One of the most difficult things about the Arrowhead is that there are two great unknowns right up until the event:
Snow conditions right now are supposedly very good with a well groomed snowmobile track. Obviously, I hope it stays that way. In the past two years I've seen three vary different conditions.
In 2007, there was a shortage of snow. Because of that the trail hadn't really been groomed. In many places it became very difficult to ride at all because the front wheel would repeatedly wash out.
In 2008, the snow for the first half of the event was at times like a mix of flour and powdered sugar. It happened in the turns a lot. You would have to churn through it and sometimes have to dismount and just walk through.
The snow in the second half last year was prime! The temperature drop at night helped firm it up and it was a real treat to ride. I'm hoping for more of that this year!
This is the other great mystery. There was almost a 60-degree difference in the start temperatures between 2007 and 2008.
2007 was miserable. I don't care who you are. 30 below zero isn't fun. It is just dangerous. It makes 30 above, or 20 above, or even 10 above seem like a cakewalk. But when you think about it, even those temperatures can be dangerous.
We are supposed to be breaking out of an extreme cold spell here today. It has been 40-something below zero (air temperature) in International Falls at night this week, with daytime highs of 20 below zero. Not fun. The last two nights in Minneapolis were 20-something below zero.
I went out at 11:30 PM and rode some snowy singletrack for 1/2 an hour with my bike fully loaded. Then I set up my bivy sack and sleeping bag in the backyard and climbed in to sleep.
I got a serious new sleeping bag this year and need to know the extent of its capabilities. The bottom line is I wasn't really ever cold, but that it sure wasn't a great nights sleep. Breathing into my face mask got old quick. Keeping the sleeping bag snugged up was necessary to keep the cold air from dropping in on my face. At 4:30 AM I pulled the plug just because I knew I could get up, go inside the house, and actually get a few hours of decent shut eye before going to work. But it is nice to know that I could be sweaty and climb into that bag and be okay. If I'd been exhausted I suppose it would have been easier to sleep as well.
My Fingers Are Crossed
I'm hoping for nice, firm, groomed snow with low snowmobile traffic during the event. And how about temperatures around 20 above or so? Just after a few very cold nights. That would suit me just fine.
Enjoy your weekend. Stay warm.
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