Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Bike orphan

Some wives call themselves golf widows, or football widows. My wife has joked about being a mountain-bike widow. Our kids like to get in on the action—especially our 11-year-old daughter, who delights in giving the old man a hard time. I catch hell for everything from gray hair to going bald to bad memory to my obsession with bikes. She gets endless laughter out of hassling me.

On the mornings my wife works and I take our daughter to school, she often hangs out at my office for 30 or 40 minutes. To kill time, she started "decorating" my daily Coke before I put it in the fridge. At first, she put art on the cans. Dragons, horses, odd faces. Now she writes a message on each can and then laughs as she runs off to stash the Coke so that I can't see it until she's gone.

After I dropped her off and returned to last Friday morning, I pulled the can from the fridge to see what she had come up with:

"This Coke belongs to a man who threatens his kids so he can go biking.


She kindly remembered to add a line at the bottom saying, "Joking."

My co-workers are starting to enjoy reading my Coke cans.

But they're starting to look at me funny.

Monday, January 30, 2006

When the going gets weird . . .

. . . the weird go nocturnal. After Sunday’s Frigid Bits crit, race impresario Carlos Lozano informed us that the race is going dark in February. Time to break out your race jammies and fuzzy slippers. Races will start at 7 p.m. on the 11th and 25th.

Sunday’s race attracted a record 12 riders for the start in sunny, 8-degree weather, including “Crazy Ed” Witterholt, who showed up on his Bianchi track bike. Yeah, that’s what I said. Track bike. Skinny tires and all. No shifters, no brakes, no studs. I’d add “no brains,” but from the way he was zooming around the course it was obvious he knew what he was doing.

When you see a guy riding a skinny-tire fixie on a frozen lake in Alaska in January, you just have to remember what your momma taught you about loony people you see on the street: avoid eye contact, and keep moving. Them's be scary people.

Christopher Souser showed up to photograph the whole scene, which is why you see the picture on this post and can see his other shots online. Thanks Christopher, because I never even took my camera out of my truck.

We also had a visit from Jill and Geoff, who were on their way back to Homer after a Saturday training ride on the Susitna 100 course. They’re lookin’ lean and mean with about three weeks to go before their torture-fest begins. It was cool to meet a fellow Alaska bike blogger after reading her stuff for the past few months.

Here are the final results:

5 Miles
(1) Stan Steck 28:25 ; (2) Ken Smith 30:39

10 Miles
(1) Rob German 50:42; (2) Tim Woody 52:28 ; (3) Super Stud Daveit 55:44 ;
(4) Robert Gransberg 59:45.

15 Miles
(1) Tom Peichel 1:01:25 ; (2) Joe "Froze His Bit" Weinberger 1:01:28 ;
(3) Phil Hunter 1:06:25 ; (4) Ed Witterholt 1:07:22.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Share the road

Responding to the recent killing of four cyclists during a Sunday group ride, Velorution.biz—the website of a London bike shop—published the following excerpt from a review of Hanoch Marmari's book On the Bicycle. Marmari is the former editor in chief of Ha’aretz, one of Israel's largest newspapers. It's a great argument for accepting and respecting bicycles on the road, no matter where you are:

His call to recognize cycling and give it space is almost a cry: “Many hundreds of cyclists ride the roads of Israel, despite the traffic jams, the run-down roads and the hostility of drivers and the police. There is no sport that is healthier, friendlier, more aesthetic, more
ecologically sound or less violent. The thoroughfares of civilized countries are graced with bright splashes of color on weekends as cyclists hit the road. Here they are honked at, cursed, subjected to every kind of intimidation that Israel’s daredevil drivers can think up. The police offer no protection. Bicycle riders are considered a burden and a nuisance. All a passing police car will do is bark at them to 'move to the right.'”

