Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Thanks to those who sent me nice e-mails and comments after my post yesterday. I really do make an effort to not get too personal with my blog, because I recognize that my boss, distant ex's, and a fair number of strangers peruse it. But sometimes I crave the catharsis of a private journal keeper, and my only real outlet is this blog.

It felt good to whine a little. Now it's time to take action. I was moved by Elden aka Fat Cyclist's latest post, "The Funeral and What's Next." Because the World Wide Web of blogs is in fact a small, tight-knit community, most probably already know that his wife died last week of the cancer she has been fighting for years. Having recently met the man, I was upset by the news, but deeply moved by his strong resolve to move forward. I thought, "If he can find the courage to move on with his life, I certainly can."

So in an effort to avoid flailing around in uncertainty, I've decided to set 10 goals for the near future. Some are quite ambitious and others are more doable, but all are things I find myself thinking about from time to time:

1. Be more focused about my housing hunt. I really need to find a place to live and get settled before I can move forward with much else.

2. Not be so stressed about my personal life: So I've dabbled a bit in the dating scene. It's been a real long while since I've actively tried this. It seems the rules of the game haven't changed much in the past decade, but I haven't really improved in my savvy at following said rules. And I'm a decade older. But I've resolved to just roll with it, and not constantly picture myself in a scene from that movie, "He's Just Not That Into You."

3. Work on a book proposal. I'd love to write a nonfiction book about the history and array of intriguing individual stories behind human-powered travel on the Iditarod Trail. I've been chewing on the idea for two years now, but I'm intimidated by the huge amount of research it would involve, the time it would take, and the prospect of interviewing (and finding) all the people involved. But I believe I could take it on with the both objectivity of a journalist and the insight of an insider. And I do think a compelling book about this tiny niche adventure sport could appeal to a wide audience. It's just too much work to do it "just for fun." Thus the need for a proposal.

4. Plan B, more realistic book project: I would like to create another "Ghost Trails"-type autobiography about the Tour Divide. The problem is, I had somewhat selfish, cathartic reasons for writing "Ghost Trails." I formatted it around issues that would not stop churning around in my head during summer 2008, until I wrote them all down. It's hard for me to think about a new project without viewing it in a similar slant. Maybe that's appropriate. I don't know. It certainly would be good for my mental health.

5. Fall Golden Circle tour: For two years now, I've embarked on a two or three-day bicycle tour of the 370-mile route between Haines and Skagway. I'd love to do that again this year, and I think I may even be able to coax a couple days off sometime in September.

6. Hucker trip to Carcross, Yukon: On my regular weekend, I'd like to travel to Carcross at least once to soak in white-knuckle runs down some really well-built mountain bike trails.

7. Klondike Road Relay: Yes, 'tis the season to make good use of the Alaska Marine Highway System. The relay is September 11 to 12, and involves running (yes, running) 10 or so miles of the Klondike Highway (at a relaxed, "casual costumed" pace.) Jenn, do you still have room for me on your Whitehorse team? I think I can swing it.

8. 2010 Susitna 100: I would love to approach this February race as a winter focus and really try to "race" it. And by race it, I mean not just finish it, but finish it as fast as I physically can. So for this winter, I am going to try to set up training that is more focused on speed and high-effort endurance, as opposed to my Iditarod training, which was focused on survival. I don't want my training to be too focused, though, because this is also the winter I plan to rediscover snowboarding.

9. New bike! By spring 2010, I'd like to be in possession of an awesome new mountain bike, and I'd like to force myself to do the research so that it's as awesome as possible, and I'd like to hunker down in a cheaper apartment and save some of my income so that I don't feel guilty about its awesomeness.

10. Future winter ride across the entire Iditarod Trail to Nome: Ha, ha, just kidding, Mom ... maybe.


  1. A book about the Great Divide, just what I was hoping for after reading Ghost Trails. Good luck with it should you decide to take that on!

  2. A little bitty thing like you could probably rock/roll/run a Lynskey Ridgeline without the flex problems that big guys complain about. It's TI, light, and will last about forever. It would have the awesome amounts of excellence you need.

  3. Yippee! I'm looking forward to tagging along for the ride as you work through your list--thanks for taking us with you!

  4. Go Jill!! I love this list, as always you inspire me to get off my butt and see what life can offer.

    You are an amazing writer and I look forward to your books!

  5. Thank you for your honesty. i don't know you but am encouraged daily by your words and photos. Keep your chin up, you will find a place to live. Look forward to any new works you have.

  6. Jill...Your goals are great and I know that you will be able to achieve them all.

    Don't be hard on yourself. Go with the flow and I know that everything will work out for you in the end.

    Wishing you well on the home search and again...you will end up in place that you really like. As far as that new mtn. bike goes...I have some ideas :)

  7. Jill, the Iditarod book could be easier than you think. A fellow Atlanta cyclist, Byron Rushing, is working on a book on the city's history of putting the fun between its legs.

    Cyclists, as often is the case, have offered aid from all angles, for fun and the thrill of learning. Atlanta's only-ever official historian was a huge bicycle enthusiast. He didn't learn to drive until middle-aged; as a boy, he rode his bike all the way up Peachtree Street to the Fulton-DeKalb airport, when the road at the county line wasn't even paved. He learned the city by bike.

