Showing posts from June, 2006

A baiku attempt

Date: June 29
Mileage: 17.1
June mileage: 664.4
Temperature upon departure: 57
Got back on the bike
Saddle sores still scabbed over
Summer never waits


I've been feeling like a slug for the past couple of days, a little unsure about the point when my body goes from "recovery" to "atrophy while eating Tostitos on the couch." I hit the gym today because I thought it would be good for my energy level to get my heart rate up without stressing my impact injuries. Can't say it helped, but at the same time - it didn't seem to hurt. And that led me to another question - if 72 hours after a 24-hour race, I feel well enough to run for an hour, maybe I didn't push myself hard enough during the race itself. But how do you make that decision? Where does "pushing hard" turn to "massive meltdown in the middle of the woods?"

I am still dealing with Kincaid fallout. I'm beginning to wonder if I'll ever get the feeling back in my three middle fingers on my right hand - they're disconcertingly locked in that "asleep" phase that usually precludes the tingly feeling that leads b…

Fifth place!

Geoff took this photo at the mass start of the 24 Hours of Kincaid race, a sprint to the bikes that were lined up 50 meters from the starting line. Before the giant stadium clock ticked 12:00:00, I had a quick exchange with the three women in the top left. They talked about how ridiculous it was to begin a 12 and 24-hour-long race with a 50-meter dash. But what a fun way to begin what can become a grueling, repetitive, sometimes excruciatingly slow race. I ran it. I'm not ashamed. Then I climbed onto my bike for the turtle crawl into fifth place of the solo division - and first woman, though there aren't separate rankings. It's my first time being in the top third of any pack, let alone some of the top endurance racers in the state. Slow and steady, but steady is key.

When I set out into the bluebird weather of high noon, I truly had no idea what I was in for. I rode Kincaid Park only once before, in July 2003, and I remember it as somewhat difficult - but then again, in 20…


Date: June 24 and 25
Mileage: 168.2
June mileage: 647.3 (inc. 18 miles June 22)
Temperature upon departure: 63

I'm back from the 24 hours of Kincaid race - long, dusty, hilly. Surprising technical stretches. Moose on the trail. Hills. Psycho porcupines. Deteriorating judgment. Long. Not that I'm nearly lucid enough right now to post a race report. The race organizers haven't posted the race results yet, but I surprised myself with my progress. According to the last updates I saw before I left Anchorage, I placed anywhere from third place to sixth place among all solo 24-hour cyclists, with the top finisher at 22 laps, second place at 19, and three others that were near me at about 16. Out of two solo women, I actually came in first by several laps. Hopefully they'll post the results on the Web site soon.

For 22 hours and 55 minutes I pounded out 16 loops, at 10.5 miles a piece. I kept a consistent pace throughout the race - my fastest loop was 1 hour, 12 minutes and my slow…

Sure they're weeds, but ...

Date: June 21
Mileage: 16.4
June mileage: 469.1
Temperature upon departure: 57

All I rode was the full-circle commute today, so I am officially tapering. It left me with the better part of the evening to scrub all the little components on my MTB with a toothbrush, switch the wheels, change the brake pads and finesse the shifting down to smooth, clickless transitions. Mechanical preparedness is probably the third most important step in preparing for an endurance cycling attempt, right behind buying the right food and building up an amiable attitude that will keep you semi-sane in the suck. How could those things possibly be the top three, you ask? Sure, training is very important. But all the past six-hour bike rides in the world aren't going to help you when your front derailluer refuses to shift into anything but the middle ring and you're doubled over your handlebars with gastrointestinal pain.

Attitude, Food, Good Gear. After that, it's all just breathing and spinning.

I foun…

Midnight sun

Date: June 20
Mileage: 39.4
June mileage: 452.7
Temperature upon departure: Warm enough for shorts ... 55

Watching the sun set out my bedroom window at 11:40 p.m., on the first mostly clear evening in weeks, on the second longest day of the year (reduced only by the sole second that solstice will add to the total daylight tomorrow.) In my neck of the woods, there is no actual midnight sun: by 12 a.m., it has already slipped just below the horizon, on that half-submerged arc that will keep twilight burning all hours of the night until the first sleep-deprived rays rise again at 4. Sure, you can't get a tan here at 2 a.m. (I know from personal experience that a 2 a.m. tan is a hard thing to obtain even north of the Arctic Circle, where clouds of mosquitoes tend to block out the sun.) But this is a latitude I can live with, the romantic allure of all-night daylight aside.

