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  1. #101
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post

    I think the main difference in your experience vs. mine is partially in where we live (your trails get a lot less snow and a lot more traffic) and partially in the experiences we've had on the ITI route. Once have I seen the Yentna hard and fast. Once has the trail from Nik to McG been hard and fast. The rest of the times they have been somewhere between difficult-but-doable and impossible to ride.
    That probably true. I tried riding buds last year, thinking I would take them to Nome, but all the ice killed that idea. Then it was just like my backyard from Mcgrath to Unk - mostly firm and fast, then tons of ice on the coast

    Don't get me wrong - I have seen the yenta soft - it was super soft in 2012, but bigger tires wouldn't have helped. Smaller tires would have been better, given they push though snow faster.

    I am amazed you haven't seen the Yentna fast more than once - you where there in 2013 right? It was mostly pretty fast riding all the way to mcgrath that year.

    Thanks again for posting this stuff, it is pretty interesting watching your thought processes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by spruceboy View Post
    That probably true. I tried riding buds last year, thinking I would take them to Nome, but all the ice killed that idea. Then it was just like my backyard from Mcgrath to Unk - mostly firm and fast, then tons of ice on the coast

    Don't get me wrong - I have seen the yenta soft - it was super soft in 2012, but bigger tires wouldn't have helped. Smaller tires would have been better, given they push though snow faster.

    I am amazed you haven't seen the Yentna fast more than once - you where there in 2013 right? It was mostly pretty fast riding all the way to mcgrath that year.

    Thanks again for posting this stuff, it is pretty interesting watching your thought processes.

    I left 2 days ahead of the race in '13, and the Yentna was work. Mostly rideable, but low pressures and you certainly weren't coasting anywhere. That actually describes the conditions we had until about Pass Creek, then they got better and better to the finish.

  3. #103
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    I went to an endurance seminar a few nights ago, put on by people that do the ITI and other endurance races here in AK. For shorter races where you are sure of the conditions, a better snow-tire can be a good idea. For longer races with extreme variability in the conditions and course/terrain, a good studded snow tire may save your life or at least save you from having to be rescued. These longer races/rides are more about good "all around tires" than choosing the best snow tire or the best ice tire, at least according to the riders putting on the seminar. It looks like there are some newer options coming out with the Wrathchild and studded XLs, and of course grip-studs. Sure, you might get into conditions where 2XLs would work and skinnier tires would not, or you may have completely fast conditions where they'd be a real drag. You also might have conditions where no tires will work and you have to be prepared for that. So in that light, just as with much winter riding, a "jack of all trades, master of none" tire is a pretty safe choice. I'd wager it's safer than specializing just due to how negatively that could affect you in the worst conditions.
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  4. #104
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    Thanks again Mike for posting all of this stuff, it's really interesting to me. One tire question: Did you guys consider a 27.5 fat setup at all, specifically the Gnarwhal? I'm guessing it would be fast for certain conditions, but not wide enough for variable conditions? I wonder if it would be a good replacement for a studded D5 setup? Should be similar width but roll faster?

  5. #105
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikeny View Post
    Thanks again Mike for posting all of this stuff, it's really interesting to me. One tire question: Did you guys consider a 27.5 fat setup at all, specifically the Gnarwhal? I'm guessing it would be fast for certain conditions, but not wide enough for variable conditions? I wonder if it would be a good replacement for a studded D5 setup? Should be similar width but roll faster?

    We did test a B Fat Gnarwhal setup for 5 or 6 rides. Alas Jeny's frame was built with 26 x 4.8's in mind, and the B Fat's edge knobs sit a bit taller (closer to the BB) than any 26 x 4.8" tire. Clearance was tight to the chainstays when the tires hadn't yet stretched, and we knew they were going to stretch so we removed them from the running.

    Jeny wasn't sure she could tell any difference in float or traction from Bud/Lou to the Gnarwhals. She was running them unstudded.

    Pete Basinger has ridden the B Fat setup on our backyard trails since then. He's racing ITI this year, and is currently debating between PSC 2XL's, B Fat Gnarwhals, or maybe Bud/Bud.

