Friday, December 29, 2006


I once worked with a guy who had gone through a bad spell in his life. His wife had split, he was nearly broke, and using drugs that didn’t enhance his judgment much. So despite being an educated guy who was well read and pretty intelligent (for the most part) he decided to rob a bank and then ride away on his bicycle.

Now, as much as I love bicycles, I’ve never considered them viable getaway vehicles for bank jobs. And when you’re 6-foot-8, weigh close to 300 pounds and have a face that scares small children, a 10-speed sure as hell isn’t going to improve your chances of escape. Especially when its rider is whacked out of his mind on illicit chemicals. Poor ol’ Fish didn’t get very far.

Fortunately, his contrition and the circumstances of his life were considered, so he didn’t spend too much time in the Graybar Hotel before returning to life as a productive—albeit occasionally stoned—citizen.

Why am I telling you this story? Hell, I don’t know. I just remembered it while reading about a guy named Michael Paul Hammonds, who robbed a bank in Paris, Texas, using a shitty old pickup as a getaway vehicle. A customer in the bank jumped on his bike and followed the truck long enough to get the license plate number, enabling the cops to find Hammonds and bust him a few hours later. (The story's a little more than halfway down that page.)

It’s not every day that a guy on a bike gets to be the hero.

Sadly, ol’ Stick-em-up Hammonds apparently didn’t get his life back together like Fish. When I Googled him, I found this story about shot in the knees with a 20-gauge when he approached a guy’s house while running from the police.

Capped in the knees. Damn. That’s gonna leave a mark.

Thanks for stoppin' by. Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Don't get perforated

Which is scarier?The prickly headed dude from Hellbound Hellraiser?
Or AKBubba's kinky S&M tires?

Come find out for yourself this Saturday at the final Frigid Bits race of 2006. Ten laps on Goose Lake, each one a mile long with 40 turns. Carlos has widened the turns for more passing opportunities, ribbed them for your pleasure and ... oops, I wasn't supposed to mention that last part, but I can tell you he has altered the course to eliminate the heinous sand section except for the first and final laps.

There'll be a tailgate session afterward, so toss some beer and dead animals in your car before heading to the Goose.

Race time is 7 p.m. Sign up begins at 6:30.

Just don't wipe out in front of AKBubba. Unless you're into that kinky stuff.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Buried alive

Between this new snow and all the food I've been eatin', there's not much bike news these days. I've been stuffin' my face, ridin' the trainer a bit, and walkin' around on snow shoes a lot just to get out of the house and have a little fun. Hell, the photo with this post was taken before the snow really even got started. The storm was still flexing its muscles that day. It hadn't started kickin' ass yet. We've had, what, two and a half feet over the past few days?

I did score some cool bike stuff for Christmas, though. A comfy new Terry Fly saddle with titanium rails to go on my new TCR C1; a damn fine T-shirt from River City Bicycles (thanks, Sue); and a Garmin 205 bike computer/GPS thingamabob. I'm still scratching my head over how to use it, but it'll help pimp out my main bikes next summer (thanks to the fact it came with two bike mounts and accepts two bike profiles) and give me a new gadget to play with.

Damn, maybe it'll look so flashy on my stems that it'll keep a few people from noticing the winter flab hangin' over the top of my shorts.

Naaaaah, that ain't gonna happen. They'll see the flab.

The final Frigid Bits race of 2006 returns to Goose Lake this Saturday night. My next post will include all the details.

In the mean time, I'll be eating something. Carry on about your business.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Happy Holidays

Steve, a guy who rides to work from my neighborhood,
riding his old GT home in four inches of new snow.

Merry Christmas to all who ride.
May Santa bring you lots of exotic bike bits.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Solstice ride update

It's too deep out there. We're switching to snowshoes. E-mail me if you want details as they're worked out.


I’ve been tagged by The Old Bag, my favorite Minnesota bike babe. So I’m supposed to post five things about myself that readers of this blog might not know. Brace yourselves, my darlings, for I am a deep pool of undiscovered wonders.

1. I don’t want to work. I just want to bang on the drum all day.

2. Sometimes I say to myself, “This is not my beautiful house. This is not my beautiful wife.” And sometimes I ask myself, “How did I get here?”

3. I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die.

4. I saw Mommy kissin’ Santa Claus.

5. I think I’ll just let the mystery be.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Missing mountain bikers

All last winter—and much of the past 18 months or so—I’ve traded morning waves with three guys who ride together along my route to work. Sometimes it was only one of them. Sometimes two. But often, all three. It was always fun to see their headlamps coming toward me in the winter darkness and to have a second or two of friendly interaction with some other riders.

This past summer, I finally had a chance to say hello when I found two of them changing a flat near the Fred Meyer store on Dimond Boulevard. I crossed the street and introduced myself and asked where they ride each day. They were friendly guys and said they had always wondered what my story was, and what had happened to me on the days when they didn’t see me. The same things I wondered about them.

That’s one of the cool things about bike commuting. Strangers riding in the opposite direction on a regular basis become a fixture in your day. When they’re not there, you wonder if they’re OK, especially if the absence lasts awhile. Did the friendly woman’s bike break down? Is the old man sick? Did the young guy change jobs or move away?

