Monday, November 30, 2009

Check this out!

When we got back from Moab in October, Tim encouraged me to send one of my photos to Dirt Rag Magazine. I actually sent three of them, but didn't expect to see them in the magazine.

Then about a week ago, Tim's brother (who was also on the trip) told me that he had received this months issue of Dirt Rag and that one my photos from Moab was published on page 67. I was so excited that I rushed over to REI to get a copy, but then I realized it wouldn't be in the stores for another week and I would have to wait to see it.

Today it was there, check it out, it's a full page! On the right is the same photo that I framed. It's Brian on the Sovereign Trail.



I also had so many more photos that I liked from that day that I put together a little collage.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ice Bike Race

15 laps around a 3/4 mile track snow plowed into Goose Lake...



3 times getting lapped by this guy...



One women entered in the race, I guess that means I win!



A few beers after the race...



One delicious plate of Thanksgiving leftovers...



... and one sore back from riding a bike that was too big for me. Ouch!

(Some of the photos were taken by Maura Shea, I hope you don't mind Maura!)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Niko wants to sing you a Thanksgiving song... have a listen!

video
(Sorry it's sideways, I keep doing that!)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What's your "too cold too climb" limit?



Last weekend I wanted to get out to ice climb, because I haven't been yet this year. So when Kim said she had rented one of the yurts in Eagle River I thought it would be a perfect opportunity.

But it was seriously cold last week. Down below zero for most of the days. Good for forming up the ice, not so good for climbing in. Especially since Kim got frost bite last year and mild hypothermia when we were climbing in Eklutna Canyon at minus 5.



Everyone has their limit. "I don't climb below zero." "I don't climb below minus 10." I haven't yet figured out what my limit is, but I know it stops being fun and starts being more about survival when it's below zero.

Friday night when we hiked out to the Yurt it was about minus ten in the valley. Niko even got cold on the 2 mile hike in.



We piled in the yurt like sardines and awaited the morning. Saturday morning it was still pretty cold. I don't think it was at my limit though, but everyone else said no, so we declared a recon day.




We hiked 5 1/2 miles out to Heritage falls and Icicle Creek to check out the climbs out there. They are in, but there was a wide open gap in the river to get across to Heritage. The climbs in Icicle Creek are in as well, but it's sort of a long approach, maybe one for the fat bikes when the river freezes over completely.





The echo bend climbs were in, and it looked like we could get across the river, but alas we left our gear in the yurt. And by the time we hiked all the way out to Icicle Creek and back it had been 6 hours and guess what? We only have about 6 hours of daylight these days.

The cold temps made for some serious frost on the trees...





All in all it was a good day out. I love to use up all the sunlight we get on the weekends, especially because watch the sunrise and set from my office during the week.

And at least we got to use our tools for something...




But I'm really itching to get out and climb. Long weekend is coming...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sunday Ride

Nothing like spending a Sunday afternoon rounding up a gang of Fat Bikes for ride.



Sitting up there on those big wheels riding five deep with skiers and families staring as we roll by makes me feel like I'm in a bike gang.

Tim crossing the creek to Rover's...



Huber getting ready to tackle a big hill...



H is so fit she doesn't even need to pedal...



Maura on "Boing, boing, boing!"...



This is going to be a fun winter.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Inaugural Commute and Ride

My first commute on the Pugsley was successful. Over the past few years I have dialed in my layering system for temperatures below zero. My coworkers asked how I stayed warm on the ride in yesterday, but the real issue was how not to overheat.

The ride home was the tough part. At 5pm it's already dark and the temperatures were dropping below zero as I left the office. I had a chill inside of me before I even got dressed to ride, so I blasted the space heater in the office to warm up. That seemed to work.

I arrived home warm and happy and with plans to get out and do a trail ride later that night.



It didn't matter how cold it was, I wanted to get out and ride on the trails. So Brian and I met Tim out at the Smokejumper trailhead. When we got to the parking lot we were hesitant to get out of the car. When it's that cold you need to have a plan and move fast so that you don't freeze your ass off before you start riding. When we left the trailhead on the bikes Tim's thermometer read 0 degrees.

