Sunday, July 27, 2008

New road

Date: July 27
Mileage: 35.4
July mileage: 593.3
Temperature: 50

As this soggy month trickles to a close (and we all just want it to be over already), I have been dredging the dregs of motivation for reasons to go out for a ride. No longer can I drag myself out there with half-hearted musings about how fresh everything smells in the rain, or scoldings about all of the chocolate chips I have eaten this month, or ambitions to train for races in which I may or may not even be able to afford to show up at the starting line. No, I don't want to ride today. Simple and plain.

But Geoff and I started talking about possible new routes yesterday and he asked me if I had seen the new road the city is building to the top of Eaglecrest Ski Area. They've been at it all summer, they're probably halfway up the mountain by now, and I had never even bothered to check it out. I envisioned a gentle access road switchbacking all the way up to the ridge, where I could chug to the top, grab a narrow deer trail through the pristine wilderness, and ride down to the other side of the island, where Christian Bale would be waiting in his yacht to whisk me away to places where the sun comes out in July. It was a beautiful dream, and I was suddenly excited to set out Sunday morning on an exploration ride.

But Sunday morning did not make it easy, with a hard wind out of the south, pissing rain and the temperature just a click or two above 50. I just put my head down and squinted at the white line on the road for 15 miles. But as I rounded the final curve to the ski area, I looked up just long enough to see a dark brown scar carved into the slope. There really was a new road there, and I half hoped it would end in a half mile so I could go home and take a hot shower already, and half hoped it would take me to the west side of Douglas Island, my imaginary yacht, and the warmer climes I deserved.

The road was steep and rough and a beast to climb, which in itself was a nice diversion. I redlined up the final pitch and found an abrupt dead end about two miles beyond the pavement, so I set down my bike and waded through calf-deep mud around a couple of construction vehicles to see what lay beyond. There wasn't much - a swamp, a few distressed spruce trees, and the profile of the ridge still hundreds of feet above the half-finished road. But there was promise ... the promise that someday soon I will be able to ride my bike all the way up these mountains; the promise of greatly expanded access to winter trails across the expanse of the Douglas Island Ridge; the promise of more miles.

I feel really excited about the possibilities of the new road, especially once the snow flies and covers up the mud and swamps with sweet, packable powder. It's not much to keep me going through this soggy summer, but I'll take it.


  1. I love this post. You are such a great writer!!

  2. If I had to put up with that kind of crappy weather year round I think I'd be moving to some place like Colorado. Apart from the scenery Alaska sounds like a shitty place to live, on the order of "Nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there".

  3. I love this post...has a sense of restlessness and hopefulness - two things that make life interesting. One of the reasons I began riding regularly eight years ago was due to finding some trails on my way home from class one afternoon in the city where I had recently moved. I saw a trailhead that led down to the river and spent the entire day riding trails I had no idea where they led. From that day on, I rode, I discovered, I searched and I dreamed of where each new road and trail would take me. I found towns I never knew existed, and I rode farther than I knew I could over the years in search of what was beyond the next hill or bend.

  4. Anon, just because it rains a lot in Juneau (which lies in a temperate rain forest) does not mean that the weather is crappy all the time in the rest of the state.

    Besides, you can stay wherever you are because we don't really want complainers up here anyway.

  5. Jill forgot to mention Juneau's most lovely attribute- anonymous jackass doesn't live there.

  6. "New Road" on the heels of "Tram Run?" Maybe this running idea is getting a foothold in the old subconcious. Just thinkin'. Whatever you do, keep on doin' whatever makes you happy.

  7. i didn't write that anonymous comment... i promise.

  8. Just think....lower 48 states....thousands of miles of paved roads to ride on,thousands of miles of non-snow covered mountain bike trails to ride on, nice weather where it isn't raining or snowing 11 months out of the year, lots and lots of local running and bicycle races where you're not the only female in the race, more of a variety of local restaurants, more shopping oppotunities, more bicycle and outdoor priented shops, art galleries, museums, zoos, sporting venues, more of a nightlife variety, more movie theaters and rental stores, concert venues with internationally known acts, no high electricity prices, cheaper shipping on all your purchases, not having to worry about bears chewing on your head during races, etc, etc, etc.

  9. damn, now i don't want to leave alaska after anon. #2 just reminded me about all the annoying crap in the lower 48.

  10. Most people would find those "annoyances" as being part of a well balanced life.

    One other thing I forgot to mention about living in the lower 48 states.....more job opportunities.

  11. well-stated geoff.


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