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Glacier Ride

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Jm_, Feb 13, 2017.

  1. Jm_

    Jm_ Turbo Monkey

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    Rode out to Knik Glacier yesterday. Was a chilly -11°F. 5hrs out and 3hr back. ~40 miles round trip. Broke trail most of the way out there, with the last few miles being quite frustrating as there were drifts you'd punch through and ice-ruts beneath the snow that would force you to get off the bike. Got close to our turn-around time, but made it to the glacier. There was a group behind us that had it much better, able to use our tracks. Weaved around the rivers a bit too, finding where we could cross and avoid any open water. Since the glacier is 20 miles down the valley and you can see it nearly the whole time, it seemed the entire time that just we never got closer no matter how much we pedaled, until about the last 2 miles. Just a beautiful clear cold day on the bike.




    Somehow I managed to capture this selfie:

    There wasn't much pushing and what we pushed we could generally ride on the way back.



    There was a lot of weaving left and right to avoid open water and find places to cross. Water doesn't necessarily freeze at -11°F.

    Come on guys, it's only another 20 miles!



    Dillinger 5 + Dillinger 5=Dillinger 10?







    Jeremy and Tim riding.

    Tim and Jeremy stopped.

    Me at the glacier:




     
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  2. Heidi

    Heidi Der hund ist laut und braun

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    Fuck ya!
     
  3. jonKranked

    jonKranked Press Button, Receive Stupid

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    i approve of your adventure. :cheers:
     
  4. Kevin

    Kevin Turbo Monkey

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  5. canadmos

    canadmos Mater Slayer

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    How do you not die of over heating and/or cold?

    Looks awesome though. Are you riding on water most of the time?
     
  6. eric strt6

    eric strt6 Resident Curmudgeon

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    x2
     
  7. Jm_

    Jm_ Turbo Monkey

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    We started here: 61.526932, -149.004131 The ride then goes Southeast through the valley to the glacier. As you can see, there are lots of little tributaries, so a lot of the ride was on ice, but most was on the sandbars. The flows change and what was the "trail" one week may totally change the next week and at other times, it may not be passable without something that can go through water, like a boat. There are a lot of challenges, like breaking trail and hoping that you don't run into snow too deep where you won't make any progress, finding a route that avoids open water where the ice is thick enough. For sure some of the ice beneath us made some noises from time to time. Early on we punched through to a creek that was coming in from the side, but only sunk down a few inches into the water and was able to pedal through. Sometimes there are multiple layers of ice from the ebb and flow of the water levels, sometimes not. The water is constantly changing in the winter, you'll get big open sections of water, even at way below zero F, sometimes the water will punch through and flood out a large portion, sometimes it will overflow like that and freeze, creating an impossible off-camber barrier that even with studs there's no way to safely navigate. It isn't all on ice like this, but we probably crossed significant rivers/creeks at least 12 times each way and when we got closer to the glacier there was about a foot of snow on old frozen rutted ice, which made the last mile or so a huge pain in the ass. We were able to ride most of it the opposite way, helped by another group that was coming in behind us, but when we were breaking trail the ice in the ruts made progressing difficult to impossible. At that point we were more on the "river" and when standing at ice chunks below, we were on the "glacier lake". We didn't actually go to the head of the glacier, although we did encounter these glacier chunks, because we reached our "turn-around" time. I didn't have a good light setup for the ride (just a headlamp and rear light for emergency) and I thought it was going to be a bit shorter, plus we sent one of our party back 15 miles in because he was having trouble keeping up and he was down to very little water. I gave him one of my water bottles. Anyway, we chased the sun on the way back and made it to the car at almost exactly 6pm, so 5hrs out and 3hrs back, that's the difference between breaking trail and riding back in the tracks of about 7 fatbikes.

    It was a pretty big personal accomplishment for me to stay out that long in temps that cold. We don't think it got warmer than -5°F. For sure, going out for 2-3hr rides in -10 to -15 is not a big deal to me, still critical to have a good setup and good systems, but to me a ride like this requires you be well prepared, know yourself, have bail-out options (like ways to get warmer if necessary) and the right gear. I wore a thin wicking stretchy base layer, a heavy-base later vest over that, my usual wind-panel-front/soft-panel-rear softshell-jacket, and I alternated between a lightweight puffy insulated jacket that I had to take off about 6 times because I got too hot. Pants were XC bike shorts, then XC ski pants, then some under-armor nylon running pants. At these temps on shorter rides I'd forgo the outer layer, but I find it's helpful for trapping a layer of "warmer" air beneath and still breathes well. Boots were 45N Wolfhammers with Gyro Proof shoe covers and hotronics heated insoles. The batteries lasted the entire ride, but on the way back my feet were getting a little cold and I refrained from turning them up past level 2 because I was a little more concerned about battery life, but they continue to impress. Merino wool socks and snow-gaiters on the outside of everything. My buddy Tim has the 45N Wolfgar boots though, those are basically a mountaineering boot, with an inner liner and a hard outer shell. I'll probably go for those next year, as everyone that uses them says they are great for the "long rides in negative temps". I'm thinking about doing the Iditarod to McGrath next year, so that'd be a requirement I think. Under my pogies I just wore some thin windbreaker style columbia gloves, except on the way back I threw on some mittens because my fingers felt a little cold and I wanted to save my chem-heaters. Mittens F-ing rule BTW, as do pogies. Tim has some much heavier Revelate pogies that are much stiffer and have pockets inside for food and things. Again, I'll probably get these for next year. Wore a fleece balaclava, a buff liner around my neck to make a plug and my ski-helmet. Only real issue I had was I ran out of water because I drank my camelback first (camelback was under my jacket with the hose routed under my armpit). Camelback worked great, didn't even have an insulated hose, just have to remember to blow back into it to clear the line. The insulated water bottles we use usually work great, for a few hours in negative temps, but this wasn't just a few hours in negative temps. My extra bottle was frozen solid after about 6 hours. Oh well, note to self, drink out of bottle first. Didn't have anything else on my back but the super slim 70oz camelback, but the key to this riding is being prepared and having enough storage for any layers you might need, extra chem-heaters, tools, pump, tube, I always have extra gloves, heck for this trip I popped chem-heaters in the gloves and put them in my saddle bag. When I did finally get them out hours later, they were 160°F bliss. Food of course, and food that does not freeze! Also consider that you aren't just riding, you are trying to stay warm, that takes a lot of extra calories, possibly a lot more than people are used to. Extra balaclava/head protection, lights, lighter for fires, and really we should have had a PLB, even though this is a fairly popular area. Tim has one, just forgot for this ride. I'll probably get one.

    Like I said, this was a big personal achievement for me, to stay out that long in those conditions with no support. We kind of take for granted that we can go out riding for 2-4hrs much of the time, but much of that is closer to the city or in the city. I'm thinking more seriously of the Iditarod now, from Knik Lake (no relation really to the location here) to McGrath. You need a lot more gear for that, but you have to be comfortable being out in these temps all day and some of the night.


    Tims new Fatback bike (my bike looks very similar with almost the exact same general bag setup):
    16602092_1432825643395517_3719704787582687996_o.jpg
    On the glacier lake looking towards Lake George:
    16602265_1434015579943190_3625574739416606411_o.jpg
    Me touching the glacier ice so I can claim I did it!
    16602265_1434015643276517_5867966138372390143_o.jpg
    Our bikes by the big chunk of ice:
    16665094_1434015573276524_672785933392823398_o.jpg
     
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