Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Lights out

OK f-ers. I am over spring and summer already.

People ask me all the time when is my favorite time to ride. And I always tell em winter.

You know why? Because the trails are used by people who know how to use them in the winter. People share in the winter. People don't ride two abreast in the winter and them yell at you when you pass after clearly yelling 'on your left' before both slowing down and making the pass and being forced onto the grass because said moron things on your left means to move left.

I'm grouchy. Maybe I'm a bit too possessive of the trails, but c'mon. Some offs are out there trying to get places.

And don't get me started with the bikes that are now all over the bike racks and trying to the my spot. The spot I've been parking in all f'king winter long. Were are these other bikes in the winter? Not being ridden, I'll tell you that.

This feels like a familiar refrain to me. I always complain about the fair weather riders. Its not that I don't like seeing people on bikes. Its just that the bulk who come out of the woodwork in spring seem the self absorbed Lyra clad Freds that would do well with a stick in their uber light carbon spokes.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Weak and Powerless

Knardly. Knard. It's got balls. Or something like that.

On Thursday evening I took the bikes for a dog. Rather, took the dogs for a bike. I noticed that something felt just a touch off. As if my rear wheel had a wobble. As if I'd broken a spoke again.

I checked out the wheel and realized that my old Endomorph tire had a nice cut in the sidewall. The tire has a lot of miles on it. Hard miles. It is bald and slick and really I was only using it as a summer time tire because of its slick nature and because I wasn't quite sure how I want to approach summer tires this year. Good for pavement, crap on anything else.

I'd thought I might look at something like a Vee Rubber Speedster as a summer tire. Something that rolls fast as so much of my riding is commuting, it seems. But the Speedster is not a trail tire. And I have only a single set of wheels for my bike. So, if I want to ride trails, I'd have to swap rubber. Speaking from experience, that results in not riding much trail. If it's too much work to get out there, I won't go. Seems a generally accepted maxim.

Well, after finding the cut in the sidewall it somewhat forced my hand. I needed a new tire and if I wanted one now, I'd have to go with what the bike shop had on hand.

Thus, my new Knard.

I rode it quite a bit yesterday on all kinds of terrain and am impressed so far. It was passable on mud, solid on sand, and fast on pavement.

My only concern, and one that will probably be born out, is that it simply won't last on pavement. I'd really like to get more than a summer out of the tire.

Maybe if I lose even more weight my rear tires will last longer - I'm on my third summer with Larry up front and he looks damned near new.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Spring is in the air...

Ah yes, it is getting fun now.

The trails are almost completely clear of snow, but the single track isn't quite ready to ride yet. The days are getting so long that I almost wake to light at 4 in the morning and when I go to bed, it looks like five in the afternoon.

It is a glorious time for getting outside and just loving Alaska! Of course, this also means that it is going to get harder and harder to focus on work. Yes, I said it. Work. During the summers it is really hard to think about anything having to do with work. With dipnetting, biking, hiking, camping, dipnetting, canoeing, kayaking, and all the other stuff to do, work seems like the least of my worries.

 It'll be nice to have a break. Things have been crazy lately. Busy with work. Real busy, so a break will be nice.

Can't wait.

 Until then I will just have to ponder the nature of reality. The essential question is this: Is reality independent of thought. Meaning do events in my life only happen because I think them into being or does the world exist if we don't? I realize that I am painting with a large brush here, and that humanity is not a necessary component to the existence of the world. But there is the thought that the details of a life and the things that happen in a life, the good and the bad, the explicable and inexplicable can only happen because we have thought them into being.

Or the idea that if one chooses one path over the other in life that everything about that life would be different. Of course, there is the school of thought (Back to the Future) that says that if you change even a single decision, no matter how insignificant, that the course and direction your life takes from that point forward is fundamentally altered from what it was. Though, there is the flip side. The consequence of making one decision or another is that there is no consequence because only one path exists, not choosing option B means that option B never existed anyway, because you've already made your decision even before presented with the option and by knowing the decision you've dreamed your reality into being, first and last and always.

Hmmm... maybe I should read novels by Italian philosophers. (Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco). Moreover, I probably shouldn't foist it on my son as a good read for him.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The body is an amazing thing, isn't it? We can beat the crap out of it and, in the end, it generally just comes back stronger. Sometimes it takes a while, but it's pretty resilient.

The challenge is that the older we get, the longer it seems to take to heal from the bumps and bruises of the world.

I'm dealing with a bit of that right now. As I do every spring. A winter's worth of riding is hard on the body. From the cold to the extra drag of riding with so many clothes on to the beating the legs take trying to power through the different snow conditions.

By spring I'm usually both much stronger than I was in the fall, but also in serious need of some time out to pasture.

This spring has been no different. I'm feeling my nearly forty years of abuse. But maybe even more so as I've recently been trying to learn the physics of flight with trajectories over the handlebars. The lessons are painful and I'm a slow learner. Though I won't complain too much. Hatcher Pass, specifically Gold Mint valley and the Archangel Road area are some beautiful areas to learn that snow adheres to the laws of fluid dynamics or something. It can be so soft that the front wheel of a vehicle, say a bicycle, can completely and instantaneously disappear, thus causing an abrupt and catastrophic transfer of motion from vehicle to rider of said vehicle, yet so hard that when said rider makes his short flight over the handlebars to land on his head in said snow, it acts in a similar fashion as concrete. No give. No bounce. Painful results.

These are the risks I take, dear reader, to get my kicks. To get outdoors. To prove that I'm not dead yet and that forty means nothing to me.


