Saturday, February 21, 2009

Stumbling towards the start line

One week until the Iditarod and things aren't looking as organised as they were a while ago...

First my seatpost bolt snaps on a training ride so I have to go home and swap seatposts before carrying on. At least I managed to do that and fight the gremlins saying "Go home now, eat cake now." I went back out and earned the eventual cake. No luck in sourcing a new bolt, though... how hard can it be?!

Then the effect of knackered shoes gets to my feet again. The soles are so worn out and flexy that the pedals stick through into my feet and roll them outwards. Some sort of suspected tendon pain makes it hard to walk and impossible to run (even across the road).

Having got sick of having the scrape ten tons of sticky mud off my bike after every ride I decided to have a road-heavy week. I set off for some big commutes: 30 miles each way with panniers stuffed to the gills. 10 minutes into my ride home, my freewheel dies, taking me from singlespeed to no speed. I swap it round to fixed (a harder ratio) and carry on home. It was quite nice doing two 60 mile days sandwiching two 30 mile days with nice (ish) weather and no mud. But by the end of all that my shins are seriously painful. I can't point my toes out or up and it really hurts to walk.

After a day of ice and rest, I set off for my last big ride before the race. It should be about 9 hours and the sun is shining. Trail conditions were still pretty sticky, but the descents had some grip so there was chance to let fly a bit. Four hours into that, the shin pain is back so I plan to cut that ride short. Then I'm nearly home and the freehub on my xc bike jams, going from singlespeed to fixed. Fixed off road might be fun, but not when any failure to keep up with the pedals will further mash the internals of an expensive hub so I limp home and and end the ride on a low.

And of course, I get home to find that my drop bags for the race haven't made it to Alaska. They were supposed to take 5 days so they're 13 days overdue. Which may mean I have to carry all my food with no drops. Crap.

At this point, there's no stopping me but I just wish the little branches and brambles pulling back my progress towards McGrath would give me a break. I'll just have to keep reading books about people who've done harder things and overcome bigger obstacles. It's just a bike race so I just need to turn the pedals or trudge my feet for a few days. Injuries or lack of food aren't necessarily the end of that. Look at the scenery, have a laugh.


GenghisKhan said...

Sounds like some rough times, but good luck on the Iditarod nonetheless. It's the tough times that make us stronger--and give us better stories to tell!


Aidan said...

Thanks - I'm sure it'll come right in the end. Especially if I can use up all my bad luck and mechanical failures before I hit the snow.

Phil said...

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Did you drop bags arrive in time?

Aidan said...

No. Apparently, the post office lied about how long they take to deliver. Parcel Force say it's 30 days, but the post office said it would be 5 days when they took the parcel and my £80.

They've tracked the package to US Customs so it might or might not get to Alaska before I do.

GenghisKhan said...

So, I'm curious--what if it does not arrive? What's the backup plan?

Aidan said...

Whatever happens, I'm going to be carrying most of my food from the start line. If my mailed food hasn't got to Alaska by Wednesday, I'll buy more and bring it with me on the plane.

I was planning to use 1 pair of panniers for my gear. I have two racks, so I can fit all the food in if I use 2 pairs of panniers and attach both racks.

GenghisKhan said...

Whatever the outcome, good luck!

Anonymous said...


Hi Aidan - It might be worth buying your food over in Alaska as the extra weight you cost you even more in carriage on the plane. I bought my food out there last year so it shouldn't be a problem. Where are you staying?

James Leavesley

Aidan said...

Hi James,

Thanks for the tip... Luckily, internet tracking says that my food is there now so I don't need to worry about it anymore.

I'm staying at the Puffin Inn. It's cheaper than the Golden Lion and has a free breakfast. Mmm... breakfast. How about you?