One can balk at Marmari’s category of “civilized countries,” or to be more precise, his implied category of “uncivilized countries,” but without going into what culture is or isn’t, anyone who has ever ridden on Israel’s roads knows that Israeli culture doesn’t leave much room for bicycle riders, who don’t need much in any case. Those who have ridden on the mountain roads in northern Italy know what it means to be able to share a narrow stretch of asphalt - much narrower than the roads in Israel—without fear . . .

While it may be true that cyclists occupy the margins of the road, they are not on the margins of society. Those who use bicycles as a cheap and convenient mode of transport are mainly from the ultra-Orthodox world or foreign workers. Bicycle lovers (most of them Jewish males) invest enormous sums of money in their bicycles. Marmari offers a candid and funny description of his own upgrading mania and that of the community in general. The bicycle stores on Hahashmona’im Street in Tel Aviv are a genuine hot spot. Many bicycle enthusiasts take their bicycles on trips abroad, buy professional magazines, and most importantly, own a private car for ferrying their bicycles around. This is not exactly what you would call “life on the margins.”

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Funny lookin', but they work

Tired of startling motorists, scaring small children and making neighborhood dogs break into mournful howls, I finally broke down and scrapped my old Kool-Stop brake pads for a fresh set of Aztecs. Those old pads were fine in warm weather but, damn, did they make a fuss in the cold. No more temptation for guys to say, "You squeal like a pig, boy."

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

The brakes on my winter bike are some old Avids that I picked up at a bike swap for a measly eight bucks, still in the box and wrapped in plastic. Apparently, the seller couldn't unload them in his shop because he couldn't find a customer who wanted anodized blue cantilevers in the age of V-brakes and discs.

But then I came along.

At the time, I was building up an old Trek as a commuter, and cheap was good. Hell, ugly was good. Why tempt bike-stealin' scumbags? (Unless you're hidin' nearby with a rifle—in that case, baiting the bastards is perfectly fine.) I like old bikes built with mixed-up parts, as long as they're good mixed-up parts and the bikes run well.

Old, rebuilt bikes have character. And behind many of the parts, there's a story to tell. The brake levers from a favorite old trail bike. The new gear rings found at a killer sale price. The used wheels purchased from a friend. That stuff means something because you scrounged for it, salvaged it, cared about it. It feels good to ride with those components, even if snobs on high-zoot bikes look down their noses at them.

Screw the snobs. You can't buy love.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Menace to society

Somebody named Richard Rhyner wrote a letter (reg. req'd) in yesterday's Anchorage Daily News saying, “It’s time to end the craziness. Our paved roads were designed and constructed for motorized and licensed vehicles only.”

Poor Dick (I don’t know Richard personally, but I feel I know him well enough from his letter to call him Dick) made the usual unimaginative argument. Bikes are too slow, they have inadequate lighting, blah, blah, blah. I did enjoy, however, his point that bikes have poor braking systems for ice.

Yeah, all those cars I see sliding through intersections are stopping really well. Come on, Dick, when was the last time you saw a bicycle sliding uncontrollably through a red light? Ever study physics, big guy?

Now, this Dick guy has a valid argument when he says more winter riders should wear reflective gear, obey traffic laws and use hand signals. But to write that “we can and must ban bicycles from our streets” is a bit of an overreaction.

I have a better idea: Let’s ban Dicks from obtaining drivers licenses.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Let's get frigid

Good news for Singletrack Advocates, Anchorage's only mountain bike group working to build and preserve trails for those of us who still think trails should have some character: Frigid Bits crit organizer Carlos Lozano has generously offered to donate all money raised from this Sunday's race to help keep our small but passionate group in the black. The race fee, as before, will be whatever racers choose to donate.

This will be the third race in the series, and the number of participants doubled from the first to the second race, so you should get in on the fun while you can still feel like you're on the cutting edge. Some day you'll be able to arrogantly tell newbies that you were a freakin' Frigid Bits pioneer. Besides, how many chances do you get this time of year to spend a Sunday afternoon hanging with a bunch of fellow mountain bikers? If riding on ice isn't your thing, Carlos needs help with timing and counting laps, so come hang out and have a few laughs. It's a race on Goose Lake in January; it's not like you have to cop a scowl and act like it's serious.

