Sunday, December 30, 2007

The New Year

This time last year, Jon and I were preparing for a January 3 flight to the 50th state, so our minds were on the beach and snorkeling. This coming year, no Hawaii. We're looking forward to lots of winter biking instead. But I can't help but think about the trip: Three weeks on Kauai. Hiking, snorkeling, eating and getting tan. A little beach camping.

An intriguing tunnel hike turned into a muddy adventure where the only other hikers we saw were also from Alaska.

But most of the hiking led to sunny places with views of the ocean.

A friend of mine years ago told me that you should do what you love on January first because that's what you'll do for the rest of the year. This New Year's Eve, after a short day at work, we decided we'll head out to the park. A midnight ride through the wooded, snowy trails. I can't think of a better place to be when the clock strikes midnight here in Anchorage than on the trails with Jon and our bikes.

May you do what you love in the new year!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

return to blue dot

We woke Christmas day to snow falling from the grey skies. Small flakes landing in layer upon layer on the neighborhood streets and in the yard. After breakfast and opening presents... including my new camera!, we stuck with the plan to go out for a bike ride.

Up to the trailhead and across the mushing bridge to Salmon Run trail. On to the Tour trail, we rode through snow as deep as our rims. We were the first to hit Blue Dot trail, though where we hopped on, there are no blue dots to follow, just a somewhat defined singletrack winding among trees and tussocks, then across the creek on a rickety bridge.

It was a sound-effects ride with "oofs" and screams as I bounced between logs & tussocks on the zig-zag of snow. Blue dot has many offshoots and the one we took dumped us at Elmore where we then made our way to Lynx Trail. It was so much easier going on the trail that'd been trampled down by other trail users.

While stopped to have a look at a moose munching on trees on the side of the trail, we ran into our friends, Jo-Ann & Adam who were skiing. I think they're in training to be Mr & Mrs Claus.

I'm sure if we didn't have the Pugsleys, we'd have been on our skis, too. But we needed to see what the pugs could do. They could go through practically everything. Cool.

Monday, December 24, 2007

full moon christmas eve

Just over a week ago, Jon & I finished building our snow bikes, the Pugsleys. After taking mine on a couple rides, I wanted to bike into work so that we could ride home on the trails on the new bikes.

So, at around 6:30, after stringing some holiday lights on my frame, we left the shop and headed for the park.
From the time we entered the trailhead on Elmore Road until we reached the bridge at the Airstrip we had the trails to ourselves. Even spotted a singletrack with fat tire tracks on it, so checked that out. Moose Meadow, Rover's Run. All were hard-packed but dusted with fresh snow from last night.

Clouds crossing the sky covered, then revealed, the full moon througout the evening. In the trees everything was still. Tomorrow is Christmas Day and we plan to go for a long daylight ride to explore together the winter routes in the park. Because except for our commute, it seems we don't have much opportunity to ride together.

Well, may your Santa bring you the biking stuff you want. And may you enjoy the holiday doing what you love.

Friday, December 14, 2007

bike lanes, then over the river & through the woods

Campbell Creek 7 degrees

I got at email from a local bike advocate to show up for a ribbon cutting this morning. The new Elmore Road - formerly know as the Bragaw-Abbott Loop Connection, among other monikers - was officially being opened to vehicle traffic. The road that connects Tudor and Abbott roads has in-street bike lanes on both sides and we planned to represent commuting cyclists on this opening day. Of course, cyclists have been using the route for a few months during various phases of construction and while awaiting the installation of stoplights. So, while the route isn't as new to commuting cyclists, we still wanted to be represented.

I rode the couple miles from my house in 10-degree temps, along the snow storage easement... I mean bike path... along Tudor Road. The jumbled slush that had been thrown by the plows onto the path made for a bit of a rough ride. At Elmore, ice melt must have been placed on the roadway to melt away some of the snow and ice. Cars were parked in two columns, as if abandoned, on the new roadway. No room for me in the bike lane, I rode between the empty cars to the sight of the ceremony. Found the other cyclist - it only takes two people to start a movement, right?

John W. & I made our way to the front of the group, next to television cameras, to watch officials declare the road "open." It took about a half-hour for all the talk to end and the ribbon to be cut into segments to commemorate the new roadway. We waited a bit, then were the first to "drive" the road.

I wonder: do we really think that more roads will mean people will drive less? Certainly this connection will cut a couple miles out of my drive to visit friends on the Hillside, but I don't know that a shorter commute for people means they won't just drive more often or drive farther to do something else. My wish is that this addition of a road with bike lanes and a recreational path will mean more bike commuters. Prove me right, Anchorage!

After riding the new section of road, John & I parted at the BLM. I pointed out the new Lynx Trail to him then made my way back through the park toward the Campbell Creek. This is my commute and I'll take this anytime I can instead of riding on the streetside paths. Give me the woods, the overflowing ice on the creek, the muffled traffic sound and the view of the mountains that's not filtered by vehicle exhaust.

Tudor bike path.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

snow, no snow

Today, finally a little snow is falling in Anchorage. The media has been crying about the low snow conditions for a couple weeks. Even I'd like to see a little more snow fall, but last Friday, I took advantage of the conditions to go for a little ride on the ice.

I met my friend Jo-Ann on the Campbell Tract where all the trails that previously were covered with slush had turned to ice. In some areas it was rutted, but mostly fantastic conditions.

The Campbell Creek was high; overflowing its banks, but hadn't yet flowed over the trails. Salmon Run, Moose Bone, Rover's Run and Lynx Trail were fast and slick & Jo-Ann really appreciated her new studded tires. It was great to get out on the bike after having been knocked down by a cold, then distracted by the marathon of film watching - the Anchorage International Film Fest. Even the short daylight hours didn't deter us (thanks Cateye).

Now, after a few days above freezing, I'm ready for the conditions to get cold so the best riding of the year can continue. I hear people have been hitting the mudflats... better check that out.