Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Arrowhead 135 Report Well I made it back from the great white north. It's cold up there! Where to start? Sunday I left for International Falls at 4:00am. Four hours later I was there, and headed into the local Holiday Inn for the gear check. I was the first one there to get checked by the gear nazi, Donny. Who made sure everyone had their emergency pound of butter. Mmmmm! Everything was good to go so I hung around to see what everyone else had for equipment. Some looked like they had the bare essentials, and others brought everything but the kitchen sink. Lots of different setups. Stock mountain bikes, custom Evingson Cycles, and my personal favorite the Pugsley. As impressive as all the bikes were, the most impressive thing was the runners. 135 miles on foot? No thank you. After everyone got checked in there was a meeting on all of the rules. At the end of the meeting they drew names for six pairs of Ice Bike gloves from Vulpine Adaptive. Very nice gloves, and luckily I was one of the six names drawn. I put them to good use late Monday night. I met a fellow biker named Matt Maxwell who needed somewhere to sleep for the night. So, I offered up some carpet space in my room. I guess he is going to do Trans-Iowa V.2 this year as well. I can't wait until April. We went and had supper at the hotel restaurant and watched some of the Super Bowl. Checked and rechecked our equipment. Then off to bed. Here is a few pictures of our bikes and one of Matt with his 1x1. Nice.

Notice the nicely crafted custom frame bag. Thanks again Cheryl. It was a lifesaver.

Matt packed a lot lighter than I did.

The Race 5:00am came way to fast. I had my cell phone, watch, alarm clock and a wake up call to make sure I didn't oversleep. Wouldn't want another PR state games. I forgive you Brian : ) Anyway, we headed out to the shuttle vans. Loaded up the bikes, and we were on our way to the start line. Getting out of the van was painful. -18 degrees F. With a slight wind to kick it up a notch. 32 racers in all. 4 runners, 2 skiers and 26 bikers. At 7:00am we were off. The first section of the trail was a 8 mile out and back stretch. I wish the rest of the trail was as flat as this section was. It was also nice and firm because it was so cold. By the time we got to the turn around point Matt's beard had frozen solid. Ho ho ho. Later in the day he would eat the ice out of it for water. He said that the ice was clanging together like a wind chime. Unfortunately this would be the first and last picture during the race. It seems that digital cameras don't like extreme cold, and neither do I.

By the time we got back to the start of the out and back section, there were already three race ending mechanicals. Two blown out hubs and a broken derailer hanger. This made me glad I choose a single speed, but too bad I choose the wrong gearing.

I was riding behind last years winner, Matt Evingson, when his chain broke. It was a nasty break. The chain wrapped up into the derailer cage and was wedged pretty good in there. There was nothing I could do to help so I rode on. I heard he eventually got it fixed, but would drop out around mile 38 with knee problems.

I rode with Charlie Farrow to the Gateway Store at mile 38. They had some good beef stew and hot chocolate to warm us up. Charlie was in and out. I decided to stay a while and warm up. It was around noon at this point, so the sun was starting to soften up the trail a little. Up until this point we were averaging around 7.5 mph. Which was fast for my overgeared 62 lb behemoth of a bike. But I slowed down quite a bit after the store. This is also where the hills got a lot steeper.

Josh Peterson and I rode/walked this next section of the trail together. Pushing a bike up a hill is no fun, but there was always a nice downhill on the other side. I would say I hit 30mph or better on a few of them. Scary, but fun. We plugged away at the hills, and finally made it to the check point, Melgeorge Resort, at mile 70 on Elephant Lake. It was around 6:30pm at that point. Donny, the gear nazi, and Bonnie, the soup nazi, were there with soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. That hit the spot. At that point my back was pretty sore from all the pushing up the hills. We decided to sleep until around 4:00am and then get going again. I got my drop bag, changed clothes and laid down for a rest.

Well, around 10:30pm Stephen Reginold talked me into going out with him. Only 65 miles to go with the middle 20 of that supposed to be the hilliest section of the trail. Followed by the last 20. Which was supposed to be the fastest part. We headed out in 7th and 8th place. My back was feeling better and we were going relatively fast. It had cooled down considerably and the trail was hard as a rock. After a good three hours we were feeling pretty good about how far we had ridden.

That's when the fun started. We came to a fork in the trail. One way was a logging road, the other way was a trail the went north. We are supposed to be headed south to Tower, MN. Something wasn't right. We pulled out the maps, and couldn't figure out where we were at. We figured we had rode at least 15-20 miles, but none of the trails on the map matched up to this one. After 20 minutes of standing around trying to figure it out, I was getting extremely COLD. I broke out my down jacket, newly acquired Vulpine Adaptive gloves and the ultra stylish Mad Bomber Hat. That warmed me up and we decided to go back the way we came.

