Something to Think About
“At the edge of history the only thing equal is the Alternate Reality”
Yeah. think about that.
– – – –
ok, before I get roll’n, let’s take a minute to chill out with a mellow tune…. yes, listen to the lyrics. Or don’t
now I’m ready to crank it up… so check out my current music addiction, Lil Peep. Put this one on replay, repeat, re-something. Just because.
** Full Disclosure
This race report focuses more on the ‘mental’ adventure versus the ‘digital’ adventure. When I finished the ITI 350 v2017 I was all about the data, all about the 1s and 0s. (ONES and ZEROS) Not this time. BUT, if you want the 1s and 0s, you’ll find the data later in this race report. So chill out MoFo.
So… check out the ITI v2017 BPR race report via this link. IT WAS MAGICAL…
or f*^k’n crazy.
** One More Thought
“At the edge of history The only thing equal to reality is fiction”
** Ok. Let’s get going on this Race Report
Iditarod Trail Invitational v2019. Fear and Loathing, Fame and Fortune, Death and Destruction.
Why the title? Keep reading. Or don’t. But Keep an Open Mind
R-A-N-D-O-M … T-H-O-U-G-H-T-S
The Next 30 Minutes of Info is all RANDOM THOUGHTS. Just relax and digest… Dude.
The Chaos Prior to The Start
The ITI 350 almost didn’t happen… at the back of the pack. The Ti-Machine is a busy Corporate Dude, in an educational sense. Me, The Judd, The Philosofizer has a shit ton of irrelevant and irrational things going on.
So, The pre race chaos challenged my stress threshold. The anxiety went exponential, for no rational reason. This chaos, this stress, this anxiety almost took me down.
I really didn’t think I had it in me. I wasn’t prepared for the stress associated with the pain and suffering. I knew I wasn’t prepared for the mental stress. I was stuck in the gutter of life and couldn’t dig myself out. And I almost chicken-ed out. But didn’t
I had a digital huddle with the Ti-Machine, who had a side secret side conference with The Preacher… and next thing I knew… I was in Anchorage.
The Note to Ti-Machine, 6 days before RACE DAY
Yo Ti-Machine…. “My mind is playing tricks on me. I think the stress of work (radar broke last week, we can’t find the issue) and the stress of ITI has put me in a lower ring of hell. I’m really dragging. (Plus I hurt my back real bad last Thursday, couldn’t walk without extreme pain. It’s a bit better now.) anyway. I’m trying to dig myself out. But all the snow the last few days and super warm forecast is messing up my brain. Yep, I’ve never had self doubts like this, except for last year at Yenta Station. (But I think that was due to my immune system illness.) Anyway. What is your level of excitement? I’m sure I can rally. I hope. But it would be death if we both get up there and are thinking we should be chill’n at home and focused on stupid work. Geez. Life is actually easier when The Morale Chairman is constantly yelling at me. Funny. On a positive note. The forecast looks tropical for the next 10 days. Just don’t know when the rivers start to melt and crack. Crazy. “
And if you are confused. Can’t comprehend how anyone could be fighting ITI induced anxiety Or just want to watch a movie.
I suggest: High Anxiety… The Movie
And then in Anchorage
Yeah, in Anchorage. Shit was not going as planned. Although shit was going as predicted. Chaos. Ludacracy. Stress. Anxiety. Fear of the Unknown. Shit hit the fan. And then a classic message from The Preacher.
Needless to say… this little reminder of our position in The Universe guaranteed that we would show at the ITI start line and cross the ITI 350 Finish Line. So we figured.
And Then The Preacher Called Us the night before THE RACE.
… And This I What The Preacher Said… Kinda
“I Wi$h I was there. You’ll love the Adventure. It’ll Change your Life / LIVES. And You MoFos will be Lovers… BPR Style”.
Or something Like that.
And Next Thing I knew…
Next thing I knew… I was on a bus to Knik. And thank GOD!
And… cuz someone will ask: Why single speed?
Yeah. Before we go DEEP into the Iditarod Race Experience, I know you want to ask “Should you roll a single speed?”.
Well, Hell. OF COURSE NOT. WHAT ARE YOU, CRAZY?
If you are confused. Then don’t be. If you have to ask about the single speed decision, then it’s not for you. Seriously. Sometimes decisions and lifestyles can’t be explained or defended. And that is that.
Life Just Gets Better
Before we dig deep into the Psycho-Babble-Ramble. Just think about this. Just remember this.
Life gets way better at the river
Life gets way better once the sun sets
Life gets better once the sun rises
Life will get better once we reach the summit
Life is so much better once we get out of the hills
Life is so so much better after a double cheeseburger
Life gets way better in the woods
The Reality of The Race
Ok. Let’s migrate into some race thoughts, like thoughts about the race. Just because.
So PreRace Philosophy… Verified by PostRace Philosophy… From the Philofizer…
My approach to these races must be explained, briefly. Or briefly Explained. Or something like that. Yeah. Otherwise you won’t understand the direction of my Soliloquy, the motivation of my rambles, the super-natural guidance of my philosophy. That’s right, I’m The Philosofizer.
So. I’m not into the isolation, inner reflection bullshit. I live alone. I think alone. I dream alone. So when I go on adventures I wanna laugh, I wanna create chaos, I wanna make memories with brothers from other mothers. And that is just the way it is… seriously. I ‘FIND’ myself every morning, every morning when I’m driving to the Local Prison Camp.
So I’m not searching for myself in the Iditarod Trail. I’m searching for laughs, for brotherhood… BPR Style, and of course for Peace Love and Hippiness. Just Say’n.
So this race and adventure is not about personal growth or finding The Inner Judd. These adventures are for reminding me what The Inner Judd ‘is’, reminding me what it’s all about @ the back of the pack, reminding me that all humans, from various states, countries, walks-of-life, can cruise along a trail and operate as brothers & sisters from another mother. Or something like that.
So. No preaching here. Cuz I ain’t The Preacher. But BPR has a preacher, The Preacher aka The Leader of BPR Michigan. I just write This History from my moonlighting duties as The Hustorian.
