My muscles were tired from tensing up during the long downhill to Deadwood Lake. I flexed and bore-down as if I were trying to fold my body into itself. It was a futile attempt to stay warm. Futile indeed. My water was frozen. My face was frozen. My fingers and toes hurt. And it was only going to get colder.
Screw it. I decided to take shelter in a bathroom, crawl into my bag, and warm up. It was 5 AM. I told myself that I wouldn’t venture out until the sun had taken the bite out of the cold. I didn’t emerge from my warm refuge until 7:30 AM.
Back on the trail, I was excited about the prospect of finishing the 400-mile race before sunset. It had been a great ride so far. There were just a couple of big climbs between me and the finish in Boise. Little did I know that, later, I’d struggle through the final 30 miles with just one pedal.
Put this race on your calendar
The inaugural Smoke N Fire bikepacking race was picture perfect. The organizers, Norb and Tyson, really had their act together. Everything was well-planned and communicated. Very impressive.
The route was forgiving with lots of water sources and plenty of food options. It was very rideable and the scenery was beautiful. And, had I not been racing, I could have enjoyed a dip in numerous hot springs along the route. The forecasted cold temperatures were the only wildcard. It did, in fact, drop into the 20’s on certain parts of the route.
Overall, it was a great ride and brought together a really friendly group of riders. This is a great race, especially for those just getting into bikepacking.
I finished in 9th place and was happy that I was able to complete it in less than 72 hours. There was plenty of climbing, but my GPS said that I did about 31K ft, which was much less than the advertised 51K. I’m not complaining.
Some recommended gear
- Sleep kit: 20-degree bag, Neo Air pad, and an REI bivy sac.
- Navigation and lights: GPX, Exposure Revo light, dynamo hub, and Fenix LD22 on my helmet.
Photo diary of my ride