Showing posts from February, 2010


I fell off the training wagon after my mountain bender last week. I've just been focusing on priorities elsewhere, but I have found time for a couple of short rides and a couple of trips to the gym. I also got out Friday for my first mountain bike ride in what feels like ages. I splashed through the muddy trail system of the Mendenhall Valley beneath a thick mat of fog, craving snow. February was basically one long thaw, and Juneau's sea-level trails are nearly back to their mossy, spongy summer condition. I miss snow biking. So I went home, put on my ice-cleat boots, and pushed Pugsley up the treacherously icy Lake Creek Trail, knowing I was likely to find little more than a slushy, long-faded snowmobile trail at the top. As I expected, I was able to ride for short stints in the shade, but mostly I spent the afternoon going for a long walk with my bike - which is actually great training, though not terribly fun. I did find the sun. I always enjoy the sun.

I am really excited a…

Modern Romance, part three

My ongoing conversation with Thunder Mountain ...
Modern Romance, part one
Modern Romance, part two

Wake up to a new day, the fifth straight of sun. I roll out of bed in the same slumping way I have for days, bracing for painful impact on my tender body. Despite four hard and physical days, my legs spring back with surprising elasticity. My back straightens and my shoulders relax. I rub my eyes; the tear salt burns in dozens of tiny cuts in my hands. The stinging sensation jolts me fully awake, with eyes open to the bright new day, and I realize that not only do I feel healthy again — I feel strong. I wasn't expecting to feel this way on the fifth straight day of sun. Bodies, like lives, can be amazingly adaptable. And, like lives, only through struggle can they really grow.

I take my newly formed muscle fibers and return to Thunder Mountain. I've been wanting to go back here, and I knew the fifth day of clear weather may well be the last. A climb on Thunder Mountain is a true cli…

On happiness

Date: Feb. 21
Mileage: ~5
Total climbing: ~2,200 feet
Time: 2 hours, 7 minutes
Weather: Sunny, 42 degrees, light winds
Details: Hike to Ben Stewart, 40-90 percent

I didn't sleep well last night because my heart rate wouldn't slow down, something that happens to me when I am "overtraining," which to me means working my body at a consistently higher rate than it is comfortable with for an extended period of time. The kind of thing I do during an ultraendurance race. The kind of thing I'm actually seeking to do right now, with my "mountain bender." But after not sleeping well, I woke up late with a sun hangover, prickly quad muscles and legs that felt like they were stapled to the mattress. My hands are torn to shreds from my Sheep Creek bushwhacking adventure and I'm finally starting to get blisters on my toes. So I decided, "time to take a rest day." I knew, physically, that rest would do me more good than exercise at this point.

I did some cleani…

Shredded quads are good for the soul

Date: Feb. 20
Mileage: ~7
Total climbing: ~3,300 feet
Time: 2 hours, 34 minutes
Weather: Sunny and hot, 47 degrees, light winds
Details: Ridge hike, 60-90 percent

The high-pressure system continues. I did an ambitious trek up Gold Ridge today. There were nice, packed footprints in the snow; I jogged and power-hiked most of the way up and ran, loped and hobbled on the way down. The reason I pushed it so hard is because I didn't get started until nearly noon, and I had to be to work before 3:30. The reason I didn't get started until nearly noon is because I couldn't pull myself out of bed in the morning. The reason I couldn't pull myself out of bed is because I felt sore and hung-over and generally crappy from a 13-plus-hour weekend of hard labor in the hot sun.

But eventually I dragged myself toward my coffee maker, gulped an entire pot of rocket fuel, and rallied. "Why bother?" you might ask. "What's the point?" you might ask. I have my reasons. Even a…

Whole new territory

Date: Feb. 19
Mileage: ~10
Total climbing: ~5,000 feet
Time: 6 hours, 30 minutes
Weather: Sunny and hot, 45 degrees, light winds
Details: Ridge trek, 40-90 percent

Only time for another quick photo post today. But what a stellar weekend this was! Today I lazed through a relaxing morning, and in the early afternoon I headed up the Hawthorne Ridge with Geoff (yes, my ex) and Dan. This was unique for a couple of reasons: 1. I can never talk people into hiking with me on Fridays. Dan actually took the afternoon off. 2. This is a ridge near town that I haven't been to yet. Let the adventure begin.

It was a simple grunt up to timberline and incredible views almost from the get-go. The day was so clear that we could see all the way across the Juneau Icefield. The peak on the right, the one that looks like a big hand signaling "stop," is the Devil's Paw, on the Canadian border.

That's Mount Roberts, looking rather gnarly on its south side.

