Friday, November 21, 2008


Date: Nov. 20 and 21
Mileage: 22.7 and 56.4
November mileage: 605.6

I had a five-hour ride planned for today, the beginning of my weekly "long ride" series in which I ride an hour longer each time and eventually start adding extra days. Five hours is always the first of the focused efforts. I planned a hard, steady ride out the road. The goal was a steady tempo pace with no breaks, but I stopped at the Mendenhall Visitor Center to use the bathroom and got completely sidetracked by the beautiful state of the Valley trails.

An inch or two of fresh snow had been hardened in the just-below-freezing air to a dense crust, nicely grippy and fast. I wound through the forest surrounding the Dredge Lake area and then hit up the tight singletrack near Montana Creek. For someone of my skill level, mountain biking is by necessity less effort than riding on the road. I often have to stop to walk around rock gardens or up an icy hill after spinning out. There's enough stop and go, hesitating over a tough obstacle at 4 mph and coasting down hills that it really is not quite as strenuous of a workout. But my technical skills continue to improve encouragingly, and you can't beat the fun factor.

Not that the road riding wasn't fun and gorgeous as well. I had a really good day today. It's true the ride itself was really no longer than those I've taken on recent weekends. I'm starting out slow by design, but I have to say, I can't wait until it's time to crank out some 8 and 10 and 12-hour days, coasting through the eerie darkness, listening to the crackle of my studs on fresh ice.


  1. I love that snow covered trail with the Karate Monkey.

  2. Do you have many days where you have a hard time getting yourself out the door? How do you motivate? I'm finding that I need to use my bike for commuting through the snow over the next couple of days because my truck is getting fixed and I'm having a hard time even thinking about it. I have no problem getting out for an occasional ride, but I'm still tweaking the clothing thing. I'm kind of fearing tomorrow's commute.

  3. Wow. That's such a beautiful landscape. What do you wear in weather like this? I could imagine it would be difficult to get it just right so you are not cold but also don't sweat once you warm up from the exercise. I always struggle getting the layering right in winter.

  4. Inspirational stuff Jill. I'm an Aussie but been to Alaska twice for climbing. LUV the place. I've been into MTB the last couple years and just happen to be planning some adventures with a Pug myself.

    I look forward to reading through your blog and maybe even the book.

    Keep livin' your dreams. Russ.

  5. Hey Jill,
    Congratulations on your book. I can't wait to read it.

    Are you selling copies at Hearthside Books? I'm curious, do you plan to do a book signing?

    Here's an idea: What about a fireside chat with a slide show at the Glacier visitor center(complete with a table to sell your book)?

  6. Di - motivation is tough some days. It's become much easier for me because it's become so deeply ingrained into my habits and lifestyle. But there were days that it was all I could do to force myself outside. Sometimes it takes force.

    Groover - today the temps ranged from about 28 to 35, and there was a lot of slush on the road. I knew I was going to get soaked so I wore my wet-weather stuff: Gortex coat and neoprene socks with a thick (really thick) wool sock on top. I stay warm as long as I keep moving. If I stop at all, it's a struggle, but never that bad. I have a pair of NEOS overboots that I probably should wear more often to keep my feet from getting wet, but they annoy me so I usually don't bother. (and usually end up regretting it ;-) )

    Maybe I'll do a post one of these days about my cold-weather clothing. I fear it may not be of too much use to others because it is very wet-weather based, and turns into an oven if I somehow manage to stay dry.

    Gwyn ... I don't have anything planned. To be honest, with these kinds of books, there's no way for a traditional bookstore to make money on it unless I give up every cent of my own profit margin. I am kinda starting to regret releasing this book, but the truth is I was never going to bother trying to get it published "for real," and what has been done can not be undone.

  7. Don't regret the book. Now you can say you are a published author, which is helpful if you ever decide to approach the big publishing companies.
    We sell several self published books from Appalachian Trail thru hikers at the store (an outfitter) since we're right along it. Maybe the bike shops would be into selling your book.

  8. Jill,

    Does Alaska salt the concrete right off the road in winter like Wisconsin does? If they do, does the salt effect your bike frame? I've seen plenty of motorcycle frames potmarked from road salt and to be frank, I'm rather anxious about taking my bike on the road now until after we've had two or three "washing" rains. Thoughts?

  9. You know, sometimes it's really hard for me to believe that your photos are real! Seriously, a couple of today's look like something from an animated Disney Christmas special.

  10. I believe that I am beginning to understand why you do this. Amazing photos.

  11. The worst thing about riding in the winter is getting all bundled up, going out into cold air, and then having to pee.


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