Feb 3, 2013

Arrowhead 135 V2013

Arrowhead 135 V2013
After all the hours spent preparing for really cold weather the forecast calls for temps near freezing and snow on Monday night.
The Arrowhead begins with the gear check on Sunday afternoon, a great time to visit with old friends that you may only see at the race than a short time later it’s on to the racers meeting and the spaghetti dinner. Saw Mike S, Tim E, and Jeremy K. At the dinner along with a lot of other familiar faces. And after a good night’s sleep the race starts not so bright but early at 7 AM Monday morning. The temps were in the mid 20’s for the start. Got off to a good start, the trail was soft as expected but was able to ride pretty well. The beginning was uneventful for the most part, was pushing it a little and had several low speed crashes. The front tire would get off the track and sink down to the hub than I would usually go over the handlebars. This happened several times, jammed my thumb one time. Made good time to Gateway store which is the first checkpoint at 35 miles, pulled in and had some food (which was free this year thanks to the sponsors). I only had 1 can of pop to drink which I regretted later, I should have drunk more. I left the checkpoint at about 1:30 in the afternoon, great time. After this first checkpoint the trail becomes very hilly so it is a little slower going but the trail was actually better, I still made good time, saw John K and Chris W out on the trail and we leap frogged each other several times. With a lot of concentration on finding the best line to ride I still was able to ride most of it. We got a little snow and sleet but not much and I was hoping we were going to luck out and not get any more. Things went well and I pulled into Melgeorges the ½ way check point at a little after 8 PM which was 12 hours of pedaling or 13 hours into the race, right about on plan.
Got some food and drink and tried to sleep but couldn’t so I packed up and left at 10:41 PM.
Chris and John had left about 40 minutes before me so their tracks were out there and a few others but by now there was 3 to 4 inches of new snow on the trail. I could see from the tracks of the others that they were riding some I was walking the whole way since leaving Melgeorges. And eventually all the tracks ahead of me were walking. When somebody had broken trail ahead of me I could walk at about 2 MPH. At about 2 or 3 in the morning I passed John and Chris and 1 other person(Sam H) bivied alongside the trail at the same time I saw the light of 1 other biker ahead of me. Within ½ hour I had caught up to Jill from CO, we stopped and talked for a minute and then continued on taking turns breaking trail since there was now about 6 inches of new snow. Well I ended up walking a lot faster than Jill and got well ahead of her, and after a couple of hours of breaking trail at the amazing speed of 1.5 MPH I was beat and at 5 AM decided to bivy for awhile. So I stomped out a depression in the snow, rolled out my sleeping outfit and as soon as I was inside of it I was asleep. I slept fitfully for 2 and ½ hours and by 8 AM was out on the trail again.
When I got out on the trail again I saw a skier (Mark Scotch) had passed me during the night and Jill had also passed me. A few miles down the trail I passed a shelter and I could see by the tracks that several bikers had bivied there and now they were out on the trail ahead of me also.
About 9 AM I reached the Hwy 23 crossing and Jill was there loading her bike up into a truck. She told me she had walked all night and now was pulling out of the race. She said she had seen the 3 bikers who had bivied at the shelter and they had also withdrawn at Hwy 23 and ridden into town. She also had seen the skier Mark Scotch during the night. When she had gotten to Hwy 23 the film crew that was following Mark was just leaving and they had given her a ride into the town of Orr where she had called for a ride. She offered me a ride but I said no, I was going to continue on.
Well now I was back to breaking trail thru 8 inches of new snow again. Even though there were ski tracks ahead of me they weren’t much help in breaking trail so I was back to moving along at about 1.5 MPH. I was hoping all along that trail conditions would improve i.e. a snowmobiler would come along or I would come across the tracks of some other bikers but things didn’t improve so after another hour of this trudging along I figured I was not making fast enough forward progress, and the next place ahead of me that I could withdraw from the race was 20 miles, so I decided to drop and I turned around and headed back to Hwy 23. It took me about another hour to get back to Hwy 23 and when I arrived there were 4 other bikers there contemplating whether to drop. Well we all decided to withdraw there and ride into the town of Orr. Myself, Chris W, John K, Sam H, and Kory. Kory’s ride arrived before we got to Orr but the rest of us rode into Orr and sat at the only bar in town till our rides arrived. I hitched a ride with Sam and his wife back to the finish line at Fortune Bay and from there caught a shuttle the next day back to I Falls where my car was.
I really would have liked to finish this year and completed the trifacta (run,ski,bike) but it wasn’t to be. It probably was a good idea to withdraw when I did because by the time I got to Orr my feet were really raw and blistered from all the walking in wet boots.
Maybe another time.


Matt Maxwell said...

It was a tough one out there. I salute you for giving it a try on the "skinny" tires. I'm always happy to see people trying it on something other than a fat bike. Reminds me of the "old days" back when the race started. You'll get it next year.

BTW if you need/want to use a fat bike you're welcome to borrow mine. It needs to get some race time.

Jim said...

Thanks for the offer Matt. At this point I don't know what I will do

Ji!! said...

MAD RESPECT to you Jim for heading out on the skinnies! Great to meet you and bummed you had to call it, but that's racing....Will I see you next year at the start line?