Sunday, October 30, 2005

Happy Halloween

Finally finished rigging my old Trek 7000 for winter riding, and then pedaled it to work this morning in the dark at 19 degrees. As I locked up just inside the employee entrance of my building, one person stopped to marvel at my studded tires, and another gasped when she saw I had ridden my bike. I knew they wouldn't understand if I tried to explain how nice the ride was. I wish I'd had more time to take a longer route to the office.

The winter bike just got new SRAM Attack shifters, Avid brake levers from my old Stumpjumper, Nokian Extreme studded tires, Sun Rhyno Lite rims and a new front derailleur (which required the addition of a cable-stop collar on the seat tube a few inches above the BB, because Shimano no longer makes the strange design of front derailleur that came on this bike when it was made in '92).

Two major changes I'm trying this winter: 1) Pegged platform pedals from Sun/Ringle, which allow me to ride in Sorel boots because I have a big problem with freezing my toes, and 2) No cyclocomputer. I'm striving for a simpler approach and trying to give up my geek ways. So no more mileage logging; at least not for the winter.

This old Trek just keeps rolling smoothly along. I took it out for a brief shakedown cruise on Sunday afternoon and rode a couple of short sections of singletrack covered by an inch of new snow. Still rides like a new machine. Old bikes have character. I like that.

It's funny. Saturday I was riding my new full suspension bike, Sunday I was on my old rigid bike and didn't mind at all. They're both fun.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Where's Chevy Chase when you need him?

Live, from New York! It's ... the first reason you've had in years to watch Saturday Night Live! In what has to be a first for this once-great TV show, it will be hosted tomorrow night by a cyclist. Well, not just "a" cyclist. More like "the" cyclist. Lance himself. And if you can guess who the musical guest will be, well, you won't win a damned thing because it's pretty freakin' obvious who the musical guest will be now, isn't it?

Actually, there has been one small reason to watch SNL in recent years — Tina Fey (SCHWING!) — but, as cute as she is, she's just not cute enough to inspire me to endure the rest of the show to see her on Weekend Update. Call me an old fart, but I miss the old days of SNL.

Speaking of old TV shows, I always thought Sulu was a little too attentive when Captain Kirk was on the bridge. Now I know why.

Overheard on the L Train in NYC:

Hobo: Hey, does anyone have some spare chicken?

Girl: Ha, ha, "chicken"? Sorry, I only had room for one rotisserie in my bag . . . and this one's for me.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Emmanuel Osofu Yeboah makes the rest of us look like a bunch of spoiled kids with overpriced toys. While guys like me feel smug about saving a few gallons of gas by riding to work, he's using a bicycle to change a nation. If you haven’t read his story, you should do so here. I'd read about him, but was unaware of the film until I learned about it on gwadzilla's blog. Now I'm just hoping it will make to Alaska theaters.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

A little pain is a manly thing

One of the countless things I love about this sport is that mountain bikers are not wimps. This is a masochistic group of people who leave the house knowing there’s a high probability of crashing, and yet we can’t wait to get on the trail. After the ride, we’ll compare scars and laugh at each other’s wipeouts. How cool is that?

We’re the people who stand at the supermarket magazine rack praying to find a single copy of “Bike” or “DirtRag” behind 40 copies of “Maxim,” “GQ,” and all the other perfumed rags targeted at guys who buy skin lotions and hair-care products, and coordinate their jackets and shoes. Buff your nails all you want, pretty boys. I’d rather stain mine with chain grease, which is probably why I loved this guide to retrosexuality.

Fear not, female readers. If you ride trails without whining you probably possess some retrosexual qualities, and that’s a good thing. It doesn’t mean you have to put a rainbow sticker on your rear bumper and wear a buzz cut with one of those ponytail mullets. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)


Here's what happened while most Americans were too busy to give a shit. Hey, ya can't blame them. They had to see which ass kisser Donald Trump was going to fire on TV this week, or which pathetic attention whore was going to eat a plate of cockroaches on some "reality" show.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Safety tip of the day

It's hunting season in many parts of the country. Please remember to wear bright clothing when riding in the forest, and beware of pumpkin-headed deer.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Random thoughts

Took my daughter out last night to pick up a movie and grab a couple of tacos, and as we were driving home I had the radio in my Tacoma turned down low but I could still make out the lyrics to a song being played on The Arctic Cactus Hour on KNBA: "It's hard to kiss the lips at night that chewed your ass out all day long." I can't top wisdom like that, and there's little news on the bike front, so I'll just jump right into a few links.

