After he left the Iditarod Trail, Beat decided to spend another week-plus rambling north with me. Because I dropped out of the race only two weeks prior, there weren't many plans to work with. We were both feeling disappointed and moody, and uncertain how much more time we should burn in Alaska. Beat ultimately decided one more week would be good for him. I'm mostly incapable of giving up this place if I don't have to, but I was uncharacteristically unexcited about embarking on adventures.
Kate graciously let us spend a couple nights in a cabin, and I was able to do a little work and get out for a 20-mile ride on a mushing trail out the Yanert River. Physically I have not been feeling strong, but if I keep my breathing in check — which I've learned actually means keeping my heart rate in check — I can muddle along just fine with no ill effects. Getting outside for an hour or three does wonders for my mental state — my focus seems to only get worse the longer I sit in disjointed contemplation. Until my health improves, I think this will be my mode of operation — going out for easy outings earlier in the day so I can work better in the afternoons.
I still waited until well after noon to embark on the ride, because that level of cold for hours is not so fun. I'd bundled up too heavily and ended up stripping down to a single jacket layer, and for a while no hat or gloves. Temperatures were still in the negative single digits at best, but I have been running quite hot lately. It's probably my thyroid. Strangely I still sleep cold and become chilled easily, but when I'm exercising, even fairly low temperatures start to feel intolerable (until they're not. I'm definitely not thermoregulating on an even basis.) But this subzero ride felt wonderful. Grinding along on a fairly slow trail, I managed to motor a ways out the Yanert before it occurred to me that the length of my ride would make me feel bad if I didn't turn back soon. But I could see the bend of the wide river, leading into the craggy peaks of the Alaska Range, and that faded desire for adventure finally returned. It took all of my strength to turn the bike around. Mostly because I really don't have a lot of strength.