Like I said, though, the body is resilient. I will heal from these injuries I've brought upon myself. Just like my body's adapted to the demands of commuting by bike. It seems really cool that each day my bike reminds me that I can adapt and overcome, that I can do so much more, both mentally and physically, than I ever thought possible. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Live in Moscow

Stuffed on sushi and BBQ Pringles. A small reward for a good ride. I find that getting into Anchorage to ride the trails in Far North is something I really look forward to doing. These are my home trails, man. The trails I cut my Alaska cycling teeth on. I love them. Know them like the back of my hand. Know that the good snow riding is quickly coming to a close.

So I had to come into town tonight and wait for many an hour until making the trip back to the valley. So, what's a guy to do? Bring the bike and ride.

In an hour and a half I bombed some of my favorite trails - Ball Park, Paper Plate, Speedway, Black Bear, Rovers Run, and Blue Dot. Connected up a serious set of trails for some serious riding. Awesome times. Started at 8:30 and didn't need my head lights until well past 9. Went down five times over the course of the ride, the snowy slushy ice pellets slick as snowy, slushy ice pellets are when on top of transformed snow or ice. The front wheel would occasionally catch in a mass of these natural ball bearings and next thing I'd know I'd be on the ground. Sometimes still attached to the bike, other times I was able to get free before going down.

None of the wrecks were serious and apart from a bit of getting banged around and some stiffness tomorrow, I'm no worse for the wear. Yet another thing to love about snow biking - you can push yourself a bit further with less serious consequences when things go too far. Landing in snow is much more forgiving than landing on hard packed dirt. It can still hurt, but most times a wreck ends in a laugh and a hoot rather than blood and broken things.

But, it is quickly coming to an end for another year. I might be able to get one or two more snow rides in here in Anchorage and a few more up Hatcher's Pass way, but then I think it'll be that horrible time of year where we can't ride the trails because their too muddy. I'd rather suffer, though, than get a road bike. Just saying. maybe this spring when I can't ride I'll try taking up running again. Maybe.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


I've been trying to write stories for years. That novel that is supposedly buried inside me. My story.

And I can't do it. Not for trying. I've folders folders of starts without ends. I get bored or busy and the thread of the idea gets lost.

Yet that is not the only reason for the starts without ends. The bigger reason I never get around to finishing is fear. I seem to always get to the point in my writing where something pit to page is too close to the real truth, too close to me, and I get scared of what else will come out, what other long suppressed emotion will bubble up. Of who will read my story and engage in the intentional fallacy and equate the characters and situations with autobiography.

So I put the writing aside and stick to writing things like this blog where I don't have to worry about emotion or 'truth'. Where I only need to focus on the ideas that float in my head at any given moment.
I find that there are many similar situations in life. Situations where we give up or take the easy road because of fear.

I remember when I started commuting by bike. There was a lot of fear there. How would I make it through the winter? What would-be do if I broke down? What if I injured myself? What about riding with traffic? Traffic?

My first year commuting saw me carrying a full extra set of clothes, an extensive tool kit, and two tubes and a patch kit.

Slowly, when I realized that I wasn't using any of the extra baggage I was carrying with me each day, I started to jettison it. I started getting over the fear and grew confident in my abilities and preparedness.

I don't recall the sense of fear when first learned to drive at age 14. I took a class just like most of the kids went to school with and by the time I had my license, I was already nearly to that old pro stage.

With any endeavor there is fear of the unknown at the star, but eventually, if we can push it aside long enough to prove our skills, the fear resolves into confidence and we cab accomplish some amazing things. Of course, letting go of the fear is the hardest first step. To just let it go. Amazing. 

Now, about that novel...

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Drive (Acoustic)

Stealing time to hammer out a few words. It's all I have time for anymore. Things are crazy. Work. Who knew?

Spring is the time of rebirth, right? Things are changing every day. It reminds me that nothing is permanent.

One Ortlieb bag is performing admirably. I still need to get back to the corporate overlord to exchange them, but that's neither here nor there.

It's snowing here right now. Snow. I like it, yet am ready for it to be over.

The picture has nothing to do with anything. Other than a big ship and a small ship. In the Inlet. On a sunny day. They were more impressive in person.

Oh, and there was that one thing about a guy doing the White Mountains 100 on a unicycle. I've got some thoughts on that... I'll share them someday.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Sweep

Go with the Ortlieb everyone said. The only bike bags you'll ever need they said. I've gotta call bullshit right here and now.

Went to REI this morning to pick up a pair as my old panniers are getting ever closer to dying on me and I figured that rather than spending my dividend on something completely frivolous, I'd use it for something to ensure that I can make my commute with all my assorted accoutrements in order.

The salesman told me he had his Ortlieb for years and never had any issues. The reviews online generally say the same thing.

I had thought about getting a backpack, that while designed for cycling, could be used for other pursuits, but decided that as I had purchased the race, I should sick with rack bags. I toyed with the idea of a Topeak trunk bag that goes with my rack? But like the idea of being able to use a single bag rather than being stuck with the overhead that comes with a trunk bag.

Now I'm not even half way home, only part of my ride complete and.... wait for it... the fucking Ortlieb is broken. Three miles. I used them for exactly three miles with what is an average weight load - average for me anyway, and the goddamed thing broke and I don't fraking know how I'll make the second half of my ride, let alone finding the time to get back over to REI to return them. And return them for what? Another set of Ortliebs? Hell, I don't know.

I'm just really disappointed right now by the situation. Maybe my Koki bags aren't that bad.