Waking up in the morning and get ready to hit the trail in the wee hours. A great shot from Wilco van den Akker.
I would like to thank Bean Around the World coffee and Pete Boeda who without anything in return donated heaps of coffee and schwag in support of the 2014 Iditarod Trail Invitational race.
I put the beans in my trailmix and enjoyed some cowboy coffee on the trail but best of all, they shipped bags of coffee to the home of Peter & Tracy Schneiderheinze – hosts of the 350 mile finish line – for everyone to enjoy upon finishing. Thanks guys!
Perhaps an adventure fat bike race is no place for romantics. I would argue that in particular, the Iditarod Trail Invitational is in fact an idyllic place for such sentimentalists. For me all of its nuances are what make this race special. Experiencing the history, written on the walls of the safety cabins and wafting in the air from the wood burning stoves was worth every mile pedaled.
In moments of weakness I would break from my inner state of numb oblivion to the interstate of ice and snow in front of me. At times, this numb oblivion was an almost ideal condition, especially when traveling over long, unchanging sections of trail. This sort of reverse focus would blur the edges of time and distance. Like a drug induced stupor I could float innocuously along the frozen track. But like any high it would inevitably collapse into reality. Without mercy or cause, my mind would turn its attention to the situation at hand. At feet, at toes, at neck at back at legs and worst of all the ass. Only moments ago I was in a perfect symbiotic state of unconscious tranquility. Now I was inexplicably present and everything was suddenly wrong. The seat felt hard, clearly a design flaw. The tires deflated, were they flat? The bike was weighted. I must be carrying to much gear, too much food. My right knee clicked like an old and rusty hinge. My toes were cold. Where the hell was I? Why am I doing this? The flood gates of thought burst like a dam. In the deafening silence of the night in this remote place my mind was screaming irrationally.
Thankfully, my defense system was never completely compromised. Reason, will, determination or the shame of self-pity slapped me across the face. That, or a very real blast of cold wind. I regained my senses or at least temporarily pacified them like a hit of morphine. I did the check. What was actually wrong? Nothing really. I wasn’t dangerously cold. I had water. I had food. I was moving. I wasn’t sick or truly injured. The weather and trail conditions could be in worse shape. So could my situation. My life wasn’t threatened. I was here, doing what I needed to do and I was loving it. Or I would at least convince myself of that for the time being. I knew I would love it again, that I would make up with my present circumstances and return to cohabiting bliss. I was in the middle of Alaska, in the middle of winter, on a bike, on the Iditarod Trail. Fuck ya’. Nothing could possibly be wrong. I shifted my weight in the saddle, realigned my posture, loosened the shoulders and peacefully slipped back into my numb oblivion. At least, for now.
Sometimes moving along the trail felt like an out of body experience. So much of the time was spent in the mind. Especially in the darkness, when the world was reduced to a small illuminated globe – projected from the headlamp – orbiting in this giant universe of Alaska. Iditarod Trail Invitational