Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Are you authorized?

Uh, can I please ride across the bridge?
(Photo taken during ride up -- well actually,
on the way down -- Potter Valley Road.
I didn't ask permission.)

Work all day, ride trails all evening. Busy, busy, busy. I'm having trouble finding time to write about all my deep mountain-bike thoughts.

Naaaaaah. I'm just screwin' with ya.

I don't have any deep mountain-bike thoughts.

But I did ride trails all evening, and that's all the depth I need this time of year.

The Hillside trails are sweet.

Get 'em while they're hot.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Yo, yield the trail!

This Memorial Day weekend
was the way Memorial Day weekend
is supposed to be. Warm, sunny weather,
an old friend visiting from out of state,
cooked animals on the grill, a few cold beers,
a couple of rides, a couple of uncooked animals
blocking the trail, and time to shoot the shit
after today's trail ride.

Not much time to blog, though.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Beat me, whip me, make me pedal

Carlos “Mr. Frigid Bits” Lozano just e-mailed me this elevation profile of his Soggy Bottom 100 race course. As far as I’m concerned, this is where sanity goes to die.

The Resurrection Pass Trail between Hope and Cooper Landing is an awesome ride in either direction. It’s one of my all-time favorites. But both ways in a day, with a side trip down and back up Devil’s Pass Trail? And the fickle mood of Alaska's weather? Mmm, no thanks.

Here’s how to ride Resurrection Pass: Leave a car at the Hope end. Head north from Cooper Landing. Ride the whole, what, 40+ miles of singletrack? Drink a cold beer from the cooler you wisely left in the vehicle. Drive into Hope, stop at Tito’s and order a hamburger the size of a go-kart wheel. Wash it down with a Coke on ice.

Now you’ve had an epic ride and a good meal, and no part of your body is in excruciating pain. You can drive home and sleep.

But if you won’t listen to me, if you have some masochistic thing goin’ on and you really need pain, head over to Carlos’ site and download a registration form, you freak. He’ll take care of ya and make it as much fun as it can be, under the circumstances.

But he might make you call him “Master Carlos.”

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Blast from the past

The term "classic" is often overused. But I came
across a true classic this week
when I passed George Dube slowly cruising
the Campbell Creek bike trail on this baby.
A 1952 Schwinn Packard.
Original. As in original paint, original parts.
This thing is museum quality.

Fortunately for George,
it's not collecting dust in a museum.
It sits in his living room until
we have a beautiful day.
Then it gets taken out for a cruise.

Nothing wrong with museums.
But a bike like this deserves
to be ridden
from time to time.
It isn't some lifeless meteorite
meant to sit on a shelf.
It's a bike, dammit.
And it's a bike that George
obviously appreciates and loves.
He can tell you its history
and describe its unique features
like an experienced tour guide,
right down to the day
the bike was manufactured.

March 23, 1952.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Trail filler

It finally happened. I got on my bike after work last night and I was overdressed. Tights, full-fingered gloves, long-sleeve jersey. It was too much. A warm, sunny day in Anchorage. Who knew?

It’s about freakin’ time, that's all I can say.

The bike trail along Campbell Creek almost could have qualified as crowded. Kids on after-school rides, commuters; it was nice to see a little traffic of the non-motorized variety. Hell, it felt so good that I barely got mad at the dog walker who was standing 30 feet from her hairy beast because she was using one of those damned retractable leashes with the barely visible cord. I nearly hit the stupid thing.

According to the reports I’m hearing, a few Anchorage trails are ready for riding and the others are getting close. Maybe Team Megasorass can get in a group ride on the 24-hour course this week.

Any locals looking for some action this weekend (and really, who isn’t looking for some action every weekend?) should check out Rio’s latest evil plot, the Crusty Bits Good Time Trial. The 18-mile course is a secret, any bike with two wheels is allowed, there’s a time bonus for costumes, bonuses for ugliest bike and heaviest bike, and every rider must have a one-gallon freezer bag with his or her name on it.

I don’t think I want to know what’s gonna happen with those bags.

I’ll be busy with out-of-state guests this weekend, so I have to miss the festivities. Hopefully, someone will get some incriminating shots of DaveIT for me to post on the blog.

To get in on the race, meet up at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Trail Watch building next to Westchester Lagoon.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Squiggle sucks

I'm 33 miles into a ride Sunday when the rear tire on my old Stumpjumper suddenly squiggles to the left as I roll through an intersection. Puncture. Only three blocks from my house. No damn way am I wrestling a slick off the rim without the benefit of a repair stand when I'm only three blocks from home. And yeah, I just made up the word "squiggle."

I walked it home. Can't even remember the last time I did that. When I see people pushing bikes with flat tires I always think they're fools for not carrying what they need to make the repair. I guess it was my turn to let others think the same of me, 'cause when I did the math it came down to having a repaired tire in 12 to 15 minutes, or leftover chicken and a cold Coke in 10. The food won.