With all the bad news around the world lately, it seems like Mother Nature is out to kick a little ass. Earthquakes, hurricanes, wars, tsunamis. And now the avian flu appears dangerously close to mutating into a form that could spread from human to human. One could get the impression that nature is trying to clean house and dump a few million people. Scary shit. And the Aussies are getting ready. Their plan might seem a bit draconian, but they're onto something. From what I've read, there seems to be only one way to stop a virus with a high mortality rate and no cure: Isolate the victims, let the virus burn and see who is still breathing when it's finished.

Maybe we could throw some priests into quarantine with the flu victims and hope the perverts get infected. I'm an athiest married to a Catholic, and I'm really glad she fell out of the church habit years ago. Our kids have never spent any significant time in church and that's fine by me. If they ever want my respect, the guys in the robes and funny hats will have to stop coddling the priests who bugger little kids, and turn the bastards over to the police. They belong in prison. For life. End of story. There's only one cure for pedophilia.

While we're on the subject of people who are really screwed up, this nurse is a real whacko. Still, I'm sure she made the old coot's day. Hell, she probably made his year.

On a happier note, congrats to the bike shops named as the top 100 in the nation. Unfortunately, our little shops in Anchorage didn't get no love, but it's hard to compete with the big boys down south. It's also hard to be as cool as Over the Edge Sports in Fruita. I was there in May, and was happy just to browse around while a mechanic did some wrenching on my brother's NRS-1. The only thing wrong with Fruita in May is being from Alaska all winter. I want to ride there again at the end of the season when I'm in better shape.

We're on the cusp of the beginning of a new season — winter riding season, that is — so I need to rig up a winter bike. I've decided to buy a new set of SRAM twist shifters and some flat pedals for my old Trek 7000, a rigid aluminum beast I bought from a neighbor for $35 five years ago, then rebuilt as a commuter bike. More recently, it has been doing duty as my 16-year-old son's bike. He can have it back next spring after I take the studded tires off. For now, I'm gonna take it back and go simple. Hey, it's catching on. Besides, I can't afford a new Pugsley, which a bunch of Anchorage riders are going for these days.

Speaking of the Pugsley, that's a Pugs in the photo above, which is linked from a post on's Alaska forum by Bearbait, one of our local guys who now has photographic proof that a fat-tire bike is easier on the planet than a big animal with hooves. Show the photo in this this thread to the next horse owner who complains about trail damage from mountain bikes. OK, those hoof prints are from a moose, but you know what I'm talkin' about.

I'm gone. Thanks for stoppin' in. And please, for the guys at Over the Edge, vote for Pedro.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Morning ride

I must be recovering from the debauchery of Whistler. I managed to drag my ass out of bed by 5:30 this morning, make a couple of waffles and ride to work. Amazingly, the weather is still good for it: cloudy but dry. No need for the studs yet, but I'll be getting them out of the shed this weekend when I move the snowblower back to the garage for easier access.

I love this time of year, when co-workers who are intrigued by summer bike commuting start to think we're either crazy or tough for still doing it when the temperature has reached the 30s. As I locked up this morning, a woman came in the back door of my office building and saw me at the bike rack as she started up the stairs. "Gettin' in a last ride while ya still can, huh?"

"I certainly hope not," I replied. I'm sure she thought I meant that I hope it doesn't snow soon. As a person who thinks exercise means walking downstairs for a smoke, she couldn't have understood that I simply hope the trails pack quickly when snow comes, and conditions stay good for riding to work.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Time to get a grip

I've nearly completed re-entry. I'll soon be caught up on e-mails and various reponsibilities around the office, and then I'll be able to started thinking about bikes again. In the meantime, airport security has been on my mind.

My friend Sue once told me that, hey, she's really sorry 9/11 happened, but she's tired of being treated like a criminal every time she wants to fly somewhere. She had a great point. I'm getting a bit fed up with watching old ladies and toddlers get wanded. Here's an idea: Frisk the guy who looks like a terrorist. Let's get over the whole profiling thing and train those TSA monkeys to look for high-risk passengers. Screw political correctness. The guys who flew those jets into the WTC towers didn't look like Opie Taylor. Yeah, yeah, I know, the guy who blew up the building in Oklahoma City did look a bit like Opie. He didn't use an airplane, but point taken. White guys can be dangerous, too. So occasionally pull guys like me out of the line for more thorough screening when we're traveling alone or otherwise arouse suspicion. But leave the two-year-old and his teddy bear alone, OK?

