Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Anti-Frosty Bottom

Brian and I wanted to get out for a longish ride of over 30 miles. The Frosty Bottom was being held that day, but we decided why pay 45 dollars to ride on the Tour of Anchorage Trail when we do that all the time for free.

So Brian proposed an Anti-Frosty Bottom course. He sent me the following email while I was at work on Friday.

"Check it out:
tour trail
blue dot
moose meadow
black bear
brown bear
Gas line
Gas line to Prospect heights
Down powerline to creek
wolverine /wolverine bowl/near point intersection
wolverine bowl trail back to creek
climb again to middle fork
middle fork to power line
south rim trail
goldern grass
powerline back to creek (3rd time)
wolverine bowl trail along creek to north rim/basher
cross road (if trail exists) to tank trail or road to tank trail
entire moose ridge loop
North Bivouc, cross over to South Biv
Gas Line down to creek
salmon run
tour trail
Hot Tub

So we headed out around 10 am that Saturday. The trails in town were crap. We had a big warm up the week before and a lot of the snow had melted. Then it got cold again and froze everything back up. But not before three million people walked all over the slushy trails.

We rode through the first half of the planned ride, bouncing and sliding along the icy, bumpy trails. Mounting and dismounting our bikes as we hit tough sections. It was actually great training for the overflow sections of the White Mountain Race. On the bike, off the bike. This takes a tremendous amount of core strength.

The extreme cold temperatures we have had this winter, have created this beautiful hoar frost that covers everything...

Somewhere before we got to the Wolverine Bowl part of the ride we decided that it probably wasn't the day to ride the Middle Fork. It was super icy and we were on fat tires, not studs. So we revised our route and headed to North Basher early.

Riding on the Basher Trail I remembered how close to a cliff the trail goes in the summer. Given the icy conditions, I dismounted my bike. Only a dumb ass would ride this, I thought.

Then I  rounded the corner and saw this...

Luckily he was caught by a tree.

And was able to climb out easily.

We found the connector trail on the other side of Basher and road down the Powerline Trail while the sun set over Anchorage. Yes, the trails were crappy and yes, I was in a bad mood, but if we didn't get out this day we never would have seen this. And that made all the effort and the misery worthwhile. 


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Portage Lake Ride

We had been hearing about the ice on Portage Lake all week. The conditions were perfect. It had been cold enough for a long enough period of time for the entire lake to freeze solid. On top of that all of the snow had been blown off by winds, making it perfect for riding with studded tires.

I had talked to my mom in the morning and she asked what we were doing for the day. I told her we were going to ride our bikes across a big frozen lake and she didn't really like that. She wanted to know how we could be sure it was fully frozen and I told her we just know.

The ice only needs to be about four inches thick (although if it were only four inches thick I would probably pass) and since we have had sub zero temperatures most night over the past month, we didn't think it would be a problem.

And it wasn't. Although I can't say thoughts of falling through the ice didn't cross my mind once or twice. But the awesome views made me forget about that pretty quickly. We rode all the way out to the glacier. I was surprised to see that there was a lot of climbable ice surrounding the lake. I just might have to make a return trip.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Last Ride of 2010

 I considered posting pictures of every "last" thing I did in 2010. Last time I brushed my teeth, last time I cooked a meal, last time I walked the dog, but that could have gotten pretty boring pretty quickly, so let's just stick to the fun stuff.

Tim posted a great slide show of his year on the bike and Brian and I are lucky to have once again been a part of that. Check it out if you have a few minutes.

I have to say that mountain biking has changed my life over the past five years. In 2005, we started out a little rocky when my first mountain bike launched me thirty feet onto my head and broke my leg (luckily I was also wearing my first helmet that day), but over the years mountain biking and me have bonded. Bikes have taken me all over Alaska from the trails of the Kenai to the White Mountains of Fairbanks, and outside to Utah, Colorado and of course the Yukon.

I have met most of my good friends in Alaska through biking. I have suffered through cold painful winter training rides and felt the joy of that moment when you are effortlessly bombing downhill and finally feel like a real mountain biker. I have felt the torment of slogging up to Resurrection Pass (yet again) and the happiness you feel once you get there when you realize you get to ride in one of the most beautiful places around.

Friday before the sunset Brian, Niko and I did a short ride from the ball fields on Elmore as the sun set on the last day of 2010. Thank you bikes, bike friends and Alaska for another great year.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

In three brief hours of insanity, the Anchorage Assembly lifted the ban on fireworks within the city last night. What a great idea, let's wait until everyone in town is good and drunk and then give them a bunch of fireworks and a lighter and let them go to town.

I'm actually surprised to see this morning that the city did not burn to the ground. Around 9 pm last night Brian and I rode our bikes over to our friend's party a few block away through what seemed like a war zone. Smoke was everywhere and fireworks were coming from every direction.

There was no shortage of fireworks being set off at our party either. And I can say, now that I know at least no one I know got hurt and that the city seems to mostly be still standing today, that it... was... glorious.

I have never seen so many fireworks being set off at once in every direction that I looked. I even watched some guy light a paper lantern and set it off into the sky. How this is legal I have no idea. It was a giant lantern made out of PAPER and it was lit and set off into the sky to fly over Anchorage. Later we could see about 20 of these things flying over town.

For the rest of the night we alternated between watching fireworks and dancing, bringing in the new year in style. Thanks Josh and Alexa!