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  1. #1
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    If anyone else is wondering what Mikesee is up to this year:

    If anyone else is wondering what Mikesee is up to this year:
    From the Grand Junction Free Press


    Outside the realm of the possible

    Local attempts 1,100-mile Alaskan trail on a bike, with no support


    By Josh McDaniel
    Free Press Correspondent
    February 5, 2007

    The famed “Burled Arch” marks the finish line for the 1,100 mile Iditarod Trail Dogsled Race in Nome, Alaska.

    When mushers cross under the carved arch at the end of the race, the celebration and media circus in Alaska resembles that of other big sporting events further to the south, such as the Super Bowl and the World Series.

    But Mike Curiak didn’t get that type of reception when he crossed the same finish line.

    “I rode down Front Street through Nome and pulled up under the Arch. I looked all around and did not see a single person on the streets,” Curiak said. “I just laughed. That really summed it up. You are on your own when you do a race like the Iditabike, even at the finish.”

    Curiak won the Iditabike race for the first time in 2000, finishing the same 1,100 mile course on a mountain bike ahead of 50 other riders.

    Taking it to another level

    Curiak was tinkering with his bike in his workshop recently when I met him to talk about his upcoming challenge — completing the entire Iditarod Trail self-supported, meaning he will carry all of his food and gear with him for the entire way and will accept no outside help.

    He warned me to bring a jacket for the interview since the workshop was “a little chilly” — just the way he likes it.

    Curiak talked as he worked on a wide and fat mountain bike rim and tire that looked like something off a motorcycle. The bike he uses in Alaska is completely custom built for riding far in snow, with wide forks to handle the extra fat tires, downtubes and fork legs that are used to store white gas cooking fuel, and thick “pogies” attached to the handlebars for keeping his hands warm.

    This year, Mike has added a new piece of equipment to his bike — an efficiently designed trailer that will haul all of his food and gear over the snow-covered course. Brad Bingham of Moots Cycles in Steamboat Springs has been working with Mike for the past few years to develop the bike and trailer specifically for this challenge.

    “Doing this race self-supported is really outside of what people think is possible. Even the Iditabike racers who do the 100 and 350 mile courses use food drops,” he said. “For the 1,100 mile race, there are bush planes that make food drops for racers out in the wilderness. I just came to the realization — ‘we can do this ourselves.’ That is the beauty of the race — not relying on anyone else. It is just a natural progression, removing any of the support you are using.”

    One dedicated rider

    Mike is a legend in endurance biking circles.

    He has competed in the Iditabike for the past 10 years, winning the 350 mile version once and the 1,100 mile race twice. He holds the course record for the northern route (the race alternates between two different routes every year). He also holds the record for the Great Divide Race from Canada to Mexico along the Continental Divide. Until last year, he was the record-holder for the Kokepelli Trail Race, pedaling between Moab and Grand Junction in just under 14 hours.

    Mike trains by loading his bike down with gear and riding up Little Park Road to Glade Park and then down into Fruita and then back again. He also makes occasional trips up to ride in the deep snow on Grand Mesa.

    “You don’t have to train on snow to ride on it. Just realize that there will be little coasting and a lot of resistance. Doing as much climbing as possible obviously helps.”

    A few weeks before he leaves for Alaska he does a complete “dress rehearsal” ride, going from Grand Junction to Vega State Park and then over Kebler Pass to Crested Butte. He takes all of his camping and cooking gear with him and tests everything to make sure it is ready.

    “You can never predict how things will work, but it is best to find out before you get out there where there are no other options.”

    Acclimatizing to the cold is also a critical factor in success and even survival in Alaska. Mike likes the cold weather the Grand Valley’s seen over the past few weeks. In fact, he has done everything he can to stay out of the heat, spending only about two hours a day in the heated part of his home.

    “Last year was brutal — the highest temperature I saw during the entire race was 26 below. I suffered. The warm winter we had in Grand Junction left me totally unprepared.”

    Northern exposure

    Despite all that he has accomplished, he is still fascinated by the challenges of the far north.

    His enthusiasm for Alaska becomes obvious as he tells stories of pedaling alone into isolated native villages in the interior of Alaska, seeing the tracks of wolves that he knows are stalking him, but that never show themselves, and even trading with fur-trappers along the trail.

