Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Frigid Bits Spectator

I was a spectator for the first time at a Frigid Bits event on Saturday night. We showed up late and I just couldn't decide whether I wanted to race or do the social ride and in the end I decided I didn't want to ride at all.

Since we had skied all day and I did a long ride the day before I enjoyed myself eating hot dogs and cookies around the burn barrel. I felt guilty for not riding at first because I had planned too.

Lately I have been pushing myself to ride even when I don't feel like it, because I am sure there will probably be some point in the 100 miles of the White Mountain Race that I won't feel like riding. I probably should prepare for that.

But does riding when I don't feel like it really train me for that? Sometimes I think it helps. As soon as I get 30 minutes into a ride, I usually feel better and have fun. I like to think of it as training my brain to just stop thinking and to get on the bike and start pedaling. Everything will work out if I just start pedaling.

The problem with that way of training is that you can push yourself too far and then end up hating the sport. Especially someone like me who can't do the same thing over and over again and not get bored.

For that reason, when I'm really tired and uninterested, I'm allowing myself to skip a ride that I had planned. It's all about finding a balance that works, and knowing the difference between needing rest and just being lazy.

And hanging around the burn barrel on a Saturday night you can't go wrong. Especially when they are giving out free stuff. Check out this new Camelbak I won!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Pango Ski Day

We had a fun day out skiing with some of my coworkers on Saturday. I took off Friday to ride the bike all day, so that I could get in a ski day on Saturday. I finally feel like I'm really flowing on skis off piste. Even in the crud that is Alyeska right now. They got 30 new inches of snow this week but it was so warm during the days that it melted down into a dense frozen tracked up mess.

That was okay because I have been skiing so well lately that even crud doesn't phase me. I'm sure that it still doesn't look pretty. I'm not really in full control ever when skiing and my form leaves something to be desired, but it's getting more fun and I'm am becoming less cautious.

My favorite part of the day was when we hiked up a small ridge and sat at the top and took in the view. It was so warm that some of the guys were in t-shirts. Not exactly Februrary weather, kind of depressing actually that it was 35 degrees at the TOP of Alyeska in Februrary, but we have warm ups every year and we just have to go with it.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Warm Weather Warning

I giggled when I was watching the news Tuesday night and the first story was "Warm Weather Warning". The temperature goes above freezing and people in Alaska (at least the type of people who recreate in the snow and on the ice) start to panic.

There is a buzz about town that happens every year when we have a warm up in the middle of winter. What if all the snow melts? What if the ice falls down before the Ice Festival? What will we do with our weekends? This is going to create a big mess! Then a few days later the temperature drops, the ice freezes up, the snow begins to fall again and we all take a big sigh of relief in our little bubble of winter happiness.

In all seriousness the warning is really to watch out for ice and snow falling off of roofs and snow melting and freezing at night onto the roads creating dangerous driving conditions, but it's funny to think of all of the winter lovers (including myself) sitting on their couches watching the news with wide eyes thinking, OH NO, NOT WARM WEATHER! It is completely opposite from where I used to live (Philadelphia) and makes me happy to know that I am where I am supposed to be.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A multi sport weekend

While Brian was slogging away at the Susitna 100, a couple of friends and I were headed up to Nancy Lakes Area to stay at a cabin on Lynx Lake. Since Laura and Mel couldn't get out there until 4:30 pm, I thought I'd ride my bike around, explore the area, and haul some stuff out to the cabin to get some miles in.

Niko and I started out on the Nancy Lake Parkway where conditions were good. I got my "Springer" dog walker attached to my Pugsley so that Niko wouldn't run off in front of all of the expected snow machine traffic.

Conditions on the road were good but as soon as we dropped down onto one of the lakes the ride started to deteriorate. About every ten minutes the trail would get to soft to ride and I would feel that familiar sink of the front tire down into deep snow. For five hours I was on and off the bike, happy when I could ride, happy when I couldn't. I didn't have any real agenda for the day except to pass by the cabin and drop some stuff off, so pushing never really bothered me.

I thought about Brian out on the Susitna course and wondered if he was experiencing the same conditions. I hoped that the conditions were better for him, which it turns out they were. He ended up riding 98 percent of the course. I'd say I rode about half of the five hours I was out on Saturday.

At 5 pm we arrived back at the car to meet Laura and Mel. Niko was wiped out and he took his place in his bed in the back seat with a look of relief for being back at the car, ready to nap on the long drive home. He stared at me curiously as I packed up the bike and proceeded to get out the skis and pack up a sled. I literally had to pick him up out of his bed and set him on the ground as he whined and squirmed.

