Tuesday, September 25, 2007

commuting hazards

The past week was a good one for bike commuting. Despite some misting rain, I managed to ride to & from work several times. The most aggravating part of commuting is when we're riding on the multi-use path along everyone's favorite: Late Otis Parkway.

Several schools line the route and one evening riding home with Jon we noticed cars leaving one of the parking lots. We slowed and watched, looking for that moment of recognition. The first car slowed and pulled across the path and into the street without a glance. Right behind it, another. Then we were at the intersection.

The next car's driver rolled right into the pathway intersection and I pulled in front of her, swerving close to the street (not a smart move, I admit). Jon, on the other hand, aimed for the driver's door and stopped just short of hitting it - an intentional move designed to get the attention of a driver who is being... well... inattentive.

Cars began to stack up behind her as she powered down her window and said to Jon: "I know, I know."

Yep. They all know it's not good to hit a cyclist. It's not good to drive through an intersection without stopping and looking both ways. It's not even legal!

I was lucky all I got was a hit of adrenaline for my move. I've had a few close calls but I'm usually Little Miss Safety First. I promise from here on out to be even more careful. And I wish all the people one my route would promise that as well.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Yesterday I hopped on the ol' 29er for the first time in awhile. I had an appointment in midtown before work & didn't want to ride my full-susp. bike. Nor did I want to lock my road bike outside the building. So, I pumped up the tires, wiped the chain and headed out.

I forgot how much fun it is to ride it - it being a Gary Fisher X-Caliber. The tires whirred on the pavement as I made my way along the path in the mid-morning. The sun was just starting to heat the air and the grass was wet with dew and maybe even frost from the night. September morning; about 40 degrees.

Riding home was even more fun. The bike responded positively when I stood to climb, racing the sun's descent. Jon was on his road bike but kept his pace to mine so we could enjoy the ride home together. Just a little Termination Dust (first snow on the mountains) on a few of the peaks. The birches turned yellow almost overnight.

This time of year we ride when the riding is good & sometimes when it isn't. Despite satellite weather reporting, I'm not sure if it will rain tomorrow or be clear and sunny. Today, it's been raining and the wind is picking up, blowing the leaves from the trees in the front yard. It's the season of homemade soup, fresh-baked cookies, fenders and rain gear. It also looks like a good time to book a ticket to somewhere sunny. Eventually.

Tomorrow I have to go to work a bit early - if the rain keeps up, it'll be another 29er day for me. I guess I should thank the rain for that.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Eklutna rain ride

It's not so tough riding in the rain if you know you're heading someplace warm and dry. So I ventured out with my friends on the Eklutna Lakeside trail, towing my BOB (Beast of Burden) trailer, something I'll admit I haven't done since touring New Zealand a few years ago.

Jo-Ann had rented the cabin a few months ago, hoping enough people would fill the bunks. Five of us pedaled out to stay the night and three day-trippers endured the rain all the way to the cabin, had lunch and a hot drink, then turned around and faced the rain for the 12-mile ride back! I don't know that I would have done that.

Things to pack on such an overnighter: warm, dry clothes, lots of socks, cabin shoes, dry shorts for the next day! Also, no matter how many times you hear that you don't need to bring something, such as a stove or cook pots, or cups - bring them! Besides one very large soup-making sized pot, there was nothing to cook in, so I was happy that I'd thrown in my cook kit. We didn't need the stove, but we may have, so it was good we had it just in case.

We did have a newspaper to use for fire starter, but there was only a small amount of dry wood, so we conserved what we had while hauling in what little we could find, even damp wood we could dry inside for morning or for the next visitors. Next time, I'll tell each person to bring at least one log (if we have a dozen people, that should get us through the night).

The colors were changing almost as we rode, the rain blew at us in the headwind coming from the glacier, upvalley. Arriving at the cabin was a pretty happy moment, knowing we could peel off the wet socks and pants, hang our rain jackets and just hang out and relax.

I did pull out the nalgene filled with wine a little early, but the sun's going down a little earlier these days also. And I certainly wasn't going anywhere - except the outhouse - in the storm. We dined on halibut burritos by candlelight before climbing into our sleeping bags in the cubbie-like bunks.

Listened to the rain and wind much of the night, but in the morning were able to pack and get on the trail with no wind or rain... the rain did start falling again as sprinkles a few miles from the parking lot, then became a full shower as we packed our bikes & gear to return to Anchorage.

I've biked in the rain plenty of times, but to set out in the rain to a cabin a dozen miles in is somewhat of a leap - hoping you have everything you'll need to get through the night. This trip with my friends proved that we can put together an adventure and have fun despite the challenges of the weather. Sign me up for next year!