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,

14 December 2013

Bicentennial park social trails with references

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15 August 2013

Minnesota trip aka gate crashing IFFW(Ingram Family Fun Week)

Amanda and I had decided to take a mid summer break, Emily had also invited us to join them for their family get together at her house and her parents cabin in Ely, Minnesota.  Down to perfect planning from the Ingrams we would be there during the Blueberry Art festival in Ely.  The festival sees an influx of people to the local area to take in the arts and enjoy the outdoors.  Ely is a jump off point for the Boundary Water Canoe Area (BWCA) which is a large recreation area on the US/Canadian border.

This was my first trip to Minnesota and as such managed to add another state to my visited list (18 down,32 to go).  We decided to take a direct flight to Minnesota albeit the redeye, although in theory this was a good idea we found that this flight was just not long enough to get a good sleep in, oh well at least we know now.

We arrived in Minneapolis at 8am and picked up the car rental, then headed out to get some food.  Following breakfast we hit the road for the 5 hour drive north to Ely.  The weather would best be described as changeable which was a little disappointing coming from Anchorage where it had been full on 2nd best summer on record for both temperature and lack of rain, oh well the joys of different weather patterns.

Once we arrived in Ely we soon found Emily's place where we would be staying, after I had had a short nap we took the short trip to the Ingram cabin where there was a nice fire and a wiener roasting, that is hot dogs for people in the UK.
warming up the cabin
The next day we took a trip to Ely to pick up some warm clothes for Fiona, yes it was that cold!  Due to the weather we decided to go check out the International Wolf Center (wikipedia link).  The wolf center was fascinating and it was interesting to learn how wolves have been viewed throughout history.  Whilst there we got to see the wolves being fed Strawberries and Fiona was able to pretend to be a wolf.  The rest of the day was spent relaxing.

playing wolf
Closeup wolf
eating strawberries
The following morning we headed back into Ely for some breakfast and a look around the Blueberry festival.  Luckily for us the weather had improved and we started to see what a normal summer is like in Minnesota.  After Fiona's multiple rides on the train, we headed back to pick up Toba to take her for a walk in the woods and a swim in the lake.  

Mom and Daughter
Following the walk we headed over to the cabin for dinner, once dinner had been enjoyed we headed back, managed to get Fiona to sleep without a huge fight and got to enjoy some star gazing from the balcony at Emilys.   
Backwoods TV
Our last day in Ely, Emily and I took a canoe trip and I got to experience Boundry Waters light, (short canoe trip with a prize in the middle)  The trip was along South and North Hegman lake to see some pictographs , here is the GPS track.  
Here are the photos.  
back to civilisation
After the canoe trip we headed over to the Ingram cabin for a boat trip, then it was a time to leave and make the trip back to Minneapolis for our flight out the next day.  

Our final morning in Minnesota was spent checking out the mall of America which is pretty big. They have a 10km walk inside oh and roller coasters.

As always with holidays you never want them to end and this one was not the exception to this rule.  I look forward to going back there some day, perhaps once Fiona is a little bigger to take a canoe trip and enjoy the real BWCA experience not just the light version!