    B Fat Gnarwhals were several millimeters wider than D5's, and a few mm narrower than Bud. All on 82mm rims. I didn't write the numbers down together all in one place so I'm not quoting directly. Gnarwhals had a good chunk more volume than D5's, and seemed virtually identical to Bud.

  6. #106
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    We did test a B Fat Gnarwhal setup for 5 or 6 rides. Alas Jeny's frame was built with 26 x 4.8's in mind, and the B Fat's edge knobs sit a bit taller (closer to the BB) than any 26 x 4.8" tire. Clearance was tight to the chainstays when the tires hadn't yet stretched, and we knew they were going to stretch so we removed them from the running.

    Jeny wasn't sure she could tell any difference in float or traction from Bud/Lou to the Gnarwhals. She was running them unstudded.

    Pete Basinger has ridden the B Fat setup on our backyard trails since then. He's racing ITI this year, and is currently debating between PSC 2XL's, B Fat Gnarwhals, or maybe Bud/Bud.

    B Fat Gnarwhals were several millimeters wider than D5's, and a few mm narrower than Bud. All on 82mm rims. I didn't write the numbers down together all in one place so I'm not quoting directly. Gnarwhals had a good chunk more volume than D5's, and seemed virtually identical to Bud.
    So they were ruled out for fit issues, not performance issues, interesting. If the performance was similar to Bud/Lou, that sounds promising. What frame is she using? I don't remember reading that anywhere.

    I'll be interested to see what tires Pete B. ends up using.

  7. #107
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikeny View Post
    So they were ruled out for fit issues, not performance issues, interesting. If the performance was similar to Bud/Lou, that sounds promising. What frame is she using? I don't remember reading that anywhere.

    I'll be interested to see what tires Pete B. ends up using.

    She has a custom Meriwether that was designed/built to have good clearance for Bud/Lou, and the shortest possible chainstays that'd fit those tires.

  8. #108
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    She has a custom Meriwether that was designed/built to have good clearance for Bud/Lou, and the shortest possible chainstays that'd fit those tires.
    Probably wouldn't be that expensive/time consuming for Whit to swap out to adjustable dropouts, if she wanted to experiment with taller tires. Obviously not something you would want to do with less than two weeks till race time.

  9. #109
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    Quote Originally Posted by sean salach View Post
    Probably wouldn't be that expensive/time consuming for Whit to swap out to adjustable dropouts

    I'll let him know you say so!

    I love B Fat and ride it often. She's more ambivalent about it, and likes to switch between 26 x 5 and 29+. If she/we decided to experiment with B Fat for her, I'd likely just flip this chassis and ask Whit to build a new one.

  10. #110
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    Two questions:

    What are your preferred studs to use in the Vee Snowshoe?

    If running Bud/Bud combo do you flip the direction of rotation for the rear tire?

    Many thanks for the interesting thread.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eastman115 View Post
    Two questions:

    What are your preferred studs to use in the Vee Snowshoe?

    If running Bud/Bud combo do you flip the direction of rotation for the rear tire?

    Many thanks for the interesting thread.

    Studs: For this event I don't think it matters too much. No sane person is riding the limits of their studs in this environment and that far "out there". They're more to keep a person upright in the event that they encounter some ice they weren't expecting, than to allow you to ride every off-camber glaciered stretch of trail along the way. Stock Vee, Nokian, Schwalbe, or 45N are all pretty much the same in that respect.

    If we were talking commuting on black ice all winter long in some high-latitude city, my answer would be different.

    Bud direction: Both in front orientation. More important to roll efficiently than to get every last bit of dig. The difference is small but over ~300 miles efficiency matters.

  12. #112
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    Bud direction: Both in front orientation. More important to roll efficiently than to get every last bit of dig. The difference is small but over ~300 miles efficiency matters.
    Please pardon my ignorance. Front orientation is Propulsion or Cornering? I'm guessing Propulsion.

    Many thanks.
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  13. #113
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    Propulsion would be your rear wheel.
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  14. #114
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    Camp notes.


