In the meantime, I really wanted to bump down those disgusting road rash pictures, so I'm posting a mid-week news update. In the week's most exciting news, Beat was accepted in the 2012 Iditarod Trail Invitational — 350 miles to McGrath on foot. I am super excited for him, and also excited for myself and potential opportunities to train with him during long backcountry hikes in the snow. Training well for this race is of upmost importance, so as far as I'm concerned, Beat's sacrifice in signing up for the 2012 ITI means I get to enjoy all the spoils of winter adventure without actually having to go through with the race.
It's true — I did not attempt to sign up for next year's race. When asked why, my short answer is that my mom would kill me if I ever entered the ITI again (ha ha.) But the truth is, I did some soul searching about it and decided it wasn't the right time. As I said, I really look forward to participating in Beat's training adventures. I also have dreams of putting together short, solo bike tour on the Iditarod Trail, possibly from Point McKenzie to Finger Lake or Puntilla Lake and back, which I could plan during the week that Beat is racing the ITI. I really wanted to plan a solo tour this past winter, and probably would have if I had stayed in Alaska. Since I'll be doing a lot of foot training anyway, maybe I can fly out a week early and try to crush my Susitna 100 foot time. Oh, the possibilities! Next year's race does promise to be an exciting one. There are 20 people who signed up to race on foot, including Geoff Roes and Dave Johnston, who has won the Susitna 100 twice.
When I wasn't cringing through my short and "too bumpy" mountain bike road rides this week, I was deeply immersed in Great Divide projects — editing photos, writing book promotional materials, playing with cover design ideas, and writing an essay for the second edition of the Cordillera. Even simple design work prompts vivid memories of those three weeks in 2009, and that's where my head has been for much of the week. Because of this, I was fairly amused to receive a fortuitous e-mail from a promoter for the movie "Ride the Divide," a documentary about the 2008 Tour Divide. He had set up a showing in Oakland and he wanted me to attend as a "special guest" to answer questions about the race.
I coerced Beat into joining me on the long Wednesday rush-hour drive to the northland. The showing was held at the Grand Lake Theatre, a quirky old movie house with ornate decorations and a balcony. I expected a low-key event, and was a little shocked when I arrived to a sold-out crowd at a big theater. I've already seen this movie four times, but it was fun to watch it on the big screen, not only for the beautiful cinematography, but also to listen to the crowd's reactions to different scenes. It found myself becoming surprisingly choked up during relatively benign scenes that depicted race leader Matthew Lee quietly riding alone through areas of Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico. I realized that I am still deeply attached to not only my experiences in the Tour Divide, but also the regions it traverses. For the first time in two years I found myself truly believing that *perhaps* I really do want to go there again someday, in that same context. But not this year. Like the ITI, it's just not the right time.
The Q&A session was fun, but I was not prepared and didn't know how to answer questions like "why did you do it?" ("Uh, well, I had some time off and it seemed like a fun way to spend a summer.") and "who sponsored you?" (Well, I guess the Juneau Empire sponsored me, because they employed me beforehand and gave me paychecks that I was able to stash away for race funds.") A question about my "most vivid experience" resulted in a really long story about interacting with another racer after a serious truck collision on Indiana Pass. But for the most part it went well. It really is rewarding to see how other people react to images and stories from the Tour Divide, because the experience means so much to me.
And hopefully, there will be more mountain biking in my future. Sooner would be my preference.