What are the topics?
What's included (Norway)
Not included: rental bikes or any gear, travel to and from
Instruction by Bill and Kathi Merchant, longtime organizers of the Iditarod Trail Invitational. We have been offering these training camps since 2002.
Upon registration we will email every participant a recommended gear list.
We use specific gear made for winter cycling such as 45 North boots, Neos overboots, poagies, frame bags, seat post bags and use mountaineering gear for multi day winter bike packing and racing: sleeping bags, down parks, puffy jackets and over pants, stoves.
Here are some brands you might want to check out:
45 North, Revelate Designs, Becker Gear, Dogwood Designs, Marmot, Mountain Hardwear, Mammut, North Face, Patagonia, MSR, Black Diamond, Feathered Friends, Big Agnes, Western Mountaineering, Neos boots,Smart wool,Arc Teryx, Cold Avenger, Princton Tec, Garmin, DeLorme,Apidura, Baryak, Bikebag Dude,Wildcat Gear,Blackburn, Outdoor Research, Cascade Designs, Mountain House,Camelbak, Darn Tough Socks, Honey Stinger, Hot hands, Grabber hand warmers
5 day ITI TRAINING CAMP FLATHORN LAKE ALASKA JANUARY 29-FEBRUARY 2, 2018
The 5 day school will be spent in the Alaskan wilderness with a base camp at Flathorn Lake.
Time will be spent with equipment testing, gear selection, setting up bivies in the snow, melting water from snow and rides on the Iditarod Trail.
We recommend the Westmark Hotel in Anchorage for lodging before and after the camp. The hotel is centrally located near restaurants, REI, 6th Ave Outfitters and you can take your bike into the rooms. We will have a snowmobile with a trailer to haul one extra bag per student for extra gear and food. We get a discounted rat of $89.00 +12% tax for our racers and students. Contact Vicki Logan at VLogan@hollandamerica-princess.com or book a reservation online at www.westmarkhotels.com using
Group Code: IDIN2017
Transportation from and back to Anchorage to Point MacKenzie, 4 evening meals prepared by your instructors, professional instruction by Bill & Kathi Merchant, race organizers and racers of the 350 mile and 1000 mile Iditarod Trail Invitational.Not included
rental bikes, camping gear, you need to bring your own gear, clothing,breakfast, lunch and snacks.
Our training camps are designed for those wanting to enter the Iditarod Trail Invitational 130 mile or 350 mile race by fat bike or anyone who would like to learn about winter biking and human powered winter travel in the extremes of the Alaskan winter. These camps are not about physical training, but to learn about winter backcountry travel, winter camping and biking in the snow in extreme cold temperatures as well as camping in the rain. We cannot predict the Alaskan weather. From the first time winter camper to the more experienced winter traveler ready to shed gear in favor of speed without compromising safety our camps are for cyclists looking to expand their horizons and remote backcountry travel in remote areas of Alaska.
Winter biking is a growing sport here in Alaska and becoming more popular in the Lower States with several winter races held here in Alaska and other western and northern states. For those contemplating entering one of the human-powered winter ultra races, our camps are a great place to start. We often have race veterans from Alaska Ultra Sport's Iditarod Trail race come to the camps and share their knowledge and experience giving the students a wider view of gear and techniques and riding a snowbike on snowmobile and mushing trails.
After spending a lifetime playing and racing in the winter wilderness the last thing I want to be is cold. So! I learned not to be! The purpose of the camp is to pass on the skills, acquired after thousands of miles of trial and error on the trail, necessary to stay comfortable and enjoy human powered winter travel.
Having all the right gear is nice but knowing the little tricks to make it all work is priceless. It may safe your fingers, nose and toes!
These camps are taught by Bill and Kathi Merchant. Bill is a eight time finisher of the Alaska Ultra Sport 350 mile race on the Iditarod Trail and finisher of the 1000 mile race to Nome in 2008. Kathi is a three time winner in the 350 mile race and became the first female cyclist to finish the 1000 mile race in 2008.
Our passion is multi-day winter cycling expeditions and races.
fat bike rentals
Fatback rentals at Alaska Pacific University outdoor program
We will send you a recommended gear list after we recieve payment by check or money order or bank wire (by foreign participants)
What others had to say:
BABY STEPS IN THE SHADOW OF A FALLEN GIANT
Fast forward to late January 2013. I am unloading my gear-laden fat bike (all 30 kgs of it) from the back of a U-Haul truck with the help of Bill Merchant and my new group of nine friends and fellow "campers" in Knik, Alaska. Bill is telling stories nonstop. We are all amused, and a bit afraid, as Bill's stories have woven a vibrant tapestry of the history of the ITI, its predecessor the Iditabike, the personalities of Mike Curiak, Pete Basinger, and Tim Hewitt, the lawyer-cum-repeat ITI finisher.
