Sunday, March 23, 2008

Not too bad for a senior and a girly

Date: March 21
Mileage: 48.1
March mileage: 370.7
Temperature: 37

So Kathi and Bill Merchant rolled into Nome at 2:48 a.m. Friday with a race time of 25 days, 12 hours and 58 minutes. Lots of milestones there: Bill's the oldest man ever to ride a bicycle to Nome (is he really a senior? I doubt it. He strikes me as a 30-year-old, but he's probably in his early 50s.) Kathi is the first woman to ride a bicycle to Nome, and now holds the overall female course record on the Northern Route. The two of them have probably had this goal on their mind for many years. I can hardly imagine the sense of accomplishment (or relief) they feel right now, but I wanted to send them my congratulations. Bill and Kathi, Carl and Pete, and everyone else who tackled the trek to Nome this year (six so far have made it, and one more is on the way): You are my heroes. How cool is it to have sports heroes that you can connect with in such a personal way? Most people have to settle for looking at Web stats and watching television and purchasing outrageously expensive sports memorabilia. I rode a whole race alongside my heroes, shared trail stories and food, expressed fears and future plans. I have as much respect and excitement for people like Bill and Kathi as I ever would for pro athletes like Lance Armstrong. And that's not a slam on pros by any means. This is just where my passion fell - this tiny, esoteric little branch of cycling where people push their bikes in the snow. I'm happy here.

I was kinda proud of my own surge this weekend, although it hardly compares. On Friday I followed Geoff on his planned 50-mile ride as he starts to begrudgingly put in base miles ahead of the Great Divide Race. It's been strange riding so much with Geoff. I long ago accepted that he essentially only likes riding bicycles on dry, technical trails and long, remote gravel roads - so, basically, nowhere in Juneau. He loaded up his mountain bike with a bunch of water and gear so he could carry a little weight on our ride out the road. Not to be outdone, I opted to ride my Pugsley (weather called for scattered snow flurries, but really, bringing the heavy beast was a completely unnecessary move.) I paid for my pride with the indignity of fenderless four-inch tires blasting me for four hours with an endless spray of grit, mud, dirt and goo. I looked like I had danced around in a mud sprinkler; I had goo in my teeth, behind my ears, down my pants, in my eyes. Not to mention poor Pugsley. And all we did was fight, fight, fight the goo and wind and passing snow squabbles, then rode home two miles short of our goal. (Geoff did not want to ride loops around the block to kick up the total.) Still, 148 miles would make my longest training weekend, mileage wise, of the entire year. That includes all my big weekends going into the Ultrasport. It goes to show that mileage pretty much has nothing to do with my cycling efforts. Because, although the time I made wasn't terrible, I don't feel like I put all that much effort into the endeavour (and yes, I do nearly all of my longer rides at my "endurance" i.e. perpetual pace.) 148 miles this weekend was easier than any weekend I put in during the winter. And the century was easier than the 50-miler.

I guess it's time for me to start intervals and weight lifting again. Maybe dig deep and find some speed ... or stretch out and enjoy the tour. I haven't yet decided. Meanwhile, look what came in the mail on Friday:

Hoo Boy.


  1. I should have gotten the blue one -- yours is so purty.

  2. Thanks for showing everyone your monkey.

  3. I like the fact you are such a sucker for punishment. I havn't really written about the adventures I have been on but wonder if you have met any crazy people out doing as you do over in Alaska who are from a small country in the South Pacific. We have a decent collection of adventurous outdoors folk in New Zealand.

  4. Crazy, I used that pic of Kathi and Bill on my blog a while ago as a joke to friends about the AK weather. I never knew who it was-but I love it. Nice bike, hopefully soon I will get one! I would have loved to take your job for a few weeks, but I am just a teacher who knows nothing about all those programs. That would be a problem, ha ha. Well good luck and keep us posted.

  5. Thanks for the update on Bill and Kathi, good to know they made it OK.

    Congrats on the Monkey, I just picked one up last fall and rode it through the winter as my commuter and it served me well with parts salvaged from my older commuter. I just upgraded to disc brakes and will be working through the drive train as time and $ permit. It's a great ride but I have to admit the blue is much sharper than my black one.

  6. A bunch of the single speeders here in Md/Va ride the KM and love it. Of course there is in orange, I do like your blue better but together they are unthinkable....

    Cheers on the 48 that sounded very epic.

  7. the monkey is probably the best frame i've ever owned, as far as versatility goes. it can do pretty much any duty you assign to it.

  8. Jill;

    Thanks for the posting about Bill and Kathi. Like many others, I find their trek to be truly awe inspiring and downright crazy. I'm glad they made it safely.

    Jose must feel ultra alone, he's the last racer on the course and has a bum knee/leg to boot. How vast the Alaskan landscape must feel to know that you're bringing up the rear. Go Jose Go!

    Update: Seconds ago, I read on the IDTI website that Jose has decided to scratch. I'm actually relieved to read this news, and am certain that friends and family feel the same way. His feat is not belittled by this decision, especially since he's walked from Finger Lake all the way to Elim on his own. Wow.

    For you Jill, the IDTI race is officially over, and you can now let go of that experience and file away the lessons learned as you begin to plan this new year. It'll feel good to move on, but it will also be somewhat scary because the act of "pushing ones limits" is not a science. No doubt you'll figure it out, and will continue to share those experiences on your blog and in your BOOK! (never underestimate the Power of Suggestion)

    Happy (and safe) trails to you.

  9. Welcome to the land of Monkeys, whuahahahahahahahhahaahahaha.

    Every Monkey derserves a nickname, take your time and choose wisely.


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