Earlier last year I decided to try my hand at riding a 1200km. randonnee. I decided to ride The Big Wild Ride, a giant 750 mile loop through the interior of Alaska.Viewing The Big Wild Ride on a map the distances aren't readilly apparent. Alaska is a big hunk of land and it's hard to tell how far apart everything is.
A train ride
The first leg of the trip is a train ride to Whittier along the edge of Prince William Sound. I'm up early, pack my bags, get on the bike and shuttle my drop bags from the hotel to the staging area at the train depot. I ride back to the hotel, store the bike bag and some luggage and ride back to the staging area. When I return, I'm the last one there to load the bike. The van with the bikes is about to pull out; not an auspicious start. Waiting for the train to depart, I mill around with everybody else and finally settle into a conversation with Roland and Dana.
Once the train leaves the city, the ride is scenic. On the other side of the tracks, the gray and treacherous waters of the sound extend outward to the cloud covered mountains near the horizon. Giant mountains hover over the other side of the train. I can't quite make out the tops and am awed by their presence. Nonetheless, they somehow instill a sense of calm - silently whispering that they are here to protect me. As the train undulates down the tracks I see rivers of water running vertically down the steep mountainsides, wispy clouds in the distance, mud flats, stands of dead trees preserved by the very same salty waters that ended their life. I'm awed and feel unprepared for all this wildness. I feel safe in box that is the train.
The weather is drizzly and wet and I'm fearful that the entire trip will be wet and rainy. The chaos of the waves in the gray murky waters of the sound echo my own apprehension. Earlier in the year I'd ridden two back-to-back centuries in very wet weather and feel I have the experience and the equipment to see me through some miserable weather. But, I don't want to endure riding 750 miles in the rain. That's bound to be miserable.
The train passes through a pitch black tunnel and arrives at it's destination. The weather looks more miserable here that anyplace else. Over the loudspeaker the conductor's voice mumbles something about this being one of the wettest places in Alaska.
A ferry ride
Whittier is a small portage on the edge of the sound. This is a landscape of contrasts - it pits the small against the large. A gargantuan multi-story cruise ship provides counterpoint to the smaller crafts docked in the sheltered harbor. A large gray and abandoned housing complex languishes in the distance - a remider of a past life that's not so easy to reconcile with the shacks and smaller homes that are still alive. A number of multi-story housing structures pepper the hillside. Waterfalls fed by the glacier above, surround them. The scene is picturesque. Almost too perfect to be true. Were it not for the noise generated by the falls, the scene would be perfect. It's the din of the falls that throws the entire existence of the scene in question. Will the new building survive? Or, will they suffer the same fate as the gray structure in the distance? Perhaps only the glaciers know.
I walk to the ferry terminal and retrieve my ticket. In the parking lot my bike is unloaded. With an hour to wait before I can board the ferry, I wander around and purchase a breakfast burrito and some coffee from a small shack. Soon I'm heading down a ramp with my bike. I lay my bike on the parking deck of the ferry. A long line of bikes line a narrow corridor in the lower level. The ferry service knew they'd have to ferry across forty bicycles so things are organized - but it's still an event for on the ferry staff.
The ferry gets underway and I'm staring out the window at the surrounding landscape. The views are beautiful. But as the shore recedes, boredom sets in. I spend a considerable amount of time sleeping during the ferry ride. I eat an evening meal and talk to the other riders. The final miles of the ferry ride are the most picturesque. We enter a smaller bay land surrounded by glaciers, wispy clouds and fog. It's fantastic. It's 9PM, I've arrived in Valdez and it's still light out. I pedal to the hotel room, get checked in and in short order I'm sleeping.
Impatiently waiting to start
The next morning is cold and wet. I walk to the Totem Inn for breakfast. I'm there early enough to see the local crowd. Afterwards I walk through the town and head back to my room. The wait for the ride start is long and tedious. I have to check out of my hotel room at 1 PM and stay with Roland for a few hours. Lacking anything better to do, I arrive at the start 2 hours early - as did everybody else. I mill around the hotel lobby and wait. I talk to Catherine and marvel at how well her bike is set up and how she's adapted non-bike equipment for the ride. Finally, the pre-ride meeting starts, I receive my Brevet card, and made final preparations for the ride start. Amazingly, the weather has improved and the sun in shining.
