Showing posts from March, 2014

Following the White Mountains 100

Beat revived a tracking page that he set up for the White Mountains 100 a few years ago, so I'm going to carry a SPOT tracker so friends and family can follow along with the race. If I recall correctly, the icon of a little person riding a fat bike plots my progress along the course, and changes to a little person pushing a bike when forward progress slows enough to indicate walking pace. Afterward you can replay the track, so it's a fun record to keep. The tracking page is here:

And if that doesn't work, this is a direct link to the SPOT page.

The White Mountains 100 race doesn't have GPS tracking, so this is just a personal page that doesn't indicate my position in the race. But the race volunteers do post regular updates to the Facebook page as well as the official race Web site.

I'm excited to get started. I attended the pre-race meeting along with several people on the wait list who were hoping to n…


Right around the equinox, springtime came to Alaska in a big way —glaringly clear skies, sunlight, and temperatures in the high 30s and low 40s. Although Beat returned to California on Monday, I'm lingering for a few more days thanks to plans to race the White Mountains 100 in Fairbanks. Beat had to quickly go back to work and routines — always a difficult transition amid the mental and physical recovery of a month-long journey. I feel guilty about remaining in Alaska to play, but I also have been struggling with feeling overwhelmed myself — managing logistics and deadlines amid a tight timeline, thinking about the many projects I need to finish, the summer plans I need to begin preparing for, and also just wanting to be home with Beat. I feel like I should smack myself in the head because it's early spring in Alaska, the weather is beautiful, trail conditions are superb, and I need to DO ALL THE THINGS before it's too late. 
Perhaps I'm a little travel weary. Just ab…

Trail's end

Shana and I stayed up late again, carving away the small hours with dark chocolate and stories about her childhood in Papua New Guinea versus mine in suburban Salt Lake City. We'd just met 36 hours prior, when I showed up at her doorstep in Nome with a suitcase and a forlorn homeless puppy look on my face. She graciously offered a bit of floor space to sleep while I waited for Beat to reach the end of his journey. And in typical small-town Alaska fashion, Shana opened a broad window into her life until I felt like we were old friends and I'd lived in Nome for years. I'd run the ice-coated streets at sunset, waving at drivers on four-wheelers and children playing without hats or mittens at 20 degrees. Jumbled sea ice piled up against the horizon, not so far from Russia, but even that stark and forbidding view felt familiar. This tends to be my pattern in Alaska — wherever I go, it feels like home.

As we cleaned up the remaining dishes from dinner — a conglomeration of wilt…

Modern Romance, part four

Four years ago, I wrote a series of posts about communing with a mountain in Juneau called Thunder Mountain during the winter of 2009-2010. You can read them here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Rain patters the windshield, accumulating in a conga line of drops dancing joyfully as the wipers chase them off stage. I watch this with old eyes, a strip of exposed film that was long ago shot, and forgotten, and unintentionally spooled through the camera again. The double exposure confuses me. I am driving on memory auto-pilot, but where am I going? "Oh yes, this is Egan Drive, and soon there's going to be a turn. What was the name of the road? Glacier Road? Mendenhall Loop? And then there was another turn, on a neighborhood street. What made me think I'd remember the exact turn? It's been four years since I've been here. But, four years, how is that possible? Where have I been?" The rain continues to fall as it always falls, at least in the view of my old eyes.

I park th…

Juneau, again

I lived in Juneau for all of four years, between 2006 and 2010, after one year of living in Homer. I've already surpassed the three-year mark in Los Altos, a number that unsettles me because I'm dangerously close to becoming more of a Californian than I ever was an Alaskan. I also suspect I'll always be more of a rambler than a homebody, but a couple of places just feel like home. Salt Lake City — the place where I grew up — obviously. And Juneau, Alaska.

On Thursday, I boarded another plane and flew home for a visit. When I stepped out of the airport, the thermometer read 39 degrees and a mist of rain wafted on a stiff breeze. I walked across the wet tarmac with the knowledge that this was the last time all week that my shoes would be dry, stopped a moment to blink droplets off my eyelashes, and smiled. Oh, so good to be home.

 The fat bike stayed in Anchorage, so this weekend I struck back out on foot, facing a host of minor physical issues that the the bike allowed me …

Alaska rambling

Good thing no one reads blogs any more. I may never get around to my Iditarod report. But I might as well keep up with the Alaska scrapbooking and bike photos. After I booked a month-long trip to Alaska earlier this year, I didn't make any plans past the ITI. Instead, I hoped to just organically flow where the wind happened to take me. Rambling through Alaska. I recommend it.

 Of course, all good rambling requires the kindness of friends who are willing to put up with you for a few days. I spent a few days in Anchorage with Dan and Amy, an awesome couple who have generously let me and others set up winter race base camp at their home for the past three years.

 On Sunday they took me on a tour of their favorite trails in the foothills east of the city. Everyone was tired from weekend adventuring (Dan and Amy biked 68 miles of the Denali Highway in tough conditions.) But I looked at the weather and realized this would be the last bluebird day for a while, so we rallied for a ride.

Onto the adventures

With Beat now making his way to Nome, I'm planning to bounce around various locales in Alaska until the White Mountains 100 at the end of the month. As such, I've been enable to embark on a few great rides amid the work I *am* trying to complete (thus limited blogging, still.) Since my first post-ITI physical effort, a two-hour fat bike ride on Thursday, I went for three more longish rides (first was 3.5 hours, the second was nearly 7, the third on Sunday was another 3 hours) with few issues. My body is well-equipped for endurance right now, but I seem to have no power in areas where I am usually much stronger, such as steep climbs and bike pushes. However, spinning pedals and breathing cold, crisp air has been fantastic for recovery. I feel great.

Dave Johnston, the runner who finished the Iditarod Trail Invitational in an unfathomable record of 4 days 1 hour 38 minutes, told me, "You must have had a pretty easy time out there if you're already riding this much.&qu…