Not that a mere 20 hours of daylight is too shabby. Still, I think I've done a pretty good job of avoiding the new…

110 hours until ...

Five more days. Just Five. That's how many days I have until the 24 Hours of Kincaid ride, also referred to as the 24 Hours of KinPain by a group of fellow bloggers who have formed an adequately-named team, Megasoreass.

I haven't talked about it much on my blog because, in all honesty, I haven't done much to prepare for it. I had big plans to carve out time for all-night mountain biking and 200-mile road rides. But that's how life sneaks up on you. The story's always the same. You grow up well-raised in the suburbs, graduate high school, get a college education. Then one day, you wake up and you live in Alaska, where you occasionally show up to work covered in mud and consider 24 straight hours with a bike seat wedged between your butt cheeks to be a rollicking good time. But the real irony is that you still have to hold down an office job for a living.

I may not be at the physical peak I had hoped for, but that won't prevent me from giving it my best shot. More …

Hope, Resurrection, Turn ... again

Date: June 17 & 18
Total mileage: 72.8
June mileage: 413.3

Geoff and I spent mountain on Sunday. We managed to find two of the more interesting established campsites on the Kenai Peninsula - the first night, high high on a ridge above Hope, where six sites are crammed into a spot only reasonably large enough for two or three; the second night, we found the only place below 2,000 feet elevation where it is still winter: a frigid wind pocket beside Portage Glacier. After an active night of being continuously woken up by 60 mph gales, we had to rise to another soggy morning so Geoff could run three miles up a mountain and I could fight similar gales for 16 miles of a rather lopsided 32-mile bicycle ride.

Saturday was much more pleasant. We spent the morning lounging at Tito's Diner in Hope. Then, full of breakfast and a well-sold piece of chocolate raspberry cheesecake pie, I headed up the Resurrection Pass trail while my friends waited patiently at a campsite for me to complete what…

Go Rob Go!

Date: June 15
Total mileage: 37.3
June mileage: 340.5
Temperature upon departure: 49

I just wanted to give a quick shout-out to UltraRob, who is currently more than four days and a staggering 1,200 miles into the Race Across America. As of about 10 p.m. AST, they listed him in fifth place in the Men's Enduro category. He's probably rolling toward Kansas right now, quietly spinning away the dark, featureless night. Three thousand miles in 12 days or less. I've spent more time driving a car across the country. The Race Across America is a rare sort of event, reserved for those with the rare combination of both ultra-human strength and a respectable level of physical self loathing. How else could anyone opt for a week and a half without any measurable sleep - eating, breathing, peeing, dreaming, everything on the bike. Only the bike. And the country, the vast and beautiful country, broken down by legs and lungs and heart until all that's left is a tiny island of headlamp ligh…

Catching up

Date: June 13 and 14
Total mileage: 60.1
June mileage: 303.2

Yesterday I put in what I thought was a pretty good ride - rode the "hill loop" thrice, for a total of 36 miles with about 3,500 feet of climbing, a 10 mph west wind and an average speed of almost 14 mph. It was a good ride because I felt like I could put in several more of those loops. How many more ... I don't know.

I'm basically just tricking myself into believing I could possibly train for what I'm about to put myself through in the 10 days I have left. Really, I have what I have. And you know ... that's gonna be good enough. Because it has to be.

I've spent the past week showing my Utah-bound family the strange and beautiful side of this state that I love. They got the weeklong deluge that was our first wet weather in a month, but their rain luck was counterbalanced by unbelievable wildlife luck. If you squint hard enough at this picture, you can see the dorsal fin of a whale that rose and dippe…


Date: Hmmmmmm
Total mileage: 51
June mileage: 243.1

Still around, still breathing, not so much pedaling. My family's been in town, and you know how that goes - days that once sported 24 hours each suddenly seem to only have four. Busy busy busy, not that I have good exuse.

I left my camera at work. But here's some of the photos I've taken in the past five days:
*The blurry dorsal fin of a humpback whale
*An even blurrier photo of a black bear cub hugging an interpretive nature sign (I promise, that black blob is really one of three cubs that crossed my path behind an intimidating but indifferent mama bear.)
*A big glacier
*Another big glacier, blurred by a cloud
*Famous Alaska poet John Haines
*Baby moose
*My mom actually riding her own bicycle
*Poor, poor seasick Anthony (at least, I think that red blur slumped over the railing is poor, poor seasick Anthony.)
*Puffins and sea lions
*The great cat standoff

There stories are good, too, but maybe only to me.