    Newbies to the ITI might be surprised to learn that it is possible to complete the entire Knik to McGrath route without sleeping outside. There are private homes, BLM cabins, and commercial lodges spaced intermittently along the route, such that if your pace is good and your luck holds, you'd never need to deploy your bivy gear at all.



    Think about that for a moment and you might start to wonder why you'd carry the extra ~7+ pounds of gear if you didn't have to.







    In a word, safety is why you carry it. There is never any guarantee that the conditions will be good enough to get from one lodge to the next cabin, or the next, in any reasonable amount of time. The trail isn't groomed and weather is unpredictable: Plan to sleep in a lodge, carry no bivy gear, then a ground blizzard blows the trail in or a snowstorm buries it, and your pace and plans just went out the window. What then? Cuddle up in spruce boughs? It has happened and it will continue to happen to those that are willing to gamble with their personal safety. Hopefully the end result will be nothing more than entertaining stories shared by those who've been humbled. I have a few of my own -- for another time...







    Out of respect for the place and desire for their own safety, most people carry a puffy jacket to wear when they stop moving, and a sleeping bag and pad so that they can get some meaningful rest. How big of a jacket, pad and bag are up to you to determine, based on how long you think you'll need to sleep, what the temps are, and what kind of sleeper you are. Volumes have been written (and will continue to be regurgitated) on the subject of sleeping comfort -- handily distilled down to inflatable pad vs. closed cell foam pad, and down vs. synthetic insulation in your jacket and bag. If you arrive at the ITI start you should be able to intelligently discuss at least some of these theories and explain why you went the route you did. Most importantly, you should have at least a few nights of experience camping in the gear you plan to take.







    Jeny has been busy this month, and especially on the weekends, getting out and riding alpine snow all day on Saturday, camping that night with the gear she's carrying, then waking Sunday, cooking a meal and melting snow to refill her bottles, then closing the loop back to the start. She understands that there is no better way to learn than to make mistakes, and the more mistakes she makes now, the fewer she'll make in the ITI when the stakes are higher.







    The lodges and cabins along the way are spartan in luxury but often seem heaven-sent despite that, largely because when your life is distilled down to what can be dragged in a sled or fit onto a bike rack, the simplest things like food and heat are most appreciated. Stumble exhausted out of a -30* night into a warm building and that alone is enough: anything beyond that -- like a $5 can of Coke or a $20 cheeseburger -- is just gravy. Because of this allure, and because there are ~70 people participating in the ITI, the lodges are *busy*. Think a little more about this and you'll realize that it is very difficult to get meaningful rest inside any of these buildings because people are constantly coming and going, packing and repacking, excitedly talking to friends when they arrive, rummaging through food and trash bags, burping, farting, clomping around in boots, and just generally doing anything other than being quiet. The person that can sleep regardless of external stimuli will do well here. If you need anything resembling uninterrupted quiet to sleep, you should plan to sleep out.



    Jeny is planning to sleep out.







    Just because you ditch the chaos of indoors does not guarantee that all is well. There are a handful of things that you need to do, and to understand, in order to ensure solid rest.



    First, the event is only a ~week long. Getting 8 hours of sleep a night isn't needed. I *like* seeing some of these landscapes (both inside and outside of my head) through the filter of darkness tinted with a teeny bit of sleep deprivation. The experiences are much richer, the stories more compelling.



    Maybe that's just me? Quantity aside, when I do settle in I want the sleep to be short but of quality. I shoot for at least an hour, and never (intentionally) more than 4. 90 minutes seems to be the magic number for me -- less than that and I'm still groggy and grumpy. More than that and, after the initial moment or two of rumminess wears off, I feel rejuvenated and ready to move.







    It goes without saying that if you're only going to sleep for 90 minutes, you don't want to waste another 90 setting up and breaking down camp. You want to be fast, efficient -- not just so that you can maintain your forward mojo, but also because breaking camp in the cold is *cold*: You haven't been moving to generate any heat, and until you pack up and move you aren't going to. Learn to be quick by thinking proactively about how and where to pack your gear. If you have to think about where something is your toes just went numb. If you unzip a zipper or peel back some velcro and find that what you sought is indeed somewhere else, your fingers are now numb too. You'll be surprised at the speed with which your extremities begin to chill straight out of the bag in the morning.







