Saturday, September 30, 2006

Saturday gallery

Maura rides with her usual smile.
Carlos boldly goes where nobody else
was willing to go.
John zips through the woods
on his 29er.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Money shot

Even a mud wrestler sometimes enjoys a bubble bath and some gentle attention.

The Epic has been doing hard time lately. Poor thing’s been rode hard and put away wet too often. Caked in mud for weeks on end. And those old knobbies were worn down to a shadow of their former selves. So Sunday morning, I put on some new Roll X Pros and then went for another sloppy ride, which is pretty much the only kind we've had all season.

I couldn't bear to see a nice bike in that abused state any longer. Sure, I like it down and dirty but, I mean, damn. A couple of nights ago I broke out the bucket and brushes, and scrubbed my baby all over. Then we went out in the back yard for a little bike-porn photo shoot.

Some people might think it's weird, but I don't care. I really enjoy staring at good-looking bikes.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Another batch

It's time for the fourth installment of A Whole Crapload of Ways to Know You're Addicted to Cycling. Sit back. Enjoy it. And pace yourself, because we have one final episode coming up next ... well, whenever I feel the need to toss up a post and don't have much to say.

This week's list includes a couple of items that struck home for me, such as No. 31. A couple of years ago, I stumbled across a really nice Toyota pickup and got serious about buying it. Fortunately, the used-car dealer was cool with it when I asked if I could take it for an hour or two to drive it home to see how well my mountain bikes fit inside the cap over the bed.

Even my son rolled his eyes when he went out in the driveway and I explained why I was rolling one of my bikes into the bed of a strange vehicle. But not the guy who sold me the truck. He didn't bat an eye when I told him what I needed to do.

And away we go ...

31. You take your bike along when you shop for a car—just to make sure the bike will fit inside.

32. You start yelling at cars to "hold your line."

33. You're comfortable bumping elbows with step vans.

34. You view crashes as an opportunity to upgrade components.

35. You clean your bike(s) more often than your car.

36. You're on the board of directors for a bike club.

37. You spend weeks during the summer spraying arrows on the sides of roads.

38. You and your significant other have and wear identical riding clothes.

39. You mount a $600 cap on a $1,000 pickup so your $3,000 bike doesn't get wet.

40. You can't seem to get to work by 8:30 a.m., even for important meetings, but you don't have any problems at all meeting your buddies at 5:30 a.m. for a hammerfest.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Uh, like, groovy

It's a funny thing. Tight, wet, root-covered singletrack is a whole new experience when ridden with a head full of antihistamines after several days of a bad cold. It's sort of surreal.

But my suspension felt great today. So either I was more buzzed than I thought, or my bike is more dialed in than ever.

Four of us rode a bunch of skinny Hillside trails, including the one pictured here as it was ridden by Heather and Jordan back in, I don't know, July? I was also too daffy today to remember my camera. So just look at this picture and imagine yellow leaves instead.

It was really pretty.

I think.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Too many?

Stephen, who reads this blog in Scotland
and stays in touch via e-mail,
recently sent me this photo of his garage
and a list of the bikes in it. The pile o’ bikes reminded me
of the picture I took last spring (below)
when I had my family’s bikes stashed in the house
during my wife’s garage sale.
At the end of his e-mail, Stephen wrote,
“You can't have too many, can you?”

That started me thinking.
How many bikes is too many?

Then I came up with an answer.My solution, henceforth known as
Tim’s Universal Law of Bicycle Quantification,
is as follows: A responsible bike owner
has exceeded his/her maximum capacity
only when the number of units exceeds his/her ability
to maintain all units in working order.

Units undergoing assembly will be classified
only as parts—not actual bicycles—
until both wheels and a stem/handlebar
have been securely affixed to the frame,
at which point spouses and cohabitants
may legally move such assemblies
to the “bike” category for the purpose of debate.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Shut up and build it

The Anchorage Daily News published a story this week about the Campbell Creek Trail and how the state has excluded it from its plan for revamping the Seward Highway.

This trail is already popular with recreational bike riders, walkers, commuters, etc. Unfortunately, it’s full potential is unrealized because it dead-ends on both sides of the Seward Highway (for you non-Alaskans, the Seward is the closest thing we have to a freeway).

