2 years and 10 months since my last post. Anyone miss me? Not sure why I lost interest, but for a while there, I did. So, let's see if I can sum up the missing chunk of time in a reasonable amount of space.
-Worked again for a municipal recreation department, the City of Palmer, Alaska. It was fun, but didn't pay enough to keep up with my spending habits.
-Moved to a small log cabin at the base of Government peak.
-Commuted by bike more.
-The whole family, (Mom, Dad, Norah, Siobhan, Mike and Gavin), came up to visit for two weeks. I had a blast playing tour guide.
-Worked at Speedway Cycles on and off during the winter because I hadn't saved enough at my seasonal summer job to get me through the winter.
-Crashed hard in the Sheep Mountain 150 fat bike race descending Belanger Pass. I was with the leaders up until that point. I bonked hard after the crash and walked most of the remaining 10 miles to the checkpoint, where I scratched.
-Raced the Susitna 100. Actually, raced the first half of it, then relaxed and hung out at checkpoints along the trail the rest of the way. I had a good time on a smooth and hardpacked course. Big change from when I first visited Alaska in 2008 for the Su 100 and ended up realizing I was in over my head and underprepared for the soft conditions that year.
-Raced the Ultrasport again. Couldn't get to sleep at all during the first few nights, despite trying at every opportunity. Ended up getting mild frostbite on two toes at -45 in the Farewell Burn. That convinced me my footwear wasn't up to snuff for the potentially colder conditions beyond McGrath, so I relaxed and cruised the rest of the way with Joe Pollock and Janice Tower, which was a fun time. Perhaps I'll get around to a full write up on it sometime soon.
-Started working for Mark Davis at Slana Surveys in Anchorage. Still work there. Mostly construction surveying, mostly in town. It's really fun work, both mentally and physically challenging.
-The commute from far northern Palmer was killing me. I was spending 2.5-3 hours of my day driving to and from work. I loved living in the cabin, and Palmer felt right to me, but I had to move to Anchorage. Moved in with the Monkees, Niko, Josie and Migsy, in their spare room. All of a sudden my 2.5 hour motorized commute became a 10 mile(+) each way bike commute on paved trails through a couple of different greenbelts. Good times.
-About a month after I moved to Anchorage, my father passed away. Not good times. It took a lot of effort to keep from focusing on regrets that I had about stuff I should have said or wished I had done. There was a huge turnout of friends, family and neighbors for his funeral. It was really good to see how many people's lives he had touched in some way, shape or form.
-After returning from the funeral and some time spent with my Mom and sisters, I set about cleaning out the cabin for final move out. I left it clean, but did it poorly. The combination of bleach, steam and mold in a small, poorly ventilated cabin wreaked havoc on my lungs. All of a sudden I had asthma again.
-Around this time I started cross country skiing in the local park. Mostly on singletrack trails that I either found or made myself.
-After the work season ended in early November, I flew back home to help my Mom out with cleaning and clearing at the house, and to finally attend the burial, which was delayed for almost a month due to massive flooding in NJ.
-I drove back up to AK with Chuck from Philly, in my Dad's truck. We stopped to briefly visit my cousin TJ in Kansas, then Chuck's cousin Mario in Boulder, before taking the most direct route north. As far as I can remember, we only got into one yelling match the entire 10 days. Pretty impressive if you ask me. The Canadian Rockies in winter is a drive I recommend to anyone with the nerve for piloting their vehicle along snowy and icy roads. Really gorgeous. Chuck was greeted in Alaska by temps warm enough to turn most trails to mush and cloud cover obscuring most of the mountains. We made the best of it.
-Worked at speedway again over the winter.
-Raced in the fat bike race at the Willow Winter Carnival. I was very limited by my breathing abilities during the race, and by the poor choice of running Nate tires front and rear. Those things are traction monsters, but have too much rolling resistance out back for most of my riding.
-I signed up for the Su100, and didn't start. My intention was to ski it. At the last minute, I convinced myself that skiing 100 miles when I had really only been skiing a significant amount for about 3 months, a week before starting the ITI, with respiratory issues, was probably a bad idea. Yes, I could have ridden it, but I didn't.
-Started the Ultrasport. The race course received 30" of heavy, warm snow during the first 24 hours of the race. I pushed my bike for 110 miles. I felt fine, and was pacing myself fine, but my shoes and rear tire were falling apart. I was worried that if I pushed further on, say to Rohn, and they became unrepairable, that I would be begging for a ride back to Anchorage, as there was no way I could afford an $800+ flight from a bush airstrip.
-Started my second season at Slana.
-Started the Homer Epic 100k race. Got through the first mini lap, but was having an asthma attack the whole time, so I scratched. At this point, I decided to refer to the season as my Quinter of 2011/12.
-Did a lot of crust skiing in the morning through March and April and even a bit of May. Really, really enjoyed it.
-Did a lot of hiking and trail running over the summer and fall. Really, really enjoyed that.
-Signed up for and started the Sluice Box 100 race in Fairbanks.... and actually finished! That was my only goal going into it after the astronomical amount of quitting I had done during the winter.
-Skied a lot during this winter. The nordic backcountry skiing has been great so far and really exciting for me, since I suck at it. It's nice to feel like a beginner, learning something new every time I head out. I'm officially addicted to it.
-This winters races I've signed up for:
*Trio Fat Bike race in Talkeetna. A new, multi-lap, 60 mile race put on by Speedway Cycles, Backcountry Bike and Ski and WeCycle.
*Homer Epic. I might, *might* do this on foot.
*SKAN 24, a 24 hour xc ski race on groomed trails.
*aaand one big one that I'm probably going to sign up for, but I'm not willing to lay that card on the table just yet.
So that's it. I may add some photos to this post eventually, and I'll try to update on a somewhat regular basis.