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Olympia Cycle & Ski, 1813 Portage Ave

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Lindsay's 2012 Iditarod Adventure

Linsday Gauld, founder of Olympia Cycle & Ski, is off on another adventure: The 2012 Iditarod is in some sense the most extreme biking competition on the planet.  You can read more about it on the Iditarod Invitational blog here (where you can find lots of post-race reports from previous competitors, and information about this year's event, plus much more) and you can scroll past Lindsay's post below to check out a competitor's POV video.

Immediately below are some of Lindsay's thoughts as he comes close to final preparation time.  We'll share more with you as he forwards his continued prep reports...

In 1962, President Kennedy said that America was choosing to go to the moon, not because it was easy but because it was hard. (Yes, I was around then and remember it well) I am treating this year’s Iditarod Trail Invitational with much the same approach. Doing long events is something that is exciting and challenging and much like other addicts, we adrenaline junkies find we need to continuously push the envelope. The ITI is the longest and hardest  winter bike race in the world and will surely be all the challenge I can handle.

I head for Alaska and the 2012 ITI in exactly 2 weeks and I find myself consumed with preparations. I’ve known since last spring that I was accepted but the reality is finally sinking in.  I’ve been training as always by working as a courier and supplementing that with numerous rides on my Fatback bike. I hoped to do the 135 mile Arrowhead race as a final long prep ride but came down with food poisoning and had to skip it so I am a little uncertain of my condition.

In preparing and organizing, I find myself torn between thinking in terms of taking part in a race or being involved in a long adventure ride. I think I’ll end up falling somewhere in the middle. Those of you who know me well know that I’m more than a little competitive but at the same time I must remember that this will probably be a 5 or 6 day event so pacing will be very important.

They have had a huge amount of snow in Alaska this winter that will make for a beautiful but somewhat daunting event. I remember reading about the race leader Jeff Oatley taking 57 hours to push his bike 45 miles through deep snow in Rainy Pass several years ago.  This can quickly turn a 5 day race into 7 and this means having enough food and gear to go as long as it takes to get to the finish at McGrath.

Most of the gear and food etc. that works in the Arrowhead race works fine in Alaska as well but the fact that it is about 5 times as long in time with no outlet in case of problems mandates an extra level of gear. It breaks down something like this :

Bike  - Fatback TI frame with Surly fork, SRAM drivetrain, cable disc brakes, Hadley hubs with a 100 ml Clown Shoe rim on the front and an 80 ml in back, Big Fat Larry 4.5 inch tires front and rear and shraeder 2.4 – 2.75 tubes. No Con housing for all cables. Platform pedals as a race that averages 5 or 6 kms per hour doesn’t require clipless in my mind. 2 Sigma light mounted on Paul mounts on the forks and flshing led on rear.

Racks and Bags – most gear is from Eric at Revelate with a sling on front for my sleepimg bag and bivy , a gas tank on the top tube for readily available food etc., a frame bag  to carry a large amount of my food and a pair of his wonderful poagies which he unfortunately no longer makes. On the rear I’m adding a rear rack and some great superlight panniers from Pacific Outdoors. I just got them through Dave Gray at the Arrowhead and they seem to be exactly what I need. For the Arrowhead, I use the Revelate seatbag but I felt I needed more capacity in Alaska. I also have two insulated water containers on the side of my head tube .

Water – The two bags hold a liter each and I also have a Hydroheater bladder for my Camelback  which has 100 ounces of fluid as well. This unit is battery operated and  when it is cold, you can turn it on to keep the water flowing through the hose. There are some very long stretches between water (my friend Bill Shand mentioned that the stretch from Rohn to Nikolai took him 22 hours last year) so having enough water is crucial.

I will tell you more about the rest of my clothing etc as I start to pack it but I’m feeling the need to go out and train. I’m heading over to Springhill ski area to practice pushing my bike up the hill. A fully loaded bike can be a killer so I need to be ready for that. I’ll keeping touch .