TRAVERSE CITY — Geoff Kabush didn’t want a repeat of 2012.
So the 36-year-old “dug deep” in the final stages to win the men’s title in Saturday’s 24th annual Iceman Cometh mountain bike race that finished at Timber Ridge.
A year ago, Kabush finished second to Sam Schultz by one second in the 30-mile race from Kalkaska.
He reversed fortunes Saturday, winning by a second.
“It was a really nice comeback,” Kabush said. “It was painful to lose by such a small margin last year.
“It’s always tough being second. I remembered that end (from last year) and was able to dig that much deeper today.”
Kabush, a three-time Olympian from Canada, edged Todd Wells 1:37:22 to 1:37:23. Jeremiah Bishop, the 2008 winner, was third in 1:37:25.
“There was a group of us at the end and it was who wanted to suffer the most the last couple K (kilometers),” Kabush said. “Todd went by me with a K to go. I didn’t want to come in second again so I dug in as hard as I could on that last hill and just snuck by him.
“It’s a nice way to finish out the season. Now I can go into the winter with a nice little reward.”
Bishop, who was second in 2011, set the pace for a good share of the race.
“I rode a really aggressive race,” the Virginia rider said. “I threw the tactical book out the window. I went out hard at about 20K. I attacked on some of the strongest riders on the planet, which was kind of (gutsy) of me, and it almost worked.
“It took them a long, long time to catch me. I put everything into it. My plan relied on them being unorganized.
“As a former winner, I didn’t think they were going to give up so easy. I think they knew they better align and start chasing me down and sharing the draft — or lose it.”
Bishop’s lead ranged from 10 to 20 seconds at times.
“It was a gargantuan effort,” he said. “I am feeling exhilarated from stomping it.”
The pack caught Bishop with about 5K to go.
Then it became a tactical race.
“I just tried to keep my position near the front and avoid any mistakes,” Kabush said.
Kabush made his move to the front with about 500 meters left — and held on.
Bishop thought he might drop back in the pack once they caught him. But then he got another burst of energy.
“Toward the end, I got in good position and I used the course knowledge I had to still pull off third,” he said. “That was like a win after that effort.
“It was a damn good day and it’s good to be back at Iceman. To be within a couple seconds (of winning) ... if those guys were a little less attentive, I would have snuck away with it. But they were paying attention. That’s racing. It’s tactics. I was strong enough to win the race today and that’s what I’m really excited about.”