Sunday, April 1, 2012

Equinox Ski Challenge

Hi there everyone....   A little catch up on this springs events.  I just competed in my first bike race ever at the West Yellowstone Equinox Ski Challenge.  I rode in the solo 12 hour category.  This being the first year that they have allowed snow bikes on the ski trails.

I recently purchased a Surly Pugsley snow bike from the guys down at Summit Bike and Ski here in Bozeman.  And with a tender spot on my ass from a season of skiing and not biking, I saddled up for the 12 hour race.  There were 4 categories at the event; 3,6,12,&24 hours.  You could enter as a team or as a soloist, and you could run, ski, or ride; or do all three if you wanted.  The event was to raise money for the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Montana, and all prizes were awarded through a raffle at the end of the event.

This was a place that people came to set personal goals, and personal bests... I set mine, for sure for sure.  This was also the first snow biking that I have ever done, and it took me getting spanked down hard to figure out the tire pressure thing.  These bikes can be ridden as low as 5 pound of pressure (psi) in the tires.  At about mid day I had let out a ton of air from my tires and I was still struggling hard.  I had an impossible time keeping up with the other riders, and at one point I was pasted by a jogger.  The conditions mid day were very sloppy in the soft snow and the bike course was getting rutted out and difficult to ride.  Finally a nice lady passed me and shouted, "Let some air out".  This was the best advice I heard all day, but by this time it was 6pm and I'd been on the course for 8 hours of butt blistering punishment.  I had been riding at about 9-10 psi, so I dropped down to 4-5 psi and my world changed.  The bike bounced on each peddle stroke on the soft tires, but at least I had traction and I was moving.  Then the sun went down and the course started to firm up again and I caught my second (or third) wind and road a couple of fast laps before my finish at 10pm that evening.

They were fast, I was slow
They were brave, I was just a happy fool

The night time riding was a blast and I wished at one point that I could have ridden the whole 12 hours at night instead of the day.  I even thought for a moment that I should have entered the 24 hour category.  Maybe next year, eh.

I was super impressed with everyone of the athletes that showed up.  Kat Hinkman won the 24 hour ski (again) this year. Way to go Kat!!!  She skied 291km in 24 hours.... ouch!

And Alex Lussier almost broke the course record with 319km skiing and biking for 24 hours.  He missed the course record by .9km... ouch!!!

It was so impressive to see these people set a pace and hold it all day, and then all night long... again,,, ouch!

In the 12 hour solo category I place 4th.  Riding 120km (74.5 miles).  I was also the only person that did not ski in the 12 hour solo category.  Which for most smart people, they started skiing sometime mid day when the snow conditions got to soft for riding in.

Other highlights where the very large bear tracks on the trails in the morning, the big face plant that I performed at high speed coming down a hill, barely missing a collarbone crushing tree, and right in front of the camera man.  I hope he got the shot.  I landed arms and head deep in soft snow and had to laugh a little at myself as this was my first face plant from off of a bicycle.

And finally the food...  We (Justene I mean) made a ton of amazing food for me for the race.  We had veggie meat patties, rice and beans w/ spinach, and the best damn date balls that I've had.  In fact, the food was too good and I ate a little to much at one point during the race and had to ride a couple laps burping up the sweet flavour of dates and honey.

Cheers everyone,,, go ride a bike!

Letting more air out of the tires 

into the night
all photos by Justene Sweet

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