Date: Dec. 20
December mileage: 286.1
Temperature upon departure: 29
Sunrise: 10:05 a.m.
Sunset: 4:04 p.m. (tomorrow, the same)
The light is fading, but tonight I ride.
I ride with a remnant sunset,
and its flecks of cayenne pepper
searing the lavender sky.
Beneath sunset, Mt. Augustine looms
in steam and subdued silhouette,
fighting the twilight for distinction
before the pitch descends
and shadows contract.
I ride with the pitch,
only a dull yellow beam between me and nothing,
only the ice spray glittering like disco glass,
and screaming descents into nothing.
Moose tracks dig empty holes.
Great tussocks roll over snow,
and I bump. I ride.
I ride until there's no distinction between trail and field
until the white opens wide beyond darkness,
until strips of green stretch over the northern horizon.
Could be the apocalypse.
Could be the aurora.
The world is fading,
but tonight I ride.
... Tonight's ride was sponsored by Kevin, a yearround rider of the truest type down in St. Paul, Minn. The bicycle poetry was, well ... OK. I don't usually do poetry. But I felt inspired in that direction this evening because today, one day before solstice and 11 days ahead of my deadline, I surpassed my Susitna fundraising goal and subsequently put a check in the mail. I entered the Susitna 100. I'm in the race. There's no turning back now. And it feels good. Really good. I'd really like to thank everyone who helped me reach this point.
It doesn't end here, of course - not even close. I have a lot of training to do, so I'd like to set forth a new proposal. Between now and Feb. 15, I'll ride two miles for every dollar raised. One mile ($0.50) will be donated to the Lance Armstrong Foundation to support the good fight against cancer. And the other mile ($0.50) will help pay race expenses, including food, lodging and transportation (I'd love to ride my bike the whole way, but the race does begin almost 300 miles from my house.) And from now on, the wimpy roadie miles don't count. Unless, of course, all the snow melts.
Then it's time to rethink my decision to live in southern Alaska.