A Winning Perspective - JayP's Fat Pursuit

By: Gabe Klamer/Forest Dramis

Over the years several winter ultra-fat bike races have been popping up. The sport has been gaining popularity especially in the Midwest. The Tuscobia, Arrowhead Ultra, White Mountains and the granddaddy of them all, the Iditarod Trail Invitational, pull hundreds of racers each year. Three years ago there was a new kid on the block, the Fat Pursuit, hosted by our very own world-renowned Jay Petervary. The Fat Pursuit, held in Island Park, ID has quickly gained a reputation for a relentless race course, challenging weather conditions and spectacular views. Born in 2014, the first 2 years a 200k took place.  This year Jay upped the ante and added a 200 mile distance to the race. I chose the 200k distance just to get my feet wet in winter ultra-racing. One hundred and twenty miles on snow with 8,000 feet of climbing, “meh, piece of cake” I thought from the comfort of my warm home.

For a detailed map with topography, click  the above image

For a detailed map with topography, click the above image

With these types of winter ultras there is a list of gear each racer must carry. This gear is in case of emergency. The required gear was as follows:

●      Zero degree sleeping bag minimum
●      Shelter
●      Insulated sleeping pad
●      Down jacket
●      Stove, 16oz pot and enough fuel capable to boil water several times
●      Front and rear blinky lights to be turned on at all times to avoid being run over by snowmobiles
●      Light suitable for riding at night
●      GPS and map for navigating

Jay calls his race the ‘Fat Pursuit’ because everyone has a unique pursuit of their own. Some show up knowing they will likely not finish, others show up to finish and then there’s the hardcore racers showing up to place. I’ll let you guess which category I fall into.

The 120 mile race course is broken up into three aid stations. Aid station #1 is at mile 35. Aid #2 is in a house in West Yellowstone at mile 65. The final aid is at mile 100 located in a barn known as the ‘Man Cave’, more on this later.

At Aid #1 all racers are required to boil water. This is to prove that you can make water if needed while on course. The trail travels through very remote country from this aid forward so the ability to boil water could literally save your life. I entered this aid tied for 1st riding with well-known adventure cyclist Blake Bockius. Knowing we would be required to boil here I incorporated water boils into my daily training rides. I saw the water boil as a part of the race and you need to be quick and deliberate to win the race. I was in and out in 4’30”. This stop included filling my 100oz camelback, making 20oz’s of instant mashed potatoes and restocking some of my food. I attacked for the next hour attempting to separate myself from Blake. Blake is a formidable predator and I did not want to give him a rabbit to chase so I did my best to break visual contact with him. I would look back often but no one was ever there.  I just told myself over and over, “Don’t let up, he’s just around the corner. Keep working, eating, drinking, wiggle your toes”.  This became my mantra. 

P: Gary Chrisman • Water boil

P: Gary Chrisman • Water boil

After aid #1 the trail quickly became soft and the riding was beginning to be marginal. I had to adjust my tire pressure several times to help with traction and managed to ride 100% of the trail all of the way into West Yellowstone, another 20 miles.  Although I managed to ride into West, it started to snow and the temperatures were dropping forcing me to break trail.  This added to the amount of work that the hilly terrain already demanded. 

P: Dan ReRuyter • Descent into West Yellowstone

P: Dan ReRuyter • Descent into West Yellowstone

“I want to know minutes, seconds and miles” I barked as soon as I entered aid #2. We were all carrying Spot GPS trackers so our progress could easily be monitored from a computer or wireless device. One of the volunteers told me I was 10.2 miles in the lead. At first I thought they were mistaken but realized my competitors were struggling in the same conditions. The aids offered me soup and an arm chair. I guess they thought I wanted to catch up on the football game. I apologized for not being able to hang out for lunch as Liz DeRuyter handed me a grilled cheese for the road and out the door I went 5 minutes after arriving.

The re-entry into the mountains in West Yellowstone is a daunting experience. You are riding farther from civilization, warmth, food and safety.  I was stoked for the challenge! What lay ahead of me was a 2,000’ climb up and over a beast of a mountain called Two Top. Two Top should be named Four Top because I am pretty sure I crossed four peaks, not two.

The trail was soft from the snow and hundreds of snowmobiles that passed over it earlier in the day. My speeds were decreasing as the trail steepened and my legs weakened. Often I was forced off of my bike and required to push. I found it was easier to push than grind my way up some of the steep pitches. By the time I got to the top it was 5 degrees, dark and currently a blizzard. Visibility was 5 meters and I was navigating by an arrow on my GPS. My 270 lumen headlamp could not penetrate the heavy snow and dense fog. It was something out of an Earnest Shackleton story but I was in the lead and nothing was going to stop me. “Ride forward, ride forward and get off this DAMN mountain” became my new mantra. 


