Monday, December 31, 2012

SnowBikePacking... The Mount Taylor Adventure - Part 1

SnowBikePacking in the Mount Taylor area. It wasn't my idea - it was The Lt Col's idea. So, after some resistance I gave in and decided the trip would be worth a few laughs... cuz The Lt Col was a rookie in the world of bikepacking and I couldn't wait to see B.P.R's Elder Statesman suffer like he's never suffered before. 

And the suffer factor associated with bikepacking / snowbikepacking ain't like the suffer factor associated with 24 hour racing... at the back of the pack. Just because.

Anyway, the trip didn't go as planned. Imagine that. But we had a great time and learned some lessons, as usual.

Lessons Learned - the alternate reality:
  • If you're in Grants NM and looking for an awesome breakfast burrito at The 1st Street Cafe... don't go to First Street. You'll find The 1st Street cafe on Route 66 near Hwy 53. Seriously.
  • The Lt Col's notorious snoring is muffled with a heavy sleeping bag and bivy
  • When you are sleeping in ~ 10F deg weather and wrapped in -20F gear, you could end up in a sweaty heat induced panic attack. Yep, if you're boiling to death in your gear and can't get the zippers down - you could be a casualty of a heat induced panic attack.
  • If you're roll'n with a pretty basket on your snowbike, you better bring extras nuts / loctite.
  • If your worried about 'purging' in subzero temperature, ask The Lt Col about the family jewel knitwear - see the pic of the knitwear at the end of this post... if you're brave enough.
  • The Lt Col & The Gatorade Bottle. Someday he will learn a lesson, or someday I'll die of bladder pressure cuz I haven't mastered The Gatorade Bottle maneuver. 
Lessons Learned - the reality of SnowBikePacking:
  • Smart + dumb = dumb. If you have an insulated water reservoir BUT forget to clear the tube - the water will not make it out the frozen tube. Dumb.
  • Snowbikepacking + 22t = A Luxurious Ride
  • A real big lesson. For the past few months The Lt Col's been bragging about his big thermos. Well, his big Stanley thermos was an awesome idea. The Lt Col devoured a wicked dinner late at night as I sat, in the snow, eating a Hersey's bar and drinking HIS Dale's Pale Ale. Cuz I had no motivation to break out the stove and boil water. So, for an overnight snowbikepacking trip, a thermos may be the way to go.
  • Poogies are insanely warm. I've had my poogies for ~ 1 year. But figured the poogies were way to clumsy for any of my 'warm' adventures. Well, during the Mount Taylor snowbikepacking trip I rolled with the poogies AND didn't wear any gloves AND my hands dripped in sweat like never before. Yep, insanely warm. Weird but cool.
  • If you roll out with a small pot to melt snow, think twice about the size of the pot and the size your stove. The damn pot may be too small to fit on the stove. Seriously.
  • In the last snowbikepacking post I documented a real Lesson Learned - gotta have a Nalgene type bottle with a screw lid. So... in classic Judd fashion I FORGOT the Nalgene. (Why does The Morale Chairman always talk about 'the check list'?)
  • It's well known that if you wear wet clothes in the sleeping bag that the clothes will dry out. (Well known? Maybe. But it's true.) So, my wet clothes completely dried out... EXCEPT the sweaty wool hat I jammed in my coat pocket. Brilliant.
The Last Big REMAINING Question in SnowBikePacking:

The Lt Col and The Morale Chairman are constantly talking about and thinking about thermal management. Meaning... how do you survive subzero temperatures if you are sweating your A$$ off. Well, I don't worry too much about this. Because I figure it's just gonna happen and the only solution is to keep moving. BUT if you must stop and you are dripping in sweat then you could be in trouble. So, maybe one of those two hot blooded gorillas will figure it out - so they can take a break, sit by the fire, write some poetry. I'm pretty sure I'll just keeping moving and SMOKE their a$$es in the Arrowhead 135. Because, it is a race, you know. It's a race for victory at The Front of the Back of the Pack.

