Tuesday, August 07, 2007


A picture of the Brakeless Wonder at Lower Russian Lake, taken Friday night.

Date: Aug. 6
Mileage: 25.1
July mileage: 128.4
Temperature upon departure: 56
Inches of rain today: 0.24"

Until yesterday, I was almost definite in my decision to fly out to Anchorage during the first weekend of September to ride the Soggy Bottom 100. My only hesitation had been the expense, which I could minimize pretty easily thanks to airline miles and my willingness to work extra hours. But now, I am almost definitely thinking I will not do it. Because, really, why should I pay so much and work so hard just for another opportunity to suffer?

And I am not talking about the cycling. The cycling is the easy part. I am talking about the flying, and the taxis, and the renting and/or borrowing of a bike, and all of the other headaches that go along with transporting myself anywhere that isn't Juneau. It just isn't worth it. Sunday morning reminded me of that.

Geoff and I made the mistake of letting a friend who is not known for his mastery of details make a taxi reservation for us. We had to leave at 6:15 a.m. to catch a 7:50 a.m. flight out of Anchorage, from a cabin that did not have its own address, an Internet connection or a phone. In any given year, there are 364 incidents that make me happy I don't own a cell phone, but there is always one that convinces me it's time to break down and sign up for a plan. Sunday morning was that day.

So the cab didn't show up at 6:15. By 6:25, Geoff had begun to use his power of deduction to figure out that our friend had probably given the company the address number of the house were waiting in front of, but the name of an intersecting street - which meant that the driver was probably more than three miles away. We had to get to a pay phone fast, so I suggested using our friend's car (she was out of town.) Geoff urged me to make the trip, because he was still in pain from his race. I got in, drove a half mile down the road, realized I had forgotten to look at the right street name, and put the car in reverse. It stalled and wouldn't start again.

When it comes to stress, I usually cope great with large blows. It's always the compounding layers of little disasters that cripple my ability to rationalize. I went into full-on panic mode, leaving the car in the middle of the street while I sprinted back toward the cabin. I had completely snapped - hyperventilation, sobbing, the whole package. Geoff to his credit made a solid effort to hobble quickly to the car, managed to get it started, and took off to look for a phone. I sat down on our bags and came to terms with the fact that we were going to miss our flight, the next one was at least eight hours away, and I was going to be late or miss the shift at work that I promised to return for under penalty of beheading.

After that, a lot of little things went wrong - and enough little things went right - to really bring the cycle of torture full circle. The car stalled a half dozen times. The closest phone was two miles away. The new cab driver dispatched to us came fast, despite the fact we were in a middle-of-nowhere part of town. There was a huge backup at the baggage check-in. I found a newly opened line. The security line snaked out the door. An earlier baggage mishap had made about a dozen other people really late, so the security people created a fast-track line that we were able to sneak into. We made it through security two minutes before our scheduled flight departure, convinced the doors had been closed. We sprinted and sprinted and I was amazed how quickly Geoff found his legs. Luckily, that earlier baggage mishap also delayed the flight, and the gate employees ushered us inside. I sat in that cramped seat with my heart racing at maximum capacity, sucking recycled air and vowing never to leave Juneau again.

Then today, I bought another plane ticket - a two-stop flight to Utah in late September - because that was always part of the plan. However, it did made me feel a little sick. I like the idea of riding the Resurrection Pass gauntlet in a month, but I don't think I can handle two more airport trips. I don't have to stomach for it.


  1. I know it was rough for you, but your account had me smiling. It's just so typical. No matter where we travel, be it for a race or vacation, the actual traveling part of it leaves me exhausted!

  2. What a travel nightmare! But very amusing to read about =) I understand your reluctance to travel to the Soggy Bottom 100. I'd rather bike from my home most days than have to drive (let alone fly) to get somewhere first. Oh, I'm glad you survived the brake-less ride in one piece! The pics are stunning!

  3. I am beginning to think you pay people to log on and write nice things about you.

  4. wow, by the skin of your teeth - it sounds like the pressure to run through the airport was more than on the trail

  5. That sounds like SOOOO much fun! Ain't flyin' great?

    It gets more fun coming into the US from a foreign country :(

  6. nice Jill!
    Sounded like a fun & crazy weekend.. ugh that resurection mud has killed many a brake before!
    Sorry I couldent meet up, but sounded like you were pretty busy!

  7. If it were not for those "silly" winters in Alaska, I would move there right now. Your photos make it look so magical.
    I hate flying and can relate to your frustration.

  8. Uh oh. Juancho is on to me.

    By the way, I direct deposited your check this month. I hope that's OK.


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