2015 Arrowhead 135 Stories

The Arrowhead 135 is a human powered ultra-endurance marathon that takes place every year during the coldest part of Winter.  Participants have 60 hours to complete the 135 mile trek from International Falls to Fortune Bay Casino in Tower on the Arrowhead State Trail.  Racers are required to stop at three checkpoints that are spaced about 35 miles apart, where race officials can pull a racer due to frostbite or other medical concerns. Participants must run, ski or bike the distance with their sub-zero survival gear,  no outside help except from other racers or race officials and they must follow a strict set of race rules out on the course.

This year's race was much warmer than sub-zero temperatures of previous years.  This had to be a welcome change to AH135 race veterans.  77 cyclists completed the race under the 60 hour cut-off and the top four riders crossed the finish line within seconds of each other in a sprint to the end.  I have compiled all of the stories, photos, video and news articles of  racers who chose bike propulsion pertaining to this year's epic race.  For full race results, click here.

Map of Arrowhead 135 course

Race Participants:  Bike Propulsion

Jordan Wakeley-1st
Jordan Wakeley - 2015 Arrowhead Ultra Winner - Bikepackers Magazine
Grayling cyclist wins 135-mile race in Minnesota - Crawford County Avalanche
Rookie claims Arrowhead 135 bike title by a second - Duluth News Tribune

Charly Tri-6th
Arrowhead 135 recap (and 2 others), 2015 - Jo Mama VS. The World
Arrowhead part 2. - Jo Mama VS. The World

Nick Armano-8th
Twenty2 Bully shows up for Arrowhead 135 - Twenty2 Cycles Blog

Mark Scotch-15th 
Arrowhead 135, 2015 - motoscotch
Joe Stiller-20th
Northern Currents: Ultra-Marathon Ministry - Northern Currents on Psalm FM

Christopher Tassava-26th
Arrowheadcase - Blowing & Drifting
Would you ride a bike for 15+ hours? - Minnesota Public Radio
Northfield bikers compete at Arrowhead 135 - Northfield News

David Gray-29th
2015 Arrowhead 135 - Surly Blog

Jerry Bilek-36th
Northfield bikers compete at Arrowhead 135 - Northfield News

Back of the Pack Racing (James Barnhouse, Steve McGuire, Judd Rohwer, Tedd Rohwer, David Sears)-40th, 45th, 60th (tie), 70th

Marc Brown-43rd
Fat Biking The Arrowhead 135 - Great Lakes Fatbikes
Jeff Eckert-43rd
Fat Biking The Arrowhead 135 - Great Lakes Fatbikes

Adam Harju-52nd
Cook County cyclists complete Arrowhead 135 ultra-marathon - WTIP North Shore Community Radio

John Twiest-52nd
Cook County cyclists complete Arrowhead 135 ultra-marathon - WTIP North Shore Community Radio

Jason Husveth-74th
May Township resident completes Arrowhead ultra, again - Country Messenger

2015 Arrowhead 135 Press

Temperatures, finishers up for 2015 Arrowhead 135 - International Falls Journal

Northfield bikers compete at Arrowhead 135 - Northfield News

2015 Arrowhead 135 ultramarathon with 80+ already finished - International Falls Journal 

Grayling cyclist wins 135-mile race in Minnesota - Crawford County Avalanche

Rookie claims Arrowhead 135 bike title by a second - Duluth News Tribune

124 finish Arrowhead 135 - International Falls Journal

Cold and exhausted: Race tests area residence endurance - SunThisweek

Mild, snowy conditions aid racers in Arrowhead 135 - Timberjay

Cook County cyclists complete Arrowhead 135 ultra-marathon - WTIP North Shore Community Radio

Would you ride a bike for 15+ hours? - Minnesota Public Radio

After day of racing across Minnesota wilderness, Arrowhead 135 title decided by one second - Duluth News Tribune


Arrowhead 135 Facebook page
AH135 Finish line 2015
Mobile Uploads
AH135 Finishers 2015
Photos of Arrowhead 135

C5 Adventure Photography - Chris Gibbs on Facebook
Timeline Photos

International Falls Journal Image Gallery
Arrowhead 135 Ultramarathon - Jan. 26, 2015

Dan Luebke on Facebook 
(must be logged into Facebook to view)
Arrowhead Ultra 2015

Scott Mark on Facebook
(must be logged into Facebook to view)
2015 Arrowhead 135 Ultramarathon


Arrowhead 135 2015 finish

Arrowhead 135 v2015

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Postcard Registration for Almanzo Races Still Open

Almanzo lives!  Yes, you will be able to race any of the three courses (Almanzo 100, Royal 162 and Alexander) at this year's Almanzo.  Founder and race organizer Chris Skogen has handed over the reigns to the Spring Valley Tourism Committee and he will finally get a chance to ride Almanzo for the first time.

