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As Britain braces for another sprinkling of snow, US riders take on the real deal

While cyclists in Britain have been coming to terms with wintry conditions in recent weeks, spare a thought for some intrepid riders in Alaska who took part in a 150-mile race that proved so tough that only two of the 12 entrants managed to complete it.

A further six cyclists completed a shorter, 100-mile course in the race, which took place in the stunning mountain scenery around the Sheep Mountain Lodge in the state’s Glennallen area, where the temperature at this time of year can hit minus 50 degree Centigrade and never climbs above zero.

Officially known as the Sheep Mountain 150 Winter Bike race, the 150-mile event was won in 33 hours, 7 minutes by Jeff Oatle from Fairbanks, with Bill Fleming of Anchorage coming home in 34 hours, 14 minutes.

Six others completed the 100-mile course, with that race won by Frank McGuire, also of Anchorage, in 32 hours, 28 minutes.

The riders undertook the race on fat bikes, similar to mountain bikes but with much wider tyre clearance of up to four inches, allowing them to be used on surfaces such as sand, gravel and, of course, snow.

More information on the event can be found on its website.
 

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

6 comments

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wild man [297 posts] 5 years ago
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I might have to get one of those fat bikes shipped over here if we keep having winters like this.

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Fringe [1047 posts] 5 years ago
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wild man wrote:

I might have to get one of those fat bikes shipped over here if we keep having winters like this.

or get one of these, http://surlybikes.com/bikes/pugsley_complete/

(must say i'm tempted looks like a right barrel of fun)  4

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dave atkinson [6223 posts] 5 years ago
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Simon E [2727 posts] 5 years ago
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Eek!

Somewhat similar conditions may face those racing the Iditarod Trail - 350 or 1100 miles. Bristol based endurance MTB racer John Ross has entered again. He provided Singletrack mag with a report on last year's edition of this gruelling event. Here is his kit list for the 2009 event. In the same issue Kiwi racer Jenn Hopkins gave an account of racing The Great Divide - 2,500 miles of the Rockies from Canada to Mexico - on a singlespeed.

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Dog72 [106 posts] 5 years ago
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I've just ridden the Cambridge to Histon 6miler commute. -4 on Treacherous A road swathed in ice, and Peppered with crater like potholes. For a good 4 miles I was surrounded by Ravenous Volvo's and snarly 4 wheel drives driven by Coffee drinking Mobile phone users. At one point an impreza tried to pounce on me from a side street! All on an old Flat bar marin roadbike with gator skins 23's. And I'm going to do it all again later, in the dark.

I'd piss this Alaska trail.

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Simon E [2727 posts] 5 years ago
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Dog72 wrote:

I'd piss this Alaska trail.

Yeah, but your pee would freeze before it hit the floor  3

I find adverse conditions tames those snarling 4x4s, beastly subarus and mammoth-like HGVs somewhat. Riding through town and up the A-road to work yesterday morning (at a mere -4°C) was a relatively calm and safe experience compared to the days I use that route in better conditions. Plenty of traffic but it was slower, no-one cut me up and overtaking drivers made their passing moves when there was no risk of close encounters with oncoming vehicles.

If Santa asks me what I want for Christmas more behaviour like that would be at the top of my list.