Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Arrowhead 135 - The Coldest Bike Race on Earth!

Well here we go again, jetting off to go and do a ridicules bike race. This time we were heading to a place in Minnesota called International Falls and its only claim to fame is that it’s the coldest place in America oh and it’s where Hot Tub Time machine was filmed!


The Arrowhead 135 is recognized in the book "The World's Toughest Endurance Challenges" by Richard Hoad and Paul Moore as one of the 50 toughest races in the world. It is a human powered Ultra Marathon taking place in the coldest part of winter in the coldest city in the lower 48 states. The average finish rate is 50%; the finish rate for new racers is much lower.

Historically this is the coldest race anyplace even the Arctic. Arrowhead 135 is organised by local folks dedicated to the promotion of human powered ultra-endurance events across beautiful Arrowhead Region of Northern Minnesota.


I’ve now been snow bike racing for 3 years I have committed a lot and time and money into racing fatbikes in various locations around the world. Preparing me to be physically and mentally fit for a race in January can be very hard work, especially with the endless wet and muddy conditions and long dark nights. This year I have been praying for a hard cold winter and I have ended up with the opposite. My body could be in for a bit of a shock with a second polar vortex due to hit North America next week with potential temperatures of -55oC.  Due to the very wet and muddy conditions in the UK I have mainly been training on some of the classic road routes within the Yorkshire Dales as well as strength training and structured training on the Turbo trainer. I am using a Tacx Flow Trainer http://www.allterraincycles.co.uk/.Tacx-Flow-Multiplayer-VR-Trainer-2012-_125627.htm which measures loads of parameters for those like me like to train to numbers. I had planned to do some long mountain bike rides up at Glentress over the Christmas period but I came down with a mystery viral infection which hampered those plans. This has not done much for my confidence going in the race but I’ve had to put this behind me and concentrate on the positive aspects of my training to date.


For the race I will be riding a Salsa Carbon Beargrease http://www.allterraincycles.co.uk/.Salsa-2014-Carbon-Beargrease-Fat-Bike_130415.htm which is considerably lighter than my Salsa Mukluk I’ve ridden in previous races. I have also gone from 60mm rims to 82mm I am hoping this will help me out in the softer snow conditions that may arise.    


Clothing I will be wearing 3 pairs of socks made of both man made fibers and wool. Shoes I have modified a pair of winter mountain bike boots by attaching a gator to them to keep my feet dry from potential overflow that can occur on lake crossings. On my legs I will be wearing a pair of Endura Equipe Bib longs http://www.allterraincycles.co.uk/equipe%20bibs/list/search and on my top half I will have on various layers Starting with an Endura Baa baa wool base finished off with the Endura Stealth Jacket http://www.allterraincycles.co.uk/.Endura-Stealth-II-Waterproof-Jacket-_128364.htm. My hands will be buried inside a pair of massive bar mitts imported from Alaska and I will be wearing the Endura windshield gloves. I will be carrying extra clothes and survival gear including an Everest grade down sleeping bag, bivvy, stove, insulated water and food.

We have a wide range of adventure bikes and fatbikes by both Surly http://www.allterraincycles.co.uk/surly/list/search and Salsa http://www.allterraincycles.co.uk/salsa/list/search at All Terrain Cycles http://www.allterraincycles.co.uk. Please feel free to pop down and see us should you have any questions regarding these quirky bikes or bikepacking. You can find me working in our Salts Mill store http://www.allterraincycles.co.uk/Store/Directions and will be more than happy to help you get your adventure started.


Please see link below for a small inspiring film of last years race.




Jane Chadwick