Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The race starts long before the starting line

I remember dreaming of the Iditarod Trail Invitational in June while working on the Cosmic Apple Farm. Not shure how I got so addicted to it, but I did. A lot of people ask me why I do this race. The main reason is because I can. Other reasons include the challenge, the freedom and experiencing big, beautiful, wide open Alaska, having it all to myself at times. Gettin' ready for a race like this starts long before the start line. Purchasing plane tixs, guesstimating a return time, finding someone to watch our house and dogs, gettin all the survival gear together, scheduling all the bills to be paid while we're gone, findin' a place to stay in AK, and gettin' a ride to the airport with our 2 bike boxes and luggage. I started shopping for our drops a month before they had to be mailed, picking up different food items here and there keepin' it as cheap as possible, since everything is X's two. Our main meals consisted of ramen, which I love at the checkpts, Idahoans (instant mash potatoes) with butter, these are good when on the trail using my thermos of hot water, different styles of mac and cheese side dishes with powdered milk, butter (packaged at home) and sometimes a pouch of salmon, also good at checkpts due to it needing to be boiled a little more. I thought I would like the stuffing a lot more, but it wasn't all that and I will probably leave this out next time. These would be our main meals, with JayP varing his with meat. Then there is the trail food. This is really tricky cuz you don't kow what you'll want to eat or how warm or cold the temps will be. Warmer temps, less food, cold temps, possible storm or other variables, more food. I have kept a list of the past 3 yrs and what I put in each drop, I still don't have it dialed but believe I am gettin' better at choosing things I will eat. I love candy, shiny, bright, all the dye and sugar you you can pack in CANDY! Sour patch kids, gummy bears, mike and ikes and welches fruit snack are a few of my favorites. Chocolate bars, I learned a lot about these this yr. I was able to find smoe nice belgium chocolate bars for cheap, but once they froze they tasted like crapolah! So lesson learned the cheaper chocolate usually 2 for 1 bars such as reese PB cup, almond joy, carmello (my fav), reese crunch (2nd fav), PB snickers, take 5, whoppers, are a few I rely on. Then there are the nuts, cakes and cookies. We were fortunate to recieve lots of tasty calories from Tram Bar which was great, but I prefer them chopped in pieces. The cookie of choice is nutterbutter, followed by just about any other kind of cookie. The cakes of little debbie or hostess of any kind are always a welcome treat. I am pretty shure I ate my 1st Suzy Q this past trip, T-lecious fer shure! Fruit pies aren't so good frozen, but thanks to handwarmers, this can be quickly solved. We also carry hot coco, coffee, emergency, cough drops, lots of vitamin I and different hard candies.

Just wanted to get out a food diary and will follow with a gear list soon! Thanks for your support all! Til next time!

Friday, March 25, 2011

ITI 2011-workin' on it!

I am compiling stories, pictures and workin' on gettin' it together to share. Many people ask what the highlight of my trip was. The truth is there are many highlights, I remember being so happy and smiling A LOT! So to start I'll say some of the highlights were gettin' to the start, waitin' to start is hard. Sleeping outside by myself in -30 temps and fixin' a flat tire at -30 gave me confidence, good thing the wind wasn't blowing. Getting to McGrath and meeting up with Jay was very exciting since I knew this is where the vacation began and knew we would have a great time together. Finding the trail from Ophir to Iditarod was packed down was EPIC! I told JayP I had called "the people" and asked them to take care of it, glad they followed thru! The NEW shelter cabins are beautiful, I hope this encourages people to use the trail, even though it's in the middle of nowhere, guess thats why it's so beautiful. Spending 2 days in Oasis Iditarod in the mushers cabin, and the people that we meet and helped us there was a real treat, so glad we didn't have to camp outside for 2 days. Gettin back on the trail was a relief. The interview in Shageluk was neat. Becoming friends with the trailbreaks was great! Winning the pizza in Unalakleet and the breakfast Nita made us in the checkpt was amazing and very generous of her. Gettin welcomed to Shaktoolik and meetin' up with our friend Rick Swenson was a happy time. Cuttin JayP loose was a huge relief. When leaving Shatoolik, preparing to travel the sea ice of Norton Bay solo in the dark, a man by the name of Phil directed me to the trailhead, then asked if I had ever traveled the sea ice before, it was liberating that I could tell him yes, I have.

Inspiring a mushers to walk the last 10 miles of sea ice whose dogs were running in circles and was going to scratch, I heard he gave me props when he finished. That was very special to me and gives me chills. Meetin' the people of Koyuk, and interactin' with the kids was fun, they asked a lot of questions. Heading to Elim, I had the wickedest tail wind ever, I was just sitting on my bike and the wind blew me to Elim! I passed a musher which was really wild, I also saved a musher from going to the wrong way. Elim was great and to me is the prettiest of all! The ocean and sea ice just does something to me. I got to see JayP briefly and spent some time eatin' and sleepin' in Elim. It was also where I had the BEST piece of musher cheesecake ever. Golovin was a quick stop, but I was greeted by 2 kids and 2 women, who invited me into their house for coffee and bread. I also ate a ramen. Gettin' to White Mountain was bitter sweet, as I knew I was nearing the end. Jack, Joanna and Liam openly welcomed me into their house like it was my own. I had a wonderful diner cooked by Joanna, took a shower and got way more rest then I had intended. Going over Topkok mtn was amazingly stunning, it was hard to keep movin at times b/c I had it all to myself, beside a couple of ravens and really just enjoyed it. Safety was cool cuz there were people there and my friend Dustin the trailbreak, his wife and friends were all amazed by my accomplishment, which felt really good. Last miles into Nome, I had a tail wind, I didn't get caught in the blowhole and knew JayP was waiting for me.

I plan to follow up with a gear, food and detail stories.

I can't help but think of next yr already. This race is the most EPIC adventure I have ever, ever done.

Til next time!