Indoor Cycling Etiquette

As the snow begins to fall and we retreat into garages, basements, and to indoor cycling studios, it’s probably a good time to catch up on indoor cycling etiquette. Even as Zwift takes over the world, you may be tempted to take a class at a local studio or even an elite training facility to take your fitness to a new level. The change from training in your own pain cave to riding stationarily with others can be a great change of pace, bringing about a fun, social aspect to training, and help you stave off the seasonal affect disorder that makes you curl into a ball and sob when the sun goes down at 4pm. But there’s a huge difference between training in your own home and riding with others. Here’s an etiquette refresher and a little incentive to give riding nowhere with other people a try.

  1. Keep Your Shirt On: For real. Dudes, when you’re riding with others at a studio, keep your righteous chizzled six-pack in the cooler. Yeah, it’s warm and you’re sweaty. Sure, some dudes might go shirtless in the hot yoga studio. But that’s yoga. They have their chakras lined up and you just have shaved legs. In cycling, no one wants to see a pale, hairy, heaving midsection in the classroom mirror for an hour. Keep your shirt on for the entire duration of the class.
  2. No Perfume or Cologne, YES Deodorant: This is one that can be tough since many folks are coming to the studio after work. But to the best of your ability, try to not wear fragrance to your cycling class. When they’re breathing hard and their heart rate is super high, the last thing an athlete wants to inhale is the intense, pungent aroma of the latest Chanel perfume or Axe body spray. It goes without saying that you certainly shouldn’t apply a fragrance before going into class. But don’t skip deodorant. BO can have the same impact as a fragrance, so keep those pits topped up with Old Spice.
  3. Keep Your Phone in Your Locker: You’re taking an hour out of your day to focus on your fitness and becoming a healthier person. But it’s really difficult to focus on those things if you’re checking Facebook every few minutes. If you’re on-call for work, sure. Bring your phone in. But watching Murder, She Wrote on Netflix is distracting to other people in the class and takes away from your focus for what you came in for and what you’re working on; yourself.
  4. Don’t Distract Others: Some people take indoor cycling more seriously than others. At Yen, we have a really laid back atmosphere with people from every point on the fitness scale, and a plethora of different fitness goals. Which, to be honest, is really cool and refreshing. But just because someone is chatty before class doesn’t mean they’re not there to empty their proverbial tank when the lights go down and the latest Cardi B track gets turned up. When the class gets going, try to keep the chatting to a few wisecracks and maybe some words of encouragement to your neighbor. Catching up with Susie about her new pool boy is best saved for Happy Hour after class, not when you’re wrapping up a tough interval.
  5. Don’t Judge: We’re all at a different part of our journey, man. For some, just getting the gumption to show up to an indoor cycling class with a group of fit, spandex-clad strangers is a huge, intimidating step. Hell, just sitting on a bicycle seat for the first time in a decade and being able to stay on there for an hour is an accomplishment in and of itself. So, sure. You race Iceman every year and have like six whole KOMs around northern Michigan. But the new guy/gal is going to push themselves just as hard as you do for the full 60 minutes of class, and everyone is going to walk out the same level of tired. And no one gets dropped. Indoor cycling is unique that no matter what; fast or slow, fit or less fit, everyone leaves class as equals in pretty much every way since everyone is pretty much completely toast. And that’s pretty damn cool.

Make sure you mix things up this winter and give indoor cycling a try. It’s a pretty refreshing experience for even the most experienced veteran. Just do everyone a favor and keep your shirt on.

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2018 Was a Heck of a Ride: Thank You

As 2018 winds down, we took a little time to think back to this year’s bike riding adventures. To put it plainly, it’s been a helluva year. From racing Barry-Roubaix, Mud, Sweat and Beers, and Arcadia Grit n’ Gravel in the spring to wrapping up the competitive season at Iceman, our little cast of kolo characters have been part of some really fun events and have got to hang out with some awesome human beings.

Sure, our little club had some great results at races across the state, but we were just as thrilled with what we got to be part of when the clock wasn’t running and there were no $3 medals up for grabs. Last winter, we partnered with Yen Yoga & Fitness to do an indoor cycling ride to raise a few hundred bucks for Michigan Youth Opportunities Initiative, which had a huge turnout consisting of Yen’s community and people who had never been to the studio before. In fact, Yen was generous enough to allow us to host spandex-clad fundraisers for groups like Norte, Food Rescue Northern Michigan, the NMC Foundation, and others, all winter long. Our incredibly generous group of sponsors also enabled us to support two scholarships for the Varsity bike team for Norte; one for the spring and one for the fall.

