You would think I have this snow bike racing thing all figured out by now, well, I don't, and that's OK. Every race has its variables and with the majority of my past races being multi-day events, preparing for a 135 mile "sprint" race is obviously different. I knew from the beginning it was going to be a fast pace and that I wouldn't be sleeping 'til I was done.
The journey to the race always seems like just as much as an adventure as the race itself. We drove to MN from ID in the winter. We were expecting driving conditions to be heinous, but overall we lucked out. There was a blizzard going on when we left but by the time we were through MT, the roads were clear, but very windy. We made it to Bismark, where they have the shitty-est coffee in the world! We slept and completed our drive on Friday. We arrived in I-Falls, MN Friday evening where we met our host housing, Anton Oveson. What a trip! This guy is a true original. Upon entering the house, we were shown the pinball machines along with several other very interesting items. It was like a museum, just fascinating! Anton is like a never ending book full of fun, exciting and interesting stories. He is also very kind and generous. It was great cuz he knows the Arrowhead Tr. like the back of his hand, since he grew up in I-Falls, I guess he should, therefore he was able to give us a guided tour through parts of the course as well as some details and what to expect.
We went for a short ride Sat morning and checked out the beginning of the course, it was flat, but pretty. The trail goes through swamps and forest. We did our gear check and race packet pick up, which was very smooth. In the afternoon we took a ride with Anton to check out some other parts of the course where there could be some confusion, then out to diner at the Chocolate Moose, which is the best place in town to eat. Then back to Anton's for some more fun stories.
We slept in Sunday, found the good coffee/breakfast place in town and did some race prep, packed the bike with food and gear. I wasn't really shure what to bring, and at this point I wasn't shure of what I would wear. The temps were predicted to be in the 20's and that to me is warm. So I wind up switching some of what I normally wear, ie. vapor barrier and Montbell soft shell jacket, for Fitzy jersey and light wind jacket and was very comfortable. I also brought what I call, my honey jacket, Montbell lightweight puffy and balaclava. The pre-race meeting was fun with LOTS of great raffles.
Monday, race day! Breakfast, get dressed, stuffed the food on the bike and headed to the start. Lots of racers doing last minute gear adjustments and taking pictures, the energy was exciting! We all lined up and ready go! Of course there is always that fast group in the front that takes off, its hard not to get caught up in it. So right out of the gate I was thinking I could maintain 11mph for the whole ride. I felt good and was having a good time. The course was flat and mostly firm. I rode with a couple guys and Eszter for a bit, but I was still fiddling with some of my gear. I was trying to keep Eszter in sight, but then 2 guys passed me and it was like they all hooked together like a train. I thougth fer shure I'd catch them. When I arrived at CP1 my competition was 20 minutes ahead, I stopped for the bathroom and a warm drink, then on my way. There were lots of people around cheering. About 15 miles of out CP2 I ran out of water, but so did a lot of others. Got to CP2 for some really good bean stew, chips, grilled cheese, plus one to go and some cookies to go, and of course water. At this point I was and hour behind, but as I always say "it ain't over til its over". It started to get hilly and dark, I like the night. Shure it was hard to stay awake but I just kept moving forward. I was excited to get to CP3, and see some people, get a warm drink and continue on. There were lots of wolf tracks around but I never saw any, not even any eyeballs. I wasn't scared cuz I knew there were people behind me. The last 25 miles of the race, I started sleep riding and did some running to help wake me up. I began to see some racers pulled over sleeping and I was kinda surprised. For me I knew I would be awake however long it took me to get it done, and thats what I did. I finished at 6am, 23 hrs later.
Overall the course was mellow, not too much pushing up hill, which I think was mainly due to using the Nate tire in the rear. I do think that the Endomorph would have been a better tire choice for me in these conditions and I certainly didn't need the balaclava! I learned a few things and I would change some of my food/drink choices.
The Arrowhead135 was well organized, had great energy and was fun. Thanks all!
The riding conditions in ID are excellent right now, so I am looking forward to putting down some miles, along with some boot camp training and spending time with the boyz. Up next maybe a skate race and fer shure the 2012 Togwotee Winter Classic, which already has 27 racers signed up! Yeehaw!!
'Til next time!