Sunday, November 05, 2006

Where's the Ice, Man?

The Iceman cameth and wenteth yesterday. In spite of all the weather forecasts predicting multiple inches of snow, the race course conditions were almost perfect. No snow on the ground and the previous days' small snow had melted which helped to firm up the sand. The sand pits were still around, just not as many perhaps. The weather was cold and cloudy with light snow falling later in the race.

Between the Kalkasa to Traverse City Iceman race and the shorter Slush Cup race held near the finish, almost 2500 racers had signed up to compete. Or at least ride, as the end of the year event brings out many for whom this may be the only event they do all year. In my class alone there were 123 finishers.

Once again I had set up the Hammer Nutrition tent at the expo the day before the race and this year my son flew in from Montana to man the booth and offer expert advice on the Hammer products as well as race the next day. The booth was pretty busy all day and it was tiring being on your feet most of the day and talking to people. Not exactly the best way to prepare for a race.

I decided at the last minute to take advantage of the Cannondale rep's offer to test race the new Caffeine 29'er that will be available later this year. The 29'er market is expanding and seemed to have a large following of users to the extent that it almost seems like a cult. The 29'er with larger wheels is supposed to make riding a lot better.

I had never ridden a 29'er before so I thought this would be a great way to test out what everyone had been saying about them. The bike worked great in the sand, able to roll over most sections where others were floundering. I was able to keep traction on the hills that others were walking. It also handled the two small sections of singletrack much better than I anticipated.

The bike in stock form is a little portly for serious racing, probably coming in around 29 pounds in the size large I used. I could feel the weight when accelerating and when climbing. I also had continued issues with the seatpost slipping using the quick release collar until I finally got out an Allen wrench and snugged it down without using the QR lever.

The race turned into more of a challenge than I had anticipated but in spite of my relatively poor performance compared to if I had been riding my own bike, but I still would have finished 10th in the Sport class so I'm glad I made the switch to Expert. I'm also glad to have had a chance to test ride the Cannondale. Thanks go to them for making it happen. Thanks also to all who stopped by the Hammer booth and said hello and/or bought product. It looks like we will be back again next year and sales were good enough that my son should be able to make the trip again.

The headless rider at the entrance to Timber Ridge Campground, at the finish.

With our "Booth Babe" Shari

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