Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Arrowhead 2016

It’s a monster drive for us to get to the AH135, just shy of 1200 miles from Victor, ID to International Falls, MN, a solid 19 hrs of time in the van, with anywhere from 6-8 hrs of sleep, that's around 27 hours of travel, one way.  drive.jpg
Photo courtesy of JayP

We reached our destination goal for Friday the AmericInn in Medora, ND which is in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. We arrived 11pm and had eaten a pizza and several bags of chips all day. Straight to bed.

I am not a morning person. JayP sweetly woke me Saturday morning at 6 am, with coffee and a warmed up van. We arrived in International Falls, MN around 4pm, went to the hotel, checked in and grabbed our mandatory gear for check in. Being our fourth year, we had gear check down and were out of there within 10 mins. We met up with some racers and friends for dinner at the hotel, then to bed.

Sunday, JayP shuttled the van to Fortune Bay so he could give me a ride to the airport after the race. I did a shake down ride back over to gear check and dropped off my drop bag for Melgeorge. I fiddled with my bike and gear a bit, then took a nap before the pre-race meeting.

It was such a blast attending the pre-race meeting, and briefly catching up with friends I only see once a year.  
photo courtesy of Salsa Cycles/Mike “Kid” Riemer

Race day was finally here! I brought my own wraps, cuz I knew there would be eggs and cheese at the hotel, and I love to eat a burrito for race breakfast. I rode over to the start, checked in and “warmed up” for a few minutes. The temps were warm. Everyone was feeling each other's tires, and waiting to hurry up and GO!  

The pace line began, I settled in for the 1st ½ half hour, but was antsy and I wanted to see what I had, so I pushed myself and pulled ahead of a few people. I started training in late October, which was new for me. I have been getting up early (did I mention I’m not a morning person?), morning after morning telling myself, I want it, I want it more than anyone else. begin.jpg
Photo courtesy of Salsa Cycles/Scott Haraldson

My goals going into the AH135 this year were to be efficient at the checkpoints, race the race and to stay on top of my nutrition. The 1st CP at Gateway, I went in, grabbed hot water and was out of there in a minute. GWAH16.jpg
Photo courtesy of Tina Stiller

I focused on racing the race, pushing myself at all times. It was snowing in my face and the course became rudded. I was falling down a lot, it was draining, but I still felt good and I didn’t let it get me down.  Although my tire pressure was low at this point for better traction, my rear tubeless tire was being finicky and leaking a bit, it got too low a couple times, so I had to stop to pump it up. I really wanted to avoid putting in a tube.

About 12 miles out from Melgeorge's, my freakin’ chain broke! UGH! I had a tool but no extra link. I popped the pin almost through but couldn’t get the last bit, my hands got cold, so I put on my heavier gloves and started running to warm them up. I couldn’t bare the thought of running 12 miles to the CP. I stopped again to work the pin when another racer Dave, caught me. He stopped to help, we got the pin out, put the chain back together and I was rollin’ on my way.

My goal was to be in and out of Melgeorge's in under ½ hour, but I have yet to accomplish this. I think about what I am going to do when I get there and try to stick to that plan. I was soaking wet from snow and sweat. As soon as I got there, I grabbed my drop, had 2 grilled cheese, 2 bowls of soup, put all my clothes in the dryer, sorted my drop, filled my water, put my clothes back on, food on the bike and leave. This took me 49 mins, way too long. MEL16.jpg
Photo courtesy of Salsa Cycles/Scott Haraldson

The ruts and snow got deeper after Melgeorge's on the way to Ski Pulk. I let some air out of my tires and it helped, but then all the air came out of my rear tire. I stopped, pumped it up and it was fine until after Ski Pulk. There was a lot of on and off through this section for me, I wasn’t interested in eating my food and 20 miles into this section my garmin died. Rookie move on my part for not having the usual backup odometer. So I had no idea how far out I was or what my speed was.

Once I got to Ski Pulk, my intention was to just have a couple hot chocolates and be on my way, but that didn’t happen. Somehow I got sucked in and spent 45 mins there-WAY, WAY too long. Back on the trail at 4:22am, I knew there would be some sleep walking involved, around 5am it hit, but I was prepared with my can of Red Bull slushy which I mixed with some GU drink, some big chocolate sugar and some chanting, I was good to go. I don’t drink sugary drinks so I knew it would give me that pop that I was after, but it didn’t last long enough, 2 cans next time.

The sun rose, and despite the lack of an odometer, I knew where I was. The struggle was real, and I was slowing down. The last 10 miles are filled with long straight aways, and twisty turns. You can see the tower, but still so far away. I crossed the final road to the trail that leads to the finish at Fortune Bay, I was sooo stoked. AHfinish16.jpg
Photo courtesy of Salsa Cycles/Scott Haraldson

The finish. Once there I saw my favorite person, JayP, finish line hugs are the BEST! hugs.jpg
photo courtesy of Salsa Cycles/Mike “Kid” Riemer

I was also greeted by Mike Reimer of Salsa Cycles happy face. We were chatting and I was saying how happy I was to be finished, how it it took longer than I expected and BAM there was my 45NRTH teammate, Jill Martindale, just 3 mins behind me. Whew! I had no idea she was that close and it was her 1st time racing the AH135. Great job Jill! Looks like I’m gonna have to do some more of this training stuff to keep up with the kids these days. AHfinish16Jill.jpg
Photo courtesy of Jill Martindale

I am proud and honored to be a part of the Arrowhead 135 race and for receiving the spirit award this year. I am also super stoked for the three peat and currently being the winningest bike racer of the Arrowhead 135, Female or Male.

Within 4 hours I was on a plane and back in Idaho that night at 11pm. As I was driving home I saw a few deer, a herd of Elk and 2 Moose all on the road. Ahhh, home sweet home. I got my furboys the next day and we snuggled happily ever after.

Next up, Iditarod Trail Invitational! See you out there!


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