Date: Jan. 21
January mileage: 351.1
Temperature upon departure: 19
Total riding time: 8 hours, 33 minutes
Total full-tilt falls: 2
I have a little of that serene, drugged-out drowsiness going on right now ... long ride, big dinner, warm house, storm raging outside.
Today I set out just before sunrise with the intention of putting in an 8 to 10-hour ride that would mimic my attack of the Susitna 100. To do that, I had to ride on a lot of soft, rutted trails that are just punchy and slow and there's no way around it (winter riders call this stuff "mashed potatoes" ... in my case, very lumpy mashed potatoes). I rode the ice roads, open snow (about 5 inches of powder)and Caribou Lake itself. I also did a fair amont of pushing. Any food I ate, I ate while pushing. I kept my full stops to an absolute minimum, to keep my core temperature higher, and also because it's the way I deal with the muscle strain of long rides ... just keep moving, moving, moving, and there's less time for hurt.
My odometer crapped out right at the beginning of the ride, so I have no idea how far I actually went. But taking into account trail conditions, pushing hard and fast when I could on the ice roads, and overall time walking with the bike, I think guestimating my average speed at 6 mph is more than fair. Since my stopping time was almost nonexsistent, with 8.5 hours of riding, 50 miles is probably pretty close.
That's half my race distance-wise, and probably about a third of the effort required if conditions are similar or a little worse than what they were today. So I feel pretty good about the day, because I feel pretty good right now.
For all of the calculated logistics involved, today's ride was actually very enjoyable. The distance allowed me to ride out to some of the far reaches of the established snowmachine trails in the area ... windswept, frostbitten swaths of land peppered with mongrel hemlock trees and scrub brush. The snowmachiners I met out there regarded me with varied expressions ranging from subtle amusement to outright indignation. After all, a little mountain bike rolling across the open tundra is an affront to common sense. I don't deny it. My funniest encounter came as I was bombing down a steep and narrow trail. Two snowmachines stopped on the pond below to wait for me to pass. As they waited and watched, I felt compelled to let off the brakes and tear over the trail's mogels like a drunken downhill racer. It's amazing I didn't plant myself, as I did (and did quite well) a couple of times today. As I finally rolled to the safety of the pond and passed by with a hapless wave of my mitten, a little girl sitting in front of her older brother on one of the snowmachines screamed "I told you! I knew it was a girl!"
Several snowmachiners felt compelled to stop and warn me about the storm of the century headed my way. Though a light, misty snow fell most of the day (with about a 30-minute window of sunlight), the weather couldn't have been much better. I did end my ride about an hour early because the snow started to come down hard, and I was a little concerned about my Geo making the 45-minute drive home. Still ... 50 miles ain't bad. I guess I don't know that it was 50 miles. But, as Geoff said to me yesterday, "Eight hours on a bike is eight hours on a bike."