Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Three feet

If you really must apply makeup
while driving to work, at least
make it something productive.

Thanks to the folks in Sioux Falls
for posting this great PSA.

Oh, and if you happen to be
a mountain biker in Anchorage
and you haven't already received
four e-mails warning you about it,
be careful in the area near the
ski jumps. There's a big brown bear
there that might not be friendly.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Safety is Sexy

I might not be the most appropriate advocate for helmet use. I sometimes ride with a friend who assesses brain injuries, and she has accused me of being a few tacos shy of a combination plate.

Still, I've bounced my head off everything from Moab slickrock to Anchorage ice enough times to believe in the benefits of encasing one's skull in reinforced Styrofoam. So I was pretty jazzed when a packet of stickers arrived from the folks at the Safety is Sexy Campaign in Washington, D.C. (My Alaska friends may now commence ta askin' fer 'em as long as supplies last.)

Helmets work. And these stickers are cool. Check out the site and fire off an e-mail to request some stickers. They're free, but it's a nonprofit operation, so it wouldn't hurt to send a few bucks to help them cover the cost.

Friday, May 25, 2007


Business travel is inhumane. I don't know how some people do it regularly. First, there’s the sadistically cramped space in coach class. Then there are the shitty in-flight snacks. A couple of nights ago, I was handed one that was so small that if I hadn’t already said I’d take the peanuts, I’d have thought the flight attendant was offering me a condom. Excuse me? Fifteen peanuts are supposed to keep me alive from Atlanta to Seattle?

And, of course, there are all the hours spent in conference rooms, dinners and receptions, interrupted only by quick trips back to a hotel room and brief glimpses of the exercise facility that there’s never time to use.

But by far the worst torture was to be facing a row of windows Monday night as I was talking to a colleague during a large conference dinner and a pack of cyclists rolled down the street. I don’t remember what we were discussing at the time. All I know is that my mouth was moving, sound was coming out, and I was staring over this person’s shoulder and through the windows as if Pamela Anderson were standing there naked and pressing the twins against the glass.

I would have cut off an arm to trade places and be out there riding. Not my arm, of course, but someone else’s for sure.

Now I’m home, there’s a long weekend in front of me, and the trails are open.

Butt, meet saddle. Saddle, butt.

Let the fun begin.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Goats, and I'm gone

My brother and his wife are traveling in Iowa this week, and doing some rides along the way. Because being a smartass is somewhat of a family trait, he felt compelled to provide his own version of the moose photos I posted a couple of days ago. His caption: "Moose, schmoose. We got goats!"

As much as I hate to leave my regular blog visitors with a photo of Iowa goats, Bicycles & Icicles is being suspended for a few days. There are visitors to entertain, a graduation to attend, and then a business trip to endure. I'll be spouting off about bike stuff again sometime around Memorial Day weekend.

Ya'll come back now, ya here?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sharin' the trail

Although I always enjoy seeing them, I don't usually bother to stop and view our local moose, much less photograph them. Typically, I just take a second to appreciate seeing wildlife as I keep moving. But these young twins caught my attention during a ride Monday afternoon.

For one thing, I don't usually see four moose at the same time, but these twins were right beside the Coastal Trail, and their mom was only a few yards away. Another mature moose was about 50 yards away on the other side of the trail. I have visitors in town and, like most tourists, they want to see moose. So I stopped to snap a few pics for them, and left when the twins crossed the paved trail and the cow started glaring at me.

I framed the shots through the main triangle of my road bike because A) I thought doing so would make a nice composition and provide some indication of how close the moose were, and B) it was a chance to get my bike in the shot, and I'm sort of a geek when it comes to shit like that.

My sister-in-law looked at these shots and thought I was crazy enough to try hiding behind my bike. I told her that if there were any hiding to be done, I would have hidden my bike behind me, to shield it with my body in the event of a charge.

That thing wasn't cheap, you know.

How crazy does she think I am?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Brain bucket

The next time someone tries
to tell you that helmets
don't really make you safer,
tell them about Ryan Lipscomb.

Then tell them they're full of shit.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Thanks, Mom

"At least you can quit a bike race."
—Connie Carpenter Phinney comparing
childbirth to bike racing

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Park it and ride

I realize that promoting Bike to Work Day on a bike blog is like trying to sell Bibles to missionaries, but what the hell, I believe in it. I won't be riding to work next Wednesday, but that's only because I'm taking the week off. I'll be doing something even better: biking somewhere that's not work.

If you had forgotten that Bike to Work Day was coming up, get ready to share the bike rack with a couple of those once-a-year types. This is your chance to start a conversation and tell them how you ride to work all the time and how easy and fun it is to do. Who knows? With a little encouragement, maybe they can be converted.

Come to think of it, maybe I am selling Bibles to missionaries. Saddle up, Brother Jed.

Even the Municipality of Anchorage—the capital of four-wheel drive—is getting behind it. Click on over to the muni website for all sorts of information.