On Sunday evening 6:00 PM I start riding. The first 15 or so miles of road is fairly flat as I make my way through some gorgeous woodlands surrounded by seemingly monstrous mountains. I'm treated to numerous views of glacial falls. Gently the road tilts up, the weather becomes foggy and I find myself in alpine meadows. After some 2500 ft. of climbing I'm at the top of Thompson pass. The climbing feels fairly easy.
At the top of the pass I don more clothing for the downhill and roll on into glacial valleys and even more spectacular views. Slowly the light fades and I'm riding alone in the dark. The first control is a blur. Soon I'm riding through a gentle drizzle. At mile 80 I pull into the Tonsina River Lodge ready for a bit of rest. The Russian family running the lodge set out a wonderful buffet of food. I stuff myself with two or three wonderful tasting meat filled pastries, drink some tea and grab some food to go. I decide to fill my water bottles with diluted coffee. I leave the control with Roland and Dana and we roll on into the drizzly night.
I'm a bit miffed that I'd spent so much time at the last control and think it's best to leave Roland and Dana behind and try to regain my 12 mi/hr average pace. One of the things that I brought to the ride was a bear bell. I was told there was a very real chance of meeting up with bears on the roadway. So here I am pedaling through the night jingling my bear bell. I pass four or five people on the way to the next control, one of them makes a comment about reindeer I pass Katie Raschdorf. After the ride she tells me she was feeling tired and lonely on that particular stretch of road. She heard me jingling up the road and was hoping to latch on to some company. She engaged me in conversation, but fueled by my desire to hold a faster pace and the coffee in my water bottles, I rode on alone. Sorry Katie.
At 4 AM Monday morning I'm at the next control in GlenAllen. I get controlled and leave fairly quickly with JoAnn Fafrowicz and Mr. X (sorry Mr. X, I've forgotten your name). I end up riding the balance of the ride with JoAnn because our pace is the same - but I'm skipping ahead. I'm annoyed by Mr. X's riding style. He surges a lot. It's impossible to hold his wheel, or even hold a conversation with the guy. The road is relatively flat and boring. Around 7 AM I'm at the next control: Sourdough Roadhouse. Goaded by Rick Carpenter I eat some breakfast in the Roadhouse. The pancakes are magnificent !! I'm fuelled and ready for the next stretch of road.
Ummm... the next stretch of road isn't ready for me: there's road construction ahead. The road is being regraded and is closed to bicyclist. But the organizers have this planned out. JoAnn and I loaded our bikes onto a waiting car and are driven down the road. I see that the construction workers are blasting a hillside along the side of the road, grinding the rock and using it to grade the road. I'm amazed that the entire process is so localized. I live in a different world. I'm a city boy and can't go out in the woods and chop some lumber, or dig up some sand. We then ride the remaining few miles of wet muddy hard packed gravel roadway and things returned to normal.
The next 40 miles or road are truly gorgeous. I ride through rolling wooded landscapes next to giant lakes. I see a bald eagle. I'm looking for elk but see Caribou instead. I see the only road kill on the entire ride on this stretch of road ( which turned out to be a Lynx) We arrive at the Paxton control, eat some lunch ( more pancakes ) and roll on. Riding through the alpine landscapes past Summit Lake I'm awed by the gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains and the stark beauty of the rock formations. As we're going around the lake it starts sprinkling. 15 minutes later the rain starts coming down harder. I pull on the rain gear and cycle on. The rain gear helps keep me dry, but the temperatures have dropped and I'm cold. Riding forward, the rain stops, the sun comes out and I slowly dry out.
The route follows the Alaska pipeline and I keep seeing blue road signs emblazoned with the letter P and a smaller description of a distance ( like 1500 feet.) To me this would mean "Parking 1500 feet ahead." But this place is desolate. Who needs a parking area here ? Coincidentally every time I see the P sign, the pipeline is nearby. I decide that the P actually means "pipeline 1500 feet ahead."
Soon I'm at the next control: the Black rapids lodge. It's a new roadhouse out in the middle of nowhere. The building interior highlights the gorgeous timber frame construction. Most everything is new. I wonder how these people are able to stay in business. Conscious of how many hours I'd wasted at the prior controls waiting for food, I try to make the stop short. Alas, if there was a control to spend time exploring, this would be it. I order the chicken soup and know one of the reasons this place stays in business. Ahhh....
The weather is now sunny and pleasant. A short climb later and I'm near the top of a hill looking into the flat valley below. The road slopes downhill, there is a gentle tailwind, life is good. I push the pace a bit and arrive at the Delta Junction overnight Monday evening 5:45 PM. I've ridden a fairly hilly 270 miles in almost 24 hours.
The overnight stay in Delta Junction is short and uneventful. Worried that I'll not make the cutoff at the Fairbanks control 100 miles away, I decided to leave around 10PM. So I eat, wash, get my gear together and sleep for about two hours. At 10PM I'm back on the bike. I join JoAnn, Mr X and a gentleman from England: Chris Wilby. Chris and I chat for a few miles and as the road tilts upward the group stretches out. I regain JoAnn's wheel and we roll on into the night together. The roads are hilly. As the night wears on it starts drizzling and the temperature drops. Around 1 AM we pull into the Midway control.
It feels good to get off the bike and out of the cold. The Midway roadhouse is surrounded by bikes. I walk into the building and see one tired rando eating some soup. He says everyone else is upstairs sleeping. The loneliness and quietude reminds me of an Edward Hopper painting. My plan is to ride through to the Fairbanks control and take a nap there. JoAnn and I sit down and eat some food.
I roll out of the Midway control with the same three: JoAnn, Chris, and Mr. X. Soon Chris and Mr. X ride on ahead at their faster pace. The clouds have disappeared, the moon is rising and I notice a sky full of stars. Later there are fog banks and strange vertical clouds on the right. I can't quite make them out through the gaps in the trees. I keep staring and looking and finally realize they are the Northern lights. So, I flag down JoAnn and we pull over to gawk at the lights. A minute later the RBA pulls up in his car and asks if we're okay. I say we're fine, just enjoying the view - "hey, are those the northern lights ?" I prompt. "Yes," he says. We chat for a while longer, then move on. So the rest of the night I'm distracted by the lights. It's a wonderful visual accompaniment to a cold evening: akin to staring into a campfire.
Some point later the road flattens and the weather is foggy. The road straightens out. We're on our way into Fairbanks. I'm getting tired; it's hard to keep my eyes focused on the road. It's twilight. I'm falling asleep on the bike. It feels like time is stretching on and on. I have to stop. But I need to get to the next control and I don't want to loose JoAnn's wheel. I stop for a bit, close my eyes for 40 breaths. When I start riding again, I feel good the first mile, catch up to JoAnn and ride for a second miserable unfocused mile. I stop again, close my eyes for 40 breaths, and ride again. Ride, rest, ride, rest, ride, rest. I repeat the endless pattern for the next 20 miles to the Fairbanks control. I'm tired and just want to take a nap.
JoAnn and I arrive at the Safeway grocery store that is the Fairbanks control. The store is deserted. I'm awed that the store can be so empty. "Where are the shoppers" I wonder to myself. I can't understand why such a gargantuan store is needed in this town if nobody uses it. I'm fooled by my false perceptions of reality. It's 6:30 AM - normal people don't go grocery shopping that early. I get controlled. A number of people are there resting and getting some food. I see Catherine and wonder to myself "what is she doing here?" I saw her roll past us right after the Midway control. She's a fast rider and I wasn't expecting to see her at all. We chat briefly. I buy some food, eat, fill up my supplies and take a 1 hour nap. The nap feels good.
JoAnn and I head out into the gray drizzle. The next segment starts with a hilly 2000± ft. ascent and some hilly sections over the Alaska range. The gray drizzly weather clears and the sun peaks through the clouds. I'm riding through verdant forests and woodlands. The views are gorgeous and the riding is pleasant. The landscape is rolly - in a big Alaskan sort of way. JoAnn arrive at the conclusion that when the locals say "rollers," they mean a 2-3 mile downhill followed by a 2-3 mile uphill. 54 miles later we cross a wide river and pull over at a frumpy gas station that is the Nenana control. I pursue my normal routine of buying a bunch of food and drink, eating a meal and sitting down for a bit.
JoAnn and I don't stay long. As we're getting ready to leave, Chris Hanson pulls up. We don't wait for him. The road is now relatively flat, but the course is windy. So I persuade JoAnn to fall in behind me instead riding two abreast. We share the work battling the wind, but the mental effort of this tactic is a bit much and after an hour we go back to riding two abreast. Soon Chris pulls up and we spend a pleasant hour just chatting with a new person. Chris's natural pace is a bit faster, so he finally rides on alone. The weather darkens and it starts drizzling again. On Tuesday evening 8:00 PM I arrive at the Healy overnight. I get out of my wet clothes, towel myself off and eat some pizza ( yay!! pizza ) and fresh fruit ( yay!! fresh fruit ). I rode 211 miles in about 20 hours. I'm in surprisingly good shape. My left Achilles tendon is beginning to bother me. My butt isn't too sore. Occasionally I feel some twinges in the knees. Not bad after 480 miles on the bike.
