Jorden Wakeley recently took first place in the 2015 Arrowhead Ultra after winning the sprint finish with a time of 15 hours flat. Here is what he has to say about the ride and his future plans. Where do you live? Grayling, MI How old are you? 24 years young When did you start biking? Ridden a bike all my life, 1st mountain bike race @ age 14. Got my 1st fatbike when I was 21. We have seen your name in the fat bike race scene a bunch in the past few years, is this your area of focus? It is. I’m a huge fan of the 29+ movement too, but I love racing a fatbike year round.
Photo: Adrienne gillespie
Photo: Adrienne Gillespie
Why did you choose to race the Arrowhead Ultra this year? After talking to Todd McFadden at the 2013 Birkie about his AH expirence, it sounded like such an awesome race. I had too much going on with other races last year to commit, but decided to give it a go this year. My whole season has been molded around ’15 AH. Tell us what it was like up front, we saw a picture leading into Melgeorges with 6 of you guys, who was all there? Being mostly a XC racer, I was actually wondering when the pace would get faster. It did get fast at times, but nothing like I had envisioned going into the race. From the Gateway Store checkpoint at mile 35 it was 6 of us together for the next 80ish miles. The group included myself, Tim Berstein, Jay P, Todd McFadden, Kevin Britenbech, and Charly Tri. I’ve looked up to all these guys the past few years, and being able to ride with them all day was something i’ll never forget.
Photo: Adrienne Gillespie
Photo: Adrienne Gillespie
How were you feeling when you got to the last checkpoint? How was everyone else looking? I was feeling great. Jay P and I left the checkpoint together, but were picked up by Todd and Tim a few minutes later. The 3 others were still looking good also, but I was confident about my sprint capabilities if it came down to that. What happened in the final mile? The final mile was actually pretty calm. We all kinda rode our own lines. I kept an eye on each of the others and listened for the clicking of shifters of someone trying to go for it early. About 150 yards out Jay P went for it. I stayed on his wheel and launched at the base of the final short climb and got by. I never looked back because I knew it’d be close.
Photo: Adrienne Gillespie
Photo: Adrienne Gillespie
Did you surprise yourself with the win or was this your goal? It was definitely a goal to win. I was very confident in my training and abilities going into the race. Borealis bikes have been serious player in two recent Winter Ultras (Andrew K / Fat Pursuit /Yampa), how do you like your Echo? I love the Echo. I swapped out the Bluto for a rigid fork and put a longer stem on it for AH. It actually rode very similar to the Yampa in my opinion.
Photo: Adrienne Gillespie
Photo: Adrienne Gillespie
What bags were you using and why? How heavy did your bike weigh? I used a Revelate Tangle frame bag and Viscacha seat bag. I’m pretty minimalist so I was able to pack all my mandatory gear and race food in them. I didn’t weigh my bike, but I know it was the heaviest rig in the top 5, over 42 lbs for sure. I don’t have carbon wheels, so I ran Clownshoes with tubes and Dillinger 5’s (This setup was also key to winning the race). The extra float I got from the 100’s made it so I didn’t work nearly as hard as the others in the soft snow. A lot of people do the arrowhead and other winter ultras to qualify for the ITI, any plans for that? ITI has been floating in my head the last few weeks, more so now that AH is over. Maybe next year if I can get the funds/support together. More winter ultras for sure though. We have heard you are trying to head over to Colorado to race, is this still the plan and why Colorado? It sounded good at the time, not so much now. I’m happy with Northern Michigan. There’s never a shortage of snow, and there’s a fatbike race every weekend in the winter. The fatbike scene in the Midwest is exploding right now, I love it! What do you have lined up for the summer, any interest in bikepacking races or rides? This summer will include several NUE 100 milers and 3-4 hour point to point races all on a 29+ and/or full fat setup. I’ve got plans for a long ride from waaaay up in Michigan’s U.P., to my house, about 350 miles sticking to dirt as much as possible on my fatbike. There’s not a whole lot of bikepacking races in my neck of the woods. Any one you want to give a shout out to? My family, friends, Borealis Fat Bikes, Wolf Tooth Components, Twin Six, 45 NRTH, and Einstein Cycles for keeping my rig in perfect working order.
Photo: Adrienne Gillespie
The Sprint Finish. Photo: Adrienne Gillespie

9 Comments

  1. I wish people across the board would wear their helmets. It’s sends a wrong message when you see pictures a race and no one is wearing one.

    • Good Evening Marc,
      Hope you’re cozy by the Internet. I assume you’re making the helmet comment from warm confines somewhere, and perhaps with little to no experience of riding in winter conditions. The A135 has a history of brutal cold – this year was an exception, but that doesn’t change the fact there is NO mandatory helmet use rule.

      And for the sake of argument, let’s say it was -25 to -30 this year as it was last year. Perhaps you can explain to the hearty souls how to wear multiple layers of balaclavas, hats, woolies, goggles, scarves, etc and then put a lid on top if all that. Also, you want 100% venting through those layers, not some slick whoop-dee-do lid that frosts up, melts, ices up, and then frostbites your skull.

      We’re not talking about railing singletrack corners at 15-20mph with trees whizzing by three feet from our skulls. We’re talking about an endurance fat bike race with average speeds of 5-9mph on powder or hardpack snow. Just put a little thought into your argument. Please.

      I know what I’m talking about, and I am sending the right message here.

      Now go enjoy some hot cocoa while perusing velonews.com. It’s on me.

      Cheers,

      //Alan

      • Good response Alan.
        I did buy a helmet last winter for the Su100 as it was ice. Studded tires needed icy.
        I tried wearing one at AHU last winter in the -30F/-50WC mainly to use my helmet mounted light and it ended up stapled to my bike.
        I feel very safe not wearing one on the open snowy snowmobile trails.

  2. I have never ridden a fatbike race or ridden in -20/30 temps but it’s quite clear to me why those guys are not wearing helmets…i can’t understand why somebody would take issue with it ? It may be a “race” but it’s obvious that those bikes loaded with gear are heavy/slow ! People don’t wear helmets when they go skiing and they go a lot faster than a fatbike !

  3. Erv Berglund

    Bike smart and wear a helmet. It’s not just the forward speed that is the concern but the sudden crash to the side when the head whips on the end of your neck and smacks the ground — there is no guarantee of a soft landing. Unplanned falls are not nice.

    In the cold, a Pace wool bike hat (double layered, merino) with a thin SmartWool balaclava over/under it fit nicely under a plain road bike helmet. Keep things simple.

  4. I’m strongly agree with you Mr. Alan. Keep the good work ahead. God bless you.

  5. Pingback: 18 Bikepackers of 2015 - Bikepackers Magazine

  6. Jorden Wakeley he is a daring rider and his fear free biking pretty much inspiring to me. Jordan is the deserving winner of that race, because riding through such weather condition is pretty tough, but continued riding and won the race.

  7. i am impressed Jorden Wakeley. You won the race. I think in ice area it is not very easy to win any race.

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