Tuesday, March 27, 2012

2012 Equinox Challenge - THE 24 Hour SnowBike Race

Equinox Challenge - THE 24 Hour Snowbike Race

After 1900 miles in my car, all I got to say is... I need new car.

Initial thoughts on the race: 
14 laps! AWESOME performance for The Judd! Right? 

Well, check below for all the details: video, course map, lessons learned, pics and the standard AND bizarre comments.

The Black Sheep SnowRoller - in the snow

can you believe this! I won the raffle! 
snowbike #2 will be rolling in no time

The Trip:
It was a long trip from Sandia Park New Mexico - but worth it. And I only drove about 20 miles with my eyes shut - asleep at the wheel. That's pretty good for me. 

The Video:
Remember, I ride a singlespeed - it ain't smooth, it's rigid. And I ain't a professional videographer. So go easy on me. And yeah, I mess with the playback speed. Because it's fun. AND if you want a longer version of the video WITH Social Distortion - go to the end of this posting.

2012 Equinox Challenge - THE 24 Hour Snowbike Race from Judd Rohwer on Vimeo.
just some video of the 2012 Equinox Challenge - the flat stuff

The Snowbike Course:
I can confidently say this is the best 24 hour snowbike race in the country... or world. One lap is about 4 miles with 300 feet of vertical. About. We can philosofize on changes, modifications, etc. But screw it. I like it. Great track. It makes sense, especially with unpredictable weather. (BTW, philosofize IS THE correct spelling... at the back of the pack.)

Results - the hooligans operating out of room 142
  • Jill - 1st solo women, bike - 2nd solo women, overall
  • Ben & Ken - 1st duo, bike - 2nd duo, overall
  • Kevin - rookie, rolled it fast at the front of the back of the pack
  • Judd - veteran of 100s of 24 hour races, held up the BACK at the back of the pack. As required
The Logic that Led to Defeat :
As usual, I must analyze the events that led to my own defeat. You see, at the back of the pack, defeat is based on personal failures NOT on the official race results. I rolled in with some big goals - and I didn't achieve my goals. Imagine that. Then again, failure fuels the fire. So, what really happened? Below are a few key points that may or may not be twisted, a bit.
  • A very warm spring day created slush that lead to an early and long lunch - I decided to wait it out for nightfall and harder snow conditions
  • The wait was long, real long. I went to the bar BUT ONLY drank water. Seriously.
  • I rolled out at 8:00pm, the course was still too soft for this obese dude. I was digging trenches with my 3.7 Nates
  • I decided to wait it out till midnight - so the freshly groomed course could freeze up without me destroying the SMOOTH track.
  • When midnight rolled around, I was frozen to the core
  • Thus I rationalized my own reality: sleeping bag = warmth = rest = get home a day early
  • The reality... I gotta toughen up and not live this life of luxury. Yeah, life of luxury.
Lessons Learned:

As usual, I learn from any and all experiences. AND I like to document these lessons learned. It's a way to.... fill up more space in this blog posting.
  1. Take an easy up - there is an official pit / staging area. AND that's where the late night party is!
  2. 1st place solo singlespeed  - what? You're saying there are no categories? Not in my alternate reality. Just joking. 
  3. An obese dude sinks when riding a snowbike in slush. That’s just the way it is. Therefore I derived the Judd Index of Flotation - check below.
  4. Big fat Larry up front, Nate in the back -  for the big phat Judd
  5. When you travel 2000 miles (round trip) for a snowbike race, and you're obese and you race at the back of the pack... The trip costs you about $20 per snowbike mile. No joke, jokester. 
The Index of Flotation:
When you are 220lbs (buck naked) with 10 lbs of clothes and gear and ride a 28+ lbs snowbike... riding a snowbike in slush is like riding a 29er in slush.. which is like riding a 26er in slush... which is all really like walking in slush. 

