30 October 2014

There and back a biking tale


You ever notice Kevin's rides on the Kenai NEVER involve a shuttle??? " - Brant Grifka, 2014"

My day started with meeting Kevin at Carrs on Huffman, donuts in hand we set of for the trail head where we would be meeting up with Roger to make a party of three.

On the way down to the peninsula we noticed that a Boretide was in progress, Kevin and I decided a hasty stop was in order since neither of us has seen one close up( I think that is what you said Kevin).

Snowy mountains and a bore tide 
Bore tide passing us
On reaching the trailhead where Roger was already waiting for us, we geared up and set off up the trail.
Johnson pass from the north side is a fairly undulating trail for the first five miles, then the climb gets a little steeper to the lakes at the summit which is approximately ten miles into the trail. Once at the summit the trail drops fairly steadily for the next three miles, followed by another short climb, then more descending down to Upper Trail lake. We turned around at mile twenty one to head back, even though the trail extends another 1.5 ish miles to the Seward highway. 

Kevin had already ridden the trail to Johnson lake just past the summit on the previous Sunday and had mentioned that the trail conditions were pretty awesome.  He was not wrong.
As can be seen in these photos, even my camera can't keep up with the speed my companions were climbing.
Kevin enjoying the climb

Roger enjoying the climb, not as much as Kevin

perfect trail conditions

Due to the sheltered north facing slopes not getting a lot of sun at this time of the year the hoar frost was spectacular.
Hoar frost

Big mountains surrounding us
After around two hours of riding we arrived at this...
Bench Lake

 And then continued on to Johnson Lake just past the summit of the pass.
Looking back down the trail at Johnson Lake
After passing Johnson lake we were breaking trail and the conditions were a little soft in places.  Luckily fatbikes work pretty well and we were at least able to ride most of the trail.  We continued our descent with the snow becoming more infrequent as we got lower down the pass.
Fun descending from here
We continued moving for another couple of hours until we reached Upper Trail Lake which was our turn around point, food was eaten, beer drank and we took a moment to take in the view.
Upper Trail Lake
We started heading back up the pass, by this point I think it is fair to say that Roger and I were pretty tired, Kevin seemed to be sucking all of our energy from us as he bounded up the trail, I think his definition of a mellow climb needs to be revisited!

After about 2hours and 40 min of climbing we were treated to a spectacular golden hour at the top of the pass.
Johnson Lake on way home
We checked lights put on jackets and started our descent back to the trail head.  I stopped at the pass summit sign for a photo since we had missed out on the way up.
Johnson Summit Sign
I then proceeded to try and catch the less tired riders in front of me.
Chilling out and waiting for me

Trail by river
After this photo was taken It became a little to dark for photography and besides which we all wanted back to trail head.  We arrived back a little over ten hours after we had left.  Tired but happy with the day's riding.   Thanks again guys for an AWESOME ride.


we shuttled to the trailhead.........." -Kevin Murphy, 2014........"





23 October 2014

Daddy bought a new bike and this one is carbon.......


It's been a while since I have posted anything here, this is the brief update of what has been happening in the Blades household.  I managed to fluke a 1st place over all in the MTB series single speed category, I also managed a 2nd place overall for the road hill climb series intermediate category.
Amanda has a new bike
New bike for Amanda
We have been re arranging the garage.
Garage improvements
 Fiona has turned four already and is growing up faster than I can believe.
my not so little girl anymore :)
Most importantly I have to say thankyou to my amazing wife for staying with me for four years.... I really am pretty obsessed with bikes and she puts up with an awful lot of my riding and talking about bikes all the time, Love you Amanda.
10-10-10 first dance
We are now well into October I can safely say Summer and Autumn have passed at this latitude. Well Autumn may make a come back but its looking unlikely as we have received our first snowfall.  The official measurement was 1.5 inches however that is over by the airport, where we live it was between 3-4 inches and on the hills between 6-8 inches which was a lot of fun.  Hopefully the snow will stick on the hills. Though as I still haven't gotten around to fitting studded tyres to the car, snow melting from the roads is not really an issue for me.

Back to the title of this post, yes I bought another bike.  Although my old fat bike has found a new home and hopefully the second wheelset I built will too.

Why a new bike?
A couple of reasons, the main ones were as follows;
It was getting pretty embarrassing parking the competitions bike outside of work, especially as the competition is across the road from where I work,
I really wanted a lighter bike that could take bigger tyres (Old bike could pretty much only take a 4" tyre).

What did I get?
I bought a Borealis Yampa X01 build  but added carbon cranks to the stock package and bought some carbon rims direct from china.  I also purchased some custom orange items to brighten up the bike.... thanks to Becker gear for the great frame bag

Bike Build in progress
Carbon rims
Frame bag
What does it weigh?
My bike weighs under 25# with Specialized Ground Control tyres (4.6"), If I put on the Dillingers I have from last year I think I should be sub 24# which is 6# lighter than my 9:Zero:7 from last season.

What am I planning to ride this season?
My goals are to build mileage and get comfortable riding longer distances and overnights in winter conditions.

And that is pretty much it well apart from some nice photos of the bike out in the snow right :)
More posts when I get around to it.

Fresh snow
Blue sky day riding with Kevin

06 June 2014

Sometimes whilst riding you just get lucky

Recently I have been fortunate enough to find time to fit some longer rides into my schedule mainly due to Amanda taking care of Fiona.  My first big ride was the Anchorage Palmer Anchorage ride (See here)

Then we had family in town, we did a lot of sight seeing however we were able to get out and ride some of the local trails to a lunch stop, Fiona completed 15miles on the trail a bike, her longest ride to date and our guests got to experience some of the local trails, although we didn't see any big wildlife whilst riding we did have a nice lunch and the riding was good.

The following weekend I got the chance to ride with the Alaska Randonneurs again.  The ride this time took us down to Seward, this particular ride starts early, 4am I guess the thinking is lower traffic, less wind and the chance to take the train on the return if you are only riding the 200km route.
For the first 7miles the route was very windy, so windy that some of the riders decided it was more sensible to turn around and abandon the ride, the next 83miles we were mostly riding in the rain with only occasional periods of wind.  The last 40ish miles were completed in the sunshine albeit with a fairly strong head wind, on these long rides I'm still working on my nutrition, though I am getting better.  I completed the ride in less than 10hours again (mostly due to Brant letting me draft him for the last 20+miles).  Once in Seward I  got to hang out in Subway (where the ride finished) with some experienced long distance riders before my train ride home, all in all a great day out on the bike!

Photo bombing Brant in the rain at the first checkpoint

Fresh snow on the hills, top of Turnagain pass

Swollen rivers and great mud guards

And then the sun came out

Tuesday 3rd of June was first round of the XC series at Kincaid, it was fun to be back racing on dirt. The event had over 150 participants, which is their biggest turn out ever.  This year I have decided to ride in the single speed category, due to being busy I ended up racing my bike with the fat wheels rather than the 29+ setup I intended to ride originally (29+ wheels are lighter).  My race was going pretty well and I managed to pass a number of people, when I finished the race I thought I'd possibly got a top 3 place, it seems luck was on my side though.  The last person I passed on the penultimate section of Singletrack (who had dropped his chain),  ensured I got a 1st place in single speed category, this is the first time I have ever won a race, I think a number of people were surprised to see a singlespeed fat bike with pink tyres passing them, next time I will ride 29+ as i'm sure this will not shock as many people when/if I pass them....... Probably!

The bike rolls well but has the aerodynamic properties of a brick

Kicking up dust

Finishing

The 4th June was Anchorage bike to work day,  on this day there is a significant increase in the number of people who bike to work, the weather was fantastic for this years event which saw a real swell in numbers (From BCA facebook page "Bike to Work Day counts are in. We saw an increase of about 20% from 2012 (the last Bike to Work Day that was sunny - last year was a wet, snowy day that lead to lower numbers).").  
I took a 26mile ride with a couple of colleagues to visit some of the bike to work stations before heading to work, we had, sticky buns thanks to the Trek store,  bacon donuts with the police,   Blueberry muffins at the blueberry station and bacon at the BCA(Bike Commuters Anchorage) station.

Quiet part of the coastal trail.

Morning commute with friends
That is all from me for the time being, hope everyone is well and take care until next time.
Nick