Steamboat’s Manic Training owner pedals across the Alaskan tundra in fat bike race |

Steamboat’s Manic Training owner pedals across the Alaskan tundra in fat bike race

Graham Muir takes a break under an aurora borealis.
Courtesy of Mark Smith

If Jack London’s character in “To Build a Fire” had a fat bike, maybe he would have survived. Manic Training gym owner Graham Muir certainly did, albeit with a bit of suffering, in his entry into the Iditarod Trail Invitational.

The fat bike race is 350 miles across Alaska on the Iditarod dog sled trail. While it offers three distances — 150, 350 and 1,000 miles — Muir chose the middle length, pedaling across the frozen finish line in four days, 16 hours.

“The race has a lot of different challenges, from the distance and sleep deprivation to minus 25 degree temperatures and miles of glazed ice to ride across,” Muir said. “There was also a lot of open water and ice bridges to navigate.”

Riders stopped at six checkpoints, two of which also were spots where racers could stash bags of food.

“The bikes are loaded with all the equipment you need to survive, including sleeping systems, expedition clothing, food, stove and more,” he said.

One setback for Muir was a flat tire suffered when it was a balmy minus 15 degrees. It took 90 bone-chilling minutes to fix. His riding partner also broke his seat clamp with just 100 miles to go. Still, from riding under the aurora borealis to experiencing the unadulterated beauty of Alaska in the winter, it was worth every crank of his iced-up pedal.

To earn a spot in the invitational, Muir competed in the Jay Ps Fat Pursuit 200-kilometer and 200-mile races in Yellowstone and joined Jay and Tracey Petervary’s five-day Fatbike Camp.

“The logistics are pretty hard,” Muir said. “It would be easier next year, but still difficult. I’m on the fence about doing it again.”

The same holds true about ever doing the longer race.

“The 1,000 is a different league entirely,” he said, adding that the winners finish in about 18 days and 30 days is the cutoff. “It would have to be the right circumstances. Work wise and financially, it’s definitely an expedition-like undertaking.”

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