And if you Wonder:

And if you wonder what The Lt Col reads at night... in terms of snowbikepacking research, check out this link - a link that defines The Lt Col's primary set of worries.

What's Next?

The clock is ticking. In 4 weeks we'll be grinding away on the trails in northern Minnesota. But before that I hope to organize two more snowbikepacking adventures. Gotta make it to the top of Mount Taylor and absolutely must experience some bitter cold riding in camping in central Colorado. Or reality may set in and we substitute the bitter central Colorado cold with some more bikepacking in mild central New Mexico. Yeah, the reality of reality sucks, at time.

AND Two Fundamental Things to Remember:

When you're busy and can't find time to digest all the Ludacracy that we promote at the Back of the Pack, just remember these two fundamental things:
  1. If you refuse to cook - be sure that you pack in the calories, one way or the other
  2. Don't pick up hitchhikers when you are near The Big House, seriously

 The Standard Pics... just because:

heavy gear = heavy bikes
don't forget that 32x22 setup if your planning to ride uphill... for hours

is the sun really setting?

I think The Lt Col will understand that MORE is NOT better
when it comes to bike packing

what a cute basket
bet this setup will create a few surprises down the road
I mean... up the road

just chill'n

someone said Dec 29th was 1 day past the full moon
well, it's still dark when you are in a dark forest. dude, dudette

 all quiet on the western front
cuz... the Lt Col says he's sleeping til 10AM

like I said... The Lt Col said his plan was to sleep in... til 10AM.
these married guys, always resting up when they get some time away from the family

I eat macaroni in cheese in the AM
The Lt Col eats Jerk Chicken late at night

The Lt Col, playing with his basket, again

the Black Sheep SnowRoller... in the snow

The Lt Col
always messing with his gear

life doesn't get much better than SnowBikePacking
and.... SnowBikePacking on the snow

don't worry, I'll catch The Lt Col
he is rolling Nates and those dawgs are SLOW ROLLERs

headed downhill... not so fast

beauty... at the back of the back of the pack

funny how The Lt Col decided the day before that...
cooking posole was more important that counting teeth on the rear cog
(and making a 'ratio' adjustment, as necessary)
yep, pain and suffering is part of the rookie experience...
just like pushing the bike is routine at the Back of the Pack 

just a reminder, again

And now the Ludacracy:

 people often wonder why us phat dudes burn 4000 calories...
 on each ADVENTURE. BUT still get phat'r 
cuz we eat stuff like this... all day long

The Lt Col is super freaked out about the plausible set of conditions:
-40F in Minnesota, the need to purge, the condition of.....
So, The Lt Col's Foxy Mama found some 'emergency' gear on the internet
yes, I still can't believe I picked this damn thing up and took this picture... pukage

Thursday, December 27, 2012

SnowBikePacking... and the End of the World Party

It's a well known that a few of us at the Back of the Pack were ready for the End of the World on Dec 21st. (Ok, many ONE of us.) So The Morale Chairman and I decided to make it a party at Chaco Canyon and then log some snowbikepacking miles.

Anyway, the party didn't really happen. I sent out 200+ invitations and no one showed. (Imagine that.) So The Morale Chairman and I tried to make The Party a party. But the 'pillow' called at 6:30pm, right around when the fire burned out and water bottles froze over.

Not much went as planned on the 1st snowbikepacking trip of the 2012 / 2013 season. But we learned some lessons - as usual - figured some things out for the upcoming Arrowhead 135.

Yep. This is a pretty dry posting, not much humor - cuz I don't feel the humor today. So... dig the lessons learned, dig the list of gear, dig the pictures.... dig it all... or don't 

the long road snow covered road
leading through the eastern edge of the Navajo Nation

Lessons Learned, the alternate reality:

