With the White Mountain Race coming up quickly and the Susitna 100 (Brian is doing this not me) we decided it was time to really get out there and test out our gear and put in some good hard miles. Saturday we woke up at 6am and drove up to Willow to start a long ride.
The moon was spectacular as we loaded up the bikes in the dark.
We arrived at the boat launch at Deshka Landing just around sunrise and loaded up the bikes. I still don't have much weight on my actual bike. I am used to carrying weight on my back and don't understand why more people don't do this on bikes. I'm sure I'll find out soon enough, but to me it makes more sense to have most of the weight over my center of gravity on the bike.
This week I'm going to get a front rack in order to strap my sleeping bag, bivy and foam pad to, and I have a seat bag on the way from Epic Designs, but I am going to carry some weight in a backpack on my back unless I find that there is some disadvantage to this.
The temperature was 15 degrees at the car, but that quickly dropped to zero as we got down onto the Susitna River. We required a quick wardrobe change before we were ready to go.
The riding was flat and the conditions were great and I found the going easy as we started the 15 miles down the Susitna to the intersection with the Yentna. It was especially easy to ride in the tracks made by snow machines pulling sleds behind. But only a certain kind of sled makes for easy going.
Once we turned up the Yentna it felt slighty uphill and the snow got soft from the sun. This became difficult for me. I guess I've been spoiled on the pansy packed down, rock hard trails of Anchorage.
Flat rides are mentally and physically torturous for me, because of the non stop pedaling against the resistance of the snow. It's pretty much "pedal, pedal, pedal" the whole way with no break.
I don't remember what the exact conversation was late in the ride that sparked the quote that inspired the title of this post but it went something like this...
Brian: "How ya doin'?"
Me: "OK... actually, this hurts."
Brian: "We're almost there. It's beautiful though, right?"
Me: "It was pretty when it was easy. Now it's just pain."
After about 4 1/2 hours of riding we saw the sign for Luce's Lodge, climbed the steep hill to the lodge and parked our bikes...
Luce's is a fantastic place to stay. Not because of fancy rooms or food(although the food is good) or amenities, but because the Luce's (Janice and Dave) are really kind and generous people and it they make you feel very much at home in their lodge.
You walk in and you are greeted with free coffee and warm stove, cheeseburgers, great french fries and beer. We were amazed at how many snow machiners were stopping in, making this remote lodge pretty crowded during lunchtime.
Our cozy room at the lodge, where I took a nap in the evening while Brian went out for another 20 or so miles of riding in the dark.
They even have a hot tub where you can soak tired muscles and watch the sun set. In the morning we were greeted by the moon again and a huge breakfast prepared by the Luce's.
At 9:30 it was time to pack up the bikes and hit the trail again. It was 10 degrees at the lodge and zero again when we dropped down to the river.
The sun was so bright on the ride back down the Yentna that it was hard to take photos. Brian would occasionally disappear into the sunlight and then reappear when he stopped to let me catch up.
The view of Denali was spectacular on the way back up the Susitna. This picture doesn't do it justice. We were a little surprised at what seemed to be steam coming up off of this section of open river.
As we got closer to Deshka Landing where the car was parked my legs were screaming at me for not training more in these conditions. It made me realize that I cannot train in Anchorage much anymore on the weekends leading up the White Mountain Race. The snow is just too packed down to provide enough resistance.
As I approached the end of the ride, I had one more look back at the river that really was pretty even when it got hard.