A lot of you may think that registration is now closed because during the history of the Almanzo races Chris had postcard registration run from January 1st through the 31st.  "We are still accepting postcards and will do so through April, although the “official end of registration” is January 31st. We are looking forward to continuing Chris’s vision of free bicycle racing on gravel roads!"  Kathryn Simpson, Spring Valley Tourism Chair recently told me. 

The 2015 Almanzo 100 and Royal 162 will be held on Saturday, May 16th.  The Royal 162 will start at 7:00 am and the Almanzo 100 at 9:00 am.  For those doing the Alexander, start will be at the Spring Valley Community Center on Friday, May 15th at 5:00 am.  All three races will start and finish in downtown Spring Valley.

Send in your postcards to get on the roster and have your finish times recorded.  Mail them to:

201 S. Broadway
Spring Valley, Mn 55975
Include your name, Race Declaration
and Contact Information

Image Credit: Spring Valley Tourism

For updates, visit the Spring Valley Tourism Facebook page and the Almanzo/Wilderfest Facebook Event page.  For questions about the Almanzo races, direct them to svalmanzo@gmail.com.


Riot GRRRaveL Retuns For Second Year

Riot GRRRaveL is back for its second year with 30 and 50 mile route options.  This is a free race/ride designed to introduce women and teens to riding gravel.  Last year's debut brought out 82 riders on a sunny Saturday afternoon in June.

Image Credit: Kate Lockhart

Riot GRRRaveL organizer Ellie Skelton tells how this event came to be.  "The idea for the Riotgrrravel ride came from attending several biking events where the field was predominantly male. After riding the Filthy 50 in 2013, I started thinking of ways to get women to try riding on gravel. The first Riotgrrravel was 30 miles because I wanted to make a low barrier to entry for women who may have heard about longer gravel races but were intimidated by the long distances. Having two teenage daughters, I wanted to expose them to gravel racing as well. That's really the goal: get more women & teens excited about gravel racing."

Image Credit: Kate Lockhart

Riot GRRRaveL 2015 will take place on Saturday, June 20th rain or shine just south of Hastings and will add a new longer course option of 50 miles.  "We wanted something close to the Twin Cities.  This year we will be doing two courses- a 30 and a 50 mile loop.  The 50 will start at 8:30 and the 30 at 9am.  We definitely want to develop a scenic route with a good climb or two--but not as intense as some of the climbs on the Almanzo 100 course.  The ride will be unsupported with the same, "you are responsible for you," philosophy that other free gravel races have."

Image Credit: Kate Lockhart

Is this a ride or is it a race?  The answer is both.  "We are open to however someone wants to ride this!  Riotgrravel will showcase the speed of  some of the area's amazing female gravel racers and offer an opportunity for new racers to experience an entry ride at their own pace."

Image Credit: Kate Lockhart
Registration is now open for Riot GRRRaveL 2015 and only takes a minute to sign up online.  It is capped at 200 riders and should fill up quickly, so make sure you register early.  Ellie would love to hear why you are riding Riot GRRRaveL in 2015, just visit the Riot GRRRaveL Facebook page and tell your story and post up your pictures from last year's race.

For rider racaps and more from last year's race, visit the Riotgrrravel 2014 post on Grease Rag, Ride and Wrench.  Kate Lockhart got a lot of great photos too and they can be seen on her Flickr album.

Image Credit: Kate Lockhart

Penn Cycle & Fitness will be sponsoring this year's race and providing pre-race mechanical support.  If you or your company would like to sponsor or volunteer for Riot GRRRaveL 2015 please send a message to Ellie on the Riot GRRRaveL Facebook page.  Riot GRRRaveL is also on Instagram.


45NRTH Launces Groomed Singletrack Website

45NRTH has launched a project that will help us all find groomed winter trails to ride fatbikes in our area.  The website is called Groomed Singletrack.  While the site is new, there is already a good listing of groomed singletrack trail information and I expect this to grow to include even more listings.

