Not round your neck of the woods, however the snow nation to the west goes loopy. You may nonetheless prefer to get on a motorbike – even for some heartfelt adventures. Effectively, this is your information. That is a part of our archive of 1000’s of tales. Felt applicable to share once more given the loopy climate. — Ed.

I am unable to say I am an actual winter particular person lately, and I am definitely not a fats bike fanatic. Positive, I grew up as a Nordic ski racer in Minnesota, however lately I stay in Arizona and luxuriate in using and climbing year-round on dry filth and rocks. It is not that I hate adventures within the snow – it is simply not my choice. However final week I unexpectedly discovered myself in Idaho, trailing bike owner/information/creator Jay Petervary on a groomed singletrack climb on uncomfortably extensive tires via the woods above Victor. And boy was I ever grinning. Petervary is the organizer of the Fats Pursuit, a winter extremely on the community of snowmobile trails west of Yellowstone Nationwide Park with distances of 120 miles and 120 miles. The race was slightly below per week away and he and different pals within the Teton Valley had been all encouraging me to throw in my hat. The one downside was that I had introduced nearly no winter gear to Idaho, I did not have a fats bike, and I hadn’t actually ridden snow in years. No downside, the chums all mentioned, they usually provided every thing I wanted, together with a motorbike and intensive recommendation. After a number of days of attempting, and unsuccessfully, arising with excuses as to why I should not do the race, I signed up for the 200 miler.

That week was a whirlwind through which I realized every thing I wanted to learn about snow driving, winter gear, staying heat and dry, extra clothes, tire stress, frozen meals, retaining my water from solidifying and a lot extra. And fortunately I had an important group of skilled pals who had been keen to assist me study. This is what I realized about longer distance winter pedaling and winter ultras.

After almost 20 hours of racing, Neil Beltchenko pushes his bike up the final subject to the Continental Divide at Two High Mountain underneath a pastel daybreak. Picture: Refsnider


• Good pogies (boxing glove-like hand heaters on your bars), using boots and a great sock system are sport changers.
Rising up within the Midwest, I at all times rode with outsized cross nation boots, further pairs of socks, and two pairs of booties, and my ft nonetheless froze. I additionally rode in two-piece expedition mitts to maintain my arms heat. However pogies like 45NRTH’s Cobrafist or Revelate Designs’ remarkably hotter Expedition Pogies permit you to experience in chilly climate with solely mild gloves (or none in any respect) in your arms. And footwear designed for winter using (I used the 45NRTH Wölvhammer boot) normally stored my ft heat to five°F. Together with the boots, I wore a liner sock, a vapor barrier, and a thicker insulating sock. The vapor barrier traps sweat to maintain the insulating sock and boot insulation dry and efficient. That is crucial for retaining my sweaty ft heat on a experience longer than a number of hours. I truly used thick rooster roasting baggage that I purchased on the grocery retailer. They’re sturdy sufficient for use a number of instances with out worrying about your large toe poking via the top.

• In case your entrance tire squeals, launch air. And if you happen to really feel your rear tire slip, launch air. Mike Barklow, who accomplished the 200-miler utterly self-sufficient this yr, defined this straightforward idea. The thought of ​​low tire stress in fats tires was nothing new to me, nevertheless it was a bit stunning to see him and others using at 2 psi or much less at instances. And it definitely labored like a allure in smooth snow. Beginning a experience with about 6 psi and regularly releasing air as wanted labored properly for me. And when the situations obtained higher, the pump got here out to pump extra air in once more. Carrying the pump in a pocket or anyplace in your physique additionally ensures that the pump works if you want it to – rubber o-rings is usually a ache when temperatures drop too low. And easily put, the broader the tire, the higher the buoyancy. The softer the observe and the heavier the load, the extra you desire a extensive tire (extensive is about 5 inches extensive).

• By no means sweat. Everybody gave me the identical recommendation. And for somebody who sweats simply when working exhausting, this made me slightly nervous. However using in simply softshell pants and a long-sleeved base layer and a long-sleeved wool sweater stored me snug in temperatures between 10 and 25°F. However as quickly as I finished I must add a layer to keep away from getting chilly immediately. A wind vest was additionally nice for simply modulating core temperature. Beneath 10°F, a softshell jacket and a skinny base layer underneath my pants was important.