    Over the last ~month Jeny has refined her camp setup routine to where she needs only to remove the bag from her rear rack and she has her entire "camp" within: Bag, pad, puffy, cookpot, food, and stove. Fuel is kept separate for many reasons, but is handy in a bottle cage on the bike so that once she's setup and in her bag, she can reach from the comfort of her bag to grab that bottle and start melting snow.



    But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself.



    First, you need to pick a good spot, and "good" is both different and relative every time out. My goal is always to find shelter first and foremost. We don't carry a tent, mid, or tarp on the ITI because the weight, bulk, and time spent setting up and tearing down aren't offset by the meager protection they offer. It's no warmer inside of a tent than out, but it can be quite a bit wetter due to condensation from exhalations. I'll never use a bivy sack in winter again after experimenting and learning how much moisture they trap next to and inside of your sleeping bag, thusly degrading the insulation.



    We sleep out. And that means we need to be protected from wind and falling snow. Trees offer good shelter, although if you set up camp in a grove of cottonwoods and it snows overnight you might wonder about the truth of that statement. When I say trees I mean conifers, where the needles can catch any snow that might otherwise land on (and melt on) you.







    So the very first step is to find a spot that's quiet, and that means getting off of and away from the trail. Stomp a path out into the trees, far enough so that other nocturnal travelers don't even notice you're there. Jeny had an anxious moment a few weeks ago when a midnight trail groomer saw her camp and came to check on her -- but never got out of his snowcat to do it. There was never any danger but as the cat approached her location it was hard to convince herself that she wasn't about to be tilled into corduroy. Once the driver saw that she was safely ensconced in her bag he flipped it and left her to sleep. His intentions were admirable but her adrenaline hit couldn't subside quickly enough. She'd never have woken had she been better hidden.







    The trick to sleeping under conifers, as any To Build a Fire fan will tell you, is to remove any snow that might fall on you before you set anything up. How? Put on your jacket, pull the hood over your head, close all zippers, bow your head, and then kick the snot out of the trunk until the last bombs have whumped to the ground around you. Good? Good.







    Next. stomp a trench out next to a big tree. Why big? Bigger circumference of protection, plus (hopefully) a healthy trunk to lean against while melting snow. The trench is necessary because the snow is deep and soft -- stomping it out packs it into a ~level surface to sleep on. Make the trench big enough that you can't inadvertently touch the edges and knock loose snow down onto yourself. There is an art to finding the right size: I'm not here to tell you how to do that, I'm here to encourage you to go out and find out! An added bonus is that the stomping warms you a bit before you shut down the turbines for the night.







    Above is Jeny's campsite from last Wednesday, after she'd placed her bike and stomped the trench but before she'd laid out her bag and pad to start cooking.



    Our camptime habits include walking the last ~1/4 mile to "cool down" and cook any residual moisture out of our layers, eating a few hundred calories while walking so that the fire is stoked before we get into our bags, changing into dry socks as soon as we get into the bag, and rehydrating a hot meal to give our bellies fuel for both recovery and heat production through the night. If we're tired enough we'll often pass out before brushing teeth, but the feeling of fur on teeth is usually the second task I take care of when I wake. The first being the need to pee, which is almost always what wakes me and signifies that it's time to move again.



    Clearly there is nothing exhaustive about what I've shared here. I intend it as a springboard to get people to think about camping not in the abstract -- but to go out and do it and learn to be good at it.



    No time like the present.

  15. #115
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    interesting! ... no bivi sac -- i'm guessing the sleeping bags are waterproofed? or is the conifer cover generally enough?

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    I've made the mistake of not knocking snow off of a tree before. Nothing like a giant, fluffy snowball to the face to wake you up.

    I've had good luck with condensation by using two large Heat Sheets blankets, taped on two edges with gaps between each piece of tape. Keeps snow off, weighs a few ounces and has enough air flow to breathe pretty well.

    Doing this race, or showing up to any situation where you're sleeping in a room with other people, requires bringing ear plugs. Unless you're a 'nothing can wake me up' kind of person. Some people even bring eye shades/sleep masks.

