Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Those Lost boys are back

"Perfect beach near Cape Yakataga;" Photo by Eric Parsons.

Date: Sept. 9
Mileage: 20.1
September mileage: 233.3

So Dylan and Eric of the Lost Coast Bike Expedition have successfully completed their coastal ride to Cordova and are back in Anchorage. They must be two of the baddest, saltiest guys with two of the baddest, saltiest Pugsleys in all the land. They have some epic stories that simultaneously fill me with jealousy for what they experienced and relief that I wasn’t there - a mark of any good adventure, in my opinion. This morning, Eric told me about their crossing of the Hubbard (aka “Terror”) Gap in packrafts. The narrow gap was raging with tidal currents and clogged with glacial ice. Just they were trying to paddle around all of those obstacles, a massive chunk of ice calved off the Hubbard Glacier and crashed into the bay, sending a breaking tsunami their way. Eric said the wave bounced off nearby cliffs and ricocheted back to them, and all they could do was grip their paddles and hope it didn’t flip their boats. Harrowing stuff. Good stuff. And great photos are already up on their trip blog.

So of course I had to ask Eric the question that I’m sure he hears from everyone - was taking the bike worth it? He said he had to give it some thought, but in the end, decided it was. “We did a lot of pushing and carrying our bikes,” he said. “But there were also a lot of really good beaches and we could cover ground a lot faster than if we were walking. We’d look back after a really fun couple hours and think, wow, that would have taken us all day.”

And on his blog, he wrote, “A simple joy comes from mountain biking in places they have never been before. The untangibles that come with traveling through and experiencing these raw, wild, awe-inspiring landscapes is what motivates us and will keep us coming back again and again.”

I have to say, this recent string of good news - Geoff’s win in the Wasatch 100 and Dylan and Eric’s success on the Lost Coast - have really boosted me through this new rut I’ve been tossed into. After I found out I can’t secure extra time off work in October, I took three entire days off the bike - cleaning my house, plodding through a number of chores I’ve been neglecting, and generally feeling sad about being shut out of Trans Utah. I set out today and felt super strong - no huge surprise there, after three pretty mellow days. Despite being stranded in a “no train” zone, I still felt compelled to push hard. I ascended the Perseverance Trail in a gray cloud and descended cold and soaked in sweat and mist and mud and the satisfaction of a good hard effort. But as soon as I rolled back to my apartment and hopped in the shower, the emptiness started to return.

Of course there will be future events and future goals. There always will be. I think what I am mostly feeling sad about is this new realization that even though I have no children, no debt, no health problems, and no definite obligations, I have shaped this life that is not my own. There’s this sense that being chained to a desk is as good as a prison sentence, and yet, I feel a strong reluctance to give up the shackles.


  1. Feeling trapped is not a good feeling. Don't let the job get you down. There are other jobs. You may need to move to find something but that would just start a whole new adventure.

  2. Shackled? Or anchored?


  3. I feel your conflict/pain Jill. From what I can figure out there is not a good answer, or maybe I'm too "chicken" to embrace the direction my desires takes me?

    Best wishes!

  4. Having children is:
    Wonderful and difficult.
    Expensive and priceless.
    Exhilirating and soul-sapping.
    Rapturous and mindless.
    Happy and sad.
    Yin and yang.

    Rarely all at once, thank goodness!

    But having children is NOT an answer to any problem.

  5. Hey Jill ~

    I have been reading your blog for the past few months and I find the journey that you are on fascinating.

    I believe your introspection has come at the appropriate time in your life based on your life circumstances.

    Based on my experience, even though you may not be 100%certain about the next step in your journey, you can trust yourself when you feel a sense of joy and peace regarding your decision.

    Thank you sincerely for sharing this part of your life.

    It is a gift.

    Kazimer - "Kaz"

  6. Jill,

    I'm sorry that you are feeling trapped... that's a crappy feeling. Been following your blog (though I'm ashamed to say there's been a gap since the iditarod) for... well over 2 years now. You continue to be inspiration for me and many others. Maybe you need to write a book and then go on a pedal powered speaking tour? I dunno... maybe you should be a nomad with Geoff for a while, ride and write a book? It's a scary scary prospect becoming a nomad, but it doesn't have to be forever? All things to consider. Check out the ginger ninjas and what they just did riding south from central C.A to central mexico playing music... and the guys doing the riding the spine journey. Maybe that's what next for you?

