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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.

The Big Question
February 17, 2011
So the question everyone is asking me is if I'll do it again next year.

Well, I don't know. Eric said "Why wouldn't you? You have all the gear and everything dialed in now." And yes, he has a point. I've even made a list of the problems, solutions, changes, and ideas for improvement (it's long) while everything was fresh in my mind. Even with some really minor changes - like not losing my drop bag - I could probably shave off two hours from my time.

I met a lot of people who have done this event multiple times. While I was out there, I often thought "Why would someone do this more than once? This is hell." Then again, this is a just bike race. Why do people sign up for more than one tour to a war zone?

And I'm still recovering. After a few days of rest, the cold kicked in. I've heard of this happening to other endurance event participants, that after the event when you use all your reserves you body is pretty suseptable to infection of one sort or another. Usually when I get a cold, battle it for a couple days, then I'm ok to at least work. Last week I felt kind of crappy on sunday, monday was feeling bad enough to leave work early, took tuesday off thinking that would be the "bad" day, tried to work wednesday and thursday but wasn't getting better and in fact still getting worse, then ended up taking friday off as well and was really knocked out. Now its a week later and I'm still on a bit of a roller coaster as to how I feel. I am still really tired a lot of the time. It's hard to consider doing the event again when I'm still tired from the last one.

Three things are still bothering me physically: My back hurts in near my neck and left shoulder. I think this is from pushing, but the funny thing is its really the skin that is sensitive, not really the muscle. It feels almost like a sunburn. There is no color change at all, so I don't think it's frostbite or anything - though cold air may have been able to find it way down there between my helmet and coat. My right leg is sore near my hip, which I originally thought was also from the hills. But I did the bike commute yesterday, and as soon as I started pedaling I could feel that muscle. So am I using too much right leg? Bad bike adjustment? And the tip of my big toe on the right is kind of numb. I think this is from having the nail cut too short and it rubbing on the inside of my boot for the duration of the race. Its not frostbite, it feels more like a "vibration numbness" if that makes sense. (For the record, my boots were fantastic - my feet were never cold).

Its not so much the event itself that has me aprehensive, but the training time that I think is necessary for success - the long weekend rides and all-weather riding during the week. I feel like a lot of other things were put to the side last fall to make room for training, and some of those things I miss.

In any case, I've started bike commuting again this week as there is now plenty of daylight, and I'm more comfortable with the cars and snow when there is more light. I also rigged up a DIY fender for the Mukluk so I don't get (totally) soaked since its warm and the snow is melting (though that probably won't last - it'll get cold again before March). I wish my cold would get over so I don't feel exhausted when I get home.

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