Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Denali Highway


A group of Brian's biking friends and I drove up to the Denali Highway this weekend to participate in one of Carlos's (of the Frigid Bits and Soggy Bottom) famous and interesting bike races. I like the races he puts on because they are relaxed, always unique, scenic, and the main goal is to have a good time. People on both ends of the cycling spectrum come to these races, from the serious endurance bike racer to well... me.

My plan was to take the dog out for a scenic ride while the rest of them raced their asses down the highway. My goal was to get to the Gracious House, a lodge that claims to have fantastic blueberry pie. I figured blueberry pie would be enough motivation to get me the 25 miles along the rolling dirt "Highway" that is the Denali Highway (not to be confused with the Denali Park road that is actually inside the park.)



It was a cold rainy, overcast day, and Brian wasn't feeling much like racing either. So he decided to join me on my take of the 50-ish mile version of this race calling it the "Pie Run". Others set out to race either 50, 80 or 170 mile version, all on a different mission.



Around mile 15 Brian and I decided that Niko in fact could not run 50 miles in one day, because he started to drop behind us a bit. We decided to ride up to the top of the next hill and turn around. Brian said he would meet me at the top. After he took off, I turned around to call Niko and saw him running straight at a porcupine on the side of the road. I screamed for him to come to me and just as he was about to grab the porcupine he turned and started back to me. I breathed a sigh of relief, and suddenly Niko changed his mind and decided he really wanted to make friends with the porcupine after all.

After planting his face in the porcupine's backside, he ran away swiftly and was shaking his head, adorning his newly groomed porcupine quill gotee. To make a long story short we rode the 15 miles back to camp, Niko slowing and slowing as we got closer. I felt bad that I was a bad dog owner and brought my Bubsy (um, I mean Niko) into this mess. He was soaking wet, exhausted and had 20 porcupine quills sticking out of his chin. I however felt like I could have gone 30 more miles.

All in all it was a miserable day, and I never did make it to pie, but a few good things came out of it. I got to do a good long ride and realized that I have a lot more endurance on a bike than I thought. I met a bunch of really fun people. We camped out under the midnight sun for the first time this year. I got to eat donuts for breakfast without feeling guilty. Last, but certainly not least, I learned how to hold a dog down, muzzle him with a bandana, and one-by-one pluck porcupine quills out of his lip while averting his attempts to bite me.

Today when the clouds finally parted, I got out for a 5 mile run along the highway and down some ATV trail that I found..



The after party...



This little girl smoked me on her three wheeler...

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