Untitled : 12/08/2006

The Arrowhead Diaries: Part 4
Forty Grams! Now We’re Talking!

It is cold here now and there are just two months left to prepare for my Arrowhead Ultra endeavor.

The bike is coming together. A mix of new and old, the Surly Pugsley I’ll be using is almost to riding stage, but won’t have its Evingson Cycles fork and rack system for a bit yet.

This week I did receive my frame pack from Wildfire Cycles up in Alaska. Wildfire is the home of the Fat Bike and are among the pioneers of this sort of riding. Their site has come killer photos of the riding they get to do. I’m not sure what exactly I’ll be putting in the frame pack yet. Most likely it will be my food for easy access while I’m riding. I think I’ll try to fill the bottom bracket area with my stove and cook pot and possibly fuel bottle. I may possibly keep my insulated water bottles in it as well. That depends a lot on how the new fork works out. I’m hoping to mount my spare water bottles to the back of the fork legs.

At this point you’ve probably realized that there are a lot of different ways to go about this. Even if you just use a stock bike, you still need to make a lot of decisions on how and where you will carry your gear, what your gear will be, what clothing you’ll wear, etc. But at some point you just need to decide and get on with it. When you do make a decision it usually means either making a purchase or building something yourself. That of course also takes time, of which there is never enough!

I’ve finished the lightening process of my rear Large Marge rim. I wound up getting 40 grams off of it while being pretty careful to not remove integral strengthening ribs and such within the rim.

Time will tell how it holds up. This weekend I will remove the last burrs and then I need to seal the external holes with some very sticky tape. Of course, I want the tape to be lightweight! As one local smart ass remarked, you could always fill it with aluminum dust. By the way, my lady still thinks I’m crazy for sitting in the basement drilling holes for hours at a time. She might be right. I’ve still got to do my front rim.

Drivetrain-wise, I’ve decided to go with SRAM X.9 GripShifters. Now, I haven’t ridden with GripShift for a long, long time but for the type of event this I think I’ll be happy with the choice. It won’t be your typical quick, vital shift type of riding. More of shift and sit back and struggle in that gear type of ride. Those shifter are paired up to a SRAM X.9 rear derailleur and a Shimano E-type LX front derailleur. I’ll be running two chainrings: 32T and 22T with a 9-speed 11-34 tooth SRAM cassette.

One of last year’s riders only ran a middle ring and he said he was only ever in the easiest three cogs. I figure that I might as well be prepared for a similar experience, hence the 32 tooth ring. The granny ring is on there as a bailout if I’m really struggling.

Once the course turns hilly in the last 2/3rds of the event, everyone has told me the same thing: Walk The Hills. They are rather emphatic about it. I plan on taking their advice. Luckily I don’t mind walking and have plenty of experience walking up hills while pushing a bicycle!

I’m planning on running just a rear brake, although I’m not 100% sure of that yet. Supposedly there are some really ripping descents at night during the race. The brake (or brakes) will be Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes controlled by Avid Speed Dial SL levers. I love the Avid mechanical disc brakes. While some folks have said to use hydraulic because the fluid won’t freeze, my concern is that the internals might shrink or break in the cold and then the fluid will leak, which is even worse than freezing.

Brake lever and shifters will be mounted to a Salsa Moto Ace 17-degree Flat Bar. It is a new bar bend for us this year and after riding a prototype quite a bit I must say I really like it. Combined with Ergon grips it removes any wrist pain or numb hands that I have. Holding that handlebar in place will be a Salsa Pro Scandium Stem. It is lightweight, plenty stiff, and easy to set up and adjust with its SUL front cap design.

That’s this weeks report. Next week you’ll see the first incarnation of my Arrowhead Pugsley.

I’d like to thank my current sponsors for this event!

Salsa Cycles. Yup, Salsa is helping me out with some of the components I need for my build. Yup, I work for them too. Better than the help with parts though is the fact that they are supportive of this endeavor and seem to understand how I’m having a hard time thinking of anything else! Our motto is Ride & Smile! I intend to do just that at the Arrowhead.

Surly Bikes. Surly is a sister company to Salsa in that we share the same parent company. The Surly guys generously offered me a special deal on the Pugsley frameset, Endomorph tires, and Large Marge rims. Thanks fellas. I love you too!

Evingson Cycles. Specializing in frames, parts and accessories for snow bikes and bikes that run big fat rubber. I’ll be riding with an Evingson fork and racks in the event. John is a Minnesota/Alaska guy although Alaska has got a hold of him right now.

Forty Below makes mountaineering overboots to keep your feet warm, along with other mountaineering products and bunch of beer insulators too. Mmmm?beer! I think I’ll have at least one beer following the event!

Take care. Rubber side down.

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