Tim is an extreme adventurer in the most classic of definitions who's last trip up the Iditarod trail this past 2013 season was on foot and outdoors the entire way – all 1,100 miles from Kink to Nome – and was his seventh consecutive (!?) finish for the “full” Knik-to-Nome ITI, which itself (7x finishes) is a new record.
At the time, that last bit about Tim’s seventh journey up the full Iditarod trail had not yet been written, but Tim hewitt’s reputation was legendary.
Funny thing though, all of those stories of fabled ITI heroes were nothing in comparison to meeting Bill in the flesh and seeing what this whole sub-zero experience was all about personified in a handlebar mustache, a tattered polar fleece headband (not a hat) and a huge grin that in wattage was only outdone by his wife Kathi, herself an ITI legend, who gently, but stubbornly over the next several days played the role of mother bear to all of us newborn polar cubs.
Gearing up, Bill continued providing stream-of-consciousness entertainment like our very own background radio station, and while my attention was drawn to making sure my bike, now loaded and weighed-down with food and survival equipment, was ready to roll out, I could not help but note how international, to say the least, our group was that year. We had folks in from Australia, Canada, the USA, Italy, France, and South Africa, and then there was me from Costa Rica. None of us were seasoned winter bikers, but we all wanted to be, so it with rookie nervousness that we all saddled up and rolled out of Knik towards camp some 50 kilometers away at Flathorn Lake.
We all were aware that it was with great trepidation, as Bill and Kathi were not shy about sharing, that the camp that year had swelled beyond the usual six-person group to a gaggle of nine inexperienced snow bikers, many intent on they, themselves, racing (some day) the ITI. Somehow the last three of us (I think I was Camper 7 who started the crack in the dam) managed to talk (whine? cajole?) our way into convincing the Merchants to take the risk of going three over their tried-and-true ITI training camp format.
Yes, this could be a recipe for disaster, but as we all quickly discovered our group was something else.
A mix of positive karma, big smiles open hearts and personalities, and a bit of pixie dust thrown in made for one of the best thrown-together immediate and lasting friendship concoctions that I have ever been a part of. While I was never in the military, I imagine that our experience was similar to of a combat squad heading off into the unknown. We did all share in what could be called a Band of Brothers vibe, with Bill and Kathi as our fearless and willful squad leaders and the rest of us a bunch of know-nothing grunts that over the next week gelled together under the shared intense experience that was the 2013 Alaska Ultrasport training camp.
One superlative from that icy week was on our second to last day -- our practical test -- where a group of us cycled, round trip, from our camp location under the shadow of Mt. Sustina up to the first checkpoint of Yenta lodge, and back again, by following 60 kilometers (one way) of trail over frozen confluences of the Skwentna and Yenta rivers.
Our journey by day was highlighted by the barks and rush of sled dog teams traversing the same trail we rode as they practiced for the upcoming Iditarod, then only a week away, and then terrified by the two-sled teams of Iron Dog racers and their 160 kph blurs as they blew by us on the trailside. (We never could not get out of the way fast enough -- a dangerous situation! -- as you see only a pinprick of light in the distance and then, in a blink, the snarling, screaming machines are overtaking you in a hurricane blast of spindrift and gasoline exhaust with rider and machine hurling along only barely skimming the tops of the crested, frozen undulations of the river below.)
An iPod, or any personal other entertainment device, on this run is a major no-no. As Bill told us, Music in your ears means not hearing that snow machine or dog sled team until it is too late. No of us was in need, however, of personal entertainment as the late-day light cast across the Alaskan wilderness around us obliged with a sublime visual feast of its own.
Six of us rode by setting sun (amazing, amazing views) all the way to our turn around point where the Yetna lodge staff provided ample, gruff service (we loved it!) with drink and food. Then, sated and perhaps a bit sleepy, we exited the warmth of Yentna lodge and pedaled the nearly 40 kilometers back by the light of the moon and our head torches on a magical, windless night to our designated "test" campsite at the edge of Flathorn Lake.
Of the six that evening, five of us -- Kelly (Canada - adventure race veteran), Renzo (Italy - fat bike aficionado), Jason aka Stickboy (Michigan - mud and ice MUDBAT single track lover), Guy (South Africa - veteran ultra-distance trail runner and adventure man) and me (Costa Rica - aforementioned collateral damage to Patrick) are returning in February to make the 560-kilometer adventure from Knik to McGrath in the Alaskan interior.
We all left the camp wiser, better prepared and enriched from the experience. (Huge and forever thanks to Bill and Kathi for opening their camp and their hearts to us.) One of the best experiences, ever, and no better way to crash course oneself into the thick of winter adventure fat biking. 100% certified and recommended. If you are ever thinking about riding the ITI…and even if you are not.