29 December 2014

Winter camping by bike

Arctic Cycles is a local rental company run by Billy & Erica Koitzsch, they specialize in bike rentals and winter adventures.  Billy has a wealth of experience and love for camping and biking in the winter, not only has he cycled to Nome (about 1000miles) on more than one occasion but also continued on to Fairbanks during the winter of 2013.  (see arcticle here)
As well as renting fat bikes Billy and Erica now also run the Iditasport race which was resurrected for 2014.  (see website here).  He also has a significant collection of fat bike memorabilia charting the progress of fat bikes (see Nicholas Carmens article here)

Billy decided to run a free clinic to share some of his knowledge of winter camping onto people who were expecting to complete in the Iditasport race either this year or the following year.

The riders all met between 14:30 and 15:30 at Kincaid Chalet.  I decided to ride to the event the long way (loaded miles are always good to have in the bank) and meet up with a couple of my friends on the way.
Joining Chester Creek Trail

Here is a picture from before we set off.

We rolled out, down the hill off to find somewhere to camp for the night.  Billy our guide had found a nice secluded spot at the edge of Kincaid park approximately 3miles riding distance from the start point, it was also very close to the airport surprisingly the planes didn't keep me awake.

Our group was a mix of experienced and first time winter campers, which is where I put myself, although I have camped in the winter before it was with very different gear and a handy pub near by to plan a route and relax by a warm fire.

Getting some tips from the master
Did someone say flight path - Photo Credit Fred Stewart

A perfect sunset
We rode into our secluded camping spot and set to work on what Billy told us, the basics are get yourself warm, make water from melting snow and setup camp.

Making water and cooking food
Billy was the perfect guide and he coached when required.  He also carried a bunch of extra equipment, this is important if like me you forget your spoon.
Once all fed, Billy proceeded to talk through his equipment and answer any questions we may have had about gear, setup, staying warm etc.

Sleeping bag selfie
After a warm night (20 to 25F or -6 to -4C) sleeping under some stars and a fair few clouds it was time to get some breakfast and pack up and head home.
Making breakfast
Fred Stewart all packed up and ready to ride

Stopping at Uranus.... yes I am 12 years old :)

Thank you Billy and Arctic Cycles for putting on this event.  I am already planning my 2016 Iditasport trip and will continue to expand my knowledge of winter camping with the information you taught us.
See you soon

This is an hour long video which covers some of the Iditasport Extreme the precursor to the ITI more history can be found here

17 December 2014

Back to the riding post holiday

Amanda, Fiona and I have just returned from Hawaii where we had a great time.  The resort we stayed at was fantastic with its beach access and great pools.  It was our first time in Hawaii for all of us and I am sure we will go back to visit again sometime.
Here are a couple of snap shots.
Mum and Fiona swimming

Dad and Fiona swimming

Beach - North Shore

Pearl Harbor memorial

Minnie Mouse

Top of Diamond Head

Amanda and I also managed to get a couple of runs in so that is another State ticked off towards our 50 States of running. Link to previous 8
Here is State #9's Run

Once we arrived back we did really well at coping with the cold (ok it was only 25F) and got out on a super fun family bike ride.  There was a total of 16 people including the children.  It was great!
Family Fun Ride

It was nice to have a break from biking but I did miss Global Fat Bike Day which I heard was a total blast. I am making up for the week away though and have been getting in some fun riding with a great bunch of people. Given the lack of snow, yes it still hasn't snowed that much and the warm weather the trails are in great shape.

Today I loaded up my bike and took a mellow ride out to see if I remember what riding a fully loaded bike was like, during the ride I felt pretty good and managed to almost keep up with Andrew, Kent and Mick while on single track, ok they waited a lot for me :)  Nice riding with you guys.
Riding with Friends

It was a beautiful day and after leaving the guys I continued out to West Chester lagoon then made my way home.  Here are a few snap shots of the ride.  For the locals a beer is on offer if you are the first person who can name all 4 trails. Angie got it well I am going to give it to her she was close enough. Beer will be Twister Creek IPA.

Picture #1 - the trail I am stood on - Coastal Trail

Picture #2 - Rovers Run

Picture #3 - Either name - Tour Trail or Abbott Road multiuse
Picture #4 - Salmon Run

As I mentioned above my legs felt pretty good whilst riding however now they are starting to feel pretty tired, I will have to see how my legs feel tomorrow for my ride in the evening.
Until next time take care all! 

24 November 2014

Frigid Bits Ice Crit 22nd November 2014

Following on from this post the weather still sucks but some riding opportunities have opened up

We (I was there for two pre rides), by which I mostly mean Kevin, Carlos and Fish organised a Frigid Bits Ice Crit.
The burn barrel
The course looks a little like this on a GPS track, it was marked out with flour on the ice.
Ice Crit course
As can be seen there were a lot of turns, when we first arrived the course was super slick even by ice standards, as we rode the course more the grip improved or maybe we just got better at sliding around.

