Thursday, September 29, 2005

Hittin' the books

"When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments. Here was a machine of precision and balance for the convenience of man. And (unlike subsequent inventions for man's convenience) the more he used it, the fitter his body became. Here, for once, was a product of man's brain that was entirely beneficial to those who used it, and of no harm or irritation to others. Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle."
—Elizabeth West

Wow. It seems to be literary week here at Bicycles and Icicles. First poetry, now a quote from a book. I'm just one deep mofo, I guess. Actually, With more time inside and less time on the bikes, I have been slipping back into the reading mode. My year is usually divided into about six months of steady biking (at least as steady as weather and my schedule allow) and then six months of sloppy weather, some winter biking, lots of trainer rides and catching up on reading. I actually buy books during summer with no intention of reading them until snow flies. I got bored the other night, however, and pulled Richard Preston's "The Hot Zone" off my book shelf. I hadn't read it in 10 years. It'll scare the hell out of ya, but it's a great read. And, hey, nuthin' says appetizing lunch-hour reading like Ebola virus.

Just to keep this bike-related, I managed to fit "Lance Armstrong's War" by Dan Coyle into my summer reading. Fine book whether you're an admirer of Armstrong or not. I happen to be a fan, despite his character flaws, but I get a bit weary of hearing that he's the "greatest of all time." Sure, seven Tour victories is unprecedented, but let's not forget The Cannibal. When you look at the range of races won, Tour stages won, days in the yellow jersey, and grand tours won, it's hard to top the old man, who looks like he could still kick ass on a bike.

I've also been reading more news than I care to admit, and feeling generally fed-up with the state of the world and especially the deteriorating state of this country. Every day that President Dipshit spends in the White House is one more day too many. Maybe next time we can all vote for the creepy dude. Couldn't be any worse than what we have now, that's for sure.

And while we're on the subject of news, I have to rant for just a moment one the most recent example of a reporter writing a story on Alaska without understanding the place. Or maybe he/she simply didn't bother to pay attention to the facts. This story from Reuters (via CNN) describes the village of Shishmaref sinking into the ground as permafrost melts because of global warming. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, global warming is taking a toll on permafrost across Alaska, causing buildings to sink, utility poles to fall over, etc. Unfortunately, for the sake of accurate journalism, the buildings in Shishmaref aren't sinking—at least not into the ground.

Shishmaref is an ancient village built on a barrier island at the edge of northwestern Alaska, and it's being destroyed because rising temperatures are shortening the season during which sea ice freezes agains the shore and protects the island from erosion caused by storms on the Chukchi Sea. Big storm + Open water = Damaging waves. I know this not only because I've read about it (it's well documented and easy to look up), but also because I've been there and stood on the beach as seawater lapped against my feet and I stared at a 15-foot wall of eroding sand and gravel with a house sitting on top of it. Hit that sucker with a few hours of storm waves, and it's bye-bye, house. Yes, in some villages the buildings are leaning over because the ground is thawing. But in Shishmaref, the buildings are falling into the fucking ocean! Much of the village already gone. Not sunk. Gone. As in drifting south toward Hawaii.

OK, that's my editorial rant for the week. Go forth and ride. May your weekend be filled with smooth, silent chains and long, loamy singletrack.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

All body and no mind

Welcome to Bicycles and Icicles: The Poetry Edition. You may now put on a beret and brooding countenance as you sip your European coffee and think deep, meaningful thoughts. What? You mean you don’t like to . . . oh, screw it. Go ahead and sit there with your helmet hair and your mud-splattered water bottle full of recovery drink. But check out “This Shining Moment in the Now” over at The Writer’s Almanac.

There’s something about manual labor that—just like riding singletrack—clears the mind. But pedaling a bike is a hell of a lot more fun than pulling weeds out of the garden. On a trail, the world boils down to the essentials. All those things you're thinking about, yet not thinking about because they've become automatic calculations made at that fine line between consciousness and unconsciousness: How deep is the stream crossing? How big is the drop? Can the big ring clear the log? How much speed do I need to scrub off to make the switchback? Why is Ray flying spread-eagle into that tree? There’s no room for thinking about real-world problems like bills, broken appliances or the price of gasoline. Zen. It’s a beautiful thing.

