toughest stretches of the race comes just after crossing Dockery and spilling down down the re-worked Water Bottle Hill Bypass. This one is a lot tougher than the numbers say; it’s really two climbs, and over the top, and open, sandy two-track that offers a prime spot to drop the hammer and put some daylight between yourself and a group. If there’s one segment on the course before the Vasa to star, it’s this one. It’s the perfect spot to ‘check in’, see how you’re feeling, who you’re riding with on the other side, and make a plan for the final half of the race. 

  4. Headwaters. Oh yeah, that other new thing? It’s right at the end. Headwaters, also known simply by its total distance to and from the Bartlett Road parking lot, “the 5k”, makes its first-ever appearance in the Iceman. The course uses all of the loop’s winding, up-and-down, serpentine presence along a ridge. After a punchy initial climb, it rolls on and on before finally spilling back down the 25km right at the base of yet another climb. In all, it adds just about 250 feet of elevation to the race, but when you add the additional 250 feet of climbing it takes to get to Timber Ridge and the finish, 500 feet, or 25% of the race’s total climbing, comes in the final 4 miles of the race! From Beginners to Pros, everyone will want to have just a little in the tank for this one part. 

As always, now is the time to address your mechanical issues. All bike shops get busy during race week, and you can save yourself a lot of stress by looking at that chain, fixing that creak, and refreshing your tubeless setup now and not the night before the race! Best of luck, and get in here for expert service and local tips!

Up Next: Peak2Peak Is October 19!


It’s been a hectic, busy start to October, but nothing is going to stop us from making an appearance at Peak2Peak. 

We’re slowly making the big move from Union Street to Eighth Street, and we really appreciate everyone who has stopped by to say hello! The new space is really coming together, and over the next few weeks, we’ll have everything situated. That’s going to be key, because so many of our friends and customers are gearing up for two of the biggest races of the year, Peak2Peak and the Iceman Cometh Challenge. 

Peak2Peak isn’t a spring chicken. While it boldly proclaimed itself a ‘fall classic’ from Day One, it earned that title very early on in its 14-year history. It’s a winning recipe; gorgeous fall colors, a challenging course, and nearly perfect timing for riders looking to be in top shape ahead of Iceman Cometh Challenge. Once, it was considered a tune-up race; now, it’s a very prestigious event in its own right, welcoming some of the best riders in the Midwest like Brian Matter, Jorden Wakeley, Cole House, and more. 

For every level of rider, there’s a good distance for you to race. Choose from one, two, or three ten-mile laps, and get ready for the decisive part of the course. From Sport up to Elite, each lap is punctuated with an ascent of the ski hill. With a sharp, steep hill at the base, it’s a long, long drag to the top. This is where the race is one and lost; for even the fastest riders, it’s a solid four minutes of climbing, while most take closer to eight minutes to make it to the summit! 

Fall is all about keeping going; against the cold, against the rain, against the short days and darkness, races like Peak2Peak are what keep us all motivated. Get yourself signed up and committed and we’ll see you at beautiful Crystal Mountain Resort on Saturday, October 19! 

City Bike Shop Is On The Move!

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We’re on the move! It’s been an incredibly busy few months. With a gorgeous September, you guys put in some BIG miles and kept us on our toes with service and ordering up some sweet new bikes for fall. Behind the scenes, we reduced our footprint into a smaller space on Union Street and started work on reshaping the new store at 747 E. Eighth Street to be everything we’ve ever wanted. 

In spending a lot of time in our new neighborhood, we’ve already picked up some really cool perks to the new location. First, the all-new Eighth Street is ready! Getting across town is going to be easier than ever, and more bike and pedestrian friendly than ever. The City of Traverse City and the all the people involved in crafting a better Eighth Street corridor have done an awesome job in realizing the potential this area has to serve as more than just a road. The new look really makes it feel like a part of the neighborhoods and businesses that call it home. 

Second, the neighbors are pretty great. Located just across the street from McLain Cycle and Fitness and Brick Wheels, we’re making East Eighth Street the go-to destination for cyclists. In a world where there are over two dozens types and widths of bottom bracket, a dozen different hub spacings, and ever-increasing compatibility issues, if you can’t find what you need with us, somebody on the block is going to make it happen! Local bike shops aren’t rivals; it’s going to take all of us to keep cyclists’ business local in the face of online shopping, and one of the biggest perks of being close together is that we offer more options, more inventory, and more help than the whole world wide web combined, and service to boot. We can’t wait to schedule some block parties next summer! 

Third, Potter’s Bakery is a block away. If you need same-day emergency service, nothing motivates a mechanic more than a doughnut. 

