Thursday, July 29, 2010

people aren't nice sometimes...

mileage: 7.5
total July mileage: 139.3

I left my house on my roadie with a giant shopping bag hanging from my hand and a somewhat negative attitude. I didn't really feel like doing anything this morning. But I decided that biking always makes me feel better, as does getting my money back for things I've bought that don't really fit (meaning I never wear them), so I headed out towards Nordstrom to return some stuff. It was so pleasant, riding down the street with little to no traffic at 10:30am. I got to Nordstrom and returned what I needed to. I also shopped around a little bit, but I didn't really need anything (who really needs anything from Nordy's?) and so I headed back to where I locked up my bike.

I unlocked my bike and reattached my handlebar bag. I stood there for a few moments, not really sure what I felt like doing. I got on my bike and started heading home, riding on the sidewalk for a block because of heavy traffic. The sidewalk was plenty wide, and I moved out of the way for pedestrians rather than making them move or getting too close. These two large women with mean looks on their faces looked disapproving at me as I approached. One of them mumbled something and I couldn't quite make it out, so I just smiled at them because like usual, biking even two miles had put me in a great mood. Then I realized just as I was passing them on the outer inch of the sidewalk what they were repeating over and over. "Not a bikepath. Not a bikepath. Not a bikepath!"

Seriously? This is Anchorage. There are very few actual bike lanes on our roads, and many drivers are outright aggressive towards cyclists in the streets. You can't share the sidewalk for a second with a cheerful cyclist who went out of their way to get out of your way? Why do people have to be so mean? I just don't get it. This is why I fully support the efforts of the Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage to make this a much more bike friendly city. In many cases, there is no alternative to riding on the sidewalk, no matter how mad certain pedestrians might get about it. What they don't realize is that most serious cyclists don't enjoy dodging pedestrians and "cruising" along at a snails pace of 7 mph which is usually required when trying to dodge the various obstacles found on a typical stretch of sidewalk in Anchorage.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


mileage: 7/25-7/27 10; 7/28 16.8
time: 73 minutes
temp: 55 degrees F
total July mileage: 131.8

After posting about our trip this morning to the Eagle River Nature Center, I was sort of bored. I had cleaned the house after Steve left for work at 6:30am and didn't feel like reading. So I went for a bike ride. I just wanted to go for a short one, to scout out a route from my house to the Glenn Highway bike path. I just wore my cycling shorts, Smartwool socks, with a base-layer and fleece-ish hoodie; but I ended up going back for thin gloves. It was chilly! I warmed up pretty fast as I headed through the busy downtown streets.

Once I got to Third Avenue, it was a straight shot through Mountain View to the bike path. Problem is, it was a straight shot with about a million stop lights and intersections that I had to be very careful crossing. It was only about 5.6 miles, but it felt like forever. That part of the trip took about 40 minutes because of its stop-and-go nature. Annoying.

I went about two miles down the highway, then turned onto Muldoon road and followed it up to Debarr. Bad idea. There is still construction on the sidewalk, which means most of it is loose gravel, plus lots and lots of plywood "bridges." Add to that the multitude of crazy and pretty much incompetent drivers speeding by and it was somewhat of a harrowing ride. Debarr was actually quite a bit better, and that part of the trip flew by.

I turned into Russian Jack Park and hooked up with the East end of the Chester Creek Trail system there. I wish I would have stopped to take some pictures there, it was dark from the heavy tree cover, and the wide, paved path was still completely wet from the last week of rain. I didn't see another cyclist on those paths, and I made a mental note to go back soon. I hit an extremely brutal patch of the greenbelt after meeting up with the Chester Creek Trail - I had to slow my pace to 14 mph, which felt teeth-jarringly fast over the large roots that had split the pavement on that patch of trail. It was smooth sailing once I got past Lake Otis, and I was at Westchester Lagoon within minutes.

Happy to be on the familiar (and much less teeth-jarring) end of the Chester Creek Trail.

Pretty quiet at the Lagoon for a non-rainy day...

