The dry air got the best of me again. By the time I got back to the checkpoint I could barely stand. After 15 minutes of uncontrollable gasping, severe weakness, and whole body tingling I was able to get some words out to my audience. More to come later.
So J-No and I are up here ready to start our 135 mile bike race on the Arrowhead trail. The race starts Monday at 7am. You can check out the results at http://www.arrowheadultra.com/index.php. Click on results and you can see the race progress as riders go through the checkpoints. Ten inches of powder dropped yesterday and the trails are looking pretty soft.
As the attendees for the Summit gathered, it was evident that the sheer intelligence and physical prowess of J-No and I, as the XRC representatives, scared the members of the DBD. Instead of showing, the DBD sent representative and honorary member Dave "The Legend" Pramann. Cory "Corky" Gross would act as mediator during the talks.
At around the 5 degree and 5:30pm mark our ambitious riders left "The Cabin" in Cable, WI. On snowmobile trails they toiled, headed to the secret meeting location.
A picture of the writer after about 2 hours of riding.
The group testing the peace pipes at a rest stop.
Drudging through deep powder to reach the location for the talks.
Corky's shovel came in handy as we cleared a camp. More peace pipe over the fire.
The Legend contemplates why the DBD was so fearful of the XRCand why they sent him alone.This was also the moment the XRC demanded to know why the DBD did not show.His head hung low, The Legend had no answer.
Morning and a nice view of the secret lake. The low for the night would hover around 0 degrees.
Toiling our way back home as DBD members curled up with their coffee at home, waiting to hear what happened.
Rolling it Northwoods style.
J-No stares down the DBD through the Internet.You better watch it DBD, he's watching!
Out of frustration in the DBD's lack of participation, Corky decided to not be pictured here.
Well, the summit was a good start to peace, but there will need to be further meetings obviously. Our ride would start on Saturday at around 5 degrees, and then end Sunday at around 5 degrees. The night would great us with temps near 0. Many hours of trail riding were done before and after the meeting and everyone slept warm under the stars.
Special thanks to J-No for the pics, and my wife for being the greatest for letting me do stupid things like this. Did I mention that not only is Becky smoking hot, but she had a delicious shrimp chowder waiting for me when I got home? Oh, and she pounded out an 8 mile run this morning, at 5am, in 2 inches of fresh snow.
Tonight representatives from the DBD and the XRC are scheduled to meet at what is to be the first of possibly many peace talks. The first tonight has become known as the Slurpee Summit. Leaving for the deep Chequamegon National Forest at dusk, our fearless leaders will ride for many hours until a suitable place can be found where the yelling and gun shots cannot be heard. The meeting will commence, and God willing, peace will get of to a proper start. Pray for us riders, pray for our country, and most of all pray that the bubbling tensions between these 2 adventure groups calms down down before lives are lost.
Saturday I set off on an adventure this last Saturday by myself. Bike 4 hours, camp, bike back. The high temp looked to be just barely above 0 degrees, the low said to be -8. Most would say, "Charly you crazy gringo, why would you do that"? My motivation is several fold. One, I just like to push my experiences to the next level. This is how I got into endurance races, then freaky cold endurance races. Two, I would be lying if I didn't say this guy is a motivation as to what is possible. Three, I am dumb. Four, no one else could come or just plain would not come.
I would ride my fully loaded 9:ZERO:7. I packed everything I planned on for Arrowhead, plus a trunk rack with additional food and water. On the front of my bike was my new Santa brought -20 degree bag, prototype bivy, and sleeping pad. My homemade frame bag (thanks Mom for the help!) held my stove, fuel, wind pants, wind top, and thermal hoodie. The handlebar bag held variations of headgear, another thermal hoodie, wool gloves, and a map. Pogies would hold 5 flasks of gel that hold well from freezing(about 2000 calories), a large amount of Mike and Ikes (about 1200 calories), large PB cups (about 1200 calories), and overmitts. Inside the the seat bag was a tube, 3000 calories of peanut butter, and multi tool. And lastly the trunk held an insulated Nalgene, a bag of muffins, bag of turkey sausage, my wallet, keys, and heat packs. In my camelback I would carry 100 ounces of water and 50 ounces of energy drink (2,000 calories). My friend Juicy Peach had offered me his phone number several times in case of emergency. My Dad said the same, but reminded me he had to work at 4am. Becky would also help if needed, but with out child sleeping, it was not an ideal call to make.
Packed up, ready to go. Arrowhead will see a little different packing.