Therefore, because I have WAY TOO much time on my hands, I derived a cubic polynomial for the Judd Index of Snowbike Flotation. I normalized the index to the a 160 lbs (person + rig) and a 3.7 tire. The Judd Index of Flotation assumes that 'flotation' is a variable, i.e., if the snow is slush, like a slurry of ice & water, then flotation is a variable. If the snow is solid, like ice, then there is no flotation. Get it?

The basics: if you wanna get FAT - you better get skinny and have WIDE tires. Dude, Dudette. Yeah, I roll with a 260 lbs total weight, the Judd Index of Flotation is ~ 0.28 with my 3.7 Surly Nate tires. That's tough. The Judd Index of Flotation, for Judd, with 4.7 Big Fat Larry tires is 0.52. That could work. Or... maybe I should just lose some weight. 50 lbs would work.

In the end, the moral of the story, just the way it is:
In 24 hr solo racing, if you stop... you're done, for the most part. Unless you're a super freak - then standard Back of the Pack logic doesn't apply. I've learned this lesson many times over - I'm still learning this lesson.

The Absurd:

32 x 20 ain't that bad for a 24 hour snowbike race - the Equinox Challenge. 32x19 may work, under cold conditions. Ask Super Freak Jill how she likes her 36x20 - she'll say 'dude, it's awesome. I'd go crazy if I had to spin a 32x20!' Damn, Super Freak Jill rollin' a Pugsley (and Nates) with a  36x20 setup. I think Jill needs to follow The Lt Col's lead and have a debate with El Freako on singlespeed ratios. (BTW, Jill + Pugsley with 3.7 Nates = the normalizer for the Judd Index of Flotation. Understand?)

The Future - will I do it in 2013?
Of course.... if The Morale Chairman or Lt Col or Mad Rhino commits to the trip. In reality, I need The Morale Chairman to drive me. Who knows? We are always up for Ludacracy. So I think it will happen.

Racing is a thing of the past? Time to adapt. 
Why do we race at the back of the back? For the elusive beer sponsorship. Obviously. And that ain't working out too well. So I'm gonna be forced to start my own brewery.  You think I'm joking.  Therefore I have some tough decisions about time allocation to bikepacking, 24 hour 'racing' and beer brewing. Maybe Ska Brewing will wake up and decide they need a Modus Hoperandi ambassador, that would be me. 

Two Versions of Reality:
After all this rambling, you can philosofize about two possible versions of my own reality.
  1. I cashed it in, checked out at midnight, so I could return home early - save a day on the road
  2. I'm just afraid of the dark
You know, both options could be the partial truth. Could be.

Just  a Few Pics:
the day before - the Black Sheep SnowRoller

Jill likes the drive-ups... on the snowbike

the day before - some IPA

checking out the trail maps

Jill likes preriding anything and everything

the snowbikes of the Hooligans of Room 142

when Jill and Kevin are involved in an arial photo.... well

is this a snowbike Crossfit thing? a toboggan pull?

the  race site - the Equinox Challenge

it's RACE DAY!

like I said, it's RACE DAY!

and we are off

the big lunch, at the bar, without the beer, waiting for the sun to set

the big pizza - after the big race

just a reminder

it's hard to focus on the reminder - when you eyes are almost shut

preferred Back of the Pack lodging - great rates

tired and dirty - ready for the next adventure

The Video - the long cut:

just more of the same... more hills, more descents, more head bobbing

2012 Equinox Challenge - THE 24 Hour Snowbike Race from Judd Rohwer on Vimeo.
just some video of the 2012 Equinox Challenge, the flat stuff and some climbs

and just because: 

you all need some good relaxing music - we all do - I think

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Bikepacking the Colorado Trail: The Presentation

Bikepacking the Colorado Trail: Presentations at REI... for The Colorado Trail Foundation

That's right, we headed north to Colorado on the week of March 12th and successfully executed the Tour of BPR Psychobabble - that's lingo for two big presentations at the REI shops in Boulder and Denver.