I will come back eventually. Pro…

Ride too much

Date: June 7
Mileage: 22
June mileage: 192.2
Temperature upon departure: 48

First a confession, than an admission.

I'm not an athlete. So maybe I have a problem.

Commuted today and even then couldn't go straight home. Almost 200 miles in the first week? Seems a little high for a rec rider. A little low for a wannabe endurance bicycle racer. Where do I fit in?

Can't figure out if I'm addicted or dedicated. Chasing experience or escaping growth. A healthy hobbyist or a well-covered procrastinator. A driven beginner or a flailing expert.

In the end, they're all just euphemisms for the same thing.


North Fork

Date: 6-6-6
Combined mileage: 65.4 (inc. June 5)
June mileage: 170.2
Temperature upon departure: 57

A loop ride is always a bigger commitment to make than an out-and-back ... Especially when you don't quite remember the mileage, and it's a Tuesday evening, and you think you're embarking on a sort-of "before dinner" ride. As it turned out, 40 miles on the mountain bike was a little more than I bargained for.

But, really, what's the harm in a 10 p.m. dinner and a few quiet grumblings about the four long months in which I lazily neglected to re-install Sugar's pedal cages and water-bottle holder? Small price to pay for three hours of free-rolling by fireweed blooms, coasting an uphill tailwind and cresting near the point where a local man was mauled by a grizzly last weekend. That's the kind of eyes-wide-open excitement that money can't buy and ski lift-served downhill rides can't replace. Never mind that downhill was almost slower, what with the head…

Snow, Hope, Powerline

Date: June 2, 3
Mileage: 76.2
June mileage: 104.8
Temperature upon departure: 60s

Had something of a whirlwind weekend on the road. At three weeks to Kincaid, it really should have been a power-training weekend for me. But there are ways to bypass obligation without regret: enjoy a mud bath on wheels down an avalanche-torn section of the Johnson Pass trail; take a half-century joy ride to Hope, Alaska - still America's "most scenic" byway to nowhere; and read a couple of New Yorker magazines cover-to-cover by a roaring campfire as the midnight sun rests - momentarily - over the Kenai Mountains.

Geoff is working toward this "Alaska Mountain Runners Grand Prix," and today was his first race of the season - The Powerline Pass. We drove up a day early to camp nearby and do the aforementioned mountain bike ride - on a muddy, debris-clogged trail that became entirely unrideable after only four miles (thanks to long fields of soft, punchy snow.) We hiked up another mile an…

Sustained climb

Date: June 1
Mileage: 28.6
June mileage: 28.6
Temperature upon departure: 45

I stumbled across an article today about a woman who rode her bike from the Dead Sea to Everest Base Camp and then climbed to the top. The world's longest climb. Pretty cool. Sometimes I wonder how my life would be different if I had it in me to dream big ... crazy big. Given my predisposition to clumsiness and a paralyzing vertigo that I have yet to overcome completely, I'd probably no longer be alive. But if you could pick one crazy big accomplishment to be the first person ever to succeed in, what would it be? I wouldn't mind being the first person to ride my bike across the Bering Sea in the winter - thereby enabling me to literally ride my bike around the world. Of course, I'd have to convert my bike into some kind of paddle boat to cross the Panama Canal. And I'd have to skip Australia altogether. And I'd have to parlay my admittedly terrible sense of direction on ice floes that move…

There's dirt on that trail

Date: May 31
Mileage: 15
May Mileage: 487.1
Temperature upon departure: 47

Today I hit the gym for the first time in weeks to test my endurance near my aerobic threshold (I know. I could just buy a heart-rate monitor. But I kind of enjoy working out while reading trashy magazines such as "People" or "Bicycling" once in a while.) I ran for an hour on the elliptical trainer. I kept my heart rate between 160 and 175 beats per minute, and ended up coveringmore than 10 "miles" (I've always been curious what an elliptical trainer "mile" equals. It's easier than running, but definitely more work than cycling.)

Anyway, I thought I'd come home from the gym completely worked, but I felt surprisingly refreshed. So I talked Geoff into an evening mountain bike ride, which we didn't end up leaving for until it was nearly 9 p.m.

We headed up the Homestead Trail toward our old winter haunts - now stripped of snow and layered in an interesting mix of d…