Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Float on

Well, I'm back to my Monday night routine, running on the hamster wheel at the gym, thereby inadvertently devoting an hour to wandering thoughts about ways to make life more interesting.

Today, for no reason, a mundane conversation I had with a coworker about a year ago suddenly popped into my head. It's been buried in the back of my mind, and I have no idea why it's even stored in my long-term memory - except as a glaring statement on how much I've changed since I moved to Alaska.

My coworker was training for the upcoming cycling season, and was trying to plan a fitness routine he could stick with. He hated the hamster wheel/spinning bike/whole indoor workout setup more than anyone I know. So he asked me what I knew about studs that you could attach to bike tires. He thought they might help him navigate icy Idaho highways during longer rides.

I remember shooting back a reply that was something along the lines of "That's crazy. Why in the world would you want to ride outside in the winter when you have a well-lit, climate-controlled gym at your disposal?" (I was a big hamster wheel advocate at the time.)

He told me he was training for a double century, and needed to keep a pretty strict routine that required him to step up his mileage soon. And he just couldn't put in the time indoors.

"But that's crazy," I replied. "Why would anyone want to ride a double century?"

Not only did I not have any advice to offer, but the whole idea turned my stomach. I promptly forgot the unpleasantness - until today, only one year later. I'm still plugging away on the hamster wheel, but this time with big dreams of double triple-digits running through my head.

There are a lot of things I want to do this summer, but I think the first event I might like to plan for is the Fireweed 200, a 200-mile highway ride from Sheep Mountain to Valdez. The race is slated for July 8. That's a little too close to 24 hours of Kincaid (June 24) to feasibly train for both (there's another similar event I specifically told another coworker she was "crazy" for doing - in her case, the 24 hours of Moab race.) So I do have to make some decisions, and map out a plan. The Fireweed 200 has a nondrafting division that appeals to the rabid soloist in me, so my early pull is for the road race. (However, some have suggested that I consider riding the entire Fireweed 400. While I do have a plug-along attitude that has gotten me through some tough spots, I'm not exactly an ultra athlete - and the Fireweed 400 is not only Four Hundred Nonstop Miles, but also 28,000 feet of climbing! UltraRob has done it. But UltraRob is UltraRob. He's one of those RAAM people that even the current me would call crazy.)

But I am excited about the prospect of training for and riding in these "ultra" races - if nothing else, to spite my 2005 self for being so self-depreciating and cynical. I do not need Cat 5 status or quads of steel to ride 200 miles or spend 24 hours on a mountain bike. I have love! I have Power Bars! I'm good to go.


  1. You never know what you're getting yourself into with this biking thing--at least I didn't. But it doesn't sound like you're limiting the possibilities, and that's awesome!

    My approach to cycling has been so naive. Every time I've bought a different bike, I thought it was going to be enough. If I had a penny for every time I said I wasn't going to race... First it's commuting, then it's one race, then it's a few races here & there, then suddenly you're having so much fun you want to do it ALL!

  2. Good goals, Jill, and I look forward to your progress toward each! You can bet I'll be pulling for you and posting on your progress as well as referring traffic to your blog here! Keep me up to date!

  3. Ha! It was about 15 years ago that Crazy Pete talked me into running a half marathon. While on a training run he mentioned the Iron Man distance events. I laughed it off. Crazy also mentioned ultra marathons, which at the time I didn't even think was true. But to proove it's existance he would dig up articles on Ann Traison and Yannos Kuros and say "I told you so" to which I would simply reply that it was crazy. A person would have to be nuts... etc...

    But, as you have pointed out. The evil seeds were planted. And without much nurturing those damn things took root. Today they are manifest in each mile I schlogg, each power bar I consume and each blister I nurse.

    Face it, unless you do something drastic, you will succome to the alure of Fit and Undeniably Nuts (F*U*N). There is no return and, better yet, no one can take it way.

    Bon voyage!

  4. One of my old Aviano Draghi team mates (from Italy) who is now stationed in Ramstein, Germany plans to fly here for the Fireweed 400 and Alaska PAC tour. He is using them as a qualifier to ride the Race Across America. He's done that a few times as a mechanic.

    I'm going to run support for him although I can think of better things to do than watch his skinny lycra'd ass for 400 miles! Haha!

    I love cycling but something about plugging along 400 miles pretty much non-stop doesn't strike my fancy. I did a 50 mile headwind-happy charity ride on my single speed mtb with 2.3 knobbies once and it about killed me.

    Whatever you chose, I'm sure you'll kick ass. I'm thinking about the 24 hr race or maybe just the 12...I'll see how much training I can get in.

    Take care - daveIT

  5. The Fireweed 400 doesn't have that much climbing. They really need to improve their course profile. For example if you look at the section between Thompson Pass and Valdez on their profile, there's a pretty big hill. It's really all downhill and flat from the top of the pass. When I did it, I kept waiting for the climb and it never came. When I was training, I didn't spend much time on the aero bars because I didn't think I'd use them much but spent a lot of time on them.

    With my Ciclosport CM414, I got 14,754 feet of climbing. My friends with different altimeter computers generally get slightly more climbing than I do. When I used the DeLorme software, it showed 16,000 some feet of total climbing. DeLorme is usually a litle high on the climbing because they use the terrain without the road. Places where there are bridges, culverts, or road cuts get counted as though they aren't there. Unfortunately I lost the Delorme files when my hard drive crashed.


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