Here's Carlos' race info as posted on the local forum: "Racers will have the option to race 5 (commuter class) , 10 (sport) or 15 ( expert) miles. The course will be the same as the one raced on January 15th. Each lap is is about a snowflake short of a mile. Please come on out and sign up between 12:30 and 1:30 or just email me and I'll make sure you get a number and get signed up. The pre-registration will end on Saturday the 28th. The riders meeting will be around 1345 and the race will start around 2 PM. Also 29'rs and Pugs are welcomed to join the hoopla!"

He'd also like to see more singlespeeders, and unless some of you one-gear freaks show up, we'll have to watch DaveIT remain undefeated in the SS division. If you're one of those people who can't manage to use derailleurs, the race couldn't be easier: Just show up and chase the most colorful jersey you can find, and you'll be in the singlespeed peloton.

Quick, somebody call Reggi! I think we might have room for another race on the local scene. Substitute bikes for the running, and I think I could sign up for this event.

I don't catch a lot of air. Just a little from time to time. But when I do, I always wear a helmet. Some fools don't. My old friend Jimbo in Santa Fe would call that "cleanin' up the gene pool."

I appreciate people reading my blog. I mean, why bother doing it if nobody's going to read it, right? But if you watch this TV show, just stop coming around. Your kids can't play with my kids. If we're related, you're not invited to the next family reunion.

Those white trash bastards are still gettin' on TV. Bloody hell.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

In deep

I was poking around in iPhoto a couple of days ago and found this shot of my Epic from last fall. I had altered the image a bit and then left it unused. Finding a shot like this on your laptop when the weather forecast has bright-red, all-caps "SNOW ADVISORY" warnings can be a bittersweet thing. It dredges up happy memories but serves as an ugly reminder that we're in the depths of winter and sweet singletrack rides are a long way off, at least for those of us who don't have plane tickets to someplace warm this winter.

I miss the feeling of knobs on dirt. I miss rocks bouncing off my shins. I miss tan lines on my quads and white feet below dirt-stained legs before I get in the shower. Riding on ice is OK but it's just filler. Sure, it's mosquito-free filler, but it's still just something to keep us all sane until the dirt is once again warm and dry.

I just wanna ride my bike and not be hassled by The Man. Maybe I should take a winter trip Down Under for the Body Art Ride (maybe NSFW). On second thought, maybe not. I don't want to risk all-over road rash even if it is for charity.

Dang, Feb. 12 is shaping up to be a busy day. It's not only the day of the Body Art Ride, it's Darwin Day. And remember, Darwin has a posse. Print yerself some stickers and spread the word.

Hmm. For some reason, even though I never eat the stuff, I'm suddenly craving yogurt.

I've added a new link to my list of bike blogs. I recently learned about Chain Driven, written by a fellow Alaskan who likes bikes and cocktails. Can't argue with that. She's also setting up a new Santa Cruz Juliana. Sweet.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


"Don't be afraid of ignoring people's expectations of you. Don't be afraid of going fast and getting hurt. You can always wear black stockings to cover up the scars! You just have to forget what your parents taught you—stuff like being careful, looking good and catching the best man available."

—Marla Streb

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Never too old

When I lived in Phoenix back in the 1980s, I once watched an old man ride up to a Wendy’s restaurant and park his bike before going inside. It was a simple old one-speed cruiser bike with a big, wide handlebar that was covered with speedometers. Not bike computers, but speedometers. Those big, cylindrical things the size of coffee mugs. They looked like something that came out of a car, but were sold for bicycles in places like K-mart.

A few months later, I came across a newspaper story on the guy. Turns out, his retirement hobby was pedaling his bike 50 miles every weekday. It was like a 9-to-5 job, but fun. He’d get up, eat breakfast, say goodbye to his wife and then start riding. He wouldn’t stop until he had knocked off 50 big ones. Every time an odometer maxed out at 9,999 miles, he’d disconnect it and hook up a new one. The old ones stayed on the handlebar showing all those beautiful nines lined up in a row.