And if anyone needs more motivation, I read a news article a few days ago that said gas will soon be headed toward four bucks a gallon.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


My mother-in-law is visiting right now, and she asked if I’ve been using the Garmin Edge 205 she sent me for Christmas. I told her I don’t fully understand all the things it can do, because I mostly use it just to put squiggly lines on Google Earth photos so that I can see where I've ridden.

This image of Potter Valley Road is a good example. The road is very popular with local cyclists who climb it—often several times in a single session—for springtime workouts. I’ve been riding it quite a bit this year, so one night a couple of weeks ago, I reset the 205 at the bottom of the hill and then stopped it at the end of the pavement so I could get all the pertinent numbers on the climb.

I can gasp my way up this climb in a little less than 14 minutes (way slower than the people who actually race up it). It is 1.89 miles from the bottom to the top, which involves 621 feet of elevation gain. The grades run as steep as 11 percent. I know this because I was dumb enough to include that information among the fields of data displayed on the screen.

I’m still not sure if there is any good reason to know, at the moment one is grinding up an 11-percent grade, that the hill is actually that steep. It can sort of make a person want to head-butt his bike computer with his helmet. I don’t dare try this, of course, because in my oxygen-deprived state I’d be more likely to slam into my stem and suffer disfiguring facial trauma.

But it sure makes a neat squiggly line on the satellite photo, though, doesn’t it?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Damn, I'm havin' fun

For the first time in the 10 years I've lived in Alaska, I'm not feeling impatient for the trails to dry out. Oh, I'm eager to break out my Epic and hit some singletrack, but I know that day is coming, and I'm having enough fun that I don't mind waiting.

Mountain bikers have been complaining on the local Internet forum that they need dirt, and that they're tired of riding pavement. Some of them are asking for tips on where to find a dry trail.

Here's a tip: This is Alaska and it's early May. There isn't a dry trail. Be patient.

Dr. Tim prescribes a dose of road bike. Take liberally as needed. Symptoms of impatience should subside within 24 hours. Side effects may include increased weariness, premature seasonal fitness and excessive smiling.

Call me a damned roadie if ya want. I just like to think I'm a bicyclist. Any bike that fits the season is good. A month from now, I'll be grinning from ear to ear as I enjoy the plush feel of a full-suspension mountain bike. But for now, I'm happy to savor the speed of skinny tires and freakishly light frame.

Holy crap, this thing is fun.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Brendon hits the dirt

Mountain biking. It must run in the family. This is a shot
of my nephew riding in Moab last month. The photo
was taken by his dad (and my little brother),
and appears on the VeloNews website.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Misadventure? Yeah, I've done that

One of the drawbacks to spending so much time riding bikes—and blogging about riding bikes, not to mention having a job and family—is that I find myself wishing I had more time to read books. It used to be that I'd read a lot during winter, and then pretty much abandon all hope of completing anything longer than a magazine article during the summer. Then I got a Pugsley and even winter reading became a challenge.

Then there's the little issue of the fact that much of what I read is about bikes. I'm almost starting to feel guilty about my ever-narrowing focus.

I said almost.

Lately, in addition to the usual pile of bike rags and National Geographic magazines that are piled up beside my favorite chair, I've been reading Cycling's Greatest Misadventures, a collection of nonfiction essays edited by Erich Schweikher. Paul Diamond, the publisher at Casagrande Press sent me an advance copy a few weeks ago.

Although most of the stories in the book are written by authors I've never heard of—Schweikher selected the 27 stories out of submissions professional journalists, former pro racers and everyday schmoes like you and me—this is the kind of reading that fits easily with a busy ride schedule and/or a short attention span. That's the beauty of essay collections: you can read one or two at a sitting, then ignore the book for days or weeks before picking up where you left off.

There's good stuff in here, even though some it may leave mental images you could live without, such as former racer Austin King's tale of the Kleedkamer, or changing room, where European pros get naked and then hang ... er, stand around and chat while waiting to powder up and put on their racing kits.

King's story was amusing, but I was once a guest at a gym where all the old guys up in the executive locker room sat around naked on vinyl chairs while they read the Wall Street Journal, and I didn't need a reminder.

There's also a story on the Buffalo Soldier Bicycle Corps that should erase anyone's need to whine about hardships on their last multi-state tour. And if you ever entertained romantic notions about working as a guide on cross-continent bike tours, Heather Andersen's tale of difficult clients and dealing with fatal accidents on two back-to-back tours should make it a little easier to endure your day job.

The only thing weird about this book is the concept of compiling a collection of essays in which so many things go wrong. There's even a section of crash photos. Considering that the target audience is obviously cyclists, I guess they're appealing to our darker side. Sort of reminds me of those books about grizzly attacks. I guess those stories might be a real hoot if you live in Iowa. Living and riding in Alaska, I don't really need constant reminders of what very large bears might to do me.

Still, anyone who rides singletrack knows that mountain bikers tend to spend more time harassing our friends about their crashes than we do asking if they're OK, so maybe this is a brilliant marketing strategy.

Who knows? All I care about is having some good stuff to read ... if I ever turn off the laptop.