Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Gear Baby

Gesh there is a lot of gear to keep warm and carry in my pockets. On top of all the layers, one starts lookin' pretty prego! So what do I wear? I start with an Ibex wool bra, I/O bio glory zip or contact 2 top, depending on temps, followed by my RBH design vest, Montbell Nomad softshell, and then as temps drop I put on the Montbell thermawrap, which I also refer to as my honey, and when temps really drop I add my Mountain Hardware puffy jacket. I also carry one more jacket used for wind or wetness, and thats the top. Bottom gear starts with Pearl Izumi 3/4 bike shorts and either the I/O Bio 3/4 contact tights or full contct 2 tights, covered by Swix nordic pants which are over 10years old and I have finally wore holes in the seat.

In my pockets: spare headlamp which is the Princeton Tec Fuel, a set of spare batteries which include 8AA and 4AAA, tp, wetwipes, firestarter, matches, tool, aquaphor, chain lube, contacts, toothpaste, toothbrush, 4 packs of handwarmer, camera, and music player. The there is my pack which contains a 200 oz bladder, my Princeton Tec Apex Extreme, a pic to comb my hair, some barretts and eleastics, as well as a list of phone numbers, ID and cash-o-lah. In my pants pocket I carry a small knife, duct tape, and lighters.

This is also how I sleep outside. Fully dressed, with all the layers, water pack, boots on, all the gear in my pockets. My hands get really cold, really fast so I like to be able to just get up, stuff -n-go! This way I can start moving ASAP and get the heat generating.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


So here is my foot wear setup. I start with one of the 3 base layers, either the super thin Bridgedale liner, a thin Icebreaker sock or sometimes the thicker Smartwool sock, then I use a RBH design vapor barrier, this prevents my insulating sock, which is the Wigwam El-Pine sock, from getting wet. My boots are RU outside Tundra boots which they no longer make-boooo! They have been seamed sealed several times and got a fresh coat just before we left. The replaceable liner, which I did replace this yr, in the boot insulates as well as reflects heat back to the foot. I use the PolarWrap Toasty Feet insole, made to regulate the temperature of the foot, made with aerogel, which is comfortable to me. My feet did get cold just a couple times, probably lack of circulation, but I got off and ran and they warmed right up. I also put hand warmers on my shines which are held there by my socks and around my knees which are held there by my OR gaitors and pants. Due to the colder temps last year, I do believe I did some damage to my toes, cuz it was 3 months before I could flick my shoes off with my toes. I didn't experience that this year with the warmer temps.

Last year I used the thicker Smartwool sock b/c it was much colder goin' to Nome. This yr I used the thin Bridgedale sock to McGrath and the Icebreaker sock goin' to Nome. I did get some rubbin' on the inside of my heel which caused blisters, not shure if it was the holes in the Icebreaker sock, the new vapor barrier sock or the new boot liner, could have been a combination. I also use Aquaphor ointment on my feet, face, hands and a$$. It's one thing that covers it all.

I did step in some overflow and it was approx and hour before it soaked thru to my foot, by which time we were in a safety cabin drying out. Had that cabin not been there, I would have had to stop, make a fire to dry my boots and change my socks. I carry and extra liner sock and wigwam sock for emergency. I also have screws drilled into the bottom of my shoes for traction on the ice.
Frozen overflow leaving Ophir on the way to Iditarod. Now while this setup may work for me, it is highly recommended YOU figure out and TEST what works for you! Til next time!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The race starts long before the starting line

