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Minus 46

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Coldest day of the year

Well, thats what the radio said anyway. Joel and I thought it fitting to get out on the course.  I was underdressed.  When he left his office is was -13 F, -34 with wind chill.  When i got home the t.v. pegged it at -21/-41.  Needless to say, i wouldn't be disappointed if it only got warmer from here.....

We planned to do the run section but found slush under a foot of snow at the start of the river crossing, so thought we'd wait until we can check things out more thoroughy and tackled the ski section instead.  The trails hadn't been groomed in a bit and were but faint tracks through a few inches of new snow - slow going.  But we pressed on and found better track once we crossed lincoln drive and headed south from the park.  The off trail section was exciting - having been visited by only a handful of deer since the last few snows.  at times i was pushing through untracked fluffy snow that piled up to midshin - skis invisible to joel behind me.  Joel only had it slightly easier - because my skis were buried, i didn't really pack a trail - the snow filled in behind me to present a similar challenge for him.

we left a few orange flags out on the course - with the description below and a bit of common sense, you may just be able to pre-run the course at this time.  Enjoy!

Ski Course:  starting at the warming house and heading north along the back fence of the dog park, you loop around on the inside of lincoln drive, staying on the tracks that pass the orange flags (2 of them).  near the south side of the park, go off the trail at another flag (our tracks are there) and across the street, behind the big snow mountain to join the groomed trail heading south along the bike path.  follow that until past the pedestrian bridge, then look for another orange flag off to the left (well before the club house) head down a slight hill (again, our tracks are there) to follow a deer trail (the snow was quite deep today) back under the pedestrian bridge and then back further still towards lincoln park.  no flags here but it should be easy to follow our tracks. this is a nice part through the trees.  the trail turns left and climbs a little hill before a short section across the golf course leads back to the trail.  head back to lincoln park, same way you left, and then continuing the same direction you'd been heading when you left the trail to cross the road out of the park.  this trail takes you back to the trail you started on - you've finished the loop. about 3+ miles give or take.

On another matter - I was testing out a new 'goggle' option on the outing today - thin corneas due to eye surgery give me loads of trouble in the cold and wind.  Last year during the arrowhead135 bike race my goggles fogged and iced up early into the race and it took days for my eyes to heal afterwords, not to mention the pain i was in the last 7 hours of pedaling....  as i'm slated to race again this year (10 days away or so) i'm desperate to find a better solution.  I tried using a breathing tube to direct exhale away from my face, but this only slightly postponed the fogging and freezing.  So two nights ago i found an old pair of sunglasses that were misisng their 'arms' and drilled 5 3/16 inch holes through each lens.  My theory was that the glasses would fog and freeze but i'd still be able to see enough out of the holes, which would be small enough to afford decent protection against the wind and potential snow.  So far they seem to work fine - though their first serious biking test won't come until the weekend.  here's a little video of my creation.....

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Chelsey at the Abu Dhabi adventure challenge...

Great race video from the first day of the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge. If you look closely to the flurry of activity you can spot some Inov-8 shoes... Chelsey looks so innocent and harmless in her interview and skirt, but check out her ferocity once the race started. She is so intense at the transition areas.  

Happy New Year!

Hope the first few weeks of 2011 has been good to everyone!  Things here in Grand Forks are white and cold, just like expected!
 
[Note: The following paragraph was accurate at the time it was written, but the relationship between ENDracing and GUP has since changed--they are two distinct entities, but all profits from ENDracing still go to GUP at the end of the year.  2014-12-13]
 
The exciting news for us is that as of January 3rd, 2011, ENDracing is officially a trade name of the larger organization, GroundUP Adventures (GUP)- now a registered not for profit company in the state of North Dakota.  It's the first step in a long journey to develop (essentially from the 'ground up') a thriving adventure based activities hub for the upper great plains.  After finding our way through  the mound of paperwork required to receive federal recognition as a non-profit, we're hoping to get the ball rolling this spring and start looking for funding for some ambitious local projects, including a boat house for the Red River.  'Luckily', I'm now officially done with grad school (and thus unemployed) and able to devote my full 'professional' energies to ENDracing and GUP.  We've got a few great folks lending their talents to the cause but can always use more help (in particular on the accounting side of things) and local participation, so if you've got an interest in being involved, or just want to be kept in the loop, just shoot an email to me at groundupadventures@gmail.com.
 
