To fully understand my elation post win this year you have to go back to 2021 as Cole and then Kerry and lastly Brian edged me out over the top of Icebreaker with about 30secs left to race…I thought I had that year won. I told myself I did. Taking chances isn’t just about betting on yourself, it’s about believing in yourself too; and being able to risk it again after what felt like a failure a year earlier. This year, unlike ‘18, ‘19 and ‘21, I had no plan, I wanted to race by gut feelings and instinct. No power meter, just speed and distance to go on my Wahoo - a reminder that the only thing that would tell me how I was feeling was ME! As I decided I was going to make the move with 12km to go, I found myself on the front and said why not? The pace had lulled a bit, I figured most people were waiting for the finish and I wanted to take my chance. Very luckily, a ripping Brayden Johnson came with me which sealed the deal.
Bike racing is consistently about relationships, without speaking in a matter of seconds, we were in it together. As we rode towards the finish I knew I didn’t want to test myself against Brayden in the single track or a sprint finish and managed to find separation with about 5km to go. This is where the belief in yourself comes in, because remember I had been in this exact same position last year…solo off the front with a couple guys chasing with less than 5km to go. I use “Let Op” as my constant in these moments - which means pay attention in Dutch (an ode to my Opa who got me into the sport). Pay attention to line choice, gearing, and above all how hard you are going at a given time - not all power files are equal even if time is! My explanation of all this is for kids growing up, but also any racer. I hear lots of people say you made it look easy or you won it by so much, but at the end of the day it’s the little things that add up and above all taking chances on yourself."
Here’s my best explanation if you haven’t been to Iceman Cometh before…There are people along most of the entire 30 mile point to point course, but you first start to really hear the finish line noise around 3 miles out as you start to skirt the edge of Timber Ridge.
As you ride closer and come into the bottom of Icebreaker though, the noise is DEFINING! The pain you feel seems further away as you finish the climb and head into the final single track, your ears ringing slightly. Before you know it you are turning onto Woodchip, the final climb, and once again you can’t think, you just pedal! You crest the top and hear the announcer yelling and the barriers being whacked!
Just stay upright; you think to yourself as you navigate the final corners and the fly over*. This race has history, it has prestige, but most of all it has an incredible community around it that I’ve rarely seen other than racing on the road in Europe. Make the trip, it’s worth the possibly cold fingertips