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.

105 Miles
October 4, 2010
Another century complete. 105 miles, actually. Pretty much a perfect day for riding - cool, dry, sunny. Really could not have asked for better weather.

This one wasn't quite as smooth as the last one. First, I think the route was harder, given that there wasn't 25 miles of old rail bed at the beginning. For this one I was down south of the cities, doing the Ironman route. While I had collected up most of the stuff I'd need the evening before, getting out of the house was tricky. I didn't give myself enough time in the morning. Add in that I needed to take my daughter and drop her off on the way. We left the house and within about a mile both realized we'd forgot our phones. I'd made coffee and didn't drink any of it. I forgot a spare water bottle. Just little stuff.

I met up with my riding partner, and we got started a little after 8; I was riding with a friend from work. This was a specific decision to invite someone along, as having someone else in the mix adds some other challenges. I knew that my partner would prob be faster than me, but not hugely so. Just enough to stretch me a bit. The wind worked well for our route (I planned that, too), started off with very light winds for the first quarter, the sencond quarter was against the wind, third quarter was a mostly cross wind, and for the last segment we had the wind behind us. It's always best to have the wind behind at the end.

First mistake was not peeing right before I left. I kind of had to go at the beginning, but the trouble is when you kind of feel like going you sort of stop drinking more. I think the result was that I got started somewhat under hydrated, and didn't really make it up from there.

Next mistake was not putting any food in my pockets, but rather leaving my snacks in my backpack. I don't like to stop that much, and my partner liked to stop even less. The result was that I was eating later in the process than I normally would have. A lot of this was just not wanting to stop if the other guy didn't want to stop, or if I was behind and he couldn't see me. We hit 55 miles, and I was looking for some lunch. I could feel I needed a refueling with more than a ouple clif bars, but we were drifting though a little town without finding a place to stop, so we moved on. It was 10 more miles before stopping for lunch. If I were alone, i would have either trolled a little more for a place to eat, or at least just stopped on the side of the road.

I mean I KNEW this while we were riding, so I could have just said "I gotta stop and dig something out to eat..." but I didn't want to slow us down. Even though I did eventually get some food, I think I was just kind of running "short" all day and was perhaps more fatigued than normal. If I would have had a bit of food in my pockets, I could have just ate some stuff while moving - gel shot, shot block, mojo bar, anything - until we got to a stopping place.

So the lesson here is to maybe just keep on training by myself and do my own thing - set up routines, stop and eat, drink and pee when I feel necessary, and just listen better to my body. There were times on this ride, more than the last 100 miler that I did, where I wasn't having fun. While I like riding with people, I think the added dimension made it a little less structured and controlled than I normally like.

A few times during the ride I consciously took stock of the various parts of my body, starting with my hands. I'm not sure why but I think in general I didn't feel as well as last time. I mean my hands kind of hurt/had tinglies, my neck is still sore (cheap backpack), my ass kind of was bothering me at times, feet were generally ok. I generated a lot of snot. Most of the soreness kicked in about hour 3, but didn't get a lot worse. One of the things I tell myself is that these various aches are going to change with my new bike. New bars, new position, new saddle, new pedals/shoes. None of what is going on now really applies. Its also possible that the 1 hour walk the day before was a factor in how my legs felt.

Another thing that was going though my mind was how far would this time/energy expenditure get me on the Arrowhead trail? Half average speed was 7-8 mph, still fast on the Arrowhead. I was out for just over 7 hours, with about a 20 minute stop. So if I compare it, what I did yesterday would get me to about the first checkpoint at 35 miles. Maybe a little further, though not much. The easiest section of the route. Its kind of a depressing thought. I'm good to go for the first quarter! (sarcasm).

Now, could I have done more yesterday? Probably. How much more I'm not sure, but likely not another 100. Could I do another 100 today felling like I do now and having rested 16 hours? Probably. What could I have changed to improve what happened yesterday? Show down a little bit? Eat/drink more? Used the heart rate monitor to box in my energy levels? Taking stock today, my neck still is sore - so the "carrying water on my back" problem needs a solution. My legs are still a bit sore, no surprise there. And generally I'm pretty tired, would like to take a nap now. Maybe I need to eat more...

Another question I keep having is if I'm improving. I did 100 miles a month ago. Was yesterday's 100+ any better that last months?

BTW - bike did ok, even if I could 'feel' the drivetrain all day. I want to replace it, but the list of stuff I need for the Mukluk is growing and money is drifting out in that direction. If I can just keep it going for a few hundred more miles...

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