On the ENDracing front - planning for the Iceman triathlon is in full swing.  We've got more sponsors on board -Swiftwick (custom armwarmers for all racers - seen in the picture to the left), SurlyIbexBlue Moose,SurefootInov-8 - and are amassing a huge prize pool not to be missed!  We'll once again have prizes for fastest male and female through each section, as well as the glacier awards - a little something special for those stalwart individuals who bring in the rear.  Early registration ends on Jan 31st, but register by the 27th of January to ensure that you get the custom armwarmers, as the production cycle for the top quality 200 thread count sleeves requires a bit of lead time.  Racers registering after the 27th (up until mid February) will still get regular armwarmers however.
 
We're planning to have the course maps up on the website, as scheduled, by the end of the month.  We'll also get out and lightly mark the course at that time (early february), and be hosting several course previews of the individual sections for those with a desire to pre-run the course.  Check out the facebook page and/or the ENDracing website for more details.
 
Finally, don't forget the other local events that serve as perfect training opportunities for the iceman - the Frozen Feat 5K and 10K and the Bikecicle Icebike race.  In fact, these are both on the same day (Feb. 13) so its the perfect brick training day!
 
See you in the snow -
Andy
ENDracing Team

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Training Games for the Mountain Bike

Jason here -
I'm not in North Dakota right now. And looking at the temperatures, I am pretty happy about it. But I know there are those of you out there trying to get ready for the Talus Iceman Triathlon, and I know that getting off the couch to train in bad conditions is hard to do. Case in point, it was freezing rain all day here in Bend Oregon. So I hung out this morning, waiting for the weather to break. I was due to do a big ride, but my normal training partner (and fiance) is in San Diego tasting gourmet cupcakes and shopping for a wedding dress. Wedding girly stuff aside, she is always motivated to go out in bad condition, but in her absence the good excused kept popping up.  I needed to catch up on my emails, I needed to catch up on my yoga, I needed to catch up on my showers (or lack thereof).  If the rain let up, I didn't notice, as I finally got absorbed in watching old training videos and logbooks from the past year.  Then I finished a short video project about a training day that took place in the desert - complete with cacti and perfect 75 degree temps.

So I figured I'd at least be productive in my laziness and share a bit.

Tips for training in bad conditions.

  • Just do it.  The longer you wait, the less likely it is that you will go
  • Don't look at the weather.  If you think it might be bad, avoid looking outside or checking the internet weather report.  Get dressed inside (overdress if necessary as you can always de-layer), and get into the workout as soon as you get outside.  The weather never seems so bad once you are into it, but it always seems worse from a warm, dry inside looking out.
  • Shorten you workout.  This is what I should have done today.  By mentally telling yourself that you'll just go for 45 minutes instead of the planned 3 hours you are more likely to actually start.  And once you start you will likely surprise yourself and go longer...and if not, at least you got out.
  • Get a training partner.  If your training partner is waffling, you get to look like the bad-ass by saying, "Oh it's not so bad, lets go anyway."  
On that topic, I've included three of my favorite games on the mountain bike.  Some adaptation may be necessary depending on where you are.   
  • Game 1:  Hungry Fox vs. Tasty Rabbit
Solo Version:  While riding, anytime you see another rider going the same way, you revert to your primordial animal instinct (the Fox) and the other rider unknowingly becomes your prey (the Rabbit).  Chase them down as fast as you can.  This is especially effective if you are on a fat tire bike and they are on a slick road machine.  If it is a tough chase be wary - sometimes you can inadvertantly get really into this.  More than once I have let out a bloodcurdling cry of triumph upon finally catching them.  Remember, you don't actually get to eat them, and probably would not want to.
Partner Version:  Choose who will be the rabbit, and who the fox.  Depending on the differing abilities of the riders give the rabbit anywhere from a 5 - 30 second head start.  Go for it.  The faster you catch them the better.  A successful "catch" is when the fox is less than a bike-length away from the rabbit for a few seconds.  Usually in this version if the rabbit can stay free for 3 minutes they win.  Great interval work.  
  • Game 2: Cactus Slalom
Requires that you are riding on a trail, the windier the better.  This game builds skill, speed and control.  Find a fairly fast (not too downhill) section of trail, between 1/4 mile and 1 mile long.  Ride it once or twice to get familiar with it.  Then ride it as fast as you can with the goal of coming as close as you can to the trails defining obstacles.  In Tucson, these are cacti with very sharp needles, so the game gets exciting.  Depending on that defines the trail edges, you may want to "brush the gates" like the do in slalom skiing.  Obviously big trees, rocks, and other hard objects should be given a little more care and space.
  • Game 3: Riding Blind
This one is harder to plan for, but great if you are in the right place at the right time.  In the hour before the sun sets, try finding a trail that heads more or less straight toward it.  A TRAIL please, not a ROAD. Wearing sunglasses is a great idea, as it protects your eyes, and actually increases the contrast and therefore difficulty.  The varying terrain surrounding the trail will create sections of dark shadow and bright sunshine.  If you are riding with speed, it is often hard for the eyes to react fast enough, which creates moments where it almost feels like the trail disappears.  You end up riding for a moment or two from memory, and allowing your bike to truly absorb the trail.  As you get more trusting and in tune with your machine, you can take this faster and faster.  
Here is the video of these three in sequence during that beautiful day in Arizona....