    Also, snow is very absorbent. If you wake up in the middle of the night and have to pee, but aren't ready to get up, you can just unzip the bag enough and pee into the snow without exiting your bag. Assuming you have the right equipment to pee horizontally...

  17. #117
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    Some great stuff in here, Mike. Makes me want to bivy in the snow tonight.

  18. #118
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    Quote Originally Posted by dRjOn View Post
    interesting! ... no bivi sac -- i'm guessing the sleeping bags are waterproofed? or is the conifer cover generally enough?
    Most modern/good bags have a DWR that's good enough. Also keep in mind that good winter bags have enough loft that if snow falls on them, there isn't enough of your body heat coming through to melt the snow. It just sits there at ambient until you roll over, and then it falls off. If you have a ridgerest (or other pad with little nooks and crannies for snow to settle into), the snow can slip off your bag and into these nooks. If you roll over on top of that snow, then you'll wake to find little puddles in those nooks as your body heat is able to melt the snow that finds it's way between you and your pad.

    The conifers are big in many places -- such that you can burrow and in be untouched except by wind driven snow.

  19. #119
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    What are your thoughts on pedals? Given that there could be deep snow conditions that require extensive walking/pushing, platforms may be preferred. Most platforms I see marketed now have nasty little studs. I say nasty because I ripped my hand open on such when trying to re-seat a chain. And so when pushing, those pedals can snag clothing. I am surprised that the market has not produced a high end "foldable pedal" for the fatbike market. I think that would make pushing a little easier.

  20. #120
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailnimal View Post
    What are your thoughts on pedals? Given that there could be deep snow conditions that require extensive walking/pushing, platforms may be preferred. Most platforms I see marketed now have nasty little studs. I say nasty because I ripped my hand open on such when trying to re-seat a chain. And so when pushing, those pedals can snag clothing. I am surprised that the market has not produced a high end "foldable pedal" for the fatbike market. I think that would make pushing a little easier.

    Pedals are like religion to people in winter races: Suggest that they're doing it wrong and you'll find yourself in the midst of a holy war.

    Jeny and I both prefer to ride clipless in winter. Our local trails are soft or softer, and being clipped in gives you better control of the bike in marginal conditions.

    It is easier and less expensive to arrive at a warm boot setup when using flats. The tradeoff being that you lose some of that fine control when things get really technical.

    No right answer, no wrong answer, just compromises to choose between.

    I have, in ITI's past, taken a long-handled hex wrench so that I could remove my pedals for long stretches of pushing. In 2010 my pedals were off of the bike for almost 2 days -- from just past Puntilla Lake to roughly the Dalzell Gorge. Never even thought about riding in that section, so deep and unconsolidated was the snow, and it was nice to not intermittently thwack my shins on the pedals.

    For summer fatbike/beach/packraft trips I think flats make more sense for lots of reasons. And for some of those I've used QR pedals like these.

  21. #121
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailnimal View Post
    What are your thoughts on pedals? Given that there could be deep snow conditions that require extensive walking/pushing, platforms may be preferred. Most platforms I see marketed now have nasty little studs. I say nasty because I ripped my hand open on such when trying to re-seat a chain. And so when pushing, those pedals can snag clothing. I am surprised that the market has not produced a high end "foldable pedal" for the fatbike market. I think that would make pushing a little easier.
    Hell, you oughtta try a pair of Straitline Defacto's, They will surgically remove your shins... But you will never slip a pedal while you're riding.
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  22. #122
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    I left 2 days ahead of the race in '13, and the Yentna was work. Mostly rideable, but low pressures and you certainly weren't coasting anywhere. That actually describes the conditions we had until about Pass Creek, then they got better and better to the finish.
    So, what tires did you guys end up settling on ? It is looking a bit slow this year - the iditasport guys are not exactly tearing up the trail.

    I am now debating putting the buds on.. Hah - that is what I get for shooting my mouth off

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    Quote Originally Posted by spruceboy View Post
    So, what tires did you guys end up settling on ? It is looking a bit slow this year - the iditasport guys are not exactly tearing up the trail.