In September, we got ride our bikes for raise over $1,200 for LESS CANCER. We had almost 50 people show up for the ride that started and finished at Breakaway Cafe & Coffee Bar. Letting a bunch of sweaty people in spandex loiter at your restaurant while eating birthday cake isn’t just generous, it’s a little brave if you ask me. But Breanne and Tuna didn’t blink and opened up their cafe with open arms.

What we’re trying to get at here is we owe a lot of people a whole lot of gratitude. Without the generous support of Yen Yoga & Fitness, Velo City Cycles, Alfie Logo Gear, Taproot Cider House, and Breakaway Cafe, we would never have been able to do our thing of helping our community in so many ways. There were also so many excellent individuals who helped out, too. Thank you to each and every one of you who donated time, money, and energy for our fundraising rides over the last year. Your attendance at these rides was appreciated more than you’ll know. We want to have an engaged, active community and that doesn’t happen unless we all come together to get involved. Thank you.

Finally, a shoutout to everyone who rocked their kolo kits in 2018 and helped us do our thing in our community. Tim Bottrell, Dan Ellis, Tom Jewell, Bryan Ellenbaas, Gary Chastain – thank you for repping the black, red, and yellow with so much enthusiasm and for being excellent human beings.

As we start thinking about our plans for 2019, we hope to make a bigger impact on our community, on youth cycling in TC and across the state, and we want to have a darn good time while doing it. If you’re more concerned with what you can give back to our sport and community than what you can get out of it, we sure want to help you help us and get you involved. Until then, be excellent to each other and we’ll see you on indoor trainers!

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Christmas Services: up.bike + Dirt Church on December 23

Christmas Ride

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Your house is decorated, your in-laws are in town, the kids are having meltdowns on sugar cookies and candy canes, and your AmEx is maxed out. You need a bike ride.

And Dirt Church is offering you something extra-special (and without sugar plums) on Sunday, December 23. Spend Christmas Eve Eve at the Vasa Supply Road Parking lot for special holiday services with a bit of extra spice from up.bike. Mike, Dan, and the guys will have their famous #AdventureHub pulled up and loaded up with coffee, cookies, and all their stuff to make your morning and spirits bright.

The regular Church service will start at 9am, with a 90-120 minute fat bike ride taking off in two very different groups. The Flagellants will be going fast; you will almost certainly get dropped, and spend a few miles soul-searching solo, at least for a little while. The Penitents will offer a no-drop, more forgiving ride, with a roughly 60 minute ride time to hit most of the Winter Sports Trail.

We’ve got a special challenge for you, too. To celebrate the fact that the WST isn’t just for fat bikes, we’re looking to get everyone to ski or snowshoe, too. Ride for 30 minutes, and either ski or snowshoe for 30 minutes, and you’ll get a special code from up.bike for a #HOTT deal on a Fat Wheelie Mount or Gondola of your choice.

One of the coolest things we’ve got cooking in northern Michigan is the plethora of options for having fun during the winter. We’re hoping to help highlight just a few options to mix in with your Zwiftin’ and BEEin’ from November through March. Get inside. Get outside. Just get moving.

The event is, of course, always free. You will not be required to sing Christmas carols, but hey, go ahead if you want.

Deets? They’re right here.

Iceman 2018: A Recap and Reflection

Writing a recap for a race with 400 riders is one thing, but how can you accurately describe what happened in a race with over 4,000 spandex warriors taking part? It’s not exactly an easy thing to do. There are 4,000 different versions of a single race; some stories of triumph, some of disappointment, some stories of just wanting to get the line for a Two Hearted and a brat in a pretzel bun. All stories worth reading and sharing, especially the brat and pretzel bun one. Below you’ll find a very brief overview of some of the fastest races of the day, but it certainly doesn’t mean that anyone’s race was any less important. From everyone at kolo, we want to congratulate every single person who threw their helmet into the ring and took on the Iceman Cometh Challenge.

Pro Men

When Geoff Kabush posted on the ‘gram he was taking on Iceman astride a CX rig, a few eyebrows were raised at the decision. However, it wasn’t as crazy of an idea as some people may have thought. Many have used drop bars to great effect at Icemans past, including our very own Cody Bear; he rode the Pro race last year on his 3T. Riding a cross bike at Iceman is one thing, but winning on one is something entirely different. Could the crazy Canuck pull it off?