As we make the transition over, we hope you can make an effort to stop by and see the new space as it comes together. It’s going to be just a bit of a work in progress for the first week or so, but we’ll make sure we offer the same great service and same awesome bikes you’ve come to expect from City Bike Shop since 1955. We might be in a new ‘hood, but we’re still crankin’!

City Bike Shop Racing Heads To Bear Claw Epic

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We’re headed south for the fifth edition of the Bear Claw Epic! 

Our racing team has some pretty good priorities. Being a mountain biker is tough enough; there’s only so much time in the day, and between work, family, and training, finding time to travel for races isn’t always easy. Our crew does an amazing job managing that balance and by prioritizing the right events to support. One of the top events they refuse to miss? The Bear Claw Epic

Five years ago, Bear Claw Epic saw its first race and became the first Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association trail systems to host an event. The race directors, Michele Andrews and Dustin Webb, built a strong collaborative relationship with the Michigan DNR and laid out a plan; this race is going to support our trail and our community. The race was a huge success, and it’s grown every year since thanks to its incredible organization, a challenging course, and great support from racers, vendors, and sponsors. It’s just fun; there really aren’t many races like it. 

The event has raised money and, maybe even more importantly, a community around the trail that has generated more volunteers, sponsors, and added amenities. Over the past two years, the Cadillac Pathway has been approved to add eleven miles of new singletrack, built a new pavilion, added solar-powered lights to the parking lot, a bike rack, and more room to park, too. The Bear Claw Epic has played a bit role in adding those features and supporting them for the future. 

Of course, the race itself also benefits from a perfect spot in the calendar. Held in late September, it’s the ideal time for racers looking to be in peak shape ahead of the Iceman Cometh Challenge just over a month away. There’s more time to train, sure, but it’s a good look to see where you’re at before the biggest race of the year. The Cadillac Pathway is a sort of micro-Iceman, with laps instead of point-to-point. The course is rarely flat, but the climbs mimic the short one to two-minute efforts that really make or break riders at Iceman. 

City Bike Shop always sends a big crew south for the race and we’re wishing our crew the very best of luck on September 28! 

Interested in racing? Learn more about the course, the cause, and get yourself registered here.

The Devil Is In The Details: Three Parts To Check This Autumn


It’s mid-September and your gear has been taking a beating. Especially if you’re still looking ahead to the slew of fall races still to come, we’ve got three maintenance tips even the most experienced cyclists forget to check all season long. 

For many riders, the season isn’t even close to being over. With the Leelanau Harvest Tour in the bag, we’ve still got a dozen or so mountain bike and gravel races to choose from across the state. Even the Iceman Cometh Challenge isn’t the last chance to be competitive; the Farmland 5K and Free-For-All Bike Race is another month after that! 

If you’re like us, you’ve been riding hard since the snow melted. You’ve certainly made a few repairs or tweaks, and we’ve probably even had you stop by for a tune-up. There are a few small things that Nate, Jeff, and Dustin always like to check this time of year, and even if you can’t make it in right away, you can check them out at home. 

All Things Pedals. Depending on your pedal system, there can actually be a ton of moving parts to clipless pedals. From the pedal spindle to play in the pedal body, every millimeter of this crucial contact point is subject to all of your power output. Take a second to feel the pedal for side-to-side play, and spin it to make sure it rotates smoothly. Listen fo a grinding or dry sound; if you hear that, you may need to service your pedals. It’s also worth looking at the springs that offer resistance to keep you clipped in. If those springs are rusted, they’re much more likely to snap or offer more play than usual. Worst case, they snap and your foot comes out! That additional float can also cause knee and ankle problems if they become too tight or too loose. 

  1. Grease Your Bottom Bracket. If you don’t know the last time someone inspected your bottom bracket, it’s time you inspected your bottom bracket. There are a dozen variations of BBs, with some more likely to squeak or bind than others. The biggest factors in wearing out these bearings aren’t time or miles; most often, the conditions you ride in dictate how long they last. Riding on wet, sandy, or muddy days can have a big impact on wear. Take your chain off the chain ring and give your cranks a spin; much like your pedals, a grinding sound or quick stop means your BB is probably dry. You can also give your cranks a sort of push-pull to feel for lateral play in the bottom bracket. If it moves at all, you need service. 

    Valve cores. Really, your whole tubeless system probably needs to be looked over. With a valve core tool, check to make sure your valves are still tight. Months of airing up can change how they fit in the valve itself. Additionally, the sealant at the base of the valve core can build up, making it harder to pump in air. Shake your wheel and listen for the slosh of sealant; if you don’t hear anything, your tires are dried out and need more juice. 

This time of year, it’s all about the little things. Taking extra care of your bike will help to avoid disappointed mechanicals on race day, and make sure you’re not stranded on the trail when things get cold, soggy, and a bit darker. We can offer you a free estimate and let you know what your bike needs to keep rolling. Stop in for September tune-up and ride into autumn with confidence!

