Monday, October 03, 2005

Rain high, sun low

There's nothin' like a fall ride. After watching the rainy skies much of Sunday, I made a break for it and met Christopher, an occasional riding partner, up on the flanks of the Chugach Mountains. We planned to ride way up high — Powerline Pass — and then descend back down some nice, root-covered singletrack. By the time we hooked up, the clouds were thick and the rain was starting again, meaning the high country would be cold and wet. But the beauty of Anchorage is that, sometimes, the mountains get slammed while the western side of the city out by Cook Inlet is sunny.

We bailed on the mountains and headed to Kincaid Park, a heavily wooded area full of trails, moose and a few bears. That's Christopher in the photo, cruising over a carpet of leaves on his Santa Cruz Blur. We rode the course used for the annual 24 Hours of Kincaid, and it was a different beast this time of year with fallen leaves on the trails and lots of slick grass and slightly muddy singletrack. Many of the trails double as x-c ski trails in winter, so mountain bikers often ride a super-skinny dirt rut with several feet of grass on each side; slip out of the groove when the grass is wet from recent rain, and can feel like it's covered with Tri-Flow. We had to keep our speed in check to avoid sliding out. On the true singletrack portions, the slippery wet tree roots kept things spicy.

We were delayed once when we encountered a big bull moose in the middle of the trail. I mean this guy was a brute. Biggest rack of antlers I've seen in a long time, and we see a lot of moose during rides up here. They're usually horny this time of year and can be a little combative, but this guy was pretty mellow about moving out of the way. Lucky for us, because if he'd been cranky, it would have been U-turn time. Ya never want to mess with the big bulls, especially when they're under the pressure of trying to get laid.

I had a little web-surfing time this weekend, so let's move on to some fresh links. She's not a mountain biker — in fact, she's a track bike-riding artist in Oakland — but the blogger behind Ride It Like You Stole It has attitude, loves to pedal and knows how to put away a few margaritas. One of her archived entries makes it clear she hates being judged on her appearance, so I'll apologize in advance for saying she looks damn good doing a hands-free track stand.

Speaking of tipping a few drinks, this little number could come in handy. Finally, technology we can use!

I'm still working my way through Cycle-Licious, because I keep getting held up by all the other stuff I find through its buttload of links.

In case you've forgotten what stunning little things your pedals are, take a cruise through the history of the pedal courtesy of Speedplay. Yeah, yeah, I know, I always hated history too, but there won't be a quiz and you don't have to memorize any dates. Although you might want to when you learn cool things like the fact that in 1895 the United States had two patent offices. One was for bicycles, and one was for everything else. Those were the days, baby.

Thirty-one degrees during my pre-dawn commute this morning. Gotta love those neoprene booties.


Tom said...

I had to laugh at your moose. I was out Sunday in So. Md. and came across a box turtle I had to help across the trail.
You battle moose.
I help out turtles.

Tim said...

Well, I don't so much battle them as just try to stay out of trouble with them. Between mountain bikers and moose, it's always the 1,500-pound trail user that has the right of way. :)