Sunday, December 06, 2009

Sunday, Pugsley Sunday

This seems to be inadvertently becoming a tradition ... the last day of the week rolls around and I sleep in, eat a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast, finally make an effort to look out the window and note that the weather is actually pretty nice, and head out with Pugsley for a relaxing late morning/early afternoon hunt for rare pockets of snowbiking. A recent long thaw means everything at sea level is pretty much bare. Must climb.

Lake Creek Trail - which in the summer isn't actually a trail, so most everything beneath the snow is undeveloped terrain. Climbing to snow means clearing the myriad obstacles - clumps of frozen muskeg grass, rolling glare ice streams and flake-frosted mud. Much of it involves mountain bike moves as technical as any I've ever tried, on uphill slopes as steep as any I've ever climbed, and yet I try them, despite rather painful falls on hard ground that await me, because I have this delusion that Pugsley is invincible.

I was hoping for more hard crust in the meadows but I guess conditions stayed pretty wintry up there this week. This is my best attempt to ride downhill through the fluff. I'm not sure how much I was still moving when the self-timer clicked.

Elusive winter singletrack. Day-old ski tracks sometimes make great bike trails, but they're so narrow that the swerve-margin is near zero. Skiers usually have dogs that punch deep holes in the track and make it very difficult to hold a straight line.

No matter. Half the fun is in trying. Furrowing my brow, biting my bottom lip and funneling every ounce of available concentration into 30 continuous feet of riding is surprisingly satisfying.

Frost feathers. Today was also the day I discovered that the "super macro" setting on the Olympus Stylus isn't half bad.

But frost has a way of even making the ugliest patches of nutrient-starved muskeg look enticing. The temperature today held steady in the 20s, which feels downright toasty compared to 35 and raining (you'll note in the self portrait that I wore neither a hat nor gloves, at least until I started bombing downhill.) I wish it could be Pugsley Sunday every day.

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14 comments:

  1. After slogging through icy mud down here in normal climates (-3C) I cannot imagine why you do this until I look at the photos. But really, snow biking .... Mad!

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  2. Sweetness!!!

    Peace,
    Joboo

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  3. Anonymous5:41 AM

    I was wondering if you were using one of the olympus 'tough' cameras. I used one to make this video http://www.vimeo.com/7075192

    you should make a video on one of your rides with it. that would be awesome!

    b

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  4. dinglearm9:43 AM

    I love the Frost Feathers...Is amazing what you will find when you stop and "smell the roses"

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  5. Jill, you continue to maintain my desire for a Pugsley.

    We're already skate skiing in my neck of the woods. The rest of Michigan is jealous of our three-day snowfall. :-D

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  6. Just a friendly FYI, skiers typically work very hard to create a trail and they like to ski in the same tracks over and over again. Riding over a ski trail (assuming it's easily avoidable) seems like the kind of thing that might piss off a lot of people.

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  7. good to see you have a renewed intrested in cycling thanks to pugsley jill!,after following your blog for well over a year now i have to admit to only ordering your book tonight!!!,i had given up on amazon UK stocking it..,just checked tonight and they have it so should have it for xmas holidays...,think i need an Olympus Stylus now aswell...

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  8. I really liked the upclose picture of the snowflakes. Nature is so consistant in its beauty whether its grand scale or micro scale.

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  9. Anonymous2:51 PM

    As a seven year resident of Juneau I am surprised that I have never heard of the Lake Creek Trail. It looks beautiful and I would love to explore it on my classic skis. Would you mind sharing where the trail head is?

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  10. Ragfield ... The ski trails I followed are essentially just individual tracks through a large open meadow. They're not trails, they're traverses. Everything to the side of them is bottomless fluff. My tires don't do anything to destroy the tracks, and if I have to walk, I walk/posthole to the side. I agree that skiers are a finicky lot, but they let their dogs mangle their tracks, so they can't care too much about them.

    Anon ... the Lake Creek Trail is simply the snowmobile access route to Spaulding Meadows. The snowmobile club discourages pedestrian use of the trail, but they're usually friendly enough when I use it to ride my bike. Right now it's still closed to snowmobiles, and probably will be until we get another big dump, and walkers and skiers have been packing it down. (It's very uneven right now because there have been more walkers than skiers.) The trailhead is just off the Back Loop Road, on the UAS student housing loop, to the right. There's a gravel parking lot and a big gate at the trail entrance.

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  11. Seeing the wonderful snow around...the mind jumps to ski with a big group of friends and family.

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  12. Doctor's Orders8:31 PM

    Where's that helmet, Jill? Protect that great mind of yours...

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  13. long-time-skier11:05 PM

    Skiers a finicky lot? Only from the outside, I suppose. We're actually a pretty down to earth group of nice people who like to play in the snow! Now those bikers . . . (kidding!)

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  14. I actually have a Surly 1x1 anniversary model, fitted with some Arrow Racing 3x24 tires. This is my first winter with the bike, and it's tons of fun in the snow!

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