We asked Facebook fans to ASK JAYP any questions they had for him after returning from his 1000 mile ride on the Iditarod Trail. After quite the journey with mixed conditions and an extended amount of time at -40*, he crossed the Nome finish line sharing first place with friend and fellow competitor, Jeff Oatley, showing unbelievable sportsmanship and that racing is more than just a result.
Here is Part 2 of JayP’s answers to your questions!
CLOTHING & GEAR
Q: Obviously riding in the temps and conditions you do presents a new set of challenges to keeping all facets of your body in shape to perform at a top level that most cyclists will never experience. Throughout the years that have been your most significant challenges on and off the bike to keeping in good health and shape and how did you address them? Specifically, are there skin related issues that you've experienced as a result of races like ITI in extreme temps? If so, how do you handle keeping those from becoming major issues. How about muscle loss and muscle failure?
It’s all about taking care of yourself and having a lot of body awareness. Most people that have problems ignored something or waited too long to take care of the issue. It takes discipline to do these things. Example: When it is -40* and you are developing a rub on your foot under the 4 layers of socks in your boot which has a gator on top of it, will you stop to take off all those layers to fix that wrinkle in your sock, or will you let it go and ignore it? Most will ignore it and end up with a blister. That is how it all starts. Personally and most of the time I do the maintenance I need to do. This year I developed some tendonitis in my knees early in the race from going hard and pushing big gears. I was very worried as it was starting to hinder my performance and was very painful. I got to a point I needed to do something. So, I slowed my pace, kept a higher cadence and made sure to ice and elevate when I could. It took ~3-4 days of paying attention to this injury before it started to calm down and start to subside. From there on to the finish I needed to be careful to not reirritate it. I never worked through anything like this before, and I was so stoked I did. In the last days the knees felt great.
Can’t say I have ever had muscle loss or failure.
Q: Your clothing choices really needed to count for such a big accomplishment, did you experience any short sightedness with your selection? Did you experience any chronic issues in regards to the environment when relating to your clothing choices. Was the balance in kit correct or were you heavy on some items you didn't need to be and light on others?
At this point I am pretty dialed on this stuff. I wore everything I carried, in all different combinations and sometimes all at the same time. Clothing should be looked at as a system and have lots of options to adjust to every temperature and climate condition. That means from -50* to 40* and raining. Yes, that's right rain, it happens even in the winters of Alaska. Going back to the basics ‘sweat management’ is key and having a system that allows the ease of this is best.
One of the ‘issues’ to deal with and try to really dial in is your face coverage mask. When it is -30* and beyond it seems as if you are living behind this mask. Everything on your face is covered, but of course you still need to breathe, which will take place though both your nose and mouth. The moisture coming from your mouth builds up on your balaclava or whatever it is you have covering your face. The way your eyes and head are covered, it also seems like you're looking through this tunnel. It doesn't sound like a big deal, but in reality when traveling everyday, all day, like this it is almost claustrophobic in feel. Then you need to have another system tucked away on stand by, so you can swap it out when what you are using becomes frozen solid and not doing its job as well. This swap of head / face gear generally will take place when night falls.
Q: What tips do you have for keeping your upper body dry in freezing temps? I'm a notorious sweater but I eventually hit a groove where even though my base layer is wet, it's warm and I can ride for a long time. The problem is stopping, getting warm and restarting with wet gear which is not pleasant and seldom bearable. I started taking extra base layers, but it's cumbersome especially with multiple stops. I also try to pick out a spot that may have a place to dry out quickly (e.g. a roaring fire). Any other tricks?