If there was a year for a drop bar bike, 2018 was it. A gravel road replaced the oft-sandy two tracks that create havoc the first few miles of the race in most editions, and even the trails in the woods were packed tight from a perfect blend of rain and tire traffic. As Kabush and Michigan’s own Alexey Vermeulen broke away from the front of the Pro field, the two-time Canadian CX Champ had just enough in the tank to hold off Vermeulen to successfully defend his win from 12 months ago. Brian Matter, racing his 25th Iceman, took third to capture yet another podium to go along with his four wins. Canadian MTB National Champ Peter Disera came away with a very impressive fourth place in his first attempt at Iceman, with Ben Sonntag from Durango, CO cracking into the last podium spot.

Just behind the rock stars of the American cycling scene, Michigan riders had a hell of a day. Grayling’s Jordan Wakeley took 13th, with the Pride of Suttons Bay, Braiden Voss taking 20th – and I don’t think the kid is old enough to vote yet. Braiden finished just ahead of the legendary Jeff Owens, who probably smiled and gave out compliments to riders the entire 28-mile race. Kolo founder, Cody Sovis, finished a very fast 33rd, with kolo rider Dan “Hottest Dad of 2018” Ellis taking home a very impressive 41st.

A special shoutout to Leadout’s Dan and Keegan Korienek. It was really something special to see father and son finish the pro race together, and doing so at the pointy-end of affairs, no less. I can’t imagine how proud Dan was to see Keegan’s years of hard work pay off with a spectacular 26th place finish.

Pro Women

It was a small women’s field, but what it lacked in quantity, it more than made up for in quality. Choosing a likely winner seemed almost impossible prior to the race, with folks choosing American Chloe Woodruff to repeat, others touting a win for former World Champion Catharine Pendrel. We also had people saying with conviction that Sofia Gomez Villafane, the Argentinian National Champ and Utah resident, was going to bring her serious CX speed to TC for the win. Amy Beisel was also tipped to be up front, and local favorite Kaitlyn Patterson is always a threat.

About halfway through the race, there was a decisive split in the field that defined the rest of the day. Woodruff, Pendrel, Gomez-Villafane, Beisel and Patterson made the split, leaving Traverse City’s big hope, Susan Vigland and Megan Doerr, chasing relentlessly from behind. Rachel Langdon rode on in no-man’s land, refusing to drop back to the group behind or give up on regaining the lead group.

Coming into Timber Ridge, Woodruff held a slender advantage over Pendrel and her Stan’s NoTubes teammate, Gomez-Villafane. As Woodruff pressed her advantage, Gomez-Villafane played her role of teammate perfectly, jumping Pendrel on the last climb into Timber to make it a perfect 1-2 for Stan’s Notubes-Pivot Cycles. Kaitlyn Patterson may have gotten the biggest applause of the day as she rolled in for fourth, with Amy Beisel maintaining her charge to the line to finish a very strong 5th.

Wave 1

With the course changes, the start of the race has never been more important as it turned out to be in 2018. Wave 1 is always quick, but the gaps formed in the first few miles of the race became race-defining for most of the day. A group of twelve or so of the fastest dudes around got away early, with Josh Zelinski and Dave “Sunset” Scott doing the lion’s share of the work to keep the front group away. Among that group was Virginia’s Ryan Beurman, who may have not been recognizable to others in the first group, but they’d remember him by the end of the day.

In the second group, Jon Zelinski did what he could to keep the chasers moving, without eating too much into his brother’s group’s lead. The second group on the road was as big as 25 riders after Dockery Rd, easily twice its normal size. At Broomhead, the gap to the group was a minute and a half. By Williamsburg, it was two minutes. There was simply no matching the pace of the front group, even with prodding accelerations by M22’s John O’Hearn and others. As the groups broke up over the final climbs of the race, it was Buerman taking the Wave 1 win, just ahead of Grand Valley State Alumni (I had a class with him!) Colton Lock, with Sunset Scott, Nick Wierzba, and Dan Hofstra rounding out the podium.

A special shout-out to the Cross-Country Cycle’s Joe Lampen in the wave 1 field for giving me one of his bottles halfway through the race. I lost mine about two miles in, and I was starting to really bonk. The sporting gesture saved my race – thanks, Joe! I drank about half the bottle, then gave the rest to Brent Wiersema, who had lost his bottle early in the race too. Carbon bottle cages look cool and are super light, but I think I’m switching mine out for an old-school aluminum cage; ain’t no one ever lost a bottle out of one of those things.

At the end of the day, the results are very much second in importance to celebrating bikes, healthy lifestyles, the outdoors, and our cycling community. I know it’d be easy to hang up your bike and throw on your snuggie once it gets a bit chilly out, so thank you to everyone who kept on training to make the trip up to TC for our own spandex-heavy version of the Super Bowl. It’s such a thrill to share our trails, our town, and our community with people from all over the world who share the same passion for riding bikes as we do. Thank you for being part of it, and we really hope to see you all again next year.

