Monday, December 17, 2007


Date: Dec. 16
Mileage: 31.1
Hours: 2:45
December mileage: 406.9
Temperature upon departure: 35
Precipitation: .03"

I did quite a bit of Internet research tonight regarding my travel/training options for this winter, and I've drawn the conclusion that I am officially trapped in Juneau until Feb. 21, 2008. People who advocate building a road that connects Juneau with the real world said the state ferry system was useless, but I didn't know they meant it. I even agreed to work Christmas and New Years just to cash in on a four-day weekend in early January, only to discover I might find one boat to Skagway during that period, but I wouldn't be able to return until sometime in 2010.

I briefly considered a flight to Fairbanks, but for what it would cost, I'd probably be better off buying some wool base layers and a pair of waterproof pants that don't have duct-tape patches across the backside. It's a bit frustrating because I had this whole "cold-weather" cycling trip planned since I started training in October, and now I know it's not going to happen. I probably should have researched it earlier, but I just assumed there would be a boat for me when I needed one. (It appears the Marine Highway all but shuts down during the winter.)

Geoff has insinuated before that he can feel Juneau's isolation closing in on him like a cold fist. Sometimes I feel it, too.

But I had a good ride today. Conditions were really icy, but I rode as hard as I felt my lungs could manage in the cold wind. I was able to keep my speed mostly above 15 mph, except on short stretches of bike paths that were covered in several inches of clumpy debris from plowed roads; I also brought my average speed down quite a bit once I attempted trail riding at the glacier, where I did a lot of 2.5 mph walking. It felt good to put in a sustained hard effort. I died a little toward the end, after not drinking enough because my water bottle had become completely coated in disgusting gray goo, and not eating enough because I hadn't brought anything with me to eat. But when I pulled up to the house with my lungs still searing and my legs pumping hot lead, I could almost taste the success of a hard ride well executed, and I knew it was going to be a good day.


  1. Hello Jill, I am in Tallahassee Florida it reached 35 degrees last night, the first time this year. I've enjoyed your blog. Fairbanks was my home from June 86 to June 87. While there I road my mountain bike through the winter, a specialized rockhopper sport, as much as possible. I didn't have the slushy snow to deal with but the cold temperatures where pretty killer. Zero was about as cold as I could ride. Even then I had to go pretty slow to keep the lungs, body temp and chill factor balance. A local outdoor manufacture made what I called lobster gloves. To bad about the lack of transportation, there has got to be an opportunity for another adventure somewhere in Juneau. Good Luck - Mingo

  2. I found your blog through Fat Cyclist. I'm definitely adding you to my blogroll. Jill, you now have given many other cyclists good reason to not "pansy out" on a ride because it's either too cold or conditions are nasty. I've ridden in a couple of snowy road rides in North Carolina... mere child's play to your daily outing. Anyway, great read and sweet pics. Oh, my name is Donald, my blog is "The Daily Draft"... I am also in news and my bike is certainly my stress relief. Look forward to reading more Up In Alaska.

  3. Sounds like y'all might be elsewhere next winter.

  4. You could take a fast ferry to Petersburg for a weekend. After living there for 18 years I can assure you it will make living in Juneau look a whole lot better.

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  6. Um. My reading of the AMHS schedule indicates that there are sailings between Juneau, Haines, and Skagway (both North- and Southbound) on every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday in January. And on Saturdays you can still get between Juneau and Haines.

    So I'm a little confused by this post.

  7. Wesley,

    Could you direct me to where you found this information? Because I see the Fairweather only going between Haines, Skagway and Juneau on Saturdays and Sundays in January according the schedule on I need something mid-week. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  8. You can get the Southeast Winter '07 schedule in PDF format here:

    It looks like your options are the Fairweather on weekends, the Malaspina on Mondays, LeConte on Wednesdays, and Matanuska on Fridays.

    The slow boats are... well, slow - but they'll get you Skagway in six hours, which isn't at all unreasonable. At least it wasn't until the Fairweather came on line a couple years ago... we're spoiled to be able to cruise at 35 knots up Lynn Canal. Anyway, unlike the fast ferries, you're allowed to go outside and lean over the rails with the salt breeze in your face. Which is nice.

  9. Freaking formatting kills me.

    I will now become invisible.

  10. Thanks!

    I guess it goes to show that I should probably confirm something before I start spouting off on the public forum of my blog. I was stuck on finding something for the exact dates I want (first four days of January) and the exact place (Skagway.) But just some quick research yielded at least possibility around that time if I'm willing to go to Haines instead, and come back on Saturday afternoon (a bit tight with my work schedule, but doable.) It may just happen yet. Thanks again!

  11. you should be up here in fairbanks right now! it is minus 35...


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