    I am now debating putting the buds on.. Hah - that is what I get for shooting my mouth off

    We were debating that this AM. And then we saw OE's flyover vid from ~Puntilla to ~Rohn, which has always been a black hole of trail info. The info gleaned there, coupled with the Iditasport guys (lack of) speed, makes it seem like Bud/Bud is a slam dunk. Will be installing them this evening, then boxing her bike tomorrow.

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    Two wake ups till go time! Good luck to Jeny and the rest of you!

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    The mental mind.


    The ITI starts in 2 days!



    There is little that can be done to increase fitness at this point. Jeny can rest and show up recovered and ready to go, or she can not, but she can't get any stronger.







    I dropped Jeny at the airport at dark-thirty this morning, and she'll transit through several other airports before arriving in Anchorage this evening. If you're anything like a normal human being, you spend lots of time "devicing" while killing time in airports. In that way Jeny is normal. She'll read a little news, maybe catch up with friends and family, possibly get some actual work done.



    Undoubtedly she'll also check a few weather websites to see how things are shaping up along the route. My experience is that the more you look at those seemingly innocuous forecasts, the more you're sewing the seeds of uncertainty in your own preparation.







    Weather forecasts being what they are, you come away from each one less sure about what they're telling you. 60% chance of sun is virtually the same as a 40% chance of snow, but the way that you prepare for and react to each is emphatically not the same. The more you think about the likelihood of snow, the more you wonder how prepared you really are for it.



    Specifically:


    -If the snow is light and dry, and it comes in on a wind, then the trail will drift in and traction is very difficult to find. Bigger knobs on your tires are quite beneficial to the end of riding vs. spinning your rear wheel and digging holes, or being able to control the front end of the bike. Even though we've tested, discussed, tested, and retested tires, and made the decision to run Bud/Bud based on past conditions and current forecasts, Jeny wouldn't be human if she looked at these forecasts and didn't wonder if that was the right choice.







    -If the snow is wet and heavy it becomes easier to ride, but it has the ancillary effect of weighing down the ice on the frozen waterways that constitute the bulk of this route. Pushing down the ice pushes water out on top, creating overflow. Ever pedaled or walked through standing water at -20*? It happens, and if you're unprepared for it you're going to have a bad day.







    Where am I going with all this?



    If at this stage you have any cause for uncertainty with any of your preparation, the littlest things will cause you to second guess the steps you've taken to get here. Second guess enough steps and suddenly the most prepared person is debating whether to start at all, or considering adding a dozen pounds ("We pack our insecurities") of ultra-lightweight gear to their kit. This isn't specific to any one demographic or individual, although it does tend to hit us CDO folks harder.



    The solution?



    Simple: Remind yourself where you've been en route to this moment.



    When Jeny first made the decision to head north back in early January, I sat her down and shone a very bright light in her eyes, then explained to her that she could start the event the very next day and do really well. A lifetime spent outside in similar conditions has familiarized her with what she'll experience up there. She nodded in agreement but I could tell that she was skeptical. Then I explained that since she had 6 weeks left to prepare, we'd leave no stone unturned doing just that. And we have -- well, *she* has. Jeny buckled down, focused and really put in the necessary effort to dial in her fitness and gear. When I reiterated that to her yesterday she again nodded in agreement, but again I could tell that she was skeptical. And I get that -- there are just so many variables involved that you can't help but to wonder which of them you could or should have spent more time with.






    To that end, all Jeny needs to do is go back to the beginning of this series of posts and re-read each one to realize that she has, indeed, prepared in a way that will deliver her to Knik Lake on Sunday morning as prepared as any ITI rookie will likely ever be. She has scrutinized every piece of clothing she'll wear and done research to understand what sort of options she has. Then she's gone out and ridden (and pushed, and camped) in each piece, overandoverandover, for the past ~6 weeks. After each ride she's made some minute adjustment (cutting, sewing, amending) to each piece of gear -- usually to make it fit better or to become more invisible when worn -- and then she's gone out and ridden some more. Again, and again, and again.



    Apply that process not just to your clothing, but also to your bike, your food, and your safety kit, and what do you get? Eventually you get a sense of confidence at having left no detail unexamined. Or at least you should. Once you've been out on the actual trail and seen how well things work, then that confidence can begin to sink in.







