Saturday, February 14, 2009

Friday the 13th

Date: Feb. 13
Mileage: 22.3
February mileage: 366.3
Temperature: 20

Today was an absolutely perfect day. In Juneau, you can't get a better day than a day like today, unless it's summer, and even then, I'm not sure it would really be better. Warmer, yes. Different, yes. But there is something about the silk-smooth sweep of snow over the mountains, the ice glistening on the cliffs, the power-coated trees ... something about winter that makes a blue-sky, no-wind, sunny day just ... perfect.

I dragged my loaded Pugsley up the Dan Moller Trail. It's a short trip, mileage-wise, even when I add an extra leg of highway biking at the end. I was still out for nearly five hours. Climbing to the ridge on this trail usually nets about 3,000-3,500 feet of elevation gain, depending on how long I spend traversing the ridge. I don't drag my bike all the way to the top, but I take it as far as I think I'll be able to ride downhill, which even on a soft day like today is generally pretty far. Minute for minute, it's the best workout there is walking up (specific to my upcoming race at least.) And mile-for-mile, it's the most exhilarating workout there is coming down.

I dropped Pugsley off just below the bowl and hiked to the ridge to take pretty pictures and dodge snowmobiles. Everyone was out today, everyone and their dog. It was the kind of Juneau day that leads to half the town calling in sick.

Even the ghost trees looked happy.

The air above the wind-scoured ridge was as calm as summer. My thermometer hovered somewhere in the low teens, but in direct sun with no wind after hiking from the bottom, I was warm enough to sit on my coat for a few minutes wearing only a T-shirt as I sipped my orange juice and gazed over Stephens Passage.

Geoff and I had a dinner party tonight and after that I put together my drop bags for the race. I'm allowed two drop bags of 10 pounds each. One goes to the 135-mile checkpoint and the other to the 210-mile checkpoint, over the Alaska Range. I figure I'll see an average of about two days between drops, less if things go well. I packed 12,000 calories in each drop, lithium batteries (lots of batteries) and chemical warmers. The calories are on the high side. That assumes I'll eat about 6,000 a day, which I know I won't, although I'll probably be burning at least that many. But we're allowed 10 pounds and whatever I don't need I can leave behind. I left a lot of food behind last year.

At dinner, our friends made fun of our food selection. On the surface it looks like a lot of junk food, and it is. But I've actually spent a fair amount of time thinking through this. My one and only goal is to get calories in. That is all. As long as they go in, it doesn't matter where they come from. Fat is good and sugar isn't so great, but sugar is what I like. Sugar is what I always like, even after six days. I can also digest large amounts of it it without issues, unlike most high-fat foods. So I'm going to eat a lot of sugar. I'll probably come home with a couple of cavities, but as long as I eat, that's what matters. I'll be burning through the calories so quickly that I really don't think it matters of they're not complex-carbohydrate, amino-acid, antioxidant, lycopene-infused calories. They just need to be appealing enough to go down in the first place. Thus, the miniature peanut butter cups (thanks, Richard!) with almonds in a handy 3,000-calorie zippy. Get in ma belly!

There's actually a decent balance of fat and protein in the mix, and I'll be supplementing it all with vitamins, antacids and electrolyte pills. But what I'm drop bagging is a delicious smorgasbord of peanut butter cups big and small, Kit Kat bars, almonds, walnuts, dry-roasted edemame, Corn Nuts, a mix of dried cherries, cranberries and chocolate-covered raisins, and home-made chocolate chip cookies (mmm, butter.) This isn't a performance race. It's a survival test.

Notice that I've given up on bars. I like to eat Clif Bars on training rides, but they're impossible to ingest once deep frozen. Freezing is actually a strong factor behind many of these decisions. Has to be good, has to be easy, has to be edible deep frozen. Healthy crap can come before and after the race.

There you have it. My next book will be called "How Cycling Turned Me Into a Junkaholic."


  1. Hi Jill
    Interesting to see, that you go so heavy on the sugar/chocolate. My personal favourite on multi-day ski trips in the alps are salted macadamia nuts. I find that all of a sudden I can't see sugar or chocolate any more and then like to switch over to salty stuff.
    Keep going!

  2. It looks like the Reeses peanut butter cups are safe from the salmonella scare, so all you have to worry about not is exhaustion, frostbite, and the volcano.