This reminded me that I need to tune up my roller skies and start training for ski season, problem is, I'm having too much fun on my bike...and since a Surly Pugsley is in my relatively near future, I don't know how much skiing I'll be doing this winter ;)

I haven't really decided yet which route was better. Maybe I should try the Chester Creek Trail and get to the highway via Boniface rather than going down to Muldoon? I guess I'll have to go on a test ride.

Unfortunately, about half way into my ride, I realized there was a knucklehead ride scheduled at work this evening that I had planned on joining. The plan was to leave REI at 6:30, take the Chester to UAA, take the Elmore overpass to Tudor Rd, then Campbell Airstrip road up to Stuckagain Heights and back. Hmmm...we'll see what happens. Not sure I have much motivation left, especially since Steve is home. Maybe I'll have to postpone till next Wednesday's knucklehead ride.

Eagle River Nature Center

This post will pretty much be photo blog-style; we had a great time in the drizzle out in Eagle River Valley. Pretty much convinced me to start saving for a "real" camera.

This picture is adorable, of course, but it also made me sad...notice the "no bikes"
picture/sign? Corbin and Noah didn't seem to mind, they were all smiles.

Me and my older sister Kelsey (Corbin and Noah's mom). It was the
first day we've gotten to hang out in forever!

Me trying to coax the boys up to a gigantic old cottonwood tree on the Albert Loop.

That tree made me look teeny. I love you tree! haha

Quiet moment overlooking the beaver pond...even the boys were
speechless! If you haven't been out to the Center, I highly recommend it.

Playing with my editing software...Noah was
entranced by the running water under the boardwalk.

Love his chubby cheeks and hands...

Silent reflection...

None of us even noticed as the rain started to was way
too beautiful to notice anything but the nature surrounding us.

Corbin and Aunty...

Quiet time is over, let the smiles and laughter begin!

And he's off!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

self portrait

Bears dig pacelines too! haha
Picture taken a few weeks
ago on Rovers Run Trail
in Anchorage, courtesy of

The sound of NPR streaming out of my radio/alarm clock began to penetrate the deep sleep I was experiencing. Stuck between sleep and consciousness, I was confused. Was I drifting to sleep or being woken up? The sound of falling rain suddenly penetrated the haze, and I became lucid enough to open my eyes. It was dark in our room, and the glowing neon numbers on the clock read 4:56 am. I breathed deeply and closed my eyes again for a moment, then sat up and tried to rub the sleep out of my eyes.

I sighed heavily as I gathered the clothes I would wear once I arrived at work, stuffed them into a fabric tote bag, and put them in my pack. Then I dressed in my wet-weather cycling gear. Base layer tights I use for cross country skiing, Smartwool socks, cycling shoes, long sleeve base layer on top, and a breathable/waterproof shell. While the temperature hovers in the 50s, that set up is usually enough to keep me warm, at least for the short ride to work.

I quickly packed a lunch, then sat down to scarf some cereal as I surfed the internet. Then it was time to go, and I headed out into the rain. The rain was steady this morning, but it wasn't a downpour like yesterday. All of the animals that call Westchester Lagoon their home were out cruising the water and I stopped to watch them for a moment.
Work today cruised by, but I was pretty tired by the end of the day. It was actually kind of dark on the commute this morning, and I decided to pick up some red blinkies and fenders after work today. When I got home, I went to work installing the fenders and attaching the blinkies. I ordered a seat post bag and a fuel tank yesterday from (we didn't have them in stock) and once those arrive, I'll be ready for some longer rides without my huge pack, which will be a similarly huge relief for my back. Not sure what the weather is going to do in the next couple of days; I heard mixed reports of blue skies and a new storm moving in. Either way, rain or shine, it's my weekend, and I'm going to get out on my bike and log some miles.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

rainy weekend

mileage: 7/23 - 15
average mph: 18
total July mileage: 105 (haven't been keeping track daily on the blog, sorry)

Saturday was the only day that Steve and I had off together, and we made the most of it. It actually turned out to be a total "bike" day. We did the maintenance both our roadies had been sorely needing. I re-wrapped my handlebars (the white I did a few months ago was nasty already - I got blue/black this time), lubed everything, swapped out my touring pedals for my Shimano clipless pedals, fine tuned my seat height and adjusted the tilt of my handlebars. Steve had lots to do on his Trek 400. He picked it up at a bike swap a little over a year ago for cheap and hasn't had time since then to give it any TLC. It needed adjustments to the dérailleur and lots of lube. We also put my touring pedals on it until he can get a clipless set up. Tonight I'm going to rewrap his handlebars since his is worn through and torn in some spots.

