Friday, July 28, 2006

Out there ... somewhere

Thanks to Martino's Bike Lane diary for the cartoon.

Work is taking me to the boondocks
for a few days. Then a family
trip will take me back
to the boondocks for a few more.

Besides, this is a good time
to get away from all news
about pro cycling.

Ya'll come back now, ya hear?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

No, your OTHER left!

Exactly how does a person handle skills requiring coordination—walking, riding a bike, etc.—when they don’t understand fundamental physical concepts such as left and right?

I swear, when I call out, “On your left” while riding Anchorage’s paved trails, 40 to 50 percent of the people I encounter respond by immediately moving to their left! When you factor in the 10 to 15 percent who don’t respond at all because they’ve rendered themselves deaf to the world with earbuds or headphones, that leaves a piss-poor chance of actually opening up passing space on the left side of the trail.

Maybe I should adopt a habit of calling out, “Passing on whatever side your fat ass ain’t blocking!”

But that might be interpreted as rude.

And we all know what a congenial guy I am.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Going nowhere fast

Some days simply have more than their fair share of strange bicycle news. Like some dude in the Bavarian town of Ingolstadt, wherever the hell that is, deciding to steal a bike.

From a cop.

Right after being released from custody.

As if that's not weird enough, some nuns opened a can of whup-ass on a bike thief in Amsterdam. (Thanks to Blue Collar Mountain Biking for that link.)

And in Boulder, Colo., a bicyclist (well, a triathlete, anyway) slammed into a bear.

And other cyclists in Boulder have been feelin' the need for speed, which is pissing off people who live near a certain big, fun hill.

That story reminded me of my own speed record, humble though it may be. It involved a steep old highway dropping out of Truchas, N.M., toward the village of Cundiyo; my old rigid mountain bike; loudly buzzing knobbies; and some hick in a pickup staying on my tail because he wanted to gauge my speed.

I guess he didn't know I had a bike computer, because once I slowed down and the road straightened out, he pulled up beside me with a big grin on his face and yelled, "Fifty-five, man!"

It was sort of a dirt-bag version of that scene in Breaking Away when Dave drafts the semi.

It still felt pretty cool.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Ma and Pa Landis

You think Floyd's mom and dad
spent the weekend glued to the TV
watching their son kick ass in France?

Nah. They don't own a TV.
But they did ride their bikes to church in Farmerville.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Saving souls, one ride at a time

I always find it a little disturbing to ride by a church and see the parking lot full on a beautiful Sunday morning. Especially when the church has a really dumb sign out front.

Of course, I've never been a big fan of people behaving so much like sheep that they actually refer to themselves as flocks.

The world is out there waiting to be enjoyed, but church people sit indoors on uncomfortable benches and let clergy spoonfeed them religious propaganda.

I like to think I have my own religion—it's something of a cult, really—and I have no need for ministers, pedophile priests or prudish peers.

I call it the Church of the Triple Chainring.

Services are held every Sunday (weather permitting) with as many bible study sessions as time allows the rest of the week. Sermons consist of whatever is running through your head. All services are held in the world's largest church, which I like to call ... uh ... well, I call it the world. Seating is unlimited, so feel free to arrive a few minutes late. (Just don't complain if we start without you and you have to ride hard to catch up.)

Come on, join us. Take a sip from our vat of Kool-Aid. You'll feel better. We might even save your soul. If not, we'll have a hell of a good time trying.

You can even call me Reverend Tim, if you want to.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Back in the blog biz (for now)

Five days without bikes
is not an easy thing to endure.
But at least I caught some pretty fish.

I'm still coping with re-entry into civilization.

I see the world's still full of weirdness.
The Middle East is a powder keg
of crazy shit, as always.
But now there's a little bike race
in France that has suspense again.

Cold nights and long days on the river
have beaten my sinuses and energy to a pulp.
I need a quick recovery.
I need to feel knobbies on dirt. Quickly.

Because I have another trip in a week.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Rerun season

This show's got to go "on hiatus"
as they say in the land of Tony Danza.

Time to spend a few days
where there are no phones,
no computers and,
unfortunately, no bikes.

I'll be out on the Bering Sea coast
all week. Also known
as the middle of nowhere.

But I should be back
before Landis gets to Paris.

