Thursday, June 19, 2008

GDR 2008

Date: June 19
Mileage: 54.2
June mileage: 555.1
Temperature: 57

Today I went out for my last longish ride ahead of the 24 Hours of Light. I dawdled through the gray morning and left around 2 p.m. in light drizzle only to return with the high 8 p.m. sun over a cerulean sky almost completely flush of clouds. A mood-brightening development for sure. I hit up all the trails in the Valley. All of 'em. Well, there were probably a few singletrack spurs that I missed (there are lots of trails out there that you can only follow for a quarter mile before you're forced to backtrack.) I also made my first-ever wheeled attempt of the East Glacier Trail. I definitely ventured beyond my comfort level, both on the climbs and descents - but especially the descents. In doing so, I also pulled, unintentionally, the coolest mountain biking move I have ever successfully rolled away from. I was bombing down the switchbacks, a little faster than I probably should have been, when I hit a hairpin curve I had no chance of rounding. Beyond the curve was a pretty good drop - the bushes probably would have caught me before I fell too far, but I was destined to shoot off the ledge. So I did what any novice mountain biker would do - I completely locked up both brakes. The front wheel wedged up against a couple of small boulders, which probably prevented an endo, and the back wheel swung around, in the air, at a perfect 90-degree angle. And just like that, I was still on my bike, suddenly facing the right direction down the trail. So I just let off the brakes and continued on my way. Not that I'll ever, ever try that again.

As I puttered around the Mendenhall Valley trail system, Geoff was in Eureka, Mont., making his last preparations for the Great Divide Race, which begins tomorrow at high noon in Roosville, Mont. I have been recruited to help update the call-ins on the race blog, a task I am both looking forward to and dreading (I already spend all of my time working, biking, trying to feed myself, and occasionally visiting my friends. Where am I going to dig out the free time to listen to and transcribe daily call-ins from what will probably be about 20 racers?) But I am excited about becoming more intimately tied to this race, even remotely, in solidarity with Geoff and his monumental task ahead. If I don't find myself too in over my head, I hope to add a little color to the coverage, sportscaster-style, beyond the verbatim phone-call transcriptions. Pete B. has given me the OK to do so. I'll just wait until he asks me to reel it in. But if my blog's quality suffers in the coming weeks, it's because I have my ears glued to Divide racers' descriptions of everything they ate at the last town they visited.

In our final pre-race conversation, I gave Geoff my love and wished him the best. I'm heading out fishing early tomorrow, so I probably won't talk to him again until he finds a working pay phone somewhere on route. It's hard to tell how I feel about everything now that it's obvious he's actually going to attempt the GDR. I also have been following Chris Plesko's singlespeed Divide attempt. His stories are interesting, but I find myself almost more interested in the little bits of commentary from his wife, Marni, who is also playing the role of the GDR widow, at home worrying herself sick some of the time. I've tried to figure out if I feel worried or scared for Geoff, and the truth is, I really don't. I know he can handle whatever is out there. I do know that. I don't know if he can finish the race, and frankly, I don't even really care. Because I know he will have a grand adventure, come what may. To me, that's what's really important.

Go Geoff!


  1. Definitely looking forward to your commentary. Go Geoff!

  2. one way to ease those jitters and settle into the race coverage might be some of your local Alaskan microbrew. what a lucky devil you are to have that in your backyard along with everything else in Juneau. cheers!

  3. Go Geoff indeed!

    I'm sure you'll do a fantastic job of upating the race blog. Woooo-hoooo! more of your writings to read!

  4. Can't wait to hear the bit by bit details.

    Go Geoff!

  5. "If I don't find myself too in over my head, I hope to add a little color to the coverage, sportscaster-style, beyond the verbatim phone-call transcriptions."

    I'm already glued to the coverage of the TourDivide Racers. And now I'm excited to read your commentary on the GDR. Way to go.

  6. Wonder why anyone needs a tv when you got this!... Go Alaska!

  7. Nice move on the switchback!!
    Awesome photo's too.

  8. Jill, what an awesome honor and daunting task to update the blog with the racers reports!!!

    I will read along in quiet jealousy just like last year.

    So much better than ESPN!!

  9. Re: GDR

    Look forward to your coverage! You are a very good journalist and thank you for your work in this GDR. Random: the intimacy that you will gain of the route by your posts will prepare you for your own GDR ....

  10. Contratulations, Jill. Great posts with awesome pictures. Excellent work!
    "Up in Alaska" has now a link on my blog:
    Luís, Portugal


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