PolarRoll Ultra – My First Winter Ultra
Two years ago my husband Al and I watched the documentary Safety to Nome. If you’ve not seen it, it’s about the 350/1000-mile human-powered (by bike, foot, or ski) race through the Alaskan wilderness in the dead of winter. By the way, it’s going on right now. As we’re watching, Al turns to me and asks, “Do you think it’s fucked up that I secretly want to do this?” I have to carefully temper my response. What I want to say is “Fuck yeah it is.” I know what’s going on here. He’s laying the groundwork for something.
Into the Deep End and Back Again: A Cautionary Tale
The 2021 Utah Mixed Epic, official description: “A self-supported bikepacking adventure snaking through Utah’s alpine and desert regions. With plenty of high altitude climbing and long stretches without services. Favoring unpaved surfaces, be prepared for everything from smooth gravel roads to technical, rocky passages.” In the heart of the sleeping city, the chill of fall made itself comfortable in the still dark sky. I grinned ear to ear about starting my first-ever bikepacking event, the Utah Mixed Epic, a 960-mile, self-supported, mixed-surface route meandering from Salt Lake City, Utah to Moab. Poor thing, she had no idea what was coming.
Jodi’s Huracan 300
I recently completed the Huracan 300 bikepacking route with my husband Mark and friends Cathy and Zach. The Huracan 300 is the Singletrack Samurai’s signature route, featured on bikepacking.com and described as “the ultimate off-road endurance experience in the state of Florida.” The route is a 360-mile loop of singletrack, forest service roads, grass, swamp and sand through central Florida. Over 100 riders showed up for the 13th annual Grand Depart on February 4th.
Good Things Come in Threes: Jill Martindale Reflects on Her Unsupported Arrowhead 135 Win
I ripped dead branches off a pine tree just off the side of the Arrowhead Trail. I was trying to get a fire going inside a three-sided shelter so I could warm up a little bit. I wasn’t having great luck burning anything thicker than a pencil because the moisture in the branches was just so frozen. I had used all of the Fatwood I packed to get the fire started. I managed to soak up a little heat from my fire as I melted snow with my alcohol stove to fill one of my bottles. The plan had been to make it all the way to the third checkpoint before having to melt snow for more water, but in the deep cold, I found myself guzzling faster than I’d anticipated. I had started with 105 ounces of water in GSI MicroLite insulated thermoses, which were doing a fantastic job of keeping all of my water hot! Drinking calories was a lot more palatable than trying to eat frozen bricks of food.
To Be an Athlete
It’s dark outside and I laugh at myself as small balls of ice hit my face. Perhaps it’s just cold rain falling quickly from the clouds that circle above me, but either way, it is slightly painful. How many hours have I spent inside, on my trainer sweating profusely in a grand attempt to prepare myself for the heat in Morocco? Countless. As I dream of home and the indoor heat, a formidable wind pushes my mountain bike and I across the road. Grateful that there isn’t any oncoming traffic, my mind is no longer back home in Colorado. I’m in the present, in Morocco. Pushing against the wind and rain, up an extremely steep hill, I repeat to myself that I am strong and capable as I give my all in the Atlas Mountain Race.
Winter Adventure and the Warmth of Community
I first met Jay Petervary, ultra-endurance cyclist, ambassador of sport, and the founder of Fat Pursuit back in 2017, at a winter workshop hosted by Pedal of Littleton in Colorado. Captivated by his passion, knowledge and experience with fat biking in events like Arrowhead 135 and Iditarod Trail Invitational I was inspired to dream bigger with my own brand new obsession of fat bikes and human-powered travel in winter. I was curious and he was, and always will be, eager to teach.
Jennifer Hanson’s Fat Pursuit
Jennifer Hanson lives in Florence, one of the hottest parts of the arid state of Arizona. While many people around the country are fleeing the cold winter temperatures of the north, often ending up in southern Arizona, Jen and her husband Jason headed up to Idaho for the 200km Fat Pursuit. Even as a desert dweller, Jen is an accomplished winter ultra racer with finishes in both the 2022 Fat Pursuit and the Iditarod Trail Invitational. She’s shared some beautiful images from this year’s Fat Pursuit and a quick recap of how her race went down.
Just Eat Snacks and Drink Water and Ride a Bike – Katie Scott on the Arizona Trail 300
Katie Scott wrote up a beautiful piece on her Arizona Trail 300 experience. She’d decided that she wanted to race four days prior to the start, borrowed a pile of gear, did a massive study session of the route on the drive down to the border, and put together an impressive ride, getting to Picketpost in four days, four hours, and 40 minutes. As a bikepacking racing rookie!
Positivity and Forward Progress: Ari’s Ouachita Triple Crown
I set two alarms and curled up in my bright orange emergency bivy, prepared to take a 60-minute nap. It was over halfway through a 12-hour night. I was laying down on a small, narrow bench on top of Bear Mountain, the highest spot of the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail (LOViT). What would normally be a stunning, expansive view of Lake Ouachita’s southern bank was obscured by darkness. With a steep drop-off down the mountain a couple of feet away, I wedged myself against the back of the bench. I was just warm enough to relax but far from comfortable. I was happy to know that the LOViT was a substantial net downhill from here, followed by 15 paved miles back to the finish. I shut my eyes.
Coatimundis and Cougars on the Arizona Trail
After a disappointing and unsuccessful attempt on the Colorado Trail Race this year, I was surprised at the pang on envy I felt watching racers lining up to tackle this year’s Arizona Trail Race. I followed the race on Trackleaders and on the Townie, and felt a flicker of longing at Eszter’s photos of Ana hiking out the Grand Canyon. Did I really want to do that? Even after my less-than-fun attempt at the CTR, did I really want to race my bike again? And hike through the Grand Canyon with my bike on my back like a fool?