Salsa Wide Racks
Well, after much debate I have decided that my trusty Porecelain Rocket 'Booster Rocket' seat bag is just not sufficient for this winter expedition. It would be fine if I was racing, and even if I was traveling with others, but going solo this risks are just to great. These risks can be mitigated by careful planning, on the fly risk management and carrying sufficient gear.
The more I look at routes and potential temperature swings (-40F is freaking cold...) and I know that now is not the time to worry about being UL. Instead, I will rely on all of my other Porcelain Rocket gear (Frame Bag, Winter Handlebar Bag, AC Bags, and a DIY concoction for camera gear), and I will augment this with a Salsa Fat Rack for the Mukluk. This rack is totally bomber, able to stand up to the tough conditions, and help me to carry the necessary gear. With a rear rack available to me I will use the space to carry a single large Dry bag with critical items as well as use its load carrying capabilities to strap on some essentials. These will include additional fuel, my tripod, and an extra mat for sleeping warmth.
The rack should be here in a week or so and then I will begin the load out process. I will still be attempting to minimize what I carry, as extra weight will just drag me down when I am pushing instead of riding. Reading of some riders on the Iditarod Trail who claim in a normal year the push their bike upwards of 50-60 miles out of the 350 mile race. Last year was insane, with massive amounts of snow, lots of pushing, and a good number of DNF racers.
Route Planning Update:
I am looking at a multitude of options right now, so everything is still in play. Ideally I would like to hop off the plane, spend a day or two acclimating in Anchorage and then head out to Denali. I plan to basecamp at Denali for a week or so and use this time to make sure my kit is working. With this strategy, should their be an issue, I have the ability to take the train back to Anchorage or up to Fairbanks. Should everything be good to go, I am toying with the idea of then cycling North to Fairbanks to get some Aurora Borealis exposures. I realize it may be a bit early for this, and given the temps that they had last year, it may not even be practical, but that is my thinking.
From there I can take the train back to Anchorage and do a major resupply before heading out on the Iditarod Trail. I am not sure how much of the trail is feasible for me, so right now I am focused on the section from Knik Lake to McGrath. This is the 350 mile section used by the Iditarod Ultrasport race and would give me some great insight into the trail and its history. In a perfect world I would do the whole thing, all the way to Nome, but I am just not sure that is safe, let alone feasible.
With all of this said, all of my plans will be loose so that I can maximize my time and my experiences. In the end the goal is to have fun, push myself, and to explore one of the most amazing places on Earth. Any opportunities to connect with locals would be fantastic and I am actively building a networking list. If you have any suggestions please feel free to chime in.