I wish I'd talked to the guy that day at Wendy's. He’s probably a goner by now. If so, I just hope somebody kept that bike with all those speedometers. It belongs in a bike museum. Or on the living room wall of somebody who loved that old man.

You’re never too old to ride.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Broken weld, broken heart

There's only one good thing to say about a picture like this: It wasn't my bike.

Roof racks and garages. Dangerous combination. This time the victim was SSweetleaf, who has a blog called I Heart Singlespeeds. I've been checking it out occasionally because he lives in Santa Fe and rides some of the same turf I rode when I lived there.

I consider myself lucky for never having enough money and nerve at the same time to invest in a roof rack.

Yeah, roof racks have certain convenient advantages, and nothing screams "my other car is a bike" like having your baby proudly ridin' up top as you cruise down the road on your way to a trailhead. But they also expose your gear to high-speed impact with bugs, dirt, rain and grit. That stuff has a knack for finding its way into your sensitive, personal areas, i.e., headset bearings and cable housings. And there's always the danger of Agonizing Garage Death, as poor SSweetleaf experienced. (Fortunately, the folks at Gary Fisher helped him out with a good deal on a new frame.)

I won't even get started on the obscene cost of those rack "systems." I've flirted with the idea from time to time, but the idea of spending $500 to $600 for some hardware to mount two bikes on a car has always sent me running the other way.

For years I carried my bikes on a trunk-mount rack that cost me $12. OK, it was more like $35 or $40 brand-new back in the late 1980s, but I had a gift certificate from El Tour de Tucson that paid for most of it. That was the only time I've ever been willing to raise money for a "charity ride."

These days, I have the best bike rack ever made: Three Delta fork mounts purchased with an REI dividend several years ago, securely attached to a big rectangle of plywood salvaged from the scrap pile at a construction site (and spray-painted a stylish black). I staple-gunned some old knobby treads to the bottom for traction, and leave that beast in the back of my Toyota Tacoma, which is equipped with a camper shell. My bikes are stable, protected from the weather and, best of all, I can pull into the garage and forget about them until I'm ready to unload them.

This is a link I have to post. I remember once having a discussion with a couple of friends about what they didn't feel comfortable doing in front of their pets. You know, things like changing clothes or doing The Big Nasty? Now there's another reason to be concerned. Having an affair with your parrot in the room is a bad idea.

I've added a new link under "Alaska Stuff" and local riders, especially, should check it out. I ran into local race maven Reggi Parks at Sunday's Frigid Bits race and she told me about her new site, which will have all the dirt on the best mountain bike events in the Anchorage area. Reggi's the tireless race director who puts on events like the 24 Hours of Kincaid and manages to maintain a sense of humor at 4 a.m. when it's cold, the wind is blowing and racers are grumpy. We're lucky we have her. If you're looking for races or other bike events this coming season, keep an eye on her site and get yourself signed up for something.

Just remember to be nice to Reggi in the wee hours. She deserves it.

Besides, she's a teacher who wrangles kids for a living. She can handle obnoxious mountain bikers without even bothering to open a can of whup-ass.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Thawing my bits

The second Frigid Bits crit is in the bag.
Ten to 12 racersshowed up at Goose Lake
on Sunday afternoon for some bike fun.
Major thanks to Carlos for putting
it all together and for sacrificing his morning to
run a snowblower and clear the course.

Bicycles and Icicles reader and a new Alaskan,
Singlespeed Dave enters a turn during the race.

The guy we all know as
the Dumbass Behind Bicycles and Icicles
appears to actually be riding fast, thanks
to the wonders of digital photography.

Twelve degrees, semi-dark and foggy
at 2:30 in the afternoon. This ain't exactly Moab.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Girl on a bike

“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think
it has done more to emancipate women

than anything else in the world.
I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman
ride by on a wheel. It gives woman a feeling of freedom
and self-reliance. It makes her feel as if
she were independent. The moment she takes
her seat she knows she can’t get into harm
unless she gets off her bicycle, and away
she goes, the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”

—Susan B. Anthony, interviewed by Nellie Bly
New York World
, February 2, 1896

Friday, January 13, 2006

I think I've already seen this movie . . .