  • If you roll into the local Mexican restaurant in CUBA NM and ask what type of beer they have the waiter will reply... "for IMPORTS we have Bud BudLight Coors CoorsLight". I guess domestics are IMPORTS in CUBA New Mexico.
  • Modus Hoperandi doesn't freeze in near subzero temperatures. (Seriously, it doesn't.) BUT a 40 of Mickey's will be a solid block of ice.
  • Not brushing your teeth for 36+ hours brings you back to caveman status. 
  • If you roll out with a camera - you may want to charge the battery.
  • If your 'nutrition' is based on Subway, pick your vegetables wisely - as your subway ft long will freeze, as expected. BUT lettuce, onions and tomatoes turn to vege-ice-crystals. And an ice crystal that looks like a tomato ain't that tasty. (But the reservation dog didn't have a problem with it - see below.)
  • A -20F bag can be almost miserable in 0 deg night. Seriously, you'll sweat your A$$ off and you can't exactly stick your leg out when it's near subzero.
  • If you are rolling a 32x21 you may achieve a 9.5mph max avg - on flat ground.
  • 6L of water on back is too much, even if you are rolling on a fatbike. Especially when you have 40+ oz on the cages. But hey, it's a drag to be thirsty in the very very dry New Mexican desert.
Lessons Learned, snowbikepacking... cold weather bikepacking:
  • The Bivy: I hate bivy sacks. But the Integral Designs Bugaboo is pretty sweet.
    • I like tarp tents. I like space to organize my gear and protect a few things from the elements. BUT I'm rolling with a bivy for the 2012 / 2013 snowbikepacking adventures. (Tarp tents won't work.) So, after years of trying out many different bivy sacks I've finally found one that works for snowbikepacking. The Integral Designs Bugaboo is the bivy for me. It's a killer design. The other bivy sacks that we've tried are: Sierra Designs, Outdoor Research, MSR, REI
  • The footwear / footgear. Big Lesson Learned. Changing boots.
  • The wool pants. The big game time decision. 
    • That's right, we roll with either 100% cotton or wool. No spandex on us dudes at the Back of the Pack. Our options are either the Woolrich Big Horn pants or the L.L. Bean wool bibs. We'll pack them both and let the weather forecast be the deciding factor. The Woolrich pants work great. So it'll need to be super super cold to break out the massive wool bibs.
  • The Nalgeen - Keep the water from freezing, keep the water from spilling in your sleeping setup.
    • I learned this lesson in Antarctica but it skipped my mind for the Chaco Canyon trip. Gotta have a Nalgeen bottle or something with a screw on cap IF you're gonna snuggle up with your water at night. Seriously.
    • And if you roll with the title 'The Lt Col' then you better roll with two - one to drink out of and one to fill.... if you know what I mean.
  • The insulated Platypus. That's right, at Chaco Canyon water would freeze within a few minutes exposure to the morning chill. But the water didn't freeze in the platypus insulated reservoir, and I left the insulated Platypus out in the cold ALL NIGHT. Wild. But not as wild as the Modus surviving the night.
The Setup:
Below is a list of gear that basically covers my setup for the Arrowhead 135. Not that you care, but The Lt Col may. And I always find the data helpful. I mean SHOCKING. The data helps me work on strategies to cut more gear and thus weight.

So, the crazy stuff about snowbikepacking (or extreme cold weather bikepacking) is the amount of gear required for simple survival and the weight of this gear. 

The Crazy Stuff, a summary: and most of this gear is 'required' for the Arrowhead 135.
  • Water weight + containers. 10.1 lbs:  I'm rolling with a 3L insulated platypus and two water bottles. I think. I gonna carry as much as I can / or need because I ain't gonna be sitting on the trail melting snow every couple of hours. (64oz, ~2L, in insulated container is required.)
  • The Stove stuff. 3.6 lbs: This is a white gas stove and TWO 11oz fuel bottles, filled. (stove, 8oz of fuel and 1 pint pot required at all times.)
  • The Food stuff / 4140 calories. 2.7 lbs: Amazing. I figured all this food would weigh more. It's takes up lots of space. But doesn't weigh that much. (3000 calories required.)
  • The winter camping / survival gear. 8.3 lbs: This weight includes a sleeping bag, ground pad with R value of 5.7, bivy sack and a puffy jacket. (-20F bad, insulated pad, bivy are required.)
Issues to ponder:
So, we're not going to roll with the tubeless setup. There is not enough time to investigate tubeless options prior to the Arrowhead 135. So, will we care a spare tube or two? Will we put Stan's in the tubes? Does Stan's freeze? Can we (or you) easily repair a puncture in sub zero temps - or just better to Cary a 1lbs tube?