Ok. Enough of this S*^T
Ok. Not Quite Enough
The brain is a powerful tool
Before we dig deep into the Alternate Reality. Let’s discuss the Tools of Chaos. The Machines of The Alternate Reality. Basically. Let’s (like ‘let us’) acknowledge The Brain. Because…
The brain is a lethal weapon. And the brain’s failure rate is usually unacceptable and timing is unpredictable.
And when the brain fails and when the brain fails at random times… you are F*^K’D. And that is the challenge of the Iditarod Trail Invitational. Where are you gonna be, what are you gonna be doing when THE BRAIN F*^KS YOU. And it will. Seriously. Something to think about. Or not.
Maybe I will remind you of that. Maybe I won’t. But let it be known, as us BPR freaks, past present future, cruised the Iditarod Trail, we all realized that control of The Brain was fundamental to success. And survival = success. I think.
Ok. HERE WE GO!
The Race Data. The Data I Care About. The Data You DON’T CARE ABOUT
Or… What you single speed freaks really want. Maybe.
Full Disclosure. My data analysis algorithms include a decision point, threshold for walking vs riding, This threshold was set at 2mph. BUT. I know that causes errors. Cuz Ti-Machine is a machine. We were pushing the fat titanium machines in excess of 2.5mph, at times. So… I need to rerun the data. Maybe.
But check this out. The ones and zeros processed. This data is insanely valuable. Try to find it out there on the Interweb. Anyway….
The Best of the Best. Memories of The Days on The Trail
All the memories, all the chaos, all the minute-by-minute battles with The Demons… not going there. But here are few highlights. If you are super motivated you can scroll down and find some super fascinating thoughts documented by The Ti-Machine, stolen by The Philosofizer. Just Say’n
Anyway. Some Highlights from The Iditarod Trail
Day 1. Knik to Yenta
click the link for the pics, dude
ITI 350 v2019: Day 1. Knik to Yentna
Three Primary Themes of Day 1
A Shit Show. Throw’n Down The Power. The Sleep Monster Attacked.
A Shit Show:Holy Hell. Watch the Trackleaders ITI 2019 replay. Or Don’t. But it was obviously that us ‘2’, that’s TWO, single speed freaks ‘got’ smoked the 1st 30+ mile of day one. The Start. The asphalt. The soft snow, Flathorn Lake, more soft snow. HELL. Yeah. Slush Puppy was introduced to not so mashed, mashed potatoes. (You won’t understand). But yeah. Tough way to start Day 1.
But Remember. Life gets way better at the river
Throw’n Down The Power: Once we FINALLY reached The River… we (I) were (was) in HEAVEN. But then the temperature dropped at the river. The temp slid to -25F. Not a big deal. We were kinda surprised. But we were prepared.
Although. We did ‘throw down the power’ and motored past a large number of racers. And let me tell you… The Look in The Eyes was CRAZY.
The Sleep Monster Attached: Geez. Day 1 was a long day. It was like -25F on The River. I was tired. I couldn’t keep my eyes open. So I said “Ti-Machine. You gotta lead the way. I need something to focus on, to keep me awake, like your tire or something”. So Ti-Machine took the challenge like a crazed single speed fanatic. It was Full Throttle for miles and mile and miles.
And then we arrived at Checkpoint 1. Yentna Station. And we dealt with the human chaos. 20+ racers. Easily. Chaos. And it was fun to watch.
Day 2. Yenta to Skwentna
click the link for the pics, dude
ITI 350 v2019: Day 2. Yentna to Skwentna
One Thought. All Day. The Pizza Vision. Geez. I hate to say it. But Yentna to Skwentna is a nice, relaxing ride… in 2019. The Ti-Machine and I just kicked it into overdrive and made it happen. And, just maybe, we were driven by a simple goal. Pizza… Preacher Style and some sleep.
More on that later. Or not. But Day 2 was recovery day, before a rest night, or something like that. And check out the pic below. We were on a BIG A$$ River and with a Big A$$ Mountain in the background.
Day 3. Skwentna to Puntilla Lake
click the link for the pics, dude
ITI 350 v2019: Day 3. Skwentna to Puntilla Lake
I may be on vacation. But I think I’ll put in an A+ Effort Today.
Before I get into the History… here are some trail-side-thoughts… Between Biscuits & Grazy and Cheeseburgers. Just Say’n.
Day 3 was a big day. It started out as another ‘easy’ day. But we rolled into Shell Lake around lunch, after an easy 15 miles, and I pitched the strategy to the Ti-Machine.
“Dude. We need to cruise to Finger Lake, then hammer it to Puntilla Lake. Cuz we need to rest prior to the Rainy Pass hike-a-bike, we need to time our departure to Rainy Pass. So go hard, go long, rest & then make it an ‘epic-before-epic-is-epic’ journey over Rainy Pass.”
Well. Ti-Machine thought about it for like… 2 seconds. And then the strategy was set.
And there is more to the story. Maybe you will read to the end and understand the story, maybe not. But let me just say….
“Don’t worry. The last 10 miles to Puntilla Lake is flat. We can almost coast there. I think.”
Yeah. Not so. As we found out.
And because of that failed memory I didn’t eat or drink much asfter the happy steps. And then body crashed hard. Dumb thoughts. Dumb brain. Wrong memories.
But we survived.
Day 4. A Day of Rest. A Day for A Feast. A Day for Rest
So… Ti-Machine woke me up at like 7:30AM. But I was already awake. Been awake for 1 hr. Listening to Lil Peep. Meditating. Yep. I was doing my meditation thing. But it was dark out. So the Ti-Machine was in ‘crazy mode’.
Ti-Machine said “I’m done. I’m going home”. Or something like that.
I replied. “Dude. Give it 20 hours. The sun is not up yet. No need to make a decision.”
So. 12 hours later. I said “dude How you feeling?”
