Monday 21 February 2011

Off again. At last.

My second ride on the Iditarod starts on Sunday, my Birthday. If I tell people what I’ve got planned, I get a, pretty much universal, response- Confusion, disbelief and perhaps questions about my sanity. Why do I want to travel half way around the world to race through ice and snow? It must be the prize money, right? No. The winner simply gets free entry for next year. So why then? I haven’t got a good answer. Hillary’s famous “because it’s there” adage doesn’t even really hold true- The Iditarod Trail isn’t a “thing” as such. It’s a constantly changing line that has been pretty much invented for racing. People will talk about the mushers, who in 1925 rushed to get vital Diphtheria serum to Nome, a truly impressive feat. The trail honours them, but it doesn’t follow the route those brave men used. The trail is in fact a marketing tool for Alaska. It’s a line on a map that doesn’t really correspond to anything on the ground. A line that was sketched out in the ’70s as an attempt to pull in tourists to Alaska. The dog race draws in a large number of tourists to the starts (for there are 2) and, I’m sure, the “Legend of the Iditarod” has helped romanticise the vision of Alaska. I find this pretty funny, yes, it’s “tricked” me in to visiting, but out there on the trail it’s a different story. It’s somewhere that you average tourist would never visit, and that’s part of the charm. The weather is brutal, but the scenery is amazing. The people are, without fail, characters. I think you have to be to live in rural Alaska. The racers are a lovely, unassuming, softly spoken, tough as nails bunch of people from all walks of life. Everyone is different, but with a certain common string. Perhaps we are all missing the same screw? The riding is tough. Why this is a positive, is the hardest element to explain. If you aren’t of the mindset of simply doing something because it is hard you may well never understand. It all adds up, and while I can’t really justify it, I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be.

People have been asking about following my progress. Obviously communication is pretty limited while on the trail, but if Mel hears anything hopefully she can post it here. Spot Trackers are banned so there will be no satellite tracking. However there should be regular updates on the ITI website.


Magnus said...

Best of luck!

Anonymous said...

Wow. Good luck dude!

Taylor said...

Enjoy and good luck John.