Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Halloween

A good barometer of a Frigid Bits event is how many of the pictures should never be put online. By that standard, this year’s Halloween ride was another great one that will be talked about for a long time.

They might not look it here,
but poodles are freakin' dangerous.

Bikes were ridden, drinks were drank, a little token blood was spilled, drag queens were befriended, and things were seen that can never be unseen. My “team” even managed to check a few things off our scavenger-hunt list before we pretty much forgot about it until we left the final bar and rolled back to the burn barrel long after everyone else was well into the beer.

And then things got a little weird.

I’ve got the photos to prove it, but you’re just gonna have to trust me on this.

This qualifies as harassment. Being
attacked by a viscious dog is no laughing matter.
Even if it was a standard poodle.
Those bastards are huge.

Thank you Rio, for organizing the antics , and Debbie, for being there in spirit. Your spirit is enormous, and gave many people a lot of pleasure in a single night.

Friday, October 28, 2011

It'll be 99% fun

My friend Debbie went shopping for a new ride.
Being one of those socially conscious types,
she found herself feeling a little guilty about
treating herself to bike that’s better
than many people can afford.

I told her to shut up, man up,
and buy the damned thing,
because she deserves it.

I love it when people listen to good advice.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Unleash the freaks

Holy crap, it’s time for the madness to begin again. Over the past couple of years, the Frigid Bits Halloween Scavenger Hunt Ride has been one of the highlights of autumn. You’d be hard pressed to find a better party on two wheels.

Where else are you going to find a free event that involves beer, partial nudity and a bunch of costumed bike riders marauding through downtown Anchorage (not necessarily in that order)? Hell, a couple of years ago, there was a flurry of Monday morning phone calls just to tally up the carnage.

You know the old saying, “It’s only funny until someone gets hurt, then it’s hilarious?” There has never been a better real-life example. Shit, I still laugh at memories of that night. 

The big event returns this Saturday, so clear your calendar to make sure you’re there by 8 p.m. Meet at the east end of Westchester Lagoon in the parking lot located between Minnesota Drive and the one-way road that connects Spenard Road to Minnesota.
Plan a costume, get some friends for a team, and bring a digital camera to collect proof of your scavenger-hunt targets. Helmets and lights are required.

The theme for the costume gala is fairy tales as they appear in the mind of Thirstywork. If you don’t know him, just dream up something weird. After the second or third beer, nobody gives a damn what you’re wearing anyway.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Friends in the darkness

The ring of my cell phone interrupted my Friday morning commute. I was instantly annoyed, but the rarity of a call at 7:30 a.m. made me pull over to see if it was important. “Hello?” I answered.

“Oh, OK,” was all that my friend Claire said after hearing my voice.

She had heard on a radio traffic report that a bike rider was down and an ambulance was on the way. It wasn’t along my route to work, but she knows I sometimes stray widely off course to run errands. She wanted to know that I wasn’t the person lying on the pavement in the dark.

I tucked my phone in my pocket and resumed pedaling as I ran through a mental checklist of friends who might be riding in the area of the accident. It wasn’t far from the home of a co-worker who sometimes pedals to work, and I found myself hoping she’d be at the office when I arrived.

Bike commuting is a lonelier activity this time of year. Cold and darkness has thinned the herd, so fewer morning riders are out there, and they’re harder to see. Some are hidden by darkness, while others become faceless beams of bright, blinding light when two riders meet on a path. It’s harder to make eye contact and feel connections.

As we ride across dark cities behind our little beams of light, it’s nice to have reminders that we’re not really alone.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Chugach Range from Westchester Lagoon. 10.18.11

Fifteen years ago, I was looking for a new job when an old college professor I stayed in touch with encouraged me to apply for a spot at the Los Angeles Times. We had a mutual acquaintance -- a fellow editor I had once worked with for a year or two -- who was on staff there and looking to make a hire. In other words, I had an “in” at a big-name paper.

My old professor was caught a bit off guard when I told him I wasn’t interested. Not in the Times, not in L.A., not in Southern California. I didn’t give a rat’s ass about a “career move” if it meant living in a hot, smoggy, overcrowded shit hole. Life’s too short.

Instead, I managed to get a job in a town so funky, even its residents make fun of its dark winters, its shabby architecture and its obsession with duct tape and the Subaru wagons it holds together. It may have been a questionable career move, but it was one of the best life moves I’ve ever made.

The view in this quickie iPhone photo reminded me how lucky I am to have just marked the 15th anniversary of the move from my once beloved Santa Fe to this goofy town I plan to never leave. I get to see (and dodge) big critters on many rides; I don’t have to choke on fumes unless I’m riding too close to the burrito eater in front of me; and there’s a fun and growing bike culture full of cool people.

Best of all, I get to ride home while looking at views like this one.

Happy anniversary, Alaska.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Generation FU

What do you do if you're a bike rider who wants a spot in the Fabulous Finger Gallery but you happen to be chronologically challenged and have parents who don't want your face plastered on the interwebs next to your middle finger?