Monday, September 26, 2005

(Almost) Got my mojo workin'

Finally headed out late Sunday for a quick trail ride after putting it off all day to accommodate my kids’ social calendars. Yeah, that’s right, I give until it hurts, but do they notice? Nooooooo. All the rain we’ve had in recent weeks has pounded the low-lying singletrack. Rover’s Run, a local favorite, is the worst I’ve ever seen it—a total mud bog.

The only good riding was higher up the flanks of the Chugach where the drainage is better, but blown-down spruce trees were blocking several routes and screwing up my mojo. Hell, I didn’t have much mojo anyway. I was tired and not in the best of moods. Given the usual fall weather pattern, I doubt that the water-soaked trails will dry out this year. They’ll either freeze hard and rough, or be buried under snow before they can harden. Either way, it won’t be long now—fresh snow is all over the peaks at the edge of town.

The loss of riding time is taking a mental and physical toll on me. School and work schedules, shuttling kids for activities, etc., is killing my rides to work and reminding me just how much of a verifiable addiction cycling has become. I’m actually going through some sort of withdrawal process that seems to be making me a pain in the ass. Either that, or I’m right about everyone else and they’re the problem.

Fall is when I start thinking about controlling my weight through the winter so that I’m not an out-of-control Clydesdale come spring. It doesn’t help to know that eating dark chocolate is now medically advisable. That stuff is like heroin and crack rolled into glorious little chunks of gluttonous ecstasy. I never liked it until about a year ago. Now I could eat Hershey’s Nuggets like popcorn. Give me a bowl of them with a bottle of red wine and a couple of free hours, and I could put myself into a happy stupor. Not exactly a healthy training regimen. I’m gonna need the discipline of a monk this winter.

Yeah, that’ll happen. Maybe I’ll just start looking for riding partners who know CPR.

Speaking of tasty things, I would like to publicly thank the people who make Clif Bars for rescuing me from those fossilized turds known as Power Bars. I have no idea how I ate those things for so many years, or why it took me so long to realize there’s a decent alternative. Ya gotta love an energy bar that’s named for its creator’s dad, comes in multiple flavors that are actually palatable, and made by a company that donates money to IMBA. Clif Bars and Gu held off many a bonk this year—and I’m the Wizard of Bonk.

Let’s close this beast with the Funny Picture of the Day. I felt bad for Cindy Sheehan when I heard she was arrested at the White House, but it appears to have been a pleasurable experience. Hey, she’s been busy for weeks with one protest after another. A woman has needs.

And on that offensive note, I’m outta here. Thanks for shopping with us. Your receipt is in the bag. Sorry, no refunds.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Get up, stand up

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was a resident of the state of Kansas. Don't hold it against me: It was my parents' fault. I fled three days after graduating from high school in 1981 and never considered living there again. I need mountains to be happy. I also need to be around at least a few people who can discuss evolution without growing red in the face and ranting about "the saviour." Don't get me wrong. I still have good, lifelong friends in Kansas. They're fine people. They're just outnumbered. And the fact that some of those right-wingers help set the state's education policies make it appealing to be a Pastafarian. I used to call myself a Callipygian, but explaining it was tedious and made me sound vain. It's easier just to tell the truth and shock people with the fact I'm an athiest. Oh, and by the way, Christians, when you hear that someone is an athiest and you sound saddened and sympathetic, you really piss me off.

Anyway, enough about my pagan ways. Today was National Public Lands Day so I spent it with other members of Singletrack Advocates and several supporters as we neared completion of our new trail in Far North Bicentennial Park. It still needs a little fine-tuning, but it can be considered built from end to end, and is unofficially "open." Damn, we have some tenacious roots. They make trail construction a big ugly bitch with crooked teeth.

Today's project was our last big work day of the year. We'll do a little evening work but light is fading fast and weather is getting iffy. By next weekend, all bets will be off. Snow could come at any time, or not show up for another month or two.

Before long, those of us who do a little winter riding will be putting studded Nokians on our regular bikes. The hard-core winter guys will be breaking out bikes that are seriously fat, like the Surly Pugsly, or the Wildfire Designs rigs made just up the road in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley. The Valley also produces some of the most potent pot on the planet, which some folks find comes in handy when it's 20 below zero.

