Curt Emerson Wheel & Sprocket Oshkosh
Curt Emerson of Wheel & Sprocket Oshkosh recently finished the Tuscobia Ultra which is a self-supported 80 mile winter Ultra event on the the Tuscobia trail in Wisconsin. Curt rode his Trek Farley 5 fat bike twelve hours through the bleak winter elements from Park Falls to Rice Lake. He shared key takeaways on preparation for winter biking events:
This event was a lot different than what I was used to doing which made preparation very different. Being that I had no clue what the weather was going to be I had to get as much outside time as possible. This meant riding in the rain, snow, and snow as much as possible. Training Hub was also a very good resource to help keep my fitness up, and it's always nice to ride with some great people (not a lot of people want to ride long distance when the weather isn't the best).
Do it! The best way to not put something off is by committing to it. Sign up for that century, that marathon, that Ironman, that gravel grinder, that winter ultra. Once your signed up you are committing to doing what it takes to do the event to the best of your ability. I had no desire to do the Tuscobia Winter Ultra a year ago. It sounded like something I couldn't and didn't want to do. Then August rolled around and with a little coaxing I signed up with no clue what I was in for. After I signed up I made a schedule of mileage goals for each week leading up to the race. The first rides were making sure I was able to have all of the required gear for the race, and riding with it. After that it was just getting saddle time in.
Research the event to find out how much, if any, support there is. Tuscobia Ultra has required gear that everyone must start and finish with. If that is the case double and triple check to make sure you have what they require. Always have a flat tire kit with a multi tool and a way to pump up a flat whether it's CO2 or a hand pump is up to you. Even if it's not required. A flat tire is the easiest way not to finish an event. As far as nutrition goes when you are training for the event try different things. Whether it's gels, bars, or supplements try things for yourself, and remember what works for some may not work for you. Also make sure you don't try something new on the day of the event! That is the best way to throw yourself off. If you have a cup of coffee before your long rides and it works, do that. Also Klondike Bars are an amazing post race/event treat.
The most rewarding part of a long event is the feeling of accomplishment you have when finishing. Pushing yourself past your breaking point and continuing to the finish can be very difficult for some people. In an unsupported event such as the Tuscobia Winter Ultra you have to be prepared to possibly spend hours on end with no motivation which was the biggest challenge I faced. Nutrition, gear, and the training I did didn't prepare me for spending so many hours in my own head without seeing a single person.
My biggest take away from this ride was to ride how you train. I didn't eat or drink how I did when I was training. This had a major effect on my performance during the race. My other biggest advice is to ride your own ride. If the pace is a lot faster than what you were anticipating slow up and ride your ride. Push yourself but know your limits.