I remember dreaming of the Iditarod Trail Invitational in June while working on the Cosmic Apple Farm. Not shure how I got so addicted to it, but I did. A lot of people ask me why I do this race. The main reason is because I can. Other reasons include the challenge, the freedom and experiencing big, beautiful, wide open Alaska, having it all to myself at times. Gettin' ready for a race like this starts long before the start line. Purchasing plane tixs, guesstimating a return time, finding someone to watch our house and dogs, gettin all the survival gear together, scheduling all the bills to be paid while we're gone, findin' a place to stay in AK, and gettin' a ride to the airport with our 2 bike boxes and luggage. I started shopping for our drops a month before they had to be mailed, picking up different food items here and there keepin' it as cheap as possible, since everything is X's two. Our main meals consisted of ramen, which I love at the checkpts, Idahoans (instant mash potatoes) with butter, these are good when on the trail using my thermos of hot water, different styles of mac and cheese side dishes with powdered milk, butter (packaged at home) and sometimes a pouch of salmon, also good at checkpts due to it needing to be boiled a little more. I thought I would like the stuffing a lot more, but it wasn't all that and I will probably leave this out next time. These would be our main meals, with JayP varing his with meat. Then there is the trail food. This is really tricky cuz you don't kow what you'll want to eat or how warm or cold the temps will be. Warmer temps, less food, cold temps, possible storm or other variables, more food. I have kept a list of the past 3 yrs and what I put in each drop, I still don't have it dialed but believe I am gettin' better at choosing things I will eat. I love candy, shiny, bright, all the dye and sugar you you can pack in CANDY! Sour patch kids, gummy bears, mike and ikes and welches fruit snack are a few of my favorites. Chocolate bars, I learned a lot about these this yr. I was able to find smoe nice belgium chocolate bars for cheap, but once they froze they tasted like crapolah! So lesson learned the cheaper chocolate usually 2 for 1 bars such as reese PB cup, almond joy, carmello (my fav), reese crunch (2nd fav), PB snickers, take 5, whoppers, are a few I rely on. Then there are the nuts, cakes and cookies. We were fortunate to recieve lots of tasty calories from Tram Bar which was great, but I prefer them chopped in pieces. The cookie of choice is nutterbutter, followed by just about any other kind of cookie. The cakes of little debbie or hostess of any kind are always a welcome treat. I am pretty shure I ate my 1st Suzy Q this past trip, T-lecious fer shure! Fruit pies aren't so good frozen, but thanks to handwarmers, this can be quickly solved. We also carry hot coco, coffee, emergency, cough drops, lots of vitamin I and different hard candies.

Just wanted to get out a food diary and will follow with a gear list soon! Thanks for your support all! Til next time!

Friday, March 25, 2011

ITI 2011-workin' on it!

I am compiling stories, pictures and workin' on gettin' it together to share. Many people ask what the highlight of my trip was. The truth is there are many highlights, I remember being so happy and smiling A LOT! So to start I'll say some of the highlights were gettin' to the start, waitin' to start is hard. Sleeping outside by myself in -30 temps and fixin' a flat tire at -30 gave me confidence, good thing the wind wasn't blowing. Getting to McGrath and meeting up with Jay was very exciting since I knew this is where the vacation began and knew we would have a great time together. Finding the trail from Ophir to Iditarod was packed down was EPIC! I told JayP I had called "the people" and asked them to take care of it, glad they followed thru! The NEW shelter cabins are beautiful, I hope this encourages people to use the trail, even though it's in the middle of nowhere, guess thats why it's so beautiful. Spending 2 days in Oasis Iditarod in the mushers cabin, and the people that we meet and helped us there was a real treat, so glad we didn't have to camp outside for 2 days. Gettin back on the trail was a relief. The interview in Shageluk was neat. Becoming friends with the trailbreaks was great! Winning the pizza in Unalakleet and the breakfast Nita made us in the checkpt was amazing and very generous of her. Gettin welcomed to Shaktoolik and meetin' up with our friend Rick Swenson was a happy time. Cuttin JayP loose was a huge relief. When leaving Shatoolik, preparing to travel the sea ice of Norton Bay solo in the dark, a man by the name of Phil directed me to the trailhead, then asked if I had ever traveled the sea ice before, it was liberating that I could tell him yes, I have.

