Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Piling up

Date: Feb. 15 and 16
Mileage: 25.4 and 28.7
February mileage: 450.5
Temperature: 25 and 29

I leave for Anchorage in one week. I have a lot to do. And for some reason my co-workers won't take "Eat, sleep, breathe Iditarod" as an excuse for not exactly having 100 percent focus. When I think about race preparations or things I have to do just to leave my job behind for two weeks, my stress levels spike. But when I think about the race itself, I feel a strange sense of calm, as though I were anticipating a week of laying out on a warm beach and not a cold-weather suffer fest. I think last year's experience lent me a new perspective about the adventure. I was so amped up before the race, and then somehow so calm during the race. There were times I was hurting and times I was deeply afraid (the fear was always worse than the pain) ... but most moments of those six days were so fulfilling and meaningful and - dare I say - fun. You might say I'm looking forward to this year's event as a vacation. A bike tour, if you will. That's all it really is. Sure, it has the word "race" attached to it and somebody out there will be recording my time. But all I really want to do is ride that frozen wave of grace into some of the most beautiful country I have ever experienced. My bicycle, whether I'm pedaling it or using it as a luggage cart, is simply a vehicle to help me get there.

And yes, I realize it might be stormy and awful; that I might have to deal with 45 below and soft new snow; that I might have to deal with rain and a trail churned up into mashed potatoes (like it was on Saturday for the Susitna 100); that I might have a mechanical I can't deal with and my knee might act up at the worst possible time. I'm mentally preparing for those possibilities, too.

Until then, I just wanted to post a few links. First of all, my book is on Amazon now! You can find it here.

Also, I am trying to set up a good SPOT tracking system to share on my blog. I have a shared page set up here. However, I'd love to set up something that can be embedded in my blog to somehow show my progress along a map, Tour Divide style. I'm worried the shared page provide by SPOT will only work for 500 page views. In all of my digging, though, I only found pages that will allow me to show a single dot, the last point I clicked "I'm OK" on. Not nearly as fun. Any suggestions with how to use SPOT would be greatly appreciated (Even if anyone could explain to me exactly how to get tracking to work I'd be grateful. I paid for it and the SPOT help team confirmed that I have tracking on my unit, but I haven't yet successfully started it.) I'm not sure I'll be able to spend much more time dealing with this. If not, I'll probably post this map at the top of my blog before the race:

It's where I am now. Or, at least, where I last used my SPOT.


  1. Hi! Here is a reader from Spain.

    There is a nice spanish web page that you could use to spot your position if you have a phone with gps.
    It is incredibly easy to use, we do it in ironman triathlon tracking of our team coleagues. Our site: http://www.donostri.net.
    This is the page to track a position. http://www.ipoki.com/ nearly won the best web 2.0 price by Google (and I don't have anything to do with them).

    I wish you all the best!!

  2. Sorry I forgot to say: it is free AND you can embed it into your blog, so I think this is THE option you were looking for.

  3. To start tracking, turn on the unit with the on/off button. Then, hold down the 'I'm OK' button for about 5 seconds. Then the two middle green lights should flash in unison every few seconds. That tells you that tracking is on and working. It'll keep tracking you for 24 hours, and then you have to repeat the tracking startup (holding the 'I'm OK' button).

    I'm new to Spot also but I've discovered that sending an 'I'm OK' message stops the tracking. I'm told there's info about this on Spot's website. You might need to restart the tracking or something after sending an 'I'm OK' message.

    The time to send an 'I'm OK' message is if you stop for any extended period. The people following you will see a stationary dot and start worrying.

    Good luck!

  4. It looks like SPOT Trip Manager will do what you want. It uses FireEagle that you've embeded and appears to store the path. It says you can embed it into a blog. I don't have a SPOT but I can help you with any of the web stuff if you want.

  5. if youre not bringing a little stove i think youre nutz. climbers will leave tent sleeping bag but never stove its the only way to water sometimes.

  6. I LOVE SPOT! It's the most amazing contraption ever, and gives a great deal of peace-of-mind to your loved ones who are not joining you out on the trail. (I talked my then-fiance, now-wife into letting me buy one before I headed out on the Chilkoot Trail.)

  7. You will do great out there. It will be fun to watch your progress.

  8. I think KB pretty well described how to get the SPOT Tracking function to work. It certainly drove me crazy about a year ago. Nevertheless, I found that once I have the unit on I hold the OK button until the OK light shuts off (about 5 seconds). At that point the ON and OK green LEDs should blink in unison except when an actual Tracking message is being transmitted to the satellite. If you use any other button (Help, OK, or 911), then the Tracking is shut off (despite the blinking LEDs). I also found that the best way to restore the Tracking function is to shut the unit completely off (after you are sure that the OK or Help message transmitted) and start over again. With that said I should add that my unit is an early production unit and I don't know if anything has changed in the more recent units.

    On another note, I sent you an interesting link to the BackPacking Lite web site to an article on vapor barrier layers. It is too late to mess with any gear changes now, but it might be of interest for future reference.

    In any case, good luck, be safe, and have fun.

  9. Jill - I just finally got your book into my hands from Aisha and I am hoping to read it while you complete this year's race. In case I don't get a chance to do so later - best wishes for a kick-ass experience this year. I look forward to hearing allllllllll about it.


Feedback is always appreciated!