I'm also really tired of taking off my tennis shoes to walk through a metal detector. One nut tries to light up his shoe on an airliner, and now we all have to strip our shoes at the airport? Give me a break. I hate to imagine security screenings after some terrorist boards an airplane with a pound of C4 shoved up his ass.

"Sir, please place your jacket and shoes in the bucket, remove all metal items from your pockets, and then drop your pants and lean over this table."

I hope they'll at least talk dirty to me first.

But my point — and as Ellen Degeneres has been known to say, I really do have one — is that I can live with security checks in their current form. I can live without a pocket knife for four hours. I can even live without the dull, plastic butter knife they used to provide with in-flight meals. (Remember in-flight meals?) But why make me do all these things and then serve beer in glass bottles on the same fucking flight?

As of this month Alaska Airlines is serving Alaskan Amber beer in bottles on their flights. Don't get me wrong; I love the stuff. It's my favorite beer. That's irrelevant. We can't take a pair of fingernail clippers on an airplane, but they'll sell every adult passenger a tasty beer in a potential weapon. Am I missing something here?

I don't know about you, but if someone's going to hold a sharp instrument to my throat I would prefer the dull butter knife or the fingernail clippers, thank you very much.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Giving till it hurts

All I really remember is a long day of meetings ending. A big dinner with waiters keeping the wine glasses full. Evacuating the reception tent as the staff cleaned up all the tables that were empty ... which meant all of them except ours. Moving to the Four Seasons bar. Piling into the hotel's SUV and a bellman shuttling us to an Irish pub in Whistler Village. Johan buying a round for the house. Shannon buying a round of shots at last call, then telling us it was time to move out to hit last call somewhere else.

Six of us rambling through the Village in the wee hours laughing loudly at wisecracks and bad jokes that are funny only to people deeply under the influence. Loud techno music. Shannon taking my money and buying another round of Redheaded Sluts. Finally reaching my room only to find that I'm nowhere near packed. Time for 2 hours of sleep before getting up to meet the van than will take some of us to the airport in Vancouver. Blearily filling out my Customs declaration form and praying for unconsciousness on the plane.

I need sleep. Serious time on the trainer or the trails to repay my body for its selfless and hazardous service. It deserves some sort of Purple Heart for throwing itself on the grenade of my good time.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Bike vs. SUV

Still livin' large at the Four Seasons in Whistler, where a copy of the Globe and Mail was left hanging on my door knob early this morning. Today's edition includes a story written by a young doctor who was hit by an SUV while riding her bike to work in Ottawa. Luckily, she's OK, but her commitment to bike commuting has taken a huge hit. I hope she decides to get back out there.

I won't blame the author for the mistake (who expects doctors to spell?) but I will blame the copy editors: When are people going to learn the difference between "peddling" and "pedaling." C'mon, people, grab a dictionary. I'm sure you have them, even in Canada.

Spent Saturday walking around Vancouver and was thrilled to see so many cyclists riding through downtown. Young guys in suits pedaling cruisers; hardbodies in racing kits on their road bikes; a man in his 60s and wearing his English driving cap and riding beside a bus in the rain; the recycling fanatic riding along False Creek with five garbage bags tied to her mountain bike. It could almost give a guy hope.

More Kona and Rocky Mountain bikes than I've ever seen. The hometown boys have a lot of support. For good reason. They make nice rides.

That's it for me. I think I'm supposed to go to some meetings or something ...

Thursday, October 13, 2005

A brief hiatus

A riding partner provided this photo from our recent ride on the 24 Hours of Kincaid course. Nice how my graying beard matches my helmet and bike, eh? (You have to click for a larger version to see that scary detail.) This turn comes in one of my favorite sections of the race. You put your chin to the bar, duck under a fallen tree that scrapes your Camelbak, make a right on some off-camber roots as you enter a dense forest, curve left around the switchback (above) and then shoot down a little rolling singletrack before making a hard left toward the meadow. Sweet stuff, even at 3 a.m.

I'm outta here for a few days. Gotta make a business trip to Whistler, B.C. And no, I won't be doing any of that downhill/freeride stuff while I'm there. The season has already closed — it was snowing on the ski-mountain web cam yesterday afternoon — and besides, I'm a cross-country guy. I like to earn my downhills the hard way and I have no interest in wearing body armor. I did the high school football thing many years ago and that was the last time I felt the need to participate in a sport that required padding and a facemask.