If you're one of the 10s of 1000s that didn't make it, here are all the slides to the presentation. 

The presentation is 100 MBytes. That's 100,000,000 bytes. And that's 800,000,000 bits or 800,000,000 ONES & ZEROS. Seriously. Check out the links or check out the slides. Think about the info, send me emails if you have questions or want to RIP ME A NEW ONE.

the link: BikePackingTheColoradoTrai-Final-Denver-REI.ppt

another link: BikePackingTheColoradoTrai-Final-Denver-REI.pdf

If you have the stamina to go all the way - check out the Q&A session at the end of this post.

Dudes and Dudettes asked the questions, we could remember ~ 45 of them. And we provided some standard answers - from our view at the Back of the Pack.

Some Common Questions & Not So Common Answers - from the B.P.R. Dudes:
  • so, do you recommend riding with a friend or riding solo... on The Colorado Trail?
           hypocritical answer from BPR
    • friends are great for the short trips, the shakedown trips, the overnight trips, the one or two day trips.
    • If your goal is an unsupported, end-to-end, adventure that is constrained by life's responsibilities.... choose your traveling buddies wisely. the strain, the stress, the individual pace makes it very difficult to be 'friendly' during all walking & riding hours. 
  • what research do you do? websites? etc?
    • i don't do research unless I'm paid to do research.
    • ok, The TeddNeck did all the Internet research. i talked to friends. ok, emailed friends. i don't talk on the phone.
    • BUT we both really believe that it's all about experience. you may think that you know what gear is best, but you'll learn about reality during the bikepacking adventures. and your opinions will swing radically based on YOUR adventures & experiences.
    • bikepacking.net is a good site to start, but you probably already know that.
  • what about solar chargers?
          skeptical answer from BPR
    • we are all about reliability and safety. 
    • solar charges seem to be a bit heavy and bulky for us heavy & bulky dudes. I'm not sure if there is a good way to strap on the solar charger to get the benefit during the long days on the bike.
    • one major concern - will the solar charger break when you bite the dust? what happens when the solar charger breaks? gotta have a backup plan.
  • segments with mostly riding, minimal hike-a-bike
    • wow, tough question.
    • it all depends on how you roll, i.e., if you have 40 lbs of gear, gears, etc.
    • try segments 1 - 3, 6, 8, 11, 13. but there is always some walking
  • why so much hiking? the grade or rough terrain?
    • the grade and the terrain. at times we walked on level ground and downhill due to the extreme rocky terrain.
  • what about tires?
    • we roll on Maxxis. no specific reason. but we do believe that Maxxis tires are durable and last much longer than others.
    • up front - Maxxis Ardent 2.25
    • in the rear - Maxxis Ignitor 2.1
    • why a 2.1 in the rear? just because, need extra space with the chain stays, if you break a spoke and / or the rim bends, you'll need the extra space until you can fix the issue.
  • why a SPOT beacon AND a GPS?
    • turn on the SPOT beacon in the AM and forget about it. it's really for safety and to allow others to track you via the SPOT website(s), if others really care about you.
    • GPS is for navigation, you'll be happy that you have it. unless you are ultra mountain man / mountain woman like.
  • is The Colorado Trail well marked?
    • absolutely! but when you are tired you miss many of the markings. so a GPS and a good sense of navigation are always required. don't think that you can go out there & space out - you'll get lost.
  • you really roll with hiking boots & platform pedals?
    • you know it. think about it, try it out. it may be a mental thing, i.e., you're mental issues with 'needing' to be clipped in.
  • no warm food? what about coffee? i need coffee?
    • the Colorado Trail cures all your addictions, seriously
    • so you need coffee today - but after 5 days on the CT, you'll realize that coffee is just a mental crutch.
    • JUST JOKING. it's all a personal thing. coffee takes time to prepare. if you are on a serious schedule during an end-to-end adventure, you'll just blow off the morning ritual.
