Thursday, June 28, 2007

Russian Lakes ride photos

The bear chasers.
After these two got out out my way,
I bunny-hopped the stream. Backward.
Oh yeah.
Uh, I think I lost my bike
in that grass.
Lower Russian Lake, I think.
(Why look at a map
when you can follow Mr. Alaska?)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Russian Lakes Trail

0 dark clouds
1 day out of the office
2 cars for the shuttle
3 fun riding partners
22 miles of trail
64 piles of bear scat*

(*Yes, someone actually counted them.)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Crappy stuff sucks

Other than a pair of fenders I used to run on my old commuter bike, I've never owned any gear from Planet Bike. Based on this bottle cage, I'm not sure I ever will.My daughter's best friend had her bike in our garage over the weekend, so I decided to install a new bottle cage to replace the broken one that she's had all season. When I looked closer, I found these weld failures. What the hell are they building these things with? Silly Putty? Chewing gum?If this thing can't handle a 13-year-old kid riding around the neighborhood, how long would it last on a trail? The welds came apart on both sides. Shitty products tick me off.

Want a bottle cage that'll last? Buy a Blackburn Mountain Cage. It's cheap, reasonably light, and damn near indestructible. I've never managed to break one. I have them on at least three bikes, and I've forgotten how old some of them are. The only rig I don't use them on is my road bike, which I felt just had to have carbon-fiber bottle cages.

Because, after all, it's easier for a chunk like me to buy a lighter part than it is to pass on that extra slice of pizza.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Scenes from Kincaid

I drove out to Kincaid Park for a little while
on Saturday night, and walked
to a few good spots on the 24-hour race course
to take some pictures.Then I got together with friends,
ate too much food, drank a little wine
and slept in a nice warm bed.
This morning I woke up to rain
and remembered telling myself
during last year's race that
there was no way we could have
sunny skies again this year.My recliner feels really good
right now. I hope all the racers
are warm in their damp tents
and safe on the slippery roots.

Friday, June 22, 2007

24 hours of pain

It's time again for the 24 Hours of Kincaid.

Noon Saturday to noon Sunday; nearly 2,600 feet of climbing in every 10.5-mile lap; plenty of moose; maybe a bear or two; and an added challenge this year—plenty of pulverized, powdery trail thanks to the heavy equipment that's pillaging and plundering the park. (But hey, disc golfers need another place to wander around stoned, and the Nordic skiers desperately need another freeway for their enormous trail groomers, so who am I to complain?)

Last year, I rode this beast for the third year in a row while muttering profane vows to not enter this year's race. So, I'll go out Saturday night to check on my fellow Clydesdale and former teammate, Rob, who's racing solo this year. And I'll watch all the pained, strained faces rolling through the checkpoint as I feel really good about going home and sleeping as the sufferfest rolls through the night.

Despite the pain of the race, I love being among my own kind. A small part of me might miss being involved in the whole scene. But I'm pretty damned sure that a couple of glasses of wine and the feel of my pillow will clear up that affliction very quickly.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Babe in the Woods

Heather crashes with style.

(OK, maybe not, but at least she
poses after flopping into the dirt.
That should count for something.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Deep thoughts

I came across The Question the other day. You know, the one that pops up in various forms in questionnaires and discussions among people who ride: How long have you been a bicyclist?

I’m never sure how to answer that question. What makes one a bicyclist, instead of just a person who rides a bike? In the alternative universe of my mind, I have some vague guidelines for what makes me think of someone as a cyclist. My little rules seem to involve some nebulous combination of experience, skill, equipment and whatever else I’m in the mood to include on a given day.

So when I tell someone I’ve been riding for 18 years, I’m counting only the time that has elapsed since I bought my first decent bike as an adult, and then started commuting to work and learning about singletrack on weekends. Somehow, that doesn’t seem right.

What about all the years I spent as a kid getting around my hometown on a bike—riding to school, my dad’s store, friends’ houses, and the city swimming pool every summer afternoon? What about all those boring evenings when I’d tell my mom, “I’m going for a ride,” and then spend an hour or two aimlessly pedaling around after dinner?

What about all the times as a teenager when I climbed to the top of the hill outside town just so I could scream back down it on my old Raleigh 10-speed? (I’m still grateful to my friend Don for never running over me when he’d chase me down to clock my speed on his car’s speedometer.)

Those things should count too, shouldn’t they?

Maybe we’re not really “cyclists” until we start asking ourselves existentialist questions about when we became cyclists.

Or until the first time we pull on a pair of Lycra shorts containing a big gob of chamois butter and then say, "Whoa! What would happen if I farted right now?"

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Don't waste sunshine

Dude #1: Sure, it's all summery now, but you know
in six months it's all gonna be snowin' again and shit.

Dude #2: Fuck that.

—Overheard on a PATH train

Friday, June 15, 2007

Show me the money

I think most everyone has a fantasy about what they’d do if they won a big lottery. Mine is to set up a solid fund to carry me through life, then use the rest to establish a charitable fund modeled after The Rex Foundation, so I could give money to all sorts of overlooked causes that interest me.

Needless to say, I’d also need a slightly bigger house with a large room to serve as Tim’s Personal Bike Shop. It would have to include a comfortable couch, wet bar, some tunes flowing through nice speakers, and enough room for a rich guy’s bike collection.

But I'd still have trouble topping the collection of Brad Duke. He pocketed $85 million a couple of years ago after winning a Powerball jackpot.