    “In 2000, I was making good time down the Yukon River with good weather and a huge tailwind. I was in my tallest gear and looking for another one — just a great day. I normally don’t overtake anyone on the trail — I just hear the jingling of the dog’s collar and I have to dive into a snow bank as a dogsled comes by. But, this time I actually caught a dog sled. The musher turned around in his sled and said, ‘No one is going to believe this.’ He started taking pictures of me. We stopped and chatted, and I found out he had been out running his trapline.

    “He asked if I wanted to trade some food. I look in my bag and all I had was junk food — candy bars, twizzlers, and pop-tarts — that kind of thing. He took one look at the bag of Pop Tarts and said, ‘Ooh, I want that.’ Then he pulled out a bag of smoked salmon that he had caught during the summer — deep red, just oozing with oil. So, we traded and I started eating the salmon right out of the bag — rubbing the oil all over my wind-burned face. I was making all sorts of eating noises with my eyes rolling back in my head, and then I started to feel bad about trading him sugary, processed junk for this nectar of the gods. But I looked over and the trapper is making the same noises while eating the Pop Tarts. The look on our faces was hilarious.”

    A new challenge

    Mike leaves Grand Junction on Feb. 26 and will hit the trail on March 1.

    He isn’t officially racing this year since he will be riding without support. He will be pulling a 90 pound trailer while the official participants will be using assistance from race organizers, shelters, and food drops to complete the course as quickly as possible. His goal is not speed, just proving that a bike rider can ride the entire trail without any support. He is also determined to be more reflective and soak up the experience.

    “In years past, I would be pedaling through these incredible valleys, but I couldn’t really stop to enjoy it because I was worried about the racers behind. This year I plan to take 22 to 25 days to finish the course rather than 16.”

    Even though Mike’s not shooting to break course records this year, he is definitely raising the bar a few notches higher in endurance biking.

    But, he is not content to stop there.

    When asked what is next after this challenge, he gives a sly smile. “I can’t tell you, but it is bigger and scarier than anything I’ve ever attempted before. I’m pretty sure no one else has even thought of attempting it.”:

  2. #2
    Beware of Doggerel
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    I love that last line

    Quote Originally Posted by pbasinger
    [B] When asked what is next after this challenge, he gives a sly smile. “I can’t tell you, but it is bigger and scarier than anything I’ve ever attempted before. I’m pretty sure no one else has even thought of attempting it.”:
    What is it? What is it? Will he Pedal one of those rubber duck pedal boats across the atlantic?? Will he jump a tank full of man eating crocodiles while wearing nothing but a pair of crocodile food underpants??

    I'm sure it is something cool and creative, like when he and Pat rode the Yukon Quest trial, but I secretly hope it is something that has a hint of the ridiculous. Like when Evel Kenevil tried to jump the Grand Canyon in a Rocket Car. In re-reading this post I find it interesting that, on some level I must consider the above examples to have just a "...hint of the ridiculous.."

    Adam
    I wanna say I'm sorry for stuff I haven't done yet, things will shortly get completely out of hand --T.M.G.

  3. #3
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    I have a big imagination but a small wallet.my guess is the south pole.If he goes i take all credit for pointing this out to him a while back, no one has ever tried it on a bike.
    I hope mike has a big wallet or intends building 50,000 wheels next year.

  4. #4
    100% recycled
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    Quote Originally Posted by pbasinger
    When asked what is next after this challenge, he gives a sly smile. “I can’t tell you, but it is bigger and scarier than anything I’ve ever attempted before. I’m pretty sure no one else has even thought of attempting it.”:
    South Pole for sure.

  5. #5
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    Kevin Vallely is the only guy ive read about whos expressed an interest in such a ride/adventure.I know Kevin has alot of friends in AK,does anybody have an update on his progress.I suspect budget for those cheap flights is holding him back.He was planning on going this south pole season that has just passed.

    If anyone is interested in south pole travel or north for that matter an excellent site for such info is... http://www.thepoles.com/

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by carlhutch
    I have a big imagination but a small wallet.my guess is the south pole.If he goes i take all credit for pointing this out to him a while back, no one has ever tried it on a bike.
    I hope mike has a big wallet or intends building 50,000 wheels next year.
    My imagination is small. My wallet is even smaller. But I've got the biggest...

    ahem...

    ...er...uh...trailer of anyone I know.

    Re: your guesses--you're off by about a hemisphere...

    MC

    P.S. Stop wishing more work on me! 1000 wheels a year is plenty at my pace...

  7. #7
    Caveman
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    Crossing Greenland

    If so Mike, I'll see you next May.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bearbait
    Crossing Greenland

    If so Mike, I'll see you next May.
    You're going? When?