The Pics:

the Black Sheep SnowRoller, fully loaded

The Brothers Rohwer... The Padre Rohwer... chill'n in Cuba New Mexico

chill'n at Chaco Canyon

it's a lonely canyon, sort of

it's a cold and lonely canyon
but a beautify canyon

Modus and Mickey's
it's like mixing a dream and a nightmare

a cold cold morning
water froze within minutes of being removed from the bivy setup

can you say FREE RANGE... the old-fashioned way

wild horses circling the snowbikepackers

that's right, wild horses on the reservation

I want a windmill at my house. Don't you?

The Judd poaching some POW
(POW = Powder.... if you didn't know that)

The Morale Chairman poaching some POW

just hanging in... the middle of nowhere

did I say that it's a lonely road in... the middle of nowhere

there is always time for a Modus Hoperandi
or TWO
AND there is always room for Modus in the backpacks
or TWO

this reservation dog ran with us for 4+ miles
he even chased down and attacked a pickup and then an 18 wheeler
but he was buddies with us
probably smelled the two subway ft longs in the backpacks

dude, you just ate two subway sandwiches
and you still want for food?

waiting for pickup in... the middle of nowhere

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The END of the WORLD... a winter bikepacking adventure

The End of the World... The End of the World... The End of the World

Some people think The End of the World will occur on the 21st. Others think it will END...  When it ENDs

I'm a bit more realistic. I believe that The End of the World will occur when the aliens launch the massive Alien Invasion. 

Yes, the alien invasion is currently planned for Dec 21st. As I am The One that is in The Know. But, as WE ALL KNOW, invasions, especially Alien Invasions, can be delayed. So I'm not exactly confident that The End of the World will happen on the 21st. 

But The Morale Chairman and I will be at the Chaco Canyon portal just in case The Mothership arrives and the invasion begins on the night of the 21st. 

Do you think I'm crazy? Or do you think I'm just pulling your leg? Or what.... Yeah. Life is all about the OR WHAT stuff.

Anyway. This bikepacking trip is the 1st adventure of a couple planned prior to the Arrowhead 135. The Morale Chairman and I hope to gain a bit of experience with the SUFFER FACTOR associated with COLD temperatures, COLD wind, COLD food (or no food), camping in the COLD AND exhaustion in the COLD. And the weather is turning out to be perfectly... not very COLD. But all is well. BECAUSE any type of COLD isn't exactly equivalent to the FREEZING COLD that we will experience in northern Minnesota... on January 28th and 29th. So who are we trying to fool.

Judd's Black Sheep FatBike... The SnowRoller

And if you actually want to see our real time progress - On the 21st or 22nd or 23rd - click this link OR check on the right side of the blog under the heading "The Location of The Action". Dude. Dudette.

And if you wonder where the portal is - check out the pics from the scouting mission last May.

The Chaco Canyon... The End of the World... scouting expedition in May 2012

Anyway, enough of the foolish talk. It's really all about the bike, the ride and the Ludacracy. And I'll be sure to report back... if I can.

The Details:
the global view of the route

the route - one picture = 143 miles
blue is the planned route
green is the asphalt bypass... for tourists that want to meet us for the last few hours of life on Earth

the profile - west to east
we are all about game time decisions

Sunday, December 16, 2012

phatbiking in(to) the concrete jungle

Times are a bit slow right now. Well, slow for us dudes that aren't consumed with the Christmas shopping thing. BUT the hectic life will be back, in a few days. That's right. The End of the World bikepacking trip is scheduled for sometime this week. Then there is the Gunnison Valley 135, scheduled when... when I want to schedule it. Then there is the 'drag the Lt Col's A$$ out into the wilderness' bikepacking trip scheduled for.... sometime in January. Then there is the big one. The Arrowhead 135 on January 28th. 

