My plane descended through the fire of a smoggy sunset last night and landed at Orange County’s John Wayne Airport. Always on the lookout for the thriftiest flight home (don’t you dare call me “cheap”) I had picked a flight back from the resurrected Iditasport that left bright and early from Anchorage and landed in Socal right around rush hour. Oops, my bad. The drive home through miles of stop and go rush hour traffic while surrounded by a bacterial sea of winking brake lights was a bit surreal after having been in Alaska for the past week. I felt alone in my car, as alone as I felt on the icy, undulating, pressure-ridge laden rivers that sleep away the long winter nights beneath the aurora in Alaska (that’s the Susitna in the photo above).
I’ll write up a “race report” of sorts eventually, but here are my stats for the race: 1 day 14 hours of riding for a 4th place finish, 2 huge plates of Skwentna Roadhouse biscuits and gravy for breakfast, 3 plates of Yentna Station spaghetti on the way north (and 2 huge bowls of stew on the way back), 6 pieces of bacon with my chili at the final Tent Camp checkpoint as well as a bunch of calories in the form of Nutter Butters, trail mix, Clif Bars etc. I ride therefore I eat, especially when the temperatures dip down to minus 10 deg F as they had Saturday night. Although looking at that list of food I’d have to say I probably ate for minus 30.
Returning home to the warm, arid climate and the fast-paced culture around here is a complete shock to the system, as much of a shock as heading out into a semi-remote area like Alaska. I feel the same way every time I attempt a small adventure up North (this was my fourth, the third in winter) and then return to the whirring hive of Southern California: one foot in each world but belonging to neither. Always an oddity at the race (for more reasons than geographical perhaps), I also certainly never feel at home in crowded California. I’m a man that just doesn’t fit.
More details to follow!
“There’s a race of men that don’t fit in,
A race that can’t stay still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin,
And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and they rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain’s crest;
Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,
And they don’t know how to rest.”
– Robert Service, “The Men That Don’t Fit In”