Faces Behind the Dots: Arrowhead 135

Every year, a group of winter die-hards line up for the Arrowhead 135. It’s a 135–mile winter ultra-marathon where people compete on foot, ski, or bicycle. Each winter, the race begins in International Falls, Minnesota, and finishes at the Fortune Bay (Bois Forte Band of Lake Superior Chippewa) Casino in Tower, Minnesota. It’s hard, very hard. Winter ultra-racing is different than other forms of bikepack racing, where factors other than fitness often reign supreme. The ability to regulate one’s temperature, manage moisture, be prepared, master clear-headedness, and exercise patience often yields favorable results. 

As a Minnesotan, I’ve watched several friends line up at the start every year and watched as Kate Coward has covered that 135 miles 9 times (270 miles in one go, while pregnant), and Leah Gruhn proved that determination trumps all. This year, my good friend Jill is racing in the self-supported category. I’ve met so many great friends through the winter ultra racing community and have been so inspired by the badassery of all of these ladies. I would love to introduce you to the Faces Behind the dots in this year’s Arrowhead 135.

-Alexandera

Carrie Henderson

Bike: Salsa Beargrease SLX, aka Pearl

Where’s home: Silver Bay, MN

Rookie or Veteran: Rookie

Supported or Unsupported: Supported

How did you first learn about the Arrowhead?

My husband. When I met my now husband, he was training for ITI350, foot division. From conversations about ITI (Iditarod Trail Invitational), I learned about Arrowhead135, Tuscobia, and Rovaniemi. In an effort to better understand his ITI endeavor that winter, I began joining him winter camping, volunteered at Tuscobia, and traveled to watch him finish in McGrath, Alaska. After that, my love for snow and winter took on a new definition. I really wanted to get back to Alaska, and I really wanted to try one of these races to truly experience it myself. I wanted to understand and learn more and on a different level than behind the lines.

Who invited you on your first snow bike ride? Who has helped shape the winter rider you’ve become?

Not sure if it was my dad or brother, but likely my dad! He is my greatest life role model! I lived in Florida during my college years, and every Christmas holiday break, I returned to my family in Minnesota. My extended family is big into cycling, and my uncles, cousins, dad, and brother ride nearly every Saturday together, for at least 20 years. I was always invited to join them on the ride when I returned, first on mountain bikes on the roads around rural Minnesota, then fat bikes in the woods on my uncle’s farm. My family may’ve introduced me to winter biking, because, honestly my husband and I are better runners than riders, but I believe my husband has shaped who I am with its regard to Arrowhead. I am a runner that bikes! Arrowhead by bike because that is currently how I qualify. Running injuries and life have put me on the bike more it seems in the past years, and for long distances! I am continuously driven by the support and encouragement my husband provides for my ambitions to do more and that has driven me to keep reaching for the stars. He dangles carrots, and I have a hard time looking away!

What are some of your Arrowhead qualifying rides?

DAMn 240, Tuscobia 80, multi-day winter camping

What keeps you coming back to snow bike adventures?

The challenge and the beauty on the trail in the middle of nowhere among the snow pillows and nothing but my own decisions ahead of me. I have a better relationship with my running shoes than my bikes, all of them, so Arrowhead by bike presents a challenge for me not only in the sense of the endeavor, but because I am not a bike expert when it comes to mechanics and that freaks me out more than anything! But above all else, even if my bike fails, every time I am out, I always take a moment to stop, take a look around, and truly appreciate what’s around me and the opportunities I have. It is magical on so many levels and reminds me of how grateful I am to be out there and everything that may have occurred to get me there. 

Fat bike racing or fat bike touring?

I love the distance and adventure aspects of touring, all day play is my jam! However, I love the thrill of racing, even though I don’t do it often! For the longer events I have done I always say my number one goal is being safe and having fun and everything else is icing on the cake, whatever that may be. My dad never fails to tell me, Carrie, I know you, and you aren’t just going to sit back and carry on!

How do you keep your food from freezing? How do you thaw it out quickly? What do you like to eat? What secrets can you share with us because finding food that tastes good when frozen is hard!

