Monday, July 30, 2007

Urban trailriding

Date: July 29
Mileage: 14.1
July mileage: 807.0
Temperature upon departure: 65
Inches of rain today: 0.04"

Living in Juneau has not done wonders for my progression as a mountain biker. I have finally come to terms with the reality that the best option for workweek trailriding is to tootle around on the Mendenhall Valley trail system. I am the first to admit that I don't mind riding loops, but there is something about weaving a tight grid in a small area that is vaguely ... suffocating. As such, I don't feel compelled to take out the mountain bike nearly as often as I should. So my technical skill-building suffers, therefore my handling suffers, therefore my confidence suffers. Plus, the combination of fairly little elevation gain with root-choked trail means it's nearly impossible to get a good workout on a mountain bike.

But it is fun, just the same. It reminds me of motorcycling with my dad as a small child. He would sling me over the seat of his dirt bike and I would clasp the front of the handlebars, stretching my legs as far as I could away from the searing engine. We took off from our driveway for some nearby subdivision, still lingering that silent, semi-natural state always present before a tsunami of construction blasts through. The open fields were criss-crossed with a tight network of sandy trails, washboarded to teeth-chattering perfection by heavy ATV and BMX use. It was endlessly fun, and right in our backyard, and exhilarating to believe that adventure hovered so close to the mundane. That is a bit what biking in the Mendenhall Valley feels like - I could be tearing into the gut of some mud-soaked root maze, completely unaware of the movie theater that lies a half mile away.

Nearly every time Geoff and I ride here, I come home soaked in mud splatters and a few drops of blood, patches of Devil's Club rash and new insect bites, and a big stupid grin stuck to my face. I really should run the grid more often.


  1. I think riding the short, tight , fast muddy loops all the time are good practice!

    super if you can hit even a little bit daily!

  2. Congratulations on being featured! You have a great blog, keep it up!

  3. looks and sounds like fun! ;o)

  4. Holy toe-clips Batman! You are ol' skooling it. I cannot remember the last time I had those on a bike. More power to you.
    I actually like a longer trail with a constantly changing viewpoint, but loops do give you the chance to work on specific weak points of your riding too. "Let's see, today I think I will concentrate on my weak climbing, my speed in technical singletrack and my poor downhill skills!" :^)

  5. rough local singletrack is like wrestling your brother. It can hurt, but it sure is fun!

  6. Smaller loops just mean you have more chances to clean obstacles that might be troubling you, right? I'll be making my return to the dirt this week and I'm sure I'll have to dab and that I'll have a couple do-overs!

  7. Hello from Boston. Those trails don't look that Urban btw.


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