Thursday, January 28, 2016

2016 JayP's Backyard FAT Pursuit 200K Gear List

Winter ultra endurance races have been around since the first Iditabike took place on the Iditarod Trail in 1987. As fat bike technology has improved, the popularity of winter endurance racing has exploded and racers can now choose from the Tuscobia 150, Arrowhead 135, White Mountains 100, Susitna 100 and the Iditarod Trail Invitational. JayP’s Fat Pursuit 200K/200M is the newest addition to this list of ultras and is destined to be a winter classic.

Like most of the winter ultra races, the Fat Pursuit has a “Required Gear” list designed to keep the racers safe in case of emergency.

Fat Pursuit 200K/200M Required Gear:
  • Front and rear safety lights. White front, red rear
  • Headlamp or bike light
  • Ability to carry 48oz of water without freezing
  • 0*F sleeping bag or colder
  • Insulated sleeping pad – minimum size 20″x 48″
  • Bivy sac or tent
  • Insulated jacket (puffy)
  • Stove, fuel, 16 oz. pot
  • Fire starter, lighter and / or matches
  • Extra batteries for both your safety lights and headlamp
  • Map (provided)
  • SPOT locator beacon
Fat Pursuit 200K/200M Recommended Gear:
  • Gore Tex Jacket
  • Spare gloves, hat, socks
  • Ability to carry 100oz water
  • Calories
  • Thermos…nice treat!
  • Goggles
  • GPS, compass, watch, computer
Fully-Loaded and front-end heavy
What did I carry in 2016?

In hindsight, I would say that I carried too much gear & extra clothing and I will look for ways to lighten my load in 2017. I intentionally did not weigh my bike when it was fully loaded but I am sure it was well over 50 lbs and probably closer to 60 lbs. I took a pile of gear with me to Island Park and then made my final selection based on the last weather forecast before the race.

  • 2016 Salsa Beargrease 
  • 90mm Light-Bicycle carbon rims 
  • 26 x 4.0” 45Nrth VanHelga tires setup tubeless with 6oz of Stans in each tire
  • SRAM 1x11 Drivetrain with 26T front chainring
Testing my load at home prior to the race
Bags & Attachments
  • Expedition Pogies – Revelate Designs
  • Frame Bag - Revelate Designs
  • (2) Mtn Feed bags – Revelate Designs
  • Gas Tank – Revelate Designs
  • Jerry Can  - Revelate Designs
  • Harness (for sleep system)  – Revelate Designs
  • Handlebar Pocket – Revelate Designs
  • BarYak rails & cross bar - BarYak
  • Compression Dry Bag (for sleep system) – Granite Gear XL
  • Seat Bag – Carousel Design Works
  • Downtube Bag – Bedrock Bags

Repair Kit
Bike Repair
  • (2) Tubes
  • Lezyne Multi-tool
  • Lezyne hand pump
  • Tire lever
  • (2) 11spd Quick-links
  • Gorilla tape 
  • Valve core remover
  • (6) Zip-ties
Kovea Spider Stove
  • Niteride Lightning Bug 3.0 & Stinger 10 - Front and rear safety lights
  • Lupine Piko headlamp with extra batteries
  • Osprey 3L hydration pack under jacket
  • 24oz Polar Insulated water bottle
  • Western Mountaineering Puma MF -25F Sleeping Bag
  •  Thermarest 20” x 48” sleeping pad 
  •  SOL Emergency Bivy
  •  Kovea Spider Stove, Snow Peak 700 Ti pot, 110g Isobutane fuel canister
  • Aluminum folding  windscreen
  • Fire starter, BIC lighter and storm proof matches
  • Lithium AA / CR2032 / CR2450 extra batteries
  • Garmin eTrex Vista Hcx GPS loaded with 200K route
  • Garmin Edge 500 (battery died at 15.5 hours)
  • Cue Sheet
  • SPOT Gen3 (rented)
Sock Layers
  • Lake MXZ 303 shoes, size 48 Wide (3 sizes larger than my normal shoes)
  • Crescent Moon neoprene shoe covers
  • Cabelas poly liner socks
  • RAB Vapor Barrier socks
  • Bridgedale Summit Socks 
  • Bib Shorts
  • Toko Nordic Pants
  • Craft Mesh Tank base layer
  • Craft Pro Zero Extreme LS base layer
  • Merino Wool SS jersey
  • Cloudveil Softshell Jacket
  • Craft Active Skull Cap
  • Original Buff (on and off as needed)
  • Oakley sunglasses, clear lenses
  • Pearl Izumi PRO liner gloves
  • OR PL400 fleece mittens (at night)
Extra Clothes (carried on bike)
  • Feathered Friends down jacket
  • Patagonia Nano Puff Vest
  • Montbell Rain Shell
  • Extra pair of fleece mittens
  • Extra pair of fleece gloves
  • Extra Craft Active Skull Cap
  • Extra Original Buff
Personal Items
Personal Items
  • (3) Pairs HotHands hand warmers
  • (2) Pairs Grabber Insole foot warmers
  • Small packet of chamois cream
  • Dermatone
  • Advil
  • Vasoline 
  • Ear plugs
  • iPod Shuffle w/single ear bud
Lupine Piko Headlamp - One of my gear MVPs
Final thoughts on the gear I used in 2016