Until that damned glass shard got to my tube, it was a hell of a nice ride. I'm feeling unusually strong for this time of year. I think the little bit of Pilates I did this spring is paying off. The lower back is feeling good and I have more power on climbs. And when a Clydesdale feels good on climbs, you know there's something weird goin' on.

I used to think Pilates was just a workout fad for bored housewives with boob jobs and Lexus SUVs. I was young and naive. That shit works. I can't figure out why else I'd be feelin' this good in May. Next time I'm in the shop, I've gotta thank Rose for gettin' me to try it.

Today's picture? That's the family quiver (most of it, anyway) stashed in the house during Saturday's yard sale. My wife didn't think it would be wise to advertise to a bunch of bargain-hunting strangers that we keep a small fleet of mountain bikes in the garage. I couldn't argue with that logic, so we moved 'em inside.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Middle of the weekend

I spent the day helping my wife with a garage sale. She gets the urge to do one about every 10 or 15 years, and that's plenty. I even managed to sell one old Zefal pump and a pair of crappy studded bike tires. There's not much demand for old frame pumps, used knobbies and dusty old toe clips.

Sunday should get me some bike time. Until then, I'm just postin' a photo I've been meaning to use for a few days. I forget where I found this shot of a Marine in Iraq, but what the hell, let's call it soldier-appreciation day here at Bicycles and Icicles.

Yeah, I support the troops. I want to give them a competent boss. Let's impeach the bastard and bring 'em home. Let's get this Marine out of the sand and put him on a real bike and some loamy singletrack where nobody's trying to kill him.

Speaking of troops: Shelby, if you're still checking the blog during your deployment, drop me an e-mail and let me know how you're doing. Send a photo if you can. I'll post the info so we'll have an update on a fellow Frigid Bits rider. Get back before the snow flies so we can hit some trails.

I'm outta here. Thanks for stoppin' in.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Bad cop, no doughnut

I was pleased—briefly—when I opened this morning’s Anchorage Daily News and found a prominent article on Bike To Work Day. But, as with so many things involving the Daily News, my joy was short-lived.

This time, it wasn't entirely the newspaper’s fault. What was disturbing was the experience recounted by the woman in the photo that accompanied the story. Judy Abrahams lives on the Hillside and rides more than 20 miles each way during her commute, so someone at the ADN apparently decided she'd be a good person to describe riding in Anchorage.

As she was riding up Northwood Drive with a reporter, a police officer pulled up beside her, honked his horn and pointed to the sidewalk, indicating that she should be on it. She said it looked like the same cop who did the same thing the previous day.

Now, I’m just some guy who likes bikes, but I ride part of the same route Abrahams rides and I’ve bothered to read the municipal ordinance regarding bicycles, so I happen to know that Abrahams was not only on a route where it's safe to ride on the street, she was riding completely within the law.

The ordinance is very easy to read, and it’s readily available. You can download a PDF file right here. (Just click on "Municipal Bike Law.") It’s a good document to be familiar with if you ride a bike in Anchorage.

It’s an even better document to be familiar with if you’re authorized to write tickets for traffic violations.

Life as a bike commuter is hard enough with bad drivers. We don't need ignorant cops, too.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Team Megasorass hits the road

Every great cycling team has a spring training camp.
Team Megasorass is no exception. We did our first
team ride up Potter Valley Road
last night. Here are the rest of the guys
who make up the team for this year's
24 Hours of Kincaid.

Scott, veteran of Team Toe Tags,
24 Hours of Kincaid, 2004

Robbo, token Valley guy
and the costume king
of the Frigid Bits crit series.
(And yes, he was wearing sandals
at 45 degrees.)

DaveIT, all-around bike hound
and singlespeed king
of the Frigid Bits crit series.

If you're in this year's 24 Hours of Kincaid
but you're not on this team, well, you're
just screwed.

Oh, you might beat us.
But you're still screwed.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Growing older but not up

A few days ago, I filled out a questionnaire that was distributed to members of my high-school graduating class. It has been 25 years since most of us went our separate ways, and this is a way for people to catch up with one another’s activities.

It also provides an opportunity for people to boast about brilliant children, wildly successful careers and ambitious goals.

When asked about my goals for the next few years, I wrote, “I still want to learn to ride a wheelie.”

Am I lazy?

Or just satisfied?

Maybe a little bit of both.

After all, I did take the lazy approach on that answer. It would have taken too long to list all the places I’d like to ride my bike in the next 10 years, so I just listed one goal and called it good.

Or maybe I’m just defective in some male-chromosome way. Watching sports on TV bores me, and I’d rather slash my wrists than take up golf. Men in their 40s are supposed to love that shit.

No thanks.

I’ll stick with nice bikes and funny shorts.