Now my three friendly guys are missing. I haven’t seen them in weeks. Not even their tracks in the snow. Did their morning routine of meeting for the commute fall apart? Have they changed their route? I have no idea.

But I miss seeing those headlamps coming through the darkness.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Solstice with soul

We’re entering the darkest depths, folks. Thursday will have only 5 hours, 26 minutes and 54 seconds of daylight. If you can call it daylight when it comes through the thick layer of clouds that will probably be parked over Anchorage like one of those big-ass, doomsday alien ships in Independence Day.

But the beauty is in the details, because Thursday is the winter solstice, which means it’ll be as dark as it’s gonna get. On Friday, we gain 6 seconds and begin the glorious, light-gaining march to summer. If that’s not a reason to celebrate, what is? And could there possibly be a better way to celebrate than doing something silly on a bike?

That was a trick question. We all know there’s no better way to celebrate than to do something silly on a bike.

So Thursday will be the day of the first Silly Solstice Ride. And you should be there, because who knows if there will ever be another? By next year, the whole organization could fall victim to bankruptcy, fraud, embezzlement scandals and indictments.

If you’re reading this blog, you’re invited. So charge your lights and blow the dust off your bike if you’ve been too lazy to ride so far this winter. Hell, you don’t even need studded tires because the trail is groomed snow—knobbies will get the job done.

The ride will begin at 7 p.m. by Trailwatch Headquarters (the old police substation) at Westchester Lagoon, and head south on the Coastal Trail toward Kincaid Park. We’ll ride south for an hour or so, with all the wine and chocolate breaks we deem necessary, then stop and enjoy the view for a few minutes before turning around and heading back toward the lagoon.

This will be a slow-paced social ride. Anyone attempting a breakaway will be chased down, stripped of their pants and forced to ride back with one hand while trying to protect their goodies with the other.

And because it’s the darkest day of the year, we’ll brighten that sucker up with as many lights as possible. Headlamps, blinkin’ butt lights, glow sticks, disco balls, strobe lights, whatever ya got.

Fire 'em up, folks. Only six months to go until we’re ridin' on dirt again.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Uranus is unusual

Really. It says so right there on the sign. And it glows in the dark, thanks to the chem light Carlos put on it.

Saturday night’s Snaux Bro race was held under ideal conditions. The temp was around 18 degrees, the trail was hard and smooth and my flask was full of wine. Well, it was until AKdeluxe saw me sipping from it and then bummed a few hits.

The singletrack sections in the woods around Earthquake Park added some spice. Good thing Carlos warned us about the wooden bridge. What was that, about 10 inches wide? Good thing I was following Manny so I could see when it was time to dismount and walk across the gap.

And thanks to some of the Uranus division riders apparently overshooting the turnaround, I managed to finish in fourth place. Fourth out of eight, I think. Hell, for me and my old winter commuter bike, that’s about as good as it gets.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Put your foot up his ... socks

It’s a good thing I can remind myself every time I see this picture that mountain biking is the most fun thing you can do with your clothes on, because otherwise, having to share a sport with the Dipshit in Chief would be really annoying.

I mean, c’mon, we’re not even gettin’ any benefit out of it. We actually have a mountain biker in the Oval Office, but do we ever see him wearing an IMBA T-shirt or promoting singletrack on public lands? When this dumbass hears someone say “IMBA,” this moron probably thinks they’re talking about a foreign woman who works on the White House maid detail.

Well, if we have to put up with pictures of him riding a bike, we can at least take comfort in knowing we wear cooler socks. If we’re wearing “Impeach Bush” socks, that is.

I ordered a pair a couple of years ago and have worn them proudly. Then, a few days ago, I got an e-mail from the people who sell them at Dol Active Wear. They weren’t looking for a plug on the blog—they don’t even know about the blog—they were just reminding former customers that they’re still there, and still selling the socks.

They’re good folks. So good they actually sell these bad boys on the honor system. Remember it? You tell 'em how many pairs you need and they mail your socks right away. They trust you to mail a check to cover the bill. (They also use PayPal.)

As Dolores told me in an e-mail when I placed my order, it’s not really about the money. It’s about the message.

Besides, if you can't trust a fellow cyclist, who can you trust?

Well, OK, I can think of one we can’t trust but … oh, hell, just order some socks.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Lookin' for Uranus

Ever try to find Uranus in the dark? It can be a little tricky.

This Saturday's race—called the "Frigid Bits: Snaux Bro!"—will start at Goose Lake and go to the Kincaid Chalet via the Chester Creek and Coastal trails, with maybe a little singletrack in the area around Earthquake Park, then return to the lake. That's about a 26-mile roundtrip, the longest race of this winter's series.

For a little less butt-pounding adventure, there will be a shorter option of turning around at Uranus on the Coastal Trail. You know, Uranus? The information board that's part of the solar-system information signs installed by some do-gooder Eagle Scout a couple of years ago?

So be prepared. When co-workers starting asking on Friday what you're planning for the weekend, you give 'em a little laugh and say, "I'm racing to Uranus! Care to join me?"