My gear choices leaned to the side of comfort vs. speed this year. I can make a few changes to lighten my load and still meet the requirements of the race. If the forecast were to call for temps well below zero, my load would obvious get heavier.

Gear MVPs
  • Salsa Beargrease:  This fat bike rides more like a “mountain bike” than any other fat bike I have ridden and the geometry is perfect. 
  • Lupine Piko headlamp:  The Piko has up to 1200 lumens if needed as well as the ability to customize the output and battery runtime by programming the PCS switch. I ran my Piko on the middle (4W) setting that produces 470 lumens and conserves battery power.
  • RAB Vapor Barrier socks:  The RAB VB socks have taped seams, which prevent moisture from getting to your insulating socks & shoes. 
  • Patagonia Nano Puff vest:  The Nano Puff is a lightweight, compressible layer that adds a lot of warmth for its weight. I bought this vest one size too large so it would easily fit over my jacket + hydration pack. 
Gear that won’t make the cut in 2017
  • 45Nrth VanHelga tires:  I love these tires…but I will choose something with more float next year.
  • Montbell Rain Shell: A full-on rain jacket is overkill & too bulky. A water resistant wind shell would be ideal and would pack down much smaller.
  • Western Mountaineering Puma MF -25F Sleeping Bag:  This is not a camping trip. I will carry a 0F sleeping bag instead. 
  • Thermarest 20” x 48” sleeping pad: Again, this is not a camping trip. 
  • Osprey 3L hydration bladder:  My bladder leaked at the first checkpoint and this could have ended my race prematurely. It is too easy to cross-thread the lid on the Osprey bladder when refilling at checkpoints. 
Thanks for reading!

Friday, January 15, 2016

2016 JayP’s Backyard FAT Pursuit 200K Race Report

Quick Stats:
Place: T-6th
Time: 22 Hours, 57 Minutes
Distance: 122.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 6,674’

“Go as fast as you can while conditions are good” I said to myself as I rode alone in the pre-dawn darkness. I knew that the perfect trail conditions would not last. Traveling at 10 mph on a loaded fat bike is flying, and for the first 45’ of the 200K Fat Pursuit I averaged a blistering 10.5 mph. The lead group of 6-7 riders had launched off the start line as if it was a XC race and their red taillights were out of sight within minutes. Less than hour into the race, I was riding alone.

With three checkpoints on the 200K route, the race is broken up into four segments. In long-distance fat bike races, it is almost impossible to accurately estimate split times because your speed is dependent on the ever-changing conditions. Temperature, recent trail grooming (or lack thereof), snow machine traffic, snowfall, and wind have a huge effect on your speed.

My Salsa Beargrease ready to rock the evening before our 7 AM start
Start to Checkpoint #1 – 31 Miles

Having raced the 60K Fat Pursuit in 2015, I had seen the first 31 miles of the course and knew what to expect. As we waited on the start line in mild 20F temperatures, I was very calm and focused on what I needed to do in order to give myself the best chance to finish this race.

The riding to checkpoint #1 was truly “as good as it gets” for racing a fat bike on groomed snow machine trails. However, riding a loaded fat bike on snow requires a lot of effort even under perfect conditions. As soon as the trail pitched up at mile 12, my average speed plummeted to about 5 mph and my HR shot up another 5 bpm. “Eat. Drink. Smile. Go.” was my mantra for the day and Michelle’s “secret weapon” cookies were going down nicely.

