2017 Arrowhead 135 Stories

The Arrowhead 135 is a human powered ultra-endurance marathon that takes place every year during the coldest part of Winter.  Participants have 60 hours to complete the 135 mile trek from International Falls to Fortune Bay Casino in Tower on the Arrowhead State Trail.  Racers are required to stop at three checkpoints (unless racing unsupported, new this year) that are spaced about 35 miles apart, where race officials can pull a racer due to frostbite or other medical concerns. Participants must run, ski or bike the distance with their sub-zero survival gear,  no outside help except from other racers or race officials and they must follow a strict set of race rules out on the course.

Image Credit: Sveta Vold

This year's race saw the first place man and woman set new course records.  The mild weather conditions were a contributing factor that had 76 of the 85 cyclists completing the race under the 60 hour cut-off.  I have compiled all of the stories, photos, a podcast and news articles of  racers who chose bike propulsion pertaining to this year's epic race.  For full race results, click here.

Map of Arrowhead 135 course

Image Credit: Sveta Vold

Race Participants:  Bike Propulsion
Sveta Vold-1st Unsupported Women, 4th Woman Overall, 37th

Ben Doom-3rd

Steve Cannon-8th

Paul Zeigle-17th Men, 19th

Todd Hunter-39th

Christopher Tassava-12th Unsupported Men, 41st

Geoffrey Archibald-64th

Pamela Gonzalez-76th

Stephen Sylvester-DNF

Image Credit: Sveta Vold

2017 Arrowhead 135 Press





RiotGRRRaveL is Back for 2017

Riot Grrravel returns in 2017 on June 3rd with with three distance options to introduce gravel racing/riding to women of all ages and abilities.  What started out in 2014 with 82 riders by Riot Grrravel organizer Ellie Skelton was her way of bringing more women to come to enjoy this increasingly popular style of riding in a non-intimidating fashion.   After three years of organizing RiotGrrraveL, Ellie has passed the torch to Victoria Malawey who is also an avid cyclist, gravel enthusiast and bike advocate.

Image Credit: Kate Lockhart

This year's race will have distance declarations of 10, 20 and 33 miles to open up the field to women of all abilities and experiences.  The 33 mile course will have more elevation changes for those that want to challenge themselves with climbing in addition to distance.  Men who wish to participate must ride with a female, trans, gender non-conforming rider, or a family member (any gender) under 18.

Image Credit: Kate Lockhart

Riot Grrravel will take place on Saturday, June 3rd at Hope Lutheran Church in Hastings.  Registration will be in the parking lot from 8:00 to 9:00am.  Roll out is 9:00am sharp for 33 miler, 9:15am for the 20 miles and 9:30am for the 10 mile riders.  This free unsupported women/family friendly event is being held rain or shine so dress accordingly and bring everything you will need to be self supportive.

Image Credit: Kate Lockhart

Registration is now open for Riot GRRRaveL 2017 and only takes a minute to sign up online.  It will have a rider cap and should fill up quickly, so make sure you register early.

Image Credit: Kate Lockhart

If you or your company would like to sponsor or volunteer for Riot GRRRaveL 2017 please send a message to Victoria on the Riot GRRRaveL Facebook page.  Volunteers can sign up at this link.


My Favorite Winter Fatbike Gear-Part 3

As Winter winds down early this year there are still plenty of opportunities to ride fatbikes if you go to the right places.  Some of these opportunities are made even better with the right gear.  This will be my fifth year of winter cycling and I have a few favorite items that help make fatbiking out on the snow and ice much more enjoyable.

Bontrager Gnarwhal Stud-able Tires

If you're a Trek Farley owner with 27.5" wheels, then you know the frustration of limited tire options.  Trek released their Bontrager Gnarwhal stud-able tires back in December and quickly sold out of their first shipment.  I was very disappointed that my order was not filled and would have to wait until the next shipment arrived for distribution.  Well, they finally arrived two weeks ago but the Bontrager studs I ordered to go with the tires would not arrive for some time.  I really liked the grip of the 45NRTH concave studs on my Dillinger 4's so I decided to go with them for the Gnarwhals.

After a couple hours of hand studding the Gnarwhals I was ready for my first ride on the ice with these big meaty tires (27.5x4.5).  Compared to the 45NRTH Dillinger 4's, these were monster truck tires.  They have a very large footprint and when used with the proper psi for the riding conditions they really grip everything from sheer ice, crusted snow to groomed singletrack.  This tire can handle riding a tight circle on ice without slipping adding extra confidence in the turns.

If you are interested in getting a pair for the end of this Winter or for next season, there will be another shipment arriving at Trek after the first week of March.  Visit your local Trek Authorized Dealer for more information.  These stud-able tires retail for $120 each and are tubeless-ready with a 120tpi foldable casing for easy tubeless setup.

Yeti Rambler 18 oz.

When it comes to riding in freezing temperatures the last thing I want to have to deal with is a frozen water bottle when I want to hydrate.  I've tried all sorts of things over the past few winters and my new go-to water bottle is the Yeti Rambler 18 oz. container.  It fits in a standard water bottle cage and is even short enough to work with my 15.5" Trek Farley frame which has limited space for larger water bottles.  The cap on the Yeti Rambler can be opened with gloves on and the over the nose diameter of the bottle makes it easy to drink from.  I have tested this bottle with hot and cold water in some of the coldest temperatures we have had in the Twin Cities over this winter and it really prevents liquids from freezing up.  MSRP $30.

