Saturday, December 03, 2005

"Pain and suffering"

Date: Dec. 2
Total mileage: 17.1
Total time: 1 hour, 44 minutes
Top speed: 32 mph
Temperature upon departure: 11

Today’s ride was sponsored by Tracy of Iowa, donated very generously under the heading “pain and suffering.” Geoff and I left at the crack of dawn, and by "crack of dawn," I mean it was 9:30 a.m. We cruised up the packed snow of Skyline Drive and headed for Ohlson Mountain. I was having a hard time keeping my eyes on the road as a blaze of sunlight erupted all over Kachemak Bay, due south above a shock of whitewashed mountains. It hasn’t snowed since last weekend’s powder dump, and we had some pretty good speed going throughout most of the hilly ride – including a 32-mile-per-hour plummet down one ice-covered hill. You can’t do that on a skinny tire … or, at least, you can’t do that and live to tell about it.

I arrived home, drenched with sweat from overdressing. On this rolling glacial terrain, you can’t have it both ways – you either freeze on the downhills or sweat on the uphills. Geoff chooses to deal with the discomfort of warming up his digits after a frosty ride. I’d rather sweat a little or strip a few layers if I need to worry about being drenched on a long downhill. But either way, you learn to adjust. Eleven degrees doesn’t feel so cold anymore; the long darkness doesn’t feel like such a hindrance. We're products of our landscape, and so we move through it.

Geoff installed my new bicycle computer yesterday. This is the first one I've ever owned. I always resisted computers for various reasons - partially because I like the uncertainty of free movement, and partially because I don't want to become a clock watcher, straining to beat some imaginary time or speed while breathtaking scenery disappears behind my tunnel vision. But it is nice to have; today I was able to pinpoint a turnaround spot that would get me to work by noon, and thanks to the computer I estimated my time pretty close to exact.

I’ve been thinking more about my goal of riding the Susitna, and I’m feeling both nervous and excited about the prospect – a good combination, I think. I am prepared to do what it takes to get myself ready, and I really do appreciate the support. If you read yesterday's post and thought I might just be ranting again, I want you to know that I am good for every mile. I still need to tell Geoff about my plans, but I'll get around to that. He probably believes this will bring about alot more suffering than enjoyment for me, but I still feel a sense of purpose when I think about it. It gives me something to work for beyond the meager paychecks of employment and the simple pleasures of day-to-day life. Even after one day, I'm already finding support from all over. I feel like a one-woman-all-cyclists team. So, whatever happens, thank you!


  1. 32 mph on snow/ice. You've gone around the bend. You've crossed a threshold. You've passed the point of no return. You've started to like skating on thin ice. You need help. Either that, or you need to move to some place for people who are a little "out there." Some place like Homer, Alaska. Oh, wait ...

  2. its a balmy 20 something here. We don't usually have snow this early in southern Iowa but its there.

  3. Jill,

    I am thoroughly enjoying your breathtaking photos. I appreciate your efforts. There really is more to dressing right than sometimes meets the eye. I will do just about anything not to be bundled up. Since I am always on foot or snowshoe, I don't have the mph factor that you do. But I hate the feeling of being overdressed - I need to feel light and agile (sometimes a challenge with my body shape!) I used to hate those face masks but now they are my friend and I always carry a long scarf.

  4. Watch the sweat - getting wet is very dangerous at low temps . . . and, bravo. I put my bike up in September.


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