This poster came straight
outta Compton. Thanks, KC

Don't forget, kids. It's Frigid Bits crit time at Goose Lake.
Racing starts at 2 p.m. Sunday.

This morning's commute was under starry skies at
4 degrees. Let's hope for warmer
temperatures (and ash-free air) by Sunday.

Augustine is cranky today. Just how sticky would
the icy Frigid Bits race course get with
a fresh layer of volcanic ash? If the wind shifts,
we might find out.

Happy weekend and good rides to all.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Missionary position

One of the interesting things about having a blog is tracking where hits come from and how people find this little Pimple on the Ass of the Internet. Some people end up here by Googling “icicle pictures.” Or "does biking make my butt look big." One person even got here by searching "how to raise a sociopath." I'm especially proud of that one.

I got a hit from somebody searching for “chicks on bikes” because I apparently once mentioned a “chick” on a “bike” and that was all it took for a search engine to bring that lonely guy to Bicycles and Icicles. And, of course, I’m still getting action from 49media.com and that Keira Knightley picture.

But I really enjoy my daily geography lesson and often wonder why people in various places find this blog interesting. Hey, I respect the right to lurk, so I don’t expect anyone to send an e-mail or post a comment unless they feel moved to do so, but I have to wonder who’s reading regularly from places like Saudi Arabia and Coffman Cove, Alaska.

My all-time favorite, though, occurred this week when somebody read the blog on a computer owned by the Mormon church in Salt Lake City. Just a thought, but if you’re employed by the Mormons, it might be a bad idea to spend part of your workday reading a blog written by a Deadhead athiest mountain biker.

Seeing the LDS church on my stats reminded me of visiting the Mormon Tabernacle complex when I had a night to kill in SLC after a trip Moab a few years ago. This pretty young Asian woman approached my brother and I to ask if we needed help. She had a black trench coat and one of those little ID badges like missionaries wear when they’re riding their bikes around town and trying to find people to drink the cult’s Kool-Aid. (Oh, crap. Now I’ll get hits from pervs looking for Asian girls in trench coats. Not that one would have to be weird to get turned on by cute Asian chicks in trench coats. As a matter of fact, this one time at band camp ... )

But I digress. So anyway, this encounter made me wonder what it would be like to be a Japanese teenager preparing for your year-long church mission, and to be told they’re sending you to America to recruit more Mormons.

In Salt Lake City.

I mean, it would be kind of hard to meet your quota there, wouldn’t it? The place seems to have only two kinds of people: Mormons, and people who are tired of drinking watered-down beer. And let's be honest; they're often the same people.

I don't really know what the point of this is, either. But it hasn't been a complete waste of time. Those of us who clicked on the links, for instance, that Mormons can order special missionary mountain bikes. Who knew?

You think living in the woods will save you from missionaries? Not when Verdell and Noah mount up on that full-XT Liahona bad boy. They're comin' for ya.

Don't answer the doorbell.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Geek on a bike

I rarely post pictures of myself on this blog, and when I do, I usually have my face obscured by a balaclava. Why? Because it's cold, that's why. But a little anonymity can't hurt. I was reminded of a good reason for this yesterday when a woman at work mentioned her happiness over the "good-looking" guy in our office returning from vacation.

As I'm sure you've noticed, I haven’t been away recently.

Yeah, it’s like that. I’m one of the guys who ranks somewhere between potted plants and comfortable desk chairs on the attractiveness scale.

How well do you think it would go over if I told an average-looking woman how pleased I was to see some hot babe return from vacation? A guy does that a couple of times, and next thing you know, he’s packing his office stuff into cardboard boxes and updating his resume.

