Friday, October 31, 2008

Ryan Leach

I saw this guy the first time in the bike-movie Roam. He blew me away, I still can't get enough:

Are you aware?

This is a test:

"knowing is half the battle

ultra-violence is the other half."

I'm bored today so I will share some catchy t-shirts that I found here:

Tonight I may go out into the raging energy that is downtown Anchorage to see what the kidz are wearing this year for Halloween (besides parkas, it's 16F). I'm on call, so no social lubricant for me. I'll probably be a wallflower as I can't find anyone interested in seeing the nightlife of this fine city. Not to worry, I'm good at being a wallflower.

A friend of mine from Minneapolis found a bottle of KARATE cologne when he was cleaning out what I hope were some very old boxes. He leads a Saturday bike ride and I suggested we do a KARATE ride where all the boys would wear this fine cologne.

I wish I had a bottle of that or this to see what kind of a ruckus it would cause tonight:

I'm pretty sure my flatulence will have the same effect.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

made a friend, lost a friend

It was a windless 20F today when I got outside for my hike. I tried skiing, but there have been so many hikers on the trails that the snow has been really packed down and is icy in many places.

I chose to leave gun at home today and managed to find a friend to protect me:

He was very friendly, had no collar or tags and just started following me. Once in a while he'd lead, but he always kept looking behind to make sure I was still coming along.
After a while we came up to the Powerline trail and he went his own way. I sure hope he found his way home because he's a real sweetheart.
When I got back to the car the same bitch from last week was doing her random bark at the world. Emboldened by meeting the other dog, I approached her and she took a few sniffs at my extended gloved hand. But she wasn't sure about petting, so I left her to her rant against the mountains and all who dared traverse them.

Here is Anchorage from the Tony Coastal Trail near the airport on this lovely day:

Here is a mighty freighter bound for the not-so-far-East:

My point in going down to the sea along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail was to see if I could see Denali and I wasn't disappointed. It's faint in the photo, but it's the definition of awesome in real life:

Thursday, October 23, 2008


This week, I decided to alternate my workout schedule with one day skiing, one day something else. Yesterday I took a nice walk and did some stuff in the apartment. Today I got back to skiing.

I sprayed my skis so they would actually slide today and they worked well. I got much farther than two days ago, over 5 miles out from the car by my reckoning.

I made it up to the trail where I had my moose-a-graphs and sure enough, they are still hanging out. Forgot my camera today in my efforts to get out the door quickly.

On the way back down the gasline trail (which is all downhill back to the car) I got confused as I arrived at a fork in the trail and in a moment of indecision I fell, hard, face down. There isn't a lot of snow yet, so I basically pushed the snow aside and landed on the frozen earth.

I moved a good sized rock from it's resting place in the dirt, but I shook it off and nothing got broke. I was really in a negative mood after that, and it took me a while to realize it wasn't because I fell. It was because I fell onto my gun.

Up here a lot of folks carry guns. I do it in a chest holster for bears in the summer, and randy moose this time of year.

I recently had a Canadian acquaintance, who has never touched a gun, ask me if I worry about crashing my MTB with the gun on me. My response was that I always ride very conservatively when carrying the gun. The holster I use also has a strap that prevents the hammer from moving back which gives me another layer of protection against accidental discharge.

Today I could have been more conservative, and I failed. I should have descended slower, and stopped when I couldn't make up my mind on the fork in the trail. Turns out, that is why I was upset after the wipeout. Well, that and I lost my 11th toe, but I've been meaning to shoot that off for a long time. Now if I could just get these snow lice out of my chest hair!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


October in Anchorage and that means skiing...sort of. I went out of the O'Malley trail head today and started skiing up the gas line trail.

Temp was just above freezing and I had forgotten to use the fancy spray on my waxless skis so they started grabbing and collecting snow.

As I was taking this shot there was barking from behind me:

Up trotted a greyhound wearing a sweater/ saddle. That dog is going to have a tough time when the cold hits:

A little while after this I took off the skis and carried them as I hiked up the gas line. When I was ready to turn around, I put the skis back on and had a fun descent.

