Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Ahhh, commuting. It's been a few days, what with my work from home day, flex Friday day off, and two days down with a nasty bug.

I'm often amazed at how a stretch of six days can result in such a change in overall riding conditions. In the Valley it is still dry pavement and fast rolling. I like it. I have a bit more leeway in my schedule because it takes me 12 minutes to make the ride from the house to the bus stop rather than 20 to 25 on snow.

Anchorage, on the other hand, isn't so amenable to fast riding. Many portions of my route are covered with layer upon layer of slick ice after the repeated freeze and thaw cycles over the last week. Chester Creek Trail is, however, not terrible. Apart from the potholes, that is. It is firm, fast, and not too slippery. And, if you pay attention, you can easily see the path that has been built into the base, where things will remain firm well into April or May. Stick to that ribbon of compacted snow and all is good. Stray from the beam and it feels like you are riding a jackhammer for all the footprint holes that have now frozen solid over night.

Hell, though, I can't complain when on Saturday I was able to get out for a ride in shorts. Shorts I say. I've even gone back to my clipless pedals because it seems serious overkill to wear winter boots rated to -40 when the temps are in the 30's at the lowest.

And on Friday I put in 32 miles on the steed. 32 miles of all bare pavement. Not the best terrain for riding a 35+ pound fatbike with Nate tires on it, but WTF? It was sunny, the single track probably a mess, so the road called. Can't think of a better way to spend a few hours. It reminded me of when I first start riding serious miles back in Vermillion, South Dakota. The riding choices there were gravel roads or highways. I got to know the farm roads quite well. It made me feel connected to the area. My ride on Friday was similar. It connected me to the area in a way I hadn't been before.

It helped that the sun was out and glorious - the type of glorious that makes you laugh out loud at just how lucky you are to be alive and moving through the world on a bike.

I love that feeling - when nothing can bother you, when everything in the world is absolutely perfect. It's somewhat like runner's high. It doesn't happen that often while on bike. At least not for me. Probably because I tend to ride trail whenever possible, so it is a rare thing to get into a zone where I'm turning a good and consistent cadence for long stretches of time leading to the zen-like mental state coupled with the physical balancing of everything in order to really get the endorphins running the bloodstream.

I will say, though, that if you try to talk to me after I've ridden for an hour or two, even if I'm not "feeling the high" I probably sound like I'm drunk or something. I get a bit discombobulated in the head.

I would almost think about getting a road bike if I thought that I would be able to get that high on every ride. But I know that a road bike beneath me would end up a crumpled pile of worthlessness in short order. Besides, I like having the option of jumping off road and into the dirt and grime as the mood takes me. And road bikes, I hate to say it, seem to come with a whole bunch of Fred baggage. I don't need me none of that.

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