Monday, September 15, 2008

Quiet days of fall

Date: Sept. 12 and 13
Mileage: 31.8 and 32.0
September mileage: 334.9

There's a sameness to the air again as the sky sinks down and the clouds settle in for the long season. For many, fall is a season of color and change. In Juneau, our colors are subtle and often washed in gray. Change here is subtle as well; as autumn rain takes over, temperatures drop in undetectable increments until one day, you walk out the door and it's winter. When I lived farther south, fall was always my favorite time of year. I loved the vibrancy and crisp air and promise of new passion. But since I moved to Juneau, my experience with fall has been muted at best - as though the entire season passed in one drawn-out, gray day. If I was given the choice of two months to do away with here in Juneau, I would pick September and October, without regret.

That's why it's vital that I kick myself out the door once in a while, but I admit, my motivation has been flagging. My cycling has continued since I stopped training for Trans Utah, though on a less focused level. Because I recognize that I will lapse into a bad cycle if I don't do something I feel is productive, I have been working hard on my writing project again. Basically, what I am doing is drawing up some of my past experiences into literary essays of sorts. I wasn't always a blogger, so a lot of my experiences are being increasingly diluted in an ocean of memories. I wanted to get them down on paper (well, computer). Dredging my memory bank has been fun, but surprisingly exhausting. I am remembering all kinds of nearly forgotten details that really make the moments come alive for me again. At the same time, I'm not a tape recorder. I find myself taking some creative license with conversations in order to avoid being completely vague. So it's not journalism in its pure form, but there's no intentional fiction, either.

The project was unfocused at first, but has started to develop around the theme of "how did a scared little suburban girl from Salt Lake City end up on the Iditarod Trail." It's really not nearly as hokey as it sounds. Anyway, since it is September 2008, it just made sense to center the essays on the Iditarod race because that is my most recent and dramatic life experience. It's been really interesting to revisit that week through the lens of six months later, now that I have had more time to process different events and decide what it meant to me as a whole. Plus, I have a really great record of it already, so it hasn't been hard to fill in the gaps.

So that's what I've been up to this weekend: boring riding, but interesting writing - even if only to me. Last year, my grandmother published her memoirs and distributed them to her whole family. It's been a fun document to have - not only to learn more about my grandma's life, but to see how she views her own life. Writing about past experiences, good or bad, is a project I would recommend to anyone - it's a great way to learn a lot about yourself, and much cheaper than therapy.


  1. Autumn is always a good time for reflection.

    And yes--it IS beautiful riding here! The birch trees are pure gold right now.

  2. That's great! No Trans Utah = The proverbial blessing in disguise. I hate to say it, because it has so often been repeated here, but you are a gifted writer. You've got an eager audience waiting in your little corner of cyberspace should you decide to publish the product of all that keyboard tapping.

  3. Jill, will you being do the Iditarod again this year? If so I really want to be there to see you off and cheer you on. It almost feels like I was part of it, I watch so closely last time from Charlotte. Now I am actually IN Alaska...

    I finally get paid today. I am thinking of checking out the bike deals...I hear this is the time to get one!! I probably have maybe a month of biking right? UNless I want to start snow biking like you!!

  4. I too love today's photo. Jill, you have crazy, mad skills with framing your photos.
    Is there really anyplace that is perfect year-round? Here in Estes, fall is great, summer is to die for, winter is OK, and spring?? That's the time to go somewhere because there is no spring, Just waiting for summer

  5. My grandmother has similiar writings, but in journal form. From the 70s to 90s, I think...

  6. Jill,

    I found your blog by virtue of Geoff winning Wasatch. I'm one of those ultrarunning types... and always searching for good stories.

    I spent the last couple hours reading your writings - definitely kept my interest. You definitely have a knack for it.

    FWIW, from your tone, it sounds like Geoff is somewhat up in the air at what's next. You two seem like kindred spirits; hope it continues... but if not, maybe Geoff needs to explore his ultrarunning for a while. Best of luck there.

    Finally, I will admit I'm a libertarian (who also donates big-time to environmental causes) who lives in Illinois. I can't vote for Obama; I'm going 3rd party. He talks a good game, but there's no substance... I've been close up with him representing my state. Go ahead and vote your conscience, but the locals realize that it ain't gonna work...