I'll do a day of sightseeing in Vancouver, then cruise up to Whistler for a day of meetings.

A few quick links before I go:

Please, for the love of the planet, someone stop this woman. Hey lady, ever hear of a condom? You assume God wants you to spit out kids like a Pez dispenser; have you ever considered that maybe he'd like you to take birth control pills?

On the subject of saving the planet, I just finished reading "The Immortal Class: Bike Messengers and the Cult of Human Power" by Travis Culley. Check it out. It's a great look into the world of bike couriers from an author who loves bikes and what they can do for the world. Sure, he gets a little melodramatic and self-righteous from time to time, but he's more often eloquent and thought-provoking. Fine effort by a young writer and a permanent addition to my book shelf.

I returned to the Internet Archive this week because my son found out that his algebra teacher is a Deadhead and mentioned to him my habit of downloading entire Grateful Dead concerts and burning them to CDs. I had to double-check the URL and send it to the teacher. Regardless of your interests, take a cruise through the site. It's a treasure trove of video files, texts, music, etc., all available for legal downloading. Start poking around over there, and you can kiss your evening goodbye.

I'll close with a quote from one of my favorite authors, courtesy of the folks at BRAIN:

"The good news is, they only eat homeless people . . . and they pee gasoline."
—Kurt Vonnegut to The Washington Post, delivering a joke about Martians that land in Manhattan.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

It's all downhill from here

It's time for some linkage and stinkage. The Web's just too full of oddities that have to be shared, so let's just pedal to the top and shoot down the backside with no brakes, shall we?

The kind of stuff I've stumbled across for the past couple of days reminds me of that old movie in which Shelley Long — who actually thought she had the talent to be a star after leaving "Cheers," the silly girl — played a hooker who had a trick go bad one night, leaving her with a black eye. As she told the story to her friend the next morning, he said, "Man, the world is a sick place." She replied, "Yeah. Thank God."

What do you do when you're a lonely old Japanese man whose family ignores you as they shoot around on bullet trains, grope strangers on crowded subways and fly to the Grand Canyon to shoot endless video of something that's not moving? Yup, that's right. You get attention by letting air out of bicycle tires. I'd like to see a bottle of Slime stop that determined old coot.

Actually, maybe the old guy's son-in-law isn't groping strangers during his morning commute through Tokyo. Maybe he's designing trippy optical illusions while Grandpa hobbles Chiba's bike commuters.

But hey, don't get the idea that Bicycles and Icicycles is a culturally insensitive blog. If I pick on an Asian, I'll always balance the books by sending you to the morbidly fascinating site of a seriously homely white chick. A seriously homely white chick with shitty taste in sweaters and a penchant for bizarre homemade videos, I might add. I mean really, if it weren't for the fact you're reading this site, that kind of crap could make a persion seriously question the benefits of the Internet. At least this is one time you'll see a blonde girl who can really fill out a sweater and find yourself glad that her homemade video isn't porn.

The holidays are coming up, so please remember to prepare early. Don't let those little craft projects slip between the cracks and then find yourself unprepared to decorate your Christmas tree with highly absorbent ornaments. Put enough of those little babies on your tree, and when it dries out and goes up in flames, the fire department can hose it down with minimal water damage to your living room.

And speaking of the holidays, it's not too early to start shopping. Save yourself the hassle of last-minute lines by going to the toy store whis weekend and buying all your little tykes the thrill-a-minute airport security play set. That's right, teach them early to worry about guns and bombs on airplanes! Make that next flight to grandma's really fun!

For those who read my previous post about the dog attack, good news on the remorse front: I received a postal money order today from the dog's owner, and it was for $40 more than she agreed to pay for my shredded tights. Probably a cheap bribe in hopes I won't decide to sue. She included a one-line note of apology, but carefully avoided providing a return address or using a personal check that would have provided her mailing address. Maybe she doesn't realize that all I had to do was Google her name to find a phone number and the name of her business.

That's about all the damage I can inflict in a single post. I'm gettin' old. I have to pace myself.

Thanks for droppin' in. Ya'll come back now, ya here?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Hounds of hell

Worked my ass off all day Saturday to catch up on chores around the house and to make sure my slate would be clear for an afternoon trail ride. The sky looked better by the hour, and by about 3 p.m., I was good to go. Put on my brand-new, right-out-of-the-bag tights with a pair of Lycra shorts over them, a couple of layers of socks, two layers of jerseys and a cycling jacket, and eagerly zipped out of the driveway to ride up to what we in Anchorage call “the Hillside,” aka the lower flanks of the Chugach Range.