  3. If only I could burn calories like you!

  4. Your pics from your trek are so pretty! What a great day! I am looking into how I can get to Knik lake and back on the first. Maybe a ride share? I don't know if my car can handle the roads there. I don't even know if cars can go down that road in winter?

  5. Jill, the flux capacitor of the north!

    lately I've taken a liking to cashews and dried Turkish apricots. I like the 'cots because they have a little bit of tang, more so than dried apples. When it comes to endurance, everybody's engine runs a little differently.

    Yr Pal Dr Codfish

  6. I've heard a lot of positive comments on eating junk food while riding. I think I'm going to experiment with longer road rides, this year. I'm thinking Snickers is going to play a huge part in my success. ;-)

    My problem is that I don't ingest enough calories when I should, so I bonk by the end of my ride (about 50 miles on the road). That's why I'm looking into the candy thing. It's cheap. It's easily accessible. It goes down easily.

  7. Jill, Some of your best pics to date! KB Peace out!

  8. I feel your pain about lack of hunger, nausea, calories and the effectiveness of sugar. One densely caloric pleasure I've discovered is fig newtons and raisins mixed together & kept warm in a pocket or bra( when snowbiking) that gets all smooshed together. Marshmallow is fast and good mixed with well. I like the smooshing factor of foods on the bike. I should write a cookbook, "Smoosh food, A Women's Guide to Fuel on Fat Tires..."

  9. Dear Jill,
    Please eat food when you do the race this year. I think that if you eat food this year, you will kick ass! Good luck!
    Tok, AK

  10. I am very excited for the start of this years race. I can't wait to follow along. Whether you are in a bivey sac much of the race or not your courage and ability to make me think you are a regular human like me makes me cheer even louder. I may just have to buy a pugsley to honor the event. Ok it would really be just because I want one. Good luck and I will be cheering for you and Geoff. Jared

  11. Karen T -- The road to Knik Lake is a regular paved, plowed road. Sometimes a bit icy/snowy like most arteries around the Valley, but not requiring special equipment. Happy motoring!

  12. Hey Jill,

    Disappointed there's no pepsi or goldfish crackers evident in your drop bag stash. From your blog's front page I'd thought they'd be high up your list?


  13. We obviously shop at the same store: Costco. I either have or have had in my kitchen almost everything in that first food photo. Well, except the large box of Reese's. I practically live on dried fruit and nuts from Costco along with peanut butter crackers (which were included in the peanut butter recall).

    Sounds like you've got it dialed in pretty well.

    I live in Anchorage. Do you have any planned "public appearances" up here to sign autographs and meet with your fans? :-) Planning on being at Speedway anytime?

    I know it sounds weird, but I'm just curious. I'm not a stalker, just check out my blog if in doubt.

  14. These photos just make me grin from ear to ear, Jill! What an AMAZING day! Thanks.

  15. It's good to see that you are bringing a lot more peanut butter cups this year.

    I remember you being surprised by how much junk food the other racers had. But it worked for them. And if I remember right, the peanut butter cups were like the only thing you could stomach during the race. Who cares where the calories are coming, your body needs them to supply you with enough energy to complete the race. So eat away!!

  16. Peanut butter cups are my favorite cold weather treats too. They don't freeze!

    Good luck in the race!

  17. Ugh. I can't imagine have to reposition all those layers after getting them all down to pee. Looks like a lot of experience went into those layers, and it sounds reasonble for the conditions you'll be enduring. Just finished your book and loved it. Great juxtoposition of the old Jill against the new, and I could totally identify with the parts where the differences in yours & Geoff's abilities would drive you nuts - like him always going off ahead. That's me & my husband on every ride or hike we do! And he likes to think we do things "together"!! Best of luck, I'll be anxiously hanging out on the Iditibike website, waiting for updates.

  18. In your world, carbs are king-as I am sure you are aware. You need lots of glucose readily available for use and glygogen production. If you are "racing" Glucose is the fuel of choice. Fats are king in survival because they are more calorie dense. But, you can only operate at about 60% of max on only ffa's for fuel. Also, glucose is the brain's fuel. Candy makes for good performance and good decisions. Be sure to stuff in the candy before you stop to rest/sleep. The first 30 min after exertion is the key window for glycogen replacement. Sorry, getting carried away. I'm sure I am just preaching to the choir. Junk is not junk when you need 5 or 6 thousand calories a day.

  19. Hello. And Bye.

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