Sunday, January 31, 2010

It was pretty when it was easy

With the White Mountain Race coming up quickly and the Susitna 100 (Brian is doing this not me) we decided it was time to really get out there and test out our gear and put in some good hard miles. Saturday we woke up at 6am and drove up to Willow to start a long ride.

The moon was spectacular as we loaded up the bikes in the dark.

We arrived at the boat launch at Deshka Landing just around sunrise and loaded up the bikes. I still don't have much weight on my actual bike. I am used to carrying weight on my back and don't understand why more people don't do this on bikes. I'm sure I'll find out soon enough, but to me it makes more sense to have most of the weight over my center of gravity on the bike.

This week I'm going to get a front rack in order to strap my sleeping bag, bivy and foam pad to, and I have a seat bag on the way from Epic Designs, but I am going to carry some weight in a backpack on my back unless I find that there is some disadvantage to this.

The temperature was 15 degrees at the car, but that quickly dropped to zero as we got down onto the Susitna River. We required a quick wardrobe change before we were ready to go.

The riding was flat and the conditions were great and I found the going easy as we started the 15 miles down the Susitna to the intersection with the Yentna. It was especially easy to ride in the tracks made by snow machines pulling sleds behind. But only a certain kind of sled makes for easy going.

Once we turned up the Yentna it felt slighty uphill and the snow got soft from the sun. This became difficult for me. I guess I've been spoiled on the pansy packed down, rock hard trails of Anchorage.

Flat rides are mentally and physically torturous for me, because of the non stop pedaling against the resistance of the snow. It's pretty much "pedal, pedal, pedal" the whole way with no break.

I don't remember what the exact conversation was late in the ride that sparked the quote that inspired the title of this post but it went something like this...

Brian: "How ya doin'?"

Me: "OK... actually, this hurts."

Brian: "We're almost there. It's beautiful though, right?"

Me: "It was pretty when it was easy. Now it's just pain."

After about 4 1/2 hours of riding we saw the sign for Luce's Lodge, climbed the steep hill to the lodge and parked our bikes...

Luce's is a fantastic place to stay. Not because of fancy rooms or food(although the food is good) or amenities, but because the Luce's (Janice and Dave) are really kind and generous people and it they make you feel very much at home in their lodge.

You walk in and you are greeted with free coffee and warm stove, cheeseburgers, great french fries and beer. We were amazed at how many snow machiners were stopping in, making this remote lodge pretty crowded during lunchtime.

Our cozy room at the lodge, where I took a nap in the evening while Brian went out for another 20 or so miles of riding in the dark.

They even have a hot tub where you can soak tired muscles and watch the sun set. In the morning we were greeted by the moon again and a huge breakfast prepared by the Luce's.

At 9:30 it was time to pack up the bikes and hit the trail again. It was 10 degrees at the lodge and zero again when we dropped down to the river.

The sun was so bright on the ride back down the Yentna that it was hard to take photos. Brian would occasionally disappear into the sunlight and then reappear when he stopped to let me catch up.

The view of Denali was spectacular on the way back up the Susitna. This picture doesn't do it justice. We were a little surprised at what seemed to be steam coming up off of this section of open river.

As we got closer to Deshka Landing where the car was parked my legs were screaming at me for not training more in these conditions. It made me realize that I cannot train in Anchorage much anymore on the weekends leading up the White Mountain Race. The snow is just too packed down to provide enough resistance.

As I approached the end of the ride, I had one more look back at the river that really was pretty even when it got hard.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Missing the ice

What have I been doing for the month of January?



and more riding...

It's becoming a problem because the climbing people are getting restless. Mainly this girl...

She harasses me about my bike every chance she gets. She hates my bike. It's eating up all of my attention. We used to spend so much time climbing together that Brian started calling her my "winter boyfriend". But alas, I have not been out on the ice yet this year! It's very sad. I miss the ice and I miss climbing with Kim.

But I'm starting to realize that if I want to accomplish any of my goals that I need to be able to focus. It used to be that I would do a little of everything, but it's really hard to get good at anything like that.

The plan is to ride my ass of in January, February and early March, and then taper for two weeks before the race. During that time I can start ice climbing again. I'll have at least two months of good solid (warm weather, long daylight) climbing days after that.

So there it is. I can do everything I want to do, I just need to organize a little bit. And maybe Kim can be my spring boyfriend this year.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A whole month flew by...

...while I wasn't looking. It's the end of January already and I have neglected my blog. My days are now filled with work, riding my bike, climbing in the rock gym, cooking fabulous meals and then back to work at night on various websites I have volunteered to set up.

I haven't had time to stop and think. The only time I get to really think is when I'm on the bike. Bike rides are getting longer now and we are preparing to start adding weight to our bikes while training in order to simulate the White Mountain race conditions.

By the way, the BLM permit for the White Mountain Race went through, so it's official. On March 21st Brian and I will be starting our 100 mile journey north of Fairbanks into the White Mountains. Woohoo! Or OMG, WTS? depending on what day you talk to me. But if there wasn't an element of panic in me it wouldn't be fun, right?

Our Saturdays have been spent riding all the daylight hours away. Last weekend we rode out to the Knik Glacier, wow! What a beautiful ride.

We started out at noon at Hunter Creek...

Niko was full of energy on the first half of the ride...

We arrived at the glacier about two hours later...

There are so many cool places to explore in this area. You can weave your bike in and out of ice formations. I was kicking myself for not bringing the ice climbing gear, but then again it felt like the temperature had dropped to about -10 on the glacier and the sun was about to set, so we didn't stay long.

We headed back to the car after eating a couple of burritos. I'd definitely like to go back and wander around here for a few hours (or days). In addition to the glacier I could see multiple waterfall climbs down further in the gorge.

We arrived back at Hunter Creek at sunset with Niko dragging behind, his paws bleeding from running on hard crusty snow all day.

I'm feeling pretty good about the upcoming race. February is going to be a big mile month on the bike for me. This weekend Brian and I are heading down the Susitna to ride and stay at Luce's Lodge for a night. More photos to come!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Year

I created a slideshow from my favorite photos of 2009. I finally got this thing working and uploaded it after a few days of fiddling around with it, but here it is... I hope you like it.

I have heard many people saying 2009 was a tough year, but we have been fortunate to have had a great year in 2009. I chose the song "Hold your Head High" by Heartless Bastards that reminds me that even if I am going through a rough time, things will eventually turn around and be great again.

(Some of the photos were taken by Brian and also my friends Tim, Heather and John.)

I'm not really one for New Year's Resolutions and saying, "in 2010 I'm finally gonna get my act together and do 'fill in the blank'". I'm more of a "I want to do something so I'm going to start now." kind of person. Why wait until a new year, or until Monday, or until the weekend? Do what you want to do now. Walk outside of your door and start.