Showing posts from June, 2010

These perfect evenings

There have been 10 of them since I rolled across the U.S./Canada border into the state of Montana. I haven't missed one yet.

Monday night "intervals" up Mount Sentinal. I wait for the temperature to drop below 90, and rush full-throttle into spectacular golden light.

Reach the peak just as the last sliver of sun slips below the horizon. Cool breeze and warm sky.

Tuesday after-work ride with the Dirt Girls. We squeeze a couple hours between thunderstorms on a little mountain amusingly called Mount Jumbo.

The fast Arizona visitor wants me to take her picture with the "Big Sky," so I have her take mine.

Life is pretty OK right now.

Stuart Peak

I am trying to adjust to my new reality - working 9 to 5, off on weekends, riding a bike commute route, dealing with heat ... I'm realizing that most of my wardrobe is irrelevant here in the summer. Amid piles of rain gear, wool, poly pro and polar fleece, I found only one pair of bike shorts and four short-sleeve jerseys. Montana is dry, with lots of air particles that seem to trigger my allergies, and it's hot. Did I mention it's hot? It's not hot compared to, say, New Orleans, but it's an adjustment after a few years of living in a place where residents celebrate if the temperature rises above 70. I have yet to go on a bike ride where I don't run out of water. But I'll figure it out in time.

But one advantage of moving to a new place is an exhilarating sense of discovery everywhere I turn. Even bike commuting through town is still an adventure to me. Everything is so fresh and new that even small tastes are fulfilling; all the same, my appetite for advent…

Western States

It was my first day off in Missoula. The sun was hot and high, the sky was mostly clear, I had a brand new shiny race bike finally put together and waiting to embark on its first big adventure ... and I could not tear myself away from the computer. I was watching tweets, blogs, checkpoint updates ... pretty much every snippet of information I could get about the Western States 100, specifically about Juneau runner Geoff Roes.

For those who weren't reading my blog a year ago, I'll expand on the connection. Geoff's my ex, but we've stayed friends in the aftermath of the relationship. I still follow his running career with great excitement, because I take full credit for the fact that he became a ultrarunner in the first place. We were both relatively inactive, considerably more bland individuals when we first moved to Alaska in late 2005. I wanted to take up a winter hobby, and inexplicably latched onto an endurance snow bike race called the Susitna 100. As I started tra…

The leaving of the light

Geraldine pedaled beside me as we motored up the final pitch of a 3,000-foot ascent, a dusty dirt track snaking like a tentacle up the mountain - your typical Montana monster.

"How are you feeling?" she asked.

I took a few quick gulps, stockpiling the oxygen. "High," I said. "Feels high."

"What, the altitude?" she asked.

"Maybe," I said. "Maybe elevation. Maybe it's the ride. Maybe I'm just tired. This has been the world's longest week. I can't believe it was a week ago I was living at sea level, a long, long way north of here."

"How do you like Missoula so far?" she asked.

"It's awesome," I said. "My co-workers are friendly, job's just getting going, and the mountain biking has been fantastic. I mean, this only my second ride, but they've both been pretty incredible."

Geraldine grinned and moved ahead up the fire road. I blinked toward the low sunlight, already golden at 8 …

New chapter

Yes, I realize my blog needs a new name.

What I'd really like is a whole new blog. I'm a little tired of this circa-2002 Blogspot template with a sidebar I haven't updated in two years that still says I live in Juneau. Plus, this blog is now at 96 percent storage capacity, so realistically it only has a few more weeks in which it will even allow new content. But building a new blog from scratch, hopefully one that also holds the archives of my old blog, takes time and knowledge that I don't exactly have right now. In the meantime, I don't want to stop journaling just because I can't make a smooth transition. I will probably continue to publish posts under this header for a while longer.

It's been a good run for "Up in Alaska." I started this blog on Nov. 3, 2005, for the same reason most people start blogs - to keep my faraway friends and family updated on my new life in Alaska. Since then, it's hosted 1,182 posts, who knows how many photos, 992…

Yeah Banff

It's been a mere year since a wonderful Banff ultrarunner named Leslie e-mailed me out of the blue and said, "You're coming to town for the Tour Divide ... do you want a place to stay?" Since then, she and her husband, Keith, have become good friends of mine, Banff has become one of my favorite places on this wide continent, and I've been back to visit four times. "Do you realize I've visited you guys more times than I've visted my home in Utah in the past year?" I said to Keith as we geared up for another binge that he calls "training" and I call "I'm really tired from driving 2,100 miles but yeah, why not?" Keith just laughed. "Honey, we're your home now," he replied.

I wish Banff could be my home. I'm still looking for that Canadian citizen husband, but Keith tells me it's not as easy as getting married to a Canadian. Until then, I learned that Missoula is only 7-8 hours away by car (and maybe fou…

Going, going, gone

This week has been one of those rare instances (for me at least) where life is happening faster than I can write about it. I'm the kind of person that puts journaling before things like eating and sleeping; after all, memory is fickle and life has a way of getting away from you. Well, life is getting away from me right now. I don't even have time to post this particular blog post, but I figured it was important to let my family know that Geo and I have made to Banff, Alberta, so only a half day of driving on a high-traffic highway with lots of services lies between me and my new home in Montana. (My family will be ever so happy to hear this bit of news, as the old Geo was never intended to make one trip between the Lower 48 and Alaska, let alone four.)

Yes, I've left Alaska. Right now I'm in a state of mourning that has been partly tempered by excitement for my new opportunities in Montana, and further numbed by 42 long, long hours behind the wheel in a 60-hour span of…


There's a little town in Alaska I had always wanted to visit. I couldn't even tell you why I picked this specific town, for there are lots of little towns in Alaska that would be fun to visit. But Cordova, a fishing village perched on the edge of the Prince William Sound, always stuck out. I think it started when I first learned of an old railroad grade that left this isolated village and followed the Copper River all the way to the main road system, in Chitna. I used to wonder if it was partially passable with a bicycle, until I learned that the railroad fell into disuse in the early 1930s, and I'd be lucky to find a few scattered nails among the thick alder tangles and rushing, unbridged streams. What remains is a 50-mile-long gravel road to nowhere that passes several glaciers. How could that not be a fun overnight ride?

I started the trip by taking the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Whittier. I always thought that blue-and-yellow double-decker rail car that rumbled…