If you think the election is the only thing that’s on tap in early November, think again.
The iceman mountain bike race–billed as the Midwest’s best–cometh again, to Traverse City, today.
Bell’s Brewery, the largest craft brewery based in Michigan, is title sponsor. Held each year on the first Saturday in November, participants of the 2011 Bell’s Beer Iceman Cometh Challenge, presented by Trek, is a 29-mile mountain bike adventure from Kalkaska to Traverse City, Michigan.
The course takes riders through the hardwood forests, meadows, sandy reaches and cross-country ski trails of the Pere Marquette State Forest. Iceman events will welcome athletes from two to 72 years old from 38 different states.
An estimated 7,500 spectators will line the course to catch the excitement of as the competitors roll along the trail.
“Bell’s is thrilled to lend its name to this season ending, iconic, Michigan race and is excited to continue its long standing policy of supporting cycling in the Great Lakes region,” stated Larry J. Bell, President and Founder of Bell’s Brewery, Inc. based in Comstock, Mich.
Bell began brewing beer 25 years ago in a 15-gallon soup kettle. Today Bell’s Brewery is one of the few craft breweries in the nation to remain under original ownership. Bell’s produces some 170,000 barrels of beer each year and distributes its products to 18 states.
Recently, Larry Bell announced a $52 million expansion over the next five years targeted toward meeting consumer demand and a multi-year trend of 20 percent growth annually.
The Iceman race is unique due to the unpredictable weather that occurs in northern Michigan during November. It could be 55 degrees and sunny or it could be 20 degrees and snowy like it was last year.
Starting in downtown Kalkaska, the trail consists of paved roads, dirt roads, two tracks (the majority of the course), abandoned railroad beds, and the world famous Vasa Nordic ski trail. Approximately 29 miles long, the course crosses only one paved road as it winds through the breath taking terrain of the Pere Marquette State Forest in Northwestern Lower Michigan. Course highlights include “Steve’s Secret”, “Lombard’s Luge,” “Cassle Cliffs,” and “Ice Breaker” (the last hill to climb).
The finish line at Timber Ridge Resort & RV Campground, just east of Traverse City, will be a welcome sight to all Icemen and Icewomen. The course can be best described as a road race on dirt.
“Iceman Promotions, Inc. is absolutely thrilled to have a Michigan-based company with the quality reputation of Bell’s Beer as the title sponsor of the Iceman,” said Steve Brown, Event Director.
“Since the Bell’s Beer Iceman is the “unofficial” end of the riding season, the post-race celebration, featuring Bellís Beer, is as important as the race itself for most of the riders!
The Bellís Beer Iceman weekend kicks off with the Ice Cycle Expo on Friday, Nov. 4, from noon until 9 p.m. at Grand Traverse Resort & Spa.
In addition to the Bell’s Beer Iceman, the Meijer Slush Cup features a half-frozen eight-mile event for beginning racers, and the Meijer Sno-Cone event, for riders under the age of 12 offers a chance for future world champions to experience the thrill mountain bike racing.
The Meijer Slush Cup course jumps onto the Vasa Trail just southeast of Timber Ridge and follows the 25 K ski trail east to the Vasa 10K trail. Utilizing the southern portion of the 10K, the trail turns north & east before it merges with the Bell’s Iceman course at the Ice Station Zebra feed station.
At Ice Station Zebra, the course turns west and begins the trek back to Timber Ridge Resort. Climbing Icebreaker Hill is always the biggest challenge for Slush Cuppers but upon getting to the top, riders know it is not far too the finish line.
The Bell’s Beer Iceman is widely regarded as the premier mountain bike event in the Midwest and is the largest single-day race in the country. Sanctioned by USA Cycling, The Bell’s Beer Iceman boasts a $52,000 cash purse with $30,000 reserved for professional cyclists.
For more information on the 22nd Annual Bell’s Beer Iceman Cometh Challenge, visit Iceman Promotions online at www.iceman.com or www.bellsbeer.com.