Ti-Machine Replied. “Why? What did I say? ”
I explain how he was ‘done’. Ti-Machine’s response “Oh. It was still dark, that doesn’t count. I’m good to go”
Ha Ha Ha… Ti-Machine and The Judd got it all figured out. Just Say’n. We are Brothers from Another Mother. No doubt.
click the link for the pics, dude
ITI 350 v2019: Day 4. A Stationary Day @ Rainy Pass Lodge
Why Turn the Cranks when you Can Eat and Sleep and Socialize
Shit Dude. Shit Dudette. We ‘hammered it home’ to Puntilla Lake. So the only options: 1) keep going, 2) wait for the next cycle of Planet Earth and make a run for Rainy Pass.
So. We waited. We rested. It was Awesome. And I saw Buckey’s Museum. And Ti-Machine slept. And then Ti-Machine changed his ‘ratio’. And I don’t know why he did it. But… it’s all cool.
Day 5. Puntilla Lake to Rohn
click the link for the pics, dude
ITI 350 v2019: Day 5. Rainy Pass to Rohn
Walking Uphill and then Walking Downhill
Yeah. Rainy Pass. That means Puntilla Lake (Rainy Pass Lodge) to Rohn. Wow.
We woke up late. Missed the ‘northern lights’. But our buddy David Frearson snapped this pic.
It was a tough day. Ending in an awesome ITI camp at Rohn. Wow. So cool. So cool to hike over the pass, hike down the pass, ride the Dalzell Gorge. And Chill in Rohn. Live’n The Dream… on the ITI.
More to the story. Keep Reading. But how about this Vid.
Day 6. Rohn to Nikolai
click the link for the pics, dude
ITI 350 v2019: Day 6. Rohn to Nikolai
Anyway. Rohn to Nikolai is as long a$$ grind. But we made it. We had issues. We suffered. We survived.
There is The sleep Monster and then there is THE SLEEP MONSTER.
The Sleep Monster
This was by far the craziest s*^t that ever happened to me… well a bit more ‘crazy’ compared to when I was attacked by demons at the Zuni 100 in ~ 2014, when Tedd aka The Morale Chairman, and the Lt Col helped me fight the ghosts, or in 2016 when Deuce was there to fight the white monsters. No joke. Just ask all these MoFos. Yeah. Ask Steve about ITI v2019. This ain’t no joke. jokester.
If you have no idea what I am talking about, scroll down to Ti-Machine’s memory dump… it’s all there. And it’s accurate.
The Playlist. The Psychosis of The Data
So, in The Inner Circle of Back of the Pack Racing it is well know that I, the Philosofizer, is all about algorithms, all about data, all about machine learning, and all about the alternate reality. Yeah MoFo. You may be living in your reality, but it ain’t The Reality. And Machine Learning is the foundation for F*^k’n You up, in reality. Or something like that.
So be careful dude. every key stroke on your computer is being logged. You are being programmed. Or something like that.
Anyway. My mind is all about algorithms. I’m all about projecting numbers, manipulating numbers, surviving bad numbers. I’m all about algorithms.
So I have a hard time on these crazy a$$ adventures. Because I’m always extrapolating today to tomorrow to the next day. And it’s not like i’m in a hurry. It’s because I’m a single speed freak. I’m creating an algorithm, updating the training sequence (machine learning MoFo), I’m working on a strategy to control the leg fatigue. No kidding. No Shit.
Ok. So. During the Rohn to Nikolai segment I developed a new strategy. Like a self help strategy. I’d listen to a playlist, versus focusing on my GPS. I’d slow down my brain, thus deal with the anxiety at a lower period, like slower PRF, or something like that.
And it worked. Below is my Playlist. 3 cycles through the playlist = 5 miles, at night and on level trail. AND…. The Ti-Machine now LOVES Lil Peep. Seriously.
Again. MoFo. This Lil Peep Playlist was ‘on’ for 2 days. It saved me from algorithm overload. And The Ti-Machine is now Love’n tattoo’d freaks. I think.
One more thought about Nikolai. Maybe.
So. Nikolai is a famous ITI checkpoint for many reasons. This year we a) had a hard time finding the checkpoint, it was like midnight, no lights no nothing. we circled and circled and cursed and cussed, it was f*^k’n bad. Check out the gps info.
Then we arrived. Lucas and Curious George were crazy. And that is a story for another day.
And here we were on the ‘ice. Before Nikolai
Day 7. Nikolai to McGrath. 350 finish.
ITI 350 v2019: Day 7. Nikolai to McGrath
So. We woke up with 45 or something miles to go. T-Machine was going NUTS. Like so nuts… his new alias is Wrecking Ball. or Wreck’n Ball.
The Final Day… Ti-Machine woke me up around 5AM and said “I’m rested, I’m good, but I found a great place to sleep, under that pool table, so I’m going back to sleep.”
I said “Fuck, cool” Why rush. Then I started moving about 2 hours later.
I asked Curious George about the weather. He said “no idea, I’ll check later”
I went outside to pack my bike. Full on blizzard. I raced in and kicked Ti-Machine. I said “It’s a fucking blizzard. We gotta get going. We gotta ride as much as possible until we hike-a-bike to the finish”. So we packed shit up. We ate a few more cheeseburgers and..
And I asked Curious George about the weather forecast. He said “3 to 4 inches”. F-U-C-K! I was thinking ‘I asked you about the forecast 20 min again. You said ‘no idea’. So… what’s the deal’.
Actually, after I ate the cheeseburger, Curious George extended his hand. I was caught off guard, he grabbed my hand in that awkward moment where I had a ‘chick’ grip. So… we had a hand grasp, not a hand-shake, I was in the stuck in the moment… with the awkward bad grasp. It was embarrassing. You know. that shit happens.
Post Race Pics and Comments
click the link for the pics, dude
The Days After. Amazing. I’m Living The Dream. I can’t explain. But Ti-Machine can, will. So… just look at the pictures. Relax.
And Cycle back to the Pre Race Chaos. Just Pics
click the link for the pics, dude
ITI 350 v2019: The Chaos Before Race Day
A Reflection on The Iditarod Reality… Back the Pack Style… Single Speed Style
Ok. Enough Reflections. If you are still with me… lets f*^k’n take a deep breath, you MoFos may toke a bit, I’ll just meditate… but let’s just ramble with some thoughts.
