Tuesday, April 10, 2007


So, as it turns out, venturing out for a mild 18-mile bike ride is overdoing it in my case. The effect is not unlike rewinding several weeks. I knew I had gone wrong when I woke up to sharp pains Saturday night and realized I couldn't bend my leg. Now my co-workers are commenting on my limping again. I'm aware that I've hit rock bottom .. well ... at least several times during the past eight weeks. But this has to be it. The very bottom. I am officially turning my back on cycling until I get this thing under control. The decision makes me feel at once relieved and devastated.

As my own prospects of a summer season becoming increasingly dim, I find myself drawn in to the exploits of the endurance mountain biking counterculture. I've never really been able to count myself as a sports fan - in fact, the prospect of sitting through an entire game of any sport is about as appealing to me as watching laundry dry. But ever since the Iditarod Invitational, any tidbit I can find about gonzo races and the grimy athletes who compete in them is like candy to me. The more spartan and obscure, the better. Not doing any cycling of my own only fuels my fanaticism. Gwadzilla recently made an interesting observation about the state of specatorship. When a person says they "like" baseball or "like" music, it usually means they like others' baseball feats, others' music. Now, when I say I "like" cycling, I'm often thinking about events in the coming weeks that I'm not even connected to, but yet I look forward to them with a strange kind of zeal:

Arizona Trail 300, April 13: This race is still a pretty small affair, and I don't know much about it. But of all the mountain bike races out there, I'm most interested in ones that follow a multi-day, self-supported format.

Trans Iowa, April 28-29: I get a big kick out the fact that what seems to be the most popular event in grassroots distance mountain-bike racing happens to cross the state of Iowa. Now I've only glanced Iowa - barely - on the Interstate, so I'm in no position to judge. But ... Iowa? That anomaly alone makes this race very intriguing.

Kokopelli Trail Race, May 19: As far as I understand it, this race one of Mike Curiak's inventions. He's since passed the torch to others, which is just as well in these no-fee, no-support, no-podium events. This is one of the shortest of the gonzo events. At "only" 142 miles, it seems like it would be a good introduction into self-supported endurance racing.

Grand Loop Race, June 1: Another multi-day race. This one sounds intense. Not only is it 360 miles with about 48,000 feet of climbing, but racers attempt it in the stifling heat of the desert in June. It bills itself as one of the last, true, pure wilderness events, and I buy that assessment. Dave Harris is considering attacking this route solo, sometime in May, away from the already-small crowds and oh-so-subtle hype of the race itself. I like this kind of thinking, because it reaffirms my belief that the largest and most daunting events transcend competition into something else entirely.

Great Divide Race, June 15: This has to be the grand-daddy of all North American mountain bike races, although with more experience, I might be inclined to argue that the Ultrasport 1,100-mile race to Nome is even harder. Either way, GDR is the real deal. The amazing part is, there are 17 racers who are actually planning on attempting it. Some familiar names on the roster, too. The smart money's probably on Pete Basinger to be the first to Mexico, although Jay Petervay, Carl Hutchings and others I haven't even heard of will definitely put the hammer down. This should be a race to remember. I'm personally really looking forward to watching Dave Nice tackle the trail on a fixie of all things. These people are crazy! That's what makes these events so fun to watch.

There's probably a whole slew of other races that are still outside my radar, but if I stay off my own bike much longer, I'm sure I'll find them soon enough.


  1. so sorry to hear....

    I think my money is on Matt Lee this well be his 4th year.... He wasn't to far off mikes record last year and he got wallopped by rain in 06

    My grandmother asked me whats after the Great Divide and it really got me thinking....

    nezt year the azt300, glr, and dirty kasanas, all loom all there as well as the cold races but I really don't think I can deal with that stuff =)

    I really enjoy this stuff and I donno where my head would be if i was dealing with whats going on with you....

    Stay strong keep going on a very well informed blog on us nutjobs

  2. Yes, Iowa! Training ground to Ironman world champ Tim DeBoom, Double Ironman runner-up Kevin Drake, Triple Ironman phenom C.J. Ong, endurance mtb horse Jeff Kerkove, Olympic-caliber marathoners Turena Johnson and Johanna Olson, and many, many, many more (not to mention the reigning Master's golf champ...uh, not that golf is an endurance sport). Maybe it's the corn, maybe it's the hogs or maybe we just have nothin' better to do...

