Tom’s Arrowhead 135 Diary – Part 1

Our amigo Tom Lais is a veteran of the Rovaniemi 150 and the Arrowhead 135. He’s agreed to send us reports live from the front lines of his Arrowhead adventure this year. Tom will be riding his custom A-Train fat bike that he calls Oscar. Tom’s also testing out a pair of Revelate Design’s new Expedition Pogies for us, while he rides Oscar through conditions that are forecast to hit -23F.

 The Pre-Ramble

Oscar de la A-Train

Installment one. Jan 24 2014. On the road to International Falls Minnesota. 552 miles to go but how did I get here?

In prep for this race I have had to carve out time to ride from a very busy work schedule. It was a challenge as distractions cause errors. The Arrowhead is mostly mental and gear preparation.


Bike cloths and a reason to ride. My bike is named Oscar. He was born four years ago at the hands of Alex Cook a master bike builder.

This year Oscar had to have his rear end rebuilt as I cracked the chainstay. I have to have confidence in my bike. At -20 there is no time to have regrets. Fixing a flat can be painful.

I set out a tarp on my living room floor, two months in advance. I have a section for food, water, electronics clothes (boots, socks, pants, shirts, headgear, gloves). And a spot for tools

I start putting things together considering what I will need, what is extra, what it weighs, And how it fits. I do this many times before I come to this day.

I get my Body ready. Exercise is part but since I ride everyday I have an OK base. I have to get used to bracing Cold. I check and recheck how fast cold enters my body as temps begin to fall. Sweat is a big deal. Layering cloths helps. I’ll ride too cold in order to avoid sweating. It is very hard to do.

Then there is the mental part. I have my rituals. But most important you have to have fun.

Packing starts months in advance then it looks like this.

Day 1 in Frostbite Falls (2 days before the race start) – 


These pogies are great!     More when I have worn them for 36 hours

Day 2 (One day before the race) – 

Things get intense as the weather conditions and road deteriorate. Today is sunny and cold. Hockey kids crawling all over the place. Breakfast and schedule planning.

Then dialing in final adjustments. Cold reqires different adjustments in these events. Very cold means water will be a problem. Anything that requires hands will be a problem

Equipment is fun. Recently, Gomez asked me to check out a pair of Revelete Expedition Poagies. I didn’t get them until the day before leaving, which didn’t give me time to check out their features. So, I am doing so now. They are well designed for this cold. Two layers with one removable shell. They attach to the Bar ends in a rather non intuitive way. They have a bar end cap with a stay on them which a bungie like pull fits from the inside of the hoagie. I discovered that the liner has a small slit that the shock cord fits through. This makes the set up a commitment for the race. Pretty much at least. Guess wrong and one could be too hot or too cold. Fortunately the weather this year is monosyllabically “COLD!”.

Here is a pic of the slots and the stay

PicMonkey Collage

We’ll have more to come from Tom, as his adventure continues!

About Gomez 2576 Articles
Just an old cat that rides bikes, herds pixels, ropes gnomes and sometimes writes stories. I love a good story.

1 Comment

  1. Good to see this log that Tom is sharing! I first met Tom a little over a year ago, and was immediately impressed with his integrity and passion for riding. But what impressed me most as Tom and I begin to spend more time together, is how many other cyclists he knows even though he’s lived in Milwaukee for a short time. Tom is a true ambassador to the sport, and someone who is willing to offer encouragement to everyone he meets, whether you ride a bike or not.

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