This trail rolls for miles beside a trout- and salmon-filled creek, through woods and quiet neighborhoods and then slams into big damn obstacle. No matter which side of the trail you’re using, the only route past the highway is an uneven, boulder-strewn path that requires you to push/carry your bike and bounce your head off the steel girders supporting the road above. Not exactly a desirable option for kids, older folks, stroller pushers, or anyone else for whom such a route poses too much physical challenge. Hell, most users don’t even know how to find the path under because it's an unofficial trail that starts behind a bunch of brush on the west side of the highway.

Now the city and state are in a pissing match over who should pay to extend the bike path when the road gets a Queer Eye for the Highway makeover. The city wants the path rolled into the state’s project. The state says the city should pay for the 950 feet of trail. This asphalt boob job is gonna cost about $125 million, while the trail under the flippin’ thing is expected to cost only $200,000.

That’s only .0016 percent of the project. When we build a new high school in this town, we spend more than that filling the bathrooms with art to enrich our kids’ minds while they sit on the toilet.

It’s 950 feet of trail, dammit! That’s one-fifth of a mile that would be one of the finishing touches on 28-mile trail loop through the city.

And that’s a loop that would carry students to several city schools and two universities. A loop that would help bike commuters reach two hospitals and countless other employers.

If you’re in Anchorage and give a damn, get more information at the project website, then e-mail everyone you can think of at the involved city and state agencies, as well as your legislative representative. They’re all public employees who work for us.

Let’s tell them to quit pinching each other and come to a fair and quiet compromise, or we’ll pull the car over and spank the shit out of all of ’em.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Slap shot

When I took this picture at Eklutna Lake last week, I knew that the chilly air already gripping the mountains would soon find its way into town. As I headed toward the door to ride to work Monday morning, I stopped at the phone and called 844 to get the temperature: 36 degrees.

After a trip back upstairs to grab the neoprene shoe covers and some glove liners, I hit the road thinking, "Oh, shit. It's almost time to pull the studs out of the shed." Any day now, I'll roll out of the garage and see frost shining in the beam of my headlight. And frost sucks without studs.

A couple of years ago, I was mounting up in front of my house when I noticed all the pretty ice crystals twinkling on the street. One of my neighbors was idling his big SUV to warm it up—which he feels the need to do whenever the temp drops below 50—and I felt smug as I rolled away. While his rig sucked gas in his driveway, I was about to ride to work in the pre-dawn twilight as millions of little lights danced in front of my wheel.

Such ignorant thoughts sometimes come to a brain numbed by several months of ice-free riding conditions. How quickly we (OK, I) forget.

Two blocks from my house, I leaned my commuter slicks into a left turn and instantly found myself slamming into the pavement and sliding across the street. Tim the Human Hockey Puck. My hip felt like I'd been branded. After pulling myself and my bike off the road in the headlights of a waiting car, my ego felt worse.

Ya just don't screw with icy stuff, no matter how thin it is. This weekend, I'm pulling the studs out of the shed and getting my winter bike ready. I'll fire up some tunes and open a beer to help me wrestle the Nokians onto the rims. I'll make the best of it, but it will be a little sad.

Sort of like a wake for summer.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Hot chicks and other bike stuff

Breaking news: Lonelygirl15 has been seen on a topless bike ride with Lindsay Lohan, who was totally nude. That's right, I said Lindsay Lohan nude!

OK, so I made all that up. But guess whose blog is about to become veeeery popular on Google searches.

Yeah, baby. Bicycles & Icicles is gonna soar.

And, best of all, the wankers who were lured here by fraudulent means can share with regular readers the joy of the third installment of A Whole Crapload of Ways to Know You're Addicted to Cycling. Or whatever I decided to call it last week. (Hey, who's really paying attention?)

21. You buy your crutches instead of renting.

22. You yell "Hole!" when you see a pothole while driving your car.

23. Your bike has more miles on its computer than your car's odometer.

24. You wear riding gloves when driving your car.

25. You use the Yakima or Thule "Fit Catalog" to pick your next new car instead of Consumer Reports.

26. You wear cycling event T-shirts all the time, including under dress shirts.

27. Your bikes are worth more than your car.

28. You buy a mini-van and immediately remove the rear seats to allow your bikes to fit.

29. When you move to a new area, the first thing you look for is a bike shop.

30. You have more bike jerseys than dress shirts.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Here it comes again

Autumn is here. The leaves are barely turning in Anchorage, but in the mountains they're going fast. It's a harsh reminder to squeeze in all the fun we can, because the whole dang thing could go to crap in a hurry.