The Ride page of the website is designed to help find groomed singletrack near you by browsing the map or entering a Zip Code.  Search results can be narrowed or expanded to include a radius of 25, 100, 250, 500 or 1000 miles.  

Map Results

Below the map results is a list of those groomed singletrack trails with Location, Difficulty, Overall Mileage, Usage and website link if available.  Some information is missing but I expect this to change as the site is updated.  If you know of a trail that is not on the map you can email 45NRTH with the details so they can add it.

List Results

The Experience page provides information on fatbike rides and races broken down be region (Central, East and West) with links to more information on these events.

Image Credit: 45NRTH

Image Credit: 45NRTH
45NRTH has also implemented the hashtag #ridegroomed for discussion and to view or upload your own groomed trail fatbike ride photos to social media.   They are also coming out with Ride Groomed hats and t-shirts that will be available at local dealers in February and "proceeds go towards helping build more winter trails across the country".


Q & A with Winter Ultra Endurance Athlete Charly Tri

Image Credit: Tina Stiller

With the completion of the Arrowhead 135 earlier this week and several other really tough ultras coming up, I wanted to talk to a veteran of this type of demanding fatbike racing.  Charly Tri of Rochester came to mind having competed in both the Arrowhead 135 and the Iditarod Trail Invitational.  The extreme cold combined with the long distances of these races can be tough on equipment and even tougher on the athletes that compete in them.  I got in touch with Charly and he was happy to answer some question so we can find out what it takes to race a Winter Ultra.

How do you prepare mentally and choose the equipment/clothing for the extreme cold that both the Iditarod Trail Invitational and Arrowhead 135 are known for?

"Well that is a 2 pronged answer I guess. Mentally I try to put myself into scenarios and think about what I would do. For instance, I had planned what I would do if I broke through ice and found myself soaking wet in nowhere Alaska at sub freezing temps (cry and yell a lot). Equipment and clothing would involve a lot of reading, testing, read more, test more, ask other guys I know, test more, repeat. It is funny, but as people moan about cold temps coming, riders doing this rejoice...more testing!"

Image Credit: Sveta Vold
Being an endurance athlete, how do you adjust for your asthma in the extreme cold?

"I am not sure I am the guy to ask, as I still have issues! My first Arrowhead I dropped out with an asthma attack at -20F not knowing I even had asthma. I had my suspicions, but nothing like that! Mayo Clinic has been one destination along with the drugs that brings. The Coldavenger has been a big step in the right direction for sure. I wear it anytime it is below freezing. I remember one Arrowhead all I did was focus on keeping my breathing steady and relaxed. Also, finding triggers are a big issue. I have found to stay away from processed sugar and alcohol. Processed food in general is bad news, better to stay away from it. I am human though. I forget, do things I shouldn't, pay for it, and learn from it."

Image Credit: Charly Tri

How has your asthma affected you in past years' races? What have you learned to manage it and has using the ColdAvenger cold weather facemask helped you?

Image Credit: Charly Tri
"Oh, I have DNF'd out of 2 Arrowhead 135's and 1 Tuscobia 150 because my asthma was so bad I could barely stand or worse. Iditarod I had issues coming out of every checkpoint, took 1/2 hour or so for the breathing to calm down and settle into a nice pace. The Coldavenger makes the cold possible for my lungs."

The brutal cold was definitely a factor at last year's Arrowhead 135. What were some of the lessons learned that will help you this year?

"Well, last year had plenty of cold days so plenty of time to test. I ended flatting about an hour into the race at close to -30F. I found out that tubes are awfully stiff at that temp and the seam will burst really easily when filling quickly with a co2:) Took me a bit to figure out why my tube wasn't taking air as it happened silently. Also found out that I have at least one friend in Ben Doom, whom stop to help. At those temps the nature of your equipment takes on a whole new dimension. I could probably write a few pages on how things change at those temps as is pretty crazy. Just imagine having to unfold a tube using the force of both hands as it is so stiff. Pretty nuts, and as long as you come out the other end healthy, pretty cool. My race ended early at the 1st checkpoint as I was battling sickness though which was pretty disappointing." 

Image Credit: James Stull

What are the coldest and most challenging temperatures/weather conditions you have raced in and what helped you through it?