Powerful Quotes. To Lead You Through Life. A Life Outside of The Easy Reality
“At the edge of history The only thing equal to reality is fiction”
“At the edge of history the only thing equal is the Alternate Reality”
“At the edge of history, which is where we are, the only thing real is the future”
All quotes are from famous MoFos. And all quotes define The Lifestyle @ the Back of the Pack… and two of those quotes are from a famous MoFo that roles in Patches and Plaid. (Or Patches and Black. Same Difference.)
Let’s Talk About the Ti-Machine, actually, The Alias
Why Does the BPR Crew all role out with the Alias? Simple. Plausible Deniability. Should I explain? No. But. Plausible Deniability @ the back of the pack…
Ti-Machine… Alias # 1 for… The Ti-Machine.
If you’re curious of the adventure, of what type of ‘character’ rolls at the back of the pack, ask Ti-Machine about his 1994 bike ride from Fairbanks to Iowa City. Then ask about how he was sponsored by Wendy’s. Yes, free triple cheeseburgers. Now you know Ti-Machine is an alias that was earned on multiple dimensions of the Alternate Reality.
Yo Know, The Judd, The Philosophizer is addicted to Double Cheeseburgers. BUT The Ti-Machine was sponsored by WENDY’S and had vouchers for all the Triple Cheeseburgers he could eat. Hell. And you question that we are Brothers from Another Mother. Damn.
And now that you have ‘digested’ the crazy reality of a Fairbanks to Iowa City ride, think about this.
1995 Iditasport. The dude rolled up to the 1995 Iditasport race… sponsored, with cheeseburgers.
1997 Fairbanks to Iowa City Again. Why? Because. It’s the Ti-Machine!
And then you think it can’t get weird-er… It does. I forget if it was 1994 or 1997. (I think it was 1994). The Ti-Machine was finishing his ride into Iowa. Somewhere in Minnesota, because the dude traversed through Canada instead of the northern ’48’. Anyway. The Ti-Machine sensed something weird. Like a helicopter following him. Next thing he knew, the helicopter came to a hover and landed right in front of him. WHAT THE HELL? Military? Super Secret MoFos from The Deep State. Nope. It was a local (Iowa City Local) television station that was following his ‘epic-before-epic-was-epic’ ride. And ‘they’ simply wanted to catch up with Ti-Machine on the ‘road’ for an interview.
And of Course. Ti-Machine designed, fabricated, welded this single speed fat machine. No joke. The Ti-Machine built his ITI bike. Hell. Famous. Fame and Fortune. Ti-Machine Style.
No Joke. Ti-Machine… An alias earned WAY BEFORE I started creating The Alias Thing to provide Plausible Deniability and Protect those that Need to be Protected.
So. Let’s talk about a few new Alias IDs that Ti-Machine Earned during the ITI 350.
Dude. Go back to Day 1. I asked Ti-Machine to take the lead. I needed a frame of reference, something to focus on. Next thing I know… The Ti-Machine is hauling A$$… like Full Throttle. Yeah. MoFo. I’m 45. The freak is 60. I couldn’t keep up with the freak… the Ti-Machine. The MoFo was going Full Throttle.
Flesh Gordon. (Caveman style)
Damn. Dude. This Alias is simple. If you roll out on the trial with The Ti-Machine… you’ll see some flesh. Example. I was talking to myself. I was debating ‘tire pressure’. I thought Ti-Machine was engaged in the conversation. I thought we were a team. BUT… I looked to my left… nothing but flesh… like leg flesh, like a$$ flesh. Nothing but Flesh Gordan. Just Say’n.
Wrecking Ball… The Wrecking Ball
Yes, I, Judd, The Philosofizer, The Hustorian, The Leader. I am Back of the Pack Racing. I come up with most of the Alias ‘IDs’. Cuz I care. But let me just say…. Wrecking Ball is the best, THE BEST alias that I’ve ever, like EVER, generated. No Joke.
Ti-Machine = The Wrecking Ball. I f*^k’n laughed for days after coming up with this alias.
But… Seriously. There are so many stories on why. Let’s pick the final 24 hours of the ITI
- A breaker, like electrical breaker, was tripped. at some time. Lights in the crapper worked. then the lights didn’t. then the lights did. Sometime in the chaos The Ti-Machine decided that drop’n base in the dark was OK, even if the lights worked. So, at like 6:30AM, after the lights were fully functional, the Wrecking Ball went into the crapper, left the door open, dropped a gut bomb, door wide open, then walked over to me. I said “Ti-Machine, you could’ve shut the door”. The dude said, “lights don’t work” I said “Uh, the lights are working for the next dude, see”.
- Yep. Wrecking Ball.
- So we are chilling at the ITI 350 finish. We, us single speed freaks, were tired. But I stayed up a bit, pounding beer. The Ti-Machine went to sleep, on a couch in the sleep zone. So. I finally went to the sleep zone. And… Ti-Machine was sawing logs. It was NUTS. the snoring was so loud that I was laughing, like laughing my a$$ off. Well. there were 2 love-birds in the safe zone. (Don’t ask me how love-birds made it to the ITI 350 finish, but hey, they did. Well. Full Disclosure. One Love-Bird is a Champion. So… I / we knew what was going on. Dude. Yeah. F*^k’n Champion in more ways than one!) Anyway. I saw the love-birds cuddling, like Prob-eee style, And then the love-birds got f*^k’n pissed at the Ti-Machine snore machine. Eventually I fell asleep. Eventually the love-birds left the ITI 350 finish cabin and went to a local hotel… yeah. So…
- Yep. Wrecking Ball forced 2 love-birds out of a love-nest. Total F*^k’n Wrecking Ball.
The Random Thoughts. Random Lack of Thoughts. On The Trail
This next set of random thoughts makes no SENSE to anyone but me and the Back of the Pack Racing Crew. But… I’ll put in a few comments. You won’t understand. I think.
The Inter Dimensional Agent.
Do some research: Buckaroo Bonsai and the Inner Mountain Aliens. Seriously.
BackPacks and EarPlugs.
So MoFo. It’s just experience.
- If you are traveling on the Iditarod Trail… you need earplugs. Cuz shit gets loud, at night. especially when old dudes are on the back with necks back, like at Rohn.
- to be a bit more forward… if you don’t bring earplugs, you ain’t sleep’n. So plan for it.
- I hate backpacks, but I’m working on the ‘management’ of heat. So I decided to run ‘cold’ for the ITI. Carry the cold weather gear, hopefully pack away the backpack. Never happened. Cuz it never got super cold. But.. I’m learning. I’m evolving. Although I don’t believe in evolution.
Tealeology. Everything is in pursuit of its perfect form. A Ti-Machine belief.
Think about it: The theory of parallel universes. Or something like that. Let’s revisit this topic. Later.
Why. What. Explain…The Race Report Title.
Fear and Loathing
Dude. Dudette. When you arrive in Anchorage you are
- Dealing with fear of unknown.
- Loathing the fear associated with the know.
I aint’ f*^k’n joking. High Anxiety.
Fame and Fortune
Because. @ Back of the Pack we’ve always been focused on free beer, a beer sponsorship. so… Fame = Fortune = Free Beer.
Well. ITI. Hell. I’m working on the sponsorships. The Fame, The Fortune. Maybe. Someday.
Maybe. Someday. Fame and Fortune. Hookers and Blow. Who knows.
Death and Destruction.
Taco’d wheel, Broken frame, Broken body, Broken ice, Broken mind.
Death and Destruction Dude. And those thoughts hit you about 1 day before you close in on your finish.
Anything goes wrong on the Iditarod Trail.. Death and Destruction. Totally. Maybe.
Why the ITI?
What’s the reason for the ITI adventure? Just adventure? Just challenge? How about the Mystique of the famous Iditarod Trail. F*^k. I don’t know. Ask me next year.
Comparison to Other Ultra Endurance Adventures… Endurance?
What’s different compared to Arrowhead 135?
Maybe: The Isolation. The feeling, the complete reality that no one will rescue or save you, or maybe even care if you took a dirt nap. You start in a remote historical location. And are truly isolated from reality until the finish. And, if you fuck up… you die. Maybe. Maybe not.
The After Race Stuff
Post Race Re-Compression
Decompression? No. Re-Compression. Who the hell do you think we are… athletes?
Do you really think that I’d admit that “this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done”. Do you really think I’d say “this f*^k’n experience changed me forever”.
Come on. Hell. A dude on the bike in Alaska doesn’t compare to the challenges faced by the normal people in the real reality. It’s just riding a bike… So says Charles Barkley.
Let’s Continue the Diarrhea of the Mouth & Mind, with some random comments
Hoarding The Coulombs. The milliAmp-Hours. And The Power, Like P = V*I
So… I started out with a set of batteries. a standard set of batteries that provide a reasonable about of MilliAmp Hours. Anyway….
Think about this.
I finished with
# of CR123 = ?
# of AA = ?
# of AAA = ?
Total mAh = 1000000 mAH, or something. But who cares.
I don’t CARE about coulombs!
I started with a shit ton of batteries. I used 2 AAs. I used 2 nitecore 3500 mAh batteries. that’s it! And I finished with all this SHIT. It a SHIT ton of mAhs. It’s serious dead weight. Like coulomb weight. Like mAh weight!
Shit. I gotta battle excess coulombs and I gotta battle excess calories. Hell
So.. I finished with 6900 calories. I started with 8070 calories. I ‘dropped’ 14680 calories.
And I ate a TON of cheeseburgers on the trail. So… yeah. I flew to AK as a phat f*^k’r. I flew home as a real massive phat f*^k’r. No joke.
Final thoughts. Will I do the 1000?
How the hell would I know. But yeah. Some day. Depends on the local prison camp. Depends on the vacation days that I can save up, depends on my application for Tax-Payer funded mortgage payments. Depends. Just Depends. But that is my goal.
But I am also closing in on retirement. Ha Ha Ha. Yeah. I’m only 45 but retirement is like RIGHT THERE.
Lots of shit to balance. Lots of algorithms required to balance this shit.
and the end
Oh Wait. Not the End. Let’s Read, Reflect, Think, Philosofize. The Ti-Machine documented some insane thoughts on the ITI adventure. and I’ll keep updating this section, and I will reformat this section. and…
And all this is re-documented with The Ti-Machine’s Approval / Blessing. I think.
Ti-Machine. Day 1
15 miles in we were looking out over bottom land, aware that the snow was getting impossible to ride three feet. To get to this spot Judd and I had ridden, from the start, maybe a mile on trail out of Knik, another 12 on road, and then another 2 miles. It was everything to have Judd’s knowledge and experience of the Iditarod Trail. With his insight as a context the event was at once possible to imagine, and and adventure story he told.
We had hoped that when we made the turn to Flathorn Lake at mile 26 we would be golden, as far as being able to pedal. As it turned out the temperature dropped maybe 35 degrees to -25 over about two hours, and at mile 26 we scrambled to add layers, which we had delayed doing, but we still pushed. My left Neo over-boot was frozen in a crinkle at the heal and my boot would not go all the way in. Judd was up and fully layered with double balaclavas, and I did not want for either of us to get any colder so we started walking. I thought because I had a bit of room to play with there would be no issues in getting the Neos on. I ended up pushing the bike another 10 miles with my boot not quite seated. The walk across Flathorn seemed to follow the contour of the east shore more than we thought it should, and it was five miles.
And then we could ride as we approached the Yentna River. We took off in a sprint for Yentna Station. We probably passed around 10 folks on bikes, and the lead runners, who arrived at the Yentna via another wooded route. The river track was fast.
Usually in a 24 hour event my legs will get single speed cramps after the first 10 hours, and boy did I have them. I pedaled on through full-on cramps because of the cold, and because experience has taught me they eventually leave. They never returned the rest of the event.
