I have to admit, somewhere on the order of two months ago, my enthusiasm for training for the Iditarod Trail Invitational/Alaska Ultrasport/Iditabike/Iditabunny/Idiotbike wasn’t terribly high. I’d had one too many frozen descents down the canyons of Boulder and was seriously starting to doubt my ability to even survive the race intact. Plus, I knew that the training plan would call for the inevitable overnighters, of which I was justifiably nervous, and I knew that eventually, I would have to go find some legitimate snow to practice riding on, which would involve driving places to ride, most likely alone. Sub-fun. Plus, there were all the logistics to plan, gear to gather, money to spend, etc. Stoke-level was not pegged at high.
Then at some point in time, Scott made a comment, while he was sitting in the warm AZ desert and I was freezing in CO, ‘I’m thinking about doing the ITI someday. I need to do some testing to see if I could actually survive it.’
I scratched my head at the statement. Shrugged. And changed the subject. There was no way he was going to leave his little desert paradise to ride in the cold. And then in mid-January, he showed up with a snowbike. A month later, I’m still scratching my head at whether the past month has really happened, but I have pictures, so it must have.
It’s been nothing short of a month of living and exploring with as much intensity as I can ever remember, all while ‘training’ for the ITI.
I’d find myself out riding, whether on dirt, snow, or pavement, just grinning. Is ‘training’ allowed to be this fun? Is ‘training’ allowed to consist of riding bikes in all sorts of new and cool places, looking at maps with a completely different eye for adventure, of going places where I’d never think of going in the summer (or on skis in the winter)?
It’s amazing the difference a change in perspective can make of a situation. Instead of dreading having to gear test overnight gear and sleeping out in the cold, I’m mourning the fact that this past weekend was my final overnighter before flying out to AK. Instead of thinking about tire pressure with a sense of annoyance, I’ve enjoyed playing with different pressures in different conditions. Instead of fearing intervals on the road, I’ve surprised myself with the numbers I can make my little yellow computer put out.
Heading into the Arrowhead 135 last year, I said that I didn’t care how the race turned out because I had learned so many new bike-related skills in regards to riding in the cold, and even if the race was a bust, preparing for the race made it worth it.
Now that I’m a week away from getting on a plane to AK, I think I can firmly say that regardless of what happens up there (aside from dying, I’d really prefer not to die), the preparation for this thing has made it worth it. The work is (mostly) done (and my goodness it was a lot of fun to do). It’s time to really go play.