Meet Your New Best Friend: A Faster Iceman with the Thunderburt


Folks, there’s no denying it. It’s Iceman season, and we’re helping riders gear up for the biggest events of fall with the right gear. 

The two biggest races of fall are Peak2Peak and the Iceman Cometh Challenge. For so many riders in northern Michigan, the two events are really the pinnacle of the season. We’ve had all summer to rack up miles, we’ve put in a few efforts at races like Mud, Sweat and Beers, Traverse City Trails Festival and Glacial Hills, and we’ve dialed in our fitness to be in perfect shape for late October and early and November. Often, the difference between a good race and a great one is the gear. 

Tires are a big part of a solid race, and we’ve ridden a bit of everything over the years. One of the tires that we just keep coming back to is the Schwalbe Thunderburt. Designed with minimal rolling resistance and weight, ‘Burts have been some of our go-to tires for a couple of years. At first glance, the dimpled, nearly smooth tread pattern does make some people nervous. As a rear tire, we’ve found that having your body weight over the tire is enough, and since both Peak2Peak and Iceman are almost entirely on sand, there isn’t much to worry about. 

Our favorite set-up is running Thunderburts front and rear, but there are some races where having a bit more bite up front makes sense. In that situation, we’ll often recommend going with a Rocket Ron, a tire with more tread and traction for handling in slick, wet conditions or tighter singletrack sections. 

The tire itself offers up a number of options, but nearly every one is lightweight. The Addix line-up in 2.25” comes in at a crazy-light 575 grams; the 2.1” width is only 515 grams! But lightweight isn’t the only reason to grab a Burt. According to bicyclerollingresistance.com it’s one of the fastest mountain bike tires on the market, only two spots behind the top tire, Schwalbe’s Big One. It offers up just 22.3 Watts, which isn’t far behind some low-end road tires!

The key to Thunderburts is getting some miles on them before race day, so get in now and put in some big rides. You’re going to notice a huge difference, both accelerating and once you’re laying down the power on Sand Lakes Road!

The Giant Summer Sale: Our Top Picks


The season is just getting started. We might have steamrolled into September, but we’ve still got a full schedule of rides and races on the horizon and, thanks to Giant and Liv, you’ve got a really good excuse to pick up a new bike. 

The Summer Sale is here, and you’ve got a few days left to check out bikes on sale. There are some killer deals on the sale sheet, and to make it easier for you, we picked out three of the best deals. Like what you see? Call us and we’ll get the bike ordered up for you! We typically see bikes in the shop in 5 days, which means you’ll have a leg over the top tube in no time. 

Full Suspension Racer and Shredder: This is a bike we’ve loved since spring. The Giant Anthem 1 NX Eagle is a killer build for anyone who spends all day weaving together mile after mile of singletrack, but still wants to hit the start line at races like Bear Claw Epic and Iceman Cometh Challenge. A tough, lightweight aluminum frame offers up a sturdy platform on 27.5” wheels; ride width rubber for shredding and 2.25”s for race day! The huge gear ratio with SRAM Eagle 12 speed means you’ll never run out of gears here in northern Michigan, and 130mm travel means you’ve got all day comfort, too. Throw in a dropper and 25% off, and you have a bike that’s probably the best deal of the sale! 

Gravel Grinder: The Giant Revolt 2 is the best bang-for-your-buck in the world of gravel, and now it’s an even better deal. Need a bike to rack up road miles, hit the gravel race scene, and explore a mix of pavement, singletrack, and gravel on every ride? Here you go. Take advantage of D-Fuse technology on the handlebars and seatpost for a smooth ride quality, plus massive 45c tire clearance to tackle the sandpits that make up some of the most challenging parts of gravel riding. With 50x34 gearing up front, you’ve got the range to stick your nose in the wind at 30+ and still climb up rocky, loose trails. It might be the most versatile bike Giant bikes, and one of the best-spec’d bikes for the kind of riding most folks will do with it. Through the end of the week, it’s 15% off! 

Get Between The Tape: It’s cyclocross season! The Giant TCX SLR 2 is the perfect bike for the privateer racer. Bomb-proof aluminum frame, SRAM Apex 1 drivetrain, tubeless ready wheels, and hydraulic brakes that make even the most challenging ‘cross courses manageable. If you’re new to cyclocross, this is a great option to get something new, modern, and up for the circuit this fall. There’s a big difference between gravel and cyclocross geometry, and it will only take a lap for you to feel it. 

Give us a call; we can help you size up the right bike and look at everything Giant and Liv have on sale. Stop in and see us; we have a couple of these bikes in stock right now!