The Dangers, Challenges and Beauty of Tri-training in Alaska

   (This is a guest post from Jill Griffin who lives and trains in Anchorage Alaska)

Last week I went to Cape Cod for a few days to visit a friend after going to my son’s college graduation in Boston. I’ve been following a triathlon training plan that Celeste designed for me and I looked forward to running and cycling on the Cape, in a peaceful setting amongst the many lakes, ponds and marshes.  It was indeed great–except for the ticks!

My friend chided me about my insistence on sticking to paved bike trails and not joining her for daily dog walks and jogs around the cranberry bog near her house.  I saw her culling piles of ticks from her little dog after her walks and resolutely refused to set foot in the bog–not to mention the poison ivy blisters all over her neck and arms.  The paved trails were glorious, thank you very much! My friend laughed at my fear and assured me that lyme disease was only a remote possibility.

After returning home to Anchorage I rose early, and headed out for a “spinny” bike ride to shake off the fatigue of travel. Ah, so peaceful!  I geared up in long pants and layers, girding myself against the 42 degrees that felt like an unusually chilly spring morning.  At the last minute I hesitated and then shoved a small air horn and a can of bear spray into my bike bag.  I wasn’t going on a trail ride, but the road near my house was between a marsh and a forest and you never knew what to expect. I rode along with a happy and serene feeling for about 30 minutes before I screeched to a stop as a mother moose and a tiny baby, maybe one or two days old, emerged from the woods and crossed the road in front of me.  I waited for a minute as they warily checked me out and then trotted down the road away from me.  I started out again slowly.  Then they turned around and recrossed the road.  I could see them in the brush just ahead.  I stopped and waited again then set off nervously. Suddenly they emerged, crossed once again and jogged along the road ahead.  I decided to go the other way for a few minutes to put some distance between us. I turned around and no sooner clipped back in when a black bear emerged from the marsh and dashed across the road.  Argh! Which way to go!

I waited a minute until the bear had truly disappeared and then geared up and sprinted past.  My air horn and bear spray lay idly in my bike bag.  I rode a couple of miles away from the moose family and past the bear before deciding to turn around and head out of the area.  Up the hill, around the corner, over the highway, and into another peaceful neighborhood.  Oh s$@*!  two moose are standing in a clearing as I round the corner–eek!–they are only about 15 feet away and as surprised as I am. I panic momentarily because I didn’t even see them and then sprint ahead.  I decide to head home and be done!

     This wasn’t even a trail ride, but quite eventful for a quick morning outing!  When I get home I check my phone and my friend has left a text–“You won’t believe this! I just got attacked by a goshawk at Kincaid Park! Really! I had to lie down and put my bike between me and the hawk and it kept coming!” I laugh. I guess I would rather confront the big game in Alaska, than the ticks on Cape Cod.  At least you can see them. 😂

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