I am still learning so much with this myself, but have taken many lessons from my husband and long winter camping skis ventures! Reese’s peanut butter cups in the form of the holiday shapes are nothing short of my #1 go-too! They pack a punch for calories, sugar, fats in 2-3 mouth watering bites every time! Traditional trail mix, pizza, meat wrapped cheese sticks, PB & J wraps, smoked salmon and cream cheese wraps, Nature Valley almond butter granola bar things, these quite possibly are #2! I do not bring things that I wouldn’t eat frozen, that would break my teeth if I tried, or that chew up the roof of my mouth! I have no secret to keeping things thawed, they are in the elements with me, no heater, and I eat them in whatever form that results in! If at the end of a ride the same things continue to remain, it’s time to retire them from the rotation of snacks!

How do you keep your water from freezing? What is your hydration system?

This one is definitely a toughie for me still and a mystery all in one! I use a Camelbak hydration vest with a bladder immediately over my baselayer with a layer over top. I route the hose over my shoulder when warmer and under my arm otherwise, clipping with a magnet to the shoulder strap so the water is running backwards rather than down out the mouth piece. I never want to be wet because my water system leaked on me in such a ridiculous way! When the hose freezes, I use a mechanical warmer wrapped around it with all layers zipped and it often thaws in a few minutes, as long as the frozen part is on my front half! This is something I think about every time I go out. I wonder if that will ever go away!

Tips or tricks for moisture management? Synthetics? Wool? Down? What do you prefer?

Wool. The greatest lesson I have learned is less is more! If I am not starting the ride a bit cool, I gauge that as overdressed. I dress to move, not stand around, therefore I try not to stand around much or I am in for a mess I don’t want. The hardest part to keep dry is immediately under my hydration vest, otherwise I call my zippers my thermometer and they go up and down all ride. The harder you ride, the less clothes or thickness I need. I try really hard to take a layer off the moment I begin to feel warm. Keeping the head and core warm are critical. I am a huge user of vests! Your core is so important to keep warm as it is a powerhouse for your blood flow, well second to your heart! The colder it is, the colder your extremities are going to be, without fail. Keep your head warm, your face will follow!

Bivy, under-the-stars, or tent? 

I’ll find out this event I suppose! I love a tent. I don’t mind the cold, but the coziness of a tent in winter is nice to me! Bivy, I am not the most experienced person to have a strong preference for yet! 

What kind of tire pump do you bring? What’s the lowest tire pressure you’ve ran? Do you bring a pressure gauge or just eyeball it?

Hand pump, yes. Tire gauge, yes! Lowest pressure recently was 2, when I learned it was too low for my gauge! New bike year for me so I’m still learning my tires and lets be real, I am just not that good at throwing out a number, maybe a yeah that’s good or no too hard though! 

How many coats are you bringing?

3! Wearing a shell, bringing an insulated vapor barrier, and a 800 fill down.

What footwear do you ride with?

Wolfgars, no cleat, on flats. Non-race I use cleats but don’t want to risk snow build up and cold contact under the cleat for this. Thin wool sock baselayer, vapor barrier sock, then this wool insulator sock over it all. 

Mashed potato snow and warmth or concrete-ice and freezing? 

Concrete ice and freezing. I have been training in 20-30 degree weather for over a month in northern MN and cannot wait to see what a so-called ‘firm trail’ is like!!

If you started a fatbike race tomorrow, what would you call it and where would it be? 

Northern Lights. I don’t know where, but anywhere under the stars is bound to be pretty spectacular in my books. If the northern lights happen to be out in the place, well that is just a bonus! I’ve always wanted to see them, and one day will, but until then I will watch the night sky dance in other ways and enjoy it just as much!

Beth Freymiller

Bike: Salsa Beargrease

Sponsors: My three daughters

Where’s home: Originally from Iowa but live in Cottage Grove, MN now.

Rookie or Veteran: Both? I had a hub failure at mile 100 last year that ended my race.

Supported or Unsupported? Supported

How did you first learn about the Arrowhead?

I think I saw a post about it in a Facebook group. I had just finished the DAMn and wanted to test myself in the winter.

Who invited you on your first snow bike ride? Who has helped shape the winter rider you have become?

