Results 1 to 15 of 15
  1. #1
    This place needs an enema
    Reputation: mikesee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Posts
    7,181

    Alaska on my mind: 2011 ITI.

    It's no secret that I've invested a substantial chunk of my time on this planet into traveling backcountry Alaska via the Iditarod Trail. It follows that I have invested a far, far more substantial amount of time into obsessing over past and future trips to do the same.

    Starting in '97 each successive trip was a test of myself, meant to determine which of the previous years' lessons had stuck and which I had failed to internalize. Every year I got faster, which was some small validation that I was learning and growing. But that was never the point. Stated simply, I was teaching myself to be a more savvy backcountry traveler, to be able to go deeper and longer, more efficiently and with less risk. I intended to spend as many of my allotted heartbeats out away from the influence of cities and civilization, deep in the heart of something bigger. For better than a decade, all of the training and prep leading to the last Sunday in February, year after year, was a means to this end.



    Naturally, at some point came diminishing returns. I couldn't ignore that the allure of training had gone, and with it went the fitness needed to be competitive. And I was sort of surprised to discover that that was fine--letting go of racing made me realize that it was always a sideline, that my heart and head were there for the trail, for the experience and satisfaction of losing myself deep down the rabbit hole in a wild place.



    Eventually I embarked on my self supported Iditarod Trail project, and immersed myself in the delicious ridiculousness of that endeavor for better than 5 years. The visuals that I shared from that journey got me thinking that maybe I oughta have a crack at telling the stories of others from along the trail.



    So last winter I spent beyond my meager means to acquire a small arsenal of camera gear: lenses, batteries, memory cards, tripods and heads, a second camera body, filters and remotes, even an HD vid cam. I rationalized that I'd pay for the gear by selling photos and video of racers, to racers. I immersed myself into the process of learning again, poring over manuals and familiarizing myself with the nuances, making modifications to be able to use each lens, extend the legs on the tripod, often barehanded, when temps were unfriendly to handling bare metal. It felt a lot like the previous 15 years of prep for travel on the Iditarod: A clear end goal with many possible routes to achieve it.

    Then near the end of February I followed my traditional migration route to join friends and 'family' at Knik, and to follow them, cameras rolling, north and west on a slow procession across the state. All of us intended to reach McGrath, a few (raises hand, meekly) had the audacity to dream of Nome.



    I had nothing scripted, nothing directing me to gather certain shots or scenes at specific times of day. If I've learned nothing else from the school of the trail, I know that to move forward with eyes and ears turned outward is enough: all manner of fascinating things will present themselves if only you're open to seeing them. I've been smitten with this route and this event for what seems like my whole life. My goal with the cameras was to bring back a fraction of the allure, a mere hint of something that might alert likeminded others to how special the route, the place, and the event really are.



    The fly in the ointment was a bug of some sort, flu maybe, that got up inside of me and wreaked havoc starting on race morning. I woke feverish and nauseous, unable to eat or drink, and it would be better than a month until I felt any better. I tried, desperately tried to ignore it while following the racers up the trail. But the wheels came off for good at Rainy Pass Lake, and only thanks to the efforts of empathetic friends did I make it off the trail and home to convalesce.

    Thus my hopes of sharing some of the allure ended. Plans to head back and try again this winter have been derailed--too much other life happening.

    Which leaves us with this all-too-brief collection of moments from the '11 ITI.


    I'm indebted to the racers along the trail for tolerating my presence when I was awake and pointing cameras their way, and for lending a hand to help when things went bad. Piera, Mark, Billy, Bill, Terry, and the other Bill--words cannot express how thankful I am that you helped in the ways you did, when you could have easily and understandably done anything but.

    All the best,

    MC

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    237
    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    It's no secret that I've invested a substantial chunk of my time on this planet into traveling backcountry Alaska via the Iditarod Trail. It follows that I have invested a far, far more substantial amount of time into obsessing over past and future trips to do the same.

    Starting in '97 each successive trip was a test of myself, meant to determine which of the previous years' lessons had stuck and which I had failed to internalize. Every year I got faster, which was some small validation that I was learning and growing. But that was never the point. Stated simply, I was teaching myself to be a more savvy backcountry traveler, to be able to go deeper and longer, more efficiently and with less risk. I intended to spend as many of my allotted heartbeats out away from the influence of cities and civilization, deep in the heart of something bigger. For better than a decade, all of the training and prep leading to the last Sunday in February, year after year, was a means to this end.



    Naturally, at some point came diminishing returns. I couldn't ignore that the allure of training had gone, and with it went the fitness needed to be competitive. And I was sort of surprised to discover that that was fine--letting go of racing made me realize that it was always a sideline, that my heart and head were there for the trail, for the experience and satisfaction of losing myself deep down the rabbit hole in a wild place.