That three-week rainy spell we had last month? If that stuff comes back, it could include sleet or snow next time.

Fortunately, Wednesday was one of those rare September days that can only be described as specdamntacular: Cool temperatures with barely a cloud in the sky, and no wind to disturb the surface of Eklutna Lake in Chugach State Park. It seemed like it took nearly all freakin' day to ride the 26-mile roundtrip up to the glacier, because I kept stopping to shoot pictures and soak up the beauty and solitude.

As I rode the final approach to the end of the trail, I passed into the shadow of a mountain and felt the temperature drop significantly. At the spot where I always enjoy a snack, the sun was still coming up.

At 1 o'clock in the afternoon.

Daylight is growing short. Enjoy it while you can.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Uncle Sam's singletrack

I spent Monday riding
the U.S. Army's turf.
Pam, shown here shootin'
down some skinny trail on her Turner,
led the way through the woods
near the Fort Richardson tank trail.
I hadn't been back in that area
for a couple of years,
and had never found
some of the singletrack she knows.
Eric, who I'd just met
at a trailhead on Sunday,
joined us on his Moots YBB.

The trails were good 'n' skinny,
rooty but fun,
and decorated with early fall colors.

I can't believe
I just typed "fall colors."
Wasn't it June just last week?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Ride, interrupted

Five years ago today I geared up to ride to work on a chilly morning, yanked the commuter off the workstand and set it on the garage floor only to hear rim and flat rubber bang into concrete. I pulled off my jacket and gloves to avoid overheating as I fixed the flat and re-inflated the tire.

I popped the rear wheel back on the bike, put my outer layers back on and grumbled about my crappy luck putting me a few minutes behind schedule.

Then my wife stepped into the garage and said, "Something's happened in New York. I'm not sure what—some kind of attack. It's all over the radio. I'm turning on CNN. I thought you might want to come back in."

I went in to check the news, thinking I'd see what was up and then hop on the bike. Of course, it didn't work out that way. An hour or so later, I drove to work marveling at an Anchorage sky without a plane in it. The Anchorage sky is always filled with planes. But not that day: no 747s hauling cargo to Asia, no floatplanes heading south to the Kenai Peninsula, nothing.

I'm on vacation this week, so I'm going for a trail ride today. And, for once, I'll make a point of enjoying the sound of jets interrupting the silence of the woods.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The smallest bike messenger

Uh, Mommy, are we there yet?

(I'd credit the source of this photo
and provide a link, but then you'd
go there from your office computer, get fired,
and never read my blog again.
So just enjoy
the shot
and go on about yer bidness.)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Addicted II

Things are still slow, so here's the second installment of the 54 Ways to Know if You're Addicted to Bicycling. And for those keeping track, I'm not really going to post all 54, because a few just weren't funny. So let's call it A Whole Damned Bunch o' Ways to Know if You're Addicted to Bicycling.
11. You see nothing wrong with discussing the connection between hydration and urine color at dinner with friends.

12. You find your Shimano touring shoes to be more comfortable and stylish than your sneakers.

13. You refuse to buy a couch because that patch of wall space is taken up by the bike.

14. You have more money invested in your bike clothes than in the rest of your combined wardrobe.

15. You see a fit, tanned, Lycra-clad young hottie ride by, and the first thing you check out is her (or his, for you women) bicycle.

16. You empathize with the roadkill.

17. Despite all that winter fat you put on, you'll skim weight by buying titanium components.

18. You use wax on your chain, but not on your car.

19. Your mud guards are made out of milk jugs.

20. When driving, you yell "On Your Left!" on passing another car.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


I found this when I finished riding
Spencer Loop on Friday afternoon.

Why do I rarely notice these trailhead
warnings until a month after
they've been posted?

Hmm. Maybe I'm supposed to check
the message board occasionally.

It's hard to remember such details
when I'm distracted by funny songs
about Dubya running through my head.

(That link may be NSFW,
but the song is hilarious.)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Dyslexic workers of the world untie!

It's Labor Day, and it's sunny.


Go for a ride
in honor of all the welders
who put our fancy metal tubes together.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Sunset cruise

Tonight's evening ride
was short and sweet.
Only about 5 miles roundtrip,
right out of our driveway.

With a great riding partner.

And a nice sunset over Fire Island.