14 December 2013

Bicentennial park social trails with references

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16 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!

15 August 2013

Racing Racing Racing......

Since the 24 hours of Kincaid see previous post here the road and mtb seasons have been in full swing here.
MTB Series
I have been enjoying the MTB racing, its been fast, fun and hard work.  The final race of the series was on the 14th August and I managed to finish in 7th place in this round.  Of the six rounds I have managed to get myself to five events, by my calculations this means I have finished in either 6th or 7th place in the series.  Overall I am happy with my performances and certainly for the last round I couldn't have ridden any harder.
enjoying the trails round #6
  GPS track of the last round.

Road Series
I also raced the tour of Anchorage which is a five race four day event put on every year by the Arctic Bike Club road division.  Although my performance in this tour was perhaps a little below par I had a blast and really feel that the last stage was my best performance.
Here is the GPS plot

and some photos of stage 5
trying to keep up with Jason

working hard

working together

team riding, tactics dictated we were at the back ;-)

using my tongue to balance :)
Finally I will be competing in the last round of the hill climb series on Sunday the 18th August.  I am sitting in 4th place in the series, although I believe it is mathematically impossible for me to get 3rd place I could loose 4th.  Hopefully I will have changed my cassette to a 12-27 as I hadn't realised all season I have been riding 11-23 and its really hard work on the climbs.  (I'm riding 53-39 up front) for anyone who doesn't understand those numbers I am riding gears that are designed for riding on the flat and completing in 2000ft climbs...

Until next time take care all
PS Our kit finally came in as can be seen in the above pictures.  It has been really fun riding with team mates this year.  All having the same kit means its nice and easy to spot you guys at the races.  

24 June 2013

24 hours of Kincaid AKA "The Moose Gauntlet"

For the summer solstice weekend Amanda and I called in some more Grandma and Dennis favours to look after Fiona so that we could go race at a 24 hour race at Kincaid park.

The local Bike club (Arctic Bike Club) mountain division organises the event with the help of some sponsors.

The race is a lot lower key than the previous 24 hour race (Sleepless in the Saddle) I competed in back in 2004.  Racers could race a variety of different categories including Solo, Duo and Pairs.  Revolution racing were fielding four teams.
DUO 24hr M Team: Revolution Racing
Clinton Hodges
Jim Rasi

DUO 24hr M Team: Riff Raff
Aaron Mells
Trevor Jones

QUAD 24hr F Team: Midnight Masochistas
Jill Parsons
Kirsten Gilbert
Laura Fox
Amanda Blades

QUAD 24hr M Team: Insomniacs Inc.
Nicholas Blades
Marc Romano
Andrew Cunningham
Peter Malecha

We all arrived before 11am on the Saturday, to get set up and check over bikes etc.  Then it was time to wait for the start.  We all lined up ready for the Le Mans style start for it to be delayed 30min whilst the course flags corrected, some idiots had decided to move the course which is really not that sporting.  Once we had the go ahead racing got underway at 12:32.

Start lineup
Running start with our base camp in background
Bike pickup
Almost at the end

The atmosphere at the event was really relaxed and combining that with the great summer we are having at the moment ensured the event was a whole lot of fun. Snacks and BBQ was provided along with a fire drum for when it got dark, yes it did get dark for a couple of hours, not really dark but dark enough to require lights on the single track trails.
The course was a 11ish mile loop which used a combination of ski trails, social singletrack trails and STA trails.

Due to animal activity in Kincaid we all had to ride with Bear Bells, although annoying at least they alert other users to our presence in the park.  Oh and the nickname "The Moose Gauntlet" comes from the fact that moose like bedding down/walking along the trails we all like to ride, they also don't really move off these trails when we are riding on them so we sometimes had to detour from the course.

Since I was racing I don't actually have any pictures of the course but I can confirm the following things, ski trails are fast but a little boring, social trails are technical and rooty, STA trails are fast flowing and smooth.  I know which trails I prefer to ride.

Critter count
Rabbit - 1
Porcupine - 2
Moose - Many many
Birds - Many many many
Unidentified rustling in bushes - Lots

All of our teams did really well, full results can be found here and summary here

Revolution Racing - 12 laps, 138 mi, 23:14:12 - 2nd
Riff Raff - 6 laps, 69 mi, 21:28:12 - 3rd
Midnight Masochistas -  11 laps, 126.5 mi, 22:57:40 - 2nd
Insomniacs Inc. - 19 laps, 218.5 mi, 22:59:24 - 2nd

I think I speak for everyone when I say I don't think anyone had another lap left in them by the end of the race, to all the racers well done and see you all again next year.... or at the next XC/road race!

Until next time have fun all

19 June 2013

More XC racing

Another Tuesday night race at Kincaid last night for me.  Overall I'm pleased with my performance.  I foolishly hadn't tightened my seat bolt up enough so ended up completing the last 1.5miles stood up which was tiring (See photo below), I also missed a turn on the final section of the course which was really dumb.  It definitely helps to have a good cross country bike, the Fatbike just wasn't cutting it, roll on the next race, 24hours of Kincaid this weekend!

End of lap one feeling good but tired

Stupid Nick forgetting to check seat bolt
Once again I am thankful for all the people who support me whilst racing, especially Amanda who looks after Fiona during my races I really couldn't do it without her.  Also a huge thankyou to all the people who helped get my bikes over here you have made this racer a little bit faster if only in his head.

GPS track of the route, includes heart rate data to see how hard I was working.... ignore the 200+ figures they are not correct but for the most part I was maxed out.

30 May 2013

Getting out of Anchorage..... if only for one night.

The weekend of the 24th to 27th May is Memorial day holiday here in the USA.  For us that means Amanda gets a Monday off work (Bank holiday for UK people)  Being as organised as we ever are in the Blades household we hadn't realised this was sneaking up on us.....

With a lack of planning comes problems like me not booking time off from work (I work Sunday's) and not being able to find a place to stay.

Late last week about the Wednesday night we finally managed to come up with plan of what we would do.

Friday evening I would spend some time racing my bike up one of the local hill climbs, the race was part of a weekend race series but at least I would get to test my legs out on one of the longer hill climbs in the local area.  
Saturday morning would see us head up the road to Talkeetna about 2.5 hours away.  While in Talkeetna we would ride the Huricane flag train and take in some of the town once we returned, we would stay overnight in Talkeetna and return to Anchorage Sunday morning so I could sell some bikes.

Pretty much everything went to plan. The train ride was a huge success.  We actually saw Mount Mckinley (Denali)!!!! This is a pretty big deal, as most days of the year it's shrouded in clouds.  Also seen were Moose, numerous birds and we even got to see what an Ice Jam looks like.  Fiona was awarded a "Golden Spike" - really just a genuine used Alaskan Railroad spike - by the conductor of the train for being such a good kid on the trip.

We stayed at a local B&B up there called the Meandering Moose which had a really nice atmosphere, so much so we have booked to stay there again with Grandma and Dennis when they visit in June.  We had dinner at Twister Creek Restaurant  which was really good, Amanda had the brownie for dessert, and claims it's the best one she's ever had in her life (can't be that good, Nick had to finish it for her).  Although we had to leave too early on Sunday to get breakfast at the Talkeetna roadhouse we brought sticky buns back to Anchorage with us and they were enjoyed by all who got to have some (especially at work).    

Here are a couple of pictures from the train journey.

Turn around stop at Hurricane

The train

Train and Mount Mckinley

Train Shadow at Hurricane Glutch

Mount Mckinley

Ice jam next to tracks

Ice Jam

Saying goodbye!