I think I got into fat bike riding on my own. I signed up two of my daughters for NICA in 2020 and started riding trails during their practice time. I fell in love with mountain biking and decided to invest in a fat bike so I could ride year-round. I started showing up for any/all fat bike group rides. I’m very inspired by fellow racers Robert Tuma and Greg Crites. They’ve suffered with me through long training rides and been great mentors in this sport. I didn’t meet other women who do winter ultras until later.

What are some of your Arrowhead qualifying rides?

I got a gravel bike for Christmas in 2020 and immediately signed up for the last Day Across Minnesota (DAMn) gravel ride. I completed that race along with Le Grand Du Nord in 2021 prior to my first Arrowhead attempt in 2022.

What keeps you coming back to snow bike adventures?

I loved that first Arrowhead so much. I was having a great race and riding strong at mile 100 when my hub flange cracked in half. I pushed my bike for 5 miles through the snowy hills before accepting that my race was over. I had no prospect of riding any more miles. It was a warm year, I had no trench foot plan because I thought I’d be riding my bike and my feet were not recovered from my first 100k trail run three weeks prior. I was really bummed because these things are hard to finish. I didn’t want to give that up. Also, I love adventure and pushing myself and being an athlete again.

Fat bike racing or touring?

Probably both. I like working hard and pushing myself but I’m going to stop and eat a larger meal at each checkpoint and I’ll see what my body can handle.

How do you keep your food from freezing? How do you thaw it out quickly? What do you like to eat? What secrets can you share with us because finding food that tastes good when frozen is hard!

I keep food in my pogies and thaw it there. I like to eat bigger meals at the checkpoints because I don’t have stomach issues on the bike. Taking in enough hydration/calories is a challenge for me because I’m not great at doing it without stopping and I don’t like to stop often.

Tips or tricks for moisture management? Synthetics? Wool? Down? What do you prefer?

I use both wool and down. I like drymax socks as a base layer. I’ll layer wool on top. My layering strategy changes for each race based on temperature and other factors. I’m still learning.

Bivy, under-the-stars, or tent? 

Bivy. I’d like to do the race in one push if possible. I don’t like to bivy and I’m new to bikepacking so still getting comfortable with sleeping outside.

What kind of tire pump do you bring? What’s the lowest tire pressure you’ve ran? Do you bring a pressure gauge or just eyeball it?

I got a Topeak Mini Morph pump. I just eyeball pressure and adjust as needed. I’m not great at putting air back in.

How many coats are you bringing?

I think I’ll bring a down coat as backup and a backup wind barrier in addition to the layers I start the race with. 

What footwear do you ride with?

I have a pair of Salomon boots that I’ve been wearing lately for fat biking. They are warm and waterproof. I prefer flat pedals for winter ultras and I can walk pretty well in these boots.

Mashed potato and warm or concrete ice and freezing?

I’m going for cold this time. It’s been a warm winter, but I’ve never raced in super low temperatures so I’m excited to test myself and learn in these conditions.

If you started a fatbike race tomorrow, what would you call it and where would it be? 

I’m about the least creative person imaginable. You don’t want me naming things!

I’m really excited to ride with a fantastic group of women at this year’s Arrowhead!

Jill Martindale

Bike: Salsa Beargrease

Sponsors: Salsa Cycles, 45NRTH, Velocity USA

Where’s home: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Rookie or Veteran: Veteran

Supported or Unsupported: Unsupported

How did you first learn about the Arrowhead?

Working at a bike shop, one of our customers had done winter ultras, and I was captivated by his stories and perseverance.

Who invited you on your first snow bike ride? Who has helped shape the winter rider you’ve become?