    Another ATL native, Jimmy Walthour, Jr., was a six-time six-day velodrome champion. Yet another fellow bike commuter, a research librarian, is sifting through information at Georgia Tech, where she works, just because it's interesting.

    This all came out just by mentioning his project; bicycle enthusiasts poured the information out to him, gladly and with gusto. If you ask others, I am sure they would help you out, too!

  8. Jill you naughty girl, you really shouldn't scare your mother like that.

    You should drop a line to Fatty and see how he got Fisher to give him that SuperFly. Maybe they would pony up a sweet ride for you and all the exposure it would give them to be your sponsor.

    Love the list and can't wait to see how it fleshes out.

  9. Those are great goals and I look forward to going along for the ride. When you really get down to it, however, the basic part of getting through what you've experienced is just to survive until the pain wears off. It WILL wear off. Then every aspect of life will seem brighter. And having a place to live is always nice to improve your outlook on life too!

  10. Thanks for applying a rigorous journalistic approach to documenting your travels and rides, but also thanks for dropping that "veil" occasionally to see the person behind the writer. It's nice to see the person drawn out of the prose occasionally.

    I look forward to all the accounts and diaries coming from your new goal list...

  11. Ah, a list! A list always helps. That makes it a plan. And if you've got a plan, you've got direction. If you've got direction, you're not wandering around lost inide your head. I love lists - it's exactly how I deal with chaos in my life.

  12. A bold list, I hope you do well with it. The problem I've found with lists is that for every item you have on it, there's at least two more to replace it when you knock one off. After all, what will you do once you've raced the Susitna? Race it on fixed perhaps?

  13. I realized I posted this response to yesterday's post so at the risk of repeating myself I'm going to submit it again:

    Jill, I know someone trying to rent their condo (it's available 9/1) You can contact her at 723-6356, you might need a roommate to help with the rent and it is in the valley. May not be what you are looking for but just passing this on......

  14. Good decision on not fretting so much about the personal life at this point. Finding shelter is much higher up on Maslow's scale. I predict if you knock off all those other items on the list, the rest will take care of itself. Just from a guy standpoint: you're young, fit, hot, and have your own set of interests. That equals not being "over-clingy", which is doubtless why you were able to hang with someone as self-centered as GR for so long. Anyway, all those qualities are powerful attractors...you'll find some quality guys to spend quality time with.

  15. Jill, impressive how you pulled through the rough patch!

  16. An impressive list! And yet, I know you can accomplish many, if not all of these. As for #6 - apparently there is a Carcross trip being planned sometime during the September Labour Day weekend. Not sure what day, but it would be so cool to have you come! As for #7 - ahhhhhhh!!! It would so rock to have you on our team! At the moment tho' (unfortunately) there are 10 of us. However, not everyone has paid up so let me get back to you for sure, okay? We've got a space/alien theme going on and I am working on the rv.

  17. "race"? "Finish as fast as I physically can"? "Set up training that is more focused on speed . . "? WTF? I thought you said you were not competitive and did not care for training routines. Is this a change of mind? Or did I miss something? Please explain.

  18. "I guess another thing that bugs me about well-meaning advice is that, because I keep a blog based almost solely on biking and occasionally enter races, many people assume I am interested in being competitive. I am not. I am interested in being healthy and having the energy and fitness to go out for a 12-hour hike or a 600-mile bike tour whenever the urge and opportunity hits me to go. I am not as much interested in shaving minutes off my race times. I really enter so few, and I'm often just in them for the fun and challenge surrounding them, and the way they motivate me to get out almost daily and "train". My current nutrition and fitness does just fine in this regard, and it fits well with my go-where-I-want-to-go lifestyle. I don't like regimines. I like flexibility. And while I acknowledge that regimines are necessary to increase competitiveness, that's just not where my interest lies."


  19. Thanks Jenn. I should have gotten back to you sooner. I just didn't realize how well my regular weekend worked with the event. But Carcross sounds awesome. Is Canadian Labor Day the same weekend as the U.S. version?

    And thanks Kathy! I'll give your friend a call.

    Those with ideas for a good mountain bike, by all means, drop suggestions.

    Anon ... I concede. My head definitely is all over the place right now. But I need some kind of winter goal to stay focused on, and a race effort is as good as any. The truth about the Susitna 100 is that I am going to "train" by doing long fun rides, and my only real chance of actually placing high in the standings is if the conditions are horribly, horribly horrible, and most of the fast people drop.

  20. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5uKHa9Gmks

  21. Nothing I like better than to talk about myself and the Idiatrod Trail. Feel free to contact me if you need another slow finisher's perspective.

  22. Labour Day here is Sept 7. I presume we will ride 5, 6 and 7. At least, that's the rumour going around. Will keep you in the loop.

  23. Jill, heard an interview with a guy over in London who ran/walked/crawled the Iditarod trail. It was just one of the amazing things that he has done but he talked about that the most - apprently he has a book coming out soon. I think his name was Jason Crabtree? Sounded South African...or maybe a New Zealander.
    maybe worth tracking him down.

  24. Kia ora Jill,
    I have really enjoyed discovering your place here, the wonderful place you live, and your honest and genuine approach in sharing it. Kia kaha - Be Strong!


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