Well, you find a way. Ya do whatcha gotta do. You improvise and overcome. That's what's all about.

In other words, you find a way to flip the bird anonymously.

That's what this fine example of America's youth did on Missouri's Katy Trail earlier today. I expect more from her in the future, but for now her public image will remain intact. After all, one should probably be old enough to have a driver's license before openly joining the denizens of this dark corner of the Internet.

Know, young Mystery Girl, that we are proud of you. While the lost members of your generation are wasting their youth trolling malls and flipping the joysticks of video game systems, you're outside riding mountain bikes and flipping the bird at your elders. Good job.

We know who really owns the future.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fancher's Furnace

Leonard pedals through Death Valley.
(Photos courtesy of Mike Morganson)

A 508-mile bike ride is beyond my comprehension. That’s why this post will be short. I can’t write much about what I don’t understand. (Although some readers of this blog would say I do so on a regular basis.)

But congratulations to Leonard Fancher. The dude just finished the Furnace Creek 508 in 40 hours, 59 minutes, 29 seconds. I mean, seriously. Holy shitballs. That’s a freakishly demented, long distance, and the race came about three months after Leonard took third in the Fireweed 400.

Good job, Leonard. And congrats to Leonard’s dad and Mike Morganson for serving as his crew. I learned last year that the job of crewing is a tough one, but a rider can’t go that far without solid support. All three of you
earned some cold beer and deep sleep for the next few nights.

I’m curious to hear what kind of twisted idea Leonard will come up with for his race schedule next year.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Fall fingers

It's time for another installment of Fabulous Finger Gallery Fotos from people who are flying around with their bikes and having way more fun than I am. Damn them. I don't get a bike trip this fall. Fortunately, there's a plan simmering on the back burner for next year. Meanwhile, I'm living vicariously through friends with vacation time and air miles.

Our first new photo comes from Gina and Tony, who did the Big Flip-off atop Col du Galibier. That's the classic Tour de France climb where skinny people ride in thin air and slap Bicycles & Icicles stickers on the famous summit sign before giving the finger to the guy who was kind enough to send a sticker and give their vacation a purpose.

Without that sticker assignment, the whole thing would have simply been shallow, two-wheeled hedonism with no more meaning than a one night stand with a solid "10." You're freakin' welcome, Gina.

Next we have Rose and her crew, who are doing what October was made for—riding mountain bikes in southern Utah. There is only one thing that can lure me to that Mormon-infested state, and that's sunny, high-desert singletrack. That shit's so fun, I get a little bitter whenever I see pics of someone enjoying a vacation there while I watch leaves fall in Anchorage.

At least they sent a flip-off photo to take the edge off my jealousy. Thanks to Lori, Bev, Rose, Fixie Dave Nice and, of course, Dan, who managed to take the photo and still get his own finger in it. (That's what she said.)

Go ahead and soak up that sun, Rose, but remember: Tans are temporary. Winters seem to last forever.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Fresh Dirt

Leonard enjoys some fresh Kincaid singletrack
while training
for this weekend's
Furnace Creek 508. Good luck, Leonard!

The new trails at Kincaid Park are opening bit by bit as the hand-finishing is wrapped up and sections become ready to ride. I've been checking them out over the past couple of weeks, and they're a hoot. I've never been a big fan of the trails at Kincaid Park, but that's changing. Finally, Kincaid isn't just the domain of Nordic skiers. Mountain bikers have a little slice, and it's sweet.

There's another work party from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Sunday, so go sling some dirt if you can. I haven't been very active in trail projects this year, but I've shown up for a couple of recent work parties, and it felt satisfying to know I helped at least a little bit. I hope to be there again this weekend.

To everyone who has worked on these trails—especially those of you who showed up regularly and picked up slack for the rest of us—thanks for your work. You've done a wonderful thing.

And a special thanks are due to the leaders of the project: Janice, the undisputed Queen Bee of Anchorage singletrack; Ryan, who saw lines where none existed, and worked hard to make them a reality; and Lee, the man for whom "L Train" is already named.

The world has long asked for a better mousetrap, but you guys found a way to build a better Toilet Bowl. And the rest of us are grateful.

Monday, October 03, 2011


If only we could unleash Lt. Aldo Raine on this basterd.

I recently wrote a post about finding a swastika defacing a concrete wall on the Chester Creek Trail. Yesterday, I found three more along the Campbell Creek Trail near Old Seward Highway. Graffiti is vandalism, pure and simple. But this is taking it to a new level of disgusting.

Instead of just wishing someone would catch this prick and shove a can of spray paint up his ass, I’d like to see old Aldo whip out that huge knife of his and do a little carving on the racist’s brainless head.

It sucks to be left with no option but to call the city and ask them to send someone out to cover this garbage with fresh paint. Unfortunately, that’s what we’ve got, folks. If you see this happening in Anchorage, report it to Graffiti Busters at 343-4663.

But if you happen to find the piece of shit who’s doing this, and you go all Aldo Raine on his sorry ass, you’ll get no complaint from me.