So, the days of rest and relaxation are over, for some. Time to get busy.

Actually, I've been busy. Busy doing fun stuff like riding the fatbike, phatbike, snowbike... on the asphalt... to work. Yeah, there ain't much exciting stuff about a dude's fatbike commute to work. But I think it's fun to shamelessly shame The Lt Col and The Morale Chairman into setting the alarm for 3:45AM, rolling out of bed after one SNOOZE attempt, ki$$ing the wife, putting the a$$ on the bike seat (I mean saddle) and logging some miles, the fat way or the phat way or the hard way. 

Ok, my actions to get those dudes motivated to put the miles in is probably a lost cause. Because TRAINING and RACING isn't really something that we are known for at Back of the Pack Racing. But it's probably a smart thing to put in a few miles before the Arrowhead. Cuz death due to exhaustion and exposure is a real possibility, for some. And Victory for Judd at the Front of the Back of the Pack is a guarantee. 

A Few Early Predictions for The Arrowhead 135:
  • I'm confident that The Lt Col will drop out at mile 35. Because he will start with 3L of water, drink all 3L in the 1st 3 hours. Then spend the next 3 hours asking every tourist he can find if they have water to spare. (Will there be tourists on the Arrowhead route? Yeah, definitely. I hope so, for The Lt Col's sake.)
  • I'm confident that The Morale Chairman will miss the 2nd cutoff at the 70 mile mark. Not because he can't take the pain or he ran out of water like The Lt Col. But because he'll waste 5+ hours adjusting and readjusting his backpack, because The Morale Chairman HATES backpacks. (I wonder if The Morale Chairman is so uncomfortable with backpacks because he has 'helpers' that carry all his 'gear' at work.)
  • The Judd will motor in for victory at the Front of the Back of the Pack around hour 26 +/- 4 hours. That's right, prediction for The Judd is a finish time of 22 to 30 hours. Weather is the variable. 
Lessons Learned from the Phatbiking in the Concrete Jungle:
  • No matter how BAD (as in BAD) your fatbike is (Black Sheep SnowRoller in my case) there will always be some little girl riding a My Little Pony dirt bike and yelling out "MY BIKE IS BETTER THAN YOURS. MY BIKE IS BETTER THAN YOURS!" No joke, jokester.
  • No matter how warm you think you'll be, you'll be cold when you max out at an outrageous phatbike speed of 30mph... at 5AM. Seriously. 30MPH on a phatbike is FAST. And 30MPH on a Phatbike at 5AM is COLD. Sort of. BUT Coldness is a state of mind.
  • If you see a fat dude (not phat dude) decked out in spandex and neon colors, it's a high probability that the dude is riding gears and may even be wearing BPR socks. Just ask Prob-eee. 
    • If you happen to see Prob-eee out and about on his gears.... demand a SOCK Check! Cuz that dude feels like he's allowed to bend, I mean break, all The Team rules.
  • Once you realize that your commute is resulting in X / O miles per gallon, you may actually want to make a permanent lifestyle change.
    • A little math. X / 0 = Infinity. And that's a pretty good mpg rating.
    • Wanna buy my Jeep? $30k
  • If you show up at work early, you can leave early. But you still get pegged as the dude that doesn't work. Figure that one out.
Ok, you are bored and so am I. So some videos and pics

and if you actually watch this video - then you have WAY too much time on your hands!  JUST LIKE ME!

Phatbiking in(to) the Concrete Jungle from Judd Rohwer on Vimeo.
just some phat miles on the fat bike

just some fatbike routes in the concrete jungle

3:45 AM alarm, dude, dudette

if I hit snooze one to many times...
I drive to the top of the hill a few miles away
cuz early arrival to work means early departure from work

and remember, cold is cold, sometimes

and sometimes dark is dark

sometimes the sunsets are.... SO ROMANTIC

sometimes I carry special gear

and, at times, we do a bit of construction work... at the Back of the Pack 
... along with fatbike adventures
AND we successfully follow all OSHA regulations

because this is a cool song and a cool cover

and for your entertainment