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


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.

24 May 2014

My longest ride to date, probably.....

Due to family commitments I normally only work one day at the weekends so I get to spend some time with Amanda and Fiona. Saturday the 17th was different.
Up here in Alaska there are many options to enjoy the outdoors with numerous clubs and groups to help get you out enjoying the outside.  I have been doing quite a lot of racing on bikes with the different divisions of the Arctic Bike Club, a couple of weeks ago I even managed to fluke a 3rd place in one of the races,  a combination of right place right time.  One of the groups I've been meaning to ride more with is called the Alaska Randonneurs. They organise rides which vary in length from 100km right upto their 1200km big wild ride.
These rides are not races although there is a time element and the courses are not premarked, they give you a set of controls and a time range to be at the controls.  At each of the controls you need to get your Brevet card filled out, this might be as simple as answering a question or just getting someone to sign the card, once this task is complete it's onto the next control.
I can safely say I was lucky with the weather on this ride, we had a blue sky day and low winds for all of the day, temperatures ranged from 40F to 68F and most of the car drivers were pretty good with giving bikes space.
The route took us from Anchorage out to Palmer and back, including riding to and from the event I clocked up 138miles, total time on the course 9 hours 57min, total moving time 8.5hours.  I am looking forward to trying another one of these events out.

There is a link to a couple of snap shots from the ride on my book of faces page, I 'll try and put a a link here when I'm next on a computer, although I forgot to take photos for most of the return leg :-/

Until next time
Be safe Nick

18 April 2014

The end of winter is approaching....

As we cruise past the middle of April and arrive in Spring 2014 I thought it would be nice to complete a little round up of what we have been doing over the 2013/14 winter season, yes I realise its been a while since I wrote one of these.  Firstly I am still working at Paramount Cycles, they were kind enough to keep me on through the winter season which has been fun.

Winter arrived late in Anchorage, for the bikers this was fine, it just meant more biking on dirt however the skiers were not so lucky.  The first significant snowfall was not until the 11th November 2013 where we received around 6"

Measuring the snow
Following the first snowfall winter really kicks into gear, the groomers at Kincaid and hillside get to work setting up the skiing trails.  For us bikers we rely on traffic to set up our trails, traffic can be snowshoeing/skis or if we have permission snow machine.  It was nice to see how quickly the trails are transformed following significant snow.  This year the trails seemed to set up even faster than the previous year, after two days most of the trails seem to become perfect ribbons of singletrack winding between the trees and open meadows.

Speedway trail
This years winter was a funny one weatherwise for us here in Anchorage and the rest of Alaska.  After an initial cold spell early on in the season we have had many weeks of unseasonally warm weather which melted a lot of snow base that we had been accumulating.  For the skiers it has been frustrating and also for the bikers, studded tyres were almost essential if you wanted to continue riding, some people even resorted to road/cross bikes in January.
Winter did redeem it's self snow wise through March though with the weathermen predicting 3-4" of snow we received around 14", that snow fall has got us through mostly until now.  We are currently experiences temperatures in the 50's which is doing a good job of making it feel like spring.  Last week I was able to ride some crust in town, this is a unique type of riding where you are able to ride pretty much anywhere in the forest/swamps.
Here is a short video, although I am not in this one, a couple of my friends are.  It seems to give a real sense of where you can ride when the conditions are good :)

Crust riding the swamps
Crust riding in the forest
During the winter season, despite the warm weather I managed to ride around 1000miles and got to race some fun events with some really nice people.

Aside from me riding we also had some important things going on as a family.  Amanda was away on a course through part of November and December, what seemed like immediately on her return we were jetting off to the UK for Christmas and to see Grandma get remarried.   Christmas in the UK was a blast, we were able to catch up with a lot of people which is always fun and of course the main event over there.... no not Christmas but the wedding.
The Happy Couple
All dressed up

Finally we moved into our new condo.  Thankyou very much to Emily for helping with this, it would have been much, much, much more difficult without your help.

Thanks for reading everyone, I will get back into writing a bit more frequently now, well I will try to.
Until next time, 
Take care,