Had a great time at Arrowhead 135, the race went well and I’m enjoying some rest after a long night in -20s weather. We were certain this would be a “warm” year, but the weather wasn’t made aware of that. Lowest on my Garmin was -29, others saw under -30, definitely not the -10 we expected from forecasts. Really appreciated what I learned at Tuscobia this year, I was pushed to the edge but in the end all went well.
Left International Falls at 7am, temp was -11, we thought that was our low of the race. The ride to Gateway was pretty uneventful, relatively flat and a fast hard packed trail. My right knee had started to hurt before the race and continued to cause pain. Only spent a short time at the first checkpoint.
The second section has some hills, but nothing serious. Saw a group of whitetail playing on the trail, and ended at Melgeorge Resort after crossing the lake at a beautiful time of day. At this point I was getting a bit exhausted, and the next section is by far the longest and hardest of the race. So I spent a few hours resting and rehydrating. During the hills I found my bike was starting to fight shifting to higher gears, turns out a bolt was the the wrong way and was now bent. Didn’t have the needed tools, so would have to live with it. My knee felt better when walking, so figured the hills we had to walk wouldn’t be too bad.
Leaving Melgeorge my knee really started to cause severe pain. I debated going back, but it’s a pain I’ve had before and has often went away, so I just kept going. The hills are crazy, straight up and straight down. Miles of pushing the bike up the worst of them. At the top I would have to lift the rear tire and spin the crank while pulling the derailleur into higher gear, not easy with 60+lb bike… Going down was a blast, but bombing downhill at 3am using a headlight wasn’t exactly safe I suppose. And the windchill going 25mph at around -28 was bone chilling. My Garmin hasn’t been working for mileage, so no idea when the Surly checkpoint was coming, hills just kept showing up.
Finally got to Surly checkpoint, just a teepee out in the woods. But they had a fire and water, so great to get resettled and ready for final 24 miles. There is just one big hill after Surly, then flat to the finish. But much is out in the open, so the wind at my face started to give me a bad chill. I figured I’d just create heat, and hit the gas as much as possible. I thought that would leave me wasted at the finish, but still felt pretty good when I crossed the line. Toes were right on the edge, but I walked every little bit to warm them up and prevent frostbite.
Lots of severe frostbite so far, a couple will get ER visits, and those are just the finishers. I’m hearing of lots of other frostbite at the checkpoints, so a very nasty year in that regard. An unexpected deep cold really created some dangerous conditions. Glad I was able to avoid most of it after what I got from Tuscobia, just got my nose again.
My buddy Pete is still on the course, so watching his progress and hoping he does well. Will be good to head back home after a long sleep tonight.
Thanks for all the well wishes and cheering, was very much appreciated!