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Showing posts from May, 2008

Oh, the places we'll ride

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Date: May 29
Mileage: 117.3
May mileage: 1,138.8
Temperature: 60

(With apologies to Dr. Seuss.)

Congratulations!
Today is your day!
There's no work to do.
There's more time to play.
You have food in your pack.
And legs in your shorts.
And you can propel yourself.
On an adventure of sorts.
You have a bike. And you are what you are.
But as a cyclist only you can decide how far.
You think over your options, but it doesn't seem fair
You'll think, "But I always, always go there."
With your pack full of food and your shorts full of legs
You don't want to risk pedaling around in the dregs.
But this is not the day
To wallow in your abode.
The sun is out; it's time
To head out the road.

It's opener there,
Beyond the city we share.
Out the road, there are trails
That are seldomly used
Even by people as hungry
And leggy as you.
So when you find yourself alone,
In a place that's all new,
Just keep pedaling along.
Because that's what you do.

Oh! The places we'll ride!
Where the gla…

Time to go grocery shopping

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Date: May 28
Mileage: 31.2
May mileage: 1,021.5
Temperature: 64

My quads are killing me. Yes, they're sore from snowshoeing yesterday. Well, not really sore from snowshoeing - more like sore from that flailing, loping run thing I did most of the five miles down the mountain because I was running late for work. It's strange, because the muscles all but throb when I'm just sitting at my desk, but they feel OK when I'm pedaling. Maybe I'll be able to squeeze in a long ride tomorrow after all.

I sent Geoff a package today with his mail and various bike parts. Because it was one of those USPS flat rate boxes, I started looking for other things to fill the empty space. I added a pair of bike socks and a few New Yorker magazines that I already read. I thought about sending him some bike food, but I don't have any left in my own stash. I rifled deeper in the cupboards and rediscovered my box of Iditarod food. This is the food I actually dragged, stuffed as it was in a frame…

Video blog: Summer stroll

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Date: May 27
Mileage: 9.2
May mileage: 990.3
Temperature: 56

I'm pushing my highest-mileage month ever on a bicycle (I mean, besides my long bike tour.) Only about 25 more miles and I shouldn't have any problem surpassing it, although I try to tell myself it doesn't matter. I've long been converted to the idea of quality over quantity, and yet I still keep track of every mile I pedal, and get excited about distance. I thought about shooting for a month-end surge if for no other reason than to bump up the record to something harder to beat (and because all the saddle time is good training for the 24 Hours of Light, which is still on the docket.) But it's hard not to take advantage of a cloudless day to hike to elevation for some stunning views.

I have been thinking more about hiking lately, silently willing the snow to just melt already so there's more user-friendly access to high points. I feel like this is the summer to hit the mountains hard - I have a GPS now, a …

Summertime, and the livin's easy

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Date: May 25-26
Mileage: 26.7 and 45.1
May mileage: 981.1
Temperature: 66 and 59

My housemate and I received our long-dreaded electricity bill this week. I actually shuddered a little when he asked me if I wanted to see it. But all of our energy conservation efforts have paid off. We came in well under $100 when we were bracing for $200-$250. I'm sure we're not alone in being pleasantly surprised by our bill. Since the April 16 avalanches wiped out the city's hydro power, Juneau has cut its electricity use by more than 35 percent. The utility sends me the stats every day so I can post them in the newspaper, and they're downright amazing. Scott at AEL&P even made a nice graph. On April 16, Juneau used 972 MW-hours of energy and burned 84,417 gallons of diesel. On May 25, we used 551 MW-hours of energy and burned 33,388 gallons of diesel. A new record low. There are a lot of factors that go into energy and fuel use, but I think Juneau serves as proof that large-scale ene…

Beyond the dead ends

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Date: May 24
Mileage: 147.4
May mileage: 909.3

I’d been feeling a serious need to leave town, even if only for a day. With the crunch of work and travel time, one day was about all I’d have. But where to spend a day? A flight to Anchorage seemed excessive. I thought about Sitka with its logging roads and trails, but then I realized what I really needed was a long road ... a road that doesn’t dead-end ... a road that, at least in the deepest recesses of potential, is limitless.

The Haines Highway is one of two roads that link Southeast Alaska with the outside world. That and the Klondike Highway are two of the most beautiful routes I’ve ever had to privilege to ride a bicycle along, which I’ve done only once, during a whirlwind tour last August. Back then I put a lot of pressure on myself to complete this post-injury, pseudo-fast-tour, which, looking back, did cut away from the experience. This time I was going out solely for the joyride, as far or as little as I felt like moving.

I booked …

Worth 1,000 words

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Date: May 22
Mileage: 18.7
May mileage: 761.9
Temperature: 47

I am hopping a ferry to Haines for a couple of days. But I will be back when I get back.