Whenever I am talking about dressing in the winter, you will generally hear my talk about moisture management. This is very individual and sounds easy but it is often ignored and very important, especially for the long haul. You can always try vapor barrier type clothing, which is meant to trap the moisture against your skin, therefore not getting your layers wet. This takes some playing with and bears a certain amount of discomfort as it does produce the greenhouse effect, trapping your sweat. Always dress lighter than you think, and if you're not cold when you start, you are probably overdressed. Letting the heat escape through taking off your hat and opening any zips you have will also help. I often have pit zips sewn into all my winter cycling clothing. You can moderate your moisture by also moderating your effort. Slowing it down just one notch sometimes is all it takes to slow that perspiration down and in the end not much is lost in terms of how far you went in a given amount of time. Personally I now have the discipline and do not use vapor barrier clothing any more, and in long events like the ITI, I do slow myself to the ‘no sweat pace’.
Q: What was your sock shoe system? Lobbens? That is what I learned to rely on while growing up in Bethel. Bulky on the bike but worked no matter what. As much as I use 45NRTH product I don't think the wolvhammer would have worked. But maybe it did..
I used the 45NRTH Wolvhammer, 4 sizes big. I have been using these with success over the last few years. I have typically used them only being 2 sizes big, but with going to Nome this year I had a last minute panic and decided to go even bigger. The one amazing thing I found out through this was just being bigger made them warmer. I honestly was nervous for my feet when the temps hit -40* and beyond. In the past I had built my own boot system and always had an overboot of sorts. This time I had no overboot and was relying on the extra space to layer extra socks. In the end I never really changed my sock system, but my feet stayed warm. I never even used chemical warmers as I have in the past. I was very impressed and have built so much confidence in those boots I am still amazed. I could not have been more stoked on the Wolvhammer in the week long -40* temps. I came home with zero frostbite or frostnip, not even my cheeks!
Q: Just curious about the choice of a frame bag/seat bag/handlebar roll (typical bike packing setup) vs rack/pannier combo for some of the longer races.
All depends on how much ‘kit’, stuff, you are going to be carrying. The biggest oversight I see in winter setups is having that ‘extra room’. Most people leave for a trip with there bikes looking neatly packed, with no real extra room. I know when I am on the trail my desire to be neat starts to go out the window over being practical. Like trying to pack your -20* bag into this real small stuff sac. No thanks, I prefer a large, almost too big of a stuff sac. When it is truly -40* the last thing you want to be doing with your hands is spending time stuffing your bag. It’s the trailside practices that should also dictate your carrying system. I also have been challenged in the past with trying to put 3 days of food on my bike when I have not allowed for that extra space.
Going to McGrath, 350 miles, I would use a soft bag system and pack things tight, knowing my time on the trail is limited and the use of some of my equipment might be limited if at all. But when going to Nome I use a rack system that will allow for quick and easy access to equipment and all the extra space I need allowing me to pack more loosely.
Q: What did you put on your face in the cold?
I am a big fan of the Dermatone stick. It’s an excellent wind block and sunscreen.
Q: Why do they call you the Snow Badger?
Always on the hunt for food, nothing gets in his way…The Crazy Nastyass Honey Badger (original narration by Randall)
WHY and WHAT’S NEXT
Q: Why? Why do these incredible things. Why keep pushing yourself? And is the Dirty Kanza 200 your favorite race\? And I hope to see you in Emporia.
Why not? I enjoy them obviously. I get a certain fulfillment out of them that nothing else can do. I love the adventure, I love challenge, I love the feeling, I love to try and better myself, I love knowing that I can do many things that are questioned, I love dealing with the elements and overcoming them this is me! DK 200 so many favorites and of course this is one of them. See you then, I will be on a tandem!
Q: Just how do you do it? It's astonishing!
Q: You are one badass & incredible human being. I have much respect & admiration. My question: any plans (or the time necessary) for a book?
I am often asked this question; I often think about it. I would love to share my full life and my progression. I am kind of amazed by how my life has unfolded. I have SO much going on in my life right now, I can barely sit down to even answer these questions. In short I would love to write a book, and it all comes down to opportunities that would allow the time and lifestyle to actually do it.
Q: Simple question: What's next?
Rest. Work and make some dollars. Put things in place for the rest of the year and beyond. Then DK 200 on a tandem with my Lady followed by an attempt of breaking my record of the Tour Divide route. I will be leaving with the Grande Depart of the TD on June 12th.