Ride it like you stole it, Floyd!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Break free

"Emancipate yourself from mental slavery,
none but ourselves can free our minds."

—Bob Marley

My wife was listening to the radio a few days ago when I heard the station run a promo encouraging drive-time listeners to keep tuning in.

The basic message was something along the lines of, "Stuck at another traffic light? Well, there's nothin' you can do about it, so sit back and enjoy the blah, blah, blah."

I found myself wishing I could run my own ad.

Stuck at a traffic light? Nothing you can do about it?


I'll tell ya what to do about it. Turn off that crap they try to pass off as music, park your car and hoist your flabby leg over a bike.

You don't need that brainless drivel they spew over the airwaves. Listen to the hum of your tires on the ground and the wind in your ears. Splash through a puddle. Fix a flat in the rain and feel good about it. Swerve around a sluggish moose. Check out that hottie you meet riding the other direction on a sunny afternoon.

Summer's short. Don't waste it.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

It's bear season

Heads up on the Hillside, folks. Here's the latest from folks at the muni:

"Tuesday, July 11th at 9am, a jogger was charged by a brown bear on the Tour of Anchorage Trail (Old Rondy) between the Campbell Creek Science Center parking area and the wooden bridge (South Fork Campbell Creek) downstream towards Tudor Rd.

"The bear was just off the side of the trail in the grass and did not notice the jogger until he was approximately 20 feet away. The bear raised his head startled and charged the jogger. The jogger stopped, raised his arms and yelled at the bear. The charge stopped at approximately 6 feet, the bear looped back and charged again stopping at the same distance. After the second charge the bear ran into the woods and crossed Campbell Creek."

Salmon are running and berries are ripe, which means the big scary guys are hanging around. Be noisy.

Mmm, chunky

There are certain things you don't view before certain activities. For example, I try not to watch plane-crash movies when I know I'll be getting on an airplane within a few weeks.

If you're going riding this weekend, think twice before clicking on this link.

Then go ahead and click on it anyway. You know you will.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Can't top this

"It's almost like Colorado,
only better, because it's Alaska."

—Jeff Y., on the Resurrection Pass Trail

Monday, July 10, 2006


Even in Alaska, you can win the weather jackpot
two weekends in a row. Sunday on the Eklutna Lake trail
was perfect. Blue skies, warm air and
the usual beautiful scenery. Great people to ride with,
and a cooler of icy Cokes back at the parking lot.

Heather and Jordan round the bend
beneath Serenity Falls.

A sleep-deprived Carlos keeps truckin'
after riding all night to train
for the Soggy Bottom 100.

We are not alone.

(Let's just hope the aliens
don't observe the Soggy
and conclude that our
entire species is insane.)

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Cheap Marketing 101

I've been getting e-mails recently from people wanting me to mention their bike-related products in my posts. A few savvy companies have figured out creative ways to use blogs as a marketing tool, and a bunch of cheapskates are trying to get in on the action with minimal thought and effort.

Here's my short-and-sweet guide for people hoping to squeeze a little publicity out of blogs (well, this blog, anyway). If you really want some exposure, take a lesson from Banjo Brothers and follow some of these basic steps. Otherwise, stay the hell out of my inbox:

Rule No. 1: This is a blog, which means it's mine. Just like every other blogger, I do this for my own selfish reasons, not to help you sell stuff.

Rule No. 2: Grow the fuck up. Don't send me messages saying things like, "Hey, my company has a cool new product/website! Check it out! Maybe you'll want to write about it!" I don't want to write about your damned website. Ever. And I'm not going to write about a product I've never used. This is just a blog, but I have standards, no matter how hard that is to believe from reading this thing.

Rule No. 3: OK, so I have standards, but I'm still a swag whore like every other mountain biker. If you want me to mention your product, send me an e-mail asking if I'd like to test and review your bike-related stuff. You'll usually get a positive response because I like bike-related stuff—especially when I don't have to pay for it.

Rule No. 4: If you actually bother to follow rule No. 3, stay in touch via e-mail to see how things are going. Answer my questions. Let me know if I'm using a prototype or the production version, that kinda stuff.

Rule No. 5: The only favor you'll get is if I agree to try your product. If it sucks, I'm going to say so on this blog. If it's good stuff and makes me the envy of my friends, I'll write something nice about it.

