February 6, 2019. Operating table for heart surgery. My yet solid heart must be reprogrammed. The chip that controls the electric rhythm is buggy. 3 hours of surgery to denerve fibers of the vagus nerve, burn or freeze “circuits” which generate unwanted electric influxes. I come out of the hospital at a steady pace but with +20 bpm above my athletic pace. The sensations during the following months are quite bizarre. “The engine” has stopped idling, a “purring cat” in my lungs. The very technical operation was a success, however, my heart gradually regained its former rhythm.
Job side: a difficult year, maximum stress, but it’s been 30 years that it lasts.
January 4, 2020. I’m looking for a way to recharge my batteries. See the sun again after spending a year in a cellar. I need an adventure, I need it physically, morally, viscerally, something strong that transports me to another world. Get out of my comfort zone.
Crossing a rowing ocean? I have already given. Too complicated, too long and above all too boring. Lots of snow in the Alps, I am accumulating ski trips. I have to find a project in winter, with snow, cold, on skis, in harsh conditions to recover my legs, my head.
The Iditarod Trail Invitationnal (www.iditarodtrailinvitationnal.com) is THE thing for me. A race across Alaska on the Iditarod Trail, on foot, on skis or by bike. Two distances to choose from: 350 Miles (600 km) or 1000 Miles (1600 km), all with almost autonomy and without assistance. I finished this “white odyssey” in 1998 and in 2000 with Bruno, I want to go back like 20 years ago. These landscapes, this ordeal really marked me. And the word is too weak.
I lead a life that is too complicated, with too much information. Find yourself in nature, cut off from the world or almost, with just the basic things to think about, simpler things. Need to feel “fucking alive” as Pierre would say. There is still a big problem: we are on January 4: departure on March 1, 8 weeks. Deadline, timing, very tight for my preparation.
Have a bib. I have a good CV (this race is “by invitation”) but the race quota (80 competitors) has been full for a long time. Long waiting list. I had considered this race with my friend Stéphane last July, but we had abandoned this one because Stef was changing jobs. I take the risk, buy my tickets for Anchorage, book an AirBnB. No way to go back. I contact the organization, asking them to register on the “last minute short list”. On such an event, there will inevitably be last-minute defections.
I’m here, I’m ready, I’m waiting.