My thoughts of frozen body parts quickly subsided as we started gliding down the trail. The snow was packed down and Brian had no problem on studded tires, but there is something about sitting up there on that snow bike that makes me happy, even if I don't really need it yet. I know that I could ride off the trail and into the unpacked snow if I wanted to. It just opens up the door to a world of possibilities.



Tim snapped this picture of me in the last five minutes of the ride back to the car. I've been doing pilates lately and learning how to relax my shoulders while everything else is working, but there is no way to relax your shoulders when it is this cold. I barely managed to get my tongue back in my mouth before it froze.

Tim's thermometer read -10 when we arrived back at the parking lot. Now I'm sitting at work eating lunch and daydreaming of where I want to take my new bike next.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sunday, November 15, 2009

So close...

I spent most of my free time this weekend putting together my new snow bike. I was happy to have finally acquired all of the parts. It was fun in the beginning, bargain shopping and finding parts in the garage and acquiring free parts from friends, but after awhile trying to pick out parts just got annoying.



I'm not really into bike gear. I like WHOLE BIKES, that I can ride. A pile of bike gear laying around my living room floor in bags, doesn't really excite me. So it wasn't until today that I fully realized that soon I would own a Pugsley. A whole one that I can ride in the snow, instead of fishtailing and sinking and struggling or having to hand shift the Snow Ho.

I was dreading putting the bike together. This is my first bike build, and if you read this blog regularly you know that I am a little clumsy. Me and bike tools (or tools in general) don't really get along.



But I wanted to ride my bike. So, Friday night I had the guys at Speedway install a new bottom bracket and crankset, and put on the headset cap thingys. Yesterday Brian wrestled with the headset caps (I still am not sure what he was doing) while I disassembled my summer mountain bike for parts, and assembled wheels with tires and tubes. Big ass tires and tubes... oh yeaaaahh.



We cut the fork and assembled the headset together. I set up my seat height so that it matched the height of the seat on my old mountain bike, which is now just a pile of old cables and frame, so sad.



I put the wheels on and we installed the brakes and brake cables. That was where we left it yesterday.



Today I woke up thinking I would spend an hour adjusting the brakes and installing the shifter cables, then adjusting the derailleurs and I would be out the door by noon riding my new bike.

Brian guessed that it would take me two hours. I laughed at him. Hahahaha!

Then my bike laughed at me. It took five hours and it was 5pm when I was still messing around with my rear derailleur trying to figure out why it wouldn't shift all the way to the largest cog. I realized my chain was too short. I took it from my mountain bike and never thought about the fact that you have to change the length of the chain to fit. I have never done this before, remember.

I thought about running to the bike shop before they closed, but realized I had neglected Niko all weekend, and he needed to get out and run. So my poor little Pugsley sits down in the garage without a chain waiting to be ridden.

The idea that I will have a fat bike to ride by tomorrow makes it feel like Christmas Eve. Last night also felt like Christmas Eve, but then today Christmas came and we unwrapped our presents and we realized that the one thing we were hoping for came, but it needed to be assembled and needed batteries and all the stores were closed because it was Christmas. Makes sense doesn't it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Winter Welcome



Getting out the door every night to exercise has become increasingly more difficult. For one, I have been feeling the affects of the darkness pretty hard this year. I have not been able to get out of bed before 8 am, I have felt sluggish and unmotivated all day, and when I get home I just feel like pulling the blanket over my head and hanging out with my peeps on the couch.

Second and most important, I don't have any goals right now. I know I want to climb, ski and ride my bike a lot this winter, and I want to build my aerobic capacity so that I have a big base to work with in the spring and summer, but I'm not signed up for any races and don't have any big climbs planned, so I really have nothing to work towards.



I know if I get out the door for at least and hour I will feel better, and I have, but I really have to push myself to get out there. I always struggle with this time of year because I feel like we are waiting forever for winter to get started. When will there be enough snow to ski on and when will the ice form up.

