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Bikes. Parts. Chaos.

This year Surly was able to get some team volunteers pointed in the right direction to set up and maintain Checkpoint 3 aka Ski Pulk at the Arrowhead 135 race this year. Arrowhead is "A 135 MILE POINT TO POINT RUN, BIKE OR SKI RACE ACROSS NORTHERN MINNESOTA AT HOPEFULLY THE COLDEST TIME OF YEAR." Surly has been a sponsor from the beginning.

There are three check points along the arduous trail. The check point Surly manned this year was located roughly at mile 110. The racers on foot, ski and bike are usually close to destruction, those that even make it that far.

In planning for the manning our small group of enginerds, sales, projects and products worked out a plan to take over the joint. We brought the recently acquired (last Frostbike) Kifaru 16 man tipi and the new Four Dog Shepard stove with a 4 gallon water reservoir. The stove was researched and purchased by Master Gray. We also brought along deer boy, some signs of encouragement, tiki torches, fireworks, bikes and Thor's tub of fun.

The first team out was Me, Amy, Thor and Ben. We rolled into International Falls to partake in the volunteer meeting with the race directors and other volunteers. Everyone we met was stoked on the race and doing their part. After the meeting we tucked ourselves in and rested up to the long day ahead. 

Or maybe we bounced around local bars till we couldn't find an open one to serve us. Same same.

The next morning started early. The race kicks off in International Falls, MN at Kerry Park at 7AM. After seeing the racers off and packing up the vans we headed out to the checkpoint to get set up.

Front view of a Deer Boy statue, in deep snow on a parking lot, with a couple of vehicles and people in the background

Front view of a person, holding gear up on their shoulder, on a snow covered trail with trees on the sides

Right side view of a person, pushing a sled with boxes on it, down a snow covered trail, with bare trees in background

People setting up a tent in a snow covered clearing in the woods, with gear and bikes next to them

Front view of a cyclist, standing over a blue Surly fat bike, attaching a sled with a person in it, on a snowy trail

Front view of a cyclist, riding a blue Surly fat bike, pulling a person in a sled down a snowy trail in the woods

We finished up well before any racers were expected to make it into our camp. I think all of us were stoked to be there for the racers so we only had a quick break out for lunch and back we came to stoke the fires and wait. We waited for hours till about 7:30PM when the first group arrived. It was dark and they came in hard and fast. I did not get any pictures. They were a determined bunch who were all obviously there to be the fastest. I was able to snag a few more racer images after that initial rush.

2 people dressed in winter outerwear and headlamps, at a campsite at night

A person wearing winter outerwear and a reflective vest, standing in snow next to a table at night

Two people standing in snow, next to tables and gear, wearing winter outerwear and reflective jackets, at nighttime

Right side view of a person wearing winter attire and a bike helmet, pouring a drink at night

Headshot of a person, wearing a stocking cap, with an icicle hanging from their mustache, at night

Right side head shot of a person with a beard and eyes wide open, at nighttime

The above is the only picture I got of our Gray Boy. He rolled in shortly after midnight which was when the next team was coming on board to take over. Bob, Steven and Jeff were on for the midnight shift. Amy, Thor, myself and Ben had been on for 17 hours and Amy and I were on deck for the 7AM shift. I set up my bedding on the rug in the tipi. I thought with the stove that it would be pretty cozy but because I needed to stay on the outskirts and was on the ground it was quite cold. Thor loaned me his sleeping bag before he left for the motel so I could double up. I was finally not shivering and fell asleep. I am pretty sure I slept for 2 or 3 hours before the noise of vomiting woke me up.

There was a racer hunched over vomiting next to my head. I rolled away hoping nothing had splashed on me. As I listened to the retching I knew I should get up to check on him. Fortunately for us he had caught all the bile in his cup. A true champion in my book. He didn't have much in his stomach as he said he had been struggling with his nutrition. Part of our responsibility there is to pull people that seem like they may be too far gone to continue. I talked with this racer and he was able to speak coherently and explain what had happened and what he was going to do next. So after a short sit, off he went into the darkness.

I went back to sleep only to wake up another hour or two later to a racer eating our leftover pizza. I heard the word pizza in my sleep and woke up knowing someone was breaking the "self-supported" portion of the race. We were told not to give food or a place to sleep to the racers. So up I got to police the pizza and wake up another snoring racer. Racers can sleep, just not in the tipi. And apparently neither can I. I decided to stay up at this point and just charge forward. Amy and I would be on point until Thor and Ben took over at 2PM. 

People wearing winter outerwear, sitting and standing inside a teepee tent

Downward view of a person, wrapped in a sleeping bag, on snowy ground inside a teepee tent

This is Ben. He had no problems sleeping in the tipi. NONE.

Front view of a smiling person, unzipping a teepee from the outside, with a snowy, bare woods in the background

People wearing winter outerwear, standing and sitting around a campfire, with a tent behind, in the snowy woods

A table with food and beverages is next to a teepee tent, with fat bikes in the background, in the snowy woods

Front view of a cyclist dressed in winter outerwear, standing over a Surly fat bike loaded with gear, in the snowy woods

Rear view of three cyclists, wearing winter attire, riding their Surly fat bikes down a snow covered trail in the woods

Downward, right side view of a Surly fat bike, loaded with gear, laying on the snow covered ground

A person wearing winter attire, sits in a chair on snowy ground, on the right side of a campfire

Mr Roosevelt at his roost.

Right side view of a Surly fat bike, with a cyclist wearing winter attire standing behind , on snowy ground

A person winter outerwear, getting coffee from a thermos on a table, on a snow covered ground in the woods

This man is HARDCORE. He stayed at our checkpoint for 3 minutes. Then went on to win the running portion of the race beating the record by over 3 hours. BOSS.

A person, in the distance, walking down a snow covered trail with trees on both sides

Head shot of a person with a frozen beard, wearing winter attire and a baseball cap, with the snowy woods behind them

First true snow beard of the race goes to B.P.R man.

Head shot of a person with a frozen beard, wearing a reflective vest and glasses, with the snowy woods behind them

Right side view of a blue Surly fat bike, loaded with gear, standing in snow with a cyclist holding the top tube

I love the fact that people were complaining about the weight of their cookies and goo packets and this guy brought his teddy with zero fucks given.

Close up, downward view of a terrain map, on a pack above the handlebar of a bike

The terrain is not only cold, snowy and long, it is also very, VERY, hilly.

Headshot of a person with a beard, wearing a helmet with goggles on top

It hurts.

Front view of a dog, sitting on snow at a person's feet, with a Surly fat bike behind them

Dogs are great.

People wearing winter outerwear, stand around on a snow covered trail, with a fat bike and trees in the background


A person wearing winter outerwear, standing on snow, with a dog, Surly fat bikes and trees behind them

By the end of the 3 day event we tore down our little encampment and set it on fire. The whole ordeal was a damn good time. No one slept long, everyone busted their asses and it was great to be apart of.

Downward view of a cardboard sign with the words, You're Almost There on it, burning in a campfire

Downward view of a cardboard sign with the words, Welcome to Frozen Hell on it, burning in a campfire

Downward view of a cardboard sign on the snow, with the words, How are those frozen toes treating you? on it

Downward view of a cardboard sign on the snow, with the words, Wolves think you taste like chicken, Wolves love chicken


A person kneeling down in the snow at the bottom of a giant hockey stick, with a light blue building in the background

Don't forget to see the sights along the way.