Date: Jan. 28
January mileage: 438.4
Temperature upon departure: -7
... The Iditarod trail. Is. Slow.
Of course, everything about today was exactly what I would expect of such an excursion. Temps were cold, but not unreasonably so. The trail was soft, but all-in-all better than I expected. Mt. Augustine decided today was the fourth of July, but all the ash headed south. Yes, today was a good day. An encouraging day. And yet, I feel the cold grip of this daunting task tightening around me. It could be my neoprene gear. But, no. I think it's the Susitna 100. It's going to be hard.
Well, duh. But sometimes it's hard to grasp the reality of things until you're down in the suck. Geoff and I went out today for a half-day ride (Geoff, who's training to run the Little Su 50K, has no interest in 10-hour bike rides.) We drove up Point Mackenzie Road so we could start immediately on the Iditarod. We planned to go as far as two hours took us and head back. What we got was 20 miles. We made a lot of stops that were more indicative of the recreational nature of this particular ride. Still, 20 miles, five hours. One hundred miles, well ... the math ain't hard.
But I don't feel disheartened. My warm gear performed beautifully for temperatures that didn't even consider climbing above zero. The particular section we did was a rollercoaster of short and steep rolling hills, flat frozen bogs and snowmobile moguls - a lot of fun. The pace was laid back enough that the effort didn't even demand that much energy (though the one time I tried to gnaw down a deeply frozen Power Bar while pedaling was pretty funny. Well, funny ... not pretty. Without becoming too graphic, I'll just say that it involved a lot of saliva, a chocolate goatee and a little bit of blood). Anyway, I have been planning this entire time for a race that would take about 24 hours. It's just, now, I'm starting to realize how long that actually is.
Heading back, Geoff and I both took spectacular crashes on separate downhills. Geoff almost pulled out of his, but didn't eject in time and hurt both his legs, not seriously. I lost control of my front wheel mid-hill and overcorrected. The bike slammed me down on my right shoulder before I even knew I was going down, then rolled right over me. It seemed bad, but the only thing that broke was the bracket on Geoff's large seat post bag. Luckily, I just won a new one from Fat Cyclist. It's funny how life works out like that.
I hope to fit in another four-hour ride tomorrow. I probably won't have a chance make it all the way out to Iditarod again, but I'm glad I was able to at least try it once. If I'll goes well, I'll be able to catch the Frigid Bits action in Anchorage. Now there are some real ice bikers. Should be fun.