Saturday, March 21, 2009


fat tires on a skinny trail

As I write this, I'm looking out my living room window at snow falling, softening the lines on the birch and pine trees in the neighborhood. It's so unlike the rest of the week when Anchorageites were searching for their sunglasses and trying to get out into the 20- to 30-degree spring conditions while they could. Because, as we know, if we wait until tomorrow to do something, the conditions will change.

Changing conditions are exactly why I'm here in my living room instead of hiking in the front range mountains that border Anchorage. This morning, Jon and I each put a change of clothes in the car in preparation for a post-work hike, but as the day wrapped up and I looked at the cloudy skies and the post office flags flapping in the breeze, I was starting to back out. I wanted to hike in the sun and the morning had almost promised me sun. By the time we were ready to leave, the mountain view was obscured, a sure sign it was snowing up high. Not this evening, he agreed.

Now the snow is freshening the trails where I've experienced probably one of the best weeks of mountain biking I'll have this year. In the last eight days, I was out there four different times riding the hard-packed snow trails, their singletrack defined, weaving among the trees and tussocks. It was a week where I felt physically strong as I resisted downshifting for some of the little hills. Where I rode things that challenged me to stay on the narrow sweet-spot when I could see that other fat tires before me had swept off the curvy trail into the soft snow before regaining control. Where I challenged myself to limit my dabs.

While a part of me is itching for a long road bike ride on the pavement, another part of me keeps saying these are the best conditions of the season, the equivalent to a powder day for a skier. They make me want to ride hard, then rest in a sunny meadow. To watch the ravens arguing with a hawk. Even to smile at the skiers as they watch me emerge from a singletrack they hadn't noticed before. March conditions could last three months and I'd be ok with it, as long as it was sunny.

Jon on the trail with many names (speedway, re-gen, area 51, are there more?)

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