To Steve Brown, his staff, and the army of volunteers that make the Iceman happen, thank you so much for letting us feel like champions every November. Your work is appreciated more than we could ever say.

Until Iceman 2019, enjoy every ride.

kolo t.c. is a blog about amateur bike racing and amateur bike racers. Follow us on Instagram, FB, and join our Strava club.

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What to Expect When You’re Expecting (to Race Your First Iceman)

Whether someone talked you into it or you set the race as a fitness goal to build towards all summer long, it’s finally here. The Iceman Cometh has cameth. Er, arrived. If this is your first Iceman rodeo, it can seem super overwhelming and daunting. We wanted to help the newbies prepare for their first Iceman with some tips and tricks that we’ve learned over the years to help you and your buds have a fun time. After all, at the end of the day, it’s just a bunch of people wearing their spandex and riding bikes in freezing temps; here’s how to make sure your day in the woods with 4,500 new friends goes smoothly and safely.

Go to the Iceman Expo to Get Your Packet

On Friday, go to the expo to get your packet. Trust us. Picking your number plate up the day of the race is just another task added to an already hectic and rushed morning. Be sure to double-check that you get the right number plate – it’s not impossible to be given someone else’s on accident. It’s happened to me. The volunteers are working feverishly all day long, so a mistake is totally understandable; help them help you, man.

The other sweet thing about the SRAM Expo is all the vendors. If you forgot your gloves, your helmet, or maybe you want to upgrade to a new rocket ship the day before the race, the Expo will have it. And it’ll be cheap. Most vendors blow out their inventory at the Expo – I’m talking as much as 50% off clothes and gear. I once saw Kathleen Kerr leave the Expo with over 20 pairs of SockGuy socks for like $1.53 or something like that.

We’ll have a blog on the Expo itself next week. That’s how big of a deal it is.

Pack, Plan, and Prepare

Crucial to a positive Iceman experience are the 3 Ps; something I just made up. Before you go to bed, you should have everything you’re going to wear for the race laid out on the floor. You should also have everything you’ll need to eat and drink before and during the race, plus dry clothes for after. Again, avoiding stress the morning of the race is going to make your race so much more fun, and there’s nothing more annoying than showing up to Kalkaska missing your right mitten and racing in jeans because you left your bibs at home.

You should also know, by heart, which wave you’re in and when that wave takes off. You can check this info on the back of your number plate or on your Ice Society page. You need to get to Kalkaska with enough time to warm up and get into your wave without being rushed. If you want to be in the front row of your wave, you need to get lined up at least 30 minutes early – even earlier if you’re in the early waves. If you’re less concerned about getting in the front row, take the extra time to warm up and be ready to pass people early and often if you start at the back.

If you’re not on the front row and want to have a fast time, don’t panic! One of my best Iceman races ever had me starting on the back row of wave 2. Your fitness will show, for better or worse, no matter where you’re lined up.

#PROTIP: Plan your bowel movements to take place well before you arrive in Kalkaska. The porta-john seats are super cold in the morning. 

Race with Your Brain. And Your Legs.

Don’t forget, the race is about 30 miles long. Every year, I pass a ton of people who have completely blown up, with snot and spit hanging down their faces and staring 1,000 yards into another dimension of pain, and they’re only at Williamsburg Road. That’s a tough place to blow up, since the longest, most challenging hills are yet to come, and these riders are already buckled. It’s easy to get carried away by adrenaline and excitement at the start of the race, but it’s crucial to know your fitness. You should constantly be asking yourself, “Can I do this effort all the way to the finish?” If you quickly answer yes, go faster. If it’s a hard no, ease up. The ideal answer to this question? “Maybe?”

The race can get a little backed up in the singletrack sections, but don’t freak out. Every wave is going to deal with a brief slow-down in the tight stuff. You need to be ready to pass the second the course opens up. And if someone wants to go around you, let them. Then hop on their wheel and save your energy. You’re going to have a much faster race by cooperating with the riders around you versus if you piss them off. Play the game and you’ll all go faster.

This is a pretty simple overview, I know. But hopefully, it drives home the point of planning ahead, being prepared, and minimizing your stress before the race. Having your head in the right place before the gun goes off means you’re starting with a figurative head start.

See you all at the finish, and bring your I.D. so you can celebrate with some Bell’s.

kolo t.c. is an amateur blog about even more amateurish bike racing. Follow us on Insta, FB, and join our Strava Club. If you really like clicking on things, click on the DONATE button for our friends at the Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association.