    But Jeny's not there yet: She's got a long 2 days before she pedals away from Knik and can begin to understand this for herself. In that time she'll meet lots of new people -- mostly fellow racers -- and she'll have a multitude of conversations about the race, the route, the weather, and always more talk about gear. It is cyclical and seemingly interminable. As with the weather forecasts, each of these conversations leaves you with a sense of uncertainty about the prep you've done to date. Invariably someone will ask how you plan to deal with X scenario and, even though you've thought it through, experimented, and have a solid answer, *their* answer might be different from yours, and this'll give you pause.



    There are very few black and white answers to the scenarios they'll face out there. The one certainty is that if you have confidence in the solution you've devised -- whatever it is -- then that's good enough. Never having been out there makes it difficult for some to grasp this simple truth.



    Last point about the mental aspect of traversing the Iditarod Trail: Things never go exactly to plan. You're pushing hard in an unforgiving and potentially hostile environment for too long to do everything 100% perfect. Mistakes happen to everyone, sometimes in rapid succession. Dwelling on them -- beating yourself up -- does little to teach and less to get you further up the trail. The person that can make a mistake, digest and embrace the lesson, then drop it trailside and move on is the person that emerges victorious from the ITI. And from life...







    Jeny is a gifted athlete with a lifetime of outdoor experience, and because of this she sets very high expectations for herself. Failing to live up to them -- whatever that means to her -- can send her down a mental spiral that's difficult to pull out of. To the end of combatting that she's devised a handful of strategies to keep herself on track. Slowing down, stopping for a break, grabbing a midday catnap, preparing and then eating a hot meal -- all of these serve to keep her from getting too far ahead of herself. Staying in the moment is The Most Important Thing. Those are popular words these days, and might not get through to everyone.


    So I'll put them differently. Thinking too far ahead can be crippling. Thinking of each task to be completed as sequential, and not cumulative, might be the best single piece of advice I can offer this late in the game.



    + + + + +



    The 2017 ITI starts this Sunday at 2PM Alaska time. You can follow it here.



  26. #126
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    good luck!

  27. #127
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    Jeny, be safe stay warm and kick arse!
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  28. #128
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    Go Jenny, Go! Have a great race.
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  29. #129
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    Go get em Jeny! Have a great and safe adventure!


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  30. #130
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    Good luck, and safe travels!

  31. #131
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    Hope to see everyone go by tomorrow at Flathorn Lake!
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  32. #132
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    Being prepared, you don't need so much luck.

    But nonetheless, good luck Jeny.
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    Great thread to read and learn from. Goodluck Jeny!!


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  34. #134
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    Very soft heading out from Ayshire to Flathorn Lake, some people pushing at times. A group of us headed out to Flathorn, some of us rode from Knik Lake. We cheered on the racers and offered them beer and goodies. Riding back sucked nearly as much. Was warm, upper 20s. Pictures maybe tomorrow when I get time.

  35. #135
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    Jenny?Jeny and The Race.-gopr5622s.jpg This is at Flathorn Lake where we setup an impromptu checkpoint offering beer, cookies and lots of encouragement.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  36. #136
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    Go Jeny, Go! 74.1miles and having a rest, looking at the tracker.

  37. #137
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    "She won't be racing, will emphatically be touring the route. "

    HaHaha....LOL!
    in third place!
    Last edited by trailnimal; 02-27-2017 at 04:08 PM.

  38. #138
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailnimal View Post
    "She won't be racing, will emphatically be touring the route. "

    HaHaha....LOL!
    in third place!


    It's easy to get sucked into the fast pace of the first day, especially when conditions are good. That, and it's easy to want to get the Yentna over with ASAP!

    But she stopped and slept for 3+ hours this AM, and has taken breaks for cupcakes and coffee at both Skwentna and Shell since then.

    I assure you she is going a lot less hard than she could, and her pace will likely continue to slow as she works her way up into the mountains.

  39. #139
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    She looks to have one of the lightest loaded bikes, judging from the photos. Pretty much all the others have a big roll on the handlebars.