"Just four more miles buddy."

Me, Mel, Laura, Niko, Deuce (Mel's dog) and Aly (Laura's dog) set out for the cabin in the dark.

We were happy that I had been out to the cabin earlier that day, because the only way we found it in the dark night was by following my Endomorph tracks. Eventually we arrived at the cabin around 9pm and settled in with a warm fire, some Jambalaya and many, many well earned chocolate Valentine treats.

I fell asleep wondering where Brian was. Was he pushing his bike up the Yentna River? Was he riding? Soaking in the hot tub at Luce's? Already at home? Was he going to finish? Would he aggravate his foot injury? There were so many possibilities, but I had a feeling he was pressing on to the finish line.

In the morning I was stiff and tired from the nine hour day before, so I was glad to only have to ski four miles back to the car and with a much lighter sled.

I decided to check my messages because Brian said he would call when he was done. There was one message. At 8am he had called and said, "I finished in 21 hours and 48 minutes, I'm going home to sleep, see you there." Yay! I was happy for him and relieved that I didn't have to wonder any more.

We packed up the stuff and headed onto the lake at a slow pace.

Ahhh... back at the car, this time Niko could really take a nap.

Monday, February 15, 2010


After much concern last week over newly fallen snow and a recent diagnosis of Plantar Fasciitis in both feet, Brian ended up starting and finishing the Su 100 (100 miles of biking in the snow) in just 21 hours and 48 minutes this weekend. Nice job Monkee, I knew you were going to kick ass!

Look at him smiling in this photo by the Nome sign. What do you think, it looks like he wants to go to Nome...

...or maybe he was smiling because he was NOT going to Nome.

OR maybe he's smiling because he's wearing his fancy knickers! (Seriously what is going on down there?)

Also congrats to my friend Carlene for skiing the Little Su 50K, to Julie and Jill of Palmer for taking 1st and 2nd place in the female bike division of the 50K, and to Tim Kelly for finishing the Su 100 once again. You all continue to inspire me!

Training continues for the White Mountain Race which is just 5 short weeks away, yikes!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Snowy, snow, snow, snow...

...that's what I imagine goes through Niko's mind as he jumps and squeals by the front door when he knows we are about to go play in the snow.

We got pummeled with snow here in South Central this weekend. Great for skiing, not so great for training for a hundred mile race. But I am trying to find a way to train in all conditions. I suppose this is a scenario that could play out the day of the race.

I went out for a ride Saturday amidst the "Blizzard" and made it only four miles in my first hour. Niko had a blast bouncing around in the freshly fallen snow, and I pushed. I rode some, but fell a lot. I did get a chance to try out my new Neos over boots in the deep powder.

It still feels wrong to squash the snow with my monster tires. I feel like a big bully doing it. But I really don't have a choice right now. So I'm trying to balance putting in a lot of miles on the bike and enjoying the snow on my skis.

Sunday we showed proper respect to the snow and skied in it at Aleyska. The powder was glorious!

Check out this stud I found on the slopes!

This year I'm venturing out into new territory at Alyeska. I am at the point where I can pretty much ski the whole mountain. Well, except for something they call "The Knuckles" which requires a "sketchy traverse" over rocks where any mis-ski could turn into a tumble off of a cliff.

But I do ski the High Traverse or the "High T" as locals call it, which is a journey in itself just to get there. First you veer off the groomed run into a fast traverse on the side of steep slope and aim your skis towards a narrow gate. You fly between the gate around a blind corner hoping no one is stopped at the entrance, then you traverse and side step up, and traverse and side step and then glide a long distance over several bumps and around the bowl until you find what you are looking for.

Then before you drop in you look back at how far you have come...

It was a great day that ended at chair five with beers and wings. And I am happy to say that I only watched about five minutes of "the game".

Monday, February 8, 2010

Sometimes we have to push

It feels wrong to push a bike through fresh snow, I should be on skis, I kept telling myself. But sometimes we have to do things we don't want to do....

...and generally we feel great after it's over.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Alaska Ice Festival - Sign up Online

The second annual Alaska Ice Festival is March 5-7, 2010. I've been working on the website in my free time and it's finally up with Online Registration hooked up. If you want to sign up for a clinic, the climbing competition, buy tickets to the kick-off party or buy a t-shirt, it's ready to go!

AK Ice Fest Website