After getting the bike ready to hit the road, we stopped at REI to do some bike related shopping, and ended up getting some new Vittoria Randonee touring tires for his bike. He had some 700x25 inverted tread tires on and they were pretty unforgiving on the bumpy, rooty bike paths around town. The new ones are 700x28 which makes a huge difference for him. I grabbed some new Pearl Izumi bike shoes and we messed around in the parking lot for 10 minutes as I accustomed myself to riding with the clipless set up. I only fell once and it was a pretty clumsy moment. I was riding around in circles, smile wide as I thought about just how much more efficient this set up was going to be. I decided to stop, and I decided not to get out of my pedals until I had already stopped. I got my right foot out before I tipped over, eyes growing wide as I hit the ground on my left side, my foot still attached to the pedal and my hand still on the handlebar. Steve ran over as I started laughing at the ridiculousness of the spill.

We headed down to the Chester Creek trail system and headed towards Goose Lake. We decided to explore the trails around the college so I could figure out timing for commuting to school in the fall. I bike a lot last year, but never went all the way on the trail. I'd usually get off at Lake Otis and ride alongside the road. But I prefer to avoid the roads surrounding the college if at all possible, especially in when the snow flies.

We stopped at Goose Lake after looping around the various roads and bike paths that connected the two sides of campus to eat the tuna sandwiches I packed as a light rain started to fall. It looked like there were various single-tracks forking off of the main paved trail, and I couldn't wait to explore them later. That is one of the reasons I want a cross bike in the summer - it's would be perfect for commuting on paved paths and for a little off road action.

We saw a couple moose across the lake right as we were about to head back home, and we stopped to watch them for a minute or two. Watching animals in the quiet of their natural habitat always fills me with a warm sense of peace. I could watch for hours, it's often hard to tear myself away from the tranquil scene and bike or hike back to the often hectic real world.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

be happy to be yourself

Today while riding the bus from work to my parents house I observed a woman packing up her huge multi-day pack and another smaller lightweight backpack with all the gear she had acquired while in Alaska. The route I was on stops by the airport, which is predictably where she got off. I saw the tattered thermarest strapped onto her pack and multiple water bottles stuffed into its side pockets and realized I was feeling a twinge of jealousy. It would be so fun to be able to pack up what I needed to get by for a month or two and just leave on a trip. To go whereve I wanted to go and to do whatever I wanted to do.

But then I relaized that it would prbably get pretty lonely out there and I would probably end up wishing I had someone to share the adventure with. Which is why I'm actually not jealous afterall. I'm thankful to have the love and partnership I share with my husband, even if the logistics of having two jobs to get time off for and two people to pay for means we aren't really spontaneous, ever. But that's another reason I'm thankful to live in Alaska, where we can at least be spontaneous for the weekend and explore all of the amazing places that this state has to offer...

fresh fish

I had the busiest weekend ever. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were filled with wedding stuff from morning until evening. Sunday was the wedding day, and we woke up to pouring rain. And yeah, the ceremony was supposed to be outside. So classic for Alaska. But the bride and groom were flexible and the wedding was moved inside without much fuss.

The rain came down but we still had a great time in the lodge...
Saturday we took some bridal portraits so that Briney could try out her hair and make up for the big day...
what a gorgeous girl!

Around 7:45 pm, I left the wedding and headed down the 7 mile gravel road to pick up the dogs at my house and head down the Seward Highway to Cooper Landing. By the time I stopped at the house, organized the Jeep so the dogs wouldn't trample everything and navigated across town, it was already 8:30pm. The highway was great in my lane, but still a pretty stressful drive because of traffic in the other lane. There was literally a steady stream of bumper to bumper traffic coming from the Kenai Penninsula the entire 90 miles of my trip. I eventually made it to the cabin my family rented in Cooper Landing around 10 pm. The guys and Margaret weren't even back yet from their fishing trip, but they arrived about 45 minutes after I did with 12 fat red salmon filets and big smiles.

