Saturday, December 20, 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.