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.

Gear & Prep
September 24, 2010
As I prepare for the arrival of the Mukluk (I sounds like a parent awaiting the birth of a child), as well as planning for the Arrowhead, I'm kind of in full "gear prep" mode right now. I'm reviewing my notes from last season, thinking about clothes, and considering gear changes for the upcoming winter.

It's pretty obvious that I was a total noob last season when it came to riding the pug around, and really it took about two months to get it sorted out. And even then, I'm not sure if I had it worked out all that well. For example, two mistakes I kept making were wearing my parka and wearing my wool hat under my helmet. There were a couple of times I was seriously overheating to the point where it could have been dangerous.

Other mistakes:
- Pushing too hard. Pushing a pug at 10-12 mph works in some conditions, but on a couple of rides I was doing it in the snow with a headwind. I bet I if I was running a heart rate monitor I'd have been way out there trying to commute at high intensity. Not surprising I'd bonk after an hour of this. I need to slow down and not expend so much energy and just accept that this bike is slower than my road bike. 8-10 is "fast" and 6-8 is "normal". Expect my fat tire commute to take between 75 and 90 minutes.
- Not knowing the bike well enough. I should have been able to fix my flat. Even if I had tools, I had not yet learned the "need to loosen the disk caliper" trick to getting the wheel off.
- Using a messenger bag - all this did was make my neck and shoulder hurt and make my back sweat more.
- Running too high air pressure. This is really an art, as its somewhat counter-intuitive that lower pressure can make things easier. But what you don't realize is that at higher pressures you end up fighting the bike more, thus causing fatigue. Slow down, lower the pressure, and let the bike do its job. Finding that right pressure, however, is kind of tricky.
- Trying to wear glasses and goggles. Just doesn't work. I have purposely started wearing contacts for that reason.

I think by rearranging my gear, adding a few new bits, and adjusting my expectations I'll have a more pleasent and productive winter riding season. I'm going to switch over my computer to the Muk when it arrives, do some heart rate stats and take copious notes on stuff. Looking at helmets now, and reevaluating all my clothing choices. I ordered a frame bag, am looking at rack options, and got Power Straps for the pedals. I also will be doing some long rides, of course, to see what works after several hours.

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