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Fat Biking is a Thing

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Fat Biking is a Thing

I have shared that I am a runner at heart but adventure is plugged into my dna. For the most part I thrive with new challenges and experiences. Yes, fat biking is a thing and I am slightly addicted after riding through the desert with Billy Joe. Billy Joe was on our No Limits team of riders with type 1 diabetes who competed in 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo (mountain bike race). In his bike arena sits mountain and road bikes and two fat bikes. Just enough for the two of us to take on the desert. 

Vlog from the Fat Biking Adventure

We zig-zagged through some neighborhoods that soon found us in front of a wash and unlimited sand and rocks. Time to ride, but very, very slowwwwwwwlllyyyy. Oh, and those fat bikes, having tires that are better suited for go carts, are also extremely heavy. They do allow you to ride in terrain that is not suitable for other types of bikes.

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It was grand to be back on a bike after a long hiatus off of the saddle. I hope to get back on my mountain bike but will be challenged by the coming three digit temperatures that will swell the desert with a zapping heat that frightens me with the horrifying thought of having a helmet on my head. 

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Video below gives the viewer a glimpse of a rather fun sport. #8 in my vlog series.

The bike path above us was bustling with weekend riders and runners enjoying their time on pavement. It was a beautiful day and the scenery, while stark in areas, afforded the quiet moments to power the fat bike through sand and over a landscape of rocks, rocks and more dang rocks. 

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While those monster tires churned through the varied sand and rock obstacles, the bike was unsuccessful at finding victory in deep sand. Or, my skill set was not quit as deep as the unforgiving layer of sand.

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I did fall a few times but only one fall will be highly featured in this blog. Almost done with our route through the Pantano Wash, I found a notable rock that had my name on it and I crashed to the desert floor. Also crashing was my insulin pump which had a short but sweet meeting with the mentioned rock. The noise that my pump squealed out was loud, irritating and the sign of death as our ride was now over (except for the pedal back to Billy Joe's home). Pump was now dead and I needed to make my way to a syringe and insulin and eventually a previously used insulin pump in my archives. Not a stunning way to end the day but an excellent way to spend the day. Thanks go to Medtronic for promptly zipping a new insulin pump my way. 

Snapshot from the video after the crash.

Snapshot from the video after the crash.

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Dirt & Diabetes at 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo with Team No Limits

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Dirt & Diabetes at 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo with Team No Limits

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Calendar is edging quickly toward the 2018 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo mountain bike race. I chose this year to focus on the Oracle Rumble (32 mile ultramarathon), but I have fond memories of joining team No Limits at the 2017 edition of the endurance race.

"You Only Live Once" is the film I created about Team No Limits during 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo

It was a big stride (for me the non-racer) to do an ultramarathon (34 miles) in November and aim at a 24-Hour mountain bike race in February.  It was a good, successful and growing experience. Training for the 24-hour race would require a new mountain bike (triple yay!), a few crashes (got my first, and most graphic one out of the way on the first ride) and a shifting of gears to revolve from running to biking. 

Training ride where we came across a lost Colorado State University runner and guided her back to the trail head.

Training ride where we came across a lost Colorado State University runner and guided her back to the trail head.

Well, most of the team. Me on the L, Olivia Rasmussen and Kent Loganbill. Photo by Todd Rasmussen. Off skiing, Billy Joe Donnelly. Training on the Sweetwater Trail (Tucson Mountains).

Well, most of the team. Me on the L, Olivia Rasmussen and Kent Loganbill. Photo by Todd Rasmussen. Off skiing, Billy Joe Donnelly. Training on the Sweetwater Trail (Tucson Mountains).

Training would connect me with Kent, Olivia and Billy Joe, all on the type 1 diabetes team No Limits. Todd, Olivia's father would also join us on various shredding in the Arizona desert. We varied our dirt exploration and spent quality time on 7 or 8 trails around Tucson and Oro Valley.

Interview with Judd Resnick (Unica Publications - New Zealand) for a coming series on diabetes.

Interview with Judd Resnick (Unica Publications - New Zealand) for a coming series on diabetes.

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at 24 Hour city

Hats and mountain bike helmets off to Kent, who worked with the team and who endured a riding pace that was far below any riding that he has done since donning a tricycle.

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As the race neared the focus and buzz was the coming weather. While scrambling to have all of my race gear, clothes, food and diabetes supplies in order we were now looking at atrocious conditions for the 24HOP. Really, ? Cold, windy, rainy and it would even snow during the night laps. 

