I have been toying with an idea for a while now, since before my appearance at DetCon1 last July actually. Human powered endurance sports tend to exist on the bleeding edge of materials science and efficient design. I like to use this in my science fiction writing because it is not much of a stretch to imagine pushing these two contributing factors just a little bit further in the pursuit of glories we already seek.
Today I realize that when I was much younger and had far fewer responsibilities I was living an optimal science fiction life style. Working on the White River National Forest as a back country wilderness guard was the beginning of my pursuit of an ultralight backpack. That first summer I showed up with a huge haul ruck for mountaineering and enough extra stuff that I walked out on my first patrol loaded down with fifty or more pounds strapped to my back. I was young and stupid, but equally motivated by avoiding pain. As soon as that first trip came to a close I realized that I needed to shed weight and bulk rapidly. It was easy enough to repurpose lighter gear from the back of my Subaru hatchback and soon I was skipping down trails thirty-five miles a day. My consistent experimentation was rewarded with easier travels and more miles.
The rest of the family is down for some sleep, and I just got back from a run around the block. Now age is a governing factor in that equation. But I still envy those guys that do amazing distances under their own power.
Gavin McClurg and Will Gadd just flew the length of the Canadian Rockies vol-bivy style in thirty-five days. Heather Anderson powered out a sixty day Pacific Crest Trail thru hike. And the venerable Jefe Branham bike-packed the Divide in sixteen days and change. When people at Geek Fan Expo asked me what are my favorite sports this weekend my reply was “anything single-stage, self-supported.”
My problem is that, while I enjoy watching others do amazing things, doing so fills my pants with ants. Tour the Divide has been an itching welt on my conscious for quite some time. So too each and every PCT segment and thru hike record on the books. Writing about these kinds of things only helps for a little while.
And when I get a bug for long distance races they are very difficult to squish. Right now I’m thinking about how I might enter Race to Alaska. From my seat at this desk I’ve got less than a year to get back into long distance shape for a crossing I should have attempted twenty years ago. Tomorrow the roof top tent goes on the block to generate some seed money and right now I’m trying to calculate my realistic exercise speed given calm conditions.
Ten days. Can I afford that time? Can I afford the hours of training and the gear costs that would put me in a position to compete? Good grief I love and hate it when a mania like this takes hold.