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."