Monday, May 15, 2006


My younger brother has been visiting
my older brother in Wyoming,
where they saw a new way
to transport bikes.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Buckwheat rides again!

Owooooooh! When it comes to helpin' out a guy in need, there's a bunch of people out there who just know how to kick a little ass.

Two weeks ago, my man Buckwheat called me from the road in British Columbia and mentioned that his borrowed bike was stolen during his walk/bike/canoe trip from Florida to the Bering Sea. I asked people to help pitch in to pay off the cost for him. Some of you sent in your money. Others had pledged a bunch more. Beth Bragg agreed to write a column about it in the Anchorage Daily News. Word got around, and then some.

Sockeye Cycles in Haines wrote off the loaner bike as a donation to Buckwheat's effort to raise money for the clinic in Skagway. Everybody who gave money told me they wanted it to be forwarded to the clinic fund. Those who had pledged money were either encouraged to send their donations to the clinic, or indicated they were helping Buckwheat in other ways.

And the folks in Fort St. John, B.C.? They weren't too thrilled to be known as the town where a good guy got ripped off, so city officials issued a proclamation in support of Buckwheat's cause, and bought the man a new Kona!

The local radio station called 100.1 Moose FM sent a guy out on the Alaska Highway to present the bike and interview Skagway's finest. Read Buckwheat's tale of the whole affair, and then listen to the interview to hear a very happy man, and to hear the real reason you're paying so much for gasoline these days.

Thanks to everyone who made all of this happen over the past two weeks. Somewhere out there on a highway in the Yukon Territory, I know Buckwheat's howlin' and smilin' every time he thinks about it.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

It’s a sign from the (mtb) gods!

When your 12-year-old daughter finds you kneeling on the kitchen floor with a camera at 6:30 in the morning, you can consider it a “teaching moment.”

I chose to teach my daughter about miracles.

You know, like the face of Jesus in a tortilla, or the Virgin Mary that appears in a stain on the wall after you drop a glass of merlot on a hardwood floor.

I’m an atheist, so I don’t experience such miracles. (Although I do spill wine, on occasion.) I see amazing symbols from a different source.

And lo, there it was this morning as I rinsed my cereal bowl at the kitchen sink …

The Santa Cruz logo in a scuff mark on the floor!

Artist’s depiction.

Natural occurrence.

Yeah, that's what I thought. Spooky.

My daughter was immediately concerned about hordes of the mountain-biking faithful making their way to our door in hopes of kneeling before this scuff mark and witnessing it with their very own eyes.

“Damn good thinking, kid,” I told her. “We’d better get ready.”

I’m having Rent-A-Cans set up in the driveway tomorrow.

Bring your own beer.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Tea at the Green Welly

Occasionally, I'll hear someone whining about how e-mail, instant-messaging, blogs and the Internet in general are destroying human communication. What a load of crap. Yeah, maybe they're beating spelling, grammar and punctuation to a bloody pulp, but you've gotta love the way they bring people together in a way that older technologies never could.

I've communicated with distant relatives, old classmates and bicyclists around the world thanks to the ease of firing off a quick e-mail. People I haven't seen in years (if ever) have tracked me down via the Internet and gotten in touch, which they probably never would have done without the speed and convenience of technology.

I used to think blogs were for geeks until I realized how much writing one—and reading others—keeps me in touch with a much wider circle of cyclists. Maybe blogs are still for geeks, but we're bike geeks dammit, and that makes it OK. Instead of being isolated up here on the winter ice and summer singletrack of the frigid north, I know what's going on with bike messengers in New York City, singlespeeders in D.C., and what the local crowd is up to in Minneapolis, which must have more blogging bikers per capita than any other American city.

I was thinking about this as I read my latest e-mail from Stephen Grant, a rider in Scotland who reads this blog and stays in touch from time to time. I've never ridden in Scotland but I enjoyed taking a little vicarious vacation through his descriptions of his recent "400 Permie" tour:

"I stopped for sustenance, breaking into a gel. ... Thats legalised EPO to you, and got a decent kick out of it to take me away from the shelter of the loch on up to Dalmally for my tea. Dalmally wasn't expecting me and had shut!! Bass. Well, there's always the Green Welly in Tyndrum ..."

Now that's good stuff.

In Alaska we might have post-ride beer at a place called Moose's Tooth. In Scotland, they stop for tea at Green Welly in Tyndrum. And we all get to swap stories about it.

That's pretty freakin' cool.

Keep 'em coming, Stephen.

Sunday, May 07, 2006


I've actually managed to ride a bike three days in a row, with a couple more days to come. Damn, this could start to feel like spring. I added some miles to Friday's commute thanks to leaving a few minutes early in the morning, and then pedaled out at lunch time for Chinese food.

