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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.

Halloween and Creepy Abandoned Places
November 1, 2010
I'd like to believe its days like yesterday that are the most valuable. I got up late, was tired, and to be perfectly honest was less than motivated to go do my long ride. It was a busy holiday weekend and there were a lot of other things that I could have been doing that would have been both productive and helpful. But the weather was ok and so I loaded up the trailer and did a long session with hills and wind. In the end it worked out ok.

As many have said, one of the hardest things about training is not the work out itself, its just simply doing it routinely. I mean really, there isn't much excitement or interest in a 6 hour bike ride. Its kind of boring. And you're not worth a lot when it's done. It blows the whole day (especially when you start 2 hours later than usual).

There is, however, one pretty interesting part of this ride: UMore Park. It's a large area owned by the university at the southern point of my ride. There are some kind of old ruins there, and by old I mean like from 40s or 50s (maybe?). Weird cement structures and stuff - sort of looks like an abondoned military base. When I was there, I had the idea that it looked like the ruins of a post-apocalyptic future where we tried to stop the catastrophy, but were too late. It would be a fun place to film a movie.

Last week was a bit broken from a training perspective. I had to skip riding for a couple of days. We were trapped in a nasty wind storm - one of the lowest pressure storms ever recorded over the central states had parked itself over Minneota. The low pressure created a storm with 30+ mph steady winds and gusts over 50 mph. Stuff was flying around, power, streetlights and signals are out and driving was a problem. Combined with rain and now sleet/snow, this has made conditions very dangerous for riding - at least it crossed my own personal threshold of where I feel riding in traffic is too hazardous.

So instead I was been thinking about gear. Another major accessory for the Mukluk showed up last week, the rear rack. All that is left now to come is the frame bag from Revelate, which ought to be here in a few weeks. I'm glad I got my order in for that when I did.

The rack is a lightweight Old Man Mountain model for mountain bikes, and should work well. OMM is a quality brand and the rack is strong and light. I decided that overall, a rack would offer me greater flexibility than a seat bag, even if a little heavier. And between the frame bag and either one or two panniers I ought to have enough storage capacity without needing to load the handlebars, though I might just strap the sleeping pad on there.

The next step is to start collecting up all the "other" stuff thats needed, test it, fit it, weigh it, evaluate it and get it set to go. Things like a stove. Eric dropped me a link to an alcohol stove that is super light, but I'm not sure. Seems marginal in performance and somewhat hard to use. I'm still thinking I might give my whisper light a good cleaning and maybe get a new pump and carry that. Using it out on the trail would require some advanced planning - its not something that would be easy once fingers start going numb.

And while heavy, I'm also contemplating carrying a thermos of something like a hot electrolyte drink. This would be good insurance against hypothermia. The weight is a concern, however. I need to get all of this organized and weigh it to see what I will be willing to push. I realize that all my decisions are probably increasing weight, so I need to either find some compromises or get stronger... :-)

This week I might start laying out all my clothing and putting together possible combinations and seeing if there is anything missing. I have a lot of clothes now, but quite a bit of it is variations of base layers or mid-wieght stuff - in other words I may have too much duplication in one area and not enough options in another. Laying it out and making up some "outfits" will help find missing pieces.  

Ok bike. Really. If you want to get here early, thats cool. I'm ready to start riding...

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