Monday, December 04, 2006

Should I do it?

I was crunching some numbers today when I stumbled across a page on the Susitna 100 Web site that I have never seen before, the 2006 Photo Gallery, and discovered what I believe is the only picture taken of me during the entire Feb. 18 race (thanks to Mike Schoder). The number I was crunching was the approximate cost for me to do the upcoming race, on Feb. 17, 2007. Money is the excuse I've been using for my indecisiveness, but the truth is I've been hedging on this far too long.

It's already Dec. 3. And so I must decide.

"It would be cool," I'd say to Geoff. "But would it be $700 cool? Or $800 cool?"

But secretly, I'd be thinking to myself: "Would it be buy a new sleeping bag and bivy sack cool? Take three or four days off of work cool? Fly out to Anchorage in the middle of February cool? Spend the next three months forcing myself on increasingly lengthy, sleet-drenched, Taku-wind-blasted bicycle rides cool? Plod through the sleep deprived physical delirium of 24 hours with a bicycle just to see the sun rise over the Susitna Valley once more cool?"

But then I look at this picture from last year, and I already know the answer.

There's still the problem with committing to it, however. What becomes easy to do in my mind becomes harder to do when I'm staring at the Alaska Air flight reservation Web site. So I have to weigh the pros and cons.

- This year, I'll have a snow bike (which will probably be ready to ride by the middle of this month.) It's not a fatbike, persay, not a Pugsley, but is decidedly more snow-worthy than my skinny Sugar.

- This year, I'll have experience. Although that could instill a false sense of security, I at least won't walk into the frozen valley facing a complete unknown.

- This year, I'll have most of my gear upfront. It won't be like last December, when I started out the season riding in 10-degree weather while wearing four pairs of cotton gym socks.

- This year, I'll have more competitive drive. I've always been accustomed to coming in last, but the 24 Hours of Kincaid gave me a taste of the fresh air at the front of the pack, and I want more.

- I live in Juneau this year, not Homer, which means an exponentially higher cost of travel to get to the Big Lake area.

- I live in Juneau this year, not Homer, which means training in conditions that are likely leaps and bounds away from those on the race course: Deep, wet snow; warmer air; and the possibility of driving rain (all of these conditions would have served me well when I was training for last year's race, but what are the chances it will be warm and rainy two years in a row?)

- I live in Juneau this year, not Homer, which means shipping my bike via USPS more than a week before the race. And who trusts USPS?

- Last year, I was training mainly to give myself something to do over the long Alaska winter. This year, I actually know what I need to do to get ready for such a race. And it scares the #$@! out of me.

So I look at the logistics and I ask myself: What would Pete Basinger do? What would Mike Curiak do?

What would you do?


  1. I would suggest to bite the bullet,budget a little more time and not alot more $$$ and enter Bill M`s race.I think reading between the lines you feel you are not ready but you probably are alot more ready then you think.The Alaskan range is perhaps the most beautiful part of the entire iditarod trail and the smile on your face rolling into Mcgrath will last alot longer then the susitna one.

  2. Hey, I just make donuts for a living, but reading between the lines-it sounds like you *want* to do the ride but not knowing your financial condition.......7 or 8 hundred bucks for just one race *is* a lot of money.

    If it's a stretch- skip a year and do more races close to home.

    Whatever you do.........I'm sure we'll all enjoy reading about it:-)

  3. Is there a cheaper race closer to home that you could enter? I've run several marathons and the best one I've ever been in is the Winnipeg marathon, close to home, cheap to go to and a great well organized race.

  4. I'm too cheap to even drive 6 hours north and ride in the Arrowhead 135. I can't imagine spending $800 for a race. But I'm frugal. YMMV.

  5. I'd do it. In fact if it wasn't the same day as 24 hours in the old puebelo (which I committed to prior to owning a Pugsley) I would do it with you.

    You know you want to see the difference some experience and a snow bike make...

  6. Back in 2001, at the age of 38, I quit my job and went off for 6 months to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail with my girlfriend Susan(she's my wife now). It was the best decision I ever made, as well as the scariest. Susan worked in Hospice and saw too many times people having regrets for putting off their dreams until after their retirement. Many didn't have the health to follow through with there dreams, or like the ones on Hospice, would never fulfill their dreams. Susan decided she was going to live now and convinced me. Jill, you're young and life only gets more complicated with more excuses as you grow older. After seeing the smile on your face from last years race, my advice would be to let you soul soar again while you have the opportunity. Twenty or thirty years from now you'll never regret spending that $700. But if you pass it up, you might regret that.

  7. I say do it. Couldn't you do a donation link like last year to offset some of the cost? Your too close to not do it :)

  8. Hey Jill,
    Tim turned me onto your blog a while ago. If you want to do the race then do it. People spend money on far more ridiculous things. I’m assuming that the question you have is “is it worth it”. If doing the race will cause a real financial hardship (like not being able to pay rent or buy food) then that’s another matter. But if the question is more like I have the money but don’t know if I should spend it on the race. Then just do it. I mean there is nothing in the world like the Susitna or the ITI. Except maybe for Pierre’s race in MN (the Arrowhead). The race is still cheaper than a big screen TV or any other entertainment gadgets people tend to buy. The point is that this kind of stuff, if you can afford it and you really want to do it, is worth whatever it takes to get there and do it. Carl who posted above comes from the UK. People come from all over the world to do these races, so in general you are getting off cheap. Not as cheaply as those of us who live within driving distance of the start, but you get the point... money shouldn’t make the decision for you.


  9. More Importantly...What would Brian Boitano do?

    Go For It

    The Transplant Athlete

  10. You have to do it. I'm training in CT, where the weather is a LOT more mild than in AK, so I need your exploits in the freezing rain, sleet, blizzards, ice, polar bear attacks (well, maybe not that) to keep me motivated. I think, if Jill can ride in that kind of weather, I can do it here. Go for it. I'll get fat and out of shape if you don't.

  11. Did you really think you would have one person say no to this?

  12. I've been in your position, but for me it was Ironman, not endurance mountain biking. And it was dealing with extreme summer heat, not frigid winter cold. And it was expensive and time consuming. And I signed up again. And again. And again...

    After five years, I finally had to take a break, but I have NO regrets.

    If I were you, I would do it. In a heartbeat.

  13. Do it! Do it do it do it do it do it!

    Put the donation link up again (make it more prominent). we'll sponsor you!

  14. You can ship your bike with Alaska Airlines Cargo or check it as one of your checked bags. Just make sure you give advanced notice. I'd call about the cargo option first, it should be cheaper


Feedback is always appreciated!