Showing posts from July, 2008

Goodbye July

Date: July 2008
Days of rain: 30
Total rainfall: 8.2"
Wettest day: July 18, 1.88"
Only dry day: July 2, 0.0"
Days the high temperature was over 60: 7
Days the high temperature was over 60 since July 5: 2
Days the high temperature was below 50: 2
Mean temperature for the month: 52.6
Forecast for the first four days of August:
... Priceless.

Sometimes, all you need is elevation

The call from my co-worker came at 10:09 a.m. "Do you think you'd have time for four extra pages today?" he asked.

"Wait, what?" I replied, still a little groggy from waking up late and lingering way too long over breakfast and blogs.

"If I told you Ted Stevens was indicted today, and we were going to create a whole big package to cover it, would you be able to do a few extra pages?"

"Wait, really?" I said, again, feeling a little stupid that in all of my blogging, I had missed that little news item. "Wow, so that finally went down. Yeah, I can do it. Do I have time to go for a hike?"

"I encourage it," my co-worker said. "It's finally nice out today."

I looked out the window. The mountains were obscured by a large bank of fog. Little drops still rippled through the massive puddles on the porch. "Um, OK," I said. "I'll see you at 2." I got dressed, laced up my shoes and darted out the door.…

SAD-light summer

Date: July 28
Mileage: 38.2
July mileage: 631.5
Temperature: 48

I felt just over the blah side of awful on my morning ride today - couldn't turn my legs over very fast; couldn't climb; couldn't zone away the general malaise after several miles of warm-up. Every time I have a bad ride like that, I look for reasons why. Overtraining? Hardly. I'm not even training right now. Too much time on the bike? My bike time is barely half what it was in May, and likely would be less if I had more opportunities to go hiking. So, I concluded, the struggle must be psychological.

It's sinking in, this summer. My friend confided that he had resorted to cooking himself all of his most desperate winter comfort foods. Several people have told me they dug their full-spectrum SAD lights out of storage and switched them on. Then today, I was walking by a cubicle when I was hit with a blinding flash of white. "What is that bright light?" I wondered, and squinted toward it. "Oh, i…

New road

Date: July 27
Mileage: 35.4
July mileage: 593.3
Temperature: 50

As this soggy month trickles to a close (and we all just want it to be over already), I have been dredging the dregs of motivation for reasons to go out for a ride. No longer can I drag myself out there with half-hearted musings about how fresh everything smells in the rain, or scoldings about all of the chocolate chips I have eaten this month, or ambitions to train for races in which I may or may not even be able to afford to show up at the starting line. No, I don't want to ride today. Simple and plain.

But Geoff and I started talking about possible new routes yesterday and he asked me if I had seen the new road the city is building to the top of Eaglecrest Ski Area. They've been at it all summer, they're probably halfway up the mountain by now, and I had never even bothered to check it out. I envisioned a gentle access road switchbacking all the way up to the ridge, where I could chug to the top, grab a narrow d…

Tram run

Date: July 26
Mileage: 21.4
July mileage: 557.9
Temperature: 52

On Saturday, just as it did the night before my second-ever running race on June 7, the weather forecast called for high 40s and rain. So I stacked up my wool socks and my water-resistant jacket and a bunch of other stuff I thought I would need to slog through four or so miles in the cold mush. And today, just as it did the morning of my second-ever running race, sunlight streamed through a fluid opening in the clouds. Sunlight! Real sunlight! The first I have seen, in any capacity, since July 1. Three weeks. Three and a half? I stood by the window, struck still in a sort of appreciative awe only deprivation can generate, never mind I had this running race, my third-ever, to be at in less than an hour. I choked down two bowls of cereal, never quite taking my eyes off the window. I cast aside my wool and water-resistant layers and adorned myself in free-flowing synthetics. I packed up my bike bag and darted out the door.

Into t…

To the point

Date: July 24
Mileage: 20.0
July mileage: 536.5
Temperature: 55

Ever since I acquired my Pugsley, about a year ago, I've had this desire to use it to circumnavigate Douglas Island. I guestimated about 45-60 miles around - 15 of that is highway; the rest is unimproved shoreline. I was certain I would need at least two days for the trip, so I mostly put it out of my mind until I found a good time to do it. But inspiration from Epic Eric's recent off-trail adventures planted the seed again, and today I set out on a scouting trip to assess the summer conditions.

