Arrowhead 135 – 2014 Gear Setup and Race Recap, Part 1

This will be more gear setup than race recap, but you can’t really have one without the other.  

While reading, keep in mind that the temperature was between -25F and -15F all day, and I had a tailwind from the WNW at around 10 mph.  I was generally comfortable, and went into the race with the aim of keeping my body comfortable and not losing body parts.

Total time to checkpoint 2 and my finish (including checkpoint 1) was 14:54.



I used the cheap ($16 when my wife bought them) pogies from Amazon.  They generally work well, but I added about an inch of cotton batting (from the inside of an old pillow) on the top (ripped open a seam) for more insulation (hat tip to Ted Bibby).  I think additional insulation on the bottom would have been good to have.  Inside I wore my light-ish OR gloves, which aren’t the greatest in cold temperatures by themselves, but work for feeding, etc.  Inside of the OR gloves I wore latex gloves, which kept any sweat from my hands from evaporating or soaking the insulating layer (hat tip to Dave Sears for the suggestion).  In addition to all this I went through three pairs of chemical handwarmers.


I wore Arctic Pro Muck boots with flat pedals and Power Grips.  The Power Grips were the weak point of the system, as they had to be very large to fit over the boot.  This meant that I had to reach down and adjust one or both straps whenever I started riding.  Not a big deal if you’ve learned patience, but would be annoying if you were trying to race hard.  The straps were well worth the hassle.  Inside I wore a tall Ibex wool sock, a tall hiking sock, and used one pair of toe warmers (stuck directly beneath my toes, not back on my foot).  Feet were generally fine, and wiggling my toes worked to warm them up if they chilled.  Muck boot sizing was 1/2-size up from my regular size and they seem like a good fit with multiple socks, but not too giant.


Burton RED snowboarding helmet from several years ago.  Buff pulled over my chin to the back of my head.  ColdAvenger (regular, not balaclava).  Ski goggles.  Satisfied with everything except the fit of the helmet, which gave me a headache after a while, and the goggles began to freeze up once I turned with the tailwind at ~9 miles.  Cut a slit in the bottom of the ColdAvenger to let me stuff in food bits and drink from a straw or tube (hat tip to Ted Bibby).


UND Cycling Team bib shorts (Hincapie), Ibex windproof boxers, NewBalance running tights, North Face windpants.  On top I had a light Ibex base t-shirt, Ibex Shak jacket, and Arcteryx windproof shell.  All worked great.  I’m really happy with these clothing choices and they are good for a wide range of temperatures.


This is the big one, the one I entered the race knowing I would have to worry about the most.  I had two Ziplock bags full of PowerBar gummies, Sport Beans, mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and (in the caffienated bag) raw coffee beans.  I didn’t eat too many of the Sport Beans and none of the coffee beans because they were too small to grab easily with gloves on, and shoving the right number through my mask would have taken a while.  The other stuff was great.  Everything stayed chewable in the cold.  Extra food that I didn’t use included skinny meat sticks, my mandatory jar of peanut butter, and gas station fruit pies.

Additionally, I relied on Perpetuem powder mixed with hot tap water.  This I stored in a 40-oz Hydro Flask (widemouth) with the straw lid (I think of it as a sippy cup because it doesn’t spill).  I was concerned about even this system freezing, but it did not.  I stored the Hydro Flask upside down in an insulated Granite Gear pouch hanging off the back of my handlebars.  I think this system worked great.  Additional water was in my rear panniers, however, which meant that I did not drink nearly as much as I probably should have.  I intend to buy another Hydro Flask and straw lid just for additional water.

Bicycle/Carrying Capacity

I’ll be the first to admit that I probably brought way to much stuff to be competitive, but at least I felt like I would survive.  I had a front (old aluminum rack) and rear (old steel rack) on my steel Surly Pugsley.  I strapped my sleeping bag/bivy stuffsack to the front rack and handlebars and my sleeping pad to the reare rack.  Two moderately sized panniers hung off the rear rack.  As it happened, my extra puffy down coat was just bungeed over the top of everything in back and worked great–easy access and didn’t interfere with anything.


CygoLite MityCross headlight.  I brought two spare batteries but only needed the one.

Kodak video camera .  Kept this in my pogies, so the battery survived but I only shot a little video and took a few photos.

Bontrager wireless computer.  This didn’t work right off the bat and I never got it to function during the race.  I think the cold may have caused my issues but I’m not sure.  I did use the time function, which continued to show.