I decided to take a shortcut through the woods in Ruth Arcand Park, a route I usually skirt around because the trails in the park are wide and somewhat dull, and used mostly by people riding horses. Still, it’s the woods, which is more fun than riding along the streets, so I was enjoying the feel of rolling through the fallen leaves. As I granny-geared my way up a short, steep hill, I heard the barks and footfalls of two approaching dogs. Before I could respond (as if I could do anything in the middle of a steep climb on loose dirt) some woman’s fucking dog was taking a chunk out of my right calf and shredding the shit out of my new tights.

As I yelled obscenities and dismounted my bike to use it as a shield, the woman said, in a very soft voice, “Please, just let me get her.” Yeah, lady. You’d better fuckin’ get her before I do!

After agreeing to pay for my tights, which I had to "suggest," she pleaded with me not to report the attack. Screw that. Her concern about me reporting it made me suspect the dog already had a rap sheet with The Man. She walked to her car in a nearby school parking lot and returned with paper and a pen to get my name and address to send the check. As I rode away, she said, “Please don’t report this.” I coldly replied, “Please mail the check,” and pedaled off with her name and number in my pocket.

A perfectly beautiful autumn afternoon ruined because some selfish, stubborn pet owner didn’t think the municipal leash law applied to her beasts. My first thought was to go ahead and continue my ride, but my mojo was ruined and I knew I’d be better off having my RN wife disinfect the wound quickly. Animal Control sent an officer to my house to take a statement and photograph my leg. Today, the officer went to the dog owner’s house to write citations for both dogs and check on their vaccination status. Fortunately, they were current.

Dog owners, I know you love your animals. I don't care. They’re dogs. If you think of them as your children, get yourself some fucking therapy. They don't have equal rights with humans. They’re not entitled to run through the woods doing whatever the hell they want. And yes, your dog is capable of biting someone. Maybe a little kid, or an old person; someone less capable of defending himself. Bottom line: Public trails exist for people. The people who pay for them. Keep your animal on a leash. That’s the law. I routinely carry a can of very strong pepper spray designed to stop a charging grizzly bear. Next time I’m threatened by an unleashed dog, I’ll empty the goddamn can on it.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Silver linings

Just when you think things couldn't get much worse, you happen across a few little things that restore at least a glimmer of hope. Yeah, there's still a moron in the White House. Yeah, our fellow cyclists are getting run down by cars every week. Yeah, the quagmire in Iraq is an unending nightmare with no hope in sight. But hey, gas prices are still climbing and more commuters are finally getting it: A bike can carry you to work!

And you there's no need to feel like a pervert when you get turned on by chicks who flash a little road rash, because it happens to Bob Roll, too! (Sorry, photo link deleted.) That's Becky Broeder's leg the Bobke is servicing, by the way.

And then -- AND THEN -- some doctor turns around and says something along the lines of, "Uh, hey, maybe you're paying me too much. How about giving more to the nurses?" OK, so his future of hanging out with other doctors is shot to shit. It was still a cool thing to do. So he'll be a pariah and won't be welcome to spend every Tuesday for the rest of his life playing golf. There's always Doctors Without Borders.

Speaking of doctors, a couple of years ago, my friend Carlin "Buckwheat" Donahue suffered heart failure while visiting Juneau. All of us who care about Buckwheat are damn glad he was in Juneau because if he'd been at home in Skagway at the time, he might not be with us today.

After two years of getting his heart in better shape, he recently started walking across North America as a way of raising money to improve the clinic in Skagway so that when the same thing happens to a neighbor, the right technology will be available to save a life. Buckwheat's walking from Florida to the Yukon River, then floating down the Yukon to Nome before flying back to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, to walk the final miles home. Read a wonderful story about him here (click on "The Long Road Home") and, if you can, send in a few bucks to help the cause. Tell 'em Bicycles and Icicles sent ya. Skagway is a town full of good folks and they're worth it.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Strange night

Bicycles and Icicles' Beloved World Headquarters

So I have this dream. I'm in my living room with my father. He actually died 12 years ago, but still makes a lot of brief appearances in my dreams for some reason. Anyway, I'm living in this house by a bay full of icebergs, there's a walrus, suddenly I'm in a warm-climate wildlife park, yadda yadda yadda. (My dreams tend to be a little surreal. But that's not really a bad thing; they're sort of like acid trips without the legal risks.) I'm trying to shoot a photo of the walrus when somebody stops me to ask a strange question: What five items could I not live without? I immediately answer, 1) a really good mountain bike, and 2) my iBook. I can't think of three others. Next thing I know, my wife is telling me she accidentally knocked my iBook off the table.

