A Petite Retreat: Bike Getaway

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As we head into fall, the leaves begin to change and the air starts to acquire a coolness to it, and there seems to me no better way to spend the day than in the saddle. But why not take that up a notch and spend a whole weekend on the bike relaxing with friends, family, or a loved one in a mini-vacation before school starts, the work days get long, and the weather turns south?

Why not?

That is exactly what I thought when I started planning my own petite bicycle retreat with my mom this past month.

Now you may be thinking that a mini vacation would be more of a hassle than it is worth, but a petite retreat doesn’t have to be too expensive or too time consuming to plan. In fact, it can be rather simple, easy, and fun!

Here are a few tips that I learned from planning my own petite retreat:

1. You don’t have to travel too far.

With many cities beginning to adapt their town to include more bike paths and bike friendly layouts a weekend bike getaway can be a fun way to explore nearby areas, a change of scenery, new food, and local shops, without spending too much money on traveling expenses.

The city I planned on going to, Dubuque, Iowa, intrigued me because of its historical background, closeness to the Mississippi River, and its interesting bike paths of course!

A simple Google search of either the best cities for a vacation or bike routes in your state or surrounding region can help you narrow down your options too.

2. Stay the night or plan for a day.

Staying a night or two and making it a whole weekend trip would make your mini-vacation actually feel like a true getaway, and with new online apps for cheaper hotel pricing you can keep it rather affordable (after all you just need a place to clean up and lay your head at night since there is so much to do!).

If you can’t stay the night you can still make it a full day by simply packing a change of clothes and something to freshen up with, so that after your ride you can explore the town.

3. Do a bit of research.

The Fenelon Elevator

The Fenelon Elevator

Since you only have the weekend, make sure to check out the town you are going to before you go. This way you will already know what trails are offered, the distance of each of them, and you can plan which you want to ride.

You can also check out what else the town has to offer before you go;  you can then make sure to see and do the highlights off your list. (Especially research the food, you can never go wrong with a highly-rated, local restaurant and after your bike ride you are going to be hungry!)

4. Pack what you already have.

Now in my case I felt it was necessary to get my mom some bike shorts, anyone who has experienced long distance biking with and without these wonderful padded shorts would know why, but really you don’t need to buy too much when heading out on your petite retreat (unless of course you don’t already have a bike… that could be an issue).

The trick is to use what you have and make it work.

If like us your bike rack isn’t on the vehicle you are taking or you don’t have one, you can simply remove the front tire and lay blankets between the bikes to prevent scratching. (This may require more maneuvering, but where there is a will…)

As far as clothing goes, wear what you normally wear when you bike, unless of course you see this as a good excuse to get that new kit you have been looking at all Summer (Not that I did that or anything… but there were owls on it and it supported breast cancer. How could I say no?).

5. Buy what you will need.

IMG_0555There are somethings that you may just need to buy if you don’t have them already.

I suggest first and foremost having some form of a water bottle to rehydrate you. If you haven’t experienced it, I cannot even begin to explain how awful dehydration can be and how quickly that can set in without you realizing it when you are biking.

I also would highly suggest bringing tools for your tires in case you should need to fix a flat. We are bringing a patch kit, a spare tire, and a frame pump, because I am not taking any chances!

You may also need snacks, sunscreen, or other items depending on where you are riding, how far you are going, and what your individual needs are. Check out our article Top Ten: Energizing Snacks for Those “Longer” Rides for a few snack tips.

So like a Boy Scout; be prepared!

6. Ready the bike!

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Our attempt at a Sefie!

Finally, make sure that your bike is in good condition before you take it out on any ride. The tires should be inflated at the appropriate psi for the type of bike it is and be sure your brakes are in good working order.  Having a bike that is tuned up for your ride makes all the difference between a nice relaxing and enjoyable experience and one that is not so great, so don’t neglect to check!

With that, get out, explore your surrounding areas, relax a little, enjoy the September weather, HAVE FUN, and ride!

-Samantha C

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Top Ten: Energizing Snacks for Those “Longer” Rides

20140820_190742**If you stick around to the end of this article you are in for a Schwinn Social Secret**

There is no way around it, when you are working hard and extending the distance of your bike ride you are going to need to refuel. Proper nutrition and healthy snacks  are the key to maintaining energy during and after your long bicycle rides.

