So after my inaugural Iceman experience last year (2:07 finish) I was excited for my second installment. Since I would now be in a seeded wave, didn't have a messed up knee and still had a reasonable amount of fitness, I was excited to see what kind of time I could put down (depending on course changes/conditions I was hoping for a 10+ min improvement). So I tuned up my bike, checking almost everything and was ready to rock.
I spent the night at Bob's house on his couch to save some time in the morning. Race morning I was surprisingly up and awake immediately,rather than my normal morning "zombie" state. The weather cold as usual (28 degrees on the drive over), completely overcast and reports of "measurable snow" on the ground in TC. Being a Northern Michigan native and ex-cross country runner the weather was...perfect. I think I wore fewer clothes than 95% of the other racers; bib knickers, long sleeve jersey, headband and wind proof long finger gloves. I did a decent warm up and made my way to the start line; keeping warm with a "disposable" sweatshirt. I was Wave 7; start time 9:18AM. From my experience last year I knew how hard everyone went out at the start. I also knew I was in better shape and wanted to be at or near the front of my wave. As the horn went off I was stuck mid pack, but as things opened up in the first quarter mile, I comfortably made my way near the front of the group. The pavement ended, two track started and I was going comfortably hard and feeling good.
There was little traffic, lots of room and I was with a loose group of 6-8 people. I moved up on some small climbs and was feeling good to "put it out there" for a good result. I began to notice a grumble from my bike and I thought maybe my quick release was loose. The grumbling was getting worse. I couldn't see anything specifically wrong but was getting a bad feeling. Suddenly there was a terrible grinding and my left pedal became free floating in the 6 o'clock position. Choice words were uttered and I knew my race was probably done. So I tried to pedal along for a few seconds with mild, awkward success and then pulled over to see if I could figure out what the issue was. Slightly low on oxygen to the brain I could tell my crank was busted, but couldn't deduce the details. I didn't have a multi-tool and just started beating on it to try and engage whatever was broken back together. It was not a very scientific approach.
As most of the riders in my wave past my broken bike on the side of the trail, me going no where, I decided the best bet was to hop back on my bike, get to the next intersection and try and find a volunteer with some tools. So I was pedaling with one foot, while getting passed by other riders. I'm sure it was a sight to see. After only couple minutes of riding I got to some volunteers. After some more frustration I finally got my crank arms off. I have a Specialized crank, which is splined in the center and has a fixing bolt embedded in it, which required a full length torx bit to fix. Apparently it came loose. Needless to say I wasn't going to find that tool from anyone on course. Thus my Iceman was over less than 5 miles in. I hadn't really even started sweating and I hadn't even drank out of my water bottle. It was disappointing to say the least.
At this point I hadn't been generating any body heat for a good 15 minutes and was starting to shiver. A kind volunteer let me sit in his truck, with the heat on as I waited for the "extraction vehicle." I loaded my bike up in the extraction truck and was driven to a gas station where I was transferred to a van with another DNF racer. As we drove toward Traverse City we encountered snow and the landscape turned white. The first real snow of the year! A nice addition to my second (but first unplanned ) DNF in any (non-skiing) race. Obviously I was disappointed in my $15+/mile 2012 Iceman, however I was also grateful I didn't DNF via wrecking myself. While I wanted to perform well, it's not like the Iceman is an A race for the season anyway. Lesson learned: I will now add checking my crank bolts to my bike check prior to racing.
But the rest of the day was not a waste. I hung out and watched some other No Boundaries crew finish. I didn't feel I'd "earned" any beers, but had a couple anyway. But I did go for a nice trail run when I got home to get rid of some pent up frustration and energy. I even threw down a solid timed mile mid-run. Just another learning experience in my athletic career.