Thursday, February 21, 2008

Ready to start the race

After having all the race business taken care of, we are ready to get to the starting line.
The drops and supplies are in place.
We are able to do our last minute details for our race to Nome.
Our bikes are packed and ready.
We will be in Anchorage tomorrow at the Speedway party and have a Pre race meeting at the Loussac library Saturday before the Start Sunday Feb. 24th, 2:00PM at Knik Lake.
Looking forward seeing everyone and having a good time on the trail.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Soon the Vacation Begins ...

Yesterday afternoon Bill and I were busy unpacking and sorting drops that were mailed to us in Chickaloon. Tomorrow we will pick up the rest of the drops in Anchorage. We will check them off a list and then pack them into sturdy bags to be loaded on the plane. Monday Bill will fly them to Finger Lake, Puntilla and Rohn.

Getting on the trail will seem like a vacation after weeks actually months of planning and organizing the Iditarod Trail Invitational. Every year we want things to go as smoothly as possible for racers but there are always bumps in the road. After all, it's the Iditarod Trail and you never know what it will throw at you from one year to the next.
Winter riding is more of a lifestyle than a hobby with Bill and I . We find the peace and beauty of exploring Alaskan winter wilderness by bike takes us far from all our worries and cares. The only things that really matter are eating, sleeping, staying warm, moving up the trails and soaking it all in. It is life in it's simplest form. Bill and I (and many others) are of the opinion that adventure only happens to the unprepared and this philosophy has carried us safely and happily over hundreds of miles of winter wilderness trails.
Not that we haven't had our share of adventures and are sure to have more but it's just a small part of the whole experience. In the face of difficult situations the need to live in the moment with no time for thought of yesterday or tomorrow is both exciting and liberating. Some would dramatize what many of us find exciting in our lives but for us if we didn't enjoy and couldn't do it with a smile we wouldn't be out there.
I have heard Bill say that it is no place for tough "guys" that you go out there to work with what nature presents to you not to conquer it.
Weather forecast doesn't look so good for a while, so that is some added stress until the drops are actually in place.
Looking forward seeing everyone soon at the Speedway Party on Friday.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Packing our Drops

After several trips to Palmer and Wasilla and one to Anchorage a few weeks ago, we have gathered all of our supplies and food for our own drops all the way to Nome.
Packing and labeling all the meals and supplies for 47 racers for our checkpoins in Puntilla and Rohn is tomorrow's chore.

We actually added up all the calories this year we have put into our drops for Fingerlake, Rohn and all the way to Nome in the Flatrate Boxes we ship to the villages along the route beyond McGrath.
Looked like a bomb went off in our one room cabin (16 x 24). The entire room was full of food and stuff.

Here is a list of our trail food:

42 dehydrated meals
with dehydrated butter 29.586 cal
12 packs of Salami: 18260 cal
26 pieces of cheese(8 0z): 22880 cal
1 large bag rice crackers: 7200 cal
36 almond joy bars: 7920 cal
24 reeses cups: 10080 cal
36 kitkat: 7560 cal
6 packs of smoked salmon: 9000 cal
6 large bags of M&M's: 39900 cal
2 large cans of cashews: 12920 cal
1 large bag of Gardetto's: 6750 cal
4 bags of little sausages: 6120 cal
Spices Cider Drink Mix: 1920 cal
1 can of Hot Chocolate: 4620 cal

Total: 191,050 cal

that's 4547 calories per person per day if we get to Nome in 21 days + about 2000 calories or more in the checkpoints, so we hope to consume about 6500 calories per day on the trail.
50% of those calories come from fat.
It is most likely that we will still loose weight consuming 3 times the normal amount of calories a person should eat.
Bill and I have both tried to gain some weight in the last few weeks.
Burning body fat is not the most efficient source of calories, but on those long trips in the cold,
it would be nearly impossible to eat enough to maintain bodyweight.
Starting the race with some body fat is a good idea if you don't want to burn muscle mass during a long expedition like the 1100 mile race to Nome.
Bill and I are what we call "big eaters" we do what we do because we like to eat.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Riding the Chickaloon River

We have been busy with organising the big event and getting our own stuff ready, so we haven't really had much time to ride. We also needed some stress relieve and do a fun ride. Bill and I decided to give one of our favorite winter rides in our backyard a try, since there was a chance the trail was packed enough after some snowmachine traffic on the Chickaloon River. In the summertime the Chickaloon is a remote Class III rafting trip without road access. It originates deep in the Talkeetna Mountains and flows at a fast pace into the Matanuska River.
Since it is such a fastmoving little stream it usually doesn't freeze solid enough until late January/early February.
It is a neat place to ride with all kinds of cool things to see, beautiful mountains in both directions and ice ledges and ice bridges to cross.The trail was a little windblown in the beginning from the strong Matanuska valley winds we have been having for days now, but then rideable with Fat tires. The Chickaloon freezes over differently every year, in places there is only a small ice ledge you can cross. In other places where there was once a trail the ice has caved in and other places you ride on frozen overflow. It is never boring on the Chickaloon, you look down into clear running water or frozen chandelliers. In a windswept place the colour of the ice was aquamarin, so beautiful you would want to chisle out a piece to take it home. Further up the river there are some pretty ice falls. At mile 9 there is a place called the "narrows" that is often impassable. Last year the ice ledges from the first freez up at higher water were way over our head. After crossing a big mound of overflow ice we wandered on up to check them out, and the ice had caved in where the last snowmachines had crossed and was overflowing and refreezing. But it looked like the new ice was only about 1-2 inches thick. So we turned around there. Another spot had snowmachines tracks on both sides and the centerpiece had fallen in, about 3-4 feet of air, then gushing water.
In places we were pushing our bikes across jumbled up ice and you could hear the hollow spaces underneath or rushing water. When you are riding on the cold snow most times you can't hear those sounds, but when you take a minute and stop it is quite exciting to hear the water rushing just underneath where you're standing.
Some places where the ice is sagging it is really not an option to stop.
All the drainages to the Matanuska River are beautiful, but the Chickaloon is one of the few you can actually explore for quite a ways up in the wintertime.
And we never see anyone, that rides those trails. We wouldn't mind to see other folks on bikes or skiing out there.
Enjoy the pictures, it was a cloudy day with flat light but they still tell the story.


Monday, February 4, 2008

Cold Trails in Willow

Our friend Tony had invited us to his cabin in Willow. We spent the night there Saturday and planned to ride the 25 mile loop of the as part of the Willow Winter Carnival Sunday morning. Temperatures dropped to -25 below zero that night and our Hippie Van wouldn't start.
It is easy to tell where our priorities are when you look at our bikes and the vehicle we drive. After about 2,5 hours with the help of Tony's little generator to preheat the van and using jumpercables, we finally got it started. Most racers had taken off at 11:00 am. We rode the marked loop out across several lakes and on swamps and through the woods with temperatures staying between -15 F and -20 F all day. We met several racers on their return lef of the race. The Alaska Range with Foraker, Hunter and Denali was stunning from the Willow swamp in a distance. We met up at the community center with several other bikers before heading back home. Seems like Bill always wins the prize with the biggest icicle mustache.
Good times with good friends.