It snowed a few more inches today, and that has helped tremendously. It makes the darkness a little less harsh. Things are brightening up. I have heard rumors of people ice climbing already.

I'm starting to think about a few goals I might want to set for myself this winter and hopefully can begin to formulate a plan. I need a good hard challenge to work towards.



Tonight Niko and I went out for a run. I even got to wear my studded sneakers. Then I made a big pot of beef stew and had a beer to welcome the winter. It's about time.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Our new skijoring rabbit


It snowed about three inches at our house last night. Finally some snow in town to play around in! I took Niko out for the first skijor of the season. He had forgotten how to pull and was just sort of trotting next to me and stopping to pee on every tree.

That makes skiing harder than it needs to be. Every ten feet I would yell, "On by!" and yank him back onto the trail. He had no idea what he was doing in a harness and what I was trying to get him to do.

About a mile up the trail we saw Brian heading home from work on his bike. Niko cannot resist Brian on a bike. If Brian is going somewhere on a bike, that is where Niko wants to be. He doesn't care where it is.

This gave me an idea. After Brian took off we turned around to face the direction he was going and Niko could not wait to take off in that direction...

video

After letting him get all riled up I yelled "Hike! Hike!" and we were off. I have never seen him pull me so fast. Now we just need to work on how to stop.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Building Character... or Something



Laura rented the Dale Clemens cabin Saturday night which is just off of the Lost Lake trail, so we thought it would be a good idea to try and ride our bikes up to it. People have been riding the trails down on the Kenai with no problem in the past few weeks, just a light dusting of snow and frozen trails to ride over, so we didn't think it would be a problem.

Brian wanted to get up to the cabin as fast as possible so that we could drop our bags and continue riding up to the Lake. We took the winter route, which is more direct... and shitty. We didn't know it was going to take us 2 hours to "ride" 2.5 miles.

The bottom section of the trail was good, but the weight on our backs was quickly becoming a problem as the trail got steeper.

So we started to push...



And push...



And push some more...



Then we saw some people coming down the trail.

"Are you folks going for a bike ride?"

"We were going to try."

"There's three feet of snow above the cabin, we were post-holing the whole way."

"Oh."



We thought about ditching the bikes. We only had our skinny studded tires on and if there was three feet of snow above the cabin, we weren't getting to the lake on our bikes.

But there is a running joke that goes on in our household that suddenly became relevant. Brian once asked why anyone would want to push their bike 100 miles in the Susitna 100 when the conditions were bad with too much snow, when you could just go skiing instead. Someone replied, "Because it builds character."

And so we kept pushing and joking about how we were building character. We stopped a few times and I was like, "Ditch the bikes now?" (see how much character I have) and Brian would say, "Well, I'm going to build more character, but you can ditch your bike." So, it became a challenge for me to keep pushing all the way to the cabin, and maybe by the time I got there I would be overflowing with good character.

The snow wasn't that deep, but the winter route that we decided to take, pretty much went straight up for 1800 feet.

We finally came up over a really steep hump, where I literally was hoisting my bike over my head, while kicking steps into the deep crusty snow, and there was the cabin.

Here is the view from the cabin...




The ride down today started out slow with more pushing, but once we got back into the trees we could ride pretty much the whole way.



It was worth it, and look at all this new character I have today. ;)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Halloween


For some reason I am at a loss for words about the Frigid Bits Halloween party last night. I didn't dress up this year because I've been sick all week and just didn't have the energy to put a costume together, but I'd say Brian made up for my lack of costume. I won't be posting any of them here, but if you really want to see you can log on to akspokes.com. You have to be a member to see photos I think, so you'll have to reaaaaallly want to see them.

Quick update. It hasn't snowed in town yet and it's November already. We've been doing our usual boring October stuff around the house. Now that things are freezing up, ice climbing season should be starting soon! I have been in the climbing gym a lot trying to get strong. My Pugsley is almost ready to build (probably next weekend). Today we are on the couch recovering from Halloween. That pretty much sums up what's been going since we got back from Moab.

Stay tuned.