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Where I'll be over the next few weeks

Jm_

sled dog's bollocks
Jan 14, 2002
12,207
4,163
AK
Awesome stuff @Jm_ and congrats on finishing.

It's 10 years since I attempted TD, at least that was summer'ish conditions, not withstanding needing snowshoes for the extra snowpack that year. I scratched with a screwed achilles at 1000 miles in, so I know what it's like to deal with sore knees etc on that kind of endeavour.

What guestimate of walking versus riding would you say the 350 miles was split in to?
Probably at least 60% riding. First segment to CP1 was 100% riding, second to Yentna was maybe 70%, but a longer segment, third was near 100% to Skwentna, fourth was near 90% with some steep climbs walked to Finger Lake, fifth to Puntilla Lake was maybe 70%, sixth to Rohn was maybe 70% too, back over the pass to Puntilla was similar, maybe 70%, as you approached the pass the grade was going to do you in on a bike that heavy, even without the drited and unridable trail, after that though, back down to Finger Lake, more of a shitshow, maybe 30-40%, the next segment was maybe 40% by mileage (and a long 60 miles), the last segment from Yentna and in was about 90% ridable.

What that doesn't convey though is how much rolling resistance there is, how hard it is to follow a track and how much it takes to ride in some of the more marginal conditions or high rolling resistance conditions. And then of course, you gotta go back and get on it again after a short rest. In most cases, if you can maintain 5mph, you are flying on these surfaces. Just because it's ridable for a short while doesn't mean it's sustainable for everyone. Coming back on the Yentna river on Sunday, all the churned snowmachine traffic (probably huge rise due to the upcoming dog race) had frozen hard, little chunks about the size of dirt-clods and like trying to ride through fields of dirt-clods that you have to crush with your tires. Rideable, but takes a ton of watts to move forward and saps tons of energy. Staying fueled is hugely important to keeping warm and being able to continue forward, but in some cases, it's better just to get off and walk and keep moving forward, rather than struggle with mounting and dismounting, etc. It's also a good change sometimes. For people that get cold toes, it can help get the blood moving. In general, whenever you have to push, your feet don't get cold.
 

6thElement

Schrodinger's Immigrant
Jul 29, 2008
7,946
4,766
Probably at least 60% riding. First segment to CP1 was 100% riding, second to Yentna was maybe 70%, but a longer segment, third was near 100% to Skwentna, fourth was near 90% with some steep climbs walked to Finger Lake, fifth to Puntilla Lake was maybe 70%, sixth to Rohn was maybe 70% too, back over the pass to Puntilla was similar, maybe 70%, as you approached the pass the grade was going to do you in on a bike that heavy, even without the drited and unridable trail, after that though, back down to Finger Lake, more of a shitshow, maybe 30-40%, the next segment was maybe 40% by mileage (and a long 60 miles), the last segment from Yentna and in was about 90% ridable.

What that doesn't convey though is how much rolling resistance there is, how hard it is to follow a track and how much it takes to ride in some of the more marginal conditions or high rolling resistance conditions. And then of course, you gotta go back and get on it again after a short rest. In most cases, if you can maintain 5mph, you are flying on these surfaces. Just because it's ridable for a short while doesn't mean it's sustainable for everyone. Coming back on the Yentna river on Sunday, all the churned snowmachine traffic (probably huge rise due to the upcoming dog race) had frozen hard, little chunks about the size of dirt-clods and like trying to ride through fields of dirt-clods that you have to crush with your tires. Rideable, but takes a ton of watts to move forward and saps tons of energy. Staying fueled is hugely important to keeping warm and being able to continue forward, but in some cases, it's better just to get off and walk and keep moving forward, rather than struggle with mounting and dismounting, etc. It's also a good change sometimes. For people that get cold toes, it can help get the blood moving. In general, whenever you have to push, your feet don't get cold.
I'd guessed probably at least 1/3 walking.

Thank you for the write up.
 

Jm_

sled dog's bollocks
Jan 14, 2002
12,207
4,163
AK
Oh and what bike did you ride?
RSD Mayor V3. It works ok for this, has rack mounts, can take the fattest of the fat, etc.

I say "ok" because my XMcarbonspeed CS197 is always just a more fun bike, no matter the wheel configuration. The ITI isn't about a "fun bike" so much, so not a big deal there, but I just am continually surprised at how much I like to ride the CS197 more, even when I have the RSD stripped down to a similar configuration. No fault of the RSD. Maybe the new multiple-position-dropout Mayor addresses this, but there's definitely more to it than just chainstay length, the CS197 has two positions.

The long term plan is to replace the RSD with some suspended fat-bike and go with an old man sherpa rack for the CS197 for bikepacking. The CS197 is also so stupid cheap to replace if I break it, but I've really tried hard over countless hard races and riding.
 

canadmos

Cake Tease
May 29, 2011
13,041
9,769
Canaderp
RSD Mayor V3. It works ok for this, has rack mounts, can take the fattest of the fat, etc.

I say "ok" because my XMcarbonspeed CS197 is always just a more fun bike, no matter the wheel configuration. The ITI isn't about a "fun bike" so much, so not a big deal there, but I just am continually surprised at how much I like to ride the CS197 more, even when I have the RSD stripped down to a similar configuration. No fault of the RSD. Maybe the new multiple-position-dropout Mayor addresses this, but there's definitely more to it than just chainstay length, the CS197 has two positions.

