Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The IditaTour: Part one.

Late last winter I found myself in Alaska with a bike and a plan. Again.

I went there with an ambitious objective: To ride the Iditarod Trail from Knik to Nome without outside support.


Well--why the hell not?!

Actually, there are many reasons why--you can read more about them here.

Early in the trip I started a video diary, basically turning the camera on myself and letting fly with whatever came to mind. It was a spur of the moment creative effort that morphed into a means for keeping myself together through the difficulties that came my way, day after day. Looking back now, it was a stroke of brilliance: Combining the immediacy of spoken word with the timelessness of stills tells a much, much more complete story than I (or anyone) could recreate from 9 months and three thousand miles away. This 'retelling' is much more honest. Really.

Below is the first installment in a 3-part series. Part one covers the first 8 days from Knik to ~McGrath.

Please keep in mind that my energies throughout the tour were focused on efficient forward progress--the camera had to remain an afterthought, which limited my creativity considerably. I started with a very, very limited amount of food, fuel, and camera batteries, and each time I stopped for a pic or vid I was 'burning daylight'. I didn't have enough battery power to review shots much less get any 'do overs', so the clips were off the cuff and then I'd be back on the bike seconds later, working to generate some heat and unthaw frozen-from-handling-the-camera fingers. Run and shoot, shoot and run.

I carried a glorified P&S camera. No tripod, no remote, nothing but a peashooter and a fistful of batteries. Given where I was and what I was doing, this camera's specs (HD vid, big zoom, flip screen, and AA batts) made it the easy (only?) choice--I didn't see another option that combined those 'big four' all together. All in all, it worked out pretty well.

Lastly, there were several times when it was simply not possible to shoot due to circumstance. Most often this means it was too cold, or windy, or snowy to bring the camera out, but there were several occasions when I was suffering too badly to be able to manage it. Thus, while the clips shown are somewhat revealing, some of the most precious moments were never recorded. And that's as it should be: Memories can grow more powerful through the years without evidence to support or deny!

Part two HERE.




  1. Just pure awesome! This video is just amazing to watch, love the background music as well. Fits the video nicely.

    Watkins Glen, NY

  2. Mike: I followed Scott M & Jill H's updates of your epic trek with great interest last winter & hoped you might summarize some thoughts on the experience - thanks for posting the video & we'll look forward to the other episodes - !

  3. Awesome ~ on many levels!

    Thanks, Mike!


  4. Absolutely amazing Mike! Thanks for sharing your journey.

  5. Been anticipating your first hand accounts. Well worth the wait!

  6. WOW!! Awesome video!!

  7. Cool video. Nice music, beautiful scenery, loved every bit of it. Inspiring !!

  8. Superb and thanks for all the work you put in to make that happen

  9. Thanks, this is beautiful.

  10. Thank you for putting this together, even with a "crapy point and shoot" the way you capture and present the light and experience gives one somthing to aspire to. And that is just the pictures, I am still getting my head around the ride.

  11. Well done Mike. Thanks for sharing buddy.

  12. Better than being there Mike. This will need a much broader audience venue when complete for sure.

  13. What an amazing video Mike. Thanks so much for sharing it. Simply incredible.

  14. Just simply amazing, Mike! Thanks for putting together the video and greetings from Waterford!

  15. Not that my opinion matters a doodle...but IMO this is the finest piece you've created that I've ever seen. Best wishes in the New Year.

  16. Excellent footage and music, Mike! Thanks for sharing this with everyone.

  17. Just a lovely piece of documentary film making. Honest, detailed and beautiful. How on earth did you manage to get a panning video of you riding a bike when you are out there all alone? (@14:31 on the clip) What's the secret?

  18. Great video and pics, as always.

    I liked the numbering of your realizations (A, 2, D). Sounds like your brain was getting a little slushy from the cold and exhaustion.

    I'm glad to hear your mouth and brain back in sync and up to speed again in part two.

  19. Great video. Love the (for lack of a better word) "epicness" of it all. I also love that your voice in the video sounds just like your real voice. Now that is one cool camera.

    PS: email address and phone# are still the same.

  20. Hi Mike,

    Thanks for sharing. It was fun to see Vanessa and I made a quick cameo in there too.

    That day on Rainy Pass always comes to mind whenever I think about that race. Quite a harrowing day for a rookie. I felt like a foolish tourist out there next to you. You handled it with a grace and humility that I aspire to have.

    Hope all is well with you. Thanks again. Great work.

    Kind regards,
    Aaron Fanetti

  21. Awesome work with a wee l'il P&S. And an awesome adventure. This vid captures the heroic loneliness of your journey.

  22. I use that numbering for random lists of three things as well (A, 2, d)...excellent Home Alone reference. ;) Of course, what you're actually doing during this video is insane. Extremely well done, sir.