TRAVERSE CITY — Bell’s Beer isn’t just the title sponsor for the Iceman Cometh.
It’s also an active sponsor.
Michigan’s largest microbrewery, which has been the race’s title sponsor for the past three years, had four employees competing in the event. Among them was vice president Laura Bell, daughter of company founder Larry Bell. Laura Bell finished 14th in the women’s 19-34 age group, finishing in a time of 1:07:13.
“It’s my third year riding the Slush Cup,” Bell said of the shorter 8-mile race. “One of the fun things about choosing events to sponsor is choosing things that you like to do yourself. We’ve got a really great mountain biking culture at Bell’s, which made the Iceman a perfect fit for a lot of reasons. I like to ride the 8-mile (race). I’ve got some other work stuff that happens after that so I can’t do the full 30 (miles), but some year maybe I’ll get to do the full thing.”
Bell’s used to sponsor its own racing team, but a few years ago it elected to shift its efforts to sponsorship.
“(We wanted to) just really refocus our mountain biking support to more than just our team,” Bell said.
Bell said she loves being a part of the Iceman, and particularly enjoys getting the chance to compete as well.
“It’s a blast,” she said. “It’s a really fun atmosphere. There’s a lot of riders that are encouraging. If you’re trying to make it up the hill people are cheering for you and rooting you on. It’s a really supportive atmosphere. It’s a little dirty, but that’s what we’re in it for.”
Bell said there are plenty of similarities between the Iceman, which was started in November of 1990, and Bell’s Brewing, which was started in September of 1985.
“Steve Brown started this event in a very similar way as my dad started the brewery,” Bell said. “A couple of buddies riding bikes, or a couple buddies homebrewing and we shared where we ended up. It’s a unique story. The Iceman is such a unique event to Michigan. We’re a unique company and we like to partner with unique Michigan events and showcase who we are as a state. It’s a lot to ask for 5,500 riders to go out in (November) and ride 30 miles. I don’t think you see that in every other state. It’s a pretty special thing.”