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JayP’s Backyard Pursuit Post-Race Recap

February 5, 2015

In Early January, Blake Bockius set out to complete and compete in JayP’s Backyard Fat Pursuit.   Enjoy some great words and perspective from an extremely humble and incredibly talented cyclist in this post race interview.

When you mentioned you were racing through Yellowstone in the middle of winter I envisioned snow, cold temps, wolves, grizzlies, and moose-not epic bike riding. Now that a few weeks have past since you’re completion of JayP’s Backyard Fat Pursuit, what are some of your strongest memories?

Unfortunately I didn’t see much wildlife. I was hoping to see some moose or elk and I thought it would be cool to see a wolf. I think my strongest memories are when I was out on the trail, the remoteness and the isolation of the area were strong. Even though the route was fairly well traveled, there were times when I felt very small and removed from the rest of the world. We travelled along the Continental Divide with access to beautiful views of Yellowstone to the east and the open country to the west. I love riding at night it so peaceful and quiet. Night time is a great time to be out in nature. During the night, I traveled over a pass outside of West Yellowstone. It was snowing hard up there, and I felt like I was ski touring rather than bike racing.

 

Heading out to ride a fat bike for 200k through Yellowstone in January is difficult to wrap your mind around. Tell us a bit a bit about the course and conditions.

The conditions for the most part were favorable for fat bike racing. We traveled a big 130 mile loop on designated snowmobile routes. The temps were much warmer than normal with highs in the 30’s and lows in the teens. A week before the race West Yellowstone was having temps as low as -20. I had actually been training for colder temps. It would have been nice to have a bit colder weather, but I should probably be careful what I wish for.

Coming from California, I wasn’t sure what to expect for the the snow conditions. I thought the trails would be more packed in. The snowmobiles really chew things up. Traction and bike control were a big challenge. For most of the race, I had to stay focused on riding in other fat bike tracks. It took a lot of concentration which added to the fatigue. Passing other racers took a major effort. As soon as the bike goes out of the track you get bogged down, and you really have to put down some major power. I came off the bike a number of times because of loose traction on the up hills and loss of control on the downhill. It’s very similar to riding in sand for 130 miles!

 

It was great fun checking in on your progress as you raced via trackleaders.com. It looked as though you may have hunkered down for the night. How did the dynamic of the race change once the sun went down?

Actually, I didn’t sleep. I did take a long break at the Man Cave aid station around 1:00 in the morning. I was having stomach problems, and I was having a hard time holding down food. I wanted to make sure that I was partially recovered before heading out into the night. My mind wanted me to get back out there in the race, but my body was telling me otherwise. As racers came and went out of the aid station, I slowly tried to get some food in and hydrate. I was a bit worried about going back out into the cold and snow, but finally I left the Man Cave after an hour plus break. Once I got back on the bike, I felt pretty good and actually raced strong to the finish.

 

From the Facebook updates JayP’s Backyard Fat Pursuit looked well supported. About how often would you come across support stations during the race?

There were three aid stations. The first aid station at mile 30 and was a trail side tent with water and some food. The second aid station at mile 60 was in the town of West Yellowstone. This aid station was in a private home. The racers had the opportunity to grab their drop bag, dry clothing by the fire, and refuel. The volunteers had soup and grill cheese sandwiches waiting.

Aid station three, the Man Cave, was at mile 100. This aid station also had a great bunch of volunteers. They had eggs to order and bacon among other goodies to fill our bellies.

The Fat Pursuit was very well supported mainly by volunteers. It was good to know that we were being looked after even though the racers are required to be self-sufficient. We were required to carry equipment to survive on our own overnight. Before the race Jay P. checked each racer for the required gear. Required gear included, a bivi bag, minimum zero degree sleeping bag, pad, extra clothing, stove and pot for boiling water.

 

How did you do and is this what you expected?

I finished 19th overall. My goal was a top ten finish, even though I tried to go into the race without high expectations. I was racing more for the experience than a result. Overall I was very happy with the my race.

 

Would you consider doing this again next year? If so, what changes would you make with gear, food, prep., etc.?

Yes! I’m already thinking about next year. I feel like I learned a lot and can carry some of the knowledge I gained into next year’s race.

I don’t think I would make many gear changes except not to overdress for the start. I definitely had too much clothing on this year. I ended up over heating early and getting wet with sweat. Also, I would work on eating and hydrating better early on in the race. A little more training time before the race would be nice as well.

 

Thanks Blake!  I look forward to getting some rides in with you soon!

 

 

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