Monday, October 06, 2008

Another beautiful day on Jumbo

Date: Oct. 6
Mileage: 12.1
October mileage: 146.2

It's hard to overemphasize just how inspiring/healthy/revitalizing the mountains around Juneau have been for me this summer. I haven't focused on training for any specific event since the 24 Hours of Light in June. (Well, OK, I did have a few weeks in August where I labored under the delusion that I could climb my way to adequate fitness for Trans Utah. I have since learned that, even if I had gotten the time off work to participate in this event, I would have showed up for it woefully, woefully undertrained.)

But, in general, no training means I can wake up in the morning and do whatever I feel like doing. If the morning has hints or even tiny flecks of possibility for nice weather, I head up high. The result has been lots of time in the mountains, working up a deep sweat in the woods until I reach the alpine ceiling with its vast spread of open space. I spend as much time up there as I can manage, devouring a feast of color and light until I'm convinced I'll never feel hungry again. When I come back down, I feel stronger and more fit than I think I ever have.

It's hard to compare my fitness right now to what it typically is in, say, February, which since I started serious training has always been my peak month. But compared to the end of any summer I can remember, I feel like I'm at my strongest right now. I can hold an 80-minute pace up Mount Jumbo comfortably. I used to just survive my way down the mountain, but now I can practically run. My formerly wobbly knees have finally achieved strength and stability that can take all the hard downhill pounding (too bad the rest of me is still as clumsy as ever.) But beyond just the hiking, my cycling fitness has stayed strong. My experiences on the Golden Circle proved to me that I have come a long way since last year - despite my lack of any real focus on endurance cycling throughout most of the summer. Who needs training when you have mountains?

Today's hike came in under three hours, probably a personal best. There was still plenty of time for pictures:

These ptarmigans are about halfway between their summer and winter plumage, which, as you can see, is still perfect camouflage for the season.

There was a light dusting of snow above 3,000 feet. I don't think this snow even made it through the afternoon.

As is usually the case with Mount Jumbo, the clouds didn't start to clear until I was on my way back down.

Why yes, now that you mention it, I do take a lot of pictures of myself on top of peaks.

I think my newer camera may be broken. I charged up the battery but the camera still shuts off instantly after I turn it on. I stuck the battery in my old Olympus today. I'm not going to be real happy if this one has to be my main camera again. The viewing screen is so scuffed up that I basically can't see the image in any kind of sunlight. It's hard to frame a shot with no viewfinder.

I have had friends ask me why I never take pictures of the city. There you have it - the city. We're expecting our first sea-level frost tonight. I just realized that I haven't yet purchased a set of 29" studded tires. Anyone have any recommendations for a set that can be used both for commuting and riding on frozen lakes?


  1. AARGH - Ben just left a set of snow tires (studded) with Tony. But...they're 26" not 29", so not that big a loss. His were Kenda snow tires (these, I think but I expect you might want something a little more substantial for frozen lake riding? Ben used his for short commutes along the side of the Alaska Highway to work.

  2. That's a "city" ?.

    One good landslide would wipe the whole place out.

  3. Once again, Jill, thanks for the wonderful photos and for sharing.

    As for tires, the Nokian Extreme 294 would be my choice. Aggressive, but they say it can be used for commuting. They come in both 26" and 29". I plan on getting a set for my 26" ss. Not sure about the 29er at this point.

  4. Don't buy any studded tire that isn't a Nokian. Extreme 294 is a pretty kick-ass tire... I used the Hakkapelita 700x40c last year on my karate monkey through most of our ice season (Twin Cities, Minnesota) and it worked well. For commuting, I always think thin to win in terms of getting through snow, but if you're riding on lakes, you'll want some width I'd imagine. The only downside to the big Nokian's (besides the hefty price tag) is their weight. Noticeably heavy. But, what ever you do, stick with Nokian. Kenda, Innova, Continental don't even come close. Side note, Conti's are made by Nokian, but they don't come with all of the studs in place so you have to find more to put in. And I don't think they are carbide tipped.

  5. Pretty sure there is only one true (not cross width) 29" studded tire.

    Should make the choice easy.

  6. Jill- shoot me a message about what is going on with your camera.

  7. Hi Jill,

    This is Stephanie from Olympus. So many of here love to read your blog. Your camera is under a year old and is still under a warranty. Please send it back to me so we can get it repaired for you and that you can keep on sharing your great photos!

  8. Check out Peter White's site for info on studded tires. He writes (at length) about studded tires and has detailed pictures. He's a big fan of Nokian too.

  9. Hey Jill,

    Like others have said, the Nokian Extreme 294 is the only real 29er mountain bike tire with studs. The others are all narrower cross tires.

    294s were sometimes hard to find last year but I would expect they are in good supply this year.

    Option B is to spend an evening or two driving sheet metal screws into a set of tires. That is my setup for ice racing, but I would not recommended it for road riding.

  10. There is no shame in bagging a couple peaks and taking pictures of yourself from the top!

  11. I switched from Nokian to Schwalbe (29/700C tyres ate at and have not regretted it. I commute on my bike (I live car-free), and who wants to ride wobblies on the road?

    If you prefer to buy direct, Schwalbe ships from Vancouver, BC.


  12. I liked your pic of the ptarmigans. My wife and I were up above Black Lake here in the park on Sunday and watched a group that were showing much more white than those in your photo. There is more snow here.....

  13. Next time you take a picture of yourself on a peak, you should do a crazy face! Like psycho happy crazy! Maybe you'll get the chance down in the Grand Canyon.

    I'm excited to see you!

  14. oh, i've got NO idea what studded tires even look like, but GUESS WHAT?! today i saw a pugsley bike in Managua, Nicaragua, of all places. some skinny kid was just pedaling down the street in the rain on this super funny-looking bike with enormous fat tires. i was staring vacantly out the bus window when I saw him, and nearly jumped out of my seat with excitement. i don't know what he uses it for down here, but i still thought it was pretty cool.


Feedback is always appreciated!