Michelle's "Secret Weapon" cookies taste amazing and remain chewy in below-zero temps
I rolled into checkpoint #1 in 3:15:00 feeling good. However, my biggest challenge in the first segment was not the riding…it was the transition at checkpoint #1. As part of our required gear, every racer must carry a stove, fuel, and a pot. The race also requires that each racer must use their stove to boil water when they get to checkpoint #1 before they can continue. I would give myself a C+ on my water boil. I got it done but I was not efficient.

Staying warm while boiling water at Checkpoint #1
As my water was coming to a boil, I found my drop bag and handed my hydration bladder to a smiling volunteer to fill with 84oz of warm water mixed with CarboRocket. In a rush to get going again, I forgot to double-check the lid of my bladder and as I was about to ride away, Tracey Petervary yelled, “Dave, you’re leaking”. Shit! The lid was unknowingly cross-threaded and I lost over 60oz of fluid down my back due to the leak. I had no choice but to try to dry out my jacket and hydration pack before continuing. My stop at checkpoint #1 turned into a 35’ junk show. Lesson learned.

Finally leaving Checkpoint #1
Checkpoint #1 to Checkpoint #2 (West Yellowstone) – 35 Miles

It was almost 11am when I left checkpoint #1. This is significant because the busiest time of day for snow machine traffic is typically 11am to 4pm. Snow machine traffic churns up the trail and makes riding extremely more difficult.

Eight miles after leaving checkpoint #1, the route turned right onto the Black Canyon Loop Trail. As I made the turn, an armada of snow machines descended the steep trail towards me leaving a soft, churned up trail behind them. I did not know it at the time, but my pace was about to significantly slow down. I was now climbing at an average speed of 3.5 mph.

Cramp! Five and a half hours into the race, sharp cramps forced me off the bike as I tried to “walk it out”. The low-cadence, high-torque riding was taking a toll on my body and I tried to do damage control by walking whenever I felt a sharp cramp coming on.

Mother Nature decided to throw us curve-ball as well. As I climbed up onto the 8,000’ South Plateau, the light snow that had been falling intensified and the tire tracks in front of me were quickly filling in. Visibility was tough in the flat light and the churned up trail required max effort to keep the bike moving forward. It was ridiculous how much effort it took to ride at 4 mph at this point in the race.

Keep. Moving. Forward. I “thought” there might be some easy miles once I descended off the plateau towards West Yellowstone…I was wrong. Heavy snow machine traffic plus steady snowfall equals slow riding. The last few miles into checkpoint #2 took forever and I wobbled into West Yellowstone just a little after 5pm. The last 35 miles took me 6:41:00 and I was shattered.

Riders of various physical & mental states were sitting around the large dining table when I stumbled through the door into checkpoint #2. Although I was in rough shape, I had no thoughts of quitting at this point but I knew I needed some food & time before I could continue. As I stripped off my wet layers to dry out, angels from Heaven, aka the checkpoint #2 volunteers, delivered a hot grilled cheese sandwich & chicken noodle soup. After a second bowl of soup and more water, I was slowly coming back to life. In contrast, several riders were pulling the plug on their races and this was affecting my mojo.

Checkpoint #2, West Yellowstone
One rider who was not about to DNF was Chris Estrem from Ketchum. Chris passed me on the opening climb and arrived at checkpoint #2 about 20’ ahead of me. As I slowly came back to life, Chris was gauging my motivation to continue and asked if I wanted some company on the trip over Two Top. After a much-needed layover, we rolled out of checkpoint #2 together.

Checkpoint #2 to Checkpoint #3 (Man Cave) – 35 Miles

Based on previous reports and the route profile, this segment is definitely the crux of the race. The Two Top Trail climbs to 8,300’ and includes some very steep sections. The weather can be notoriously bad and whiteout conditions are common.

Chris and I got extremely lucky. The trail groomer had just hit the Two Top Trail and our spirits lifted immediately when we saw freshly groomed trail ahead of us. Freshly groomed trail needs to “setup” before it is firm & fast but at least we were riding our bikes instead of pushing our bikes…most of the time. As we climbed higher, the trail steepened and required pushing our heavy bikes despite the groomed surface.