"Was it damaged?!" I yell in a panic.

"Uh, I don't know," she replies. "I didn't really look." That's about right. She hates my Mac computers, I loathe Windows. I run to my computer and open it up. Of course, it's toast. I'm crushed, tormented, grief-stricken, in shock.

Then I wake up to take a leak and give it some more thought on my way to the bathroom. I still can't think of any "things" that I'd really miss. I don't even think of my collection of Grateful Dead recordings. Just a mountain bike and a laptop. Then I go back to bed and lay awake while trying to figure out if it's a good thing or a bad thing that I could think of only two items. Am I too obsessed with bikes? Am I addicted to a brilliantly designed, extremely stable computer? Do I need some kind of help?

Naaaaaaaaaaaaah. I just have discriminating tastes.

Three cheers for high gas prices.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Georges disagree (at last)

Like most Americans with half a brain or more, I was appalled at Dubya's nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. The woman hasn't even worked as a judge, and the village idiot think she belongs on the Supreme Court? But when a right-wing asshole like George Will can't support Bush's selection, you know she's a shitty choice. I'll just leave it at that, because if I get going on how demoralized I am over this presidential administration, I'll have to open two more bottles of wine to get through this post. Harriet is quite happy, though.

Condolences to fellow Anchorage rider and fellow trail builder Randy, aka Endo Rando, who happily headed south for a couple of weeks of fat-tire fun in southern Utah, only to crash his nice Turner rig over the weekend and bust his kneecap into three pieces. Seriously. three distinct pieces. Oooh, he's gonna feel that in the morning. Unless the doctor has a heart and doles out the really good shit, like some Vicodin.

My kids' teachers nearly went out on strike recently before their union and the Anchorage School District agreed to a one-year contract. I want all teachers to receive a decent salary, but I'll be a lot more supportive of their demands when they stop sending home newsletters full of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, and start being honest about where their salaries rank compared with other people. Sure, America's teachers are shaping the minds of the future, blah, blah, blah. But let's face it, they're just like people in any other profession. Some of them are great and some of them are morons. But they've done a better job than other professionals at creating a public image of themselves as underpaid martyrs, and they eagerly play the guilt card. ("We're educating your kids, the future of America.")

How about the other people who help your kids? My wife is a neonatal and pediatric intensive care nurse with a master's degree. She can safely put a needle into a vein under the scalp of a premature infant with a head the size of a baseball. People like her are the ones who bag a kid to put air in his lungs when he's crashing and the doctor is still being paged. They're the ones who can perform CPR on 2-pound babies and 200-pound teenagers. They take care of kids in their final hours as terminal diseases finish them off. And they make less than an elementary school teacher on the upper end of the union pay scale. But they don't get summers off.

And can someone explain the thinking behind cell phone ring tones? I picked up new phones for my wife and I yesterday now that our two years of crappy Cellular One service have finally come to an end. As I set up my new phone — storing numbers, programming speed dialing, etc. — I waded through all the ring options. "Beethoven." "William Tell." "Tap Dance." "Espionage." Hey, I have an idea: How about a tone called "Dignity" that sounds like a phone ringing?

I don't want my phone to take pictures, play games, surf the web, keep track of my appointments, play music or get my ass kicked when it rings in a bar. I want it to ring and let me talk to people. Is that too much to ask?

And speaking of too much to ask, I'm a guy who likes to eat his cake and have it, too. I want to ride as much as time allows and still have Mr. Happy fully functional. My schedule doesn't allow enough riding to imperil any nocturnal activities but apparently, the threat is still out there. And we all know what this means. Uh, huh, that's right. More expensive and over-designed bike saddles will be showing up on the shelves of your local bike shop next spring.

Maybe it's time for the first-ever Bicycles and Icicles readers poll. If your riding time was affecting your nether regions and you had to choose between sex and cycling, which would you choose? Feel free to cast your vote by commenting on this post. Sex, bikes. Sex, bikes. Hmm.

As Latka Gravas said when his taxi was stuck in a blizzard and the woman he was with declared that they needed to have sex or they would freeze to death, "Sex, death. Sex, death. (long pause) So, why don't you tell me a little bit about yourself?"

Thanks for stoppin' by.

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.