Danielle Musto, another amazing person I met through the bike shop, had been racing fat bikes when she encouraged me to give it a shot. My first winter fat biking, on the shop’s Salsa Mukluk demo, was spent traveling around for the Great Lakes Fat Bike Series. Chelsea Strate and I became pals while competing against each other in the series and eventually the 45nrth team was formed with myself, Chelsea, Danielle, and April Morgan. More riding buddies have joined the team over the years and some of my best winter memories are traveling and playing in the snow with team 45nrth!! Evan Simula and Matt Acker, also on the team, were friends of mine before we all raced in the winter, and everything seems so special now that we all get to ride together. (Matt is my Salsa teammate, too!) Jenny Acker has been a good pal of mine for years – since way before either of us knew Matt – and she’s still one of my favorites to explore with! I love where we are now, how far we’ve come, and scheming for the future. Everything snowballs. I keep meeting badass women and really positive people through bikes and it motivates me. I’m so fortunate to have an incredible community of friends and riding pals to lean on, to have a partner who enjoys Bikepacking, and to work at a bicycle rim manufacturing company (Velocity USA) – because you know all my coworkers love bikes, too!! I’ve fallen into a very unique path in life and I wouldn’t be getting into this stuff without this community that inspire me.

What are some of your Arrowhead qualifying rides?

There is a ride that doesn’t happen in November that a coworker definitely doesn’t lead, and that ride may have been my first double century. I’ve ridden my bike around 3 of the 5 Great Lakes unsupported with friends when I could get some time off in the summer. The Tuscobia Winter Ultra, when it used to be 150 miles instead of 160 miles, was my first winter ultra and I cried for like the last five hours of it. My participation in the Great Lakes Fat Bike Series, previous multiple day ride experience, Tuscobia, and riding centuries qualified me for Arrowhead. I couldn’t believe I was accepted my first year! I finished that year, and set the women’s course record my second time. I’ve since been back to Tuscobia, won JayP’s 200 mile Fat Pursuit, finished the 350 mile Iditarod, and used all of these finishes to qualify for the 1000 mile Iditarod Trail Invitational. Petr Ineman, Casey Fagerquist, and I were named co-champions in 2020 and we were the only three participants to make it to Nome due to the wild circumstances that year. I realized I don’t have to wait for winter ultras to get out to play in the snow and now pretty regularly go on winter overnighters in the most glorious time of the year in the Midwest! Each year when I apply for Arrowhead, I still get butterflies and get worried that I might not get accepted. Thank you, Ken, for choosing me!

What keeps you coming back to snow bike adventures?

The winter is just so magical, it makes me feel like a kid again! I love seeing foot prints or tire tracks in the snow. I love sparkly snow. I love seeing my breath and seeing the stars at night, and being able to turn your headlight off and seeing moon shadows. I love starting fires and staying up late in the woods. The crunchy sound snow makes when it’s crispy and the way my calves burn when I’m pushing my rolling suitcase through sand-like snow. It’s just so dreamy and clean feeling. Plus, I think it’s hilarious how big the tires look and how they can just motor over most things. Everything seems so funny it’s hard not to like it, right?! Here you are as an adult, out in the cold when most people are inside, and you’re on this indestructible bicycle going 5mph, and you’re tipping over, and laughing with other adults? Amazing.

Fat bike racing or fat bike touring?

Touring. Hands down. Racing is fun too, but if I had to choose one, I choose taking my sweet time and taking in the views.

How do you keep your food from freezing? How do you thaw it out quickly? What do you like to eat? What secrets can you share with us because finding food that tastes good when frozen is hard!

I like to store food against my body or in my pogies to help keep it warm. One I’ve eaten all the snacks shoved in my pants or bra, I’ll refill to snack again later. I keep a feedbag full of sausage, trail mix, and assorted snacks and continuously eat through that. Crackers are too dry. Babybel cheeses freeze and the texture is messed up. One of my favorites is salami and provolone cheese rolls, I do refried beans in tortillas a lot, and of course peanut butter and jelly sandwiches x 100. Miso soup packets or ginger tea in my water bottle. Gummy candies hurt my teeth and I chipped a tooth trying to eat dry ramen before, so I wouldn’t recommend either of those things.

How do you keep your water from freezing? What is your hydration system?

I’ve had luck in the past of putting a winter hydration pack under a jacket before and routing the hose under my armpit and down my sleeve (remember to blow the water back into the bladder when you’re done drinking) – but I’ve personally found it hard to regulate my temperature when I do that and the additional weight on my shoulders makes me achey. Instead, I use insulated thermoses stashed in protected places on my bike. It is heavier to do it this way but the weight is off my back so I don’t mind. For Arrowhead, I’ll have two GSI microlite 1000ml thermoses in Oveja Negra fork bags, a 700ml FlipTop in a feedbag, and maybe a 520ml in my frame bag. I’ll drink from the smaller containers and refill with the larger ones when they’re empty, and stop to melt snow with my camp stove when those are empty. If I were racing supported, I’d refill at the checkpoints. 

