Sunday, February 05, 2006

End of the road, ma

Date: Feb. 4
Mileage: 63.4
February mileage: 109.1
Temperature on departure: 20

Well, according to some scratchy multiplication I just did, I rode about 102 kilometers today. If I were in Canada right now, I would have ridden a century. In Alaska, however, my ride was just a 63-mile slog against gale-force winds.

Today's ride was hard because I felt like I was in a constant battle with forces greater than myself - deep, uneven snow drifts across every road and trail, hills that seemed steeper than they probably actually are . And the wind. Oh, the wind. For most of the ride I was heading north or south with the wind right at my side, gusting to 40 mph and forcing me to lean like crazy diagonal biker woman just to stay on the road. Riding east, the chill would bring tears to my eyes, but at least I couldn't see my odometer registering its ridiculously low speeds. But there were the rare and beautiful moments riding west, skirting along at an even clip with traffic, feeling those oh-so-rare beads of sweat gathering beneath my layers. It was, after all, in the balmy 20s today. Felt much colder.

Also, my first experiment with the Camelbak thermal control kit was a massive failure. I made the mistake of neglecting to check my hose before I left the house. But I must have forgotten to blow the water out, because by the bottom of Diamond Ridge, 3.5 downhill miles and 10 minutes into my ride, the entire system was frozen solid. Because of the neoprene wrap around the tubing, I couldn't thaw it under my own power (by sticking the hose in my mouth) and I couldn't stuff it back into the protection of the pouch, where it would have been had I not purchased that false security system in the first place. The entire day, I had to drink straight out of the bladder, water slopping down my chin and raining onto anything below it (by the end of the ride, I had a fairly prominent frost bib down the front of my coat. Sad. Just sad.) I was really annoyed by the process. It caused me to never stay as well hydrated as I should have, and that combined with the pounding wind made for a really grumpy ride. I stuck it out to 5 p.m. because I promised myself I would. Under my training regimen, I could and probably should have gone further. Had I not been training, I would have turned around at the bottom of Diamond Ridge.

Oh well. I did have one bright spot during the ride. I took a little spur out from Anchor Point to a point that looked over the Cook Inlet. There, standing behind a mass of picnic tables buried in snow, was a sign informing me that I had just reached the furthest point west on the interconnected highways of North America. I had a short-lived but satisfying moment of standing somewhere important ... sort of like the time I stood at the end of the road in Prudhoe Bay (furthest point north), only this time, I was on my bike. That perked me up for at least two miles. Then, I remembered that it was really windy. Oh, the wind.


  1. 20 degrees? that's a hot day for you! :-)

    i've been reading your blog for about a week, now. you're very inspirational.

  2. Jill, I've said it before and I'll say it again. I have no idea how you ride so long in these temps. I've never figured out how to keep my fingers and toes warm for more than a 90 minute ride at those temps, which is usually about a 25 miles ride on the road for me. Kudos on your determination.

  3. Nobody here in Canada considers a metric century a 'real' century. We still do the 100 miles. :)

  4. You are hard-core! I think I passed you riding on Skyline Drive a couple of weeks ago while I was driving home. You had that black wind mask on, it was very cold, and, having biked these hills above town for years in the summer and fall, I thought "that woman might have some kind of Ahab thing going on." Then I serindipitously(sp?) came across your blog and connected the existential dots. It's great to see someone who is enjoying winter instead of bitching about it. Keep on keepin' on.

  5. Jill, it looks like you are definately tough enough for the Susitna! You are going to KICK....A, I mean...Tail!::GRIN:: By the way, you should drop by my place and see my new look! It'll shock you!::GRIN::

  6. Jill, that's pretty impressive. I am inspired. I'll be rooting for you. Rock on!

  7. Jill, that's pretty impressive. I am inspired. I'll be rooting for you. Rock on!


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