Time to pour wine and sit around feeling fat from the free pizza we had for lunch, generously donated by the ever-lovely Costco. And because they gave 25 pizzas to feed trail volunteers on several local projects around Anchorage today, I'll simply comment on their food by saying, "Mmmmmm, good." But it's not Moose's Tooth, that's for sure. And speaking of unhealthy food, if Ronald McDonald made me hot, that wouldn't make me a bad person . . . would it?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Short and sweet

Today was a typical autumn day: some sun, cool temperatures, a few clouds scraping the peaks of the Chugach range, and beautiful colors draping the mountains as the ground vegetation prepares to go dormant for the winter. All of this, of course, was enjoyed only through my office window, because by the time I got home for dinner it was raining sideways and an evening trail ride was out of the question.

But rather than fall into a funk, I decided to scroll through my iPhoto library and come up with a nice summer ride pic to post on the blog. The shot above was taken this summer during a ride on the Kenai Peninsula. Along with Adam and Pat, the riders seen here, I rode up the Lost Lake Trail outside Seward, passed through the cloud-shrouded high country, then made a fast, hairy and fun-as-hell descent of the Primrose Trail back to Pat's car. We followed it up with some appetizers and a beer at a little restaurant in Girdwood on the way back to Anchorage. It was the kind of ride that leaves you with fine summer memories to carry you through the cold, wet days of fall and winter.

Summer never lasts long enough, and I never feel like I've taken enough rides, but it wasn't a bad year: A brand-new, full-suspension bike to break in; a week in Fruita and Moab with my brother Matt in early May; a solid four-man team effort at the 24 Hours of Kincaid (a local race) in June; a long and thrilling trail ride and helmet-cam recording session with the IMBA Trail Care Crew in July; and a bunch of local trail rides from the Anchorage area to the Kenai Peninsula throughout the summer. Not to mention plenty of trail work on numerous nights and weekends for the past couple of months. Next year, we'll be riding Anchorage's first singletrack designed and built by and for mountain bikers.

If this damned rain ever lets up—or if it at least starts coordinating with my free time—there should be a few more trail rides between now and the first snowfall. But if not, I can't really complain. It was a pretty decent summer. I'm grateful to everyone who shared a good ride, showed me a new trail or told me a dirty joke to provide a little relief from the drudgery of swinging a Pulaski.

I can't way to do it again next year.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Your homework assignment

1. Go to
2. Type in "failure" ("miserable failure" works too)
3. Hit the "I'm feeling lucky" button

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


When I refused to eat casseroles and other strange concoctions as a child, my mother would point out that I liked this ingredient, and I liked that ingredient, therefore I should like the casserole. I was fond of pointing out that I liked bananas and I liked ketchup, but I felt no need to mix them together. I love my bike. I like clearing snow from my driveway during winter. But I don't combine them.

There are things I just don't understand: Rap music. Voting for Bush. Why anyone cares that Kate Moss snorted cocaine. Who Kate Moss is in the first place. Piercing any body part below the neck. Singlespeeds. I remember the singlespeed bikes I rode as a kid. I spent years thinking hills sucked because it was so damned hard to ride up them. I do understand an attraction to simplicity. I'm not much into being a consumer, I don't watch TV and I avoid owning things with engines, like boats, motorcycles and snowmobiles. But when I want to pedal up a mountain, give me a a triple up front and a 9-speed cassette out back. I am One with the Granny Gear.

And rigid singlespeeds? Please. What's next, sun dials? Killing dinner with a sharpened stick? My first mountain bike was fully rigid with thumb shifters. That's what we all rode and we thought it was the greatest thing ever. And it was, until designers and engineers figured out suspension and better shifting systems. I still own a rigid bike for errands and town work, but that baby ain't ever seein' singletrack again with my butt on it.

And another thing I don't understand is these dudes. But their bike-riding skills are so amazing I don't have to understand them. All I have to do is watch the video and wonder how they do it. I stole the link from the only blog that makes me hum an old Blue Oyster Cult song: "Oh no. There goes Tokyo. Go go Gwadzilla."

Bye. G'bye. Bye Bye. Have a nice day. Bye by. Thanks for flying with Bicycles and Icicles. G'bye.

Drop everything

... and go watch this video clip right now. Trust me on this one.

Back to the bright side of the road

Remember your mom teaching you the old rule that says if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all? For the past couple of days my mood has been foul, so I haven't felt like updating the blog. In fact, I've felt a lot like this poor bastard.