Tips or tricks for moisture management? Synthetics? Wool? Down? What do you prefer?

A woven or waffled wool blend will wick quickly, using the air and wool to help maintain your body heat. I dress baggy, so the air gets trapped between every layer on my body. On top of the wool layers, I’ll have a wind and weather resistant shell. My favorite combination on the bottoms is: wool socks, wool boy short undies, Patagonia air Capilene base later, Icebreaker wool tights if needed, 45nrth Naughtvind pants. Top: Icebreaker wool bra, Patagonia air Capilene long sleeve crew, the hooded version or a wool sweater over that if it’s really cold, and a vest or the Naughtvind jacket over that. I top everything off with a billed wool cap like the Greazy and a buff or two.

Bivy, under-the-stars, or tent?

Each has its place! I use a bivy if it’s super cold or there’s damp accumulation outside. If my bag will keep me warm enough and it’s dry outside, I’ll forego the bivy so I wake up feeling dry. A tent to share with a friend is fun – I haven’t tented in the winter at all!

What kind of tire pump do you bring? What’s the lowest tire pressure you’ve ran? Do you bring a pressure gauge or just eyeball it?

I bring a Lezyne Micro Floor Drive HV pump after I borrowed Kate Coward’s at ITI. I’ve ridden as low as many wrinkles in the sidewall of my tires and it was one or two more wrinkles than I usually feel comfortable riding with. I eyeball it or go by feel!

How many coats are you bringing?

I’m bringing one puffy coat and the Naughtvind jacket. Maybe a wind shell. It’ll be a game day decision.

What footwear do you ride with?

45nrth. For Arrowhead I’ll ride in their warmest boot, the Wolfgar, with cheap wool insoles, wool socks and a vapor barrier.

Mashed potato snow and warmth or concrete-ice and freezing?

Fast and fun please!

If you started a fatbike race tomorrow, what would you call it and where would it be?

I started a winter ultra training camp called the Winter Shakedown in 2020. Due to the pandemic and then life, it hasn’t happened since the inaugural year! Boo! My hope is to bring it back for 2024. It’s a weekend spent practicing skills and riding with packed bikes, with cabins for people to sleep in so they had a guaranteed place to dry out after or their car to store extra clothes or sleeping bags in. (Or you can bivy outside and move inside if you get chilled!) It’s in Michigan. :)

Anything else?

I am so excited to see so many women on the roster and can’t wait to cheer one another on out there!!

Amanda Harvey

Bike: Otso Voytek, named Aurora

Sponsors: Otso, Corpse Whale Racing

Where’s home: Minneapolis, MN

Rookie or Veteran: Veteran

Supported or Unsupported: Unsupported

How did you first learn about the Arrowhead?

I think I had heard rumors of it in my biking circles, and then I read about Sveta Vold’s race the year she breastfed on the trail. That got me hooked. This woman did an incredibly hard thing while doing another incredibly hard thing. It seemed fun.

Who invited you on your first snow bike ride? Who has helped shape the winter rider you’ve become?

Chelsea Strate! The Hub Cycling Coop was a sponsor of our teams and they asked if we could help out at a table at the Fat Bike Rennet in exchange for free entry. I borrowed my husband’s fat bike, had an asthma attack the whole time, and struggled with mashed potato snow. It was great. I’ve been shaped by so many people who love and support me. Kristine Benjamin invited me to my first winter ultra, the St. Croix 40. My friend Ben Hovland gave me advice that it’s ok to ask friends for things (such as gear), the people around you want you to succeed. I’ve tried to embrace that ethos and pass it on. Blix Croell and I swore to each other to do our first Arrowhead together back in 2019. Every person I’ve conned into fat biking with me as training for these big, dumb rides. The stillness and solitude of the trail is such a contrast to the community and support that happens before each race.

What are some of your Arrowhead qualifying rides?

My first Arrowhead I qualified with the Lutsen 99er. It was my first century and I was not a mountain/dirt rider. Since then I’ve finished the Tuscobia 160, which is a fun qualifying ride because it’s longer but more populated.

What keeps you coming back to snow bike adventures?

I love learning from my mistakes. Trying something different the next time around. The conditions are ever-changing, so one year to the next is so different, they’re not the same race. I love spreadsheets and I have so many dedicated to winter adventure planning.

Fat bike racing or fat bike touring?

I like the comradery of racing, but I really love sleeping. Pushing through the night is not my cup of tea. So it’s nice to “tour” the “race”.

How do you keep your food from freezing? How do you thaw it out quickly? What do you like to eat? What secrets can you share with us because finding food that tastes good when frozen is hard!

Generally, I let all my food freeze. If it can’t be eaten frozen then I don’t bring it. Unless it’s a backpacking meal. When I found out that Lay’s Original potato chips taste the same frozen I was so happy. I eat them mashed up in a ziplock back and dump them in my mouth when resting. Everything else gets to be bite sized or “soft baked” goods. Something easy to eat. I really like Starburst and Clif Bloks, but those get warmed up in my mouth before chewing.

How do you keep your water from freezing? What is your hydration system?

I have 2 Thermoses with hot/warm water. If it’s really cold, they’ll be upside down in bags that hang off my handle bars. I do have a hydration pack. I’ve added a little thermal insulation on the back of it, so it’ll reflect body heat back into the hose connector. The pack goes over my base layer and under everything else. You end up looking like a turtle.

Tips or tricks for moisture management? Synthetics? Wool? Down? What do you prefer?

I love wool. I have wool base layers and synthetic outer layers. For me, everything needs to breathe. Being able to vent tops, pants, boots is so important. Bringing extra layers when I sweat through the originals also helps. My down jackets are the best.

Bivy, under-the-stars, or tent?

If the weather is clear sleeping under the stars is best. I’m practicing using a tarp because it’s nice to have coverage over your cook area when it’s snowing (or raining *cry*).

What kind of tire pump do you bring? What’s the lowest tire pressure you’ve brought? Do you bring a pressure gauge or just eyeball it?

Topeak Mini Morph. I don’t know what the lowest pressure that I’ve run is because I just eyeball it and make adjustments based on how the trail feels.

How many coats are you bringing?

Three? A softshell jacket that I’ll ride in. My making dinner/setting up camp puffy. And my Oh Shit Puffy. You pack your fears and I’m afraid of deep cold.

What footwear do you ride with?

I have Baffin Icebreaker boots. They’re super toasty and have adjustable gaiters for tromping through deep snow.

Mashed potato snow and warmth or concrete-ice and freezing?

Concrete ice and freezing all the way. I love riding my bike, not pushing it.

If you started a fatbike race tomorrow, what would you call it and where would it be?

Fat Cat Alley Cat, and we’d ride fat bikes around Minneapolis to raise money for a cat rescue.

Anything else?

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to talk about winter stuff! The Town Bicycle is so cool and I read all about the racers before Fat Pursuit.

Marcie Thole

Bike: Salsa Mukluk

Where’s home: Duluth, MN

Rookie or Veteran: Veteran

Supported or Unsupported: Supported

How did you first learn about the Arrowhead?

I watched a documentary about the ITI. This is a qualifying race for it.

Who invited you on your first snow bike ride?

My husband and I rented them at Grand Targhee on a ski trip. We laughed all day. They were so fun! It was before you could find them in bike shops around MN.

Who has helped shape the winter rider you’ve become?

The Wilder Winter Women

What are some of your Arrowhead qualifying rides?

Tuscobia

What keeps you coming back to snow bike adventures?

It’s just you against your mind out on the trail.

Fat bike racing or fat bike touring?

My “races” are essentially just events or tours

How do you keep your food from freezing?

I just bring things that are palatable at sub-zero and don’t take much time to warm up in my mouth.

How do you thaw it out quickly?

A few minutes tucked in my jacket or pogie.

What do you like to eat?

Uncrustables, chocolate chip cookies, and gummy worms.

