Words and photos by Rachel Heath
I’m standing at my desk scrolling through a social media platform, mind dulled with boredom as the mundanity of routine life seeps into my cells. I see a drone image of a group of cyclists riding across a snow-covered trail. “A group ride!” I think to myself. I’ve been spending a lot of solo time on the bike these days, failing to convince my friends and acquaintances that a subzero bike ride is a good time. It has been a particularly cold weather pattern in Southcentral Alaska for the last six weeks, and I feel lonely in my continuous pursuit of pedaling in miserable conditions.
But alas, a group ride! I clink the link. Oh, never mind, it’s a race. I don’t race. I investigate further—there’s an option for a 25 mile course. “I can do 25 miles”, I think. So I sign up for my first race ever: a fat bike race in Alaska in subzero temperatures. Five days later I cross the finish line of the Frosty Bottom: a well-attended fatbike race in the heart of Anchorage, Alaska. Lucky for me, the race fell on a sunny and warm (-8º F) Saturday morning. My years of experience backcountry skiing, ice climbing, and pursuing other cold-weather suffer-inducing sports prepared me well for a frigid bicycle ride across town.