It was about 2 degrees for my departure. The planned stop was Rice Lake State Park near Owatonna; straight East. Within 5 minutes of hitting the trail I longed for more air pressure in the front. A quick stop revealed a nonworking pump and a tire that lost even more air from attaching the pump. Some disassembly/reassembly and all was good and I was moving forward again. The body felt fine, the legs felt very sluggish. There was just a sliver of a moon out, not a snowmobile in sight, and bright brilliant stars. The steep pitches and woods out to Oxbow were soon replaced with a trail that crossed field after field. Thankfully there was no wind, and my light can only travel so far so that I did not have to dwell on the fact I was simply riding through corn fields. The trail itself had a very hard base, but about an inch of snow we had received the past few days had been drifting on the trail, chewed up by the sleds, and then partially hardened. Only the tops of hills exposed the base and created a fast surface. This made the going slower than expected.
Only 15 minutes in and the frost is prevalent.
It was 12:30 and I was just short of my State Park, but I promised the wife I would call before 1am from inside the sleeping bag. A small band of trees with a 2 foot high drift was to be my shelter. The bag, bivy, and pad were quickly and efficiently set out. Water and food was placed in the bag. I hopped in, removed my outer layer and camelback, and called the wife to let her know I was fine. All that was left was to zip up the rest of the bag, eat, and sleep.
First off there was something going on with the bivy that I couldn't tell because of the dark and my vision was limited from my bag. I would find out later that the bivy seam had completely come undone and was now almost useless. Second the zipper was being really stubborn with only a foot left to zip. I tried this and that until finally the whole mechanism broke off. Yep, broke off. That meant my zipper opened to the cold fully down to my knees, at 12:45am, in sub zero temps, after a 4 hour slog through the snow. I would try to wrap myself up as much as possible, but bags like that are meant to be sealed together, not overlap, so the extra material was just not there. In the freezing cold, I tried several different positions and strategies to no avail. In my efforts I would lost focus on calorie replenishing. After an hour I decided that I could no longer freeze in the dark and I needed to figure out a plan B. Plan B did not include a call for help because I could still survive without having to wake others from their slumber.
Quickly I jumped out, threw on a thermal hoodie and reached for my outer jacket. Despite my efforts to keep it warm in the bag, my jacket was now a sweaty frozen solid pile of mess. So to would be my camelback hoses, also located in my sleeping bag. Note, I was in this same sleeping bag, suffering the same temps. So on went another thermal hoodie and my wind jacket and a packing I went. Quickly, I was pushing the bike back to the snowmobile trail not 100% on my plan just knowing I needed to be on the move. With only about 20 ounces of unfrozen water left I scrapped the idea of riding back, surely taking longer than the original 4 hours. The glow of Dodge Center could be seen about 5 miles South, so I headed in that direction to search for a gas station or bar to regroup at.
The lights from the Kwik Trip awning that covers the pumps is what I saw first when riding in. My ride had been slow, very slow. Although I was satisfactorily warm at this point, I was very tired and calorie deficient. I was glad to see sanctuary, but at the same time I was mentally prepared for the chance that I would have to ride back to Rochester unaided. Use to seeing weirdos at this time of night, the gas station attendant hardly gave me a second glance. It was 2:45 in them morning and I was laying out my frozen gear to thaw inside his store.
I was still determined to not wake up any of my bailouts. I started eating and drinking to get the recovery in high gear. After 15 minutes my body went into shut down mode. Lack of sleep, lack of calories, and exposure to cold had taken its toll. It was now 3am, and I realized my Dad was waking up for work. If not for this I would have slept/suffered in that Kwik Trip until needed and figured out my status later. But, my Dad was up and willing to bail me out, THANKS DAD!!
So my bike packing trip did not go as planned. Eventually I would like to try longer trips and wanted to start with smaller stuff like this. I found some stuff that does not work, stuff that does. Had the sleeping bag zipper not broken I am confident the end to this story would have been different. I will make adjustments as needed and surly my adventure at the Slurpee Summit this coming weekend will go better. What is the Slurpee Summit you ask? Just simply a similar adventure with friends in a much cooler location. Others are welcome to join, but requirements include proper gear and proper mental fortitude. The Summit is meant to create peace between the DBD and the XRC.
I was raised in the "hood", self-taught to survive on scraps of old inner tubes and changing bike tires with my teeth. Life is a struggle for me not to be another statistic that so many become after being raised in a caucasion middle class family. I now am a husband, bike mechanic, land lord, stay at home dad, and wannabe mountain bike racer.