I crawl into my sleeping bag and sleep. That is, until somebody wakes me up 2 hours later. Hey !!! Who's crazy idea was it to wake me up so soon ???? Oh, that was my idea. Ahh... it's okay... I'm riding my bike in Alaska. Okay. Time to get organized. On with clean bike clothes. Eat, eat, eat. I walk outside and it's still drizzling. Blech. Everything is cold and wet. I figure the pass into Denali will be really cold, so I wear every speck of clothing I have. Two base layers, jersey, reflective vest, rain jacket, thick neoprene waterproof socks, windproof skull cap, biking cap.
I leave with Joann at 11:00 Pm and roll into the drizzly night. It's dark and there are VERY FEW cars on the road. But at some point the riding becomes a bit more perilous. The shoulders now have double-wide rumble strips and we're forced onto the roadway. The road is ours most of the time. Occasionally an aura illuminates the foggy landscape ahead and a giant truck rumbles by. This being Alaska, the truck are larger than the ones in California. But unlike the drivers in California, they move far left and allow us plenty of room. Nonetheless, it's unnerving to be passed by a giant behemoth of a truck; they displace so much air that they generate cross-winds that can force the bike in unforeseeable directions. I'm sure the truck drivers are mumbling under their breaths wondering "what the hell are THEY doing on the road at 1 AM."
Yet, it seems perfectly natural to be out here at that time. In fact, I like riding at night. I'm used to it. Let me rephrase that: I'm used to riding at night in the city. There's always some sort of light. One always hears a background din of man-made noise, be it the freeway, some factory machinery, or lawn sprinklers anonymously spraying water on some lawn. This is not true in the wilderness. It's DARK. There's often very little background noise; any sort of scrambling noise in the bush means there is something alive out there making that noise ( and the mind thinks "oh no... could it be a man eating bear ???" ) The small pool of light from my bicycle is enough to illuminate a narrow section of road. It's enough to ride on. The rest is pure mystery.
Around 4AM JoAnn and I arrive at the Cantwell control. There's a State Trooper there talking to the event organizers. It's cold, I'm wet and very tired. I take a short 15 min. nap in somebody's car, then drink some coffee and eat some food. Then JoAnn and I are off into the cold wet drizzle.Slowly, it gets lighter and a bit of the surrounding alpine landscape is revealed. I'm too tired to notice. It's getting hard to stay awake and I'm worried that I'll fall asleep on the bike and crash. To add to the misery, the drizzle increases and it's hard to keep the raindrops out of my eyes. ( Blast !! I left the brimmed cap at the last control and all I have are my sunglasses.) Okay, so I stop, close my eyes for forty breaths and rest. I start pedaling again. The first mile is okay, the second is a struggle. So, I stop again for forty breaths. I ride for two mile posts and rest again. I'm really tired and getting down on myself. I really want to get some sleep. I contemplate stopping along the side of the road to take a nap, but the landscape is very exposed. Now is the time to take up my coach Michelle's offer to "call me anytime things get rough" and tell I want to quit NOW. NOW YOU HEAR ME!! I'VE HAD ENOUGH !! I WANT TO SLEEP. And then I realize I'm out in the "middle of nowhere." There's no cell phone service here. The Verizon guy that wanders around the countryside mumbling "can you hear me now" into his cell phone didn't make it out to this part of Alaska. With this comes a gradual realization that this is all up to me. I'll have to suffer through this. With this realization, the frustration ever so slowly and gently melts away and is replaced with a quiet resignation to move forward. I continue on with my pattern: stop, close eyes, rest for forty breaths, ride for two miles, repeat.
Somehow I ride through the difficult part and energy levels increase. The sun comes out. The drizzle stops. Some downhill brightens my mood ( except for the little dark voice that reminded me that "whatever goes down must come up".) The landscape is gorgeous !!! We're on the edge of the Denali wilderness area. A short time later I'm at the Hurricane Gulch control drinking warm soup, eating salty pretzels ( yum - salt !!) and stocking up on Cliff Bars. After another forty miles of riding "Alaskan rollers" through absolutely gorgeous countryside I'm at the next control eating a burger and fries.
