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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.

Frustrated, Inc.
November 9, 2011
Still feeling pretty tired most of the time, though I think I might be getting though the toughest part of the training. I'm sort of at the bottom where the amount of training I have been doing has fully tapped me out, and from here (hopefully) I'll really begin to feel the changes and begin to feel stronger. For us old guys, it can take a while for changes to happen...

So it was kind of a tough week. The riding went ok, but I had a couple of issues with the bike. I decided to repeat the previous week's long ride, though with more trail and less of the massive hills on either end, just because my legs were feeling spent. So the initial plan was to do three laps on the trail, with one round of hill on either side. On the first hill, before getting to the trail, I broke my chain. Can't say I was real surprised, though it was frustrating. I put this chain on right before the arrowhead last year, so it has a full spring of salt and crud, then a couple of months of just sitting there, then a lot of dirty riding on it this fall. Complete and total abuse. I found a flat place and set about popping out the bad links (I carry a chain tool). Finishing that, I rode on (having lost about 20 minutes). However, the drive train was making a new noise now, so I knew something wasn't quite right. I really heard it when passing a wall at one point, and stopped to investigate. I threaded the chain incorrectly though the rear derailleur. Grr! As I was getting ready to sort that out, I noticed another cracked chain link. Well, I guess that's where I'll take the chain apart and pop that out, too. A quick look over the chain didn't reveal any other broken links, but it would be very easy to over look.



Fixing the chain again and I was on my way, feeling a bit cautious and worried about having to walk miles. After a while I relaxed and began to enjoy the ride more, and started to shoot some new video. On this ride I brought along a bunch of photo gear and two cameras. But having lost a lot of time already I didn't end up doing as much as I'd planned. I also tossed a 10 lb. weight in my bag just for the hell of it. Similar to my riding around last year with a trailer full of weight, this is better because the weight is more similar to the load on the race.

Previously during the week I'd set about to make a solid camera mount on the bike for the GoPro. In the end, a very simple (and light) solution presented itself. I just put a U-bolt on the stem that is the same thread as a tripod, then attached the GoPro tripod mount to that. It's rock solid - better than anything else I've tried - and simple enough that I think I can work it with gloves on.



So with that and my other video cam and a tripod the goal was to shoot some additional video. Some of the shots got messed up because of a big splop of mud on the lens, but for the most part I got the shots I was looking for.

On my way home I picked up a new chain and proceeded to get that fixed up. There were, in fact, two more cracked links - so I was pretty lucky to make it though the full ride.

I was kind of hoping for some snow/rain mix this week for wet commute footage, but it didn't happen. Probably a good thing since yesterday I had a tire problem on my way home. About halfway home I noticed the rear getting low, and it gradually kept getting worse as I rode. By the time I got to Portland, about 10 blocks from home, it was bad and I was pushing really hard. I made it home with some air, but decided to walk the block up my alley rather than risk possibly bending the new rim.

That gave me an opportunity to try my first big bike experiment - using standard mountain bike tubes. Up until now I'd been running Surly fat tire tubes, which are really heavy. Standard mountain tubes are almost a pound lighter each. So I swapped out the tube and added some reflecto-goodness to the wheel as well. I like playing with reflective material; my goal is to add reflective bits in places where it isn't otherwise noticeable. For the wheels, I added some tape behind a few of the holes in the rims, so it flashes as it rotates by. Again its hardly noticeable in the daylight, but at night the effect is quite dramatic. Of course this is no substitute for proper lights - I have some nice blinkies, too - but drivers are stupid and extra visibility is good.

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