People ask, “what do you think about?” Honestly, nothing. I just think about what’s in front of me – am I warm, do I need to eat, do I need to drink, how sleepy am I, next time I stop I should move food to my chest pocket and rotate my hydroflasks…is my pace okay…..repeat, am I maintaining warmth, do I need to eat, do I need to drink, how sleepy am I, next time I stop I should move food to my chest pocket and rotate my hydroflasks…
When we were looking out over the bottom land I had in my mind that we may actually need to push the next 40 miles, so having to only push for 6-7 hours was a relief, if pushing 19 miles can be a relief.
Ti-Machine. First Night
That first night I realized there was going to be a vast difference between single speed and gears, in terms of what could be ridden. I never wished I had gears. “Why single speed”, people would ask. Judd has a good answer: “I have a t-shirt that says single speed.”
Judd prepared me for the first day, explaining we might have to push as many as 30 miles. Turned out to be 19. Interestingly, I did not ever think of “oh no, what if..” or cast my thinking beyond Yentna as we pushed through the snow. Sometimes, pushing was ideal for staying warm at -25. We focused on getting to the Yentna (mile 54), and regardless of having to push 19 miles we were very satisfied with both our fortune and performance.
Honestly, it was a motivator to have passed a number of folks, and also to get to Yentna and see we were in good shape, relative to many tortured souls. Fingers, toes and noses in tact, hot water, food…The demons come between 3am and sunrise. Just get to sunrise. The first glimmer of sun the future is bright.
Ti-Machine. Shell Lake and Memories
Shell Lake Lodge. February 26.
So I met Judd and Tedd in 2014 at Arrowhead, at the Gateway checkpoint. They were in their wolly mammoth outfits. I had been following Back of The Pack Racing since googling, “arrowhead 135 single speed”. Their adventure the year before at AH was a hoot, and boy did I dig their sensibility and vision. Then Woody Preacher, then JB Barnhouse started riding and did AH 2015, then Jesse Ramsey spanking all our asses, and Kristi Charles and Andy Peace Train Long and Deuce N Cin Durden. And, then AH became THE THANG, THE BEST THANG EVER!
So,it’s 2019, Judd is a brother from another mother, and we’re out in there single speeding ITI.
The ride to Shell Lake Lodge was fast, relatively, with good track. We were feeling good, having executed, the night before, the first of two long sleeps during the event. When we got Shell Lake Lodge, around mile 99, we had a great lunch. We were there an hour and then headed to Finger Lake and then on to Puntilla Lake, and Rainy Lodge (3am).
The ride from Finger Lake to Puntilla is deserving of a chapter. For now, I’ll simply mention, Happy Steps and Judd saying, “shit, I swear I don’t remember that last ten miles from 2017…” When things got crazy, we simply asked ourselves, “what would Woody do?” And then we’d start laughing and realize we were safe, for the moment.
Ti-Machine. Soft Snow
Swimming in soft snow. Sometimes is was so unconsolidated and deep I had to do the side crawl to get out. Judd documented the ludacracy. One week ago this Friday night (today) we were arriving at Nikolai (12am). Every night the past week my dreams have involved snow (riding, crawling, pushing) and trails ( a blur of white and darkness, up and down) and checkpoints (sprawling onto the floor or ground). And, then a week before that, we were eating lunch at Humpy’s and flowing with anxiety, pre-start. Just bring the start, we said.
Ti-Machine. The Happy Steps.
At anytime in your life you can say that anything that was done to you, or that you did or didn’t do, that could have turned out another way but didn’t, has led to who you are. If you’ve just crossed the finish line, everything pointed you to that spot. If you’re at the bottom of a hill after three times sliding back down, you don’t feel so capable.
I have a sensibility along the lines of teleology – things in pursuit of their perfect form. My dad would say “do things that are beautiful telling”. That’s another way of looking at things in pursuit of their perfect form.
JFC, the Happy Steps almost crushed me. When we left Finger Lake, headed to Puntilla, the sun had yet to set. It was maybe 5:30. We called it – actually Judd called it, well: sleep good at Skwentna, leave the next day, then eat and check in at Finger Lake in the afternoon, and then get to Puntilla Lake and Rainy Pass Lodge by midnight. Maybe this was the most memorable section for me because of what I didn’t do, that could have turned out another way but didn’t, that led me to get out of Puntilla Lake and continue.
In my mind, I knew we could finish the race as we departed Puntilla Lake on …. As we climbed and pushed 13 miles, up and over Rainy Pass, I thought, “I can do this”.
But, 24 hours before, as I slid back down the Happy Step at Happy River, over and over, I felt 60 years old. Judd helped get my bike to the top by crawling half way down, holding a branch, and with the full on grunting of a bull moose tugged my bike, which I had finally managed to wedge on a broken branch three-quarters of the way up the hill that was over 20 degrees pitch, and icey. Andy made us tow straps, in case, but we didn’t use them.
Several steep hills followed. I had to take one step, bench press my bike up, take another, then bench press my bike up, over and over. “Maybe I have finally gotten to a place where I just physically am not capable”, I thought. I thought, “well this is what happens when your 60, so it is what it is”. I did 8 sets of twenty bench presses with my bike over five miles.
Thank god the temp was below zero because it was more important to get to the checkpoint than start thinking. Remember, don’t believe anything you think when things are hard. I adopted a performance of determination, because I needed to, and really maintained a strong pace. I needed to.
As we were within a half mile of Puntilla, Judd said, “I swear, I don’t remember that last ten miles from 2017”. When we started out from Finger Lake it was, “a couple of big climbs, but rollers and then down hill to Puntilla…” Honestly, the adventure of it all – falling, sliding, pushing was so damn fun, as the video reveals.
I’ll leave it at this, for now: wait until sunup to make decisions (after a night on the trail like this). The world is very doable when you see the sun.
Ti-Machine. Day 3: The Ride to Puntilla Lake
Nothing can ever bridge the gap between the person who stayed and the person who went.
18 hours after leaving Skewntna we arrived at Puntilla Lake and Rainy Pass Lodge at 3am. The cabin reserved by ITI was filled with racers, most sleeping. The door did not shut precisely, and needed a firm push. As I stepped in, one of the two bunk beds collapsed onto the person below, and he simply got up, shoved the wood post back into position and crawled back in. The stoked wood stove had the two-room cabin warm. Outside it was clear and below zero. Ramen Noodles. Oatmeal. Hot Tang. Canned chili. We sat on a beat-up couch eating. Two folks were climbing out of the bunks in the other room, which was open to the main room. Shortly Judd and I were asleep in those beds, in our sleeping bags, clothes hanging from beams to dry.
