Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Arrowhead 135 2012...sorry it's a long one, but then so was the race!

Done. At home drinking coffee while still sore from the efforts at this years Arrowhead 135. During the race I had lots of time to think about what to say in this blog report, but that seems like forever ago and has long left the memory of my brain. I will attempt to give you my best.

The race start, Monday morning at 7 am, was 30 degrees warmer than last year...10 degrees. My preferred temp is a balmy 0, but we would never see that. I was prepared for the heat, clothing wise anyway: bib shorts, reg. bib tights, micro weight Ibex wool top, Ibex wool jersey, wind/reflective vest (Mavic), CEP socks and wool socks, no gloves...just pogies, and a windstop headband. Throughout the race this set up treated me very well. I did get hot but there really wasn't much less I could was just too warm for the efforts we were putting in.
O.K. to the race.

At the start.

At the gun and Dave yelling, "Unleash the Hounds", we were off. Last year I rode conservatively at first to sort of figure things out. This year I thought I would try to ride up front from the start and still try to figure things out. But riding up front was not to be, two Alaskans (Kevin Breitenbach & Tim Berntson), a Canadian (Francis Lambert), and a Idaho dude (Jay Petervary) had different plans and that was riding real fast!

At one point we were told they had a 3 minute gap on us...what? Already?! A solid chase group had formed in hopes of hunting down the "outsiders"! Dan Dittmer, Charly Tri, Dan Jansen, Charlie Farrow, Todd McFadden, Josh Peterson, and myself took turns up front trying to pull the leaders into view. As the group mentioned several times, we were hauling.

We passed Tim on the side of the trail fixing a front flat...only to be caught and passed by him some time after the first checkpoint!
About 8 miles or so, before the first checkpoint at Gateway, we reeled in the leaders, but in doing so we split our group up and I spent more energy than I thought. If the race was into Gateway I tied for first! But soon after the leaders pushed on. I hung on for a bit but the effort was just too much for me at the time and I let them go. I also had to finally pee some 5 hours into the race! Let's just say it wasn't clear. I began to wonder if the guys up front every pee!

The trail conditions were pretty good at the start but as the temperature climbed the trails and I both started to fall apart. I knew I needed to let air out of my tires but I didn't want to take the time to stop. From Gateway to MelGeorge's is 40 miles. At some of the bigger hills I would run into the leaders cresting the top, so I knew I wasn't too far back. The continuous onslaught of hills got to me and I just kept thinking of MelGeorge's and a small break from riding.
Coming onto Elephant Lake was a great feeling...MelGeorges was on the other side!

Grabbing more food and energy drink at MelGeorge's.

The final push into MelGeorge's.

Once inside the cabin I got to business. I was currently in 6th place. Dan Jansen and Dan Dittmer were both inside the cabin. Dittmer was close to leaving and Jansen was calling it quits. His rear hub seized up on him. He rode 40 miles or so of hills without the luxury of coasting! Bummer for him, he was riding super strong. Soon Tri would come into the cabin as well. I never sat down. I pounded some water, since I ran out on the trail, filled my hydration pack, burned my mouth on some grilled cheese (oh so damn good!), and slammed a coke. I barley said anything to Jen. I was in and out in under 10 minutes. Last year was almost an hour, but much colder. Tri and I left at the same time. With Lambert 5 minutes back.

The trail is pretty flat out of MelGeorge's only to be blotted with crazy hills at the end, into the 3rd and final check point. Tri and I yo-yo'd a bit and talked a bit. His asthma kicked in on a climb. He had to dial it back a bit so on I went. Later I saw a rider coming up from behind. I thought it would be Tri but it was Lambert with a second wind! He came and went. Back in 6th place.

I had really hoped to catch up to Dittmer but I just didn't have it. Once the hills came so did my second or third wind. I caught up to Lambert and yo-yo'd with him for a bit. Not sure but I think the hills were getting to him. Eventually I passed him and was on my way once again. Now with the iPod in and lights on it was just me, the darkness, wolf tracks and my music. I was singing out loud having a good time. Don't get me wrong I was still suffering and in pain but hey it's still fun!

My butt was getting rubbed raw from my chamois, happened last year too. I really need to figure this out. I forgot to mention but my lower back was killing me from the start with the hard pace but once I dialed it back it was pretty much a non issue! Eventually my upper back/lower neck flared up, but I had been riding 12 hours. So over all the back was good.

Already I forget many of the details while on the trail by myself. I spent my time, eating, drinking, singing, looking at my GPS and how many miles I had left, standing while pedaling, stretching, etc. I felt pretty good energy wise but the muscles were getting sore, my butt was really sore and I was getting ready to be done. The final check point was at mile 111. Again I ran out of water! So I needed to fill up my hydration pack. While there Jen told me I smelled good! RLW works in so many ways! Also slammed a hot chocolate. In and out in 5 minutes.

Hot Chocolate!

The last section of trail is all flat. Last year this took me forever and I struggled. I was nervous about this section this time around. But I felt good and kept the pedals moving. I wasn't dancing on the pedals my any means but moving in the right direction. I was also mentally stronger on this section than last year too. About 3/4 of the way through this section it started to snow/sleet. It never really affected the riding too much but would assume it got worse for the other riders and runners.

The feeling you get when you see the lights of the finish is indescribable. You are so elated to be done for another year! Jen was at the finish line cheering me on. Jen was super awesome meeting me at all the checkpoints and some in between road crossings. Thanks for all your support and understanding!

Once again I finished in 5th and couldn't be happier. I bettered my time by 2 hours or so, 16 hours 49 minutes. I was 4 minutes behind 4th place rider Jay Petervary, 35 minutes behind Dan Dittmer, and about an hour behind the winners. Full results here.

I feel the course conditions were worse this year. Softer snow, lack of snow, and not much use. However it was warmer. I have to believe riding in sub zero temperatures for hours on end takes it's toll physically as well, so maybe comparing last year to this year is a wash?. Not too sure: it was hard, fast, fun, and I'll do it again!

Thanks to Dave and Mary for a great event. Thanks to all the volunteers for your generous gift of time. Some are still out there till 7 pm tonight! Huge thanks to Jen, my wife, for your support in this crazy you.

Over and out!


Tenacious T said...

Good job! Congrats!

Campbells said...

Absolutely impressive!

Death Rider said...

Excellent job Ben ! I still can't believe how fast you were pulling on the way to Gateway. Each pedal stroke was like a hammer pounding nails into my own coffin.

Anonymous said...

Great Effort...So impressive. I am very proud of you as it is a wonderful thing to see nice guyz accomplish amazing feats of endurance. You will one day win it. Best regards, Charlie Farrow

Ben said...

Forgot a fun fact: 8 countries and 12 or 13 states were represented as well! So cool.

Kyia said...

Great report Doom and Congrat's on your finish! Glad everything went smoothly and you didn't have any issues with gear or bike...well you bum might think otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Awesome! Proud to be family. You rock! Anne

Anonymous said...

Great race Ben! Your right, the hills did get to me! Francis Lambert

the schad family said...


the schad family said...


Anonymous said...

Strong race Ben, sounds like a smart race as well. Your significant improvements are noticed.

I agree on the trail conditions, seems everyone is talking about how bad they were, but times in all 3 divisions were as fast or faster. I seem to remember reading somewhere about temps and results.

Mark Seaburg said...

Very strong work, Ben. My money's on you for next year.