Race time is 7 p.m., so show up a little early for registration and all that stuff.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Mother%*&@!rs of Invention

Singlespeed in Interior Alaska
around the turn of the 20th century.

I was reading the new issue of Bike magazine a couple of days ago when I saw a photo caption identifying Gary Fisher's original clunker as “the bike that started it all.”

Now, I really hate to sound like a geezer but I do anyway, so I’ll carry on. Anybody who’s been a mountain biker for 15 to 20 years, like I have, has seen this sort of thing a hundred times. “The first mountain bike.” “The inventor of the mountain bike.” “The guy who ‘started it all.’”

These things are always attached to photos or stories about Tom Ritchey, Gary Fisher, Joe Breeze, et. al. And it’s always bullshit. The caption in Bike magazine should be more along the lines of, “the bike first ridden by a guy who decided to sell a bunch of 'em by branding himself as the inventor of the mountain bike.”

No offense to all those guys and their marketing prowess, but they no more invented the mountain bike than George Foreman invented the grill.

The mountain bike wasn’t invented. It evolved. Sturdy, fat-tire bikes had been played with at different times in various parts of the world for decades before the Marin County crowd ever tried it. Some of the same magazines that often call those guys the “inventors” of mountain bikes should know better, because they have often published photos of 1940s- and 1950s-era bikes that could almost pass for one of today’s machines, especially now that so many masochists are eschewing derailleurs.

Those beer-fueled baby boomers in Northern California helped shape this sport by driving a major step in its evolution, but it would be a damned shame if their ad campaigns lead newcomers to believe those guys invented it.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Now THIS is a tree

Another cool item from the folks in Morgan Hill.

This is my kind of tree. In fact,
I'd call it a TILF.

Not to be confused with a BRILF.

Thanks to Big Jonny for leading me
to these wonders of the Internet.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Your skills suck (and so do mine)

This kid's so good, he scares me.

Don't try this shit drunk.
But if you do, don't lie
to your wife about it

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Steaming winter commuter?

Or damned mountain biker
burning in hell?

(And is there really any difference?)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Last Man Standing

It's Picture Day at Bicycles and Icicles.
Why? Because I like
these shots I took at Saturday's race.Titanium bike. Orange safety-tape helmet vent covers.
Hey, it's Alaska ice biking. Whatever works.

Speaking of whatever works,
fixies with skinny tires don't
in deep sand and snow.

If people at work think my bike fetish is weird,
they should see who I hang out with on weekends.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Gimp with a camera

I did something I'm not used to on Saturday. After injuring my leg during a warm-up lap, I actually exercised the good judgement to scratch from the "Last Man Standing" race at Goose Lake.

I must be getting wiser with age, because a couple of years ago, I would have raced anyway. These days, the prospect of limping for a week is less appealing than riding in a race I have no chance of winning. I had my camera, so I dumped my bike and decided to serve as race photographer.

The sky was clear and the air brisk—somewhere in single digits. As usual, every lap brought racers off the lake and then back onto it by running them over the beach. The beach sand is always the most heinous part of a lap, in my opinion, but mixed with six inches of dry snow it was guaranteed to deal out a dose of misery every time the racers passed through it.

The fixie crowd had to run through that crap like they were in a cyclocross race. Even the guys on regular mountain bikes were fish-tailing through it, and many of them were walking through before the race ended.

By that point, I was sittin' in the snow and shootin' pictures with one hand while I drank a beer with the other.

Pretty good work if you can get it.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Fashion show

And now, a word about my underwear. I rarely wear any and, when I do, it's usually something kinky. No, wait. That wasn't me. It was Pvt. John Winger in "Stripes."

Dang, in 1981 that movie gave me a major crush on P.J. Soles. (Who's your buddy? Who's your friend?) That's one M.P. who could throw me in the brig anytime. But I digress. Again.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, Darron at Outer Sports Long Johns dropped me an e-mail and offered me a set of his company's polypro "Performance Underwear" to try out in return for a link on this blog. Now, personally, I've always thought performance underwear was the kind of stuff you get at Victoria's Secret on a good day, and someplace nice 'n' sleazy on an even better day. But considering where I live and ride all year, I was willing to be open-minded.

Besides, mountain bikers are sluts for free stuff. And, slap my ass and call me Sally, I'm a mountain biker.

So I've been ridin' around in this thoroughly non-kinky underwear, and it's good. I had to look up what they call that thing they do to their seams to make 'em comfortable and strong. Turns out, they're called "flat lock" seams.

Hey, it's long underwear, you know? But it does the job. Polypro wicks moisture, the stuff doesn't shrink and suddenly become something you have to donate to hungry people, and the reinforced seams don't fall apart when you wash your skivvies or yank them on or off your body.

Bottom line is, the stuff is good and Outer Sports reads bike blogs, so check out their site. The stuff they sent me even happens to be on sale right now, so you can save a few bucks if you need new undies.

Who knows? If you e-mail Darron maybe they'll introduce a leopard-print version.

Mmm, nah. Probably not.