But hey, there's shit that gots to be shared, like my fine state's rich bike-racing history. Who knew they were sprinting on the streets of Valdez in 1911? I didn't, until I killed some time doing strange Google searches. You can still race to Valdez, which I plan to do, if I can ever afford to add a nice road bike to my collection of mountain bikes. I've been lusting after one in particular, but I spent a big wad of cash and quite a few domestic points on my new Epic last winter.

I also thought it would be cool to provide a link to some cool bits and the nice things they're doing over at Chris King Precision Components. I was less excited about the "Pretty and Strong" thing after my wife pointed out a pink mixer in a Sunday newspaper ad and said, "Wow, a lot of companies are jumping on this breast cancer issue." I had thought King was doing something fresh and different. Still, it's a worthwhile cause, even if you can buy pink crap in the appliance section at your local department store. Plus, it's always good to have an excuse to buy Chris King components. Because, let's face it, if you're laying down 150 bucks on a freaking headset, you need a good excuse. What, it's gonna steer better than the $50 Aheadset you can get from Nashbar?

I'm outta here. Turn off your computer and go for a ride.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Sanity restored

When you started feeling like you have cabin fever and it's only September, you know you're in trouble. It rained all day Saturday. My downstairs family room turned into an encampment of refugees from a rained-out JROTC fund-raising car wash. They spent the day plowing through DVDs, pizza, tacos and my supply of Coke. If you've never witnessed the spectacle of hungry, sugar-starved teenagers, well ... trust me, it's something to see. It's 10 p.m. and their movie marathon is on the verge of entering its 12th hour. Still, having your teenager and his friends hanging around eating you into the poor house is better than not knowing where they are or what they're up to.

I spent the day doing chores, watching the sky for reasons to hope and, finally, drifting off for a nap in my recliner. I woke up at 5 p.m. and decided to go for it. The streets were wet, but the sky was at least somewhat clear. I slammed a sandwich, grabbed my old slick-equipped Stumpjumper off the indoor trainer and headed out for a 35-mile loop through Anchorage. It's a nice, mostly traffic-free route that's good for a workout when the singletrack is too muddy to ride.

The paved, multi-use trails that make up the majority of the loop were wet and mostly covered with fallen leaves—fall comes early this far north—so the ride was sloppy but uncrowded. Few people venture out on the trails on a damp Saturday night in September. It was their loss. The tide was in, so small waves were lapping against the shore just a few feet from the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. The evening sun found an opening under the clowds and lit up the woods. I couldn't resist slowing down to shoot pictures of my handlebar and wet front wheel. (I'm easily entertained by shit like that. This tiny new digital camera is slowing me down because of such goofy delays.)

A cow moose and her spring calf were grazing on the hill between the coast and the Kincaid Park chalet. The cow was on one side of the trail and baby on the other, making the middle of the trail a big no-pass-or-Momma-might-stomp-your-ass zone, so I shouldered my bike and went through the trees to a nearby singletrack to detour around them. Slicks are worthless on damp dirt mixed with wet grass so I did a little walking, but that's a small price to pay for living in a city where you have to watch for moose and bears on an evening ride.

I finished the ride in the darkening twilight and a gentle rain. I gave the bike a quick bath, myself a quick shower and threw my ride clothes in the washer. Now it's a glass of red wine, headphones and iTunes to help the Grateful Dead drown out the downstairs film festival. I feel normal again. No need to shoot the freezer full of holes. Not yet, anyway. But it's only September.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Hot 'n' Spicy

Before moving to Alaska nine years ago, I was fortunate enough to live and work in Santa Fe, N.M., for nearly five years. The light is beautiful, the food is incredible and the mountain biking is some of the best on the planet. If you're sufficiently acclimated to ride at 6,000 feet and higher—sometimes much higher, as in 10,000 to 12,000 feet—I strongly recommend taking your bike on a high-desert vacation. Ride up Aspen Vista to Tesuque Peak and then drop down through the ski area before descending the Windsor Trail. I don't care who ya are, that's The Shit. And I won't even mention the secret stashes of singletrack scattered across mountains all the way to Taos.

Santa Fe is also a mecca for people who want to live on tofu and save the planet. Personally, I'll take a big-ass breakfast burrito with extra sausage and green chile, thank you very much. But the crew at Chain-Breaker Collective seem to have a good idea. Val Kilmer, Oprah and other celebs might live just over the hill, but there are plenty of folks in town who need a cheap ride.