Here is looking back towards Anchorage:

The alder trees look really good in this snow and I tried to capture the vast puzzle that they form, but it's one of those things you have to see in person:
When I got back to my car there was a bitch barking in the middle of the nothing. I felt bad for her, but her ears were back and she was not approachable, so I couldn't get a look at her tags (or let her take me to her owner down the well as Lassie would have). Hopefully her owner heard her.

CAMBA video part 2

I didn't take my still camera, so you are going to have to wait for my friends to send links to their pix.

Here is a video that isn't overly wobbly (trust me) where I'm following the good doctor and Herr Bacon. It gives a good sense of what the beauty of these trails is, unfortunately it is not as clear as I would have liked.


This past weekend I returned to the Chequamegon National Forest for some MTBing. I joined a group who goes there every October for a weekend, this was my 2nd year with them and I really enjoyed both times.

We stayed at a very nice "cabin" and as there were seven of us it was also pretty economical. My favorite part (besides the lack of mildew that we lived in last year) was that we could ride from the cabin to the trails (which were dry and in excellent condition!).

After not biking much this summer, and my last few rides being dirty, and costly, it was a real treat to get back to the old stomping grounds, and riding in the 50's most of the time. Thanks so much to Mr. and Mrs. Bacon for letting me use the Mrs. hard tail.

CAMBA is the organization that builds and maintains over 200 miles of MTB trails inside and outside of the Cheq. National Forest. There is a little over 60 miles of single track right now, and plans are to continue building single track until there will be over 100 miles of pure MTB bliss!!

60+ of those miles will be connected so one could ride 60 miles of single track without repeating one inch of trail! That would be over 120 miles out and back... if ever there was a thing that would be fun enough to kill ya.

We started on one of my favorite trails: Esker. It winds up a hill and then you ride a ridge of roller-coaster hills that ends in a large climb to an amazing vista. One of our group took a wrong turn and wound up skipping the hill+vista (he didn't mind) and got back to the cabin solo.

After a brief mission of seeking, he retraced his pedal-strokes to find us and we went into Cable for some supper.

The next day we went to Fish Hatchery trail to start what would be our day of single track. The following video shows me rubbing tires with Mr. Bacon (my helmet camera got whacked by a branch right at the start of the ride and I didn't realize it was loose the rest of the day):

Did you notice the orange vest? We found out when we got there that it was a special season for deer hunting because the DNR determined there are too many does and if we don't shoot them they will die.

We heard some gun shots, but nothing that was close enough to us to be of concern.

After a hearty lunch at my favorite Norske Nook in Hayward we spotted a bobcat on our way to the Rocklake trail!

We split into two groups for the afternoon ride. One of us was on trails for his first time and it wasn't really fair to him to take him on the longer route.

I was having a difficult time at the end and I felt really exhausted by my efforts, only to find out I'd been pedaling with the rear brake rubbing against the rim of the wheel! So my 36 miles on the day should have some factor added to it, but I'm not that smart.

Our group doctor had a run in with a stick at the very end of the trail that day and the stick won: it removed his rear derailleur and jammed it into his spokes. He had to walk less than 100 yards to the cars, very lucky in an unlucky kind of way.

That night we had a spaghetti feast and watched Terminator 2 (my favorite of the three) on the satellite TV.

The next day we rode briefly on the Ojibwe trail and took the Short&Fat/ Sleigh/ Birkibeiner trails back to the cabin. We were all pretty tired, next year we will not be doing single track on Sunday.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Lots of bikers like to expound the virtues of snow biking. They look down their noses at those of us who would rather not ride our bikes in the cold, wet, slimiest of months.

For me it is not the discomfort of self, but the love for my trusty steed that I choose not to drive it through the muck. You see bikes, even MTBs, like to be clean. All those mechanical parts work best when they are clean AND not frozen in place by things like mud, or as I experienced today: snud (snow and mud).