It seemed as though I never fell asleep, but I’m sure I must have for two hours. It was starting to get light out. I rolled over and said, “Judd, I’m done”. Judd calmly said, “we have 20 hours to rest, and the sun’s not up, no need to decide anything.” He didn’t say, “are you sure?” By the time he got to the end of his sentence, I was confirmed. I knew I was good to go. The sun was not up yet. 23 hours later we were headed up Rainy Pass, well rested.
The hardest part of the race was getting to the starting line. As the days got closer to leaving Iowa City I ran out of ways to push aside my work as director, and every hour there would be multiple emails and problems to solve. The anxiety of being away from my job and also Lore and Chris was strong enough that I had to simply plow through and get to the airport, sleepless. And even in Anchorage the pull was intense and I had doubts.
On the day before I left town to go to Minneapolis for my flight, I sent Lore a text: “Nothing can ever bridge the gap between the person who stayed and the person who went.”
As I laid my head down in the cabin at Puntilla, I repeated this to myself because I was spent. When Judd said “ ……the sun’s not up yet” that was a cue to reassert that, “nothing can ever bridge the gap between the person who stayed and the person who went.” Every morning in Anchorage, prior to the start of ITI, Judd and I, as we ate in the Snow city Café, would review the reality that the hardest hours are just before the sun rises.
All through the night on the way to the cabin, I felt strong and confident. I just needed the sun to come up. From that point on I began enjoying that I was going to finish.
This sounds tough, but really it was exhilarating.
The photo, not taken by us, is of the cabin at Puntilla Lake, 4am, on the morning we departed for Rainy Pass. Of course we missed this sight because we left around 5:30 am.
Ti-Machine. The Rainy Pass Adventure. Puntilla Lake to Rohn
I looked through the rectangle opening of the outhouse at Puntilla Lake to see if I could see the Northern Lights, which were forecast to be brilliant that night. Luxuries begin as inventions of necessity. And, I imagined that whoever cut out the 2” think Styrofoam as a toilet seat for the outhouse could never know how many people radiated smiles from deep inside as they sat shitting, soaking up every square inch of warm ass not being frozen.
The outhouse was my last stop at Puntilla before we departed. My four Hydroflask bottles had hot water (two of cocoa, one of Tang and one simply hot water). We were a go. I was happy. From this point on there was no turning back, and I was so grateful to be there. Adventure, lots more funny shit, an alien abduction, buffalo, the most beautiful sites, and the finish, lay in front.
What is a day on ITI, on single speed, without pushing the bike hours on end? Damn, we were good at it, and so we were golden. First in the dark and then in bright sunshine we marched up the pass, the trail drifted over, with only small distances able to be pedaled.
Off course, as if to put an exclamation point on pushing our bikes, buffalo hunters on three snowmobiles passed us three miles from the top and left the trail even more laborious.
But we were 15 miles from Rohn Cabin. And the next section, Dalzell Gorge was coming.
The grandeur of Rainy Pass is omnipresent. In the photo of two cyclists (George Adams and Graham Muir) the tremendous roll of the Alaskan Range, and equally immense vastness of the wilderness, is clear. Swallowed human propulsion in an ocean of white, rolling peaks. What is a better place to imagine yourself, a beach in the Bahamas or Rainy Pass? Really, to arrive at the correct answer, the question to ask is, at which location do the gods reside? Most gods I know, eat vastness and shit inhospitable wonder.
Ti-Machine. The Sleep Monster… an view from the a survivor.
The photo is from the day after the night Judd was almost taken.
“Steve, help, help, help!!!” We were sleeping under a tree, no bivys, sleeping bags on sleeping pads. I could barely hear Judd calling, “help”, because I was using my noise gear: ear plugs and Windstopper skull cap (for Judd’s and anyone’s snoring). This was no act! “Holy shit! scramble”, I thought. He was only a few feet away, and while I heard no animals, I thought Judd was being attacked. Half way out of my bag, I yelled, “Judd, Judd” and tugged on him (at least he was still there). He was paralyzed in place, as he lay. “Thanks, it was on me and wouldn’t let me up”, he said.
At the edge of history, the only thing that remains equal to reality is fiction. AND, the alternate reality. Which means, when you run out of explanations you need to bridge what you know with what’s out there. Even, if it’s way, way out there. So, I accept Judd’s explanation of what was happening at that moment – aliens were abducting him as we lay sleeping in the Alaskan Wilderness. I’m now also a “survivor”, Judd reminded me.
This was just outside of the Rohn tent and checkpoint, around 3:00am.
Only five miles out of Rohn the sleep monster hit us both hard. Maybe it was because we had three hours of sleep in the tent.
A luxurious tent it was! Swinging back the flap of the canvas tent, there was a wood stove on the left with pots of boiling water, and after that a table with rows of packages of reindeer sausage, condiments, buns, oatmeal packets, cups and plastic spoons. And, my new go to drink. Tang!
On the right side was a rectangle bed, 15’ x 6’, front of the tent to the rear, of stacked pine bows covered in burlap. I strategically laid my sleeping bag all the way to the back. As it turned out, the box of food items from drop bags folks decided to leave was next to me. Even though I was mostly full, having eaten two sausages and freeze-dried chicken and rice casserole, when I rolled over and was face to face with the baggie of abandoned Cheezits, I reestablished my eternal love for food that is day-glow orange.
The rule of engagement for sleeping in the tent: “first in, first out”. A constant rotation, over hours, of six exhausted racers, cyclists and foot racers scratching out maybe two hours of sleep each, on pine bows and burlap. Sometimes, a person might have timed it just right, which is what we hoped to do, and get five hours in the tent. A tap on the toes was the signal that it was your turn to get up and get out. I watched the rotation as I sat putting on my boots. The sleeping bags on pine bows, with some of the six folks snoring, some laying down, some getting up, moved like roller dogs at a Kasey’s, at noon. Each person, in the light of headlamps, looked as beat up as a hot dog that’s sat on the rollers for 24 hours.