Friday was again incredibly warm, probab…

Mount Jumbo to Mount Troy

Date: Feb. 18
Mileage: ~12Total climbing: 6,284 feet
Time: 7 hours, 13 minutes
Weather: Sunny and hot! 34 degrees at sea level, hotter higher; Light winds
Details: Ridge trek, 40-90 percent
Today I did something that I have always wanted to do, which is connect two prominent peaks on Douglas Island via the mountain ridge. In doing so, I walked from downtown Douglas to Eaglecrest Ski Area, the hard way. I will eventually talk more about observations regarding yesterday's post, but for today I am just doing a quick photo blog.

An inversion coated Juneau with thick fog during the morning and part of the early afternoon. This airplane was flying in circles, waiting for the fog to clear so it could land at the airport. You have to think those passengers are grumbling about the unfairness of a weather delay as they coast through clear blue sky.

And it was hot! So, so hot. I don't know how hot it was. 80 degrees? Maybe 90? It was actually 34 degrees at my house before I left for the morning…

A lack of color

Date: Feb. 16
Details: Rest day

Date: Feb. 17
Mileage: 24
Time: 95 minutes
Weather: Steady rain, 38 degrees, southeast wind 15-25 mph
Details: Tempo ride; intensity 65-90 percent

So today I'm going to post about two things that I don't talk about very often on my blog - writing and discontent.

I feel like I have to preface this post because I'm not going to talk about bicycle riding, trekking or training today. It's actually still somewhat humorous to me that for the past four-plus years, I have been updating what is essentially a bicycle and photo blog. I found out recently that "Up in Alaska" was nominated for a "Best Sports Blog" Bloggie for the third time (I found out too late to solicit votes, but that's OK, because I didn't stand a chance of winning against Fat Cyclist and BikeSnobNYC anyway.) But, yeah, I have a sports blog. This idea still makes me giggle. And photography! I was essentially anti-photograph four and a half years ago, the kind…

Signs of spring

Date: Feb. 13
Time: 95 minutes
Details: Intervals on elliptical trainer at gym; intensity 65-95 percent.

Date: Feb. 14
Mileage: 31
Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
Weather: Rain showers, 40 degrees, southeast wind 25-45 mph
Details: Pain ride into the wind and back; intensity 60-85 percent

Date: Feb. 15
Mileage: 46
Time: 3 hours, 4 minutes
Weather: overcast, 43 degrees, east wind 10 mph
Details: Mid-distance ride; intensity 65-90 percentNote: Horrible ice break-up on the road north of Eagle Beach

My perusal of the weather report had me questioning whether I should even bother setting out for a "distance" training ride today. Not because the forecast was bad, but because it was so startlingly, unconscionably good. Monday's forecast called for light showers, light wind and temperatures in the low 40s. There was supposed to be a little more rain and a breeze on Tuesday, and then it just skyrocketed from there, turning from partly cloudy to mostly sunny to outright sunny with a 0-percent change…

Ha ha!

Received this in my e-mail inbox today:

"Greetings from the weather capital of the world. Phil is resting and getting ready for mating season now that his big prediction is over, but fear not. Groundhog Day is about the coming of spring, about frivolity, about curing cabin fever ( and my guess is that you and your neighbors understand cabin fever) All that being said, spring is coming… granted we may have a bit more snow, a bit more cold and a bit more wind, but alas it will come followed by summer and fall and winter again and then again next year Phil will predict the weather for the world for the 125th year. So until then Warm regards on a cold day…..

From the prognosticators of prognosticators…

And please note, we are only 2 weeks in to Phil's prediction of 6 more weeks of winter weather….."

— Ben Hughes, Official handler of Punxsutawney Phil


Dear Punxsutawney Phil,

I am forwarding you the weather forecast for the next week in Juneau, Alaska:

'Nuff said! Enjo…

Into February

Date: Feb. 11
Mileage: 35
Time: 2 hours, 17 minutes
Weather: 38 degrees, overcast, east wind 5-10 mph
Details: Another tempo ride, with three intervals until my right knee started to ache a bit; intensity 60-95 percent.

Date: Feb. 12
Mileage: About 10
Elevation gain: 5,237 feet
Time: 6 hours, 54 minutes
Weather: (alpine) 26 degrees, partly cloudy, east wind 20-30 mph
Details: Blackerby Ridge walk; intensity 20-90 percent.

On Friday, I woke up to beautiful blue skies, so I postponed my planned distance ride and set out for a climb up Blackerby Ridge instead (I've been biking a lot lately, anyway. I needed to give my legs a break by stumbling up and down an incredibly steep mountain with a lot of gear on my back, thereby beating up my entire body equally.) So here goes my latest mountain photo post:

I tried to figure out what kind of animal made these tracks. They looked more feline than canine - maybe a lynx?

And the requisite snowshoe track shot. The brown spot in the upper right is the Juneau…