The long term plan is to replace the RSD with some suspended fat-bike and go with an old man sherpa rack for the CS197 for bikepacking. The CS197 is also so stupid cheap to replace if I break it, but I've really tried hard over countless hard races and riding.
Sweet. Do you have an orange bike too?

What all did you bring? Curious to know how you dry your stuff, assuming it gets wet or damp. Even more curious about the self support people.

It's also interesting to read about taking advantage of the supply drops for scratched people. How do you find out if someone has scratched?
 

Jm_

sled dog's bollocks
Jan 14, 2002
12,207
4,163
AK
Lots of people took some wrong turns or explored routes that were not feasible. Nothing quite as dramatic as last year though.
Well, I kind of have to take that back, there is a guy...actually the same guy as last year, wandering around the finish line and he can't seem to figure out where he is or needs to go.
 

Jm_

sled dog's bollocks
Jan 14, 2002
12,207
4,163
AK
Sweet. Do you have an orange bike too?
No, I have orange and bright red stuff I hang off this same bike, different panniers and pogies. Maybe that's what you are thinking of.
What all did you bring? Curious to know how you dry your stuff, assuming it gets wet or damp. Even more curious about the self support people.
So I have a packing list I made, actually a better one that was lost when my phone crapped out a week before the race, but I recreated most of it. There are a few I've ran across that people posted as well. I can list it if you like, let me know, but it'll be a pretty long list.

Most competitors were not doing self-supported our out-side bivy. A few that started down that road changed their mind during the race too. The self-supported thing is new for this year. In general, most people dry their gear out at the checkpoints and lodges along the way. In some cases, there are multiple in a relatively small distance, like Yentna Station, McDougal's Lodge, Skwentna Roadhouse. The lodge doesn't have to be part of the race, racers are free to stop wherever they want in that regard. But in other cases, there are 60 mile stretches with no support. You need decent footwear and hand systems where you can at least keep your digits warm, if not dry. Most people are using vapor barriers for the feet, so that kind of takes care of that and the remaining part about keeping it warm can be aided with footwarmers. For hands, extra gloves/mittens, warmers, good usage of your gear, etc. Some of the checkpoints were inside a lodge, some where inside a tent, but they all have a stove for you to dry gear. This is a common thing with snow-machiners too, so all the lodges are set up for this.

As for the self-supported, yeah, I don't know. I heard some people saying the only way they could do that would be to build a giant bonfire each time they stopped, to dry out stuff. Other people doing outside-bivy were trying to come up with and test various methods to keep moisture from building in the bag. A few were swearing by wearing down jackets and pants and then getting in the bag (which is also down) that a little bit of moisture in the down clothing wouldn't penetrate to the bag for some reason. Others were trying vapor barrier bags, but these are generally grossly uncomfortable and you exit the damn thing all wet, which is not great when it's -whatever temp. I'm not sure if anyone completed self-supported, but I know a few did the outside-bivy. Again, that's not all that hard if you have a good sleep system and dry your stuff out at the checkpoints. With a thermarest sol mat, my -20 bag and bivy sack, I can usually go down to around -30 and be comfortable, but that hinges on being dry when you start. A lot of people bring -40 bags for the trip to Nome and some do for the shorter trip to McGrath or like we did to Rohn and back. In general, without a "system", the bag itself just means you might not die right away if the outside temp is what the bag is rated for, but with a system, you can generally get pretty darn comfortable and toasty.

It's also interesting to read about taking advantage of the supply drops for scratched people. How do you find out if someone has scratched?
The race has two extremes. One extreme is in between checkpoints, you are on your own. You have to nav properly. No one is going to come rescue you, unless you have a rescue beacon or something. You have to deal with being outside in the winter cold for extended periods and be able to deal with whatever is thrown at you. On the other side, there's an immense amount of logistics that go into it and the race director puts on an extremely amazing event with a lot of moving parts. The volunteers usually work the same checkpoints year after year, because they love working the race. They communicate with sat phones and sat-internet to track who has made it to where and the positions of everyone. They have a significant amount of gear to set up at these locations. The checkpoints are all in communication with the race director. The race director and media guy are constantly riding back and forth (you can playback the trackleaders site and see the grey icons like RD, RM, etc., they are on snowmachines and move WAY faster than anyone else). When a racer scratches, they need to let the race director know as soon as possible, it's pretty obvious on the map if they fly away with their bike and the spot tracker. If they are at a checkpoint, then they obviously know right away. Then they work with either the checkpoint staff or a lodge to get a plane chartered to fly them out. Most of these locations get fairly regular mail service by air, which doubles as passenger service when needed. In the winter, they set up big runways on the frozen lakes, swamps and rivers.

You are allowed two 5lb drop-bags, one at Finger Lake and one at Rohn. If a racer has scratched, they open their bag up, empty the contents into a bin, separate batteries, handwarmers, food and other stuff. Some people bring absolutely bizarre stuff, so it's fun to make it to these checkpoints and be able to sift through the other people's stuff. There's always someone that only packs ho-hos and ding-dongs. There was a guy that packed like 12 little plastic jars with various stuff, labeled, nuts, different types of M&Ms, just bizarre, like you are usually trying to keep weight down so you just pack in a plastic baggie or something, but labeled jars, damn. It's also kind of counter-intuitive, if you are a weaker racer in jeopardy of not getting to the checkpoint...well, you didn't need the drop-bag anyway. If you are a stronger racer, you can be very selective about what you pack, hedging on having access to the other drop-bag contents. This is especially true with batteries, they end up with massive amounts of lithium (cold weather) batteries.