Saturday, November 29, 2008

The doctor will see you now

Winter riding teaches you things.

The most important thing to learn is to just get out there.

Saturday was grim. Back spasms left me barely able to walk all morning; snow fell much of the day; the forecasters issued a winter weather advisory. I was tempted to bag the evening ride and stay home.

Fortunately, I remembered the lesson from countless previous rides: Get off your ass and go, and you'll probably be glad you did.

I'm glad I did. The trails were surprisingly good. The other riders were fun. And 32 degrees almost felt like spring.

Bike rides have an amazing way of making your body and your mind both feel better. A night ride followed by some laughs and a couple of beers under a streetlight in a parking lot? It doesn't get much better than that.

I love my therapist.

Dr. Pugsley, 7 p.m.

Don't be late.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Still ridin'?

What rush hour looks like on my commute.

Before the Grill Meister recently migrated south, he and I had a conversation about being “the guy who rides his bike to work” at our respective places of employment.

He worked at the same place—with many of the same people—for a couple of decades. But they would still ask him, “So, you ride your bike to work in the winter?” And he would reply, “Yeah, for 20 years now.”

I know how he felt. People from other parts of my office building routinely see me walking in and out of the place with a bike helmet on my head. Many of them walk by my bicycle where it’s parked near the back door every day. They’ve seen me show up on a bike in the darkest depths of winter, but they still greet me with lines like, “So, you still ridin’?”

Understandably, most of them don’t know me all that well, so they’re just looking for conversational filler on the order of, “Been fishin’ lately?” The only thing they know about me is that I ride to work all year, so what else could they ask?

Still, it bugs me a little bit that the “still ridin’?” question seems to imply they think that one of these days I might quit.

They obviously don’t understand how deeply I hate idling at stoplights.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


The collision of digital video technology and human stupidity has not been a pretty thing. The interwebs are chock full o' nuts maiming themselves in every conceivable way on skateboards, motorcycles, snowmachines, bikes, yadda, yadda, yadda. It's as if people think a video isn't worth watching unless someone in it has a date with the emergency room.

Hey, I understand the sentiment behind the T-shirt that says, "It's only funny until someone gets hurt. Then it's hilarious." It's just that I prefer to apply it mainly to colossal wastes of time like NASCAR and baseball.

There is great beauty in fluid motion. Treat yourself to three and a half minutes of Sergio Layos.

Thanks to Jeff for posting this over at Bike Carson.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It's no Pulitzer, but ...

Today I offer a big thanks to Bikegirl and the rest of the the animal lovers at Paramount Cycles, who have presented me with the finest award this blog will likely ever earn.

To recognize my 700th post, and my No. 2 ranking in Google searches for "bicycles + beavers," they gave me a pair of "Save the Beavers" socks that I will wear proudly. Because after all, what greater cause could there be?

Bicycles & Icicles. Promoting the protection and humane treatment of beavers since 2005.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Early last year, I photographed some moose through the frame of my road bike during a ride on the Coastal Trail. As I often do, I e-mailed a copy to my brother in the Midwest, who responded with his usual smart-ass—but funny—response: "Moose schmoose. We got goats!"

So when I sent him a copy of my latest moose-through-the-frame photo—which appeared on this blog last week—I should have known he'd come up with a response. Little did I know he'd pull it off by exploiting our dear mother while he and his kids were visiting her one afternoon.

I've got moose, but they've got grandma. (And she doesn't usually kick if you ride close to her.)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sunday in the Temple of Singletrack

Adam and the Snow Bird

It's beginning to look a lot like winter.

Thanks to the recent snow, the main Hillside trails were busy Sunday with skiers, ski-jorers, hikers and fat-bikers. I joined five other riders on the new trails built this year by Singletrack Advocates, and we spent two hours riding tight, twisting trails with a very narrow sweet spot. Choose a slightly bad line right now, and you'll end up in loose sugar snow that'll either stop you dead, or toss you on your ass.

