Sunday, December 03, 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.

Pros:
- 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.

Cons:
- 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?