Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Take a left

Date: Feb. 28
Mileage: 18.4
February mileage: 433.3
Temperature upon departure: 10

A friend of mine is back in town after an extended trip home to Venezuela. She told us that the phrase her family uses to describe Alaska literally translates to "go to the end of the world, then take a left." (of course, it sounds much more alluring in Spanish.)

Today was a ride of subtle annoyances and short attention span. It was frosty out with a sharp, sustained wind (another friend informed me that the wind-chill factor was "minus 17, at least.") Lo these past few months, I've gotten pretty good at looking at the thermometer and knowing exactly what to wear, so I never felt chilled. But today conditions were just perfect for "cold headaches." You know, the kind you get when you suck down a Slurpee too fast? Yeah. You can get those cycling, too - especially if you're heading up a steep hill, right into the wind, and you start breathing too hard.

I rode an all-too-familiar route and completely zoned out. I probably wasn't pushing myself very hard at all, because I started thinking about writing projects from years ago that I'm curious to dredge up, and suddenly I was wheeling into my driveway. Have you ever done that in your car? Arrived at a destination only to realize you have no memory of the journey? Yeah, you can do that cycling, too.

My "camelbak injury" is still really bothering me, and I'm starting to wonder if it's something else (sustained muscle soreness in my lower left shoulder). As it is, I haven't carried a camelbak and therefore haven't had any water to drink on rides since the Susitna. But, what can you do? I've gone to see doctors about these strange injuries before. The best they've ever done is prescribe painkillers, so I guess I'll keep eating Ibuprofens.

I'm still watching the Iditarod Trail Invitational. Based on some of the checkpoint times these bikers are posting, I can see a lot of similarities to the Susitna 100 - conditions started out pretty good, (much colder, but good) so the leaders got through pretty fast. They're pushing on now to the last third of the 350-mile race. The bikers who were left behind, though, seem to be bogged down in conditions that quickly went to hell. One biker took nearly 36 hours just to clear 40 miles between the second and third checkpoints (and at last post was only 130 miles into an 1,100-mile slog.) Ug. It seems like racers are dropping out left and right, and I can only imagine what it must be like out there right now. But that's my problem. I can imagine. So I watch with fascinated empathy - and this dark (masochistic) side of myself even feels envy.


  1. Massage & Ice/heat are about the best cure for "CamelBack Shoulders".

  2. Oh yeah the Camelback pain, I raced the Oauchita Challenge last year with one, and I will never touch one again. I almost had a burning cerimony at the finish line with mine, but didn't. As for water and the f-ing cold temps you and I deal with, try this if you want. Put a bottle in your jersey pocket then layer your wind breaker or outter shell over that. If your on a longer ride put one in your bottle cage and rotate them (often), it gets kinda old but you won't be thirsty:) This works well in our single digit temps here in Iowa.


  3. Hey, Jill...

    Saw the Daily Show last nite (although I think it was a repeat from 2/22). Says bald eagles are taking over Homer, Alaska--even had video (which looked similar to your pics of the bald eagles). Must be quite a sight.

  4. Ice it if it's joint/soft-tissue pain, and put heat on it if it's muscle pain (as in a muscle pull). If it's lasted this long, it's probably a soft-tissue injury. You might have pulled something while you were suffering miserably out in the cold. Or the cold might have dulled the pain until you got home.

  5. Oh, and do the 20 min on/20 min off routine for about an hour or two if you decide to go with ice.

  6. This is definately problematic -- I recommend two cod liver oil tabs daily for the shoulder... But really -- carrying 1 liter of water on Saturday was no where near enough for a 3 hour ride at 75 F -- and thinking out loud about next month as temps break 100, and hating those camelbaks like I do, I am figuring a 3 hour ride will probably beg for 5 liters of fluid, So I guess I need a bigger bag on my bike. Anyone have any ideas? Does anyone know of a one liter bottle that fits in my somewhat standard bike bottle holder?

  7. at 1545 AK time it was -40 at Nicoli and Pete was about to leave for Mc Grath
    Carlos aks rio aka the Figid bits guy

  8. Massage therapy. Get a good therapist who knows how to hook your hand behind your back so that s/he can get under that shoulder. Works wonders.

  9. Hey all you Camelbak users - I had an idea for Camelbak and would love your advice. Just check out this link. Not sure if it solves "Camelbak shoulders" but I thought it would be helpful.

    Keep on running!



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