Snow Cyclist Checks In: 'Now I'm Frightened' Jill Homer is planning to bike the Iditarod. First, she has a learning curve to master.
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Snow Cyclist Checks In: 'Now I'm Frightened'

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Snow Cyclist Checks In: 'Now I'm Frightened'

Snow Cyclist Checks In: 'Now I'm Frightened'

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All right, time now to check in with Jill Homer. She is this gal that we've been talking to on the show, and also she's been blogging for us a little bit about the fact that she's going to try to do the Iditarod race in Alaska…



BURBANK: …on her mountain bike.

MARTIN: What a woman.

BURBANK: It's going to be 350 miles in the snow. We gave her a little ring-a-ding in Alaska yesterday to find out about her latest adventures.

Jill Homer, last we spoke with you, you were all full of excitement to take on the Iditarod, a 350-mile race in February usually done by people riding a dog sled; you're going to do it on your bike. But, as readers of our blog would know from this headline which is, I am now officially, genuinely frightened. Things are not going according to plan. What's been happening?

Ms. JILL HOMER (Snow Cyclist): Well, I've had a tough week, but it's always a good learning experience - everything that's happened. But I had a few mechanical problems and a few really cold rides, so that sort of put the reality of the race into my mind. So…

BURBANK: You had - you write about a terrifying episode with a flat tire.

Ms. HOMER: Well…

BURBANK: You're laughing, but I'm not; that sounded really scary.

Ms. HOMER: I did get a couple of flat tires right in the row just out in the middle of nowhere at night, and I was pretty much stranded out on the road that was about 20 miles outside of town in 20 degrees. My fingers were numb, and it was taking me a long time to get the tire pumped up. The first tire got a hole that I couldn't fix with a flat kit, and as I wa pumping up the second tube, I managed to put another hole in it…


Ms. HOMER: …that I couldn't fix.

BURBANK: That must have been pretty dispiriting.

Ms. HOMER: Yeah, I was - you know, that was just the kind of the thing that I'm feeling deflated myself for a little bit, and that was right around the time that somebody drove up and offered to help me. It was just mostly good luck on my part. I was looking at doing a long walk back to town. So…

BURBANK: And this person you had never met before, but you write on our blog that she took you home and then you tried to (unintelligible) and watched "Hair Spray" together.

Ms. HOMER: Yeah, we had a great time, I mean, just like a couple of girlfriends, but I had never met her before.

BURBANK: You guys did each other's hair and talked about boys or something.

Ms. HOMER: Yeah, it was a little bit like a sleepover, but, yeah, just a woman I had never met, a stranger, offered me help, and she was just really nice and really hospitable and…

BURBANK: Well, then you also decided to try your luck at sleeping outside overnight because this is something you're going to have to do when you're doing the Iditarod.

Ms. HOMER: That's right.

BURBANK: And you did it in the comfort of your backyard except you write that it was that - that was also kind of a bit of an experience.

Ms. HOMER: Well, it was a really pretty stormy, windy night and also very cold. The temperature was near zero; it was really windy, like, we're talking 50 to 60 miles an hour some of those winds which, drive with the windshield down, it's about 30 below, sometimes, even 35 below and the engine just freezes really fast and…

BURBANK: Did you con your boyfriend or husband into doing this with you?

Ms. HOMER: My boyfriend - he was out there with me, but he didn't last - he only lasted an hour.

BURBANK: But you stayed out there how long? Overnight?

Ms. HOMER: I stayed out there six hours. I made until about four in the morning before I decide I wasn't really getting any sleep anyway. The wind was just so loud, and it was actually blowing me around. It was blowing my body around like a piece of trash and…

BURBANK: So what's your plan, training-wise, between now and February?

Ms. HOMER: So my plan is to keep increasing my miles, you know, putting long rides outside and get used to staying outside for a long time and riding for a long time, and also start doing more weight training, try to get just stronger in specific areas, and just keep up with the biking.

BURBANK: But despite - and by the way, if you - you can get a sense, BPP listeners, for what this whole thing looks like, there's a photo on our blog of you, Jill, and it looks like you're just crying frozen tears.

BURBANK: You look miserable.

Ms. HOMER: I'm probably not miserable.

BURBANK: So it's not - they're not tears of sorrow.

Ms. HOMER: They're not, no.

BURBANK: Yeah, well, maybe you'll have tears of joy if you manage to finish this Iditarod, and we'll definitely be following your progress here on the show and also on our blog. And thank you for you updates. It's been really interesting to read.

Ms. HOMER: Well, thanks, I appreciate them.

BURBANK: Jill Homer of Juneau, Alaska who is undaunted in her pursuit of riding 350 miles on her mountain bike in the snow during the Iditarod this February. Thanks, Jill.

Ms. HOMER: All right, I appreciate it.

BURBANK: Okay, bye.

Coming up on THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT, we're going to talk movies with NPR's Bob Mandello, friend of the show, movie reviewer extraordinaire, prince among men. One of the movies coming out, "Juno." I don't know if I've been this excited as a verified teen father myself - former teen father.


BURBANK: Do you ever…

MARTIN: This look so good. This looks good.

BURBANK: Are you ever a former teen father? I don't know. It's about - it's…

MARTIN: You're always a teen father in your heart.

BURBANK: And I am, in the Corazon.

Anyway, "Juno" and other movies - we're going to hear about them in a moment.

Also, oh, this is something I'm very excited about. A couple of guys from the New Yorker - cartoonists from the New Yorker are going to…

MARTIN: Oh, there they are, right there.

BURBANK: Right there, right there…


BURBANK: …and they can't even hear us. Hi, guys.

MARTIN: Hi, guys.

BURBANK: They're going to come in and present us their absolute best cartoons that didn't make it in to the New Yorker this week.

MARTIN: Yeah, this is good. There's some funny stuff - I think they're funny, but what do I know?

BURBANK: And as someone who regularly participates in the caption contest and is terrible at it, I can tell you I have a lot of respect because even their reject cartoons are awesome.

MARTIN: Yeah, they're pretty good. They're good at their job - I think that they're better than me.

BURBANK: Yes, they are.

That's all coming up and so much more on THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT from NPR News. Stick around, won't you?

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