  9. #9
    Caveman
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    I should not be talking about something a year + out.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bearbait
    I should not be talking about something a year + out.
    Jinx-a-rama!

    Got a tentative route and dates yet?!

  11. #11
    Caveman
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    Should you be talking about it either!! Aren't you letting the cat out of the box by even responding? ha haa I got it.

    Skis, sledges, maybe kites. no helicopters.
    Last edited by Bearbait; 02-06-2007 at 12:31 PM.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bearbait
    Should you be talking about it either!! Aren't you letting the cat out of the box by even responding? ha haa I got it.

    Skis, sledges, maybe kites. no helicopters.

    Standard route, all other are insanely expensive and logistic nightmares.
    We can chat offline
    We're all friends here, right?

    I haven't admitted to anything. I *can* tell you that my route is not the standard one, and so I know exactly what you mean re: expense and logistical nightmares.

    Have you kited before? Seems a bit chaotic and really uncontrallable/dangerous when 'out there'. Just like you.

    MC

  13. #13
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    I havent learned to Kite yet, its on my list of things to do. how hard can it be? I'm coordinated!
    Borge kites, I will learn.
    Last edited by Bearbait; 02-06-2007 at 12:31 PM.

  14. #14
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    Hey Mike,

    That that is way cool. One question: Did you consider a toboggan or sled instead of a trailer? If you did, why did you choose the trailer?

    Regards,
    Anthony

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by anthony.delorenzo
    Hey Mike,

    That that is way cool. One question: Did you consider a toboggan or sled instead of a trailer? If you did, why did you choose the trailer?

    Regards,
    Anthony
    I'm not an expert on sleds or trailers--my experiences with them mostly revolve around watching others suffer as they've towed them along The Trail.

    Sleds have lots of resistance even on slippery snow. It's difficult to control the direction of a sled, especially on sidehills. Sleds are difficult to pull on bare ground (Rohn/Egypt Mountain/Farewell Burn area).

    The trailer is (much!) heavier than any sled, but that only seems noticable on hills. And while The Trail has lots of small hills, it also has hundreds of miles of flat waterway riding. Using a wheeled trailer seemed, overall, to be the much better choice.

    In a few weeks, I'll have no choice but to see where this logic has led me...

    MC
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  16. #16
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    Gear

    Ok time for hammering out straight up gear Q's,
    Mike, Since you are touring what kind of shelter are you bringing? did you upgrade to a tent or still biving it?
    Are you loading the trailer heavier towards the trailer tire or more centered?
    How much fuel in total are you bringing? I was guessing somewhere around 200oz
    Estimated total weight in food?
    Thanks,
    I bet I'm not the only person wondering these things
    E

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bearbait
    Ok time for hammering out straight up gear Q's,
    Mike, Since you are touring what kind of shelter are you bringing? did you upgrade to a tent or still biving it?
    Are you loading the trailer heavier towards the trailer tire or more centered?
    How much fuel in total are you bringing? I was guessing somewhere around 200oz
    Estimated total weight in food?
    Thanks,
    I bet I'm not the only person wondering these things
    E
    What is this, Ask Elmo? Am I your research bimbo?

    Figure it out for yourself!

    Kiddin'!

    Bibler singlewall tent. Keeping the trailer load centered and as low as possible. The idea of rear-loading it to displace rear bike wheel weight didn't fly--it really jacks up the handling. Yep, 200oz give or take spillage on Pete's garage floor when filling the tanks. Food weight = about 45lbs, give or take some paranoia calories thrown in at the last minute.

    What kinda kite are you takin'?!?

    MC

  18. #18
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    Sweet Rig Mike! From trying the sled(ge) route a few times the rolling resistance of using that big tire would be far better than trying to pull a sled down the back side of the dalzell any day! What happened to the other trailer from the original Snoots?

    I like the looks o'this one...Looks like its ready for saddle bags!
    A bit better designed, center mounted, and can be "balanced" better than a sled, tow-ski or the original trailer, so you can transfer the load directly to the center of the rear wheel. Rather than pulling the trailer front up or down by the trailer yoke, or the trailer yoke pulling the rear wheel just by moving.

    In the two trailer attempts I pulled it was very apparent as soon as the loading to the trailer was parallel to the travel of the bike how much easier it was. (And I'm only talking straight lines here, not even trying the corners).

