Monday, January 12, 2009

I feel so fast

Date: Jan. 11
Mileage: 41.3
January mileage: 309.7
Temperature upon departure: 35

Ever have days when you would rather do just about anything besides drag yourself outside? I actually have lots of days like this. I can usually overcome the feeling, and was nearly to the point of beginning the suit-up process when Geoff returned from his morning run and said, "Do not go out there. It's nasty out there." What, you might wonder, could possibly be so bad? Deep subzero temperatures? 50 mph winds? Whiteout blizzard? No, in the case that statement was a warning that it was warm outside. 35 degrees warm. Warm and wet and sloppy.

Still, I reluctantly persisted. I dug my rain gear out from the bottom of the pile - first time it's been above freezing in more than a month. I left Pugsley at home in favor of studded tires, knowing that rain quickly turns packed snow into the slipperiest substance on Earth.

I put set the wheels down on wet ice and pointed north. As the studs scraped over the slick surface, I accelerated at a rate I could hardly fathom, and I was riding uphill, with no wind. The breeze of my own momentum flowed around my bare hands and bare face. The air was moist and almost warm in a familiar but distant way. I felt like I was flying. For the first time in weeks, I was pedaling a surface free of snow, free of sand, free of churned up sandy powder and chunks of ice. For the first time in weeks, I was pedaling without resistance. It was just me and rubber and studs on ice, and nothing could stop us.

The point of the ride was to climb, but I rode all the way to the end of North Douglas because I suddenly possessed so much extra time usually reserved for churning out slow miles. I reached the end of the road, 15 miles out, in one hour. If it were summer, I'd be ashamed of 15 mph. But today, I felt like I had pounded out a personal best time trial.

After that, I did the five-mile climb. It was way too easy.

I'd need to ride for six hours and 45 minutes Monday to complete my 10-day goal of 40 hours. That is certainly not going to happen, but overall I'm not disappointed about how the current training binge went down. In the past nine days, I battled two days of subzero temperatures, one all the way down to -18, 50 mph wind gusts, frigid wind chills, 40 inches of snow ... I ran the hard winter gamut, basically. And what does the NWS weather forecast call for the last day of binge training? Lets see ... ooo, a flood warning!

HEAVY RAIN WILL BEGIN LATE TONIGHT SPREADING NORTH OVER THE
PANHANDLE. TEMPERATURES WILL REMAIN ABOVE FREEZING AND WATER WILL
INCREASE THE WEIGHT AND DENSITY OF THE SNOWPACK. MANY DRAINS ARE
LIKELY TO BE BLOCKED WITH SNOW. THE IMPACTS WILL BE STANDING WATER
INCREASED SNOWLOADS ON ROOFS AND THE POTENTIAL OF SNOW CAPSIZING
BOATS. STREAMS WILL RISE AS THE FREEZING LEVELS GET HIGHER. SOME
AREAS COULD RECEIVE UP TO TWO INCHES OF RAINFALL.

This winter is nothing if not harsh.

14 comments:

  1. Podium! What? That's what they do over at NYC. Anyway, I'm feeling dorky today.
    I always laugh when people say things like, "You guys are crazy," When they read/hear about the conditions of our rides. Our worst days are probably your best. Fun, ain't it?
    Finally started reading your book in the treehouse Sat night. Vacillates from Krakauer to Kerouac.

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  2. Wow - that is quite the forcast. If I knew Juneau was going to have such a winter maybe I would have moved there - I was thinking it was more like Seattle in climate? Usually?

    We are on the warm up this week too here in Anchorage, I finally got out yesterday!

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  3. Thanks, Craig!

    Karen ... I guess Juneau weather is like Seattle's weather on crack. We actually get a lot of snow in town (240 inches in 2006-7) when Seattle gets almost none. We generally run 20-40 degrees colder than Seattle, even in the summer. We also see about three times as much annual rainfall as Seattle (80-90 inches compared to 30). The rain is what really gets under my skin. I've been much closer to Seasonal Affective Disorder in July and October than I ever have been during the winter months. :-)

    But it's true, we don't get nearly the cold of Fairbanks or even Anchorage. However, I lived in Homer for a year, and I remember it being similarly cold but less rainy that Juneau's winters (we actually had warmish, dry winter days in Homer, which we never see in Juneau.) So I guess my advice is, if you're looking for Alaska's most mild winter weather, I'd point to Homer. And I'd recommend you move there for many other reasons, too. Think about it. :-)

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  4. Jill, can you almost feel the sunshine on your face.
    hawaii is so close

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  5. Jill, it sounds like you guys get entirely too much rain. I can't handle that much because I just get unhappy and fat. Not fun. Fortunately, we have great winter weather for skiing. :-)

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  6. Hey Jill, we're lucky here in southern Germany as the weather has been very cold (always below freezing point) for the last 10 days. That's very special for the people here in Europe! I would have loved to have a snow covered countryside 3 to 4 weeks back, when I finished my "big tour" in really bad weather: cold and wet!
    Anyway, I just found your blog and it really inspires me. I'd love to move to a place with more snow and more extreme conditions one day. On my tour I've particularly enjoyed the places with extreme climates like Tibet, the Andes and the Arizona desert on the other side.

    Greetings and keep up the great work!

    Daniel
    Project Velaia

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  7. "rain quickly turns packed snow into the slipperiest substance on Earth" That is so true!
    Oh, and I just heard an avalanche took out our power lines, so we are on diesel again.
    I think I want to go to Hawaii too :P

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  8. Like Geoff, my husband is often an early morning runner. I *hate* it when he says something like 'do not go out there - it's awful weather'. It used to stop my momentum in its tracks. Now, I take it as a personal challenge to hurry up and get out there to prove that I can do it! Of course, sometimes it turns out that he was right - but at least I tried.

    Your weather forecast for today sounds truly yucky. Maybe the forecasters are wrong!

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  9. Jill:

    God bless the NWS! Not much we can do about the weather but it is a blessing to have an idea of what is coming down the pike.

    Yr Pal Dr Codfish

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  10. Sounds like a perfect day! We also experienced a hot summer day in January here in San Francisco...not liking what this all means climate-wise but it's great for riding!

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  11. Lovely pictures and nice workout blog as usual. I wish my snow shots looked as good as yours.

    Is there a chance you could add a blurb in your about or make a post showing how you set up your shots and what equipment you use? I don't how you could be carrying a tripod or a full frame camera, much less keeping the batteries warm in your armpits.

    Stay warm, dry, eat plenty of fat, and thank you for sharing your experiences.

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  12. Anonymous8:23 PM

    Hi Jill,

    I writing from Buffalo, NY...looks like we have similar weather this time of year. Also wanted to let you know I put a link to you blog on mine.

    Peace,
    Joe
    http://citysimplicity.blogspot.com/

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  13. Anonymous12:06 PM

    Cool pics!!!!


    love it, from ottawa, canada

    jac

    some of the stuff we have:

    http://www.mtbkanata.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=38008

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  14. Anonymous12:27 PM

    where can I get a copy of your book?

    jac02000@yahoo.com

    I'm always interested in a good read on adventure racing.

    We have Ray Zahab way down here...
    He wrote a book as well:

    www.rayzahab.com

    Not sure if you ever met him?

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