P: Mike Barklow • Frozen dinosaurs on Two Top

P: Mike Barklow • Frozen dinosaurs on Two Top

Once I hit the bottom of the Two Top descent I came into an intersection that was a bit confusing. My vision was damaged from the snow that had been hitting my eyes and my brain was starving for food and water. The next thing I knew there were lights. I figured the chasers had caught me but I was wrong. It was a trail groomer. He exited his machine puffing on a Marlboro and approached me. I explained I was a tad bit confused and he pointed me in the right direction with a chuckle and off I went.

I had 15 miles between me and Man Cave, my final aid station. The snow was soft but better than Two Top. I knew I needed to keep moving forward because the chase group was now on recently groomed trails and were likely making time on me. I would eat and drink when the trail permitted but my main objective was to get to the aid station where I knew there would be people ready to help me.

P: Fat Pursuit • Refueling at Man Cave

P: Fat Pursuit • Refueling at Man Cave

I pulled into Man Cave at 10pm and there stood the aid station volunteers, my wife, the owner of Fitzgerald Bike Shop and fellow Fitzgerald team members. Man was I happy to see those people. They stripped off my wet clothes and immediately began serving me warm food and drink. I may have been a disaster but my motivation was still strong. They told me 4 chasers were coming quickly and were now within 7.9 miles of Man Cave. That’s all I needed to hear and 20’ after arriving, still shivering, I exited the Man Cave and pushed on for the final 22 miles. My stomach was again digesting food so my legs were coming back. The trail was groomed earlier that night and I was making good time. I told myself, “This is what you wanted. You wanted this pain. You have to suffer to win this thing. If you hurt so do they”. I turned onto the Ponds Trail which takes you directly to the Ponds Lodge where the finish line was. At 12:26am I crossed the line to a serenade of police sirens and a small group of cheering fans.  I raced for 17 hours, 16mins, 2sec for 1st place.

P: Fat Pursuit • LtoR: Jay Petervary, Gabe Klamer 1st Place, Cully Todd 2nd Place, Blake Bockius 3rd Place (not shown)

P: Fat Pursuit • LtoR: Jay Petervary, Gabe Klamer 1st Place, Cully Todd 2nd Place, Blake Bockius 3rd Place (not shown)

Thank you JayP for putting on a beautiful, beast of a race and for encouraging me to register. Thank you to Derrick Nobman and Fitzgerald’s Bicycles for building a spectacular race machine on Wednesday night before the race. Thank you to HED Wheels for rushing me a set of the fastest wheels on the planet! Thank you to my wife Jenny for putting up with me the two weeks leading up to the race. I love you.

Ride forward,

Full Gear List

Sponsors Fitzgerald's Bicycles, Trek Bikes, Snake River Brewing, Kate's Real Food
Frame Trek farley Carbon
Wheels HED B.F.D
Tires 45NRTH Dillinger 5 (tubeless)
Pressure Front/Rear Between 3 psi and 6 psi Don't be afraid to adjust pressure as conditions change
Pedals Crankbrothers 4Ti
Pogies Dogwood Designs
Computer Garmin eTrex for navigation, Garmin 510 for time, distance etc.
Lights Princeton Tec Push & Swerve for safety. Princeton Tec EOS Pro headlamp for light.
Clothing system Nike DryFit baselayer and Sugoi full zipup long-sleeve jersey. Added a LuLuLemon wind shell when it got dark and temperatures dropped (I like to look good). I wore a nordic beanie and Buff on my head at all times and added a 45 NRTH Dozer cap when it got cold. 
Gloves I rode half of the race without gloves. When it got cold I wore a light pair of Under Armor fleece gloves. Pogies work really well. 
Boots 45 NRTH Wolvhammers with an Outdoor Research 'Huron' gaiter with neoprene booties, Medium weight Swiftwick wool socks
Number of bottles consumed? Rode with a 100oz Osprey bladder underneath my outer layer and two insulated water bottles. Consumed approximately 300 oz's over the entire ride which wasn't enough. 
How many aid station stops/for how long? Aid #1 - 4'30", Aid #2 - 5 minutes, Aid #3 - 20 minutes
What did you eat? I ate 2,000 calories of homemade walnut/date/chocolate cookies, 1,000 calories of yogurt covered pretzels, 1 package of instant mashed potatoes, 8 gels, 1 grilled cheese sandwich, a couple handfuls of Pringles, a few boiled potatoes, 3 M&M's and 1 sourdough pancake
Did you do any special training or prep for this race? I practiced boiling water on my training rides because we were required to boil water at Aid #1 and I wanted to be able to do this efficiently. I also did several rides with a fully loaded bike. 