Not all snacks are made the same though. A proper snack for a cyclist should be simple and easy to carry with you and eat by bike, should serve to refuel you with the proper carbohydrates and nutrients your body needs, and should be able to make it longer than 5 minutes in the heat or in a cramped location like your jersey pocket or draw string bag.

Some people recommend eating and having a sip or two of water every 15, 20, or 30 minutes, but that just means you should do what feels right for you!

The following are ten of our favorite items to pack for those longer rides.

1. Bananas – A banana is the super food for every person who works out! As most people know bananas are chalk full of potassium, but they are also full of easily digestible carbohydrates. This combination is a one to punch for nerve function, muscle function, reducing muscle cramps and quick releasing fuel.

The best time to eat a banana would be right before your or early on in the ride in order to maximize on the fruits power supply.

2. Nut Butter – Peanut butter, almond butter,  sunflower butter, you name it! The muscle building protein of a nut butter combined with the carbs from the banana or next two items on our list will help keep you at a nice balance between energizing carbs and the healthy fats and proteins of the nut butter. Nut butters can help to slow the release of the carbohydrate you pair it with, but try to keep it as natural and unprocessed as possible to optimize its effect. One our favorite natural butters is the Cranberry Coconut Peanut Butter from YumButter located in our home town Madison WI. Check them out! http://yumbutter.com/

nutsAlmond butters also offer an added bonus of iron and calcium, so if you haven’t tried it yet, give it a go!

Nut butters work best when paired with carbohydrates, but make sure you don’t overdo it. Nut butters are calorie dense so a little goes a long way!

3. Apple (with peanut butter) – For those who don’t like bananas, or are looking for something to put their peanut butter on an apple is the perfect fit. The apple may contain a sugar, but it also has filling fibers that slow the release of those sugars into the bloodstream for sustained energy. Plus it has antioxidants to fight off some of those free radicals!

The best time to crunch into this tasty snack is before or after a long ride when you have a little more time to enjoy this sweet treat.

4. Whole Grain Bagel – These portable morning carb loaded wonders are an excellent way to get your energy back up after a ride. Once again they are best when paired with a nut butter or even some lean meat for the added protein to carb balance.

Since whole grains take a bit longer to digest it is best to eat your bagel a half an hour before you go out or take your bagel with you for an end of the ride snack.

trail mix5. Trail Mix – Trail mix offers an easy and portable snack with a mix of dried fruits full and nuts packed with protein, carbohydrates, and good fats.

While trail mix can be a good option for those looking to gain a bit of muscle it also must be stressed that not all trail mixes are created equally so keep an eye out for mixes laden with candy and once again a little goes a long way. Nuts and dried fruit are extremely calorie dense so if you are looking to lose a little weight you may want to measure out a serving before diving in.

20140820_1904036. Energy bars – Energy bars such as Cliff, LUNA, Powerbar, and more offer a quick and easy way to fuel up on a lot of carbs and protein, and other necessary nutrients.

Always look at the package label to see how much sugar, protein and carbohydrates are actually in your energy or protein bar. Does it have at least 15 grams of protein? Keep in mind that an average adult is only recommended to have 25 grams of sugar a day some energy bars meet or exceed that number in one serving.

7. Sports Drink – One of the timeless questions for people who live an active lifestyle is whether water or a sports drink is the best option for those longer workout days. The fact of the matter is when we sweat and water is release from our body things such as sodium potassium and other electrolytes leave with it. Therefore it makes perfect sense to replace what was lost with a sports drink which offers the additional benefits that water cannot.

Remember whether you drink water or a sports drink it is important to keep hydrated before, during, and after a workout!

20140820_1904248. Energy Gels – Energy gels really fit into the same category as energy bars in my book and are something I would personally leave for the most intense or lengthy rides you have. Energy gels are meant to replace the glycogen that you use and can deplete in extra intense or long workouts while giving you a little extra boost of energy.

While you may receive that boost in energy mentally you may still run into basic muscle fatigue and soreness. Therefore these energy gels are really something that needs to be tried out on an individual basis to see if they work for you, when they will benefit you most during your workout, or if they are the best method to reenergize during your ride.