I didn't get out of the house until a half hour before low tide, which I knew wouldn't leave me much time to explore. Ideally, beach travel should straddle the low tide. High tide swallows up the rideable sand and gravel and forces land travelers up on the rocks ... slippery bouldering in areas almost impossible to climb around while hoisting a big bicycle on your shoulders. I decided I was limited to a short trip. And…

Nugget Creek

Today I had to drive out to the Valley to pick up my bike wheels and pay my rent, so I thought I'd hit up the Nugget Creek trail while I was out there. In all of my two years living here, Nugget Creek is one of the few established trails I've never ventured down. It's strange, actually, that I've never seen Nugget Creek before. It's an easy, quick morning hike ... about nine miles round trip, fairly flat, skirting the sideslopes above a stunning (and incredibly hard to photograph) gorge. But I never did it because it was just one of those "eh" hikes. It reminds me of the vacation my family took in Disneyland. We bought three-day passes and my sister and I vowed to go on every *every* ride in the park. We had a whirlwind first two days, but by the third day we were slogging our way through Dumbo and Toon Town. By the time we got to Small World, we stood in line with a sour feeling in our stomachs. Were we really waiting in line for Small World when the Mat…


Date: July 22
Mileage: 35.6
July mileage: 516.5
Temperature: 52

I was all set to write another grumpy post about cycling in the rain when I clicked through Fat Cyclist's blog and noticed I had been tagged with a new, bike-specific meme. So I will spare this blog my latest summer lament and answer Elden's riveting questions instead:

If you could have any one — and only one — bike in the world, what would it be? Well, of course that bike would be Pugsley. Pugsley is not, as some of my purist cyclist friends like to call him, a "novelty bike." Pugsley is the perfect bike, the only true "everything" bike. He floats effortlessly over snow, sand and mud, bounces joyfully over roots and boulders, and crushes everything else. He's also perfect for pavement. Wait, you ask, how can this be? Well, if you're like me and can't hold a paceline to save your life, now you finally have an excuse! When your roadie friends ask you why you're so slow, just point out…

Snain in July

Date: July 21
Mileage: 12.1
July mileage: 480.9
Temperature: 49

I shuffled across yet another petrified snowfield, rain-washed to an icy sheen and so slippery I was sure my soon-to-be-horizontal body was destined to slam into a tree. But I kept it vertical and splashed down into yet another puddle, beginning the climb anew atop foot-repellent roots and glistening boulders. The weather forecast had called for a 20 percent chance of rain - 20 percent! Which in my experience means little to none, and I dressed for it. But now my thin shell felt about one ounce of liquid away from dissolving completely, my polyester pants were saturated, my toes and fingers were numb beyond usability, and still the rain came down. It showed no signs of letting up. If anything, the rain was picking up velocity, and the temperature was dropping, and I was woefully underdressed. And why was I still climbing Mount Jumbo in the rain, when the storm was so socked in I couldn't see beyond the next boulder and th…

Motivational poster

This one is for Geoff ...

Glug, glug, glug

Date: July 20
Mileage: 30.4
July mileage: 468.8
Temperature: 48

Was it really just two weeks ago I was singing the praises of riding in the rain?

Yeah. I'm over that now.

I totally called it

Date: July 19
Mileage: 31.1
July mileage: 438.4
Temperature: 49

I think it was about a week or so ago when I woke up mid-dream - a rare occurrence for me - with the images still lingering in my mind.

"I just had this dream that you took fourth in Crow Pass," I said to Geoff, who was sitting at the computer.

"Huh," he said, completely disinterested. As my friend (who has a 6-month-old daughter) likes to say, 'No one cares about your babies or your dreams.'

But still I persisted. "Yeah. You were on the Crow Pass trail. It was really snowy. Almost winter-like. There was snow on the trees. You ran across the finish line and you were in fourth place."

And Geoff, who at one week before the actual race was still sleeping 10-12 hours a night and had struggled through only a handful of short training runs since the end of the Great Divide Race, just laughed. At that point, one week before the actual race, he wasn't sure he was even going to bother starting. &q…

Granite Creek Basin

Date: July 17
Mileage: 16.0
July mileage: 407.3

I rolled into the Rainbow Foods parking lot covered in mud and soaked to the skin with melted snow and rust-colored creek water. Geoff was sitting outside with his cell phone, trying to clear up yet another FedEx bike shipping debacle. Since FedEx is the only bike-shipping option in town, we just have to put up with the prospect of sending our bicycles into a delay vortex where there is always that 3 percent chance they may never emerge. We have learned to take it in stride, like the weather, although the sun hasn't come out, once, since before Geoff returned to town on July 4. "But it was so nice in June," I protested, to deaf ears. That frightening "M" word, Moving, is seeping into our conversations with increasing frequency. There isn't much I can do about it, so I take it in stride.

Geoff asked me how my ride went, and I told him the Perseverance Trail was fun as always, but the ride was really more of a commu…

Getting my road legs back

I basically just shot this silly photo to illustrate that, despite my retro-grouch pretensions, I am capable of wearing full-body spandex and clipless pedal shoes.

Date: July 15 and 16
Mileage: 42.2 and 53.8
July mileage: 391.3

I spent the last two months exclusively riding my mountain bike. I did so because: a. I was spending a lot of time on trails; b. I was training for a mountain bike race; c. My road bike was in poor, poor condition. Now that a. The trails are soaking up water again; b. I feel like I am killing time while I wait for a good weather window so I can go nuts on the hiking season; c. My road bike has been upgraded to poor condition ... it seemed like a good time to tempo-ride on pavement.

The 30-mile ride along Douglas Highway and back has taken me as long as three and a half hours to pound out. Those rides were among my most exhausting - rolling the balloon tires through six inches of unplowed snow into some ungodly cold windchill. In the summer, on a good day, those same…

White silence

Date: July 14
Mileage: 8.1
July mileage: 295.3

When I woke up to rescue my drenched and crying black cat from the windowsill, I knew today was not going to be my lucky day. The sky was washed in liquid gray and clouds had crept down almost to sea level. The weather instantly drowned ambitions to wake up early and climb up Blackerby Ridge. Who wants to climb into soggy, foggy nothingness? I went back to sleep.

Later, some hours later, I woke up, again, groggy from too much sleep, and tried to reassess my morning plans. It seemed another damp bike ride was in order, but I could not get excited about it. When I'm in bike mode, the weather doesn't bother me as much. But lately, all I want to do is climb, higher, and it seems every day the weather hangs over my ambitions like a gray curtain.

But it's summer, short summer, and its briefness nags at me. I have so much I want to do and such a short time to do it, I might as well work on getting in shape so I can take full advantage sho…

Great Divide dreams

Date: July 13
Mileage: 45.8
July mileage: 287.2

Well, Jenn Hopkins hit the Mexican border early this morning, making her the seventh and last finisher of this year's Great Divide Race. Given that this English singlespeeder who I had never heard of before last month is my new hero, I was really happy to hear she finished. But, like all endings, the news was bittersweet. This means no more call-ins, no more blog to update, no more racers to worry about and times to track. The Great Divide Race has been a huge part of my life this summer. Even beyond Geoff preparing for and competing in this year's race, which would have kept me glued to the updates in and of itself, I became intimately involved through the blog. Listening to the daily messages and attempting to transcribe them made me feel like I was right there on the sidelines, watching the racers struggle and succeed even as I went about my normal life thousands of miles away. It was great, really great, and I wanted to say than…


Date: July 9-12
Mileage: 20.2, 18.0, 80.7 and 6.1
July mileage: 241.4

Well, I'm back from another 36-hour trip to Haines. In hindsight, this one wasn't a wonderful idea, given the expense, Geoff's crushing fatigue, and a less-than-stellar weather forecast. It's the kind of thing that happens on a Thursday morning when two people are lazing around a messy house with diminishing motivation and a "what should we do today?" conversation that lingers over hours. When it's decided that any daylong outdoor activity would be less than fun in the cold rain, it's only a matter of time before you start scrolling the Alaska Marine Highway site and grabbing up a couple of tickets for a ferry that leaves in three hours. Then, once you board the boat, you're kinda stuck with your spur-of-the-moment decision. As the ferry inched northward, Geoff and I set up plastic chairs on the solarium and gazed out at the gray-washed seascape. "It's too bad we can't…

I knew it wouldn't take long ...

For Geoff to want to get out of town.

But we're going to Haines this weekend, where I will try to convince Geoff to ride a bike and he will try to convince me to take naps.

At least I finally got my road bike in semi-working condition. It feels like a rocket ship compared to my Karate Monkey, although it's really as rickety as ever.

For those who have been watching the Great Divide Race updates, I will try to keep on top of those, but unless I can get ahold of Pete, they may be a bit sporadic in the next 48 hours.

But before I go, I just wanted to leave my fan-girl homage to one burly mountain biker from the UK, from one rickety road biker in the AK:

Go Jenn, go!

Rain's back

Date: July 8
Mileage: 37.1
July mileage: 116.4

When I told Geoff it didn't rain in June, he didn't believe me. So we looked it up: A mere 2.07 inches spread across 30 days. In Juneau, that's the same as not raining. "It would be just like Juneau to start up again the moment you came back to town," I said after waking up to another thick layer of liquid sunshine over the Channel. And it would be just like Geoff to miss the best part of summer and return to the waning daylight and strengthening precipitation ... prime conditions to temper new desires to get out of town.

I have been trying to drop hints that I want him to go hiking with me, but he is still in deep recovery from the Great Divide Race, eating multiple breakfasts and taking naps inbetween. Through it all, he's trying to train for the Crow Pass race. But I think he's just now beginning to realize what's left inside the shell of himself - amazing what eight days can destroy - but I know that any …


Date: July 6 and 7
Mileage: 22.0 and 8.7
July mileage: 79.3

I had nearly reached Gold Ridge when my watch hit 60:00:00, about three miles and 2,700 feet elevation since 0:00:00. Not bad for a walk. Could I take it to a run? I've never really been interested in running anywhere before, but for some reason I'm interested in running this Mount Roberts trail. I'm interested in running these mountains in general - to take it faster and farther than I've ever been able to before.

Faster and farther. With Geoff back in town and a few long-suffering racers still on the route, the Great Divide Race has been a heavy topic of discussion in recent days. When I am alone on my bike - and more often than that this month, on my feet - my thoughts often return to the question of whether or not I could ride the GDR. I feel motivated by the glimmer of excitement sparked by distant dreaming. But I end up kicking the scree or mashing my pedals when I arrive at the sheer absurdity of it all. Al…