Sunday, November 18, 2007

I like my dirt lightly frosted

Date: Nov. 18
Mileage: 39.6
Hours: 3:15
November mileage: 447.1
Temperature upon departure: 33
Rainfall: 0.05"

Mountain biking conditions were perfect today out in the Mendenhall Valley - maybe a degree or two below freezing, with ice-infused mud and sand hardpacked to crunchy perfection.

Riding along the Mendenhall Lake shoreline is usually like a bad dream - the one where you're pedaling in slow motion, and you crank and struggle, but no matter what you do, you just can't go any faster. Today the sand was frozen as tough and smooth as a gravel road. I became so absorbed in the thrill of amping up to 20 mph on a sandy beach that I forgot I wasn't on an actual trail, and nearly face planted over the sandy berms of slightly-frozen streams, more than once.

The trail riding was just as good. I challenge you to dream up a surface that would be more fun to ride across than paper ice - smashing and crackling and coasting as you draw a shattered line over what is normally the softest of bogs. Especially since I have yet to install my studded tires. Weeee!

My year in Homer conditioned me to regard bald eagles as pets, and that notion hasn't worn off even after 16 months in Juneau. This one was eating a moldy-looking salmon carcass when I marched up to take its photo. This picture isn't even excessively zoomed - this is basically where I was standing. The eagle wouldn't retreat for anything but continued to broadcast its irritation with a piercing stare as it tore away at the black flesh. Eagles remind me so much of cats.

The dead salmon was bigger than the eagle, and still the eagle wouldn't share. So much like cats.

Snow flurries, overcast, light wind ... all in all, an ideal day for cycling (for Juneau, at least.) This seems to be the weather trend for weekends ... Monday through Friday are awful. Saturday and Sunday are amazing. Too bad Saturday and Sunday don't make up my weekend. I tend to think of Sunday as "Tuesday." So this trend that seems to work great for everybody else just means I have to consume large chunks of weekday time to squeeze in beautiful weekend rides, but they're worth it. I think if the weather gods ever came to me to make a bargain, saying, "OK, we'll take away any and all rain in Juneau for four whole months. But to make it so, the temperature will never rise above freezing that entire time," I'd make that deal, and I wouldn't even feel guilty.