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Often described as one of the toughest bike races in the lower 48 states, the Arrowhead 135 challenges even the most prepared riders. This is a journal by a non-athlete's participation in an event where starting is often just as much a challenge as finishing.

Autumn is the best
October 11, 2010
It was kind of a weird day yesterday. I guess the first part was a typical Sunday for me now - long ride day. I got up and decided to load up the mountain bike and trailer for some gravel riding. While I had kind of wanted to do something harder, I expected the Luce Line trail to be reaching about peak fall color. I remember riding part of it in the summer thinking "this will be great in the fall" - so I decided to do that even though it's dead flat, and I wasn't disappointed.

I planned to be more systematic about eating and drinking, and I had a new Camelbak that I was able to score at the REI fall sale. The total time was about 5.5 hours, on both gravel and pavement. I also loaded the trailer with 25 lbs of dead weight, for a total trailer weight approaching 40 pounds. I could feel that. This is prob getting close to the weight of the snow bike. Total wieght of everything was maybe 55-60 pounds, so it might still be a little light.

All-in -all, I feel this went a little better than the previous week's century, though it was just a bit shorter. I wasn't as tired nor as sore, but at the same time it was an easier ride - shorter and flat. So I'm thinking I need to start using this setup on a route with hills. Next week might be this bike equipment on the dakota county hill route. THAT will hurt.

"Train hard, travel easy." - so says Eric.

Where it starting getting weird was as I was on the return trip and got a call from Roz Savage. I used to be Roz's web guy - I designed a version or two of her site and did her blogging / tracking / etc. She kind of outgrew my ability to keep up with her needs, and she had offers from agencies to do the work for free, so it made sense for her to move on. I've not really spoken to her in a couple of years. Anyway, she was in town for a small house party-style presentation, and would I like to come out and be a part of it. I had nothing else going on so why not?

I arrived at the house, let myself in as instructed by a sign on the door, and found Roz in the kitchen engaged in conversation with someone. She spotted me and gave me a bright "hello", and the person she was talking to turned around and I realized it was Will Steger! Now, I have to admit that our circle of friends and associates overlaps to some degree. Minnesota - perhaps unsurprisingly but somewhat modestly (as is the Minnesota way) - is quite a hub of polar exploration and adventure. I have met most of the people from Minnesota or the area who are involved in expeditions at one time or another. However, I'd not yet met Will and it was a great surprise and pleasure. It wasn't hard to find things to chat about, especially Eric, but I didn't want to move the limelight away from Roz (she was, after all, the guest of honor), so after a brief bit of discussion about people we both know, I asked Roz to update me on her project.

Roz and I have a long, and sometimes arduous history. We have similar ideas, and have worked well together and got along great. But like any good friends we've had issues, mostly in that she had a lot of ideas and desires, and I only had a limited amount if time to dedicate to her project. I am, however, glad that through it all and her moving on to other support people that we've been able to remain on good terms - I think we were probably both ready to be working with other people by the time she started the second leg of her Pacific row.

I learned quite a bit from Roz about positioning oneself in the expedition game, but prob the most relevant is that you can basically do what you set your mind to do. In looking at some old email, its quite interesting to see her plan form, talking about 7 years down the road, etc., and here 7 years later seeing that plan having happened basically the way to envisioned. Sure there were setbacks and failures, but she made it work, and for that I am duly impressed. She made the transition from office drone to adventurer.

She paid a hefty price for it, though. She gave up a lot. Almost everything, really. She and Eric are like two extremes. Eric sort of grew up being an adventurer. He worked odd jobs and things to enable his outdoor treks and racing. Roz kind of had a "normal" life but gave it all up and taught herself to be an adventurer as an adult.

She talked a bit about finding her message and her voice, espically during her atlantic row. Again, I first go with the 'because it's there' mentality in that these things are a challenge and an adventure. Those alone justify it as worth doing, at least in my opinion. But at the same time, I can think about why I like cycling, and what I hope can be achieved by continuing to make cycling popular, and then maybe allow some of those thoughts and ideas to become part of the message.

Can the bicycle help save America and the world? Begin with one errand? One pedal stroke at a time?

Maybe.

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