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.

Tuscobia Trail
September 26, 2010
I'm getting back into a pretty good training rhythm again, which is good. Today's run was a technical trail ride of a little more 50 miles. The trail itself wasn't technical, what made it challenging was dodging all the joggers, strollers, dogs, kids, and the occasional biker stopped in the middle of the trail.

I was hoping that the 44 degree temp would keep people inside, but the sun was out and it was an exceptionally beautiful day so I'm not really surprised, and not really bothered by it.

Its a gravel trail, so I ran the mountain bike with the BOB trailer. I loaded up the trailer with a bunch of stuff, and added a 15 pound free weight to the mix for good measure. I suspect the trailer weighed about 30 total, making the whole rig weigh close to what the mukluk might weigh when loaded.

Total time was just over 4 hours. I was hoping for 5 hours, but I ran out of trail and didn't have a map. No real pains, either, except my ass. I'm disliking the saddle on the StumpJumper. I bought new shoes a few weeks ago, and that has helped fix the soreness that I was feeling in my left foot. My hands were ok, though my gloves are shot.

I feel like need to get beyond these 4 hour runs and start increasing my ride times.

The coordinators of the Arrowhead posted info about another race in northern Wisconsin, in December, with 75 and 150 mile options. Called the Tuscobia Ultra, it is an old rail bed trail that is multi-use in the winter as well.

The more I thought about this, the more I thought making a serious effort to do the 75 would be a good idea. While I won't have much time on the Mukluk by then, the shorter distance and flat trail would make this a great "shakedown" ride to test equipment and technique, as well as being a long ride that I should be able to do by then. Last year's winner completed in just over 10 hours, and I expect my time would be something in the 12-14 range.

This is still a very long day of bike riding, but I need to be able to do two of these back to back for the Arrowhead, so it seems like a perfect time to go for a single, in a competitive environment, with all the new gear.

All, of course, assuming I can put all the gear together by then. November is going to be a busy month with getting everything acquired, sorted, configured, tested and attached.

Snow & weather conditions are also a variable, as in mid-December there could be anything from no snow at all to over a foot base, and temps could be anything from about 0F to 40F. What we DO NOT want, is snow early, followed by a warm up. Nothing soft. Best case would be week or two old snow and about 15 degrees. Also, as a bonus, I really hope for clear skies. The moon is just 2 days before full, and given that the race begins at 9 am and I won't be finishing until about midnight, that leaves about 7 hours of riding after dark. The moon will be very high and very bright that night.

Image: Tuscobia Trail in winter - flat and straight

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