    I'd be interested in hearing what she's using for navigational aids. Some of those guys have a regular dashboard up front.

  40. #140
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    Quote Originally Posted by radair View Post
    She looks to have one of the lightest loaded bikes, judging from the photos. Pretty much all the others have a big roll on the handlebars.

    I'd be interested in hearing what she's using for navigational aids. Some of those guys have a regular dashboard up front.

    Her bike is packed *tight*, but I don't think it's particularly light. She's got a lotta food, a full-on MSR XGK stove and ~30oz of fuel, plus enough bivy gear to sleep out comfortably every night. In a word, a touring load.

    Most racers bikes are probably a lot lighter. Very few racers carry stoves: it's easy enough to refill on water ~once a day at the lodges/checkpoints. If you get thirsty you're working hard enough that you can eat snow for awhile.

    Massive roll on/under the bars has never made sense nor worked for us. Speeds are so slow and front end so often lacks traction (because the snow doesn't stick to itself, so how can the tire stick to the snow?) that putting extra swing weight and/or mass up there just makes you work harder to keep the bike on the trail.

    The bulk of her gear/food weight is centered in the frame bag or lower bottle cage. Insulation (to be accessed when camping) is on the rear rack -- bulky but not particularly heavy. Sleep pad under bars. Snacks at hand inside pogies or in bottle cages on fork legs.

    She has paper maps for navs, but not sure where those ended up stashed. She has her phone with Gaia, which means easily accessible topos even offline/out of cell service, and the phone's gps locates you on those topos. Pretty slick.

    Recharging her phone and camera with current from the SON dynohub. She runs her Luxos U light off of it at night, but the Luxos also has a USB outlet that you can use to charge devices when the light isn't needed. Also pretty slick.

  41. #141
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    Thanks so much, Mikesee, for creating and continuing this thread. It's been fascinating to have a ring-side seat to training, other preparation, and for virtually following along.

  42. #142
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    Good info. I also use Gaia extensively, mostly for trail planning, and wondered about battery life (it sucks on my phone). Those SON dyno hubs look awesome. As do the Luxos U lights.

    Thanks!

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    Any weather updates?
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  44. #144
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    Quote Originally Posted by radair View Post
    Good info. I also use Gaia extensively, mostly for trail planning, and wondered about battery life (it sucks on my phone). Those SON dyno hubs look awesome. As do the Luxos U lights.

    Thanks!

    The phone and Gaia are not for constant use -- more to refer to if you come to an unmarked junction. Early in this route that happens constantly, but after you leave Shell Lake it's sort of hard to get off the main trail -- it's almost (almost!) always obvious which is the main trail.

  45. #145
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    Quote Originally Posted by farleybob View Post
    Any weather updates?

    Check Puntilla Lake, Alaska for what she'll see today. Check Nikolai, Alaska, for an idea of what she'll see after today.

  46. #146
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    Looks like a few days of clear and cool weather coming up, which should be good. I've been following my buddy Jay's progress, and it looks like yesterday was a slog...

    Edit - just checked TL, looks like Jeny is doing well!
    I dream of a day when my children will live in a world without the shackles of cause and effect.” - S. Colbert

  47. #147
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    Andy Romang's snap of Jeny and her bike at Knik.

    She's loaded heavier than most on food, fuel, and stove, and "just right" on bivy gear.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Jeny and The Race.-iditarod-trail-invitational-2017-february-26-2017-0347-x4.jpg  


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    Thanks for the updates, Mike. I've been watching progress on Trackleaders. It appears there has been a lot of pushing. That can't be much fun for hours on end.

    It also appears that Bud/Bud was a wise choice given the conditions thus far.

    Is there much cell coverage up there? You think it would be nice every once and awhile to throw in an ear piece and check in at home...

  49. #149
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    There's no cell coverage for most of the course. Sat phones work in most places.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sean salach View Post
    cell coverage

    She sent me a text from Shell, and I've bumped into slednecks just shy of Finger whom were standing on top of their sleds to eke out enough signal to check in at home. Beyond that I don't think there's any, and to many that's a big part of the allure.

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