    Eventually I embarked on my self supported Iditarod Trail project, and immersed myself in the delicious ridiculousness of that endeavor for better than 5 years. The visuals that I shared from that journey got me thinking that maybe I oughta have a crack at telling the stories of others from along the trail.



    So last winter I spent beyond my meager means to acquire a small arsenal of camera gear: lenses, batteries, memory cards, tripods and heads, a second camera body, filters and remotes, even an HD vid cam. I rationalized that I'd pay for the gear by selling photos and video of racers, to racers. I immersed myself into the process of learning again, poring over manuals and familiarizing myself with the nuances, making modifications to be able to use each lens, extend the legs on the tripod, often barehanded, when temps were unfriendly to handling bare metal. It felt a lot like the previous 15 years of prep for travel on the Iditarod: A clear end goal with many possible routes to achieve it.

    Then near the end of February I followed my traditional migration route to join friends and 'family' at Knik, and to follow them, cameras rolling, north and west on a slow procession across the state. All of us intended to reach McGrath, a few (raises hand, meekly) had the audacity to dream of Nome.



    I had nothing scripted, nothing directing me to gather certain shots or scenes at specific times of day. If I've learned nothing else from the school of the trail, I know that to move forward with eyes and ears turned outward is enough: all manner of fascinating things will present themselves if only you're open to seeing them. I've been smitten with this route and this event for what seems like my whole life. My goal with the cameras was to bring back a fraction of the allure, a mere hint of something that might alert likeminded others to how special the route, the place, and the event really are.



    The fly in the ointment was a bug of some sort, flu maybe, that got up inside of me and wreaked havoc starting on race morning. I woke feverish and nauseous, unable to eat or drink, and it would be better than a month until I felt any better. I tried, desperately tried to ignore it while following the racers up the trail. But the wheels came off for good at Rainy Pass Lake, and only thanks to the efforts of empathetic friends did I make it off the trail and home to convalesce.

    Thus my hopes of sharing some of the allure ended. Plans to head back and try again this winter have been derailed--too much other life happening.

    Which leaves us with this all-too-brief collection of moments from the '11 ITI.


    I'm indebted to the racers along the trail for tolerating my presence when I was awake and pointing cameras their way, and for lending a hand to help when things went bad. Piera, Mark, Billy, Bill, Terry, and the other Bill--words cannot express how thankful I am that you helped in the ways you did, when you could have easily and understandably done anything but.

    All the best,

    MC
    Awesome nice job thanks for posting

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation: RockyRider's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Posts
    816
    Astonishingly beautiful work

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Posts
    14
    Thanks for putting that together and sharing it with us Mike.

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    62

    Alaska

    Mike: Fantastic work as always. Thanks!

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Reputation: spovegas's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    421
    Holy hell, Mike. Blown away once again, by your words as much as your photos. Thanks, man.

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Posts
    8
    Simply awesome, thank you.

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    1,302
    Think of your illness as a sign that allows those of us who will never be able to have your experiences an opportunity to live it vicariously. Thanks very much- your pictures on this (and other posts) are stunning.

  9. #9
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    48
    thanks

  10. #10
    workin' it Administrator
    Reputation: rockcrusher's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Posts
    8,127
    I really appreciate your posts, always varied and always poignant. I feel that I can live vicariously through your words and pictures and imagine that your path is a path that I once chose to not follow instead going down another road, other endeavors, leaving mountain biking as a hobby instead of a profession. I can feel glad to know that had I chosen to make it a profession, that it can indeed be a profession that one can enjoy and come out the other side and still enjoy it.

    Thanks as always!
    Try this: HTFU

  11. #11
    .
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    91
    The Iditarod Trailblazers are hard at work getting more and more of this amazing trail built for summer use. I don't know much about the section north of anchorage, but the 130 miles from Seward (the REAL start of the iditarod) to anchorage is nothing less than spectacular. Its not complete, but the sections that are in are some of the best riding on the Kenai.

    iditarod.m4v - YouTube
    Guided Mt. Bike Tours on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula
    www.sewardbiketours.com

  12. #12
    mtbr member
    Reputation: jncarpenter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Posts
    6,767
    Wow!


  13. #13
    Fat!Drunk!Slow!
    Reputation: JordyB's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Posts
    1,403
    Great story, photos, and short film MikeC!!! Looked great on the big screen tv!

  14. #14
    rmb
    rmb is offline
    mtbr member
    Reputation: rmb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Posts
    634
    love it!

  15. #15
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    230

    Great

    My partner and I rode to McGrath on the trail after the ITI last winter and had an amazing time and trail. Your video and stills really captured the beauty of this phenomenal trail and state. Thank you for taking the time. The big distinction between racing and being on an expedition/trip for me; is being able to take the time to really let the environment sink in and the freedom to decide when is a good time to stop, even if only for a moment to take a picture.
    Good work.
    Bjørn
    Mjölnir of Bjørn dot com is my active website.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •