The Fat Bike Frozen Forty was the first time I really contemplated pulling the plug mid race and reporting a DNF. But, I decided to hang in there and finish things up. I went down a couple times and a few other moments of bouncing my bars or shoulder off a tree that kept things interesting. I tweaked my knee a bit and as I type this up the day after, the knee is definitely tight and going to need a couple days before I do much with it. Hopefully all is well by next weekend for the 906 Polar Roll. The Fat Bike Frozen Forty was also my first winter race of any relative distance and longest day out on my fat bike.
When I jumped in my car around 6:30 in the morning to head to the race, my car said it was -15º F. I was hoping my car was wrong as I didn’t think I prepared for these temperatures. Things warmed up a little before the race, but my Garmin shows -9º F at the beginning of the race. The temperature would rise throughout the day and my Garmin would show 10º F by the time I crossed the finish line.
The Fat Bike Frozen Forty Race
Fat Bike Frozen Forty – Lap 1
I had a decent start and found myself hitting the trail in a position and pace that felt comfortable for me. My legs felt a little heavy in the rollout, but I think they were just cold and needed to warm up. I felt fairly comfortable on the single track, riding in line with other riders and trying to keep my space to the person in front of me without holding anybody up behind me at the same time. I went down on my right side after sliding out on some ice in the first prairie section and that is when things seemed to start coming apart for me. I got back up fairly quick and only lost one spot as the the field was starting to spread out a little bit.
I can’t remember exactly when and where, but there were a few other times where I had to shoulder a tree or my handlebar would tap off a tree. I was feeling a bit unstable and was starting to get fairly cautious. At the same time, my hands were getting cold and I was struggling with a frozen hydration hose. For some reason, I couldn’t get the water all blown back out of the hose after drinking. I stopped a few times to mess with my gloves and hydration pack losing spots in traffic each time. I knew I had another 4 hours out on the trail and wanted to get my gear issues sorted out.
Fat Bike Frozen Forty – Lap 2 & Lap 3
I pulled off in the pit area to see what I could do about my water hose to find out it was well frozen up, even though it was stuffed in my outer layer. I stuffed my hydration hose down the front of my base layer, took a shot from my water/gel mixture out of my gel flask and then took another gel before getting back on the trail.
Lap 2 and 3 was a mix of just about everything. I would ride fast at times, pushing myself and then back off again. I had a pain building up in my right knee, that I have to assume came from possibly twisting or banging it on the ice when I dropped on my right side in Lap 1. I would push hard for awhile, then the pain would start to build up and I would back off again. Some of the single track was really grippy, but there were other parts that were starting to get real slick.
I was able to get my hydration hose thawed and drank for a little and then had to stop again to stuff the hose away. It would freeze up within a couple minutes of sitting outside my base layer. At some point, I changed the game plan and just decided to “Just Ride Along” and get a good temp endurance ride in. If I wasn’t racing Frozen Forty, I would have been out for a long ride anyways. I stopped at the end of Lap 2 and actually went to my car to get some water and then finished my gel flask before heading back out again. I also noticed my face mask was well frozen up and probably should have swapped it out, but didn’t.
Lap 3 was more of the same of Lap 2, but probably my worst feeling lap. The knee pain would build up faster and I was getting cold again from dialing back the pace. The soreness and pain from my knee eventually moved up and I could feel a soreness moving up through my back and shoulders. This is when I was contemplating pulling out at the end of Lap 3. I plan to do the 906 Polar Roll, Fat Bike Birkie and then True Grit 100 all in the next 4 weeks and didn’t want to jeopardize participating in the next 3 races and I knew I was far off my goals for the Fat Bike Frozen Forty. My attitude really went to crap for a little bit as I was getting pretty cold and body was sore, but I eventually pulled it back together before finishing Lap 3.
Fat Bike Frozen Forty – Lap 4
I pulled off to my car to grab some water and took down another gel. I swapped out my face mask for a different one, changed my toe warmers, added some hand warmers to my gloves and then hopped back on my bike. This stop took me a little bit, but I headed back out on the trail with a better attitude. I hit the single track feeling pretty good and was making decent time. I actually made up a handful of places on the last lap even though I still had to stop a couple times to adjust my face mask or move my hand warmers.