It was a nice day here, about 32F when the 11 of us departed on our off road ride this evening. The first hour was great.

Biking on snow is pretty fun although my brain was having trouble believing that I was biking on snow. Snow is for skiing, sledding and so forth, soon my bike would prove my brain correct.

SEE! In the words of Hank Hill: "That ain't right:"

The mud was not completely frozen and is now coating my precious steed (too tired and lazy to attempt cleaning it tonight). An hour into the ride the snud froze in several places on the bike leaving me with two gears, the easiest gears, the gears that would make me pedal like a mad-man for the last 20 minutes of the ride to attempt to keep up, which I did not.

By the time I could no longer shift I also couldn't clip into my pedals and was lucky to not bash my shins repeatedly as my feet slipped off the snud balls that were my pedals.

Lesson: the right equipment makes things much more fun...OK safe if you will (platform pedals and a single speed would have been really fun out there today).

I think my brain was just never into the ride because I had cleaned my steed really well on Saturday and here I was getting it filthy when I could have just as well gone skiing and put the steed away until better days: when the ground is completely frozen, Spring perhaps, or at least days when it was just snow to deal with and not snud.

It was really nice riding with these folks tonight for the fact that I like meeting more people from here and these are a great group of active people. Next time I'm going to skip the ride and just go to the dinner after ; P

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Yep, I'm making up words faster than a overwhelmed flight attendant (on my last trip I watched four of them become confused on how an elevator works, and no, not the kind on an airplane).

It's nice to be in a place that can offer things like this:

The city is in the background of this shot which means it took me less than an hour to be standing in the presence of The Harem (this was an awfully big bull):

I zoomed in til fuzzy so you could see his rack better and also one of his cows behind him that doesn't stand out as well in the other shots (you should be able to click on any photo to make it bigger):

On the way back I came across two bulls who thought I was curious. One kept walking closer to me, so I stopped taking pictures and retreated to a safer distance. Then I got to watch him rub his rack on some alders which made a good amount of noise after all had been silent for the last hour up there.

October 7, the day of ski

When I woke up I saw that it was bright through my blinds. "Could the trails be frozen and dry enough to ride today," I had hoped! When I pulled back the blinds and saw that snow was accumulating I was not happy.

Last week I biked four times trying to squeeze every bit of riding I could out of myself, my bike and the trails before the winter set in. As you can see my MTB is now an Alaskan: it's sporting fenders:

Why I was sad about not being able to do this to my bike I don't know:

I had to wash my bike after every ride last week, and replace a shifter that got wrecked by an infestation of mud. Not cool when I'm trying to save $$ right now. My four rides last week averaged $53 per ride in bike accessories/ repairs.

Today I decided to drive up to the Glen Alps parking lot and see if I could hike to where the moose are determining who gets to play in the harem and who has to wait for the big guy to kick the bucket.

I took along the skis just in case and I'm sure glad I did: 6+ inches of snow up there!

Here's a stream crossing on the Middlefork trail heading toward the moose:

This is where I was camped out checking out the Harem. Can you find the moose in the left of this pix (see my next post for moose-a-graph galore):

Friday, October 3, 2008

Still pumping those pedals

A lot has been going on and not much time to write...that will all change as I'm now on call for the graveyard shift.

I've been biking a bit up in the hills now that they've "dried out." Sept is really bad for rain here.

If you get onto the trail in the early part of the day, the mud has frozen and it's pretty good riding. Getting towards dusk after the sun has cooked the mud all day it can get pretty messy.

That was how it was for me riding between 4 and 5:30 tonight. At one point you couldn't see any links on my chain, it was just one big mud grabber. That was some serious Reese's Peanut Butter Cup mud.

The mud that is actually fun is the shapeshifter: looks wet but is hard and vice versa.

The biggest thing I don't like about riding right now is cleaning the bike afterwards EVERY STINKING TIME!!

But I gotta get in my rides to make up for lost summer...even at 30F.