    Good reflection; and thanks for providing the reading.


  7. My apologies for the inadvertent gaffe in Geoff's comments. I certainly won't say "if it's meant to be..etc etc" that cliche when said to myself in the past lead to an inquiry of my own as to whether the person had an interest in seeing what their teeth looked like outside of their mouth. Speaking from a male perspective, sometimes it takes us a little bit to realize what we have. When you notice that its the minority of women whose interests aren't caught up in inane garbage like celebrity worship, reality Tv and who said what at "the bar",you appreciate very quickly what you have at home.

  8. Jill, I'm going to throw out a proxy daydream here for sh*ts and giggles, and because it's fun.

    You're going to keep riding through the fall and get amped up again with the winter riding. More importantly, your book is going to come together like a couple of asscheeks. (sorry for the crass phrase, but it felt bad to change it because it comes from a friend of mine). Then in spring, you'll head off on your book speaking tour (itself being an epic journey because you end up doing it by bike!), at which point you'll be invited to a lucrative job writing for a prominent outdoor magazine, which will of course require you to travel to all the fun places to ride and hike and you and Geoff can become a team again. Sure it's all fantasy out of my head, but I thought I share.

    You have the ability as a writer to carry us along with you, and put us smack in the middle of your joys and victories, and it makes the reading so very very inspiring, a joy to read. Any editor worth their salt should recognize you abilities and snap you up posthaste! Thanks again for all you do!

  9. wow! this could almost be a children's book about a bike :)

  10. I got a town you might like. It would require a move to the lower-48, but it's got a small town, down-home blue collar feel. Leadville, Colorado. More snow that Juneau, 10,200 feet above sea level and they actually have a town sponsored snow bike racing series. Just to pass the time till that editors job in Talkeetna comes around!

    Here's a job for ya...might be a bit of a stretch, but if you tell them you've done Iditabike and who you are, I'll bet they'd be interested.

    Subject: [NOLS JOBS] CO - Outdoor Studies Program Manager
    From: "Alumni"
    Date: Tue, 9 Sep 2008 16:14:05 -0600

    POSITION: Outdoor Studies Program Manager - Colorado Mountain
    College, Timberline Campus - Leadville, CO

    Under the supervision of the Assistant Campus Dean of Instruction,
    the Outdoor Studies Program Manager provides leadership for areas
    including Outdoor Recreation Leadership, Outdoor Education, Outdoor
    Expeditions, and the Professional Fly Fishing Guide program;
    potentially Ski Area Operations and Forestry. Responsibilities:
    Oversees permits and/or contracts and establishes effective
    relationships with government agencies, landowners, specialized
    groups; risk management; plans courses and scheduling; monitors
    industry programming and establishes standards for quality field
    instruction; plans and administers program budgets, and trip
    logistics; supervises full and part-time staff; assists with
    marketing and recruiting efforts; manages all aspects of equipment
    and gear acquisition, use, inventory, storage and rental; provides on-
    site trip instruction and supervision as needed; establishes
    effective relations with CMC Campus partners and other affiliates
    related to the program; and other duties as assigned by supervisor.
    Requirements: Bachelor’s Degree in Outdoor Recreation / Education, or
    related field, and current certification in WFR & CPR; demonstrated
    competence in three or more of the following: backpacking,
    canyoneering, mountaineering, rock or ice climbing, whitewater
    kayaking and rafting, sea kayaking, telemark or alpine skiing,
    challenge course management, and snowboarding. Minimum of 2 years
    experience in logistics related to outdoor programming; risk
    management training; State & Federal government permitting, and
    fiscal management. Teaching in outdoor/recreation preferred. CMC
    offers excellent benefits.

    To submit the required letter of interest, a resume, and a list of
    three professional references, click here. This position remains
    open until filled. CMC is an EOE committed to diversifying its

  11. Hey... that IS in idea for you. And you might be able to convince Geoff that the Leadville 100 mile trail run (or even Hardrock) is in his future...


Feedback is always appreciated!