1999 Iditasport 100

Iditasport logoSometimes you can learn too much on the Internet.

It’s a week before the 1999 Iditasport 100-mile race in Alaska and I’m surfing the Anchorage weather web sites. “Worse cold snap in 10 years!” Even the old-timers are having a hard time remembering such cold weather. A day later and I’m calling to confirm my motel reservation near the race start. “It’s only 45 today. It’s been 55 for the two weeks.” There’s no need say “below zero.” Welcome to a brutal Alaskan winter courtesy of La Nina.

1999 International Ice II

International Ice Race at the startThe International Ice II Race is from Drummond Island (U.S.) to St. Joseph Island (Canada) and back for a total of 22 miles. The trail follows the ice bridge which marks the main snowmobile route between these two islands which are at the very east tip of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

It was a balmy 5 degrees Fahrenheit at the start.

Iditasport 1998

I have a very bad tendency to seek tough mountain bike events. The events where you compete against yourself, where finishing is an accomplishment. The ones that make your parents wake up at night in a cold sweat.

It all started in 1994 when I registered our team of five for the 24 Hours of Canaan relay race in West Virginia. Up until this race, I had been mountain biking for three years and racing for two. I figured I could handle anything the Michigan trails could throw at me.

If I were the know-it-all teen, the Canaan course would be the experienced mother. She spanked me pretty hard on race day. Her trails were ten times more technical than anything I’d ridden before. I was left bruised and humbled. (more…)

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