Green-up

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Date: May 21
Mileage: 31.3
May mileage: 743.2
Temperature: 49

Finally caught one

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Date: May 20
Mileage: 16.2
May mileage: 711.9
Temperature: 58

Snowline climbing higher

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Date: May 19
Mileage: 9.8
May mileage: 695.7
Temperature: 52

The commute home

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Date: May 18
Mileage: 51.4
May mileage: 684.9
Temperature: 45

For anyone who was wondering

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Date: May 17
Mileage: 12.1
May mileage: 633.5
Temperature: 43

Geoff finished this year's super-low-key version of the Kokopelli Trail Race, 143 trail miles from Moab, Utah, to Fruita, Colorado. He said he came in sometime after 5 p.m. today, which I think equals 17 hours and change. He said he rode most of the day with Dave Chenault and Fred (Wilkinson?), and the three of them finished pretty close together about 45 minutes behind Pete Basinger and Chris Plesko. Not sure about the other finishers. It sounds like a pretty brutal race. I just thought I'd post the report here since it's uncertain when he'll be blogging again.

I spent the morning fishing with Brian. We came up empty, again, which I guess is pretty typical for this time of year. I don't mind at all. I'm not much of a cook and don't even know what I'd do with a king salmon if I caught one. I just like to be out on the water, breathing in sea air, laughing at Brian's "old days of Juneau&qu…

Needs

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Date: May 16
Mileage: 78.6
May mileage: 621.4
Temperature: 42

This past January, I went hiking with a friend who has one of those uber-stressful, all-consuming types of jobs. He claims to love it and earns his share of fulfillment from it, but this job leeches just about all the energy he has to give, emotional and physical. It was all he could do that day to motivate for our one-hour stroll in the snow. My friend, the same guy who used to leap up mountains and scale canyon walls, requested that we turn around after a mile and a half. As we returned to my house, he admitted that his job had changed him. "Sometimes I come home from work and watch TV for five hours," he said. "I used to feel guilty about it, but now I know that sometimes I just need to watch TV for five hours."

I nodded and tried to be a supportive friend, but the little voice in my head was screaming Why? Why? Why? Why?! I wanted to grab his shoulders and shake out whatever oppressive worldview was convi…

Two for the road

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Date: May 15
Mileage: 42.1
May mileage: 542.8
Temperature: 51

Today was a productive day ... productive in that I didn't get a long ride in, but at least my cats won't starve. The consolation prize is that my fishing trip for tomorrow was cancelled due to terrible weather on the forecast, so there may be a cycling window in there. A wet, cold window.

The two hours I spent riding the Dredge Lake trails was full of strange weather windows. Cloudbursts moved through, almost perfectly synchronized, every 20 minutes. For five minutes the rain would come down in unbroken straight lines, and then start to taper off just as a clear patch rolled in behind the storm. For about one minute it would be sunny and raining, and then the sun would take over and suck back the moisture from the ground in billowing puffs of steam. It couldn't have even been that warm, but buried as I was in rain layers, the aftermath made the glacier moraine feel like a tropical rainforest. Then the cold would com…

Homesick

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Mexican Mountain, December 2004
Date: May 14
Mileage: 33.4
May mileage: 500.7
Temperature: 39

My computer's hard drive is all full up again. I'm tired of deleting my music, so last night seemed a good time to go through the old photo archive and cull. Bad idea. Instead of throwing away 1,268 of the 1,269 shots I have of my bike in front of the Mendenhall Glacier, I spent all my time browsing the really old photo archive just so I could feel wistful and, well, homesick.

Cataract Canyon, July 2002
Every May, my old college friends converge from our respective far-flung paths for a spring vacation in Utah. Recent upheavals at work, compounded by the two weeks of '08 vacation I already spent just to do the Ultrasport in February, prevented me from joining them this year. I was disappointed about my situation at first, until I learned their plan was a river trip. I generally dislike river trips. Sitting all day in the hot sun, doing nothing, baking, burning, unable to do anything abou…

Still the one

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Date: May 13
Mileage:27.1
May mileage: 467.3
Temperature: 45

When I left work at 11:07 p.m., there was still a strip of soft blue light stretched over the horizon. Sometimes I think I don't care much for summer, even Alaska summers, what with the bugs and the bear spray. But little things like this make me happy.

I am starting to really enjoy my bike commute. It's like free miles. I crank hard into work because I never give myself enough time. By the time I leave, there's almost no traffic. So I just turn on my headlamp, crank up the volume on my iPod, and stream through the cool night air until suddenly, I'm home. I'm hoping to make it one whole week without driving my car. Then, I plan to celebrate with a big trip to Costco. I'm out of cat food, cat litter, Pepsi, coffee and basically all forms of food. I plan to leave that store with at least 200 pounds in goods. I hope my neglected Geo can handle the load.

I did my "workout" today by going hard up the P…

Smells like spring

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Date: May 12
Mileage: 31.2
May mileage: 440.2
Temperature: 41

I first set foot in Alaska on May 30, 2003. We rolled across the state line at a point much further north than the city where I live now, crossing the Yukon River on a ferry and entering the state on the “Top of the World” highway. The first Alaska town I visited was Chicken, followed by a few days in Fairbanks before we set out to drive our crumbling Ford Econoline van “all the way to Prudhoe Bay” on the Dalton Highway.

My first memories of Alaska are set in the drab background of early spring - barren birch trees, twisting black spruce and skeletal devil’s club stalks. Fairbanks was just starting to green up when we rolled through. But then we just kept moving further north, to places where the rivers were still clogged with ice and clumps of matted yellow grass carpeted the tundra. We crossed the snow-patched plain of the North Slope and took an oil company-owned tour bus the last nine miles to the edge of the Arctic Ocean. …