It was a leg-ripping blast, despite a half-hour spell in which I forgot how to ride a bike. I was blowing steep climbs and tight turns, and even a couple of straight sections. I felt cooked, and my brain started shutting down. When complete incompetence takes hold, it's a hard habit to break.

I finally got a chance to wolf down a frozen candy bar that had been riding around in my Camelbak for a couple of weeks, and the connection between my brain, hands and legs was somehow re-established.

When we got back to our starting point and three riders headed home, Mark and Darcy wanted to tack on some distance by heading down to ride Speedway singletrack. My body screamed "N0." But my brain screamed, "You need the longer workout, you fat ass," so I gulped a Gu and went with them.

It was a hoot. An exhausting hoot.

A great mountain bike ride requires some suffering; a few stupid mistakes; mental recovery; moments of perfect, blissful flow; and fun partners who push you farther than you would go on your own.

Three hours of snowy singletrack. A pile of sweaty clothes. A glass of wine. Legs that don't want to move once they hit the recliner.


Friday, November 14, 2008


I’ve never done a “milestone” post, but according to Blogger, this here pimple on the ass of the Internet is 700 posts old, as of now. Who knew such silliness would last so long, or that I could blather on about bikes for three years in 700 separate posts?

Considering that blogs spring to life and die with the regularity of mushrooms, I’m starting to feel like an old-timer

Things appeared to have come full circle, in a strange way, when my daughter recently met another rider at her high school and the kid surprised her by saying that he reads her old man’s blog. Now I feel somehow responsible for polluting the minds of America’s youth. But that’s OK—the guy’s a mountain biker so I’m pretty sure he’ll turn out fine.

It has been a pretty cool experiment. I get to write about my rides, spew my opinion on bike-related subjects, and post my sometimes goofy pictures. And people—some of them not even looking for beaver shots or illicit drugs—come back, day after day, from all around the world and just across town. (For some reason, the beaver/vicodin searchers seem to not come back.)

Maybe you have nothing better to do. Maybe you just want an excuse to flip me the bird. Maybe you’ve ridden with me and you’re afraid your picture will end up here. Maybe you’re just waiting for my next ugly crash in hopes I’ll reveal more information on how to obtain more painkillers. (Sorry, Huber, you’re shit outta luck.)

Whatever your excuse may be, thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My new idol

So this guy came riding up to us on the trail Saturday afternoon. Three of us were stopped at an intersection and considering our options when he rolled up on a new Gary Fisher 29er singlespeed and stopped to check out our Pugsleys.

He was no spring chicken, and was surely carrying quite a few more pounds than he had in his prime. For a few minutes, we talked about bikes, which trailhead we had started from that day, etc. He was doing a 14- or 15-mile loop. Just out cruising and enjoying the snowy woods.

Then he went his way and we went ours. But I'm sure he made a bigger impression on us than we did on him.

He said he's 72 years old.

That guy's The Man.

Monday, November 10, 2008

It's an uphill battle

The line on the cover of the magazine said, “Winter Riding Basics.” I was on my way to a sandwich shop across the street from my office, and needed something to read, so I tucked the December issue of Bicycling under my arm.

I was curious to find out if the magazine’s staff actually had any tips that would be useful for those of us who ride year-round in Alaska. I realize that most of their readers deal with much milder conditions, so I didn’t expect much. I got even less.

Prepared for a chuckle at overpriced jackets and riding boots that leave wallets lighter and toes frozen, I plopped down at a table, bit into my lunch and opened the magazine to find the “winter riding” story, which was full of advice on … riding an indoor trainer.

Sorry, folks, but spinning on the hamster wheel is winter training, not winter riding. If some dumb schmo like me can ride through an Alaska winter, I’m sure a good portion of Bicycling magazine’s readers could ride all year in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Colorado, etc., especially if they found some useful articles on how to do it.

Riding in winter is easier than it looks. Believe me, I’ve been doing it for years but still sometimes find myself looking through my car windshield at someone on a bike as I think, “Damn, that looks cold!”