So he spent $14,500 on a used car.

And $65,000 on new bicycles.

Ya gotta love a guy who has his priorities straight.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Go, homeboy!

The Great Divide Race starts Friday,
and if I were puttin' money on this one,
I'd be betting on hometown boy
and Paramount wrench Pete Basinger.

Unfortunately, I'm too cheap
to be much of a gambler, and every time
a co-worker has asked me to join a pool
on the Kentucky Derby, I've said I never bet
on anything faster than me.

That means I couldn't bet on Pete
in about four lifetimes. But I'll
be cheering for him all the way.

Rip it up, Pete, and be safe.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Don't let this happen to you

Never go camping without a bike. Because, when you get right down to it, there's not much point to camping unless you have some fun activities to fill your daytime hours so that you can sit around the fire at night and reflect on the day.

I just went camping for a couple of nights and foolishly left all my bikes at home. In a moment of temporary insanity, I decided to try scoring a few domestic credits with my noncyclist wife. The forecast was for cloudy skies anyway, so I just took some binoculars for wildlife viewing, a book for leisure-time reading, and ... no freaking bikes!

The weather turned out to be spectacular. A great nearby trail was still muddy from the spring melt, but I was a only short distance from a great highway ride and didn't even have my road bike.

Those Boy Scouts might be a bunch of homophobic, athiest-hating Christians, but they have one thing figured out:

Be Prepared!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Trailhead thieves suck

I can think of only one solution.


Long, painful beatings
that leave hands too crippled
to ever again wield
a window-smashing hammer.

(No, my car wasn't hit; I'm just
in a mood. But I'll stand by
this position even when
I'm feeling warm and fuzzy again.)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Trails and The Man

A couple of years ago, I spent several days riding the trail system built by Troy Rarick and his friends Fruita, Colo. Except for the fact that I went in the spring and suffered because of my flabby condition and rusty technical skills after a long winter in Anchorage, it was a great trip on wonderful trails. That’s my brother riding one of them in today’s photo.

Hoping to learn more about the creation of such an extensive and fun network, I stopped at Over The Edge and met Troy, and we discussed meeting later in the week so I could pick his brain for tips we could use in Anchorage. Between his busy schedule and all my time riding (and gorging on pasta at the Fruita Brewing Company), we never managed to get together, so I didn’t know until this week that most of Fruita’s trails were built with a wink and nudge rather than with the permission of public land managers.

Trail building presents interesting dilemmas. The permitting process is agonizingly slow and complicated, so the only people who can navigate it are those with some free time, a tolerance for homework, and a shitload of patience. Then there are all the people—even within the same user groups—who can’t agree on how to do things. By the time a trail is built with the blessing of a government agency, the people who pushed it through the process deserve some sort of medal.

I do what I can on the fringes of our local trail-planning scene. But I lack the time and patience to wade through all the red tape, so I have great admiration and gratitude for those who can do it.

Building bandit trails is an understandable temptation. We all love quick gratification. Unfortunately, most people can’t do as good a job as Rarick’s crowd, so I'm generally opposed to any unsanctioned trail work. Given the image problems that mountain bikers have always faced, building a bad trail does lasting damage to more than just the land; it breeds anger and resentment among other user groups. And when the free-ride crowd adds scrap lumber and other elements that offend the eye, it gets even worse.

Where am I going with this? I have no idea. It's just been on my mind this week.

I can tell you one thing, though. I really wish we could get land managers addicted to riding singletrack, because that would probably make the whole process much easier.

Monday, June 04, 2007


I seem to be in something of a technological paradox. My bikes keep getting more expensive and high-tech, while my interest in collecting digital details of my rides seems to be fading fast. Until a couple of years ago, I kept a detailed ride log on a PDA each season. Then I set up a winter bike without a computer and learned to enjoy ignoring cumulative miles.

Now I have this fancy, GPS-enabled bike computer and I'm finding that, more often than not, I'm either not bothering to use it, or ignoring the ride data after I get home. I sat down tonight and uploaded profiles of four rides, but couldn't remember three of them well enough to give them a description or title, so I just deleted them. The only one I salvaged was last weekend's ride with Ken, which is shown here.

I'm not even bothering to reset the mileage on the (relatively) old-school Cat Eye bike computer that's still mounted on my mountain bike. Basically, I have no idea how many miles I've ridden so far this year. And I don't really care.

It's way more fun to simply enjoy the feel of a fast, hard-leaning curve on my road bike or a fast, swooping descent on my trail bike. As long as I'm spending enough time on my bikes to be happy, and my gut isn't not spilling over my belt too much, I really don't give a damn how far I've ridden this year.

I'll keep tracking miles or ride profiles when I'm in the mood, or if there's a good reason to collect the data. Otherwise, I'll just continue to find myself looking down at the empty handlebar mount where my computer should be as I think to myself, "Oops, I forgot the computer again.

"Wow, this bike is fun to ride."

Friday, June 01, 2007


I was driving down Johns Road on Thursday night to pick up my daughter from her friend’s house when I saw a guy pedaling north on what looked like an entry-level mountain bike.

He was moving fairly slow and looked like a recreational rider on an evening cruise. His slacks and collared shirt certainly weren’t designed for performance on a bike. His stem rose at a steep angle so he could sit up straight and comfortable, which was the perfect position for him to ride with one hand as he held two fingers to his lips and pulled a good long drag off his cigarette.

And he was wearing a helmet.

A helmet. While smoking a cigarette.