Friday, January 04, 2008


Date: Jan. 3
Mileage: 25.1
Hours: 2:00 (plus two hours at the gym)
January mileage: 75.7
Temperature upon departure: 35
Precipitation: .33"

I've been packing up for another daylong cycling/camping adventure. Before I started having knee pain, my plan was to spend these first few days of January pressing into the Yukon for two nights of "out in the weather" living. But injury worries prompted me to postpone the trip. So instead I decided to head out locally for one night, and still managed to put that task off until Friday. Tomorrow should be a good day for it. Colder and dry. Weather in the 20s around here is actually warmer than most weather in the 30s, because the potential to get wet and stay wet is much lower. So I am looking forward to traveling in comfort.

Sometime soon I will have to write a gear post about the stuff I am planning (at that point, at least) to use in the Ultrasport. I got a big box of stuff earlier this week and today ordered what I hope will be my last box of stuff. Just a few odds and ends ... a Thermarest, to match the one that Geoff owns that I always use; a fuel bottle; a 6-liter MSR bladder to fill as I see fit; a Camelbak "stowaway" bladder that I hope will actually stow away water rather than leak it all over me; and goggles, because the $25 pair that I bought at Solitude ski resort in 1998 just aren't cutting it anymore.

My last big box came while my friends Craig and Amity were in town for the New Year holiday. They watched bemused as I ripped through the heavily taped cardboard like a 6-year-old on Christmas morning. I squealed over my new winter boots ("Waterproof! Coldproof!") and modeled my baby-blue polyester long underwear complete with baby blue balaclava and my old crappy goggles ("You look like a scuba diver.") Craig especially thought the whole scene was funny because he has known me since 1998 and remembers when my entire outdoor gear repertoire amounted to a pair of crappy ski goggles and a few cotton hoodies.

"You've come a long way since we hiked Upper Black Box," he said. "Ice water up to our chins, and you were wearing blue jeans and a pair of Vans."

"Sketchers," I corrected him. "But that was back when they made them with 3-inch soles. Also, the only pack I carried was the top of my overnight backpack, cinched around my waist. And the only food I had was a jar of peanut butter and a baggie of crackers, both of which were filled to the brim with San Rafael River water before mile 3."

"Yeah," he said, eyeing my Arctic expedition boots warily. "What in the world happened to you?"

I shrugged. "Oh, to be young and completely underprepared again," I said, and caressed my new down coat with the genuine appreciation of someone who knows what it means to slog through a 12-hour river hike with a pair of Sketchers and giardia-laced peanut butter.

Today's ride was fairly uneventful, but I saw my friends the sea lions again. I was disappointed to see that they probably didn't remember me as they bobbed and flapped and swam away.


  1. Jill - you're quite the inspiration for me. I've bounced around from hobby to hobby and recently decided that my life-long love of mountain biking would be my only love - other hobbies be damned!

    That decision has led me and my brother into planning a little bikepacking trip this summer in the Rockies. And maybe down the road, hopefully a longer trip on the Colorado Trail or the Great Divide Trail. Bikepacking rocks!

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    mmmm.... giardia-laced peanut butter....

  2. You are awesome!! I found your blog from an article in Velo News.

    I'm such a pansy for driving 5 hrs south just to find warm/dry trails!

    Your an inspiration - I'll be riding in the snow for the rest of the winter. Can't wait to follow how you do this year.

    I used to go out for long winter adventures in the mountains here on my skis but never considered taking my bike. Having a 2 yr old has also slowed that down a bit.

    Keep the rubber side down and the wind at your back!

  3. Hey Jill-
    I found your blog through the Ultrasport website a little bit ago and have really enjoyed your awesome photographs and great writing.

    I was heading out on a long ride sunday and thought about bringing a camera but it somehow seemed pointless...frozen swamps and stunted black spruce are no match for glaciers and sea lions.

    When your knee needs a break train your head. By day two this race is more mental than physical.

    Thanks for your comments during RAAM. I'll see you in February.

  4. Ah yes, new gear is the best.
    Damn that knee injury! Hope you shake that real soon.

  5. You're awesome! How you keep warm -- especially your fingers -- awes me. My fingers get cold within minutes of being outside. Any suggestions for pogies, goggles, lube that won't freeze my brakes?

    Good luck with the knee... My knee is still sensitive sometimes after getting twisted 5 years ago while snowboarding.

  6. Jill,
    Happy New Year - and thank you for the continued insights and adventures! We came back from Fl (82 degrees) to 5 foot drifts in the driveway and 4 degrees with 70mph winds and windchills of 40 below...sweeeeet! Got back in the saddle today - and it felt it always does.
    I wanted you to know that we here in the little rockies haven't forgotten about supporting your race effort. People scattered like the wind and are back Monday....we'll be sending something next week.
    Stay warm...stay healthy - here's to a great year!

  7. Jill,
    I thought about your slushy water bottle when mine froze to a slush on my morning commute yesterday. That does not happen often here in Florida.
    Nice post today btw.

  8. My God what an amazing blog you have created!

  9. Ah, to be young and completely under-prepared again. There's a lot to be said for that.

  10. Chemical hand and toe warmers, last 8 hrs have you ever experimented with them ? I ride in Alaska like conditions, as a last resort, I find they work pretty well in addition to all the other gear of course. ( Booties, wool, liners etc.....)

  11. Great blog Jill! I particularly like your photo work with the bike placed in various locals and that image of the sun coming through the trees ... I'd be happy to get that shot anyday!


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