JayP’s Backyard Fat Pursuit, a 200k fat bike race from Island Park to West Yellowstone. I am questioning why I signed up for this one. Yes, it is what I always wanted. And yes I always tell everyone that my “comfy zone” is all alone on a 100 mile stretch in a raging blizzard. But that is what I say. It is what I dream. That gives me no authority to sign up for one. But I did and I don’t feel ready.
If I would of stuck to a training plan I feel I could be ready. Even if I could of done some big long rides, maybe I would be ready. I do not like going into something unprepared. These are my reasons for not feeling ready. And I can tell you my ass is DEFINATELY not ready to sit around for 125 miles. But I did try, once, last weekend to gain some confidence.
The project was to ride from Wise River to Elkhorn Hot Springs and then back the next day. And I talked my partner into it as well. She is more “thoughtful” about these things and as of this writing is not signed up even though she wants to try the 60k. So we figured this would give us a feel on what to expect.
Last Saturday we set fourth on the 23 mile leg to Elkhorn. I was in pure bliss and felt pretty good. My partner seemed to be doing well too. The conditions were not so perfect due to the new snow and we were averaging 3.5 MPH. When it was time to bail we decided to go on through knowing it would be a long ride at the current pace. Then she started looking un-shuffled … then it got dark … then it got cold.
I stopped to look back to see if she was still moving but saw no headlamps. The vapors from my baklava looked cool in the lights of my headlamp. When my hard breathing subsided the vapors cleared to reveal a mini slide. I gasped and looked around. Where were we? As my partner rolled up I pointed it out. We decided to keep pressing forward … we were 3 miles out. It was “uneasy” to say the least.
We finally rolled into Elkhorn Hot Springs 9 hours later. My partner was so worn out she announced that her bike was for sale and that she was retiring from fat biking. Our friends who were gathered in one of the cabins just looked on in what seemed half entertainment and half horror. We promptly ate some pea soup and crashed.
“I am not riding tomorrow”, came a voice from the darkness.
“That’s OK, I understand”
“What are you doing?”
“Well if I don’t complete this adventure then I will have no confidence for the race next weekend. I feel like I must do it”
I awoke to a fresh 6 inches of new snow and went to the hot springs to see my friends. I guess the previous night this place was all-a-buzz about these fools that were biking in from Wise River.
I decided to stick to my decision and head back out to complete the adventure. I had to know if I had what it took to push through 23 miles of fresh snow.
As I topped out on climb to Crystal Park the new snow depth went from 6 inches to a full foot. Then on top the winds started howling and the trail disappeared. I pushed through. And pushed. And pushed.
After what seemed an eternity facing the cold winds of the plateau I dropped into the Wise River Valley. The skies kept getting dark and then it would snow. But the winds were gone. And then I found snowmobile tracks for the first time all day.
Suddenly a snowmobile towing another one passed me. We chatted and was relieved to find that the sled being pulled by the other packed the trail so nice my average speed tripled. Finally a groomed surface … right?
I came out the other end at 4 hours and 44 minutes. I piled my gear into the car and awaited for my partner who was hitchhiking back to Wise River. I drifted off to images of the last 4 hours. I would endure this 5X over next weekend.
Still not ready. But maybe a little closer now.