More riding and I'm almost to the last overnight at Talkeetna. The road is straight and boring. I've not got much further to go. But time is crawling forward. My Achilles tendon hurts. The cliff bars are now too hard for my stomach to digest. I keep looking down at my odometer wondering how much further I have to go. The weather is clear and sunny, but I'm cloudy and impatient on the inside. There's a bend in the road. Surely the stop is near the bend. A guy on the side of the road tells me to get on the new bike path ( what bike path ??? I didn't see a bike path. Leave me alone. ) A stray dog looks at me while I ride past. The turn in the road isn't getting any closer. Why is there so much traffic on this road ? This is boring. Are we there yet ? Oh, okay I'm at the turn in the road. Crap !! A hill. That's not right. Who's cruel joke is this. Why does there have to be a hill here ? Okay, it's not really a hill, just a small bump in the road. Another turn, then another and hey, what's that, it looks like we're on the outskirts of civilization.
And then, finally at 6:30 PM Wednesday evenig I'm at the last overnight. I'd ridden 165 in 20 hours. My Achilles hurts, my butt is sore. It doesn't matter. After some food and sleep I'll only have to ride 120 mile. EASY MONEY.
So I sit down to some chicken and rice soup followed by a plate of beef stroganoff and vegetables. Real food - yum !!!! I decided to take Roland's advice and get some extra sleep. I sleep three hours in a REAL BED !! I took a SHOWER !! While I was getting ready to leave the Inn fed me with milk, orange juice and hot oatmeal with brown sugar. I was in high heaven when I roll out into the cold drizzly morning at 11 PM.
I'm now riding alone for the first time in two days. My ankle still hurts, but I figured I have 13 hours to travel 120 miles and if I needed to I'd pedal that with one leg. It turns out not to be so bad. I manage to find a neutral position that minimized the pain. My first stop is a 24 hour convenience store / gas station 15 miles down the road. I stock up on stomach friendly snacks and ride into the night. I keep myself amused by singing loudly to the road signs. I figured the signs were like a man who never looks in a mirror and doesn't knows what he looks like. The road signs needed a melodic reminder of what they say. I think the signs liked it. The Lynx that crossed my path wasn't amused, he ran away. I'd hate to think it was my singing.... A ways down the road I'm was joined by xxxx. He had an i-pod with speakers on his bike. We rock on through the night and are later joined by others.
At 7 AM I arrived at the Wasilla Wal mart control with a group of five. I guess everyone is really tired - they all just stand around and wander through the store. Huh ??? I wanted to say something like "People we have only 40 miles to the end. Let's go !!!! " Nobody was listening. Okay, so 5 minutes later I'm rolling on by myself. The first segment is a 10 mile stretch of road on a busy freeway. BLECH. But there's a bit of a downhill and the freeway traffic generated a tailwind - so I decided to time-trial it to the off ramp. I average over 20 mi/hr to the exit. Soon I'm alee of the noise and chaos of the freeway and riding through the suburbs of Anchorage. At some point I catch up with JoAnn ( she left 1 hr. before me ). She's up ahead so I shake my bike and the bear bell clangs. She hears me and stops. We ride the remaining ten or fifteen miles of the route together.
A few miles from the end, I'm overcome with emotion and tear up. I arrive at the finish on Thursday morning 10:35AM. I've ridden 755 miles in 88 hours and 35 minutes. Phew - time for a nap.
- Road conditions in Alaska were great. I think that the roads were in better shape than those in southern California. Though most sections of the highway had rumble strips, the shoulder to the right of the strip was usually very clean and wide.
- Traffic was generally very light. I think the bussiest roads were those through Denali, the spur into Talkeetna, and the 20 miles into Anchorage.
- Drivers were courteous. I only had one local delivery truck driver honk at me for some percieved greivance. When possible the giant trucks with double trailers would move into the opposing traffic lane to give me extra room. This was much appreciated, especially at night.
- Services were sparse. I'm used to riding in a suburban environment where services are frequent. This ride was different. Services were often 20-40 miles apart. For example the route facilities document lists the following at mile 56: "Tiekel River Lodge - look for hose hanging over gas pumps" Services aren't that primitive, I just picked that one to make my point.
- Stopping at the roadhouses was great. Each one was unique and had something special to offer. Be warned that food can be expensive. I was unprepared to pay $15 for pancakes at the Sourdough Roadhouse.
- Stopping to eat at each roadhouse sucked Stopping to eat a meal in each roadhouse takes time - time that could have been spent sleeping. I didn't have purchase anything, most of the controls were manned and I could have just had the brevet card signed and just filled up on the food that was provided. I chose to stop, eat, rest and relax. That meant I didn't get much sleep.
- The organizer hired photographers That was a nice touch.