See? Five easy steps. And you didn't even have to take a marketing class.

You can send me a tuition check if it'll make ya feel better.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Lock 'n' load

When will more dog owners wise up? John McCleary at Anchorage Parks and Rec has issued the following public notice in response to a bad incident this week in which two unleashed dogs caused a horse to throw it's rider, breaking the woman's leg:

"Last night two horse back riders came across a couple with a German Shepard-mix dog and a Labrador-mix dog on a Hilltop trail, off leash. (They were not in the off-leash area.) The dogs ran barking at the horses and did not respond to the owners voice commands at all. The horses were finally calmed down but the dogs persisted and finally one horse lost his nerve and dumped his rider, causing her to break her leg. The dog owners were not sympathetic to the situation and seemed unconcerned with the fact they were told there dogs should be leashed. In fact, they were somewhat indignant to the fact they were considered responsible for the situation, I was told. This happened on a trail near the Abbott Road/front Hilltop parking lot area and the horses had to be trailered home, while the rider was taken to the hospital.

"PLEASE urge trail users to remind people that they meet on the trail that their dogs should be on leash in most areas. The situation could have easily been turned around and one of the dogs kicked, causing a broken leg (which could happen quite easily with a loose dog nipping at a horse). Dogs on leash help promote safety for everyone using the trail system."

OK, I'm doin' my part. If you own a dog, please keep it on a leash. No, your beloved little pile of shit and fur is not an exception. Unless you're in an off-leash zone, keep your mutt on a leash.

At all times.


As someone who was attacked and bitten by an unleashed dog on the trails last fall, I'll go even further and encourage all dogless trail users to carry bear spray.

With all the brown bears in the area, and salmon preparing to swim up Campbell Creek, bear spray is a good idea on the Hillside anyway, and if an unleashed dog gives you attitude, you can defend yourself by nuking the bastard.

Cute bunny with a nice Heinie

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A little perspective, please

My latest Dumb Sign of the Week
comes from the photo archive built up
during my vacation last month.
(OK, this is just a Strange Sign of the Week—
somebody's gettin' rich,
so they're smarter than me.)

I had to drive by this sign each time
I went to Bicycle Showcase in Scottsdale.

"Luxury villas from the low $2 millions."

Is there such a thing as low millions?
Especially when you're talking about dollars?

And who really wants to buy
the cheap $2 million model, anyway?

Wouldn't your neighbors
in the more expensive houses
look down their noses at you?

Monday, July 03, 2006

Mighty Ride

Going over Resurrection Pass from Hope to Cooper Landing on a sunny day is always a great ride. On Sunday, it was spectacular. The weather was warm, the sky never even hinted at rain, and we rode in a solid group of nearly 20 people all the way.

I was crashing the party put on by Mighty Bikes, a local group that helps kids build mountain-biking skills. Leonard, the master of dirty jokes, invited me to tag along and I showed up expecting a slow out-and-back ride from Hope with lots of rest stops. Some of the younger kids did the out and back, but I ended up with the up-and-over gang and they were incredible.

Pete B. led the group on his singlespeed and I fell in with several adults generally patrolling the rear of the group. The pace was high early and I was wondering if this was the kids’ usual speed until Queen Bee asked Pete to dial it back a bit.

It seemed to generally creep back up to a brisk pace and everyone held it tight all the way. By my bike computer, we rode nearly 39 miles of trail in less than five hours—that’s from sea level up and over the pass above treeline, and back down into Cooper Landing on the Kenai River—with no stragglers.

No whiners, no brats. Just cool kids with great legs, nice bikes and the skills to handle them. The smallest kid was only 10 years old.

Yeah. I said 10 years old.

The weirdest part was Leonard behaving around all the kids. I didn't learn a single new dirty joke all day.

After the ride, I saw a teenage girl bouncing up and down while she proudly showed two friends that she was getting a tan line around her bike gloves.

Next time I get pissed off and grumpy about teenagers, I’m going to try to remember that girl.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Peloton on the Kenai Peninsula

Mud, dust, sunshine
and a virtual paceline
of nearly 20 young riders
(and some old coots like me)
who kept it tight
for nearly 39 miles
of Alaska singletrack.

It was an awesome ride,
but I'm too damned tired
to tell you about it.
I'm workin' on it, though.