• Take every thing further with you. Petervary emphasised this packaging approach. He is been racing ultras longer than simply about anybody, and he is by no means had the sleekest, minimalistic package in a race. However when situations take a flip for the more serious, his further gear has served him properly, and I’ve a lot respect for such an method. I wore 2 further pairs of sunshine gloves, an additional hat, buff and headband, a full change of socks and vapor obstacles, an additional base layer, medium weight expedition gloves, rain underpants and a light-weight down jacket. I might even have introduced a raincoat and gaiters if snow had been forecast. I did not want all these further garments, but when one thing went improper, I might have preferred them.

At simply 2 psi or much less, extensive tires may even discover some grip within the midst of a pile of recent snow. Picture: Refsnider

• Deliver snacks. “I like to chop my snacks and treats into bite-sized items,” biking adventurer Nan Pugh informed me together with her trademark grin. “Then you may allow them to thaw in your mouth.” Determining what did not freeze stable was a enjoyable experiment, after which I did precisely as she steered, filling a meals bag on the bike’s stem with bite-sized items. Excellent Bars, Bobo’s Oat Bars, peanut butter cups and squares of darkish chocolate stored me going.

• One of the simplest ways to stop water from freezing sits in a well-insulated thermos or in a bladder worn over your base layer and underneath any further layers. I carried a whopping 100 ounces of water in a bladder this fashion, and so long as I tucked the hose and nozzle snugly into my shirt and towards my chest, it by no means froze. After every drink you drink, additionally blow the water again via the hose to maintain all of the water near the warmth of your again.

• Having a strategy to soften snow for water and cook dinner a sizzling meal is important. Within the Fats Pursuit, heaters had been a required tools, and the primary assist station insisted that riders boil water instantly upon arrival! However do not essentially rely in your typical hot-weather bikepacking heater to work within the chilly. White fuel stoves are typically incredible in winter situations, whereas fuel stoves that use propane or isobutane may be rather more problematic. For these stoves, winter gas blends with increased propane-to-isobutane ratios are crucial in freezing temperatures, and it’ll assist to do no matter you may to maintain the canister heat. Warmth the canister in your jacket earlier than it’s good to use it, transfer your arms backwards and forwards between the recent pot and the canister as you warmth water, and utilizing a windshield will all assist immensely. However if you happen to plan to do loads of winter tenting, it’s clever to put money into a white fuel range.

Boots just like the 45NRTH Wölvhammer are particularly designed for winter using – a reasonably stiff sole, deep lugs for traction when climbing, SPD cleat compatibility and slightly little bit of insulation. Take 1-2 sizes or extra for further quantity when carrying a multi-layer sock system. Picture: Refsnider

• An insulating sleeping mat is important. Foam pillows are nonetheless superior in chilly temperatures, and whereas they’re cumbersome, they’re going to actually assist insulate if you happen to’re sleeping on chilly snow. Insulated inflatable pillows are straightforward to seek out at out of doors shops, however they will not be almost as efficient as a foam pillow. I wasn’t planning on sleeping in the course of the race, so I solely had an inflatable pillow with me, however for a extra enjoyable journey, a foam pad would positively be a part of my tools, in all probability alongside the insulated inflatable pillow for a style of luxurious winter tenting .

• A typical bikepacking setup is okay. I carried all my gear on my bike utilizing a reasonably typical system – 0°F sleeping bag, pad and bivvy on the handlebars, all my further garments within the saddlebag, spares, instruments, fuel range and gas in my body bag, and goodies to fueling me in smaller pockets on the highest tube and stem. Alternatively, extra weight may be positioned on a rear rack and relieved of pressure on the handlebars, which may assist dealing with on smooth snow.

All the information I obtained earlier than dealing with the Fats Pursuit paid enormous advantages. I rode a Pivot LES Fats that I had simply borrowed a number of days earlier than the occasion, packed it up with all my borrowed gear, introduced far more layers than I assumed I wanted, and began pedaling via the gorgeous winter surroundings at or close to the primary enterprise. I finished steadily so as to add or take away layers of clothes, adjusted tire stress frequently, and altered my sock system as soon as. 27 hours after the beginning I sprinted throughout the end line. Remarkably, my untested system labored phenomenally properly, because of all of the individuals who shared their finest recommendation.

The small components Kurt carried in the course of the Fats Pursuit, from prime left: adhesive sealant, chain lube, multi-tools, tire inflator, tire lever, cable ties, tire plugs, chain hyperlinks, spare cleat and bolts, small first assist package, Garmin eTrex 20 GPS for navigation, Fenix. ​HL25 headlamp, Fenix ​​BC21R handlebar lights, further lithium batteries for lighting and GPS, Dermatone, Vargo BOT 700 pot, Olicamp 4-season cooking gas, Snowpeak cooker, windshield, hand heaters (6 pairs), spare tube and emergency bivy. Picture: Refsnider



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