Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Jay P's Fat Pursuit - "Live, Learn, Finish, Return" (Part 3)

(photo courtesy @DavidMarkman)

Since November 24th, Fairbanks, Alaska has been my home and will be until after the Iditarod Trail Invitational, February 25th.  Specifically, the Goldstream Valley. An endless snarl of perfectly intertwined snow trails, laid in for months by the dog-mushers that train here, have provided over a month of fat biking nirvana. Big climbs, far reaching valleys, single track, double track, views that mandate a foot down, deep breath, eyes closed moment of remembrance. 

Jay P. (Race Founder and Director) had tirelessly laid in the starting section of trail which was in solid shape, meaning we were all able to run tire pressures at, near or above double digits. A few miles into the race it was obvious we were in for a treat of a ride. Listening to the “old timers”, these conditions had never existed prior. Bluebird skies, trails that just kept getting better, views that kept getting bigger, this was one of those days. To find fault with anything would have taken a great deal of effort and a very Scrooge-ish outlook on life. No one on two wheels that day held any such views. Quite the opposite. These were souls that could find joy in the bleak. Sooner or later we all would be up to our neck in “it”. The race becomes our teacher. Where one person sees the curse, another the blessing. The ability to remain in the moment, find the positive, where it is not obvious, is a skill learned in these places and one that serves equally well long after the race is done. 

I seek out these adventures not only for the adventure and the opportunity to do so on a Fat-bike but also for the people.  Each who left the giant wooden arch entry into the Pond’s Lodge behind them that day were seekers. They are not content to sit idly by as spectators of life. A fire burns within them. A light glistens in their eye, the end of each journey marking the start of days till the next. 

In “White Men Can’t Jump”, with Jimi Hendrix blasting through the radio, Woody Harrelson exclaims “I love Jimi!!”, which draws an immediate rebuttal from Wesley Snipes...”You can’t even hear Jimi!!!” 

In the midst of all who come to these places and events, I listen with intent. They are the Fat Bike rock-stars and I’m doing my best to hear their music. Each event entered I gain a greater understanding of their “why”, their “how” and in doing so, clarify my own. 

I’d entered the event with a few simple goals. Eat more, drink more, smile more than all on the trail. These things I had a say in. It was a worthy challenge amongst these folks. Control what I could control. In this place, similar to Alaska, One realizes just how little, contrary to the belief of the ego, we are truly in charge of.

Dumping into Harriman State Park, mere miles into the event, the Idaho Wilderness enveloped us all. If one were to be dropped into this place there would be no sense of civilization nearby. Were you told it was hundreds of miles of wild in every direction, you’d believe it without hesitation. Claiming complete comfort would be misleading. Awe? Yes. Excitement? Yes? It was not lost on me however that this, unlike any winter event I’d entered yet offered almost no easy bail outs. 80 miles to Checkpoint one, 40 plus miles from there to West Yellowstone, from there up and over “Two Top”, a notoriously bad trail, multi mile push up to 8200’ with stories of “I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face” winter squalls, and maybe 15 miles more down the other side to the “Man Cave”. The final checkpoint. As beautiful as all things were at the moment, I could not deny the trepidation that was part and parcel of it all as well. Achieving comfort in the uncomfortable, finding peace in chaos, this was the classroom. Ruler slaps on the back of the wrist, hopefully, would be few.

This concludes part 3 of  Jay P's Fat Pursuit “Live, Learn, Finish, Return”

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The conclusion will drop shortly. If your enjoying the reading you can download my first book “40 DAYS – Life, Love, Loss and a 1037 Mile Run” Free just by clicking the link.

This also gets you on the early reader list for upcoming book “Upside Down in the Yukon River”

Thanks for stopping by. #dreamBIGdreams



Monday, January 15, 2018

Jay P’s Fat Pursuit – “Live, Learn, Finish, Return” (Part 2)

 (Photo CP1 Mile 80. Courtesy David Markman)

“Fat Bike...Fat Pursuit” a town crier, every fifteen minutes or so, Perry (founder of the most awesome Dakota 5-0) would let 'er rip. I bet you could here that joker for miles throughout the Idaho wilderness we’d all just recently immersed ourselves in. Many here I did not know...yet. Some were Facebook friends and it had been cool to put the people to the name the night prior and earlier in the morning. Others would become trail partners as slowly the field would separate. For now, we were all simply trying to find our groove. Settle in to a pace that suited us and soldier on. Perry’s joy was obvious. His “Faaaaaat Bike, Faaaaaaat Pursuit”, singing out like the old town square clock, right on cue.

