Friday, March 28, 2008

ski portage

Went for a ski with my friend Jo-Ann today. I'd heard from Jon that the conditions were perfect at Portage Lake when he was there two days ago, so Jo-Ann & I took off just before noon.

Sunny skies; no wind; crusty snow with an inch or so of fines. We were the only skiers on the lake.

Toward the north side of the lake, drifts covered small bergs that were trapped in the ice below. They made moguls on an otherwise level surface.

The glacier didn't come into view until we were more than halfway across the lake, its blue-tinted ice covered in spring snow.

We were not alone in wanting to cross the lake.

In the city and on the calendar, it's spring. On the trails and on the lake, it's still winter, but melting.

I don't spend much time on my skis, but they were the right mode of travel today.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

each moment

Each moment in life is unique. Some, I want to hold onto and I'll experience them knowing the impact almost as each one happens. Monday's ride brought me one of those moments. Biking home from work that night, we detoured away from the frozen, bumpy streetside path and headed for the Tour of Anchorage route.

Hopped on at the "Ballfield" trailhead. Right away, the conditions were hardpacked and fast as we soared down the hill at around 9:30. The Tour was perfect, with our tires barely leaving a track, just a little kicked-up snow atop the surface. Heading north, just after the Moose Meadow intersection, I started noticing the shadows cast by the moon to the east.

I slowed down. I turned off my headlamp. As my eyes adjusted to riding by moonlight, I began to notice the fine details of the shadows even more. Shadows of branches tricked me into thinking a branch was actually on the trail. The light cast a soft blue on the crust of snow. Jon's light had disappeared ahead of me. I was alone in the moment, slowing my pace so I could just glide through the night and experience the waxing moon.

I had time to relax and just enjoy the simple beauty of winter cycling. I already know I'll miss it.

Friday, March 7, 2008


Arrived back in Anchorage on Monday evening. Leaving Chicago was easy - rain was turning into sleet as I topped off the tank on the rental car before returning it. The snow would be better in Anchorage, I was sure.

Instead, I was met with 40 degree temps and rain puddling on the ice-covered bike paths. I rode into work Tuesday anyway, jumping back on the bike and back into what could be a busy spring at work.

Two weeks ago I was taking a last stroll near the hotel. Looking at a fountain I hadn't noticed yet. Watching as vendors swept litter from the cobbles. Still taking it all in. Not ready to leave but knowing I couldn't stay any longer.

It re-sparked my desire to just ditch all plans I may have, convince Jon to quit work and buy a couple one-way tickets to Europe. One piece of luggage each and a train schedule along with some walking shoes. Isn't that what I should be doing with my life? I mean, why should our 40s be spent working all the time, saving for a few weeks of biking or traveling in some exotic location each year when we could just drop out for a year or more and see the world while we're young and healthy?

Maybe it's just the breakup talking, because it sure can be tough to be a cyclist in Anchorage this time of year. And it is about time for my spring fever to check in with me. I'll get through the season; but I can't promise I'll be here for the next one. This planet is just way too big to ignore. I just want to jump in.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

midwest time

After a few days of jet-lag, I'm finally on Midwest time. And in two days I fly back home to Alaska. Plenty of snow here, but no skis or snow bike to take advantage of it. Instead, a pilgrimage to the cheese store and dinner last night with my parents & my brother at the KofC fish fry. Another Midwest Catholic thing.

Back home in Alaska, Jon told me the trails are fantastic, so I'm anxious to get back and get on my bike again. It already seems like Rome was weeks ago. I promise to go back. Next time with him.

I also promise to learn more of the language. Though I was adept at ordering a couple of espressos, my phrasebook didn't help me interpret to a store clerk that something had "caught my eye." I was rarely without the book or the now mis-folded map of central Rome with its narrow, bending streets. The non-grid system of streets made each turn a study in map-reading and offered the possibility of surprise and thrill at any corner.

Look up, and discover that we are at our destination. Listen and know we're close to the fountain. Turn a corner and spend the next minutes studying the map to learn which direction we're going. Arriving back at the hotel my aunt claimed to never doubt my navigational skills.