"-30F would be the coldest air temp. I went on some rides last year when the windchill was around -50F. What got me through it? The fear of dying I guess. Also, the thought that I need to master those temps to prepare for the time it is even worse. You can't fool around or take things for granted. Honestly, I wish I had more opportunities to ride and train in those temps. I am jealous of those Fairbanks guys. You know, it is not like I started riding at these temps overnight. It has been a progression." 

Image Credit: Charly Tri

You have to rely on your experience, knowledge and equipment to get you through the Arrowhead 135 and Iditarod Trail Invitational. What was the most valuable lesson learned as an experienced veteran during these brutally challenging races?

"Most valuable. Train and test. Look for those absolute coldest days, and if it means waking up at 3am to finally get a ride in at -20F the do it. Pushing yourself through crappy weather in training gets you ready to push yourself through crappy weather in races. Leave your bike out overnight on the coldest nights and see if it still operates correctly in the morning. Do the cables still work well? Do your axles turn without a lot of added force, pulleys? Brakes still retract? Tires still hold air? If you can't ride all night at silly cold temps, you at least can make sure you bike tries it." 

Image Credit: Tom Morgan

With the large number of calories burned during races of this magnitude, how do you fuel up before and during a race to give you the energy you need?

"I have a steady diet of butter and ice cream leading up to a race. Kidding, kidding. I really don't eat differently. I will make sure I am full all the time the day or 2 before, but you can only load your body with so many calories. Also, you body adapts, especially the long the effort. It learns to feed off your own fat stores more (I have a lot). I am always surprised how much less I eat than I anticipate in these really long races. Now, you need to eat, regularly, but it is not like you need to stuff your face at all moments. You need to ride your bike a lot. I find my asthma is effected by processed sugar, so I tend not to fill my feedbags with such things. I have found recently though, it is something good to have on hand." 

Image Credit: Tom Morgan

How do you keep dehydration becoming an issue when you are out on the course for many hours at a time between checkpoints?

"I drink.
You want more?:) I bring a 100 ounce reservoir. That is enough for between checkpoints for me in most ultras. For Iditarod, I also brought an insulated thermos to carry hot water. My theory is if I ran out of regular water, I could stuff my Camelbak full of snow, and melt it down with with the hot water quickly. Never had to do it, but it I was prepared to. Also, you need to bring the ability to melt down snow."

Image Credit: Adrienne Gillespie

I've heard stories of racers encountering wolves out on the Arrowhead 135 course. Have you experienced this in the past 5 times you've competed?

"I wish, but don't wish at the same time, but no. Seen tons of tracks. Two years ago the snow was coming down extremely heavy, I saw fresh tracks as I had my head down at one point. Had I been looking up I am sure I would have seen one. In all of Iditarod I saw one moose, at night. I don't have any good animal stories, sorry. But, my plan for Iditarod is if it gets to cold is to slice open a Tauntaun's belly and sleep inside." 

Do you have a training regimen to get you ready for the Arrowhead 135 and Iditarod? How do you work it in to your schedule with work and having a family? Both must be very supportive of your endeavors.

"My wife is amazing. She is a marathon runner that understands much of the "why" in what I do. She is great and I could not do what I do without her. That being said, it is not uncommon for me to leave the house late at night in order to sneak in a ride. Rochester Cycling is also very accommodating to my silly attempts at trying to kill myself. I have a plan I often follow leading up to events, much based off of Joe Friel's book."

Image Credit: Charly Tri

Your choice of bike, components and equipment are very important to being successful during these extreme winter endurance races. What bike/equipment choices do you think give you an advantage over the competition?

"I don't think of my gear choices as an advantage as much as seeking out the best. Thanks to 9:ZERO:7, Bike Bag Dude, Nextie Rims, and Wolftooth Components I have extremely light equipment that is able to take a huge amount of abuse. Reliability is what I value above all else, but I, like everyone it seems, also strive for a light set up. The rest of what I ride has been acquired over the years, often as Xmas gifts and such. I want absolute confidence when I start again on the Iditarod Trail or any other ultra race. My sponsors, especially 9:ZERO:7 make what I do possible." 

Image Credit: Tom Morgan

The cold temperatures that the Arrowhead 135 and the Iditarod Trail Invitational are famous for can wreak havoc on the functionality of your bike's components. How do you avoid these problems and have they ever played a role in cutting your race short?

"The cold has tried to wreck my race, but equipment wise it has not yet. Changing a tube at -30F is an experience I would rather not relive. But I seek out cold days to test, test, test."

