Saturday, December 09, 2006

Susitna Dreams II

Date: Dec. 8
Total mileage: 21.1
December mileage: 116.1
Temperature upon departure: 39

Geoff and I rode out to the local bike shop to collect the finishing touches (for now) for the Snaux bike ... three silver spacers for the fork. With the headset mounted, I took it out for its maiden voyage up and down the slush-covered street in front of my house. It shifted really smooth, and it had great control through the slush piles despite its 2.2" tires pumped up to 35 or 40 psi .(It may just be all in my head, but I really think the extra surface area of those Snowcat rims will make a world of difference. And even if it is in my head, who cares? I'm steering better, ain't I?)
Plus, the bike is really comfortable. It's hard to describe. And I admittedly didn't ride it very far. But it felt like a beach cruiser ... just kick back, relax and enjoy the ride. If this early assessment holds true, it's a pleasant surprise. That's exactly what I want in Snaux bike ... I want it to be my long-haul trucker, my 18-wheeler, my motorhome. I want to be able to sleep on this thing. (multiday endurance, here I come!).

A few people have asked why I put gears on it rather than building it up as a singlespeed, and comfort is the main reason why. Snaux bike doesn't need much gearing in the snow (there are only so many ways one can ride 6 mph). But I'm sure I'll appreciate it greatly if I ever decide to load him up with 50 pounds of gear and ride across backcountry Canada. Or the Great Divide. (Or the Bering Strait ... eh, Shawn?) Who knows? It could happen. I'm full of dreams today.

I pretty much just slid comfortably into the realization today ... call it acceptance, if you will ... that I'm going to attempt the 2007 Susitna 100. Maybe that acceptance came over sushi diner last night, while I was commiserating with my friend about the outrageous price of a plane ticket to Anchorage. Maybe that acceptance came while I was limping Sugar across an unplowed section of bike trail this afternoon, gleefully fishtailing through anything I didn't flat-out walk. Or maybe that acceptance came when Geoff reminded me ... again ... that we could easily go beach camping in Hawaii for a week for what it's going to cost us to do the race. I don't know when it happened. But somehow the reality settled in. It's not like I really have choice.

After all, how will I ever be ready for the 2008 Iditarod Invitational if I don't get a good dry run in first? After that, it's only one (giant) step to the 2009 Great Divide Race.

There are certain paths of life that draw us in, like magnets - forces that drag us beyond free will into the murky landscape of predestination. Sometimes the pull is so strong that resistance eats away at core of one's self, until all of the drive has been sucked out and only a shell remains.

I don't know that I really believe that - but how else do I explain to my baffled friends and family why I feel compelled to take a winter vacation to a place where snow, wind, distance, fatigue and subzero cold could promise nothing more than a heaping plate of suffering?

How else could I explain why opting for the Hawaii vacation - and spending an entire winter looking forward to white sands and a pina colada - would make me absolutely nuts by February?
How else could I explain why I am so excited to no longer have any good excuse for not going out for a ride for the next three months?

I can't. And so I blame destiny.