It was all going great until I hit the ice on that bermed uphill right hander in the prairie, a couple miles from the finish. I went down hard, bruising my hip and banging my knee and shoulder. I got up knowing I was almost done, shook it off and soft pedaled my way to the finish while having some trouble shifting to later find a bent derailer hanger. I crossed the finish line of the Frozen 40 in 5 hours and 6 minutes.
Fat Bike Frozen Forty Post Race Thoughts
This was definitely far off my goal for the Fat Bike Frozen Forty, but I have learned that few races are going to go exactly to plan. At the end of the day, I got to put some good mileage in and learn more about my winter gear and hopefully improved my bike handling skills as I skated around on the ice. It was a great event and a very unique fat bike race. Not many fat bike races are all single track and this was 40+ miles of single track on a fat bike. Not that many people ride 40+ miles in the summer, so I feel pretty good about finishing this on my Fat Bike in the winter.
Keep reading below for my gear review / updates and my Lap 1 You Tube video.
Gear Updates From Fat Bike Frozen Forty
Gloves / Pogies
The Bar Mitts are handy and I used them to drop hand warmers in that I could pull in and out of my glove depending on how my hands were feeling. The S/M size are still a little restrictive though and wishing I had the large ones. I think the S/M are perfect for the 25º to 40º F weather with thin gloves. With thin gloves they are not too restrictive. They worked out pretty well at the Cuyuna Whiteout.
Boots / Socks
I like my Lake 303s and have enough room in them to put one of those stick on toe warmers. My toe warmers did freeze up in the third lap though and my feet started to get cold. I think my feet actually got a little sweaty on the first lap when I was riding harder and then everything started to get cold once I slowed down on Lap 3.
I need to do something different here. I am currently using a face mask made for snowmobile helmets, but it just isn’t tight enough to my face, trapping my breath to much and completely freezing up. My back up face mask is neoprene and is actually pretty decent on the front of my face, but I absolutely hate the velcro attachment on the back and it is horribly uncomfortable on the back of my neck and head. I am going to need to work on this. I’ve held off on some of my winter gear, as I wanted to get some races in to better understand what I needed.
My Rudy Project Klonyx goggles are great. I am pretty amazed at how warm they keep my face, yet are vented enough to not fog up or make my face sweat. I am real happy with these. I did lose my nose cover piece somewhere, but I think I can get a replacement.
I wore Showers Pass Skyline pants today since I don’t have any thermal tights. I had been wearing my summer shorts with leg warmers, but I knew today was going to be too cold and needed something more. They worked out great for the temperature, but did tend to slide down and I would have to pull them back up occasionally.
I am a bit tossed up on hydration for these extreme cold races. I know people that carried a water bottle in their bibs or jersey and maybe that is the way to go. I had stuck toe warmers to the inside of mine and that seemed to keep the bladder and hose from freezing in the pack, but any part that was sticking outside would freeze up immediately. I could wear the hydration pack all the way under my base layer, I just haven’t figured out how to handle the hose yet without stopping to make sure it is stuffed back in my base layer. It wasn’t enough for it to just be under my outer layer. More to come on this one I guess.
Studded tires are definitely going on my Christmas list for next year. Not sure if I will purchase pre-studded tires yet or stud my own, but this is 2 weekends in a row that I wish I had studded tires not to mention any general fun trail riding that would make them handy. I am getting older and it is starting to hurt more when I crash.
Frozen Forty – www.frozen-events.com
Frozen Forty Results – https://results.chronotrack.com/event/results/event/event-18999?lc=en
Great Lakes Fat Bike Series – www.greatlakesfatbikeseries.com
Penn Cycle – www.penncycle.com
Support / Sponsors
Honey Stinger – www.honeystinger.com
I used a packet of the Energy Protein Chews about 45 minutes before the race and a gel just before going to the start line. During the race, I used 4 Organic Mango Gels that were mixed with just a little bit of water in a gel flask and then 2 Organic Strawberry Caffeinated Gels on there own between laps.
Rudy Project – www.e-rudy.com/en
I used my Windmax Helmet, Klonyx Goggles and Rudy Project Bibs.
Ogio – www.ogio.com
I used my new Ogio Erzberg pack. It fits well, but I do need to workout the cold weather issues.