If you're here, you must be interested in bike-related blogs, so you should take a peek at these listings to find more crap to read. Not that you should leave Bicycles and Icicles. Just take a look later after you've had your fill here. Captivating, isn't it? I tell ya, man, I'm just like Snoop Dogg: I keep comin' up with funky-ass shit nearly every single day. And that's the last rap reference you'll see here until The Gourds record another cover as great as "Gin and Juice." In the meantime, I vow to keep this a rap-free zone.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Feel the breeze, baby

Seeing that big honkin' graphic on my previous post about Car Free Day got me to thinkin' — and not just about the fact they should have hyphenated "Car-free Day" for cryin' out loud. As a guy who worships some bikes as hedonistic joys and others as reliable, alternative transportation, I'll never fault the people who are out there making sweet machines like the full-suspension hottie I bought last winter, but those who make bikes to change the world deserve a special kind of respect. Joe Breeze is one of those people. If you missed Bicycling Magazine's feature on him two years ago, do yourself a favor and read it now. You've just gotta like a guy who can look at a bicycle and see a way of making lives better. And if you haven't checked out his commuter bikes, take a look at them on his website. It's a damn sorry statement about American society that I see a shitload of H2 gas hogs on the road and very few Breezer bikes. (Of course, I live in Alaska, a place where a real man drives a V-8 truck only until he can afford a V-10 or V-12, which will tow his snowmobiles and ATVs so much better.) Hell, you could buy a Breezer for what it would cost to keep one of those urban assault vehicles fueled up for a month or two.

For another example of how a bike ride can be more than just a bike ride, check out this column from Heather Lende, a cyclist and newspaper columnist from the little town of Haines in Southeast Alaska. (The Anchorage Daily News site will make you register to read it, but it's free.) Heather went under the wheels of a truck during a ride last April and recently got back on a bike for the first time. Just goes to show ya that distance and speed aren't the things that really matter.

Thanks for droppin' in.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Park your car

"When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments. Here was a machine of precision and balance for the convenience of man. And (unlike subsequent inventions for man's convenience) the more he used it, the fitter his body became. Here, for once, was a product of man's brain that was entirely beneficial to those who used it, and of no harm or irritation to others. Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle."

—Elizabeth West

The oil companies are hovering over the Arctic. There has never been a better time to ride a bike.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Tell me June, how does it make you feel when Ward says he's angry with the Beaver?

Gnarly, rocky singletrack. A lounge singer performing Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Wheelies. A need for broadband. Endangered singletrack access. You have now entered the Bicycles and Icicles free-association therapy session.

Naaaaaah, I was just screwin' with ya. To find out how these things all fit together, take a gander over here and download Pete Fagerlin's new "Grouse Ridge" video. Then download a bunch of others from places you've been — or want to go — like Fruita, Moab, Napa Valley, yadda yadda yadda.

They're fun as hell, especially in the dead of winter when the trails are buried under snow. My brother and I each downloaded so many of Fagerlin's videos last winter that when we met in May for a week of riding in Fruita, we came off Joe's Ridge one day and approached a fork in the trail where my brother yelled, "Left! Take a left." I asked how he knew the turn. Easy, he said, "I remember that rock from the video." OK, maybe we need professional help after all.

Hey, I might have my nerd moments (and more senior moments all the time) but at least I haven't gone far enough around the bend to mount a GPS on my handlebar. If you're into that sort of thing, you'll be glad to know that mountain bike-specific units are just around the corner. That's OK, put your head on my shoulder. Don't be embarrassed. Let it out. Tears of joy are nothing to be ashamed of ... you geek.

But please remember, all the high-zoot toys in the world won't help you score if you don't maintain good personal hygiene. Sometimes challenging for a mountain biker, but mandatory, nonetheless.

Thanks for droppin' in. Now move up front and take a pull.

Monday, September 12, 2005


We begin this week, dear readers, with a picture of my friend and frequent riding partner Sue in all her cycling-chick glory. She observed during Saturday's ride that she was once mentioned on this blog, but under the somewhat impersonal title of "etc." As in, among the many things I accomplished one weekend was watching the kids, doing some chores, "etc."