    I told my brother to look out for you: he was just up in Juneau on a cruise ship and I told him about you while he was in town last week. He's a biker like me, and he was duly impressed to hear my poor retelling of your iditarod story. I told him your were a REAL local celebrity! :)
    As much as we may offer words of comfort and solace, nothing anyone says here will fill that emptiness inside you, I just wanted to let you know my heart is with you (as likely are many others), and I know how that feels to be trapped. You are so brave with what you do on a bike: can you bring that tenaciousness to the rest of your life and make a big change? Lots to think about, so I'm sending you an "attagirl!" slap on the back... and a big Hopper Squish™ to give you strength! Thank you for your gifts to the world of cycling!

  7. All that is gold does not glitter.
    Not all those who wander are lost,
    The old that is strong does not wither.
    Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

    Girl if I knew what life was all about, I wouldnt understand how you feel, And I wouldnt care either. I know what its like to wonder why, and I know what its like to want the answer - and not get it. I'm glad I dont know the answer and I'm glad I care. We are all fabulous women. Go get it girl!

  8. Been there myself. Still there to an extent (especially the "chained to the desk part"). Getting back on the bike and scuba diving helped me feel alot more free, even within my own prison that I created for myself. I've been my own worst enemy for alot of years, but now things are getting back on track with no assist from anyone but myself. Keep pushing, you'll get out of this "funk".

  9. Pretty powerful stuff in that last paragraph Jill. Funny how pretty much everything traildog said came out of my head. Right down to the biking and diving. So I will go one further, and give you a warning...

    I am about to get married and by a house. That means living more of the same life I have had for the last 11 years. You are not shackled to that desk...yet. For some reason I am scared silly of living the next 11+ years doing the same thing that I have been doing for the last 11. Crazy...

  10. make the change now, life is too short to wait and want the adventure post marriage and children.

  11. Jill, I think "nollij" maybe onto something. Get writing, sign up with a few speaker's bureaus and/or start a training or touring company. Use your PR skillz and make some cash! You've clearly got the notoriety—use it.

  12. I don’t think you have anything to worry about. Everyone goes through ups and downs in their lives. You happen to be stuck in a trough right now. It’s easy to go through a down period when a major goal in your life evaporates. Especially when you’re very goal oriented. You should look for another goal to set your sights on and work towards that. Stick it out, keep your head up, and things will turn out just fine. Here’s some words to live by.

    “Follow your heart, that’s what I always do” Napoleon Dynamite

    Mike J

  13. Jill--

    Congrats to Eric and Dylan. Thanks very much for the coverage of their trip.

    Bummer about TU. I'm hoping to be there.


  14. Jill....
    If you get the chance, go see the movie " Man On Wire" great flick. He reminds me of your passion. Keep the dreams alive!

    -Jamie in little Rhody

  15. Good post and there have been some really good comments.

    I think your perspective may be a little fogged by the funk lens. In a few days, when the sun is shining and your steady-pay paycheck is in the bank and you're doing a feeling-easy-fifty before your work day begins, your lens will be like a clear prism and you will remember what an incredible (segment of) life you have currently carved out for yourself. Smell the roses, always smell the roses!

    I feel sure you will never regret the time you have spent in Juneau and on your current job but you are right to ponder your mobility and options. Because if you are lucky enough to one day look though the lens of one who is starting a family, the field of vision will be tight and focused to say the least. That is not a bad thing I assure you! It’s just the nature the start a family phase of life. In the meantime, let your passions rule your direction and objectives. Trust your instinct and sense of responsibility for the long-term. With no definite obligations, what is the farthest that you could be set back if you make a mistake or an opportunity does not play out? You are young, beautiful, multi-talented and hard core. Be proud and take comfort for the life that you have built yourself but do not be afraid of change, rather, embrace it!

    p.s. have you been catching any of Geoff’s hints to relocate somewhere with higher hills, longer trails and more blue sky? ;)

  16. Sorry about all the cliches in the above comments :-). A really good writer (that's you) rarely relies on a cliche whereas less gifted writers (that's me) and pop country songs (yuck) rely heavily on tired old phrases.

  17. I agree- you are a really good writer :) I finally started writing on my blog a few days ago, and hope to write as well as you do- someday :)

  18. The Lost Boys are bonkers. I mean that in the nicest way. As with your work on the GDR, nice job on the updates!

    "Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose" - Janis Joplin.

  19. I think the biggest lesson I learned in my later years about my earlier years is that I really didn't need to push so hard on everything as I did. Moving, changing jobs, making a new life a few times over...On the other hand, sometimes you just feel compelled and I certainly feel good now about the challenges I gave myself to conquer. Sometimes it's good to drift, other times, it's best to push....oh, it gives one a headache! With your talents and abilities, you have so many choices. I tried to focus on the outdoor opportunities and fun-factor and let my livelihood follow -- and it did. So, where do you really want to ride? Go there. I know you will figure it out...thanks for sharing your quandry. It's really kind of a lovely problem to have since it's all about your options and decisions....


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