  3. trans iowa... what could be better than 300 miles of (potentially soupy) gravel at the end of april? ha! those guys and gals are crazy! i rode last week in 70 degree temps and yesterday when it was 41. snow in the forecast! you gotta love iowa! so unpredictable this time of year. it could be 70 and sunshine for t.i. or it could be 20 and snowing. it will be interesting!

    like kerkove says... the wind is our mountains.

    jill.... let yourself heal. the races will still be around when you're ready.

    peace out, yo!

  4. IOWA, acronym for idiots out wandering around, (speaking for myself of course) what could be more entertaining than 320 miles of nothing-ness? I'm going merely to observe my fellow sufferers out of sheer morbid curiousity...Heal up quick Jill, I follow your blog cause it provides me that "no excuses" motivation!!

  5. Having grown up in IOWA and recently spent time with an ultramarathon joker who did the trans IOWA last year, I can say with certainty the Trans IOWA race is no easy trek in the fields. One thing that was clearly understated was the mud! Miles and miles of mud: muddy up-hills; muddy down hills; and muddy straight-aways; mud up to your pedals; mud up to your gears; mud up to your arse and beyond!

    And while IOWA may seem beneign to the altitude elites with their rocky peaks in far-away places, as noted in the related comments above, there is a cadre of ultra-psycho-enduro Iowans who've succesfully made mountains out of these presumed molehills to become respected and competetive athletes in variety of challenging sports.

    Hey Jill, you ought to come down some April and give Trans IOWA spin. The people are great, the food is home cooked, and the event might very well shift your attentions towards the heartland for F*U*N and advneture biking.

  6. Jill,
    Sorry to hear one step foreward two steps back...
    I've had double doses of inactivity lately, resting my knee and got a case of pericarditis from a bronchitis virus... fun stuff. My legs do nothing but flail when I sleep.
    fight the good fight!

  7. 2500 miles through the rockies on a fixie? Ye gods! I had a hard time getting to work this morning on 3 km of flat pavement with my new fixed gear... If he manages to pull that off, I will be in total awe.

  8. Hang in there, Jill. So sorry you're struggling. It sucks being injured, as I know all too well, having been fighting back from injury for 12 full months now.

    Keep using your head and you'll be back stronger than ever!

  9. Jill, Jill, Jill,
    I kind of feel like I know you (a litte bit), but you don't know me except for my posts here (and maybe elsewhere). You should really read and heed what everyone has been telling you. Stay off the bike until your healed. Tendon and/or ligament injuries take alot of time and patience to heal (along with really good hard painful massages).

    The fucked up thing is that you hurt yourself silly even though you knew better. Thank God you didn't wipe out or bail in some way to make it even worse.

  10. hey.... I used to read that GWADZILLA blog
    but it has really dropped in quality

  11. on a more serious note...

    in one season I went over the handlebars in my first race
    was approaching the season with some intensity
    ten minutes into that first race I crashed on the first rock that I saw and went over the handlebars
    landed on my index finger
    stalled in a handstand on that one finger for a good long time
    than dislocated and destroyed the joint....
    surgery and therapy later
    I still can not make a fist
    got back on the bike
    was racing a few months later
    then in the fall I went over the handlebars
    perhaps in an effort to protect my left hand I dislocated my right shoulder

    it is and was depressing

    my confidence is not where it once was
    my body is not what it once was

    but remember
    these things do not happen to people who live on the couch

    those injuries were just set backs
    I am a cyclist for live
    not for a season

    I thought of you the other day as I tried doing some laps in the pool while on vacation

    it was then when I admitted that swimming laps is for swimmers

  12. Well, at least now you know that riding is out for awhile. Humans are adaptible creatures - you'll manage too. Sucky, but now you can just focus on getting better.

  13. It seems a little strange that a flat 18 mile ride would cause such problems. Makes me wonder if the tendonitis diagnosis is entirely correct. A little sore...OK. Sharp pains that wake you up at night? Seems a little bit much for tendonitis.


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