9. Granola – Granola bars or cereal mixed with some low-fat protein dense yogurt are especially great choices for after the ride. Granola offers protein, carbs and healthy fats to reenergize you and when paired with a yogurt the balance that we have seen before of carbohydrates to protein ratio will keep you moving for the rest of the day.

Check out the recipe at the end of this article for my go to post work out low calorie, nutrient dense snack.

10. Coffee – As a college once said to me, “nothing beats a cup of Joe after a long workout”. Which is why coffee made our list at number ten. While coffee may not seem like the most natural of choices coffee can serve a dual purpose of easing back into the day and catching up with a cycling buddy after a long and relaxing morning ride.

Do you have any go to snacks that we missed? Comment below and lets us know how you stay fueled on those longer bicycle rides!

 

Sam’s Post Workout Snack

This is one of my favorite post workout snacks because it is chalk full of protein, has potassium from the banana, some healthy fats, and a good dose of carbohydrates to keep me going.

Ingredients 

1 Dannon’s Vanilla Greek Yogurt (12 grams of protein!)

1/8 cup of oats

1/2 Banana sliced

1 Tsp of Peanut Butter

A sprinkling of granola

Directions

Put the yogurt into a cereal bowl and mix in approximately 1/8 cup of whole oats and 1 tsp of peanut butter into the yogurt. Top with one half of a sliced banana and a sprinkling of granola for an added crunch.

Total Protein: Aprox 25 grams

Calories: Aprox 250

20140820_185217**As promised if you made it to the end of the article I would let you in on a Schwinn social secret. If you liked the Schwinn drawstring bag featured in some of the images seen throughout this post and think that you could make something just as cool if not better than get ready to step it up! In September Schwinn will be hosting a design contest for all of our fans to create a new design for our next Schwinn bag.

The top 5 designs will be awarded prizes with the Grand Prize winner, decided by our fans, receiving a Schwinn bicycle of their choosing on Schwinn Shop Now!

So get your design on and keep an eye out for the official announcement coming soon!

Get out and Ride!

Samantha C.

Cycling “Firsts”: What You Didn’t Expect When You Signed Up For This

Now that I have been riding regularly for a couple a weeks I thought it might be both fun and educational to share some of my top “first experiences” while riding.  These “firsts” would be experiences that I really hadn’t prepared for mentally or physically, didn’t really EVER think about, and once they happened I was like “wow, did that really just happen, deep breath, okay I’m good?!?”

Me with a squirrel... on my shoulder.

Me with a squirrel… on my shoulder.

Animals as obstacles. Yes, that is what I said…It was probably my 4th ride out on my new bike, and I was with a couple friends. We were riding along at a nice pace on a bike path in Madison, WI. The stretch of path was flanked on either side with tall grasses and trees. Out of no-where came a critter. It was actually kind of the like the game Frogger…with it scrambling and dodging in between all three of our tires. I, however, couldn’t do much to avoid dinging it slightly. Thankfully for my piece of mind and its well-being it was able to run off. Fingers crossed no permanent injuries occurred. This my friends was an entirely new experience for me, and one that shook me up a bit for the next several miles. You see I kind of LOVE animals; all animals even squirrels.  I couldn’t image being the cause of pain to one.  Since then I have had a few near misses, but I must say I am more on guard now to the possibility of animals crossing my path.

Mud slides. So I did a ride, again with friends, the morning after a night of non-stop rainfall. Again we were on a paved bike path, but this time it was in the open along a highway. The path was new and a section was covered with mud that had washed from the either side of the path and settled on the pavement. My friend, who was on a mountain bike, hit the mud first. She proceeds to scream out a warning. I was approximately six feet behind her and coming in fast. Too late to really affect the rate at which I hit the mud. Now this was not just a little mud. I am talking an inch and half or so of pudding like mud on a newly paved surface. For those of you haven’t experienced this…as soon as my front tire hit the mud it was like riding on an oil slick. I managed to maintain my balance, coming into the mud about 10 inches from the edge of the path, which had a grassy surface on the side. Call it skill, or luck; I prefer skill, but I was able to guide myself and my bike to the grass after sliding about 3 feet and not taking down my bike. Oh, and did I mention, I had another friend coming in hot right behind me? In the end, we all made it without falling, but man it was close. Just had to do some hosing off of the bikes when we got done with the ride.