After four hours of slow climbing, I was ready to be off this mountain and onto the flats that led us into the Man Cave. The chilly descent off Two Top was over in the blink of an eye but the climbing was not. There were several unexpected climbs on our approach to the Man Cave and every one of them hurt at this point in the race. As we were climbing the Meadow Creek Trail, which looked flat on paper but climbed forever, we noticed a set of very fresh mountain lion tracks heading the opposite direction down the trail. This was cool and somewhat spooky at the same time.

Approximately seven hours after leaving West Yellowstone, we arrived at checkpoint #3, aka the Man Cave. Two amazing volunteers greeted us as we wheeled our bikes into the warmth of the giant heated garage. They fed us sourdough pancakes, bacon, potatoes, coffee…and more potatoes as our damp clothes dried on the homemade clothes/boot dryer. In less than an hour, we headed out to finish this beast.

Gearing up to finish the last 22 miles
Checkpoint #3 to the Finish – 22 Miles

How hard could 22 miles on mostly-flat terrain be? Well, the “mostly-flat” trail turned out to be “pretty f’in hilly” trail. Damn you JayP!

Chris was clearly stronger at this point and appeared to ride the punchy hills with ease while I had to dig deep to clean each one. After riding together for the past nine hours, I had no intention, nor the energy, to “race” Chris to the finish and encouraged him to go ahead if I was holding him up. Chris confirmed that we were in this together to the end. Classy.

Finished in 22 Hours, 57 Minutes. Epic.
Chris and I rolled under the giant log arch at the Ponds Lodge at 6:03 am to a warm greeting by JayP, Gabe & Jenny, Eric, and Nikki & Jeremy. It was awesome to see so many friends at the finish. Our official time of 22 hours, 57 minutes put us tied for 6th place but that is not important. Finishing this beast is one of my proudest cycling accomplishments and is an experience I will never forget.

My new favorite beanie!
Lastly, I want to thank Michelle for her unconditional support while I pursued this crazy-ass adventure.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for a follow-up post on the gear I used during this race.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

One To Go...

The 2014 Boise cyclocross season comes to an end this Saturday, December 13th, at the Idaho Waffle Cross Series Kringle Kross race.  With rain & colder temps in the forecast, there will be mud, beer, waffles, and Christmas costumes...and glorious suffering!  See you there!   

Pain. SICX #6, Idaho State CX Championships.  Photo by Meridian Cycles

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

2014 Pierre's Hole 100 Preview

The 2014 Pierre's Hole 100 is just around the corner and I am stoked!  Despite living in Boise, ID for over two years now, Pierre's Hole still feels like "hometown" race to me and I absolutely love riding at Grand Targhee. It is my favorite event of the mountain bike season.

As soon as the dust settled after the 2013 edition of Pierre's Hole, Andy Williams got busy building new singletrack in Rick's Basin and this year's race will feature all of that new singletrack. What does this mean? This means that the heinous Dry Creek / Bustle Creek double-track has been eliminated and replaced with sweet singletrack.  It also means that a big hunk of pavement on Ski Hill Rd is no longer part of the course because we no longer drop all the way down to Teton Canyon.  Does this mean that Pierre's Hole will now be a "kinder, gentler" 100-mile race?  Not so fast my friend.  While I do think the course will be about 30' faster than 2013 (just an educated guess), I think most racers will feel that the course is plenty tough despite being less than 100 miles.

In addition to an awesome new course, we can expect the same great course markings, race schwag, awards, post-race food & beverages, and event organization that Pierre's Hole is known for.

2014 Race Facts:
  • 50K Racers will do 1 lap
  • 100K Racers will do 2 laps
  • 100 Mile Racers will do 3 laps
  • There will be two Aid Stations: Aid #1 - Start / Finish area, Aid #2 - Cold Springs
  • Not counting the start, 100-mile racers will go through the aid stations a total of five times
  • Lap 1 will use the Powder Reserve Traverse to spread the race out
  • Laps 2 & 3 will use the Lightening Ridge singletrack

The 2014 Pierre's Hole Course:

Laps 2 & 3 Profile
Grand Targhee base area 
2014 Pierre's Hole Course
Course view from Teton Canyon
If you are on the fence about doing this race, JUMP off of that fence right now and get yourself registered. You won't regret it...unless you hate riding sick singletrack amongst wildflowers with stunning mountain views.  Online registration closes at midnight next Tuesday.  See you there!