Hey, I'm not complaining. I'm OK with my looks. I’m not on the market and I’ll be damned if I’d ever spend a dime on Rogaine or hair dye when there are important things to spend my money on. Like bike parts. Besides, the writing on the wall was pretty clear a few years ago when my friend (and then co-worker) Sue told me about an all-female drinking session at which women in the newsroom ranked their "top-10" male co-workers. The top 10. She itemized the list. My name never came up. Not even as a nomination. That'll keep a person's ego in check.

The bike blog world is about to lose one of its more popular directories. If you use the Bicycle Blogs page to find sites that are worth reading, you’d better bookmark your favorites while you still can, because gundog99 says it’s doomed unless somebody starts advertising on the site. I pick up a reader there from time to time so I’d like to see it stick around, but server space comes at a price.

I’ve never been much of a bike racer—due primarily to the simple fact that I’m slow as shit—but I always enjoy odd, inspired bike events that put fun first. Like the Frigid Bits series I’ve been writing about recently. Or the Malibu Hauling Ass Downhill Ride for cruiser and chopper bikes. Hell, if I lived in the Malibu area, I’d participate just because I like the name.

Oh, let’s be honest, if I lived there, I’d participate just because a sudden, violent death in a chopper crash might not seem like such a terrible alternative to life in that overcrowded SoCal madhouse. Maybe that’s why it’s only “recommended” that participants wear helmets.

As long as I'm on the subject of sudden death—and, really, how often does one get to type those words?—I'll keep taking my chances with brown bears and moose rather go for a warm swim in Australia and let a box jellyfish kill me.

"The pain is horrific; it's like being put into boiling oil."

I googled the species and found a site that says "You have virtually no chance of surviving the venomous sting, unless treated immediately. The pain is so excruciating and overwhelming that you would most likely go into shock and drown before reaching the shore."

Mmm, yeah.

I'll just stick to singletrack, thanks.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Sunday trail ride

It was a good bike weekend, for January. Rode a few laps around the Frigid Bits crit course on Saturday and decided next Sunday's race looks fun. There's a thin layer of snow over much of the course, which makes it pretty sticky compared to bare lake ice.

After a very lame first attempt at yoga on Sunday, I grew tired of hanging around the house so I grabbed a bike and took off for a ride that lasted a couple of hours. Pedaled up to the Hillside and cruised a little snow-covered singletrack. Gasline down to the creek, then north on Rover's Run, which is always fun when the snow's packed. Ran into a couple of x-c skiers I know and chatted as we moved along the trails.

Must have ridden about 20 miles total, based on my memory of the same summer ride with a bike computer. Still haven't bothered to install one on the old Trek, and the pogies don't really leave much room for one anyway.

As for yoga, I have a loooong way to go. I should go back and buy a DVD that features an inflexible 42-year-old like me instead of that skinny, rubbery bastard that demonstrates all all the moves on the disc I bought last week.

Tree pose this you little twerp!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Good 'n' stiff

"Rigid bikes are cool. Wraparound sunglasses and old
Levi's 501s cool. Timelessly cool. Suspension

may be the future. Suspension may make it easier to bomb
down scary trails without the aid of any
skill, but rigid bikes are still the beauty
and soul of riding."
—Mike Ferrentino

Friday, January 06, 2006

Bowl me over

There is some shit up with which I cannot put.

Like bowling. As a high school sport. And especially bowling as America’s fastest-growing high school varsity sport. We have millions of teenagers growing fatter by the day, so what do we do? We decide to call bowling a varsity sport.

Sorry, but bowling is not a sport. Bowling is a game. A game routinely played by fat people as they drink beer in ugly, smelly facilities managed by people who often look like they've spent time in a cell. High school sports require fitness and some degree of athleticism. And coaches with whistles who run you into shape. If you don’t feel like you’re gonna puke at least a couple of times during early season training, it ain’t a sport. C'mon, this ain't rocket science.