Pedaling to work last Tuesday, I stopped at an intersection where a cluster of campaign volunteers were waving signs for their candidate. One of them asked me if I ride all winter, and then told me she was impressed. “I’m a wimp,” she said.

This from a woman who was standing virtually motionless on frozen concrete, in 15-degree air, at least an hour before sunrise, to wave a cardboard sign at passing cars. And she thought I was the one suffering.

If the editors of a leading bike magazine don’t get it, how can we make that woman on the corner understand?

As the light turned green, I assured her that I felt great, and was surely warmer than she was at that moment. It’s all a matter of the right gear, I told her.

From the look on her face, I’m pretty sure she didn’t believe me.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Fat-bike Baiku

Who thought she’d follow
down gnarly trail at the end?
Oops. The Birds again

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Desert bird

Giving his wife one more reason to be proud.

Our latest installment in the infamous Finger Series comes courtesy of local shop czar Jon, who did the big flip-off while riding Tucson’s sunny Fantasy Island last month while the rest of us were listening to our studs clattering on icy pavement. Somehow, it feels like we should be giving him the bird.

Spongebob: From Frigid Bits Ice Crit icon to
Fantasy Island fetish, he’s bad. He’s nationwide.

Spongebob, one of the talismans that guard the trail, would surely have raised a finger for the cause as well, if only he’d had some flexible digits.

In a sad first for the Bicycles & Icicles blog, I must publish a correction. Last weekend’s post about the Frigid Bits scavenger hunt referred to a “brownie-chasing Viking chick.” As I was bluntly told at an election-night party, that rider was not a Viking, she was a tampon.

Never mess with a rag when she’s on the gorilla.

This disturbing fact was confirmed by Deb—the woman in the costume—who questioned the volume of my post-ride beer consumption. I was sober, but I have to admit that a Viking typically bears little resemblance to a tampon except in the aftermath of pillaging raid halted by unusually violent resistance.

Catching a brownie in your mouth, in the dark,
is harder than you might think, even when
your entire reason for being is to absorb and consume.

In hindsight, I have no idea how this happened. And I’m still trying to wrap my head around the idea that someone who dresses as a tampon would question the volume of MY drinking, but that’s another story.

Regardless, the entire staff here at B&I World Headquarters (OK, that’s just me) regrets the error and wishes to set the record straight.

(Thanks to Akdeluxe for the Arizona pics, and to Deb for the others.)

Monday, November 03, 2008

The time has come

Ride to your polling place
and vote Tuesday.

But if you vote for McPalin,
this photo's for you:

The Fingers keep coming!
Oscar the Grouch, photographed by Manny

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Frigid Bits, Halloween style

Transvestites, beer, a gay bar, temps in the teens, a brownie-chasing Viking chick, and a fleet of bikes marauding through downtown Anchorage on a Friday night. This was a scavenger hunt and burn-barrel party to remember.

It was a farewell event for The Grillmeister, and it came on the heels of a Critical Mass ride that already had a bunch of bike nuts downtown, so the crowd was big—maybe even a record for a Frigid Bits series event. Thirty-four riders took to the streets for the hunt. With more showing up for the grillin' and swillin' we had at least 50 people caught up in this shit.

I'll let the pictures do the talking.

The Grillmeister busts a pre-ride move.

Even Gov. Palin showed up. Sadly, the stress
of campaigning
appears to be
diminishing her GILF status.

A lot.

Whenever I visit a gay bar, I like to throw my arm around a guy who shows absolutely no interest in me. (Yes, a gay bar. What, you thought I was joking about the transvestites?)

This looks like the cover shot
for a bizarre album of
gangsta rap from outer space.

A Frigid Bits Halloween is like
Mardi Gras, without the toplessness.

Rumor has it, there was alcohol involved.

Piper? Is that you?
Nothing says class like a trashy woman
who's preggers and drinking PBR.

It's always hard to find when it's cold.

Ooooh, yeah. There's my big boy!
I knew it was in there somewhere.