If I were to hazard a guess though, each of us had a song in our heart. This was our happy place. This was the place where the ordinary, day to day, at times, soul stealing monotony of daily life could not touch us. Each peddle stroke over the freshly groomed, relatively smooth, snow packed trails of Idaho, propelled us further into the wild place, both outside and within. For however long each of us would persevere, we would do so as absolutely free beings, no more, no less than the bear, wolf, elk, eagle or mountain lion that called this magnificent, humbling wilderness home.

Time loses its meaning in these places, these events. The more remote the more so. Kevin Breitenbach once shared with me when talking about the Iditarod Trail Invitational, “There’s a certain weight, a gravity to it.” I believe what he was attempting to convey is how the environment, the task at hand, the risks associated with both are constantly on the mind. Sometimes consciously, others not, but always there. And with that, time has no place. One is in the moment...and as all of us knew at some level, get out of the moment and trouble can begin. The mind, specifically the chatter of the mind, is no friend here. With near perfect conditions upon us, none of that was of any consequence at the moment. However long we had been at it had been long enough to put Island Park easily into the rear view mirror and the expansive wilderness ahead. For now, the mind was content. The brilliant blue skies above, coupled with the glistening whites underneath our fast rolling fat tires enough to distract. Eventually, we all knew, the mind, in its efforts to keep us free from harm, would have to be dealt with. How well we did so would determine the ultimate outcome of our journey.

This concludes part two of “Live, Learn and Return” (subscribe if ya wanna get a notice when new blog posts drop)

Part three will drop soon. If you’re enjoying the reading you can download my first book “40 DAYS – Life, Love, Loss and a 1037 Mile Run” Free just by clicking the link.
This also gets you on the early reader list for upcoming book “Upside Down in the Yukon River”

Thanks for stopping by. 
Steve Cannon

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Live, Learn, Finish, Return - Jay Petervary's 200 Mile Fat Pursuit

Jay P’s Fat Pursuit - Part One

Perhaps I had been too aggressive. 19 hours, 120 miles to West Yellowstone. Checkpoint 2. Perhaps I should have stuck with the plan. 2 hours of rest upon arrival. Instead, I’d went with one. Comfortable under the covers, my heart still raced. Pounded actually. For the past 1140 minutes it had served me well. It would not calm quickly. Lost on me mentally was the fact that all of the journey and where I now lay were at or above 6,000 feet elevation. Breathing with intent, attempting to calm a body with all systems on full alert, was proving difficult. How long it took before dozing off? Unsure.

Patience he had said. If you’re in a hurry to get anywhere, it won’t serve you well, he had said. I was not here to tour though, I was here to race, to push to the edge of my physical, mental and spiritual ability and walk that tightrope all the way to the finish. Safety nets, however, are not something The Fat Pursuit offers many of.

Jay Petervary, founder, creator of the test I was taking had shared these thoughts and more with us eager students the night before. As we stuffed ourselves full of very above average pasta entrees and bread prepared by the great people of The Ponds Lodge, there was an awesome mix of excitement, anticipation and dread in the air. This was Year three of the 200 Mile option. These numbers aren’t exact but they’re close. 30 or so starters, I think I’d heard 3 finishers.

Jay P’s Fat Pursuit is graduate level, winter Fat Bike racing in the backcountry wilderness of Idaho and Montana. It is unarguable that there is NO tougher winter test in the lower 48. 200k or miles, depending on your appetite. All above 6000 feet, with a couple opportunities to taste the sweet, rarefied air above 8,000 feet. Seldom is the occasion a racer completes this test without “bivvying” (the act of taking out one’s sleeping bag, pad and other gear of choice) in temp’s that have ranged from +20 to -40. If at any point the test becomes too tough, as it did for me at mile 145 ish, you don’t call a pickup or snow taxi to come get ya. Not an option. Go forward or go back. You got here. You get yourself out of here.

Bluebird skies. The kind I’d imagine that inspired the likes of John Denver to pen Rocky Mountain High, blessed us as 25 or so aspiring adventurers stood straddling our rigs, hopefully prepared for all eventualities. Mid twenties and hardly a wisp of a breeze. Again, Jay shared earned words of wisdom and motivation, the high noon start just moments away. Again, patience was preached. And compliments. “You are special people. You are choosing to take this test and in doing so motivating others to take their own tests....” He continued on bringing us all, like the requirement of Checkpoint 1, 80 miles away, to a boil!

“Let’s do this!” And with that Jay released the hounds. Leaving the uniquely western giant wooden arch entryway behind, our starting line immediately became our finish line. Only meters behind us, and at the same time 200 miles in front of us. The test had begun.....

This concludes part one of “Live, Learn, Finish, Return”

Part two will drop soon. 

If enjoying the reading you can download my first book “40 DAYS – Life, Love, Loss and a 1037 Mile Run” FREE just by clicking the link.

This also gets you on the early reader list for upcoming book,  “Upside Down in the Yukon River”

Thanks for stopping by. 
Steve Cannon