So we were being really wishy-washy about attending the 2013 Icycle Downhill Night Race, but at the last minute—Saturday morning of the race—we loaded up the Jeep and hit the road. Pleased to discover higher than forecasted temps and lots of sunshine, the drive up was beautiful. Patches of snow remained from the storm that blew through on Friday and huge icicles hung from the rocky cliffs. The views of Fontana Lake below made for an easy drive.
Approaching Fontana Village Resort, our mission became obvious. A herd of extremely muddy bikers emerge from the woods as they complete laps in the cross country race that began a few hours earlier. Mud would be the common factor of the day. It’s on every rider, on every bike, it’s something to be ridden through, to be ridden around. The racers slide through it, fall in it, some wallow in it. The photographers sit in it, kneel in it, and lie in it to get the shot. Saturday became about negotiating the “peanut butter” for racers and spectators alike. Now add darkness!
This was a first for many of us new to the sport of downhill racing: a race at night with a light conveniently attached to helmet, handle bars, or both. As the moon rises, those 650 lumen lights feel lacking, at least from the perspective of a parent. None of us first-timers to Icycle could imagine how these young men and women would get down the hill in the mud and in the dark without breaking their bikes or worse, their bodies. But they did! And it was a blast! The mood was festive, excited and friendly all day long. The practice runs in the dark were a great visual from the base of the hill by the warmth of the bonfire. Racers’ lamps twinkled in the woods like a strand of Christmas lights decorating the mountain. Very cool!
Christopher Herndon, the event organizer, put on a fabulous show this year. He had the support of generous sponsors including Sycamore Cycles, Industry Nine, Oskar Blues Brewery Brevard, Specialized Bicycles, Gamut, Cane Creek, Suspension Experts, and of course Fontana Village Resort. Prizes included some awesome swag, bike parts, and the most likely favored prize… cash. The end of the event was capped off with a “hub hunt.” Think egg hunt for biking fanatics looking for the ultimate goody! All race attendees stood around a huge circle filled with 100 Industry Nine boxes, 99 were empty. Only one contained the coveted set of shiny orange hubs. Should you want to see more, there is video! And it’s a good thing because I am pretty sure all the photogs put their cameras down to try and find that one-in-a-hundred for themselves. Turns out luck was on my side that night. The first box I picked up was heavy. What are the chances? One in a hundred, I guess! Much to my son’s dismay I found the box and brought home a beautifully crafted bright orange hub set by Industry Nine.
It was a super event and a really fun day that included getting to know quite a few Brevard College students and cyclists, hanging out with the nice folks who have become our downhill family, and watching my son—and so many others—do the thing they love most. Thank you to the organizers and sponsors. We look forward to next year’s Icycle Event.