What secrets can you share with us because finding food that tastes good when frozen is hard!

I drink a lot of my calories because I get sick of chewing.

How do you keep your water from freezing?

My bladder is against my skin in a pack and the hose and bite valve are tucked into my base layer. Hot water in an insulated bottle mounted upside down is great too. I just add snow when it runs low.

What is your hydration system?

USWE pack and hydroflask insulated bottle.

Tips or tricks for moisture management?

I took home wool mesh baselayers from norway this year and they are amazing. Venting shell jacket and pants help a lot too. And loose boots.

Synthetics? Wool? Down? What do you prefer?

Always wool under down

Bivy, under-the-stars, or tent?

Bivy

What kind of tire pump do you bring?

A small one mounted on my bike with Duct Tape wrapped on the handle.

What’s the lowest tire pressure you’ve brought?

Usually 2-4psi for soft trails

Do you bring a pressure gauge or just eyeball it?

By feel

How many coats are you bringing?

My down belay jacket and a shell

What footwear do you ride with?

45Nrth Wolfhammers

Mashed potato snow and warmth or concrete-ice and freezing?

Cold Concrete!

If you started a fatbike race tomorrow, what would you call it and where would it be?

Tour DuLuth. We have over 100miles of groomed single-track in the city that connects to great food and drinks. It’d be a great weekend riding across town.

Kari Gibbons

Bike: Framed Wolftrax

Sponsors: Performance Running Gym – St. Louis Park, MN

Where’s home: Minneapolis, MN

Rookie or Veteran: Somewhere in between

Supported or Unsupported: Supported

How did you first learn about the Arrowhead?

On the Internet! I was looking for ultramarathons on foot and it was love at first sight

Who invited you on your first snow bike ride?

I’ve never been on a winter ride with anyone.  Most of my friends are runners so I’ve always felt a little like an outsider on the bike.

Who has helped shape the winter rider you’ve become?

This year I actively sought out mentorship on the bike because I was struggling so much. I’ve talked with some special ladies, but if I single out anyone it would be Kendall Park and Jill Martindale. Thank you both!

What are some of your Arrowhead qualifying rides?

Tuscobia and Actif Epica

What keeps you coming back to snow bike adventures?

Peace, independence, and winter solitude that is comparable to nothing.

Fat bike racing or fat bike touring?

Fat bike putzing

How do you keep your food from freezing? How do you thaw it out quickly? What do you like to eat? What secrets can you share with us because finding food that tastes good when frozen is hard!

I don’t bring any food that will freeze. Sometimes things will get hard, so I cut everything into small chunks that will thaw in my mouth. I love Pro Bars, gummy bears, nuts, chips, and Little Debbie Ding Dongs. The easiest way to find out if something will freeze really hard or just get firm is to pop it in your freezer.

How do you keep your water from freezing? What is your hydration system?

I wear a 3L hydration vest, it’s always on me and it never freezes. I will add electrolytes now and then to it. I also have a small flask for broth or hot cocoa!

Tips or tricks for moisture management? Synthetics? Wool? Down? What do you prefer?

This is something I’m still working on perfecting, I am definitely a huge fan of my wool base layers.

Bivy, under-the-stars, or tent?

I always like to bivy, it’s very comfortable for me. Of course, my snout has to be out so the condensation doesn’t bury my sleeping bag. I use a cold avenger to protect my lungs.

What kind of tire pump do you bring? What’s the lowest tire pressure you’ve brought? Do you bring a pressure gauge or just eyeball it?

I just have a small hand pump, I think the lowest I was on my tires was at Tuscobia this year and maybe it was 3.5. I definitely use a pressure gauge because I cannot eyeball it right now.

How many coats are you bringing?

One mid layer, one shell, one synthetic vest, one emergency puffy jacket.

What footwear do you ride with?

Since it will be so cold this year I am wearing my big Sorrells, rated to -100. TBD!

Mashed potato snow and warmth or concrete-ice and freezing?

CONCRETE.

If you started a fatbike race tomorrow, what would you call it and where would it be?

Like my own race!? Fatty Bo Batty, and it would take place on Halloween. There would also be a sister race on international women’s day called Fatty Bo Betty. 🫠🥰

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