Earlier today I stumbled upon this photo I took near Belanger Pass during last year’s Sheep Mountain bike race in Alaska. It’s a photo that brings back a massive flood of memories, not all of which are good. In fact I’m sitting here wiggling my big toes in my shoes just to make sure the frostbite didn’t finally get them (learned a valuable lesson there, that’s for sure). This area had an odd feel, as if someone were looking over my shoulder the entire time I was there. Maybe it had something to do with the story I was told of the miner that lives somewhere out in that lonely expanse who has not left his valley for over 15 years.
I look at this photo and start to wonder about the history of the area: who were the Belangers and what were they doing in this isolated place to begin with? Of course that stern, puritanical voice that occasionally shouts from the back of my skull reminds me he was probably doing something a little more productive than riding a bike in the snow, however. I wonder if that odd feeling was from the eyes of the current inhabitant out spying on us fat bikers while making sure we were treating his space with dignity? Maybe it was the paranoia of fatigue? But since I almost always subscribe to the simplest explanation, I’ll assume it was the ghosts that inhabit the valley watching me. There must be ghosts out there, almost certainly laughing at me pushing my bike up this monstrous hill – it’s a silly thing to be doing out in the snow, isn’t it?
Regardless who was spying on me, for almost a year now I’ve been hoping to find the time to write down a few thoughts about what happened over the course of that 30+ hour ordeal. For whatever reason they remain firmly locked in my brain. Maybe that’s where they should remain at this point, although it might be good for me to exorcise a few demons. I’ll think about that tonight while I exercise some other demons (and my Pugsley) on my local trails. You know what they say: “exorcising” is good for the soul.
I do get the chills just looking at this again though… damn that was one cold valley.