What’s one piece of advice that you’d give to someone thinking about racing next year? Be mentally prepared for anything, but hope for the best. You CAN finish this! 


JayP's Gravel Pursuit

By: Forest Dramis

As a fan of both road racing and cyclocross racing I've always been interested in gravel racing. But for the past couple of years I've always come up with an excuse not to do the Tushar or Rebecca's Private Idaho or one of the other "gravel grinders.". It's not that I was really against gravel events, but the idea of a gravel road race seemed to be the worst of all worlds -- a road race without much drafting or strategy and a mtb race without single track. Not for me, I thought.

But then I heard about the Gravel Pursuit. It was being put on by a friend, it was in my backyard and I had no other races scheduled. In short, I'd finally run out of excuses and so I signed up. Now, after the fact, I'm oh so happy I did.

The Gravel Pursuit takes place on the vast array of Forest Service roads in and around Island Park, Idaho. For those unfamiliar with the area, Island Park is just 30 miles south of the Yellowstone border. The terrain consists of gentle rollers, dense forest, windswept plateaus and incredible vistas. At some points along the course the views extend all the way to Yellowstone; almost enough to make me wish I had a camera with me and wasn't racing. Almost.

Quiet and flat. What else could you want?

Quiet and flat. What else could you want?

Lodging is easy and convenient. The Ponds Lodge hosts the race and pre-race dinner and offers great rooms and cabins. For those looking for a little more rustic sleeping location the Forest Service Buffalo Campground is a great alternative. Just a 3 minute bike ride from the Ponds Lodge, it offers tent and RV sites, bathrooms and showers for the low price of $15 a night. My site was flat, and quiet with only the sound of the bugling elk to keep me company.

Dinner and a bear safety presentation at Ponds Lodge.

Dinner and a bear safety presentation at Ponds Lodge.

Race festivities begin Friday night with a great dinner of pasta, salad and dessert provided by the Ponds Lodge (included in the race fee). Lodge staff was friendly, helpful and made everyone feel at home. During dinner we were treated to a course description from JayP and a visit from a park ranger to provide bear safety information to the riders. While many races take place in bear country, it was great to see that the organizers of this event not only took our safety seriously, but also took the safety of the bears seriously. The ranger gave a great talk on safety, bear spray use, recent bear sightings and what to do when encountering a bear. Though I'm well versed in bear safety, it was great to see this information given to racers.

After a restful night listening to the elk bugle and the coyotes howl, I made the short ride to the start line for our 8am start. Dirt double track and a shallow stream crossing lead to dirt roads and the first challenge of the day, a paved climb. Long and mellow, never exceeding 8% and hovering near 5% for most of the way, this is a great climb to break up the peloton and help establish the group you'll be hanging with the rest of the day.

Photos courtesy of Gravel Pursuit

Photos courtesy of Gravel Pursuit


Dense forests lead to the summit where a fast and fun dirt road descent lets you catch your breath and test your nerves. This descent leads to some fun rollers and flat sections and takes you to AId 1. Aid stations were incredibly well stocked and manned by volunteers both helpful and vociferous in their support of the racers. The next challenge is a long, tough climb on dirt that ascends through pine forests and deposits you on the summit plateau with views to Yellowstone including distant peaks and forest. A long, winding and fast descent on dirt leads to 6 miles of flats to the finish line. (120 mile course details can be found here).

Well-stocked aid stations and awesome volunteers!

Well-stocked aid stations and awesome volunteers!

An interesting, challenging and varied course with incredible views in a beautifully wild location with enthusiastic volunteers...what more could you want? Schwagg? OK, let's talk schwagg. A great racer bag with items you actually want, a massive raffle from Salsa, Princeton Tec, Osprey, K-Lite, Crank Bros., HED, GU Energy, Kate's Food, where every entrant got a prize and the coolest trophies around. Custom designed and forged from bronze by artist Lee Kinder, belt buckles for the top 3 men and women in each distance received a trophy anyone would be proud to wear. I know I am! All in all, an event not to be missed. Well organized, well run and a ton of fun. Some people race it. Some people ride it. But everyone had fun and really, isn't that the point?

Lee Kinder's beautiful bespoke bronze cast belt buckle.

Lee Kinder's beautiful bespoke bronze cast belt buckle.


