Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Rain days are here to stay

I was hoping to hit another mountain top today or tomorrow, but the weather forecast is not looking good. It's true when they say Juneau only has two seasons ... Rainy and June. Now that June is over, I have a long season of tolerance-building ahead.

Today was a day for the gym, which I like to speak of disdainfully, but I really get a lot of benefit out of it. There's really no better way to train with weight resistance and build specific muscles that ideally will keep injury at bay. I plan to keep going at least once a week - if nothing else, to recoup some of that membership I bought during a panic attack back in April.

Rainy Season also is a good time for retail therapy. I turned to retail therapy back when I was injured and not cycling, and bought a lot of dumb stuff - like clipless pedals and short-sleeved bicycle jerseys. But my new string of purchases may prove to be a lot more rewarding. I recently received a check from the federal government that I wasn't expecting (who knew I was my own tax deduction?) This also will be my first year for the PFD check, the infamous "paid to exist" fund bestowed on every man, woman and child in the state of Alaska. A windfall of free money, and I have big plans ... including, but not limited to, a brand new bike building project!

Plans also include essential bike gear that has nothing to do with the bike, and everything to do with making it possible to ride my bike whenever and wherever I feel so inclined. My most immediate needs include neoprene socks (how oh how did I ever live without these?), a rear bike rack and a bivy sack. I'm torn on the bivy, and was wondering if there were some ultralight backpackers out there with good advice. Should I go with a warmer-but-heavier winter-specific sack, or the lightweight waterproof sack that would be tolerable where I live and terrible everywhere else?

If the forecast holds true, I'll probably spend way too much time surfing eBay for all the different options. Isn't it interesting how the act of not biking instigates a sudden and insatiable need to buy bike goodies? The wheels of the cycling economy must turn on working people whose income is inversely proportional to the time they have to ride. If all I did was ride my bike, I would probably just stick to my old and busted stuff and be happy all of my days.


  1. Your last paragraph could not be more correct, and it applies in my experience to any outdoor sport.

    I'm trying to maintain an enlightened balance.

  2. Buy a gore-tex bivy with no insulation and carry an appropriately warm sleeping bag when needed.

    That way it will be much more versatile.

  3. I agree with slick up there. Def the gore-tex bivy. It gives you options.

    Now back to e-bay...

  4. I share your pain. Here in England (especially north west England) we get a lot of rain, but this Jun was the wettest on record. Only in the last few days has the sun returned and the rides become more enjoyable.

  5. You could also get a sleeping bag liner -- those are pretty light but do wonders for adding extra warmth. Or you could make one out of some flannel (much cheaper, I would think).

  6. Like your blog, I used to live in Alaska.


  7. I live in Seattle - probably not as bad as you describe Juneau, but we have been know to get some rain here in the Northwest.

    Fortunately we have REI - which is like a second home to me...


  8. Jill, I just went through a bivy decision of my own. I have a winter bivy, an Integral Designs South Col with eVENT fabric. Many people consider eVENT better then Gore-Tex. But I wanted something for warmer temps with bug netting which my bivy lacks. When I compared my bivy to lighter, "summer" bivy's there really was little difference other then my bivy has a short zipper (not good for venting on warm nights). I decided to use my bivy and add an OR bug bivy for the bugs. With my 16 oz tarp I'm good to go in any conditions from summer to the coldest winter condtions just by swapping out different sleeping bags. My advice to you, get a bivy with protection from wind and water (and bug protection if you are out in the Alaskan bugs).
    The bivy should keep you dry and your choice of sleeping bag is what will keep you warm.

  9. I think that the bivy contributes to warmth as well, despite it's primary job, which is, as Doug said -- to keep you dry.

    I have one man tent. a sierra designs light year 1 which is under 4 lbs. I think that this year's model has a four season rating. Mine does not. I wouldn't hesitate to try to camp in the worst of winter in my little tent.

    It's a fine tent. I can talk a lot about what to do in the snow and ... how you might use your "trowel" (what the rest of us might want to call a shovel) or skis as tent stakes in the snow ... the trick is that you get warmer by heating the tent with your body. The smaller tent heats faster and radiates less -- so you are warmer -- by as much as 15 degrees. The tent/"bivy" is going to help you survive in the same way a snow cave or igloo helps.

    I really like a waterproof fly myself.

  10. Just curious what you have in mind for the new bike building project? Possibly a new snow bike or new road bike???

  11. Thanks for the bivy advice, everyone.

    Doug ...

    Snow bike is my next project. A real one. I bought some Large Marge Rims and Endomorphs on eBay that will probably be here by the end of July. I'm still mulling which frame to buy, but I'll likely be building up my very own Pugsley. Yeah!

  12. A new snow bike....I'm very excited for you!!!


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