    I jacked up the yoke linkage so that it would be at the same height as the axle of the rear-wheel and it was a lot easier to pull. I would think that having the weight centered on the turning radius of that wheel would be much easier to control and re-direct than a sled(ge). The wheel is definatley the WAY to go!

    Just wondering if you ever thought of putting an additional brake, synching on the 3rd-wheel for slowing her on the back side of the gorge. You could easily link up to a rear mechanical, or even hydro with a split valve...though on a longer trek I think that would be asking for it! Not that there are too many more hills after the dalzell that that you'd need it for, but a little more control with the extra weight? And also could be helpful getting up Happy River and Shell...I wish you no more than 3 ferrying trips up "the steps" if the weathers bad...and if the weather is bad, I hope you pack some snowshoes with crampons in the trailer for the steps!

  19. #19
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    Bimbo is right suckkaa... Thanks for indulging, based on your answers we can all do it next year!

    Good choice on the bibler, that will be nice space with just youself. (presuming an I-Tent)
    awesome.

    Nice job on the grips too.

    So that is trailer version 2.0 is it not? got a side view photo?

    My most memorable trailer experience was snapping on of the main tubes on my Yakima bigtow in Ladakh. We fixed it with some hose clamps and a carabiner and made it to an Indian army outpost. I got to watch this guy try to weld it back to gether without welding glasses, just making sparks and a mess of everything. I went into the generals office and eventually one of the men came in "is finished".
    The repair held 3 minutes loaded before it snapped and we had to put the clamps back on... Good stuff.
    Last edited by Bearbait; 02-08-2007 at 12:20 PM.

  20. #20
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    Better be careful.

    Those hungry racers out there may just view you as a rolling Meals on Wheels and fuel supply.

    I have a trailer too I built a few years ago. A bit more primitive then yours but it doubles as a sled for when it gets really soft out. I have used it a few times including a winter trip to MCarthy and it works great on the flats but it's a bear to schlep up those hills. It uses a Monty 19 X 3.0 Trials tire and a matching Snowcat rim. It has an offset fork for attachment to a FatBike and you can set the ride height so it rides low to the ground for stability. Even has a shock and swingarm. I use it to haul trail tools in the summer by replacing the sled with a tool rack. For what you are doing, a trailer's the only way to carry that much weight.
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  21. #21
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    mike, looks amazing, and sounds amazing....why the single speed sprocket rather than a cluster on the front wheel?

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bearbait
    Bimbo is right suckkaa... Thanks for indulging, based on your answers we can all do it next year!
    Yeah right. I know (based on all your pesky questions) that you're loadin' **** up right now and leaving 24 hours ahead of me...


    Quote Originally Posted by Bearbait
    Good choice on the bibler, that will be nice space with just youself. (presuming an I-Tent) awesome.
    Yep, I tent.


    Quote Originally Posted by Bearbait
    Nice job on the grips too.
    So far so good. Lots o' surface area.


    Quote Originally Posted by Bearbait
    So that is trailer version 2.0 is it not? got a side view photo?
    Depends on your math. To me it's 3.3. Pic below.

    MC
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  23. #23
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by elliot_m
    Just wondering if you ever thought of putting an additional brake, synching on the 3rd-wheel for slowing her on the back side of the gorge.
    With dual hydro's I haven't had a problem slowing it down. Using caution and proceeding slowly seems a lot more sensible than adding a 3rd brake and all of the complexity/opportunity for failure inherent to it.

    YMMV.

    MC

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wildfire
    Those hungry racers out there may just view you as a rolling Meals on Wheels and fuel supply.

    I have a trailer too I built a few years ago. A bit more primitive then yours but it doubles as a sled for when it gets really soft out. I have used it a few times including a winter trip to MCarthy and it works great on the flats but it's a bear to schlep up those hills. It uses a Monty 19 X 3.0 Trials tire and a matching Snowcat rim. It has an offset fork for attachment to a FatBike and you can set the ride height so it rides low to the ground for stability. Even has a shock and swingarm. I use it to haul trail tools in the summer by replacing the sled with a tool rack. For what you are doing, a trailer's the only way to carry that much weight.
    I remember seeing pics of yours from a few years ago.

    It'd ride a lot nicer if the trailer wheel took some roids and grew a few inches...

    Yours seems a lot more versatile and fun (because it's smaller and you probably can't cram as much sh1t onto it as I will) than mine. You gonna use it on your tour this winter? When ya leaving?

    MC

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