Inspiring a mushers to walk the last 10 miles of sea ice whose dogs were running in circles and was going to scratch, I heard he gave me props when he finished. That was very special to me and gives me chills. Meetin' the people of Koyuk, and interactin' with the kids was fun, they asked a lot of questions. Heading to Elim, I had the wickedest tail wind ever, I was just sitting on my bike and the wind blew me to Elim! I passed a musher which was really wild, I also saved a musher from going to the wrong way. Elim was great and to me is the prettiest of all! The ocean and sea ice just does something to me. I got to see JayP briefly and spent some time eatin' and sleepin' in Elim. It was also where I had the BEST piece of musher cheesecake ever. Golovin was a quick stop, but I was greeted by 2 kids and 2 women, who invited me into their house for coffee and bread. I also ate a ramen. Gettin' to White Mountain was bitter sweet, as I knew I was nearing the end. Jack, Joanna and Liam openly welcomed me into their house like it was my own. I had a wonderful diner cooked by Joanna, took a shower and got way more rest then I had intended. Going over Topkok mtn was amazingly stunning, it was hard to keep movin at times b/c I had it all to myself, beside a couple of ravens and really just enjoyed it. Safety was cool cuz there were people there and my friend Dustin the trailbreak, his wife and friends were all amazed by my accomplishment, which felt really good. Last miles into Nome, I had a tail wind, I didn't get caught in the blowhole and knew JayP was waiting for me.

I plan to follow up with a gear, food and detail stories.

I can't help but think of next yr already. This race is the most EPIC adventure I have ever, ever done.

Til next time!


Tuesday, January 11, 2011


The w/e b4 the TWC I remember feelin' chilled, like I couldn't get warm. Shure enough by Tues I was sick, so was everyone else. I decided to ride/be outside as much as I could, you know like gettin' up at 6am. So I was able to accomplish this by riding every morning for 2hrs leading up to the race. Really I had no idea how long the race would take me. It turned out to be 5hr n 20min day followed by good beer, great food and a bunch of friends/teammates (18 to be exact)! Kicked that cold right the heck outta here!

The race was intense. Maybe it is functioning that is my slowness in the am. I am a procrastornater. I remember being called that by my nun teachers in catholic grammer school, it has stuck with me and I believe it. Not really shure what that means, but I know I get some shit done. Gettin up that early, gettin dressed, makin & eatin b-fast, feedin the boyz, gatherin gear, water, DogFood, bowls, wonderin what to wear, loadin up bikes (JayP), preping to camp out, skis, dog gear, walk the dogs, bikini, towel-GO! you gotta be flexible.

The course was easy to follow so long as you had your directions or could remember that much, I had to check mine. All were gearin up in the PL. Lots of new bikes on the scene-lookin good. I don't think anyone warmed up? A picture of us, all lined up would be pretty cool. Head over to the start, ready-GO! Conditions were good in the line, a little soft otherwise, not ideal for passin early on. Lots of climbin, which is just really fun, lots of rollers, whcih are fun too. I love to snowbike, so it's all a good time to me. It was snowing as we started the race and lasted about 2 hrs. I was able to ride with a few of my teammates, TJ & Byers for a bit, watchin JayP in the distance goin faster and faster-he knew I was comin for him! There was a really wicked DH on the K trail, I stuck out my foot and rode it out and made it thru rubber side down, fun when your done!

My eatin was random. I had a sweet potatoe, kidney bean, cheese burrito, same as the night b4, for b-fast, so I was fueled. 1.5 hrs into the race I ate a carmel milky way, which I enjoyed much more frozen, then when I stuck it in my pocket and it got all warm, it's easier to break off when frozen, followed by a PB snickers at some point, pack of cheese crackers and 1/2 bag of jelly ring gummy candy things which got me thru those last few miles. I drank about 40oz of water.

What do I wear?
Obviously temps dictate this, but one thing I always wear unless it's above 30F, is my RBH design Vapor barrier vest, it keeps the sweat warm. I recently received the morning glory zip from I/O Bio, and wholly, this is fer shure my favorite piece. It was perfect for this race and temps, and is going to be my choice for Knik to McGrath. The zipper has a nice protector over it, so the cold metal doesn't ever touch your skin, the hood is sweet, keeps the neck breeze free, and of course, it is so soft. It snowed early on and this piece just thrived. I was never uncomfortable, wet or cold, things I like to leave up to the gear to handle-so it was perfect! Under that I wore the contact top (bra) and racer tank, hey I like my layers! I also appreciate how long the I/O Bio gear is, so my back is never hangin out catchin a draft. Since the temps were so warm, I wore 3/4 cycling knickers and some 13+ year old wind tights on my legs. Again being so warm, I wore super thin Bridgedale liners along with my raglin wool socks inside my RU Outside Tundra boots!

I won the womens division with a time of 5:20, and was quickly reminded by JayP that I was 15 mins behind him like last time! ;)

Super fun time! Til next time!