The next morning we piled in the vehicles and headed towards Soldotna for another attempt at fishing.
Steve was in and casting at about 12 noon.

Margaret happily netted the first fish of the day and carried it up to the bank to bleed it. Uncle Jerry caught the first one about 10 minutes after wading out into the river.

Then Steve caught his first fish, and it was a real feisty one. Good thing Margaret was able to wade out and net it for him.

By this time, everyone in our little group had a big smile on their face, including Steve...

...and Ivan.
Jerry hooked another one and Steve and Margaret were right there to help out.

Vanya kept count for us..."3".


I was having a blast watching the fisherman and taking pictures...

Vanya liked carrying the fish around and then showing me the slime on his hands..haha.

Then he pretended to be our biggest catch of the day.

All in all it was a great weekend and we got to head back down the highway with 10 fat fish in our cooler and smiles on our faces.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


So the last couple days at work have been filled with talk of the Fireweed ultra-race, which took place over the weekend. There were multiple events, from 50 to 400 miles. It's been exciting to hear the stories of those who entered the race, scratched and ultimately finished. The winner of the 400 event, John Caton, came into REI yesterday and chatted with one of my bike-nut co-workers as I listened closely. He finished the 400 mile stretch in something like 27 hours!

At the beginning of the summer, I heard about the race and contemplated entering it. But the summer got away from me, as it usually does, and didn't sign up for a single race. The Gold Nugget Triathlon will probably be the only event with cycling that I'll compete in this year. Hopefully that will all change next summer. I'm going to try to get out this summer and log some serious miles in a mostly mental exercise to see if I really want to ride such a distance in a time-trial event (I'm thinking the Fireweed 200 maybe). We'll see what happens.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Alpenglow Again

After rolling out of bed around ten this morning, Steve and I decided to go for a hike rather than a bike ride. We packed a lunch and piled into the Jeep. I couldn't wait to be up on a trail somewhere, eating the turkey sandwiches, apple slices, and chocolate bars that I had packed next to the binoculars in my pack.

We stopped at Middleway Cafe for some coffee (or an Izze on my part) and banana bread, shopped around for a bit at REI, then hit the road. Although I had been up in Arctic Valley yesterday scouting out the lodge with friends for their wedding next weekend, Steve and I decided to head up there together today for some serious hiking.

The view was quite a bit different yesterday in the seventy degrees and sunny skies...
We mostly just walked around the roads by the lodge looking for places to take wedding pictures.

Such a beautiful place, whether drenched in sun or overcast and threatening to rain...

We drove up the winding gravel road to Alpenglow and parked at the day use parking lot. We then walked past chair 2 and up the ridge trail, climbing for about a mile until we reached the top. It was a beautiful hike, and we made sure to stop along the way to take pictures.

Looking out over ship creek, we decided to come back again soon and take the ship creek trail down into the valley. We kept climbing right up the ski hill, lungs and thighs burning as we made our way up the steep slope.
There was a lot to take in and we were glad we brought the binoculars, although we never did see any wildlife through them.
I had to throw in the usual self portrait...

...I couldn't ask Steve to take it in this case since he was already pretty far ahead of me with the dogs.

Towards the top we passed some decrepit wooden structures that marked the boundary between ski club land and military land.

Looking back down to where we had come from was unbelievable. The wide gravel switchback we had driven up on looked tiny from our elevated perch.
Steve stopped at an old cement structure to check out the valley through his binocs, while I caught my breath and took some pictures.

Near the top we stopped for lunch. The wind had picked up and Pepper was looking pretty tired, so we decided not to cross the ridge and come down the other side of the ski trail.
On the way down a wispy cloud formation blocked our view of the trail below us as it flew by at a pretty significant rate.
We couldn't help but stop every ten minutes or so to appreciate the stunning views and majestic peaks rising around us.
It was great to spend some time outdoors together, just the two of us. It's been a long time since we have been able to do so. Maybe we'll be able to go on a long bike ride tomorrow. For tonight we're going to continue taking it easy with some rented DVDs and mint chocolate chip ice cream. Yum.