Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Fun at its peak

A few people have asked me how Geoff is dealing with his foot injury. Today, he had a really good day. Not only did he get a job offer to be a cook at a natural food grocery store and deli, but he also ran four miles without any pain in his feet. A pain-free four-mile run does not a successful 100-mile race make, but he's feeling less certain that he has a stress fracture, and more certain that he his going to run the race. Certain enough that he's at least going to stand at the starting line Saturday morning.

I spent the morning fixing up my bike so I can take it apart tomorrow. I've spent a better part of the evening creating an iPod playlist for the race. Intertwined with my old staples like Modest Mouse and Built to Spill are a few random selections that carry vivid memories of last year's Susitna 100: "D.A.R.E." by the Gorillaz and "Scrub" by TLC. It's always interesting to me when certain songs tie themselves irrevocably to particular moments in the past. So it's unfortunate that the one song that sweeps me instantly back to the dripping darkness of that soggy night in February 2006 isn't actually a song at all - it's a jingle.

Before Susitna 2006, I never listened to music while riding - at all. But people mentioned that if I found myself alone and struggling in the middle of the night, a little FM/AM radio would help me stay sane. So I took their advice, and when the night became really dark and lonely, I turned it on for the first time. I had to flip through every single notch on the dial before I came to the one station the radio could pick up. It was some top-40 station out of Anchorage, playing the most random mix of pre-selected music that any midnight radio show could hope to find. And between broadcasts of choice selections like "You're Beautiful" by James Blunt and "Unforgiven" by Metallica - literally after every other song - the station played its one and only commercial: a promo for the Mat-Su Valley tourism board. So every ten minutes, a giddy group of singing banshees would wail in my ear ... "Yahoo, Mat-Su! Fun is at its peak in the Valley!" That night, as fatigued and desperate for companionship as I was, every single advertising spot made me cringe.

But now, every time that hideous jingle enters my head, I think of the way the distant city lights of Anchorage burned orange over the wilderness. I think of the way those Valium-laced voices sang, "Don't miss the sights ... Nature puts on a show with the northern lights." And it makes me smile.

And if I could find an mP3 of that commercial, I'd definitely add it to my Susitna 2007 playlist.


  1. I think I was the last person I know to get a Ipod. Just this last Christmas I got a shuffle.

    And since I love music a ton it has become my best friend, always there to cheer me up.

    Riding alone has never been easier!

    Good luck on your adventure!

  2. I am glad to hear Geoff's foot is feeling better.

    You may have already read this, but there is an account of the Arrowhead race on the Surly blog:

    Good luck with your last minute prep.

  3. Glad to hear Geoff's foot will at least allow him to give it a go.
    Best of luck to you in the race and I hope the weather gods smile upon you this year. I will be sending some "firm trail" vibes towards AK this weekend.

  4. I got your sound clip for you Jill, if you tell me where to send it I will email it to you. I hope you have a great run in the Sustina 100, and I am very glad to hear that Geoffs foot is better.

  5. I was going to suggest going to this site - www (dot) shgresources (dot) com/ak/radio - and tracking down and contacting the station, but it looks like monkeygirl beat me to it! Nice work!

  6. I wish I had a great hunt to tell you about, but do you believe it, there is a Yahoo Matsu website, I just emailed one of the directors listed with a quote from Jills blog, and they sent it right to me, I think they were flattered. I did edit out the word hideous, I was asking for a favor after all. hehe:)

  7. Wow, Monkeygirl, that's amazing and nice. You can e-mail me at

    Hideous is a bit of an overstatement. But a did hear that promo A LOT in one night.

    Can't wait to hear it again!


  8. I can see the merits of an iPod for to break up the monotany

    on some long long rides and long treks I have been know to put in the headphones

    even with my preaching

    I too am weak to finding inspiration where I can

    you rock!

    who says you can not see the sunset on the horizon because you have music in your ears?

    it is important to live and listen to the world around you
    some occassional music to play as a soundtrack to the action can be cool

    it is just dangerous when people are zoned out not aware of the world around them

  9. Glad to hear Geoff can at least take the line. Good luck at the Su to you both!


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