Bontrager Convertible Neck Gaiter

One of the most versatile items to keep my head, face and neck warm this winter is my new Bontrager Convertible Neck Gaiter.  This simple piece of cloth can be used in a variety of different ways to protect your skin against the biting cold and wind that winter riding presents.  On warmer days in the 20's°F I will wear it to cover my chin and neck.  On windy days and when the temperature dips into the teens and below I will pull it up to cover more of my face to protect from windburn and frost nip.  It's very breathable and wicks moisture away from my skin keeping me warm and comfortable.  It retails at Trek dealers for only $16.99 and is worth every penny.

Lake MXZ400 Boots

I first saw a prototype of the new Lake MXZ400 boot from a Lake Brand Manager that was in town to do a photo shoot for the boot and had attended on of the Get Phat With Pat fatbike races at the MN River Bottoms.  It would be over a year later that I would actually get to test out this new boot offering.

My first impressions of the comfort, insulating warmth and customizable fit with the double Boa Closure System impressed me greatly.  This boot has 400 gr. of 3M Thinsulate insulatation for those really cold rides and paired with a large toe box, it provides feet the circulation needed to keep them warm.  The two studs on the toe section and the ice grip inserts on the sole provide the traction needed on slippery surfaces.  With a breathable, water resistant upper and the Boa Closure System, I can wear a variety of sock thicknesses without overheating, sweating or letting snow/moisture in.  The other thing I like about this boot is that with all of the insulation it provides it doesn't feel bulky or overly large.  Lake MXZ400 boots are two bolt compatible for cleat installation.

I know this season is almost over, but this is one boot you may want to add to your winter riding gear while they are still available for next winter.  MSRP $430.


Keeping Your Head, Face and Neck Warm During Winter Rides

Winter biking presents many challenges to dressing right and keeping warm for the temperatures and weather conditions.  In this post I will concentrate on gear worn above the shoulders for a variety of conditions which will not only keep your head, face and neck warm, but also help regulate core body temperature.


I have been using a balaclava for many winters now and it is my go-to piece of apparel for very cold temperatures and windy conditions.  There are many brands out there but my balaclava of choice is the Gore Bike Wear Windstopper Balaclava because of its thin breathable fabric that completely cuts biting wind on those days and nights when the windchill factor dips to sub-zero.  A balaclava will help protect your skin from wind burn, frost nip and in extreme cold, frostbite. 


Another product I have used for several winters is the ColdAvenger Pro Softshell face mask.  I break this out when temperatures dip below zero because the ventilator on this mask warms and humidifies the cold, dry winter air making it much easier to breathe.  The ventilator does not restrict my breathing, even during times of rigorous activity.  The wind and water resistant softshell fleece material wraps around my face and neck keeping me warm during the coldest rides.


If you have ever ridden in the cold with a regular bike helmet and a snow/snowboard helmet you'll notice the difference immediately.  Last winter I got a Smith Vantage MIPS helmet and never wore my regular mountain bike helmet again for winter riding.  One of the major differences was the snow helmet had vents that could be opened and closed to regulate heat so I would get too hot or cold.  The other feature I liked a lot was the insulated coverage over the ears.

This snow helmet allows me to add the extra protection needed such as a beanie, balaclava or neck gaiter to adjust for a variety of freezing temperatures I'll be riding in.  Most of the time, unless it's really cold, I wear just the helmet without anything else to insulate my head.  It's that warm and if I start to heat up, I'll open the vents on the top of the helmet to let some of the heat out and cool off.  If you ride a lot in the winter, it is definitely worth upgrading to a snow helmet.


A good pair of goggles can make seeing the trail easier during snowy and windy conditions and protects eyes from watering.  During previous winters I had a cheap pair of goggles and I tended not to wear them because they would fog up quickly from breathing or sweating.  I decided to give goggles another try, only this time I would spend a little more and get a pair that had plenty of ventilation to prevent fogging.  I opted for pair of Smith Knowledge OTG goggles that fit perfectly with my Smith Vantage MIPS helmet.  They had adjustable lens vents and a foam membrane with plenty of ventilation all the way around the lens.  Because they were an OTG goggle, I could also wear them with my prescription glasses.

To further prevent my new goggles from fogging, I treated the inside of the lens with Fogtech DX Instant Anti-Fog wipes.  The extra ventilation these goggles provide and the anti-fog treatment did not disappoint.  I have ridden in a wide variety of conditions and temperatures and have not had a problem with my goggles fogging up.  I now wear them regularly to protect my eyes from the wind and cold.  It's true what they say, you get what you pay for so spend a little more on a good pair of goggles for better performance in the cold.

Neck Gaiters

A new addition to my winter riding apparel is a neck gaiter.  I added this for those days when it was a little warmer out and I didn't need a balaclava or my ColdAvenger.  I tried on several neck gaiters at my local bike shop and chose the Bontrager Convertible Neck Gaiter because of its fit and next to the skin feel.  This versatile piece of apparel can be used a multitude of different ways to keep your head, chin, cheeks and neck warm.  When my extreme cold gear isn't needed, I opt for the neck gaiter because of many ways it can be worn as I heat up or cool off while riding.  It tucks into to a jacket or baselayer top to keep the cold out around the neck area.  A neck gaiter is an inexpensive way to protect from the shoulders up.


Beards have long been worn by winter cyclists to protect their faces from the elements.  The bigger the beard the better the coverage.  They allow a rider to bear the cold and wind without the use of facemasks or neck gaiters.  You've all seen many photos of ice beards from fatbikers riding in extreme cold conditions and they must work or these hearty riders wouldn't continue to grow them out winter after winter.
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