When Judd and I got the tap, it took only 10 minutes to depart. We had, after four days, firmly established the practice at ITI that all endurance racers adopt instinctively after only one or two ultra events, of preparing to leave a check before we did anything else at the check. Fill bottles, insert batteries, organize food in pockets, and change clothes….
It was 10:00pm, and I filled in our departure times on the time sheet.
Within minutes we were riding on popping ice, webs of cracks visible from our headlamps. Looking over to the left 10’, there was open flowing water. We rode on the ice for hundreds of yards, determining we should just get through with it, rather than turn around. Remember, two heads are better than one, until you both fall in…We knew the popping was of frozen overflow, and at worst we’d only drop to the next layer of ice, and an inspection showed that was maybe a foot. Still, in the dark, in the wilderness, you can’t be sure. Right?
So, there we lay, under a tree in our sleeping bags, when the aliens arrived and tried to take Judd. “Did you really see lights,” he asked the next day.
“You didn’t see any?”
“Well, maybe there were lights.”
Ti-Machine. Trail to Nikolai
Looking rough with two hours sleep, at the end of the Farewell Burn.
I, we, had not slept for over 42 hours before we laid our heads down at Skewntna. Like a car wreck – like when I got hit by a car in ’17 – after 36 hours you remember minute by minute. At least I did. Out of Yentna we averaged a riding speed of around 7mph, and an overall speed of 6mph. Using Judd’s Arrowhead fueling plan we stopped once an hour to eat and drink. (By the way I had only bottles, and Judd bottles and a bladder). We passed a number of folks, and made steady progress. The day was sunny and the course exclusively the river (the river can be incredibly monotonous to ride on), until the last little bit up the bank and through the woods to Skewntna Roadhose. We arrived at 3:30pm.
The Alaska Range was getting closer, and was alluring. But, I was so sleepy. The reason why sleep is overrated is because adrenaline and only having to pedal (or push) is enough for you to make progress, and progress determines all, mentally. For me it was sometimes disconcerting when my speech was imprecise because of a lack of sleep. I would swallow multi-syllable words. I said “cinnamon roll” six times to Cindy, the operator of Skewntna Roadhose, eating the word “cinnamon” three times before I went to sleep.
Our plan was now to stay behind most cyclists and in front of most runners (the single speed position), so as to better secure a bunk at the roadhouse, and later a spot in the Rohn tent. We worried about our chances at Skewntna and put the single speed hammer down to get there.
We got to Skwentna and I could say “lasagna” and Judd said “pizza”. And then, “room and beds”. God, I slept, and so did Judd. The snoring crushed the walls, but ear plugs, the most under-spoken-of tool, do indeed work! We had a visitor in the night who woke Judd and climbed into the top bunk for an hour. Always, eventually sleep overcomes adrenaline. I’m guessing that, like Judd, that within seconds of my head going down deep snoring began.
Judd told me a very funny story about my snoring and a couple snuggling in McGrath…..When I woke to eat a cinnamon roll they were gone and Judd was ripping the buzz saw.
Ti-Machine Feeling Crazy
Well, about a week and a half ago we finished the Iditarod Trail Invitational. We, being Judd and me. Every night since then my dreams have included elements, pieces of the experience – snow, soft trail, pushing, anticipating a checkpoint….
It was nice to return to the trail 24 years after completing the Iditasport, which I now know from John Stampstead’s page was 170 miles (in 1995).
After Puntilla Lake the race changes mentally. I’ve never had heroin, but I can imagine the chemical cocktail of ITI might be more potent. Lil Peep which Judd played over and over is not quite as potent .
Would I do it again? I said no. NO, NEVER, NEVER..
BUT…I would return with the right crew. I’ve toured tens of thousands of miles, with many folks, in sometimes difficult conditions. I know from experience that people who in your everyday life are fine, would be a disaster as a partner on tour, and especially at ITI. I’ll pivot and say, my point is Judd is exceptional to ride with and to navigate extreme situations. So, if Judd says, I need to get Tedd Rohwer up there, that would be a siren song.
The image a person has of themselves and how they deal with frustration determines everything.
Contrasting what is within you with the immensity of wilderness you get a proper sense of the consequence and significance of your concerns. Your concerns rate zero.
This sets the stage for The Great Ludacracy, which is the Great ITI Chemical Cocktail .
Accepting vulnerability is essential, and of course it’s not simple. Navigating vulnerability requires not biting on frustration or judgment…Biting on frustration undermines your relationship with your dreams and goals.
Judd and I are not fast, but what we had was the Realm of Single Speed – not biting on frustration – pushing 60 miles. The alternate reality involves taking a deep breath and then moving forward…and lots of double cheeseburgers.
Oh Wait. Not the End. Here is a Breakdown of the Data. Checkpoint to Checkpoint. (Plus Shell Lake)
Day 1. Knik to Yenta
Day 2. Yenta to Skwentna
Day 3. Skwentna to Puntilla Lake
Data. Skwentna to Shell lake
Data. Shell Lake to Finger Lake
Data. Finger Lake to Puntilla Lake (Rainy Pass Lodge)
Day 4. Puntilla Lake to Rohn
Day 5. Rohn to Nikolai
Day 6. Nikolai to McGrath. 350 finish
2 thoughts on “Iditarod Trail Invitational v2019: Fear and Loathing, Fame and Fortune, Death and Destruction”
[…] I figured most people wouldn’t follow the link to the pics in ITI 350 race report. https://backofthepackracing.com/2019/03/20/iditarod-trail-invitational-v2019-fear-and-loathing-fame-… […]
[…] Man. I was busy the last 2 months. Ok. No I wasn’t, I was CONSUMED the last 2 months. Iditarod Trail Invitational consumed all my thoughts and energy and actions. And then the ITI recovery… recovery? Whatever. (Just to plug the ITI adventure: Iditarod Trail Invitational v2019: Fear and Loathing, Fame and Fortune, Death and Destruction) […]