Winter Biking 101 - the basics

So you want to do the Iceman but you're a but you're not sure about the bike leg.  Well, you're not alone.  As those folks who bike year round in any northern city that receives appreciable snowfall can attest to, most people seem to think it's pretty nuts.  I'm here to assure you that it's really not.  In truth, other than the lower temperatures, there are fewer differences than you might think.  The tips below will get you riding through the white stuff on two wheels in no time.

One of those big tires

1) Traction.  Traction on snow is varies widely.  While riding across an ice rink would typically require special studded tires to avoid catastrophe, most surfaces you'll be riding on in the winter (and in particular during the iceman triathlon) will be easily navigable using standard knobby mountain bike tires.  The trick is simply to lower the pressure on the tires (somewhere between 10-15 psi - or until they seem pretty low) so that more of the tire is in contact with the ground.  This has the dual purpose of increasing friction on packed snow and/or ice and giving you a bigger footprint on looser snow (i.e. groomed snowmobile trails).

2)  Corners.  Once you stop worrying about slipping while riding, you'll likely fine that going straight on your bike in the winter is just like going straight in the summer.  Cornering, especially if you're using standard tires, is another matter.  Until you get the hang of things, slow down at the corners.  Coming into a corner with speed requires you to lean significantly to negotiate it, which may cause your tires to slip out.  Slow down so you can steer more with the handlebars and remain more upright on your bike.  As you learn to read the various surface conditions you'll become a better judge of when this caution is necessary.

the wrong way to stop

3).  Stopping.  Often in the winter you're riding much slower than in the summer and so stopping is quite easy.  However there may be times (like during the race) when you're still moving quite quickly.  While stopping on packed snow or loose snow is very easy, stopping on ice or the packed glaze that you find near some intersections is not.  When in these situations, bike like you drive - slow down well in advance, and remember that if you brake on ice, you'll simply slide.

Awesome

4).  Trails.  Riding on groomed snow mobile trails is awesome - but taxing (unless you've got one of those nice snow bikes with the 4 inch wide tires....).  It is possible however, at least in most conditions, to  ride these trails with a standard mt. bike tire.  As mentioned above, low tire pressure will help dramatically.  In addition, it is important to try to keep a smooth cadence and a constant momentum.  the moment you try to stand up and mash on the pedals  (the way you might do in the summer) to go faster, the back tire is more likely to spin quickly in place and dig itself a nice little trough to rest in.  My best advice is to get out there and practice.

5).  Balance.  If you're nervous about falling over, make sure you ride with flat pedals and lower your seat a bit while you're getting the hang of it.  Being closer to the ground will enable you to use your feet to keep from falling if the bike starts getting squirrelly as you push through a slippery section.  Once you gain confidence, you'll be surprised what you can ride through!

6)  Core temperature.  Yes, it's cold outside - but if you plan well, you don't have to be cold when you're riding.  Your core will actually heat up very quickly if you're managing any sort of a pace, so avoid the temptation to overdress.  I'll usually wear a thermal/base layer on top and bottom beneath a light wind proof layer.  It is best to keep the wind layers as snug as possible.  You will sweat (so no cotton on the base layer!) and a baggy outer layer will let that moisture accumulate further from the warmth of the body where it will freeze and you'll end up with a layer of ice INSIDE your jacket.

Pogies - an alternative to mittens

7) Hands and Feet.  This is where you need to pay special attention.  Unlike when you're running pounding the blood into your feet and swinging your arms, when you're biking your hands are static (and gripping something which lessens blood flow) and your feet are being robbed of heat more effectively because of the greater apparent wind.  A big warm winter pair of boots will suffice (though it's heavy and there are more elegant options) and heavy, insulated windproof mittens are a must for most days.  Layering is fine to achieve warmth for both hands and feet, but make sure nothing is too tight - your feet will be much warmer if the boots are slightly too big than if they are too small.

8) Head.  Your head is your best option for regulating your body temperature.  I try never to go riding  any significant distance without the gear to totally cover my head, face, and neck.  I typically start out fully ensconced with hat, goggles, and face mask and then intermittently pull down the face mask or lift the goggles to cool off.  Whether you believe or not that more heat is lost through your head than other parts of the body (quite a debate about this, believe it or not), headgear remains the most effective way to cool off or warm up without getting off the bike.