Sore bum. After my first two long rides (15+ miles each) wearing only regular athletic shorts, I knew I was in trouble. Yes. My sit bones were screaming at me every time I sat in a chair. As I was sharing the details with a colleague, they asked if I was wearing padded bike shorts. Um no! Padded bike shorts are sheer perfection for the cyclist. Lesson learned big time, and number one priority for me now that I ride!

So those are my top three so far, but I thought it would be fun to also ask some other friends at Schwinn about their first experiences riding too.  Here are a few more firsts:

My first time forgetting to unclip at a stop sign. “I was still new to clipless pedals. But, it wasn’t my first time riding with them. I had been using them for a couple of weeks. Many can relate to this so the story may sound familiar. Luckily I was riding alone saving me from the embarrassment of an audience witnessing what I’m convinced was the slowest fall physically possible. Maybe it was the summer solstice, and gravity just wasn’t as strong as usual. I can’t say for sure. But, I slowly came to a stop at a stop sign forgetting that I was clipped in only realizing it when I casually tried to lift my foot straight up off the pedal as I was already starting to lean. Panic set in so instead of calmly twisting my foot to pop free from the pedal I spent the next couple of seconds (which felt like minutes) flinching and flopping around trying to free myself as the bike and I slowly tipped closer and closer to the pavement until `thud’ like a tree falling in the woods. But, when a Steve falls on his road bike and no one is around to hear him, he still makes noise. Son of a B@$#! D*&% It!  It happens to everyone, and it’s nothing to be afraid of. In the end, the only thing that hurt was my pride a little bit.” (Steve)

Don't even ask how...

Don’t even ask how…

Temporary tattoos. Starting out biking, and ok, even now, I have had issues with getting chain grease marks all over my self. The secret to removal… a little Dawn dish soap! (Sam)

King of the Hill. “I remember my first invitation to ride some singletrack. I had no idea what that was and needless to say with my one bike, a mountain bike that wasn’t what you would call `trail worthy’ I was quite out of my league! To read the full story about Mikes Rite of Passage into Mountain Biking, check back this Thursday!” (Mike)

Conquering the mountain!

Conquering the mountain!

I love that part of riding is the adventure.  Each ride is truly memorable in it’s own right. Please go ahead and share your first experiences cycling with our community.  We want to hear from you.  And check back because I and my friends will have plenty more firsts to share this Summer!

Get out and ride!

Milissa

 

 

Fast and Furious: Finding the Perfect Bike

Now that I committed to riding, the next step was finding the perfect bike.  Knowing that my intentions were to ride at least three to four times a week, about 10 miles a ride, I immediately gravitated toward a road bike.

Schwinn makes an excellent women’s road bike, so I decided to get the Fastback 3.  It is a women’s specific bike, and based on my size, 5’2”, I knew I would need a small version.  The frame is lightweight aluminum, so I could also easily load and unload it from my vehicle.

The 24-speeds would allow me to easily change/adjust the intensities of my workout (be all Fast and Furious and stuff), but let’s be real, they also provide for a much needed reprieve when I am doing hills or other more challenging terrain.

The saddle is also specifically designed for women to provide comfort on those longer rides that I would build up to.

And did I mention I dig the colors and graphics package…you had me at lime.  Check it out:IMG_20140616_143438_018-1

So I went ahead and ordered the bike.  Within a few days it arrived and was set up.  One of my co-workers Ben assisted in building it out for me.  Check out this step by step photo slideshow we did of Ben setting up the Fastback 3 below.

He also helped with fitting to me.  This is an important part of the cycling set up process. You want to make sure your seat is at the right height, your bars are adjusted, and of course you have the right amount of air in the tires.  Ben suggested that I want to keep 90 psi in the front tire and 100 psi in the back tire.  He also said to check them after every couple of rides to keep me riding smoothly.

milissa surpriseHe was great about replacing my clip-in pedals, with regular sport bike pedals.  Clipping-in is a goal I will work up to and one that this lady was not about to do on her first voyage out.  Call it intimidation; I just say it is smart.  I want to get a feel for my bike—get comfortable with different riding conditions/experiences—and then I will start clipping-in.  Watch for a future post on clipping-in!

