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Jay P's Fat Pursuit: Sometimes The Triumph's in The Training

Updated: Jan 22, 2020

On January 10th, to ring in the new year, Greg Martin and I headed to eastern Idaho to take part in the 200 mile distance at the legendary Jay P's Fat Pursuit; a fat Bike endurance race produced by ultra cycling legend Jay Petervary.

Jay P (in red, right) sending off the 200 mile Fat Pursuit riders.

Jay is 10x Iditarod Trail Invitational champion and his races are always geared toward pushing riders to be self sufficient, responsible and to explore new places inside and out. I started fat biking just five yeas ago and Jay's was my first winter event. I've lined up 5 times, finished 3 times and never completed the 200 mile distance. Fat Pursuit is one of the hardest events I've ever done and despite "failing" multiple times and swearing "never again", I continue to be drawn back due to the ultra cycling community, for the beauty of the terrain and the challenge to be better. Jay is personally responsible for pushing me and empowering me with the confidence and skill to attempt the Iditarod Trail Invitational (IDI) in Alaska last year (for an inside look, check out this Outside TV piece, or this shorter clip here). His winter expedition events have broken me and built me up at the same time. This year was no different.

I approached the Fat Pursuit 200 miler as key preparation for the Iditarod Trail Invitational in March. The goal was to test food, gear, equipment, pacing in a multi-day self support format prior to Alaska. I finished the 350 mile ITI in Alaska last year but it was messy. I fumbled with gear and nutrition and was literally spinning my wheels. I'm heading back to Alaska because winter expedition riding has exposed weaknesses and vulnerabilities that I'm choosing to face. Fat Pursuit was a chance to test equipment, tighten up my systems for dealing with extreme cold, to gain confidence and get in a big training weekend.

As a self-supported event, for me this event was about facing my fears (cold and exposure) and learning to move efficiently and safely in an extremely inhospitable but magical environment. In store would be 200 snowy miles 6,606 feet of climbing and average speeds less than 5mph.

The prep ahead of time involved packing, unpacking, evaluating the course, estimating nutrition needs, studying weather forecasts and trying to control the controllable! Pre-planning is an essential part to any expedition and while it's tedious, time spent organizing in the warmth indoors pays dividends on the trail.

Greg and I pre-race at our cabin the night before the 200 mile start.

My husband Greg has become addicted to this winter challenge as well, so he was there with me. We were racing individually, but just knowing he was out on the trails at the same time was reassuring.

I expected we would wind up in close proximity and knew we could stay connected via our Garmin InReach devices in case of emergency. On these long solo expeditions, even though competitors spread far apart and we rarely see each other, the tire marks in the snow provide reassurance that I'm not completely alone.