Freewheel Bike has been hosting a bike race on the ice of Lake Minnetonka for a few years. They’re a local shop in town. Every year in mid February, they plow a maze-like course in Lake Minnetonka, then invite cyclists to race for the title of fastest ice racer. They usually line up a beer sponsor for onsite suds. Lucid was the brew in 2013 when I last attended. Fulton was the beer this year. Beer and bike racing go hand in hand, after all.
Twenty-five cyclists were lined up at the starting line at 1:00 p.m. The race was divided into two divisions: store-bought studs and homemade studs–studs being metal additions on tires to prevent racers from slipping around on the ice. A fire was burning near the starting line and another near the middle of the course. On a cold day like this one, the fires were needed. Groups of spectators huddled around them as cyclists sped around slick corners. A drone buzzed over head with a camera attached. Wind rustled the cattails lining the course. Cheers could be heard from the adjacent broomball rink.
In 2013, the race was held in the far southwest corner of the lake. About as far southwest as you can get via boat. There were twice as many racers that year, and just as many spectators. With the course moving to a location at Lord Fletcher’s, a popular lakeside bar, I foresaw spectator numbers to increase from two years prior. The cold negated turnout. It was just a cold day and the wind didn’t help.
A benefit of the race location being a bar is being able to warm up before watching the race. One of us mayyyyy have had a bloody before heading outdoors. Arriving early has its benefits. With that, we’ll raise (another) drink for ice bike racing in hopes of warmer weather and a bigger turnout next year.