Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Good Fight

Adam Bartlett took this picture during the Iditarod Trail Invitational. He posted it on the Alaska MTB forum. Check it out. He took some amazing pictures during his six days in the Great Nothing.

So now the Iditarod dogsled race is on. Yesterday the rugged mushers and their puppy teams flew over the terrain I slogged through during the Susitna 100. Today the leaders crossed Rainy Pass, fast on their way to McGrath - and nipping at the heels of the last forlorn racers of the Invitational. The carnage of this year's human-powered Iditarod is almost complete, with the only a few racers fighting through the last 50-mile stretch (only one guy, so far, is going on to Nome.) Those who are still out there are pushing 10 days. Think, for a minute, what you did with the past 10 days. Went to a couple of movies? Put in 60 hours at the office? Shopped for bicycle parts? Even if you didn't do much, adding up 10 days of tasks seems like a lot, doesn't it? Now imagine that you spent those 10 days squinting into the endless white of the Alaska tundra, facing the brutal wind, blowing snow and a blazing sun without heat, or a frigid night without light. And all you're doing, day into endless night, is placing one foot in front of the other, again and again and again.

Adam wrote: "It was a whiteout at some points with cold like I have never felt before. Exposed skin felt like it was being touched by a flame. The foam liner on my goggles froze to my face and my face mask froze to my cheek, leaving some minor frostbite marks. It was a nasty dark pass crossing. There was no trail until noon (12 hours after I left) when the bison hunters passed me by Pass Creek. So I spent a good part of the night route finding. Despite all this, I had a good time on the pass."

I've never even met Adam, but damn. I have a new hero.