A short distance later and we find a sign that says "Melgeorge Resort 5 miles". Somehow we had taken a wrong turn and made a big loop all the way back by the resort. We were not very happy at that point. All those hard miles for nothing. We followed the trail back to the resort. It was 2:45am when we got back. After another warm cup of soup we found where we had gone wrong on the map. We made a left when we should have made a right. The trails aren't marked the best, but we should have realized it sooner. We got our sleeping bags out and went to sleep until morning.

Around 7:00am there were a few bikers heading out, including Stephen, and remarkably one runner was there as well. He came in around 5:00am, and now he was heading out again! At this point my knees were stiff as a board and mentally I was done. I did not want anything to do with those hills. I went and got breakfast at the resort, came back and scratched out of the race.

By the time I drove to the finish to pick up my finish line drop bag: Charlie had finished the entire route. Matt Maxwell, Josh and Stephen where all somewhere between Melgeorge and the finish line. I hope they all made it safely. By the way the winning biker finished the entire route in 16 hours! That is IMPRESSIVE!

70 miles of the Arrowhead trail, some of it twice, and a bonus loop in between. Not bad for a flatlander from ND. I learned more about winter biking in that little bit of trail than I ever knew before. I'm looking forward to next year! I'll have to put the Pugsley on a diet, and work on my gear ratio selection.

A big thanks to everyone who helped me get to race in the first place! Terry, Monty, Pat, Sears, and Austin at The Ski and Bike Shop. Rick "Budget" Mangan. (write a post for your blog already : ) And another big thanks to Pierre Ostor and all the volunteers at the Arrowhead 135 for putting on one challenging and fun event. Good luck to Pierre up in Alaska. He's going to bike the 1100 mile Iditarod Trail Invitational route coming up in two weeks.

Now I have some clothes and gear to dry out. Good night : )


Anonymous said...

amazing effort regardless of the outcome! Just starting a race like this makes you mentally stronger than 99% of uss out there!

Brooks Leedahl said...

most impressive. i've never ridden for 70 miles before, let alone on a cold snowy trail.

Jeff Kerkove said...


G-reg said...

Good work, Simmons hopefully your HUGE juevos didn't get damaged while they were hiding in your torso. I was waiting impatiently to hear about a last minute "Ice-Yoshiba" Pugsly sprint to the finish. Did you have different gears on the F/R wheels? Next year you could have a climbing gear and a flat's gear. If you'd man up and run Fixie you could have 4 ratios to choose from without worring about your brake. But since you won't go Fixie, you should look at White Ind's "Dos Eno" cranks and Freewheels. You there are two cogs/rings and they are off by a few teeth. For example you get a 32/34 chainring and a 18/16 freewheel, and you can change from 32/18 to 34/16 without changing the chain length or where the hub has to be to tension it. Then you have some ratios to choose from and still have SS reliability.

Anonymous said...

way to go!

Simmons said...

Thanks for the words of encouragement everyone.

Greg, very good ideas. But, the flip flop hubs won't work because of the offset design of the wheels. It might line up on one side, but the other side would be too far inside the wheel and the chain would rub on the tire. The Dos Enos sound promising, but I need at least a 30x22 unless I can dump a lot of weight off the Pugs. I know white industries has a 23 tooth freewheel that might work well with a 32 tooth chainring.

As for my juevos. They are fine. It's amazing how far inside you they will go in the cold. One of the runners that came in to the check point said he fell asleep standing up while peeing. Ouch! "I was in the pool, I was in the pool"

Lane said...

Davatello, I am proud of you. You entered a man, and now im sure you are an even harrier man. You truly live up to your name the Big Aristotle.

Brian said...

Awesome Vino!

That really sucks about the wrong turn, especially with all the energy/time that was spent on it.

See you soon man!

Endurosnob said...

Nice Job Man!!

Anonymous said...

Nice write-up Dave. I finished at about 5pm on Tuesday after getting lost at the finish. I went about 5 miles too far and had to turn around and come back. I'll write my own experiences up soon.

Simmons said...

Congratulations Matt! Good to hear you made it okay. I can't wait to hear your write up.

Julie B said...

BRRRR! Good job in the cold. Will you try it again? Just spoke with Scott, who did 70 on foot, he'll be back next year. I guess I should never say never..

Simmons said...

Yeah, I'll definitely be back next year!

Rick Karboviak said...

Hey Dave,

Big props to you on being a crazy Curfman rellie & doing such a wild race. I hate shoveling snow, let alone thinking about riding a loaded-down bike through 135 miles of trail. The dude with the icicle beard is wild! You must drink a higher concoction of Crazy Juice than I do.

I guess I will be doing some crazy stuff, too, I'll be starting up my fitness boot camps soon and doing a lot of walking/running for 4 to 5 hours a day. And then I'll have track practice with my long distance kids after school...I should have some kick-ass 5K times this summer and be fully tuned up for tri's, too.

You should think about the TRF triathlon, its May 20th, a Saturday. I'll be on a tri-relay team this year as the running leg of the team. I plan to try and do 1-2 sprint tri's this summer.

Keep up the craziness....