This picture about sums up my excitement for this bike.  I felt like I was a child again and it was late December.  Man am I stoked!!!

Let’s Ride!

Milissa

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Biking for Fitness: A 40-something Woman’s Journey

As a relatively new employee at Schwinn – I just celebrated my one year anniversary, I have decided to embark on a new journey with biking.  Since a child, my bicycling has consisted of casual riding with friends, my family, and the occasional ride at work with colleagues for a company outing.  I must say I love my Schwinn Cream (see pic below).  It is a fabulously, smooth-riding, classically-pretty bicycle with a basket, bell, and rack.

Me posing next to my Schwinn Cream

However, I have been inspired to try cycling this Summer for fitness. I have read that bicycling can be a great workout for my entire body and  I have been looking to develop better muscle tone in my legs, trim my waistline and increase my cardio heath.  Biking just made sense to me at this time in my life and career.

I am so committed to this journey that I have also agreed to blog about my experience as a novice over the course of the next few months.  I hope you enjoy the ride; perhaps you will also feel inspired and decide to join me!  We would love to hear about your journey too.

In preparation for this new adventure, I thought I would make use of the vast knowledge of my colleagues and interview one of my team members that I know bikes for fitness—Dave Duecker, Schwinn Brand Director.  Dave has been cycling his entire life; and has used bicycling as a way to maintain his health.  He has participated in many cycling events over the years, including the impressive Iron Man competition.  The following interview with Dave took place as I prepared to start my journey.

Milissa: How did you begin your journey with bicycling for fitness and why?

Dave: I was always fairly active with cycling growing up and all throughout school.  I have a history of heart disease in my family and cycling is a great way for me to stay fit.

10329199_642165735872697_7427979180040045537_nMilissa: What are the major health benefits of biking besides getting toned and reducing stress (two of the reasons why I am starting)?

Dave: Cycling will help improve your overall cardiovascular fitness, and there are studies out there that cite that cycling can help decrease the risk of coronary heart disease.  I think more importantly it is a great low-impact mode of exercise.   For anyone who has joint conditions or injuries in their legs or hips, which might keep them from being active; cycling is one of the best options to stay fit and active.

Milissa: What do you recommend as a cycling regimen for someone who is easing into biking like me?

Dave: I think the most important thing is to enjoy and embrace the total experience.  Just get out and ride and take in everything that nature has to offer.  Don’t be intimidated by spandex and shaved legs!  Don’t put pressure on yourself to finish in a time or maintain a certain speed.  Start slow, cycling uses different muscles than a lot of other type of exercises and it may take time for your body to get used to this type of activity.  That being said, make sure you have the proper equipment.

Milissa: What type of bike and equipment would you recommend; what items can you not live without on your bike?

Dave: Obviously you need a bike and the Schwinn Fastback if a great option!  However, any bike will do, just make sure it has been properly maintained, that the tires are inflated, the saddle is adjusted to the proper height, etc.  The most important thing is to have a helmet and it must pass CPSC and fit properly.   There are no exceptions on this one – you must wear a helmet!  You should also carry basic equipment like a bike repair kit and learn basic bike maintenance, such as how to change a tire, how to put your chain back on, and how to adjust your saddle.

Milissa: How can I expect to feel after riding?  In two weeks, two months, etc.

Dave: You should feel tired after a good ride, but not completely exhausted.  The first few weeks will be tough as your legs and lungs are getting used to the new activity.  After the initial few weeks, hopefully you will feel great and look forward to getting out on the next ride.

Milissa: What is the best time of the day to ride?

Dave: I love getting out early mornings.  I ride with a group every Tuesday and Thursday morning.  We meet at 5:30 am and ride for about 1-1/2 hours.    The sun is just coming up, there is very little traffic and all you hear is the wheels on the pavement.  After that ride, my head is clear and I have a ton of energy to get me through the day.  There is a group here at work that gets out for a lunch ride on a regular basis as well.  These rides are great as it breaks up the day.  We are fortunate to live in Madison as the cycling is great here.

Milissa: How should I track my progress?

Dave1Dave: There are a number of ways to track you progress.  I use Strava, but to be honest there are a many times I just go out and ride to see where the roads take me.  Last week my 14 year old daughter and I went out for a Sunday afternoon ride – we just went out on the road for about an hour and a half.  The cool thing is we saw a deer and its fawn run across a road.  How cool is that!  I was not worried about my rank on a segment, etc.  The one thing I do recommend is to set a personal goal.

Milissa: What is a good goal for me to set?

Dave: That depends on what you want to accomplish:  a 50 mile ride, a Century, ride three times a week, etc.  Charity rides are excellent.  They support wonderful causes, offer a ton of support on the ride, and the roads are managed by the event so traffic is typically reduced. A few events I have attended include the Birkebeinerrittet (The Birkebeiner Cycling Race in Norway), Kickapoo Kicker (local Wisconsin race), Ironman WI and a couple of the WORS MTB races (Wisconsin Off Road Series).

Milissa: Do you have any words of advice to a beginner?

Dave: Just go out and enjoy everything cycling has to offer!

Thanks Dave for all the advice.  I’m so excited to get out there and do it. 

Game on y’all.  This is going to be fun.

Get out and ride!

Milissa

Green Smoothies and Biking Leprechauns

St Patrick'sThis March our office, Pacific Cycle Inc., has been focusing on nutrition and what it means to eat and drink for a healthy body and mind. So what better way to combine healthy objectives and a day devoted to green, then to make a healthy green St. Patrick’s day smoothie and then take a ride on a green Schwinn!

green dirnkkGreen smoothies are a great way to get your required amount of vegetables each day and provide great lasting energy to keep you going on a long bike ride. They can also be very simple and cheap to make. All you need is a blender, some fruits and veggies and an open mind. You can include a wide variety of ingredient into your green smoothie, but my favorites always include spinach for the benefit of the added iron. Check out one of my favorite recipes below:

Ingredients:

1 Small Frozen Banana (you can also add 1 cup of ice if you want to use a fresh banana)

1-2 Cups of Baby Spinach

1 Tbsp Creamy Peanut Butter

1/2 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk (you can use regular milk as well)

1/4 Cup plain or vanilla Greek Yogurt

Directions:

Combine all ingredients into the blender and continue to blend until smooth!

Get out and Ride!

Samantha

Fat Tire Tuesday: Impossible Adventures

On my Fat Bike Adventure

On my Fat Bike Adventure

This Fat Tuesday I thought I would take a look into the fat bike genre. As a Mardi Gras enthusiast, I was originally motivated by the pun of ‘Fat Bike Tuesday’ and decided the best way to research the bikes was to ride one. Upon initial inspection, they look utterly ridiculous. The massive 4 inch tires seem like they would be a hindrance rather than a benefit, yet the ride was surprisingly smooth and unbelievably fun. I plowed over piles of snow like it was my job and felt like a beast when I passed other cyclist. Yet as I rode around the local bike trails I couldn’t help but wonder why there were Fat Bikes at all. Were they a concept designed for sheer snow demolishing fun or was there more?

A few quick google searches later and I was surprised to see that the event that sparked the history of the fat bike was just as extreme and over the top as any New Orleans Mardi Gras celebration.

Alaska

Alaska

In 1987 Joe Redington Sr., who is known for establishing the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race set out to create a 200 mile bike race following the Iditarod trail from Knik to Skwentna. The Iditabike was the begining of extreme winter bicycle races. It was designed to test the endurance of the cyclist and perseverance of the human body and mind. Twenty men and six women took on the challenge that first year. Self-described as “the most remote and exposed race in the world”, the poorly marked route the cyclist traveled covered the vast Alaskan wilderness; there are no roads, few villages, and although the mountains, lakes, and Northern Lights are beautiful the Alaskan tundra and open waters can also be very dangerous. Hypothermia complete with hallucinations, frostbite, changing weather, avalanche danger, getting lost from the course and depleted energy is a very harsh reality.  Which is why the cyclist would spend hours meticulously planning and preparing what they packed on their bike to sustain themselves and keep warm.

The other thing that concerned the cyclists was how to prepare their bikes for better floatation and traction on the snow. Participants searched for the widest possible rims and tires they could find in order to give them an advantage over the other racers by increasing their tire footprint. Some participants would even try to further modify their existing tires. Simon Rakower, who was in charge of technical support for the Iditabike, took off on that idea and began to experiment with welding two rims together. He then cut out the middle ridge creating one 44mm rim that would still fit on the frame of the mountain bikes the cyclist were using. Bikes equipped with these extra-large rims would soon become known as fat tire bikes and would be available for sale to winter cyclist, but it would take several years before the public at large caught on.

The Iditarod Trail

The Iditarod Trail

In 1991 the Iditabike combined with skiing and foot endurance races to create a single event, the Iditasport. The last year of the historic Iditasport was 2001. Three races were conducted simultaneously that year. The 130 mile Iditasport race which finished at Finger Lake, the Iditasport Extreme, a 350 mile race which finished at McGrath, and the Iditasport Impossible continued to Nome for a total of 1,100 miles. The race began with a 30 mile trek to Finger Lake where all the racers had to attend a mandatory campout so that their gear could be assessed to ensure that they would be able to survive sleeping in the Alaskan outdoors with just a sleeping bag as their shelter for the remainder of the race. According to one rider the biggest mistake you can make when sleeping outdoors is opening your sleeping bag which is why he would store a heated water bottle in his sleeping bag with him at night and use that to create heat, quench his thirst, and relieve himself during the night. It may be gross, but in extreme conditions opening your sleeping bag could be the difference between life and death.

Alaska Peaks

Alaska Peaks

With such a lengthy race participants actually did spend some time sleeping indoors and eating hot meals at check points that had available lodging. Drop bags were also placed throughout strategic points in the race so that racers could replenish their stores and not have to carry all 26 days of supplies with them.  Racers on average burn approximately 8,000 calories a day and depleting vitamins, minerals and dehydration means refueling and hydrating becomes a constant necessity. In 2001, several snowstorms made conditions nearly impossible for cyclist to ride their bikes. One cyclist estimated that en route to the checkpoint in Iditarod he pushed his bike for 400 miles and only was able to ride 100 miles. Perhaps that is why so many ultimately were unable to continue. Out of 120 racers only 70 arrived to the 130 mile finish line, 33 made it to McGrath, and 4 made it to Nome. Cyclist Andy Heading of the UK and Mike Estes of Alaska tied for first place with a time of 26 days 5 hours and 7 minutes.  However, the foot racers were not very far behind. Tim Hewitt and Tom Jarding, both of Pennsylvania tied for second with 26 days 20 hours and 46 minutes. That race marked the end of what would be known as the grandfather of ultimate racing.

For thirteen years the Iditasport seemed as if it would just become a part of history until this past year when Billy Koitzsch decided to revive it. The race today is a throwback to the first Iditabike race featuring 100 and 200 mile options with many aspects of the original race remaining intact. Perhaps the biggest difference is now racers are equipped with SPOT locators so that they can be tracked online. This February ten people started the 200 mile race and eight people finished. The winner, Kevin Murphy completed the race in just 22 hours and 9 minutes. With a new leader and new enthusiasm it looks like the Iditasport tradition will continue. Plans for 2015 are already in the works, complete with a possible 225 mile route further into the Iditarod Trail.

Riding the Mongoose Beast

Riding the Beast

Fat tire bikes have also taken off in a whole new way. Across the country small scale fat bike races are popping up and gaining the attention of cyclists.  The fat tire bikes currently used in the Iditasport may still set you back thousands of dollars, but if you are just looking for a fun experience, Mongoose has been releasing affordable versions of fat-tire bikes  which are currently sold at mass market retailers.

Fat Tuesday is all about taking things over the top and having fun. I think that nothing better represents that idea in the biking world than the Impossible Iditasport and fat bikes!

To read about the experience of a 2001 Iditasport cyclist, check out the blog of Biker Bill: http://bikerbill1969.blogspot.com/2012/02/february-2001-iditasport-extreme.html