How do you justify spending more money on bikes? For me, it depends on the season. You need a bike for every season, and right now I am collecting all of my ‘necessary gear’ for fat biking. Since the fall, my focus has switched to bikes with 3.7+” clown-looking tires. I have a very addictive personality, and once it pops, the fun don’t stop (thanks Pringles). I started research on endurance fat bike races and came across the grand daddy of them all, The Iditarod Trail Invitational. I wanted in, but was disappointed to hear I had to qualify first. After looking into it, they make you qualify for a reason. This is no standard race. There are two versions, the 1,000 mile and 350 mile version. In order to qualify for the 350 you must complete any of these 4 races: The Susitna 100, Arrowhead 135, White Mountains 100, and the Sheep Mountains 150. In order to participate in any of these races you must apply or register, you are not guaranteed a you a spot. Bottom line, these races are tough, and the race directors do a good job of letting you know that in advance. So I went out and applied for the most convenient race, The Arrowhead Ultra 135. The race starts on Monday, January 27th, at 7am. In 2011, the race started at -40 °F and was as warm as 32 °F last year. In general, it will be cold and the required gear exemplifies this. My application was submitted, and a few weeks later I got the news that I was accepted to race in the 2014 Arrowhead Ultra. I  knew if I was accepted, I would be spending a lot of money on equipment. Before all of this, fat bikes were really on the back burner for me. It was on the list, but not that important. Now, it has been a priority as well as cold weather camping gear.
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The 2014 Arrowhead Ultra 135 is January 27th.
Spending money on all of the necessary and required gear will give me the opportunity to enjoy this amazing experience, versus being underprepared, cold and uncomfortable.  Once I have the gear I will be set for other races to come. In the cycling industry, it seems like buying gear is a never ending process.  It becomes outdated,  I want the next best thing, or I am just not satisfied with what I have. I have slowly realized that I pick the most expensive hobbies. One thing I know is that it is always worth it. I’m completely enthralled in new technology, and new ways to better your performance, but where do we draw the line when it comes to spending? It is a very exciting time in the fat bike industry, not only are they showing up on local trails, but races like these are becoming more and more popular. I already spent money on a bike, but it is the gear that really put a  hole in my pocket. Below is the mandatory gear racers are required to carry as well as some recommended gear. Mandatory Gear (they will be doing a gear check before the race) :
  • -20 °F sleeping bag or colder rating – Apparently it gets pretty cold up in northern Minnesota.  -40 °F at the start in 2011.
    • I just got the Western Mountaineering Puma -25 °F (so warm)
  • Insulated Sleeping Pad
    • Leaning towards something that I don’t have to blow up.
    • Big Agnes Dual Core Mummy
  • Bivy Sac or Tent
    • Marmot Alpinist Bivy
  • Fire starter
    • Matches or lighter will do.
  • Stove
    • Will be using my new Jetboil Sol
  • 8 fl oz of fuel (must have 8 fl oz at all times.)
    • Check –  Two 4 oz canisters.
  • Pot (min volume, 1 pint)
    • Jetboil
  • 2-qt Water (64 fl. oz.  just under 2 liters, insulated water container.)
    • CamelBak Octane with insulated hose.
    • Will  fit under my layers to keep warm.
  • Flashing red LED lights, both on front and back of bike
    • All set.
  • At least 10 square inches of reflective material on front and back
    • My clothes have a bunch of reflectors.
    • Will bring reflective triangle.
  • Whistle on string around neck to call for help, because your mouth is too numb to yell.
    • makes sense…scary!
  • 1-day food ALL times (3000 calories)
    • On the CTR I carried sooooooo much food, at the end, I had enough food for two more days!
Here is the gear they recommend:
  • Extreme conditions mittens, head gear, outerwear, down sweater, spare undershirt/socks etc.
    • Pogies
      • I own Bar Mitts and will use if temps are not too extreme.
      • Most likely using my Dogwood Pogies.
    • I will be carrying Three different hats, and a head band.
    • 2 Buffs, for face and neck.
    • I is all about layers, and it will take a bunch of trial and error, but I think I can compare layers to touring. I should be set on this.
  • Boots, over-boots, Gaiters.
    • This is a very important piece of the puzzle. I have decided I’m going with a clipless system.
    • Wolvehammer boots by 45NRTH
    • Over booties from Forty Below
    • Thin tall cycling sock (base)
    • Seal Skins will be vapor barrier
    • Thick wool sock on top
    • Extra wool socks.
    • Will improvise with temperatures.
  • Duct tape, Vaseline, sunglasses, lip balm, moleskin, ibuprofen, etc.
    • The old emergency kit, I will also be bringing, an extra shifter and brake cable, super glue, needle, thread, electrical tape, athletic tape, etc.
    • Map/compass/GPS.  Reflective vest is a good idea.
The bike:
  • Bike
    • I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to be riding a Borealis Yampa. If you have  yet to hear about the Yampa, it was the first full carbon fat bike on the market. It is extremely light but super tough. Adam and Steve started the operation last year, and have already had great success.
  • Bags
Arrowhead is about you, the wilderness, your inner dogged spirit and self-sufficiency. Stay Tuned to a full race report.

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