Archive for June, 2013

More than Food for Thought


Nothing makes the news with greater frequency these days then food. The stuff we ingest to motor through life is controversial and daily we are faced with reports of food recalls, the unknowns and dangers of eating genetically modified foods (GMOs) and the obesity epidemic.
Just yesterday, while listening to a report on CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), I learned that during our specie’s history on the planet,  the human brain likely grew larger with greater capacity when access to food became easier and easier.  In other words our success in growing crops, domesticating animals and creating tools supported good nutrition. The report went on to say that 1/3 of the 2,500 or so calories that the average North American male needs each day is utilized by that big calorie burner, the brain.

Two weeks ago I burned more than that many calories in a single event.  My brain seemed like it was on a timeout as it  diverted needed calories to my legs, lungs and heart that pleaded for more calories. The physical event was the annual Chilkat Kluane International Bike Relay. The race starts in the community of Haines Junction, Yukon and ends 149 miles away up and over the Coastal Mountains dropping into Haines, Alaska. The setting is stunning with snow-capped mountains in view during the whole ride. And there is a good chance of seeing a moose or bear as you pedal through their homescape.

I have participated on two previous Chilkat races but in each case I was on four-person teams where each of the riders must ride two consecutive legs of the race. This year I was riding it solo and was able to complete it because the weather cooperated, I was ready for it and mostly because of my awesome “support team.” The team was wife Nancy, daughter Maren and her college buddy, Karen. They kept my water bottles filled, varied my food and then made the delicate hand-offs as I cycled by.

The trick on such a long ride is proper hydration and consuming calories that can quickly go to work in fueling your effort.  My success was highly attributed to the following:

1) huge drafts of mountain air with hints of sub-alpine fir melded with balsam poplar oils

2) Lots and lots of water. .  . about half of it was fortified with Nuun supplements.

3) Plenty of Save Your Ass Bars. These are homemade and have been known to work wonders in North America and high in the Andes in South America.

4) Two Pearson’s Salted Nut Rolls.  Frank Lundeen, co-owner at CyclovaXC, highly recommended these.

4) Organic bananas, cut and peeled into chunks.

5) Clif Shot Blocks during the second half of the race. (About one per hour)

6) Sportsleggs supplements. Another Cyclova recommendation.

7) Cooked boiled potatoes rolled in olive oil and Parmesan cheese. I had these wrapped in foil but my support team quickly learned it was easier to simply hand one off as I pedaled by them. I really liked these and would even put leftover fragments in my bike jersey pocket. The key is not to overcook them.

And finally. .  .drum roll please. . . .

8) Nah, I can’t tell you. A photo is far better. And this ain’t no joke. . .this really staved off the bonking and fueled me with renewed energy! Plenty of fat, salts and carbs. And yes, it was another tip from Frank at Cyclova.

Race Food

And a superlative and creative support team is the top secret. They cranked up the music in the truck as they leap frogged me, stopping several miles ahead of me to supply me with water and food. Eminem’s classic hip hop hit  “Lose Yourself” was truly inspiring

Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted. one moment
Would you capture it or just let it slip?

Each time I approached the truck pulled off the side of the highway, I was witness to sheer enthusiasm as they danced, sang and cheered. And they had an abundance of props like inflatable palm trees, wigs, crazy skirts and so on. Smiling helped me forget the task at hand.

When I pedaled across the finish line 8 hours 33 minutes and 55 seconds later, I was a happy boy. And there was my lovely support team cheering louder than ever with a full quart of organic chocolate milk for my recovery drink.






















My wife and I practice “Yukonasia.”

Perfectly legal, Yukonasia is the practice of terminating a sedentary life by intentionally living large in a land north of normal.

Even the controversial Jack Kevorkian, also known as Dr. Death for assisting over one hundred terminal patients in assisted suicide, would have approved at our boreal play on the word “euthanasia.”

“Normal” for the bulk of humans living in North America means living in urban environments where asphalt and concrete are the dominant groundcover.

“Normal” is being connected to Wi-Fi or broadband to computers, phones and various pads rather than connected to the natural world.

“Normal” is having multiple bathrooms with multiple showers and televisions are generally twins,  triplets or amazingly even larger litters.

“Normal” is pursuing comfort between walls and a roof overhead rather the potential discomfort of being caught outdoors in rain or snow.

For the past five years we have spent much of our time living in the Yukon Territory in northern Canada. Some call us renegades or even brave. I would call it paying attention to our hearts. Not surprisingly we have become hopelessly smitten with a land that is rough around the edges.

This is a destination where wild lands abound and large mammals like moose, Dall sheep, wolves, caribou, grizzly and black bears far outnumber humans. Somehow, living in a land where I can get lost, become bear food or lose my breathe while hiking high in the mountains makes me more alive.

Approximately one-quarter of the Yukon’s 36,000 human residents are native aborigines, or First Nation members. For thousands of years they have lived and thrived in this vast, mostly untrammeled land that we would call “wilderness.” Ironically, none of the First Nation native languages have a word that means “wilderness.” The closest description is simply “home.” Imagine moving through such a diverse landscape with the same familiarity that you maneuver through your own home . . . in the dark.

If we each followed our lineage lines, we would find we all have evolved from a past where wild places were normal rather than something that is now threatened and disappearing.

Yukonasia has nothing to do with death; it has everything to do with living.