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Pulling into 24 Hour city, it was quite the spectacle. This area that is vast, empty desert would become a community of almost 2,000 riders and 5,000 inhabitants. 24HOP (24 Hours in the Old Pueblo) is one of the largest mountain bike races in the world. It is a special delight that the course is about 25 minutes from the house and I see the terrain on most of my runs. 

Pre-race meeting. Photo by Sportograf.

Pre-race meeting. Photo by Sportograf.

Setting the tent up in 25-35 miles per hour winds (alone) was epic. Oh, what I would have given had I had the brilliance to video that moment.

Many, many activities going on before the race. This was one of the funner moments I captured. This is the rock drop (course goes in the opposite direction of this trooper).

Todd had a superb camping site for the team, despite coming equipped with gale force winds. We buckled in for the race. Todd & gang fed us extremely well and I was off to sleep. Wait, sleep did not arrive. More on this drowsy subject later.

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Race day rustled to a start and it...was...not...raining! Yet, the beast was coming. As team captain and just being a nice guy, I left the riding order up to the team. You can guess that this left me as the fourth No Limits rider on the course. In my many years of bungee jumping you wanted to be one of the first jumpers. Waiting for hours to jump would play on the nerves, blood sugar and confidence. This play of the cards would be a positive later on.

Running into other type 1 diabetes riders - Kathy from Seattle

Kent would ride first. This was the most challenging stage with more riders in tight spaces. Kent has unbelievable talent and is one of the best road/mountain bikers in the Tucson area. I did not post his monumental ride out of the gate but there is footage in "You Only Live Once".

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LeMans start - Photo by Sportograf

LeMans start at 24HOP

Olivia would nail the next loop and would call it a day. Billy hit the trail and I would prepare for my first mountain bike race experience. 

waiting for Billy so I can take the next leg

waiting for Billy so I can take the next leg

There was a staging tent where we would wait for the team rider to finish the sixteen mile loop and you would hit the trail. The weather slowly rolled in and as it would play out, I only dealt with rain on my final lap. There were light snow flurries on my two night laps. More epicness, and to note, this was the only snow to fall in our area all winter.

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Catalina mountains - Photo by Sportograf

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Me, charging the course - Photo by Sportograf

My first lap went well, aided by training missions that took us around the course loop. Not a real hard or technical sixteen miles, but good to have seen it before. Credit to Billy who arrived late the night before the race and he had not ridden the course before. 

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Olivia and Kaleb (her brother) during the race. Photo by Sportograf

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Me, enduring the moment - Photo by Sportograf

I had come out to 24HOP the previous year to take some photos and to check out the event. I was impressed and this laid the groundwork to create a team and lean toward bringing along riders with type 1 for the experience. 

Kent - Photo by Jim Rudnicki

Kent - Photo by Jim Rudnicki

Recruiting was a challenge as I had roughly twenty five on the list of possible riders with type 1. Getting them to commit was a whole new ball game. Goal #1 was a co-ed team of five. We sort of got there with commitments from three males and two females. One of the females was a road biker wanting to dabble in off road riding in the dirt. She would not show up to any of the training so we would evolve into a team of four. Our search for female mountain bikers with type 1 would yield a total one in the Tucson area. Olivia is all the more amazing as she raced on the high school mtn biking team and is only thirteen years old. She did ride 24HOP in 2016.

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Billy Joe - Photo by Sportograf

A personal goal of mine, beside getting a new bike, was to create a film of Team No Limits. I had been slowly creating a film on a No Limits kayak expedition in Alaska, but I had lots of learning ahead of me. This would take me part of the distance with more territory ahead. 

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GoPro from Billy Joe's bike.

No Limits rolled into the night. I am used to running at night but riding is a different stroke that kept me on my toes. Blood sugars saw higher readings that I would like the first couple of laps and a lower scheme on my third lap. Fourth lap was good and overall I was happy with how the blood sugars went for the event. 

Starting a lap at 4:16 am. uggghhhh!

Starting a lap at 4:16 am. uggghhhh!

Finishing a lap at some ungodly hour, I strolled to my tent, head hit the pillow, I let out a few deep breaths, and nothing occurred. Sleep was not going to happen. I was wide awake and bobbing into my 2nd night with nary a snore. A guesstimation put me at about seventy six hours before I found the sleep zone.

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Me - Photo by Sportograf

No Limits would finish with fourteen laps and a good nod on the team standings. Success,and dirt everywhere.

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Photo by Sportograf

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Photo by Jim Rudnicki

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