  • how do you train?
    • TeddNeck trains 'on the couch'
    • The Judd trains by riding for hours and hours and hours on the weekend, sometimes weekday rides happen too.
    • don't forget about hiking, make sure you can do high altitude hiking
  • riding at night?
    • sometimes. but rarely. we don't roll with the major lumen beasts that we use at 24 hour races. we roll with lights powered by AAs. not much light makes for slow going. so we usually stop at dusk.
  • set camping spots?
    • we always have a plan for set camping spots, but rarely do we follow the plan. the pace is just too unpredictable to stick to a 'camping' plan. With that being said, I think we'll do much better this year and may actually stick to our 'camping' plan.
  • much trail traffic?
    • in remote sections...we saw about one hiker or one group of hikers / day
    • in sections near cities / towns, like near Durango or Denver, we saw many hikers & bikers
  • ideal bike for a non single speed freak
    • ok, I rarely talk about bikes that have those things called gears, but it's always an option. if money is not an option and you aren't interested in the single speed lifestyle, then go for a hard tail with front suspension and a 1 x 9 (or something) setup. no real need for the extra rings up front.
  • water filters?
  • precautions for wild animals - like mountain lions?
    • no precautions - just hope you don't come face-to-face with a wild ferocious animal. if you do, look big and angry.
    • a BIG bottle / canister of bear spray could provide some comfort, but the bottles / canisters are BIG.
    • if you want to exercise your 2nd Amendment rights, go for a Desert Eagle.
  • what backpack did you use & why?
    • the Wingnut MPS Alpha. why? because The TeddNeck made the decision.
    • seriously, pick a pack that fits you and makes you happy. TeddNeck picked this pack because of a) the room and b) the design.
  • would you / could you put more weight in the backpack to make hike-a-bike easier?
    • no, we like to limit the weight on the back. yeah it's clumsy to ascend some of the sections and a heavy bike makes it that much more difficult. but we think more gear on the bike is a good thing
  • the single speed gear setup / gear ratio?
    • we tried 32 x 20 but rolled out with 32x22 after the initial adventures on the CT.
  • platforms? hiking boots? seriously?
  • cold food? seriously?
    • yeah, seriously. you'll learn to deal with it, especially when you are dead to the world and just want to eat and sleep. 
    • but, as stated below, The Judd may roll with a stove this year just for the few leisurely nights when a warm meal could be an option.
  • what mechanical issues did you have?
    • great, now you've jinxed us.
    • a broken spoke at mile 470. that's it.
    • ok, headset loosened up on one of the 100 mile rides.
  • who makes the bags, how did you choose?
    • we use Revelate and CDW bags
    • we use what was available, custom frame bags are hard to find and long wait times may be an issue. plan ahead
    • the bags are waterproof and you'll be happy that they are.
    • it sounds like new bag companies are popping up in various locations, look around. probably some really good stuff is out there.
  • do you like feedbags? what do you put in them?
    • feedbags are AWESOME, they go up on the handlebars. 
    • we put the small food stuff in the feedbags
    • I may get two more for water bottles, if I can fit them on the bike.
  • why hiking boots? why not low tops? need waterproof shoes?
    • good question. for wet conditions, like in July, you'll be happy that you have waterproof hiking boots. later in the season, like late August and September, go with whatever you are comfortable with. BUT - be prepared for everything.
  • what % of the hike-a-bike could you ride with gears & suspension?
    • we are guessing, but think that a person on a geared bike with MINIMAL gear may be able to ride 20 more miles. So it's probably a 20% / 80% thing, i.e., a geared person will hike about 80% of what we hiked.
  • what do you pack on the handlebars / fork? frame? seat? backpack?
  • do you know how to change spokes?
