Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Back in MN

I'm typing this from my home in Minneapolis. I must admit, I missed the relative warmth here compared with Anchorage. I left Anchorage on Tuesday the 26th and with training in Seattle last week, I haven't been back yet.

I had my bike back long enough to get in two rides before I left and now I'm salivating at the thought of some longer rides this month.

Thanks to my good, no GREAT friend Rigtenzig I was loaned a bike to use while I've been home. It's his wife's hardtail which I have all dialed in now, just in time to give it back.

Yesterday I rode on the river bottoms trail (four whitetail deer, lots of squirrels including one albino, and a garder snake that tried to kill itself by going towards my front tire but managed to escape un-tread upon..I list these only because they are not seen in Alaska, except for the rare squirrel). Today I will take it on Lebanon Hills trail. Last week I got to ride with Rigtenzig on the Murphy single track and that was really fun. I tree-ed a coon on that ride. Then there was one in my neighbors basement egress "pit" last night. They are everywhere down here, not so in Alaska.

With all the different bikes that I wind up riding, I'm not sure I know what my "feel" is anymore. I'm getting good at making whatever I'm riding work. Even my gear is pretty whacked: almost all of it is in Anchorage right now. It's almost fun riding in my old pair of Sketchers, but I miss my clipless pedals.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Eklutna Lake

Right before the Mrs. left Alaska we went camping as our last adventure before the school year started. It was car camping which was really nice since we could bring a lot more crap than we could if we went in a canoe or kayak.

Eklutna Lake feeds all the drinking water for Anchorage. It also is set between some really gorgeous mountains and is a state park.

When we got there it was raining. I set up a nice shelter to sit under using a tarp (lean-to??) and then it stopped raining and didn't rain the next three days we were there! That's pretty good for Alaska.

We hiked a bit of the Bold Ridge trail after biking to it. Then we went for the full-monty and biked all the way to the Eklutna Glacier (26 miles round trip) the next day:

My commuter (the MTB was not back in service at the time) has a knobby front tire and a smooth road tire on the rear (so as to power the tread turning knob for the lights). There were LOTS of rocks on that trail and, well, that old rear tire gave out right after the Bold airstrip. I changed the pinch flat (tube was under inflated and I was stupid enough not to check before the ride).
A few miles later, another pinch flat. I couldn't get enough pressure into the tube with the cheap hand pump we had so I wound up using all of my tube patches to nurse it back to camp. We were within a mile of the glacier when we turned back because we were running out of time and didn't want to be stuck out there over night.

Of course the way back was MUCH faster and it turned out we DID have time to see the glacier, but better safe than dead. On the way back we ran into a big group of bikers who had a floor pump and I was able to get the correct PSI into the tire. It hasn't gone flat since, although it does have my signature minimum two patches on it.
The next (last) day we rented a tandem sea kayak for a couple hours, had lunch and then hiked up the Twin Peaks trail. Here is the Mrs. levitating at our lunch spot:

The picture doesn't do it justice because from that angle it really looked like we were floating over the valley.
When we got to the top (2.5 miles and 2000 feet) it was all alpine tundra. It was really gorgeous, one of the best views either of us has ever seen.

We saw a bunch of dall sheep on the way up and then as we started back down we saw this:
A big black bear which was about 20-50 yards from the only trail back to camp! It was nice to see from a distance as it was the biggest bear either of us had seen outside a zoo. We made a lot of noise hiking back to camp.

We also saw a bear in camp on our second day, but it was being chased out by a ranger and wasn't in any hurry to get into a tussle with anything but a picnic basket.