Alaska Short Stories

A First Bike Ride (A Semi-True Story)

Due to knee injuries sustained in the Dalzell Gorge during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, the doctor ordered me to quit my summer running program. I hugged him, wondered aloud where he had been when I was in college athletics, and sprinted to my truck before he could change his mind. He shouted, “Get a bike instead.”

It’s not that I don’t like running. It’s just that I hate it.

I never could figure out what to wear, not just because of my notorious sense of style either. See, the only good thing about running is that you can quickly transition to walking. But in Alaska, if you are wearing running shoes and shorts and you’re just walking beside the road, you’ll be noticed. Passers-by will certainly laugh, “That jogger just can’t hack it! He has to walk, har, har! Hey, is that Seavey?”

If you’re seen running down the road, as I was, in say jeans, boots, button-up shirt and a ball cap, people will call either the ambulance or the State Troopers. Something must be wrong. But if you wear street clothes and you’re just walking along, that’s no big deal. Motorists simply avoid eye contact and speed up. I hated running.

So I promptly got a bike, just yesterday, less than one year after receiving doctor’s orders. Don’t ask me anything about the bike, because I can tell you with certainty I won’t know the answer. I don’t even know the price. I just closed my eyes and handed the guy all my money. Mitch Seavey

The clothing thing is even worse with a bike than running. No matter what I wear, when I stop and walk, I’ll look out of place, and I can’t just ditch the thing.

So there I was, walking along, just pushing my bike. A big four-by-four truck with stacks and a lift kit rumbled up behind me. “That biker just can’t hack it! He has to walk, har, har! Hey, is that Seavey?”

I tried to yell out that I was a volunteer cleaning the ditch. “I just found this down here!”

If I wear real biking gear, I will be expected to travel at the approximate speed of a scalded cat, like the other bikers locals see along the Sterling Highway. Bikers who probably haven’t rested since Tok Junction.

But, if I wear boots and jeans my neighbors will just assume I’ve lost my driver’s license. One thing is for sure, I won’t be seen in spandex.

My new friend with the four-by-four thinks there’s such a thing as “padded breeches” for biking, so I will be looking into those. Well, not “into” them.

I had him drop me and the bike off at the end of our driveway so my wife wouldn’t hear the engine noise.

Author’s Note: I won’t be caught dead anywhere near the highway again, either running or biking, once the mud on the trails recedes below the tops of my Xtratufs.Click here to subscribe to Last Frontier Magazine!

Mitch Seavey competed in his first Iditarod in 1982 at the age of 22. He and his wife Janine then turned their attention to raising their sons Danny, Tyrell, Dallas and Conway. In 1995, Mitch returned to the Iditarod (the first musher in 75 years to complete the entire Iditarod trail from Seward to Nome) and has competed in every Iditarod since. He has worked hard to be an innovator in every aspect of the sport, and is one of the most competitive mushers out on the trail. Mitch won the Iditarod in 2004, and in 2013 became the oldest musher ever to win at the age of 53.

To follow Seavey’s Iditarod Racing Team and check out the dog sledding adventures they offer at Seavey’s Ididaride Sled Dog Tours, go to ididaride.com and facebook.com/seaveysididaride.

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