One week into the new year, I hope to be finishing my third try at the Fat Pursuit fatbike race in eastern Idaho, just over the border from Yellowstone National Park. I’ve raced the Fat Pursuit twice before, both times at the 200 kilometer (126 mile) distance: I only made it to mile 100 in 2014 before I had to quit, but the next year, I finished the race in 26 hours, 25 minutes.
This year, I am trying the 200 mile race, which was run for the first time last year. Only seven men finished, out of 24 starters (21 men, 3 women). In addition to being run entirely at altitude (6,000 feet and up), and of course being 200 miles long, the big race includes a colossal amount of climbing – something on the order of 10,000 feet. Last year’s winner was the only guy to finish under 30 hours; everyone else was over 40 hours – and two guys needed more than 50 hours to finish.
All of that only makes me more eager to get to the start line for a race that goes through country this beautiful:
I’m not overstating things by saying that I’ve been training and preparing for the Fat Pursuit for a year, starting with my successful winter ultramarathons last January. I did more racing in 2016 than I ever have before: four winter races and six dryland races totaling 92 hours of riding – a pretty solid hit of race experience.
The races contributed to the 361 hours of training I logged in 2016, across 271 discrete sessions – training rides, races, gym workouts. I only eked out 2,000 miles of riding this year, but it was pretty high-quality riding, I think, and I did a good chunk of it in the last three months, building toward the Fat Pursuit. (I’m a little annoyed with myself that I only realized on New Year’s Eve that I had nearly averaged an hour of working out a day! Had I realized I was so close even a week earlier, I could have easily done a few more longer workouts to hit that completely meaningless goal.)
Given all that training (and racing) in 2016, I feel pretty ready to start the 200-mile Fat Pursuit on Friday, January 6, 2017. The one variable that I can’t really prepare to handle is the altitude, though I have done tons of intensity training which I hope will pay off in processing that thin mountain air! I have spent a lot of time tuning my fatbike, the Buffalo, including a crucial switch to a smaller chainring to handle the race’s climbing. I’ve also been obsessing over clothing and gear, including the mandatory survival gear that everyone has to carry – and use. I’m looking forward to seeing my “fatbike family” out there, too – the men and women with whom I’ve raced bikes at events like this and the Arrowhead over the last four winters. With four days till the race, I think I’m ready.