Mike Keefer is a complete cupcake. At least I think he's a cupcake. One of those Gettysburg Cupcakes that call the wilderness of Michaux home (though he is officially riding for Gettysburg Bicycle/Hammer Nutrion). The Cupcakes are like those guys that palled around with that Swamp Fox fella during the Revolution. They lie in wait using their intimate knowledge of their surroundings to lull you into a false sense of security and then, when you're least expecting, launch some attack that takes you completely by surprise and ends in some zany adventure running around the woods chasing the British...errrr, wait...I might be thinking about reruns I watched as a kid with that Naked Gun guy. Either way it's pretty much the same thing. The Swamp Fox Theme Song
Keefer is a on a roll and may be riding better than he has a few years (since yours truly edged him out at a NORBA National a few years back which I just had to bring up to prove that I was fast at one point and may well not even be true, but again, I was fast - that's the take home people) and posted some seriously sweet results in hard endurance races this year. He took the overall win the Michaux Endurance Series edging out another contender for Iron Cross, perennial top fiver Ray Adams of the PAValleys.com Team, in that season long competition. Keefer also finished in a strong 8.5 hours at the Shenandoah 100 in a tune-up for IC (okay, I don't know if it was a tune-up for IC, but since this is pretty much the most important race of the year we must assume he was tuning up.)
So we know that he can ride his bike fast, he appears to be fit and we know that he knows the Michaux terrain and trails as well as or better than anyone else in this race. We don't know if he knows that we know that he knows, but if he reads this entry he'll find out so keep it on the DL. He is definitely going to be one of the fastest riders of the day on the Lippencote descent - which he's likely to ride without dismounting and without a whole lot of braking even as I'm sure he has it dialed. Keefer will be looking to put the hurt on a lot of guys with less technical ability than what he has both on Lip. Tr. and in the single track in the last quarter of the race.
Keefer has another thing going for him - experience. Mike has participated in Iron Cross enough times that he knows how the race is likely to unfold. He knows where move are made and where you can save some energy because the moves made are unlikely to stick. He'll look forward to the places where his prowess on the mountain bike will best allow him to forge an advantage or chill while others are fighting the rocks and techy bits.
It is arguable that Keefer and J. Beck - the two riders we've profiled so far - are almost opposites in their strengths and weaknesses. While both are very strong riders Keefer comes to IC from a mountain bike background while Josh is coming off a summer of multisport racing that is likely to only have included dirt in that bit of course where the water meets the bike transition. Where Keefer is going to rule the rocks, Josh will find his biggest challenges. While Josh is very at home on his feet and likely to put in a major assault on Wigwam you can bet that Keefer will be looking to limit losses whenever he is off the bike.
This is the sort of set up that makes IC the very unique race and experience it is for everyone who takes part and makes calling the race results something I sure ain't willing to do!
Real quick - here's a shout out to Mr. Hans Bakermans. Hans will likely admit he isn't going for the win at IC, but what he probably won't admit because he is too nice a guy is that he's been a big part of this thing for a couple years by helping us run one of the checkpoints. Hans is racing this year so be sure to thank him for his hard work in the past and wish him well!
Saw some tweet about past IC champ and sole 90 mile version finisher Jeremiah Bishop of Cannondale hinting about coming out for another crack at IC (yay!) this wknd or heading to Cinci (bleh) for three races that together won't add up to ICs 100k of fun and mayhem. It said to vote at www.jeremiahbishop.com, but I don't see a lever to pull so go there and then email him directly.
Sing it with me now, "Swamp Fox, Swamp Fox tail on his hat, nobody knows where the swamp fox is at..."