Speaking of which: Ever feel tempted to put a rocket on your bike? Of course not, because you’re a real bicyclist—that’s why you’re here. But if you were rocket scientist, you’d be looking at bikes and thinking about thrust and G-forces. Or you’d be surfing for porn involving people who wear glasses and do unmentionable things with large calculators. (Which would make you think about thrust and G-forces all over again.) Either way, you’d think crap like this is cool.

In one of my posts earlier this week I mentioned Jonathan over at BikePortland.org. Proving that shitty things happen to good people, he just lost his ride to some slimeball who poached it out of his back yard. All of us who have had a bike ripped off know his pain. I hope the dirtbag who boosted it crashes and impales himself on something large and rusty. Jonathan posted this wonderful little number on his Flikr site, and I think most of us would agree with the sentiment. You can also read it here if you’d like to save a copy of the text. I know I did.

I’ve always thought they had it figured out in the Old West. Steal a man’s horse, and you’d take long drop from a short rope. I’d have no problem using the same method for bike thieves.

While we’re on the subject of earlier posts, I’d like to update my training tip involving trainer rides and Keira Knightley movies. Keira doesn’t just give your pump up your pedaling, she can give your blog a boost, she can put lead in your … nevermind. I’ve been getting numerous hits from people who search for “bicycles” at 49media.com and find this page.

Naturally, they figure, “Hey, bikes and babes! How can I go wrong?” And then they find themselves here. Poor suckers. Who knows? Maybe a few will stick around anyway.

That’s all.

Go for a ride.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Freeze your bits

"Ladies and gentlemen, take my advice, pull down your pants and slide on the ice."
—Dr. Sidney Freedman

OK kids, this here blog isn't usually a source for local news but I have some and I know more local folks are reading, so what the hell.

Carlos, organizer of the Frigid Bits criterium series, has announced the January race schedule. Grab your studs and give it a try. Hell, bring a friend. Just be sure to keep your water bottles warm.

The races will be on Goose Lake on Jan. 15 and 29 (those are Sundays, for the calendar-challenged). There will be recreational, sport and expert divisions racing 4 laps (3 miles), 8 laps (6 miles) and 12 laps (9 miles), respectively. Sign up is from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., with a racers' meeting at 1:45 and racing at 2. Carlos plans to be at the lake this Saturday to work on the course, so it's a good time to go check it out and say hello.

He has put up fliers at RTR, Paramount and the Bicycle Shop. The word's gettin' around. Maybe there will be a nice turnout for the next race. I need to go check out the course in advance and see if I can make peace with glare ice. We have a history, and it ain't pretty. I like dirty ice with a dab of snow on it. It's stickier that way.

If you want to race with real style, build up a new set of wheels with a flowery spoke-lacing pattern. You'll probably win after all your competitors crash while checking out your fine ride. Or maybe you'll be laughed off the course, who knows?

As long as you're pimpin' that baby out, don't forget to add some neon so you'll really cool in the dim January afternoon light.

Hmm. I wonder if I could mount some thumpin' bass speakers on a bike and wire 'em up to my iPod . . .

And here's an event that, as far as I know, Anchorage hasn't had during my years here: Kirk, who tells me he's our only full-time bike messenger, would like to put together an alley cat race this winter—maybe during Fur Rondy—but he needs some help pulling it together. Check it out over at the forum and send him a message if you want to get involved.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Scenic Anchorage

I shot this image Monday's ride because it seemed to be such a slice of Anchorage: urban sprawl, crappy commercial development and junk, all of which sometimes diminishes a beautiful horizon. Mount Susitna high, trashed-and-abandoned car low.

Don't get me wrong. I love the place. See all that clean air? The biggest city in the state and you can see a mountain 60 miles away like you're looking through nothing but a pane of glass. The people are friendly. Wildlife is plentiful all over town. But well planned and architectually interesting?

Mmm, no.

Little to report bike-wise, obviously. Tuesday morning's commute was cut short a block from my house when I heard a voice in the darkness saying, "Hey, Dad, is Mom up yet?" After nearly a half-hour of waiting in the dark at 18 degrees, my son and a friend had given up on the school bus. And no, Mom wasn't awake yet, so I bailed on my ride and shuttled him and another guy to school. Made up for it by spending 45 hard minutes on the trainer after dinner, with the iPod pushing me along.

