Monday, March 12, 2007

Haunted

It's just my luck that the minute one Iditarod race wrapped up, another one started. This year's dogsled race is actually pretty compelling, with your favorite redneck and mine, Lance Mackey, tearing up everyone's expectations. The backlash from this is that every day I have to scroll through dozens of pictures like the one above (by Al Grillo, Associated Press) on the AP wire - sometimes lingering on them well past the point of productivity - and the images have started to show up in my dreams.

I have a strange dichotomy following me through my post-Susitna life, the one in which I'm not riding my bike at all and yet spending more time thinking about riding my bike through increasingly more difficult and more mind-bending situations. Now I can't even imagine how I'll survive another year if I don't ride the 350 Iditarod trail race to McGrath in 2008. The strange dichotomy of this is that I can't imagine how I'll survive if I do. Why must it haunt me so?

I thought about the logistics as I was riding on my bike trainer today - 90 minutes working up to top resistance, a new post-injury record. I really wish I had the guts to ask more questions of the people who really understand the race. After the Susitna 100 ended, I spent about three hours sitting in a sweltering cabin and waiting for Geoff to find the energy to stand up. Also waiting in the cabin to find that energy was John Stamstad, who shared a table with us during the entire hazy recovery period. Stamstad ran the Susitna 100 on foot, but back in the '90s he was one of the pioneers of Iditabike ... as well as just about every other endurance mountain bike event that existed at the time. I mean, he's the John Stamstad. I had about a million and a half questions to ask him. But instead, I just spent a couple of hours sitting five feet from him, staring into sluggish space and saying nothing. He comes across as the type of guy who does not want to be bothered, and I do not like to be the one who does the bothering. At one point, Geoff asked him if he was going to do any rides while he was in Alaska.

"No," he said, "I don't race bikes anymore."

And in those five words came a million and a half more questions. But all we ever heard was those five words. It's good I found my way into editing, because I'd make a terrible reporter.

I guess the Iditarod Invitational is one of those experiences you really just have to figure out for yourself. I learned this during my first Susitna 100 ... nothing I read before the race helped me much during it. But still, I'd like to know ... what does -40 really feel like when you have no where else to go?

.....

Also - in the interest of being a good reporter - I should disclose that "Up in Alaska" did not win a Bloggie. So much time lapsed between voting and now that I nearly forgot all about it, but Fat Cyclist's latest post reminded me. He didn't win either, and that is truly a travesty. Up in Alaska, on the other hand, doesn't really deserve to win "Best Sports Blog." I'm sorry, it doesn't. It's only a bicycle blog because its sole writer is obsessed with bicycling, and it's a marginal bicycle blog at that - tainted with a lot of Alaska lifestyle, mundane stream-of-consciousness, wilderness daydreaming and other activities that have nothing to do with sports. Not that I wouldn't have loved to win ... and thanks to everyone who voted, regardless of who you voted for. Maybe next year. :-)