Saturday, January 14, 2006


Date: Jan. 14
Mileage: 38.5
January mileage: 227.3
Temperature upon departure: 13

Today, I was very scientific about my bicycle riding. My process:

1.) Check the most recent seismic data from Mt. Augustine.
2.) Check the prevailing wind and ash data from the NOAA.
3.) Determine, based on wind direction, wind speed and ash reports, the minimum number of minutes it might take a noxious ash cloud to reach town should the volcano erupt within the next five minutes.
4.) Subtract about 45 minutes from that time, to be on the safe side.
5.) Viola! Bicycle riding increments.

I got two of these in today, each about two hours and 20 miles apiece. My morning ride was hard and tiresome on the snowy trails. But, I gotta say, a fine layer of fresh ash that fell with yesterday's snow made for some amazing traction going downhill. I also enjoyed looping the upper trail and following my glaring white tire tracks through the gray snow. On my afternoon ride, I stuck to the ice-paved gravel roads and climbed up to Ohlson Mountain Road. I hoped to stay out longer, maybe even push for 50 miles. But a really nasty snowstorm started, and I wasn't that confident in my ash projections. Plus, it was just cold today.

As it stands (at 7:30 p.m.), Augustine only erupted once today, at 12:13 a.m. I took this picture just after sunrise this morning. It's another molten hot magma mountain on Alaska's ring of fire, Mt. Redoubt, currently on his best behavior. Those clouds hovering below Redoubt meant there was no chance of seeing Augustine again today, but clouds sure beat ash. Pray for calm!