    • yeah, we change spokes on a routine basis. it's not easy, at times. it may require removal of the rotor. but a bent rim can cause havoc to your bikepacking adventure. so be prepared
  • advice on safe riding?
    • we walk anything that's questionable or looks unsafe. don't want to bust a face or collarbone in the middle of the Rocky Mountains.
  • why repackage vacuum packed freeze dried food?
    • don't ask me, that's a TeddNeck thing. And he was a Boy Scout. I quit the Boy Scouts after 1 meeting. So give Tedd a call - but remember, he doesn't answer his phone.
  • platforms? hiking boots? seriously?
  • need electrolytes?
    • you'll think that you do. fit them in if you can. but after a number of days on the trail you'll just forget about all those things that give you a 'psychological' boost. the physical boost? who knows. the pain and fatigue is severe, just keep you head in the game and you'll survive, no matter what.
  • wear bike gear, i.e., a chamois thing?
    • the chamois thing? yeah, it was part of the gear. don't really know why. we quickly gave up on the chamois creme. believe it or not - your body adapts to all this stuff.
  • is a 45 deg bag really warm enough?
    • with a bivy bag or tarp tent - definitely. you could go with a 30 deg bag if you are worried. at night, the temp will drop down to the 30s, but that extra layer will allow for the small 45 deg bag.
  • what is the difference between riding gloves and night gloves?
    • riding gloves are padded and for riding - but we only wear the gloves 50% of the time.
    • night gloves are for warmth at night - for sleeping. night gloves would be destroyed in one day of extreme riding.
  • why not a white gas stove? (white gas vs alcohol vs solid)
    • it's all about volume and weight. 
    • figure out what makes you happy, what you are willing to sacrifice. 
    • I may pack a white gas stove / fuel for the 2012 adventure - because I'll have extra room on my Black Sheep SnowRoller.. a FatBike.
  • can you envision bikepacking the CT with no backpack? 
    • yes, but bad attitudes should not be a limiter!
    • seriously, we have ideas to reduce weight in the backpack, but a pack with water may always be required, for us. 
    • believe it or not, everyone says "I can't ride with packs". (TeddNeck said this for years.) But in bikepacking you'll experience more fatigue / pain that you've ever experienced. It'll make your issues with backpacks irrelevant.
    • so, just find a good fitting pack. you'll need the room.
  • why 2 single person tents for 2 people, i.e., why not a 2 person tent?
    • uh, you couldn't pay me to sleep with my brother, The TeddNeck
    • ok, solo unsupported is our goal - this means no help from your buddy or brother. gotta have a solo tent.
    • you cold split up the weight and roll with a 2 person tent, especially if you are out with your significant other. it's always an option, maybe a good option.
    • but then again, I'll never share a tent with a dude that STINKS from multiple days on The Colorado Trail.
  • does titanium absorb shock?
    • yeah, titanium, my addiction. titanium flexes (compliance is the term?) and is awesome, but expensive.
  • why 2 sets of clothes?
    • stench and wetness. be prepared. try to have a dry set of clothes to put on each morning. it'll help keep your mental state at 'good' level. whatever that means.
  • do you wash clothes in a stream?
    • nope, we never stopped long enough to do stuff like that. I did mail a clean set of clothes to Buena Vista (general delivery) and that saved me (us) from some NASTY stench. stench is stench, but NASTY stench is unbearable. 
  • type of sunscreen?
    • anything that is 'thick'. put it on routinely. and all sunscreen burns when it slides (with the sweat) into your eyes.
  • bugs in tarp tents?
    • nope, tarp tents are awesome - for wet environments or areas with predicable (yet unpredictable) nightly storms.
  • what about rolling with panniers?
    • nope. too much hike-a-biking. people have done it with panniers but they would be in the way big time with all the hiking, pushing, etc.
if you have any questions - email me. judd@backofthepackracing.com. it may take some time for me to reply, as the bikepacking season is rapidly approaching and I limit my time on 'the couch'.