"Etc." included installing a new rear derailleur on her Rockhopper. (I'm not the best mechanic in town, but I offer same-day service and work for booze.) To make up for her previous anonymity, I nearly ran her off the trail by taking this picture with one hand while riding, and then posted it here. Perhaps when she's mentioned here in the future, it will be as Miss Ed Cetera. Or not.

Saturday was a great day for cruising on slicks along Turnagain Arm. Sunshine, cool air and 29 traffic-free miles thanks to the newly completed Indian to Girdwood trail, which runs south near the Seward Highway. After Thursday night's rocky ride to Powerline Pass, it felt like time to log a few miles that accommodate easy conversation.

Speaking of Alaska rides, those of us who pedal through the woods here spend a lot of time watching out for brown bears (grizzlies, to most folks). And as I mentioned on one of the early posts on this blog, Miss Ed Cetera and I happened to see a big ol' bear while riding singletrack two or three weeks back. Living near bears, combined with being a father, allows me to tell you that this man is a heroic stud with two big brass ones. He considers himself lucky. I consider his daughter lucky. That dude deserves to be Father of the Year.

Ya'll come back now, ya hear?

Friday, September 09, 2005

Can't ask for more

Last night’s ride was a reminder of the wonderful mix of elements a mountain bike ride can contain: fear, pain, joy, satisfaction. All packed into a two-hour, after-dinner trail ride. Unable to resist a beautiful evening after so much rain, I dashed out for a ride up Powerline Pass, hoping I could reach the saddle and descend before dark. The final approach to the pass is a brutal climb—steep, lots of loose scree and big exposure. With September nights turning cold and no one above me on the trail, it was no place for a bad fall. With every year that goes by I grow a little more timid on solo rides, so after reaching the pass and snapping a few pictures, I nervously descended the side-slope trail back to the main route through the valley. A herd of Dall sheep was settling in for the night on a nearby south-facing slope.

After stopping to put on a jacket for the high-speed, stream-crossing cruise back to my truck, I let ’er fly, slowing down occasionally only to limit the soaking of my clothes. After passing a small handful of other riders making their way home, I stopped for a cow moose and two calves that were blocking the trail. The delay caused the riders to group up, and we made our way back to the parking lot together, chatting about bikes, the ride, and our wet, freezing toes. A group of strangers who didn’t even exchange names, riding and talking as if we had all started out together. One of the greatest parts of mountain biking.

As we neared the end of the valley, Denali and Mount Foraker came into view as the sun was setting and the lights of Anchorage were popping out for the evening. Nights like that are hard to beat, and are even sweeter when you know that they’re almost gone for the season.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Fill 'er up, son

One of my daydreams has always been to open a bicycle-themed bar. You know, a mellow little beer and wine joint next to a popular community trail, where people could pedal, skate or walk in and sit down for a cold pitcher of the best beer made. A place like The Monastery in Phoenix back in the '80s before it was forced from it's little out-of-the-way spot between the funeral home and the irrigation canal. But note even in my extensive, detailed fantasy (and I've been known to drift into some serious daydreaming) did I come up with an idea as cool as this one from The Handlebar in Chicago. (And yeah, I shamelessly stole the link from Drunk Cyclist, where Big Jonny generously provided the link that might have brought you here.)

They just don't teach brilliant ideas like that at Harvard Business School. Probably because all those Ivy League preppies care about is making an H2 full of cash. If you thought bikes and beer were the greatest combo since Jagger and Richards (or, in my case, Garcia and Hunter) you were wrong. An even better combination than bikes and beer is bikes and cheap, good beer. Especially if it's in response to obscene gas prices.

Thanks to a break—however temporary—in our rainy weather, I hope to take a shot Friday at a ride from Anchorage to Seward down on the Kenai Peninsula. One last shot at a big ride before the fall weather turns ugly. One last chance to really earn a couple of cold beers.

Bottoms up.


Holy cow, we're a full week into September. You know what that means kids? That's right, back to school! It also means my full-time RN wife is back to teaching nursing students two days a week, which means I’ll be driving to work way more often so that I can drop our 11-year-old daughter at school. And that means ... (drum roll, please) ... it’s time for the little saddle sore that always seem to coincide with a drop in riding time. Therefore, my public service of the day—aside from not using a picture with today’s post, if ya know what I mean—is to guide fellow sufferers to a useful article on saddle sores provided by the fine folks at the Rivendell Reader.

