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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.

First Snow
November 20, 2011
The Saturday forecast was for snow and about 30F, so I changed up the weekend plans to go out and play. I think everyone else in the area with a fatbike had the same idea :-) I saw quite a few other riders while I was out. I left around 10 am, with the intention of doing about 6 hours. A little over an hour into the ride, the snow came as promised - starting slowly then building as the afternoon went on. By the time I arrived at my designated turn-around point, it was snowing pretty hard the the trail noticeably more difficult. By this time probably more than an inch had fallen, and it was snowing harder.

I was feeling a little chilled, so stopping to eat came just at the right time. I was also a little nervous about my feet since I wasn't wearing boots. I did have covers on, but I'd already stepped into a creek once, and had to cross three again to get back. I did have on two layers of wool socks, and so far I was maintaining.

Other than not really having good footwear for this sort of day, I called my clothing choice pretty well. Knowing that it was going to be snowing, I opted for long pants, a helmet cover, and my mitten shells to keep my hands warm. In addition, I brought my rain shell along though I didn't start with and put it on only after it was snowing pretty hard.

With the additional effort the snow was giving me along with some food I warmed up pretty fast. The snow was coming harder and was pretty wet, so my glasses fogged up to the point where I had to take them off. If I dropped a layer I'd have ended up getting pretty wet, which was worse than being on the slightly warm side. As I was, I would have had different issues if I planned to be out longer. The sweat output would not have been sustainable without getting chilled from the inside.

The last couple of hours the going was pretty tough. I never really dropped my air pressure, thinking the roads might be in better shape when I returned to pavement, but I probably could have and made my life easier. In the end it probably didn't matter much with the hard base under the snow. The parts that were sandy were harder, but I don't think it mattered all that much on the rest of it.

I was pretty wrecked when I got home, a little less than 6 hours after leaving. I knew I was running out of fuel an hour or so out from getting home, but rather than stop and dig out more food I just pressed on to home. I really shouldn't do that - it took a long time to recover.

I didn't shoot much video, but instead put the gopro into time-lapse and just tried to get a couple of decent frames.

My bike is filthy now, from the last two weeks. I could probably wash a pound of grit and mud off of it. I need to do that and lube the chain. No other real gear or bike changes this week. This is going to be a difficult week to maintain a rhythm - the holidays kind of mess things up. I do, however, have more miles riding already this November than last, which is something. Plus I think they are better miles - they are on the right bike in better conditions.

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