Sunday, December 21, 2008

On ice

Date: Dec. 19 and 20
Mileage: 4.0 and 23.4
December mileage: 580.7
Temperature upon departure: 7

I've had actual requests to start listing the departure temperatures in my daily ride stats. I think I stopped posting them back in July, when I got tired of typing boring old 50-something every day. Temperatures get interesting again in the winter, and more meaningful for my future reference, so back they go. It was 7 degrees when I left the house today. Feels brisk! But, then again, it feels less brisk every day. Juneau's been locked in this clear cold snap for so long (nine solid days with hardly a cloud), that when the rain (or even snow) finally does return, it's going to feel strange.

I only cheated a little on my day off on Friday ... with one quick sunset lap around the Mendenhall Lake (so quiet, so cold, so perfectly beautiful. I heard a wolf - likely Romeo - howling in the forest.) I was out in the Valley running a bunch of errands (first and last time Christmas shopping all year. Woo Hoo!) and had my mountain bike on top of my car anyway (how did that get there?) I was dressed more for Christmas shopping than for riding a bicycle on lake ice at 5 degrees. It was one of those rationalization moments (it'll be a quick trip. What's the harm?) And, of course, in about 20 minutes I managed to become so wracked with shivers that I had to slow down just to avoid shimmying my bike clean off its wheels. Funny how quickly you forget those elementary school lessons in winter cycling - you have to dress as warm for 20 minutes as you do for 20 hours.

But there's good news, Juneau readers. Taking the day off gave me time to finally drop into Hearthside Books and get "Ghost Trails" placed on shelves! Woo Hoo! So you can drop in to the Nugget Mall now and buy my book. You should go buy them out quickly so they'll think it's really popular and order a bunch more. I'm also working on sending some books to Speedway Cycles in Anchorage, so Anchorage readers can pick up a copy without paying for shipping. I'll post again when those are available.

Today I went ice biking on the frozen Mendenhall Wetlands. I've owned my 29" Nokian studded tires for about two months now and I can't say I'm real thrilled with them. I knew they would take a beating a wear down quick from the hundreds of pavement miles I ride each month. These have also had the added beating of rides on rocky trails that were coated in light layers of ice, but mostly rocks. Either way, wow, after two months they look nearly as worn as the 26" Kenda tires that I used for three seasons. They're missing about 10-12 studs in each tire, and the ones remaining on the center of the tire are bent, pushed all the way in, or otherwise misshapen. I'm a little disappointed, if only because I should have known better. If I'm going to ride a bike in such a way that a pair of tires is only going to last a single season, I might as well buy the cheapest ones I can find.

The cold snap looks like it might have a least a couple more days left in it. Now, if only I could find the courage to go camping.


  1. Thanks for that Jill, I was wondering how your studded tires were holding out with all your miles. I was thinking of getting a set but I think I'll watch how you do with them.


  2. JIll, after reading Ghost Trails and have gained an understanding into the adventures that led to the Iditarod, You need to rethink the need for a coach.
    Great format in the book it is a must read for all who are passionate about life and understanding the journey.

  3. Hmmmmm! Just ordered myself a set for riding here in MN. Hope they hold up better than yours did.

    Although, I won't be riding the pavement miles you have so maybe they will serve my needs just fine.

    Expensive as car tires!!!!

  4. I love that you said that 7 degrees is brisk. That is hella cold!!!!

  5. Hey Jill, here is something you might consider. Read this post on this blog:

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  7. I have been running the Innova Ice Husky Studded Snow Tire since last year and they have held up good, although they do not get the abuse you are dishing out.

  8. I have many many miles on my nokian mount and ground's. Everything was still there when I put them on this winter. I'd call them up- maybe a bad batch or something. Do you know how many miles you have on them? I've not heard any (that I can recall) bad reviews of the nokians.
    Let us know!

  9. Slow Rider, thanks so much for the kind words. How is the LIVESTRONG fundraising going?

    Biking Duluth,

    These tires probably have about 1,100 or maybe 1,200 miles on them. Much of that on pavement. The reason I went for what's considered the best is because I knew they'd take a serious beating with the kind of riding I do, but I need studs all winter long because road conditions are always marginal at best, never actually dry, and I also wanted to use the bike for lake and trail riding. Now I'm thinking I should have just foregone the lake and trail riding and purchased a $20/each set of studded road tires. Maybe I did get a bad batch. They still seem to grip well on ice, but the wear and tear is pretty severe.

  10. Geoff,
    That's about what I have on mine from last season, had on for the better part of 4 months. From november to march. Mostly road riding and paved bike trail but intermixed with plenty of ice and snow.
    I looked when I put them on this year and all the studs are still in place. I'm a big fan of letting a company make things right. I'm willing to bet they'd be willing to make things right ;o)
    Good luck and if you get more, hopefully you'll not be disappointed again.

  11. Did you go with the mega studded version? Like the 336's, 300's, or the 294's?
    There's also the 240's, 160's, 106's and a 62.
    I've got the mount and grounds w/ 160 studs so I can only speak to how well this one works.

  12. I always go with the mega-stud version.

    Burt Reynolds.

  13. Hi Everyone, Just purchased a set of Innova Ice Husky studded and from what I can tell you need to have the air pressure quite a bit lower when using studded tires. For example I use the Michelin XC Dry2 tires normally and inflate them to 40psi. These I will inflate to around 30psi that may prevent the bending of the studs.


Feedback is always appreciated!