Sunday, February 24, 2008

Good luck JayP!

...and the rest of the Iditarod Trail Invitational racers. I have tremendous respect for anyone attempting this race whether it be the 350 mile or the 1100 mile version. It is hard for me to even wrap my brain around riding 1100 miles across frozen Alaska and this year 19 folks are signed up to try it.

It is going to be exciting to follow JayP's progress in the race to Nome as well as the race to McGrath. Knowing Jay, his pace to McGrath won't be any slower just because he is continuing onto Nome. I wish you safe and fast travels my brotha'.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

2008 Susitna 100

I have contemplated writing a detailed account of my Alaskan adventure but it might sound too much like whining; flight was canceled, it was cold, windy, snowy, soft, blah, blah, blah…

The reality is that I was uncomfortable with the way things were going during the race and pulled the plug early enough to get myself out. The chain of events leading up to the race may, or may not, have affected me and I have no way to know for sure. As Lynda so accurately pointed out to me in an email:

1) You are alive with all of your fingers and toes
2) The race provided excellent training motivation for a few months and you are fitter now than you would have been without a goal
3) You saw a piece of Alaska and made a piece of history

Many people including my wonderful wife, friends, and Bloggers I have never met, were incredibly supportive before and after this race and I can’t thank you enough.

Second guessing my decision will serve no purpose now but I can learn a lot from this trip and build on this for next year’s race. Yes, I am going back to AK next winter.

When flying to an event that is more than one time zone away, allow more than a one day cushion on either end because shit happens before, during, and after races.

Wear less at the beginning and add to it only if you get cold. Odds are good that you won’t be cold after 15 minutes and you will sweat less as a result.

Chemical hand warmers are heavy to carry and are worth twice the weight penalty.

The only thing that can prepare you for racing in the wind is training in the wind.

Having a hood to pull on and off in the wind can be invaluable

Chris E. is a bad motha’! He was quietly confident throughout the trip. In the last mental image I have of him during the race he was fully enclosed by balaclavas, hoods, and goggles while shaking his fist at the ground blizzard and yelling something to the effect of, “…Now I am pissed off” as he headed off across the Dismal Swamp. Greatness. He looked pretty damn fresh on Sunday afternoon when he got back too. Hopefully I can talk him into going back next year too.

You cannot predict what the trail conditions will be like. Some folks pushed their bikes 22 miles from Eagle Song to Luce’s while others rode the entire stretch (at 4 mph) eight hours later.

Speedway Cycles in Anchorage, home of the FatBack, is currently the center of the snow bike universe. The commitment they have to advancing the sport is impressive and inspiring.

As I expected, I met some great people and was inspired.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


The Susitna 100 trip has been a rough one so far and I am not feeling up to a full report quite yet so here is the quick summary:

After a snowy and windy week in the Matanuska Valley, the race started in steady snow and wind and any section of trail not protected by trees was blown in and soft. I arrived at the Flat Horn Lake checkpoint with Chris E. at 1:20pm and left at 1:37pm to head north across Flat Horn Lake directly into the ground blizzard currently tearing up the trail. It took us well over an hour to go the next 2 miles and I simply could not stay warm. My base layers were soaked, my core got cold, and then my hands went totally numb. With two sets of chemical warmers in each pogie I finally got my hands back but there was no way I was going dry out.

The wind blowing across the Dismal Swamp was equally as bad as Flat Horn Lake and I decided to pull the plug on my race based on how cold I was and my estimation of how long it would take to get myself back to the start/finish line under my own power. Total time out was 11:45:00.

Even though I know I made the right decision under the circumstances, I am bummed. More later...

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Alaska baby!

This morning while cranking out my L3 session on the rollers and listening to The Crystal Method it hit me; I am fortunate. I am going to Alaska to race my bike across the snow, test myself, and hopefully meet some great people! Fuck yeah!

Chris E. and I are bringing some FAT mojo all the way from Idaho and I am getting excited now. I should have been excited long before now but I am not wired that way. In addition to “life” getting in the way, I have been analyzing, tinkering, and reorganizing while nervously watching the temps in Wasilla, AK plummet. At one point earlier this week I was actually pretty nervous about the Su and the potential for being out in -20F temps all night…and that made me mad. I don’t like having negative thoughts about racing. So this morning while on the rollers I had a little talk with myself. I know better. I know that “Hope” is not a strategy and I am prepared. If it’s cold, fine. I will just add layers, drink some peppermint tea, eat a few extra dark chocolate covered almonds, turn up Metallica, and keeping moving forward. Fuck yeah!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Tough year to be a snow biker

As of yesterday, the mountains surrounding Driggs, ID have received 363" of snow this season. Basically, I picked a tough year to commit to training for the Su100 instead of my usual program of skiing when it snows and snow biking when it doesn't. Ha!

Sunday morning I left the house at 6AM for a 4.5 hour ride that included falling snow, then 25 MPH wind, then blowing snow, and lastly 28 degree calm condiditons. Chris E. is also training for the Su100 and joined me for the early morning the tour of Teton Valley backroads.

A backroads burn barrel!
The snow is piling up! This fence in our backyard is over 5' high.
Best of luck to all of the Arrowhead 135 racers out there! The race started this morning in moderate (for the Arrowhead) 21F and cloudy conditions.