Twinges of potential illness were lurking around the fringes all afternoon and evening. Strange gut gurgles. Odd tastes in my mouth. Mount Augustine is still threatening to erupt. I was just hoping I wouldn't.

Felt better this morning and rode to work at 11 degrees. Got the usual strange look from a woman who held the door for me and my bike. When I thanked her but said I wanted to cool down for a minute before going inside, she looked like she was thinking, "Cool down? It's 11 degrees, you freak."

Got my first hit yesterday from Bitter Cyclist in Portland. Thanks to those guys for linkin' me up. I've got to get to Portland of these days. I have a couple of friends to visit there, and it sounds like a place that would be fun to see from the saddle of a bike.

And check out LadyVelo, the high priestess of the 27-tooth cog, one of many Minneapolis riders/bloggers and one I've been starting to read in the past week or two.

One more link out of left field. Please allow me to introduce you to the luckiest (and possibly the stupidest) deer on the planet.

Locals, stay tuned if you're looking for info on this month's Frigid Bits criteriums. (Or would it be criteria? I'll have to look that up.) I'll have the skinny posted here in a day or two. Meanwhile, I'm studdin' up my boots for that lake ice, just in case I decide to enter. And if I don't, I'll have better footing for shooting pictures of everyone else's suffering.

A little gift for those who made it this far:

After hearing numerous reports from the White House that: "We don't even know if Osama is still alive," Osama himself decided to send George W. Bush a letter in his own handwriting to let him know he was still in the game. Bush opened the letter and found a coded message:


Bush was baffled, so he sent it to Condoleeza Rice. Rice and her aides had no clue either, so they sent it to the FBI. No one could solve it so it went to the CIA, then to the NSA.

With no clue as to its meaning, they eventually asked Britain 's MI-6 for help. MI-6 cabled the White House:

"Tell the President he's holding the message upside down."

Sticker man

Say what? A BikePortland.org sticker on a bike in Alaska? You damn betcha. I'm happy to fly the flag for a good bike town and a great website, especially when the stickers are so cool. I'm the proud owner of the only set of Jonathan's stickers in Alaska (at least I was at the time he mailed them a few weeks ago). Now, Alaska's represented in his sticker gallery.

I put Monday to good use and spent a couple of hourse riding across town to pick up a "Yoga for Athletes" DVD. Time to start a little cross-training and see if it makes me a better rider come summer. People tell me yoga's the way to go.

My body's startin' to show the wear and tear of four decades of amateur sports, injuries, bad diets and almost no pre-workout stretching. I have the flexibility of a day-old corpse. Back in my college days, I was training in karate—everytime I had to kick at someone's head, I half expected to hurt myself.

Anyway, it's the time of year to crack the whip. Start chippin' away at 10 pounds that need to go. I'm even giving up my weeknight wine as a disciplinary measure. Yeah, yeah, I know red wine is healthy, but one glass usually turns into two. Not a big deal, but hardly the energy boost I need to get my ass out of the chair for a walk or an attempt at this yoga stuff.

It's not a New Year's resolution thing, either. I don't believe in them. This just happens to be the time when I'm ready to turn away from the slacker habits I fall into at the end of each summer riding season. When the snow starts falling, I figure I've earned a little break from exercise, and a little . . . well, let's just call it "dietary flexibility."

Because I've kept riding all winter, I've had to put a little more effort into the gluttony. January is when I pick up the check and start paying the bill.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Goin' for a ride

The blogosphere—at least the tiny, bike-related slice that I monitor—seems to be in a virtual coma. Everyone must be licking their wounds and regrouping after a big New Year's Eve. I'll just toss out this link for the few who might check in here before Tuesday's painful re-entry into the real world. Ease yourself into 2006 with a reassuring story about a bike ride across America.