- The overnights were about right. They had food and a place to sleep. They weren't so comfortable that one would like to stay there indefinatelly. I would have liked better food choices - but what exactly that means I don't know.
- The Talkeetna overnight was a nice touch I slept in a real bed. I got to take a shower. The evening meal was wholesome and filling. The meal before departure was great. I felt pampered before tackling the last stretch home.
- I was physically prepared for the ride. I am so glad I hired Michelle Grainger to coach me. I learned a lot and was prepared for the ride.
- I was mentally prepared for the low points. I've ridden enough to realize that low points in the ride are inevittable. These can usually be remedied by food and drink. Thankfully, I had the presence of mind to realize that whatever funk I was experiencing would in time go away: feelings are transitory.
- No mechanical problems. The bike was sufficiently prepared for the long ride. I had no mechanical problems. I didn't even get a flat !!!
- Good equipment choices I've ridden enough to understand what clothing was required for the ride. Furthermore, I understood how to use what I had to my advantage.
- Riding with others. I was fortunate to ride the majority of the ride with JoAnn. Somehow, being part of a group makes time go by faster and alleviates the boredom of riding alone. Phew - I got lucky !
- Attitude I wasn't so focussed on the mechanics of riding and making controls that I ignored the views and experiences provided by the ride. I remember catching up to Mr X and Chris Wilby on the way to Faibanks. I asked them if they had seen the Northern Lights and they said "no." I was flabergasted. All I could think was: "how could they have missed them ?"
- Packing mistake 1 I forgot to put batteries in my little Petzl light. I use it to read the cue sheet when it's dark. I had to live without it the first night. At the first overnight I had batterries and filled it, but then left the light at the overnight - a comedy of errors. The route was simple, so the light wasn't that important Remember to check and test all equipment before packing on the bike.
- Packing mistake 2 I forgot to pack overnight non-bike clothes for the overnight even though I had made notes to pack them OOPS - this was a simple brain fart.
- Butt started hurting on day 3 I didn't have enough money to buy a third pair of good shorts. The Assos chamois cream didn't help a whole lot. Should have stopped somewhere and cleaned myself off ( didn't bring baby whipes) and use some Calmoseptine
- Some numbness in nether regions Instead of just enduring the pain perhaps it would be best to tilt saddle a bit more forward or play with position.
- Numbness in right hand. I spent a whole day + in neoprene gloves without padding. I didn't know that it would affect me. Perhaps put a set of padded bike gloves over the neoprene ones, or do what Catherine did: tape gel pads to hands with athletic tape and use other (non-bike) gloves
- Left Achilles tendon was sore starting the third day I don't know about this Perhaps I should stretch before getting on the bike in the cold mornings ?
- Various knee pains and twinges Throughout the ride I get some pains and aches in the knees. Try spinning faster instead of mashing the pedals so much. Remember what Catherine looked like effortlessly spinning up the hill outside of Midaway. Or try adjusting position on bike
- Feeling drowsy in pre-dawn hours maybe prep for it with some coffee and/or caffeine and learn some stay-awake techniques: singing, talking nonsense about the surrounding landscape, making up lousy puns ...
- Upset stomach On the third day my stomach had a hard time processing the grainy cliff bars. I need to figure out some sort of ( low-fiber ?? ) replacement
- Adaptive re-useI was impreseed with Catherine Shenk's equipment choices. She identified the problem and found equipment that solved the problem. She taped the gel pads from Dr. Scholl's inner soles to the palms of her hands and used snow boarding gloves ( result: warm hands with vibration protection.) She used a waterproof duffle bungied to a small wire loop rack ( result: a pack that absolutely positively stays dry.) XXXX created a on-bike sound system with an i-pod and rechargeable speaker sysytem ( result: it keeps him awake and amused.)
- Sleep more It might be best to get a minimum of three hours of sleep a night. I could spend less time eating at controls. I could increase my pace.
- Adjust the bike One of the things I've come to rely on is a good bike fit. I've nudged and fidgeted and adjusted the parts of the bike to fit me just so. I've got the bike "dialed in" and don't want to change it. Nonetheless, perhaps I should change the bike. I could have tried tilting the seat forward a bit to relieve pain in the "soft tissues."
- Find a convenient place for a camera I usually don't care about taking pictures during a ride. But, this was one time where taking pictures of people and places would have been nice.
- A triple crankset might help me spin throught the hilly sections during the last day or two. I've got the muscular endurance to deal with most climbs, but this might save wear and tear on the knees.