Now get out there and start riding!  And check out the facebook page regularly for information about some expert led group rides leading up to the Iceman where you can get more first hand knowledge from those crazy folks that bike 365 days out of the year.  And if your one of those folks - lets have your comments and tips as well!

Winter Biking 101 - the basics

So you want to do the Iceman but you're a but you're not sure about the bike leg.  Well, you're not alone.  As those folks who bike year round in any northern city that receives appreciable snowfall can attest to, most people seem to think it's pretty nuts.  I'm here to assure you that it's really not.  In truth, other than the lower temperatures, there are fewer differences than you might think.  The tips below will get you riding through the white stuff on two wheels in no time.

1) Traction.  Traction on snow is varies widely.  While riding across an ice rink would typically require special studded tires to avoid catastrophe, most surfaces you'll be riding on in the winter (and in particular during the iceman triathlon) will be easily navigable using standard knobby mountain bike tires.  The trick is simply to lower the pressure on the tires (somewhere between 10-15 psi - or until they seem pretty low) so that more of the tire is in contact with the ground.  This has the dual purpose of increasing friction on packed snow and/or ice and giving you a bigger footprint on looser snow (i.e. groomed snowmobile trails).

2)  Corners.  Once you stop worrying about slipping while riding, you'll likely fine that going straight on your bike in the winter is just like going straight in the summer.  Cornering, especially if you're using standard tires, is another matter.  Until you get the hang of things, slow down at the corners.  Coming into a corner with speed requires you to lean significantly to negotiate it, which may cause your tires to slip out.  Slow down so you can steer more with the handlebars and remain more upright on your bike.  As you learn to read the various surface conditions you'll become a better judge of when this caution is necessary.

3).  Stopping.  Often in the winter you're riding much slower than in the summer and so stopping is quite easy.  However there may be times (like during the race) when you're still moving quite quickly.  While stopping on packed snow or loose snow is very easy, stopping on ice or the packed glaze that you find near some intersections is not.  When in these situations, bike like you drive - slow down well in advance, and remember that if you brake on ice, you'll simply slide.

4).  Trails.  Riding on groomed snow mobile trails is awesome - but taxing (unless you've got one of those nice snow bikes with the 4 inch wide tires....).  It is possible however, at least in most conditions, to  ride these trails with a standard mt. bike tire.  As mentioned above, low tire pressure will help dramatically.  In addition, it is important to try to keep a smooth cadence and a constant momentum.  the moment you try to stand up and mash on the pedals  (the way you might do in the summer) to go faster, the back tire is more likely to spin quickly in place and dig itself a nice little trough to rest in.  My best advice is to get out there and practice.

5).  Balance.  If you're nervous about falling over, make sure you ride with flat pedals and lower your seat a bit while you're getting the hang of it.  Being closer to the ground will enable you to use your feet to keep from falling if the bike starts getting squirrelly as you push through a slippery section.  Once you gain confidence, you'll be surprised what you can ride through!

6)  Core temperature.  Yes, it's cold outside - but if you plan well, you don't have to be cold when you're riding.  Your core will actually heat up very quickly if you're managing any sort of a pace, so avoid the temptation to overdress.  I'll usually wear a thermal/base layer on top and bottom beneath a light wind proof layer.  It is best to keep the wind layers as snug as possible.  You will sweat (so no cotton on the base layer!) and a baggy outer layer will let that moisture accumulate further from the warmth of the body where it will freeze and you'll end up with a layer of ice INSIDE your jacket.

7) Hand and Feet.  This is where you need to pay special attention.  Unlike when you're running pounding the blood into your feet and swinging your arms, when you're biking your hands are static (and gripping something which lessens blood flow) and your feet are being robbed of heat more effectively because of the greater apparent wind.  A big warm winter pair of boots will suffice (though it's heavy and there are more elegant options) and heavy, insulated windproof mittens are a must for most days.  Layering is fine to achieve warmth for both hands and feet, but make sure nothing is too tight - your feet will be much warmer if the boots are slightly too big than if they are too small.

8) Head.  Your head is your best option for regulating your body temperature.  I try never to go riding  any significant distance without the gear to totally cover my head, face, and neck.  I typically start out fully ensconced with hat, goggles, and face mask and then intermittently pull down the face mask or lift the goggles to cool off.  Whether you believe or not that more heat is lost through your head than other parts of the body (quite a debate about this, believe it or not), headgear remains the most effective way to cool off or warm up without getting off the bike.

Now get out there and start riding!  And check out the facebook page regularly for information about some expert led group rides leading up to the Iceman where you can get more first hand knowledge from those crazy folks that bike 365 days out of the year.  And if your one of those folks - lets have your comments and tips as well!

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