Monday, February 23, 2015

Live at Hellfest....

Let's not talk about climate change. Let's not try to form a pattern out of the weather changes over the last two winters as they can still be considered anomalies. Let's just let the fact that it is raining in February be the elephant in the room.

Normally I don't do much road riding until April and May when the trails are either an icy mess or wet and boggy. Road riding has always been a stop-gap measure for me. Something to do while I wait for the type of riding I want to do to become available. This is probably a large part of the reason I've never bought a road bike. I occasionally enjoy riding on the road, but not enough to commit to it.

Saturday I headed out for what was planned to be about 6 miles of road to the bike trails, another 6 miles or so of trail riding, depending on how I was feeling, and then another 6 miles back home. Instead, I ended up riding 33 miles of road. The plan was to check out the MatSu river park trails to see how they were holding up prior to a meet up ride I'm planning on putting together for the 6th of March. I was hoping that either we'd have frozen dirt with minimal icy patches or, better, crusty, grippy, awesome riding snow over a frozen base.

Maybe my expectations were way off, but in the end, I didn't even get onto the trails owing to the fact that the amount of ice getting to the trailhead was enough to convince me that unless something changes weather-wise that the idea to lead a bunch of folks around the trails after dark is probably not the brightest idea.

Then again, the rain we're getting might help. Or maybe not. Two weeks is a long time this time of year and conditions can and do and will change.

So, the trail riding idea was a bust. But I wasn't ready to turn around and head home yet. I really needed a ride of some sort, needed to get my head straight. Besides, I wasn't looking forward to heading home and going back to work. So I headed east and south along the MatSu river, riding against the wind, enjoying the feel of speed and the sound of rubber on clear asphalt.

Sometimes that's just what a person needs - some riding that allows the mind to completely disconnect from the body and just wander. Riding trail is a feat of uniting the mind and the body -knowing exactly where in space and time each part of the body is and making the adjustments needed to keep the body moving in the right direction. Road riding allows the mind to wander, to disconnect from the body. It's a great thing in that way. But not something I want to do all the time. And, according to some schools of thought, something I should never do on the bike that I've got.

This is a strange thing to me - the fact that people will, when they hear that I ride one bike only and that it is a fat bike, without prompting or provocation, tell me just how much more efficient I would be and how much more fun I would have if I bought the right kinds of bikes for riding different surfaces and terrains. I need a road bike for road riding, a full suspension mountain bike for single track, an XC bike for riding the farm fields in Palmer, and a commuter bike for commuting. They tell me I should only ride fat in the snow or on the beach.

My response is always the same - I often can and do ride all of these terrains in a single ride - how am I supposed to carry four or five bikes with me on a ride? I'm the type of guy who, even if I could afford and if the wife would allow me to have multiple bikes, wouldn't have multiple bikes for the simple fact that I spend so much time getting a bike to feel just right that the transition to another bike is generally quite un-fun. I'm still getting used to the Trek over the Pugsley, six months later. I don't feel, yet, that I know the bike well enough to really push it to the limits. That takes time for me. Jumping back and forth between bikes just isn't something I enjoy. Just like with cars. When we used to have two cars in my family, I always had a hard time transitioning to the car I didn't drive all the time.

I guess I am a man of habits.

So, having a different bike for every type of riding I do is just not in the cards. And I've spent a lot of time thinking about the types of riding I do and what type of bike best covers all of them. I'm coming to the realization that maybe the 29+ platform might just be that one bike to rule them all bike for me. I don't know. Haven't actually ridden one, but I'm thinking about it.  I think that the other option for me is to get a set of 29er wheels for the fatty so that on days like today, with the rain and the ice, I can have a set of studded wheels. In the summer I could throw on slicks for commuting or knobbies for trail riding.

I don't know. For the last few days I've had this sense that something is not quite right, not quite there. And this feeling manifests itself in a desire to shop or eat. Weird.

I don't normally think too much about my bike and whether it is the right bike for me like I am doing right now. I wonder if it's all connected? Maybe I'm having some early mid-life crisis? Maybe I just need some drastic and
transformative change in my life? Who knows?

Maybe I just need some trails to ride so I get out of my head a bit?

Maybe some moonlit miles will help clear the funk away? 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


I kept saying I was going to write more for the blog this year. That's obviously not happened.

I just don't have much to say about riding stuff right now. I've been doing some riding and have had some great rides and some not so great rides. I've crashed and I soared. But as I've done before, I've focused my riding to where I don't stop to take photos or try to take mental notes so that I can write about the ride later.

And it is February, which is a hard time of year to ride. Especially this year. Sometimes it is too much snow that makes it hard to ride. Or too much cold. This year it is lack of snow and temps that turn everything icy and slick overnight and wet and cruddy during the afternoon.

I went out to the MatSu Greenbelt trails this weekend for a ride and it was such a mixed bag that some of the riding was a blast while other bits was absolutely gut wrenching. The access roads in the farm fields and along the powerline were icy and slick as hell while much of the single track was awesome tacky riding. Except for those south facing parts of the trail where there was a clear shot to the sky. Those sections were luge track. Then there were the blow downs. I took Root Bear to the north east out of Bear Berry - the old part of this trail - and there were numerous trees down and debris all along the trail from the last wind storm. In the end I had to stop many times just to pull sticks out of my der or my wheels.

In the end, the riding couldn't have been that bad as I spent nearly three hours out there killing the trails.

Anymore, though, those are the rare occasions. Usually when I am not at work right now I can only get an hour or two, tops, away. Between grading papers, kids' activities, and putting off the work around the house, I just have a hard time getting the time to get out there.

Or maybe it is more of a motivational issue. That's probably the case. I usually do have a slight downturn in my riding in January and February. The vacation time I take in late December and Early January leads to some great days of riding without the worry about work and such. Then I get back to the daily grind and it just gets hard to get out there on the days off.

As of now I have no epic rides planned for the spring and summer, but I do want to get in some good, long rides. We'll just have to see what's the what. Hopefully some good stories will be shared here again soon.

Thursday, February 12, 2015


Just to let everyone know - it's snowing in Anchorage. Right now. Little, bitty flakes. It'll amount to nothing. Or it may amount to a lot. But it is snow. Ain't complaining. Ain't complaining at all!