One of the first questions anyone ever has is, "What kind of bike setup should I use?" The second question is generally, "What kind of tires and pressure should I run?" Below you'll find the race day setups of the top finishers. If you have any questions regarding bike setup, shoot us a line and we'll be happy to help out!

Gabe Klamer • 1st place 120
Fitzgerald's Bicycles, Trek Bikes, Snake River Brewing, Kate's Real Food

Frame Trek Boone 9 (18#'s race day weight)
Wheels Hed Ardennes+ tubeless w/ Stan's valve stems
Tires WTB Nano 40mm set up tubeless w/ Stan's sealant
Pressure Front/Rear 44fr/46r My front tire was down to <20psi at the finish due to it burping on the descent off of Two Top
Pedals Crank Brother's 11 4ti
Any specialty items? Revelate Designs 'Mountain Feedbag', Garmin 510, PrincetonTech 'Push' and 'Swerve' lights, Krieg saddle bag with 2 spare tubes and Pedro's tire lever. Blackburn 'MtnAir' pump stashed inside of my camelback and two 16 gram CO2's

Number of bottles consumed? 150oz's of Kiwi Lime CarboRocket, 50oz's of Lemon CarboRocket 333
What were you drinking? CarboRocket and CarboRocket 333
What did you eat? How much? 6oz's of Tram Bar 'nugs', 2 packages of strawberry banana Power Bar Chews, 1 flask of Rasberry Hammer Gel

How many times did you stop at an aid station? I stopped very briefly (coming in hot!) at both aids to pick up my drop bags. Applied chain lube at aid #2 

Did you do any special training or prep for this race? I rode several long gravel rides the weeks leading up to test my gear and to become familiar with my bike. I raced a cyclocross race on the Thursday before which definitely opened me up. This season I have climbed close to 500,000 vertical feet and ridden over 4,500 miles.

What’s one piece of advice that you’d give to someone thinking about racing next year? 'What the mind of a man can conceive and believe, the mind of a man can achieve, with a positive mental attitude' and 'HTFU!'

Anything else that you’d like to add? Huge thanks to Jay, all of the race volunteers, the Ponds Lodge and the city of Island Park for allowing us non motorized weirdo's on their trails for a day.

Eric Balog • 1st place 60
Hoback Sports

Frame Specialized CruX
Wheels Zipp Tubular
Tires FMB 32c
Pressure Front/Rear 36 psi
Pedals Time ATAC

Special items?  SRM with PC8 head unit

Number of bottles consumed? 2.5 bottles, Nuun
What did you eat? Hammer Gel (x5 or 6), 1 Honey Stinger waffle
How many times did you stop at an aid station?  None
Did you do any special training or prep for this race?  No

What’s one piece of advice that you’d give to someone thinking about racing next year?   Tire choice is critical. Know the capabilities of your tires as well as the proper pressure to run. Don’t be like me and build your bike the night before—do a full shake-down in advance.

Anything else that you’d like to add?   The course profile made the main descent, which the 60-milers hit twice, appear steep; the director's warning about this stretch of road made it sound loose/washed out/nasty — enough for me to worry about it. When run with tires at the right pressure, it was downright fun. The event is a fantastic excuse to get out and ride some of the most beautiful terrain in the area—roads most of us otherwise would not ride unsupported. The event was clearly put on by and for racers; every detail and need was anticipated by JayP and his crew. I want to send a big thank you to the volunteers who enabled us racers/riders to go out and have fun all day. 

Shae Griffin • 1st place 60
Teton Cancer Institute, Sticks and Stones and Kelson Bikes 

Frame Trek Crockett
Wheels Hed Belgium on White Industry Hubs setup tubeless
Tires Hutchinson Piranha, 33mm
Pressure Front/Rear 45/45 psi
Pedals Crank Brothers Candy 2
Any specialty items? Suunto Ambit3 Peak

Number of bottles consumed? 5 1/2
What were you drinking? Water, Red Bull and Gu tablets
What did you eat? Gu, Scratch fruit drops, Power Bar Chomps
How much? One package of each listed above and 3 or so chocolate Gus with caffeine.  
Any specialty items? Red Bull! 
How many times did you stop at an aid station? Twice
Did you do any special training or prep for this race? Just riding with my friends. Also raced Crusher in the Tushar and Rebecca's Private Idaho.

What’s one piece of advice that you’d give to someone thinking about racing next year? Bigger tires for those sharp rocks. 

Anything else that you’d like to add? The course was awesome and aid stations were friendly and well organized. I can't wait 'til next year's race! JayP was awesome when I flatted out in the first 5 minutes and he came by to help change my flat in record time. I was frustrated to start like that but he encourage me to just enjoy the day and have some fun! 