Hey, laugh if you will, but bumps on the bum are no picnic. A few years ago, I was off the bike for a few days of fishing right before a five-day, self-supported mountain bike tour of Prince of Wales Island. As I was scooting out of the backseat of a floatplane after landing in Ketchikan, I sat on the aluminum floor of a deHavilland Beaver and suddenly felt like I had landed on a damned nail. Boom, there it was: a raging little demon attacking me for missing a few days on the bike. This was a chilling discovery, considering that the ride was to start the very next day. It made for a couple of days of careful mounts and dismounts, but all was well by the mid-point of the bike trip.

Just goes to show ya, cyclists should never be forced to stop riding, even for a few days. It's simply not medically advisable.

This no-photo thing is weighing heavy on my conscience. I should at least share a link to an artistic little statement from Eurobike and the people who make Ghost bicycles.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Give me a freakin' break!

I've tried—really hard—for a week now to remain silent on New Orleans. My goal is to create a blog exclusively about biking, and maybe make it interesting enough that some people will start coming back to it. It's not about news or politics. (Though I will always reserve the right to take a well-deserved shot at Dubya from time to time.)

But when I read this story this morning, I finally lost it. Some little boy had his doggie taken away from him by some big, mean man in a military uniform who was saving the kid's ass. That bastard wouldn't even leave people behind to make more room on the aircraft for pooches. The poor little tyke even cried until he vomited. Now, people moved by his story are sending him money. People are rallying to find the dog and reunite him with the kid ... if anyone can find him in one of the refugee camps that have sprung up in the wake of the flooding.

Great way to focus your energy, folks. Let's forget all those dead bodies floating around in the pungent gumbo that used to be New Orleans. Let's forget that so many people chose to behave like animals, raping and slaughtering their neighbors who were simply trying to survive. Let's forget that people need clothes, food, medical care and shelter. Let's forget that entire families lost everything they owned—and their jobs—and that their long-term future is a huge question mark. Let's forget that some kids lost parents. Some kids lost brothers and sisters. No, those things aren't important. What really matters is that we find this little furball and do whatever it takes to return it to this kid.

Because what really matters to the average American is the right to feel all warm and fuzzy as they sit on their ever-widening butts, petting chubby, unemployed dogs and remaining blissfully ignorant of their fucked-up priorities while watching other people suffer on TV.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Long, slow weekend

It has been raining for days and my wife's been working, so I've spent the entire weekend fiddling around with chores, watching the kids, etc., instead of riding. I can feel my gut expanding already. Some time-killing web surfing has turned up a couple of things worth sharing, however. One of these days I have to get myself and a bike to Portland. I have some friends I'd love to visit and the city is doing some really cool things with urban biking, such as experimenting with the idea of combining Google's earth-mapping technology to help readers find safe routes. I wish Anchorage, and many other cities, had more organizations like Those folks even have some pictures to peruse over at Flikr.

And speaking of sharing some cool photos, Pat Irwin and Kathy Sarns now have the full story of their unprecedented Hope-to-Homer coastal ride online. Definitely worth checking out. As further evidence of my chronic boredom, I came across an amusing joke this weekend:

Moishe is driving in Jerusalem. He's late for a meeting, he's looking for a parking place, and can't find one. In desperation, he turns toward heaven and says: "God, if you find me a parking space, I promise that I'll eat only kosher, respect Shabbas, and all the holidays." Miraculously, a place opens up just in front of him. He turns his face up to heaven and says: "Never mind, I just found one."

Friday, September 02, 2005

Quote of the Day

"When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking."
—Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Places to go, things to see

I've long believed (OK, maybe two weeks) that the best thing any blogger can do for the unfortunate souls who stumble across one of these self-indulgent sites is to direct them to places they might not otherwise know about. So, while perusing some cycling-related sites that I hadn't visited for a while, I decided to share them with my vast array of readers. Hopefully, they'll both feel enriched by the experience.

Any cyclist who is married (as I am), especially to a noncyclist (as I am), will enjoy this Post-nuptial Agreement.

Jim Langley has a variety of interesting stuff, including some great old bicycle ads and photos of his head badge collection.

If you can wade through all the information that Sheldon Brown of Harris Cyclery has assembled on his site, you're likely living in your parents' basement and haven't seen the sun in weeks. But it's a better use of your time than playing online games or surfing midget porn. At least I assume it is. You could be a midget.