McKenna Dwyer – Iceman: November 5, 2016

Coming into the race I probably didn’t get all the training that I needed to, but I was still in better shape then I was about two weeks ago. I haven’t won a race since I shined at the Copper Harbor Trails Festival and I was hoping to end the season on a high note. For those of you who don’t know what Iceman is it’s a point to point race starting in Kalkaska, MI and ending in Traverse City, MI. The race is approximately 30 miles give or take depending on the year and the conditions of the race are in the name. This year, we all lucked out seeing that it was 60 degrees and we could all race in our normal kits and not be cold. This year I feel like I have really struggled mentally because I let my mind get to me making me too nervous before a race. I really want to figure this out for next year but for right now, I learned I had to deal with it until the season was done. The day before the race we got out and rode the last few miles of the course and we already knew there was going to be record breaking times on this course. I felt prepared and was focusing just on my race and having fun and not making it too competitive.

The day of the race we drove the half hour drive down to the race and on the way I decided to watch Peaking: UCI World Cup – 72 Hours with Jenny Rissveds for some motivation and inspiration. I got to the venue and tried to take some beet juice but as you know, having something you don’t like the taste of plus nerves never works out and I puked half of it back up. This has also been something I’ve struggled with this year. I just did some casual warm ups seeing that I don’t need to do any thing to crazy since it’s a long race. We watched the older boys go off and then we lined up and per usual I was being myself on the start line and cracking jokes because it’s what I do when I’m nervous. The race started off casual as we quickly broke the group down to five riders. We switched off pulling and drafting except for one girl who sat on the back and never pulled. About six miles into the race coming out of a short single track section my chain came off and I had to watch that lead group pull away from me. As I struggled to get my chain back on, I counted 30 seconds go by and got on my bike and thought in my head “now I have to go.” Thanks to Nathan Guerra and Vision’s training I knew I would have to use one of my 20 minute efforts from training to close a 30 second gap that seems so small but really has an effect on your body. Of course where my chain came off ended up being the spot where all the climbing started. I struggled to get up the climbs by myself with no help and quickly got pretty tired but knew I just had to get to that lead group to catch a break. I kept pushing until another racer informed me that a group of four girls just went by a few seconds ago, I was closing the gap. Luckily, I just got out on to the road section that was super fast and I put the power down and that group came into view. When this sort of thing happens in a race and the racer comes so close to contact with a lead group it motivates them more and this happened, but they knew I was coming. Once they were in my sights it probably from there still took me 10 minutes to catch up to them. Once I finally caught up we were coming up to the half way point of the race and one of the girls who was a road racer knew I just put in a huge effort to catch up and of course she decided to attack and one rider went with her. After they started their attack my friend Katy passed me and started chasing after them. The girl who hadn’t done any pulling fell pff the back quickly and it was the two girls who pulled away from Katy and me and then it was Katy just 20 feet ahead. Soon that effort started to kick in and Katy pulled away from me. This was all so disappointing to me because I feel like I would’ve been able to go with those two girls if my chain wouldn’t of came of so it’s always frustrating. Knowing that I’ve beaten all the three girls who were ahead of me in previous years was also disappointing but it helps me learn what I did right and wrong. Almost the whole year hasn’t gone well for me and any race I have felt super good in I usually then end up having a mechanical. It had been an off year for me and I hope to recover and come back stronger next year mentally and physically.

I pushed pretty hard for the rest of the race just trying to beat the times of the older girls to get on the overall podium. Honestly, I felt really good in the race and was proud of my body’s improvement over the past two weeks compared to the last couple of NICA races. I got to one of the final climbs and saw my dad who was telling me to push it on the last hill so I of course hammered it up the hill with everyone cheering. I came into the exciting finishing area and was disappointed I couldn’t hold up the three from winning three years in a row but right now I just wanted to place overall. I came through and after about an hour figured out I just made the overall podium getting fifth place overall.

I learned so much form all my failures this year and know what I need to try to key in on for next year. Thank you to Nathan Guerra, Vision Cycling, my family, my friends, and all other supporters and sponsors for helping me make it through this year. This year was definitely tough on me but that’s what makes improving so much fun.

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