Forest Dramis • 2nd place 60

Frame Giant TCX Advanced
Wheels Stan's NoTubes Iron Cross, tubeless
Tires Specialized Trigger 37mm
Pressure Front/Rear 43/45 psi
Pedals Crank Brothers 11 4Ti

Any specialty items? Lezyne Energy Caddy, Suunto Ambit 2S, Pedros saddle bag with 2 tubes, tire lever, two 16g CO2

Number of bottles consumed? 2 tall bottles and Camelback vest
What were you drinking? Gatorade, Gu Energy tabs
What did you eat? How much? 4 Gus, 1 prior to the start, Powerbar chews
How many times did you stop at an aid station? None
Did you do any special training or prep for this race? Bought wider tires for my 'cross bike
What’s one piece of advice that you’d give to someone thinking about racing next year? Just do it! Whether you're racing for the win or just out for a ride, it's a great course to challenge yourself on and beautiful place to ride.

Mark Linares • 3rd place 120
The Hub Bicycles

Frame Niner Air 9 carbon with rigid fork
Wheels Easton EC90 XC
Tires Tubeless Schwalbe Thunder Burt 2.1 (I do not like this tire, very fast and light but way too squirrely in anything other than road or bullet proof single track. (I used it at Leadville, a mistake and thought it would be better hear but it was not.)
Pressure front/back 25/23 psi (a little on the hard side)
Pedals Crank Brother's 11 4ti

2 X 16 oz bottles with two Endurolytes Fizz in each, grape flavour.
2 X 100oz Camelbacks with Accelerade. (Only drank half of my last one after aid two)
2 X Handlebars
1 banana
1 pickle
2 x EFS gel flasks

How many times did you stop at an aid station?  I stopped at both aid stations. Probably 90 seconds aid 1. Probably 3 mins at aid two, ate the pickle and had a piss( my 7th of the race, yes I was counting) just to confirm that cramping has nothing to with being dehydrated.

What’s one piece of advice that you’d give to someone thinking about racing next year?  My advice. For the 120( 118 on my Garmin) Although you may think that it will be a fast race, being no single track etc etc. It is not. I was thinking I should average 15mph. I was for the first 45 miles but then the course slowed down a lot. Between miles 50 and 90 it is pretty slow with a very challenging double track straight out of the second aid station. Thank god I had MTB I was in the 32t for 20 mins. Also don't underestimate the road climb after 20 miles or so. I went too hard up that.

Kris Quandt • 4th place 120
Fitzgerald's Bicycles

Frame Salsa Fargo (steel)
Wheels I-9 hubs laced to 32 hole DT Swiss XMC Carbon 29 rim. Tubeless with extra Stan's
Tires WTB Nano 40c (they measure a little narrower, 38ish)
Pressure Front/Rear 45-50psi (I use the hand squeeze test method for best accuracy) 
Pedals Time Atac Carbon 8 (run them summer and winter with zero issues)

Any specialty items? Nuclear Sunrise feedbag for snacks, Revelate Designs Mountain feedbag for bear spray, Garmin 510 mounted with a BarFly mount. 

Number of bottles consumed? I used 2- Zefal Magnum bottles which hold 33oz each. I think I finished 4 bottles during the race.

What were you drinking? 1 bottle always had water the other had Skratch Matcha Green Tea (The larger bottles delude the sweetness so it is easier to get down when the stomach is not happy).

What did you eat? How much? I carried Kate's Bars x3, Cliff Blocks x2, EFS Liquid shot x2 and a stick of jerky (Just in case the space food was not doing it for me). I ended up eating 1-Tiki Kate's Bar, 1-Margarita Cliff Block and 2 bottles of EFS Liquid shot. Probably not as much as I should have eaten but I was able to push the pedals. 

Any specialty items? Quick hand full of BBQ potato chips at Aid 2!
How many times did you stop at an aid station? 1 quick stop at each to fill water and mix Skratch drink mix.

 Did you do any special training or prep for this race? Besides taking part in 2 other gravel races this summer, DK200 and Rebecca's Private Idaho, I spent as much time in Teton Valley, ID riding gravel roads. I rode the middle 60 miles of the course a month before the race. 

What’s one piece of advice that you’d give to someone thinking about racing next year? Get a Salsa Fargo or Cutthroat and ride as much gravel as you can. Most important is to know that taking part in these events is a personal journey, make it what you want. If you want to race...Great, if you want to push your personal limits and have fun...EVEN BETTER. As JP said the event is designed for everyone to Pursuit their own challenges.