Thanks again for doing this. I really appreciate it. I know how important having sponsors for my own site can be and I make sure to promote them every chance I get. Without them I wouldn't be able to do what I do and I'm sure you would share the same sentiment with regard to your racing.


Charly placed sixth at the 2015 Arrowhead 135 with a time of 15 hours 51 minutes.  His next challenge is the Iditarod Trail Invitational which starts on Sunday, March 1st.


Product Review: Fix It Sticks Replaceable Edition & T-Way Wrench

I never go on a ride without being prepared for the unexpected and carrying a compact and versatile multi-tool that has leverage is a must for me.  I've used other multi-tools in the past but they didn't compare once Fix It Sticks came to the market.  Ever since finding out about them at Interbike 2013, they are all I carry and have come to the rescue on many occasions whether I was riding my mountain bike, fatbike or cyclocross bike.

Now that the new stronger steel Fix It Sticks Replaceable Edition is available, it has even more versatility and the bits I need for all of my bikes.  The set doesn't take up much space in my seat pack or frame bag and when I need them for a task I snap them together to form a T-wrench.  With two position wrenching (see photo below) I have plenty of leverage and reach to get the job done.

It's nice having Fix It Sticks' variety of replaceable bits with me out on the trail or gravel roads.  They have come in quite handy on many occasions from adjusting the height of my saddle or realigning it after a crash, removing a skewer (no quick release) to change a flat and tightening a loose cleat on my W√∂lvhammers, just to name a few.

Strong Neodymium magnets hold the bits in place while wrenching and I can add any standard 1/4" bit from my toolbox to use if the need should arise.  This flexibility not only works great for use on my bikes but also for tasks around the house.  The set comes with eight of the most commonly used bits for road and mountain bikes.  It is the ultimate compact multi-tool with all of the leverage and torque I need to get me back in the saddle and riding should a repair or adjustment be needed.

  • Includes 8 interchangeable bits (2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm Hex, Torx 25, Phillips #2)
  • Accepts any standard ¼” bit
  • All steel construction
  • Neodymium magnets hold the bits securely in place
  • Maximum torque: 54 Nm
  • Weight: 118 grams

Fix It Sticks Replaceable Edition sets are available from Fix It Sticks and can be ordered form your local Penn Cycle shop for $35.99.

The Fix It Sticks T-Way Wrench is a great new shop tool and bases its design on the original Fix It Sticks.  It features a permanently secured T-shape with a longer shaft and a speed spinner for quicker wrenching.  This longer shaft allows for exceptional leverage and reach for everything from building a bike to swapping out pedals.  Just like the Fix It Sticks Replaceable Edition, it accepts any standard 1/4" bit should I need more than the 7 interchangeable bits that it comes with.  It implements those same strong Neodymium magnets to hold the bits in place too.

The T-Way Wrench is my go-to tool when working on my bikes at home.  The torque is incredible and the reach gets me into most places to do my wrenching.  I love the speed spinner on the long shaft for tightening or loosening screws and bolts quickly.  Simply hold it between two fingers and spin the top of the T.  With its variety of bits and 3 ends to hold them it really is an extremely useful shop tool for under $30. 

  • Permanently secured T-shape for shop / garage use
  • All steel construction
  • Speed spinner for quick fastening
  • Includes 7 interchangeable bits (2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm Hex, Torx 25)
  • Accepts any standard ¼” bit
  • Neodymium magnets hold the bits securely in place

Fix It Sticks T-Way Wrench is available from Fix It Sticks and can be ordered form your local Penn Cycle shop for $29.99.

Disclosure:  Fix It Sticks provided the review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation for this review.


Cuyuna Lakes MTB Crew & MN DNR Unveil Master Plan for Trail Expansion In Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area

On January 8th the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew held their Annual Meeting unveiling the Master Vision for Trails within the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area in coordination with the MN DNR and Crow Wing County.  This vision is expected to cost around $6 million but the CLMTB Crew estimates that it will bring $21 million of economic impact to the area each year once constructed.

For more details on the Cuyuna Master Vision for Trails visit MN Trails' article Cuyuna Crew Has Mountain Bike Vision.  Watch the video below to see the full Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew 2015 Annual Meeting that was streamed live and learn more about the Cuyuna Master Vision for Trails (presentation starts at 55:18).

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