Date: March 21
March mileage: 370.7
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: