30 January 2015

Winter Bike Fest 2015

It seems that winter may have finally arrived here in South Central Alaska, temperatures finally started dipping down towards average "normal" temps.  
almost normal temperatures
We received a little more snow, though as can be seen from this channel 11 graphic we are still way behind where we would like to be on an average year.
low snowfall
The little snow we have received has helped the trail conditions though. 
This little trail in North Bivouac has become my new favourite

What better way to celebrate the arrival of winter then than a party?  
Winter Bike Fest is a month (Bike month is actually February) of activities put by Bike Anchorage to encourage people to ride through the winter. This is the 6th year that Bike Anchorage has put on events through the winter.   If you have not signed up for Bike to work day on the 13th February here is the link.
The kick off party was last night, it was a social gathering which we were encouraged to bike to, due to family commitments we didn't ride though I had got a ride in earlier in the day.  Pizza, drinks and fun and games were all available. 
The pizza and drinks were fantastic as were the fun and games and all the local bicycle shops (The Bicycle Shop, The Bicycle Shop Dimond, Paramount Cycles, The Trek Store Alaska, Speedway Cycles, Off the Chain, Chain Reaction Cycles and Downtown Bicycle Rental) had donated something or brought something to this community event, this is really encouraging for Anchorage cycling community that all the local shops are willing to be involved in events like this.
So what did we do at the event, 
There were trivia questions which we put the answers to into a hat for prize drawing, painting by bicycle lights, timed change a flat tyre(tire),  reflective sticker art and goldsprints.
Amanda, Fiona and I lucked out at this event, not only did Amanda win a t-shirt for answering a trivia question correctly and getting pulled out of the hat. Fiona won a bike bell for making a reflective mask, I managed to win the flat fix competition and second in the goldsprints.
Flat Fix races, Clint vs I
Goldsprints round #3
Reflective mask work in progress
Finished
Now about those goldsprints, I really shouldn't have gotten to the finals, I managed to score a bye through to the third round due to the number of people entered and some how managed to fluke my first and second race and wins.  My 3rd race David let me win as he couldn't be seen winning his own race event ;-)  Why do I think it was a fluke, well my times were around 28-30secs for 500m other winners including David were normally around 23-26secs for 500m.   
Although we were only sprinting for 500m it was the longest 500m I have ever ridden, today my legs are really hurting, clearly I am not a spinner. 
Although Stephen annihilated me in the final sprint which they upped the distance to 850m thanks to the crowd for that one! I am going with he cheated as he started before we got to the 0 count down and started at 2, I think a rematch will be on the cards once I get the Sustina100 completed. 
Sprint Final - Photo Credit Nick Leopard
Thanks to Bike Anchorage for putting on a great event (Photos here) and all my friends for helping look after Fiona whilst Amanda and I were playing.  
As a final note I for one am looking forward to seeing the rest of February's events, hope to see you all at some of the other events. 
Nick

15 January 2015

For my birthday I went riding

Another year older and possibly wiser, hmmm maybe not.

As the "winter" rolls on here in Alaska (it doesn't feel like winter when its 40+F) I am continuing my steady riding schedule in preparation for the Su100.  This week Kevin and I took a ride out around the trails in Willow, AK.  

Adam and Angie have recently moved out to Willow and Adam very kindly offered to guide us around his local trails.  The trails he lives near are maintained by the Willow Trails Committee and are currently in great shape.  It seems Willow has somehow managed to escape the chinooks that have been slamming Anchorage and the Kenai peninsular and they still have frozen trails with some snow, they could do with more snow but at least we were able to ride on some whiteish snow.

Adam took us for a 25mile loop from his house taking in a bit of everything the local trail network has to offer from open lake miles, swamp miles with some overflow to undulating wooded single-width snow machine trails.  We also managed to ride part of the Su100 course which means at least I know what the trail will be like at around mile 60 of the race, albeit riding from the opposite direction.
red line is the part of the Su course I have ridden, although the opposite direction to when I race.


The route we took


A couple of things I noticed about the area out there;
Its flat, I'm so used to riding with a little elevation change but out there not so much, a couple of undulations but mostly flat, there was very little freewheeling. 
There are a lot more trees than I was expecting, 
The trails are all marked and the maps are available online to download and print off or from the local gas station.
It was easy and fun to rack up the miles. 
The area is home to a number of dog mushing teams and whilst out on the trails we bumped into two different teams.  Also all the trails we rode were groomed which made for very pleasant riding, if we ever get any more snow the trails will just get smoother and faster according to Adam.

Now for some photos.
Long Lake

Route explanation from Adam

Wood pecker has been here

Trail discussion

Fantastic groomed trails

Lunch stop lean

Part of the Su 100 course 

the second dog sled team we saw.

more lake miles

exit from the lake

one of the small sections of overflow

homeward bound on long lake

We finished the ride and got to share some beer with our hosts, thanks for having us guys and hopefully we will be back again soon.

When we arrived back in Anchorage I spent the evening with my family, we had a great meal and I even got to blow out some candles from my dessert, thanks for not putting all of them on Amanda wouldn't have wanted to burn the house down or set off the smoke detector again. I got to open my gifts and cards.  All in all a wonderful birthday.  I am already looking forward to seeing what the next year has install for me. 

06 January 2015

Frosty Bottom Plus and Middle Fork trail

Frosty Bottom Plus

The Frosty Bottom is a race put on by the local cycle shop Chain Reaction Cycles, it takes place in early January and is pretty much a road race on snow (or ice depending on conditions).  The Frosty Course has two distance options, the Frosty 25 and the Frosty 50, both races start at Kincaid park and ride out to Hillside the 50 course then returns back to Kincaid.  This is the course description, which is really well written.  Both race distances are open to Runners, Skiers and Bikers.

Last year (2014 Results) I really didn't have the greatest races.  I went out to hard,  missed the pacelines at the front of the race, didn't fuel correctly, had not been riding enough before the race as I was out of the country.  All told it took me 4 hours 20 min to complete and I generally had a rough two thirds of the race, first third was fine last two were not so great.

This year I decided to do things a little differently, I am currently training for the Susitna 100 (100 mile fat bike race, well for me it will be) so I decided to ride the Frosty with a partially loaded bike and then continue riding once the race had finished.  Owing to my strategy it wouldn't matter if I missed out on the pacelines at the front of the race, or how everyone else was doing all I wanted to do was get some good solid training miles in.

On Saturday morning we all lined up at the start, the weather had finally got a little colder and it was around 20F with a steady northerly wind blowing also known as cold when you are doing nothing.
On your marks
The race started at its usual ballistic pace, even more noticeable this year as we for the first time started on ski trails rather than a neutralised start down the hill.
From where I started I luckily managed to avoid two crashes on the ski trails then set into my rhythm for the rest of the day.  On the coastal trail I was passed by a couple of groups then pretty much rode the whole course on my own,

Not serious selfie

The eventual winner of the 25 event passed me along Chester Creek trail then another group passed me along the tour trail whilst I was refuelling (PB and J).
The race took me 3:28:58 (Full Results here) which is almost 50min slower than the winner but almost 50min faster than last year, the course was really fast this year though so that is part of the improvement in my time but mostly my time improvements were due to riding much more sensibly.

When I finished the race, I chatted with a few friends and had some more food then I got back on my bike and rode home taking in a few fun trails on the way.  Thanks for riding with me Oscar for the local loop.  My total distance was 72miles ish and my legs felt pretty good.

Danger

Hansel and Gretel

Almost home sunset

Ice Beard

woo hoo 72 miles

All in all a great day out on the bike.

Middle Fork

The Middle Fork trail is a permit only trail that can be ridden only in the winter, the trail is part of the Chugach State Park.  This is the first time I have gotten up to the trail for a while with all the warm weather we have had.  The recent snow fall up high (rain in Anchorage) has really improved the trail conditions.  I rode with Andrew and we decided to ride from home in order to increase my mileage (sorry Andrew you get to climb!)
When we started it was a cooler 4F and as always wearing the right layers helps with staying sweat free for riding.  We stopped a couple of times to adjust layers, this is part way up the STA trails.

Top of Drone Lane

Top of the STA trails
It is around 9 miles to the top of the route by Glen Alps and mostly uphill.
Denali
Made it to the top
Once at the top, the real fun trail begins.  We layered up although the temperatures had risen to 16F and started downhill. The middle fork trail runs on the other side of the valley to where the above picture was taken.

Middle Fork single track

Packed to perfection

Nice views

Food break

The views were spectacular with freezing fog and clouds smothering Anchorage it changed the whole perspective of the ride.

Power Line with Denali

Once here, see above picture we are almost back onto familiar trails and enjoyed soaking up the sunshine for a while before heading down to our usual trails, with a little detour to try out some new trails.
Andrew getting ready to ride a new section of single track
Your Trail

It was a fun ride and we managed to explore some new trails which is always a bonus, thanks for riding with me Andrew, lets hope this weather holds and we get to ride some more epic trails again soon.