Watch alarm.  Strapped my Timex Ironman watch to the handlebars, but the cold kept the face from appearing.  Stuck it in my pogies and it survived.  Intended use was to make me eat every 30 minutes by an alarm, but I never heard it and had to rely on the computer.


I carried all the required gear for the Arrowhead, most of which I did not use.  If you have a question about what other gear I carried, please ask.


I did not train enough for this race.  I was focusing too much on logistics/setup/staying warm, and most of my training consisted of riding to work and back (5-6 miles round trip).  My longest ride before the race was at GGCOWS in early December, at 35-40 miles.  This was my own fault, and my body told me so.  My knees (which I tore up pretty badly during the 2011 Ragnarok 105) were hurting by the time I reached the first checkpoint (Gateway Store), and the hill climbing with a heavy load took more of a toll than I was ready for.  

This seems to be as good a place to stop as any.  I’ll try to write more about the race in the next week or so.


Life as a Race/Event Coordinator

I was recently (last month) elected to be the Race/Event Coordinator for the UND Cycling Club. This is a position I’ve more-or-less held in some capacity for the past few years, since I’ve been trying to get more events happening ever since I got hooked up with the club back in 2008. Now that I can someday put this on my resume (ha!), I’m taking it more seriously, but at this point I’m receiving more help than opposition than any time in the past.

I intend to add “event coordinating” to the list of things I blog about here. Over the next year you will be subjected to the problems I encounter, the triumphs of successfully navigated paperwork, and hopefully even some good feedback about what else can be done in Grand Forks for this organization and others.

One of my inspirations in this pursuit is Andy Magness, director of END Racing, choreographer of the only adventure racing in the state, and top-notch yoga instructor. If I can get to the point where I can orchestrate an event with half the participants, half the sponsors, half the press, and half the general excitement surrounding it of any of the events Andy has organized over the last few years, I’ll be flying high.

As someone who is naturally not outgoing, event coordinating is a big deal to me for that reason: I have to interact with people, I have to know what’s going on, and I have to think of things nobody else does, answer questions that nobody would ever come up with, and do it all with volunteers who would much rather be racing than volunteering (but we’re working on that this year; I’m committed to this role, even if it means I don’t get to participate in the ‘cross series [beginning Halloween in Riverside Park], the icebike series [announcement coming soon!], or even another collegiate road race weekend).

Most importantly, I need to be able to take the (sometimes nebulous) ideas presented by club members and turn them into a workable event. The best mind we’ve had for this is Dave Cardarelli, who will finally be graduating this December. Whether we’ve been organizing UND’s 2010 NCCCC road race weekend (complete with conference criterium championships), alleycat races that aren’t boring, or Grand Forks’ first ever (?) icebike race, Dave has either known what to do or shouted the rest of us down when we disagreed, which generally amounts to the same thing. Now that I’ve got this role on my shoulders, I hope I can measure up.

So far this fall I’ve been in contact with more people than ever to get some last-minute fall events into place and think about the future:

  • We’re starting a three-race cyclocross series (UND’s Fall Classic, to be expanded next year) on Halloween. Instrumental in the planning of this race so far have been my geology colleague Ted Bibby as well as Dave; so much so that I have yet to visit they race course they’ve supposedly devised, even though I’ve delivered a map to the city with our request for a special events permit.
  • For the long term, I’ve been working with riders in Fargo, Sioux Falls, and Winnipeg to organize a winter icebike series next February, as well as keeping in contact with Andy Magness to make sure we won’t interfere with END-IT (which as scheduled stands to be the light at the end of the tunnel of a month of winter racing if all goes to plan).
  • It hasn’t been nailed down yet whether we’ll be hosting “Too Flat, Too Furious” again next spring, but if our roster expands as much as I hope it will, we shouldn’t have a reason not to (more riders, in my mind, means a larger volunteer pool and more people invested in making sure the event goes off without a hitch). We’ll be talking about this down the road as people start dropping like flies around January.
  • We failed to organize a late summer mountain bike series this year (although getting a ‘cross series in before the snow is a nice bonus), but I hope to get it rolling for sure in mid-August: six weeks of mountain bike racing at Turtle River State Park followed by six weeks of cyclocross (which could alternate between TRSP and the Grand Forks Greenway, to say nothing of finding a friendly farmer who will let us use a cornfield).
  • Beyond? Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves 🙂

As a final note, this isn’t about me: it’s about the club and what we can do for people in Grand Forks. Cycling, running, and even adventure racing events have been on the rise since I moved here in January 2006. I intend to make this trend continue, so if you have any ideas for events, improving events, or collaborating, get in touch.