On Saturday I rode past Potter Marsh and then up Potter Valley Road to put some hills in my legs. It didn't even suck. I managed to keep breakfast on board and stopped to snap this photo about halfway down during the descent.

Today it was a cruise up to Cafe Amsterdam in Midtown for the first official Really Important Strategy Meeting of Team Megasorass. Palmeranian Rob couldn't make it, but DaveIT and Scott showed up and finally met face to face. A pint of brew later, I was pedaling back south and DaveIT was cruising home on the stylin' Olympia he brought back from Italy. That sucker's so cool it's hot, somebody should stick a card on it. But after takin' a closer look at the photo, I'd say he sorta locks it funny. What's the deal there, Dave?

Scott took off on something called a Yamaha. Seemed to be one of those motorcycle things. I'm startin' to worry about that boy. But I'm sure I'll stop as soon as we do another ride and he kicks my ass.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Flippin' sweet!

There's a new bike in the family.
It's orange. And it's loved.

And it gets, like, three feet of air.

Friday, May 05, 2006


Michelle's got a nice rack!


I mean, you could park your bike just by jamming a wheel between those things!

You should see it from all angles.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Drinker with a biking problem

This strange series of events all started on a frozen lake. Some shady character who uses the alias "Rio" organized a race on ice. Some guy showed up in a technicolor dragon jersey and thought the whole thing was a hoot. Some other guy started showin' up dressed like a bear one week and Elmo the next. Now Dragon Boy has drafted my ass into doing another year of the 24 Hours of Kincaid, and Elmo's on the team. Allow me to introduce you to the dragon-jersey guy, a.k.a. DaveIT, founder of Team Megasorass and all-around bad influence.

Led astray by clowns like this, I actually pulled Scott, a teammate from the 2004 race, into the surreal nightmare. Poor dude has no idea what he's in for. The sick thing is, he'll probably like it.

Elmo boy, a.k.a. Snoop Robby Rob, has designed our team mascot (which, lucky reader, you see here) and has publicly confessed to researching sheep anatomy for race-related purposes I'm afraid to contemplate. He's a Palmeranian, which means he lives in the Mad-Zoo Valley, home of Matanuska Thunderfuck and World Capital of the Mobile Home Meth Lab. And he smiles a lot under adverse conditions, which is sort of disturbing.

And to top it all off, Dave has some Air Force job that involves AWACS jets and secret codes. So now every time I'm riding with him when he's on call and his cell phone rings, I get scared and stare at the sky until I realize he's only talking to his wife.

There's a distinct possibility that I'm gettin' too old for this shit.

I'm not gonna tell Scott until after he pays his race fee, but this thing's gettin' weird and we haven't even started yet. If it's this bad now, what will it be like in the woods at 3 a.m. with a pissed-off moose staring me down while I'm runnin' on three packets of Gu and fistful of caffeine tablets?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Buckwheat update

Thanks to a bunch of generous folks, I can once again hang up the "No Soliciting" sign on this blog. The PayPal button is gone. The Buckwheat Bike Fund will be drained as its balance is sent to the appropriate people. If you're still interested in helping Buckwheat's cause, send a tax-deductible donation to the Heartbeat Trail for the Dahl Memorial Clinic, the inspiration for Buckwheat's yearlong trip.

Huge thanks to my fellow bloggers who helped out: Tim, O.B., Jill and last but far from least, Shawn, who said he would do his part and then did even more. And thanks to every reader who pitched in your hard-earned cash. Now I can go back to writing about bikes and the crazy buggers who ride them.

Unfortunately, Buckwheat is in a remote region of Canada and can't be reached on his cell phone, but I know what he'll say when I tell him about all of this: "Owoooooooooh!"

Step high, it's gettin' deeper

When does a "mistake" start to look suspicious?
When it keeps happening.
Can you believe your component makers' ads?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Selling it cheap

When you get right down to it, there are really only a handful of reasons to ride mountain bikes: It’s fun as hell, it's good for you, and it gives you a reason to hang out with the coolest people on the planet.

It should be done only out of love, because few people will ever have the legs and lungs to do it for any other reason. It'll never earn us a living. Most of us buy our own bikes, pay our own race-entry fees and fork over the money when it’s time to replace the shit we break. That’s just how it works.

There are a few amateur riders here and there who manage to bag a sponsorship or two, and good for them. But except for a very tiny number of people who turn it into a job, a sponsorship means little more than some free stuff. Nothin’ wrong with free stuff. I'd love some.

But I wouldn’t get on my knees for it. I wouldn't lie for it. And I wouldn't let a sponsor lie for it.

What’s your integrity worth? What price would you put on dignity?

Would you sell it for a stem? A handlebar?

Probably not. Most likely, you'd quit riding before you'd show up at a start line stripped of what really counts.

When all is said and done, it doesn’t matter if you never win a race in your entire life. The only things that count are the ride and the people you ride with.