The turnout was impressive for such an underground event, the burn barrel was warm and the adult beverages tasty.  I didn't get many photos, I'm still working out this new camera but here is what I did get.

All lined up and ready to go
Start of beginner race
First corner madness
Light trails
A Tandem with lights
Sparklers to signify last lap
Drag Racing
Drag race finish
What its difficult to see in that photo was Kevin pretty much smoked the field whilst on his back wheel yes that is right he did a wheelie for most of the drag race and still won!
Tandem with Christmas lights
Fabulous Frigid Bits Burn Barrel
Burning to keep warm like a bunch of hobos
I had a blast racing though I am fully aware that fat studs are good they don't provide enough traction when racing people on regular studded tyres.  Therefore I have a plan, next time I am going to use a different bike, racing on ice requires more studs which is why on Tuesday for the next event  (XC race) I will be riding my Giant Trance with Ice Spiker Pro tyres!
Ice tyres should have a little more traction.
Until next time take care all.

17 November 2014

The weather still sucks... but some riding opportunities have opened up.

The weather pattern appears to be holding which means we still have no snow.  The good news is it has cooled off which has opened up some interesting riding opportunities if you have studded tyres on your bike.

We met up at the trail head on Elmore road and took the trails to the swamps.  The pace was relaxed as we headed out for some swamp/lake  riding.

After about 25min of riding and a tough climb if your only bike has only one gear, Kevin I still think you can't claim your bike as a single speed just because you only ride in one gear at a time. We arrived at our first swamp/lake.
In case anyone was wondering (for my Mum really) 4" of ice is enough to support a person, this ice was way thicker than that and if we did go through it would only go up to mid thigh at the most.
Swamp ice
With some of us getting used to the traction that studded tyres offer it was a learning experience to discover the limits of traction.
Skids are for kids :)
Andrew is a pro, tripod method
Kevin first attempt at a 360 degree spin

After tooling around on the first lake we rode onto the second lake,  

Onwards to the next lake
Wheelie on water
Ice ring
The circle which someone on skates had left gave Kevin an idea, a game of foot down shortly followed.
Riding in circles
still going
Once we had completed that game Kevin and Andrew deciding some resistance training was the order of the day.
return trip
This is a short video of us riding on the lake. 

Alas our time before work was as limited as ever and given three of the five people who were riding needed to go to work we finished up our ride with some fun trails back to the trail head.  

In case any locals are reading this studded tyres really work well for the Campbell tract and bicentennial park areas right now, if you have them get out there and enjoy the snow free time, sure beats riding a road bike!

Strava plot of where we rode

12 November 2014

Tropical storm Nuri wrecked our riding

When I looked at the weather forecast and saw how strong Tropical Storm Nuri was going to be I knew we were in for trouble.
Big ass low pressure
The storm was a big one and since the tail end of it hit on Saturday it has been warm and melting all the snow we had and I do mean all the snow. Temperatures have been in the 40's (F) and not really decreasing overnight.
The worst part is that the storm was so big it affected the Jet streams so we are not only stuck with the tropical temperatures they will be hanging around for about two weeks.  Its really annoying seeing people getting nice cold snowy weather and we get the miserable stuff.
Here is a temperature plot which they are predicting for the next two weeks :(
Some purple in Alaska would be nice.
Given any sort of snow riding is now not happening anytime soon and the local in town trails are a mixture of ice and mud Kevin and I did something drastic for Epic Ride Wednesday (ERW) we hit the roads on road bikes, well I was on a road bike Kevin is riding his drop bar bike its almost but not quite  a cross bike.

We met at our normal starting point, Carrs on Huffman and I bought us a couple of donuts, I was running a little late (sorry Kevin) as I couldn't find my gloves.  Riding in temperatures around 35 to 40 is not something we are used to doing , especially on the road.  Its pretty cold on the road and both of us are still working on getting the right layering systems to stay warm.
Road biking in November!
We headed out and cruised bike paths over to Jewel lake where we met up with Jimmy, today he wasn't able to ride with us but maybe next time.  After chatting with him for a while we hit the bike paths again and rode out to Kincaid, this is where we found our first noticeable patches of ice.  We chose to ride the road through Kincaid park which was mostly ice free.

At the chalet we stopped for a picture. 
Snow free Kincaid park
Then we headed off down the trail, there were no real ice patches until we were out by Point Woronzof.  We stopped along the way to reminisce about the World Single Speed Championship which was held in Anchorage in July and check out the trail conditions, other trails we had seen on the way in looked icy and muddy however this section of middle earth looked good.
SSWC 2014
This part of middle Earth looked dry the rest not so much
Passing point Woronzof we stopped again so I could get a photo.

Denali is somewhere in the cloud, probably snow there!
Obviously we stopped at this.
We cruised on towards Westchester Lagoon, stopping to get a couple more photos.
Bubbles under the ice
Bald Eagle 
Next stop was Westchester Lagoon, normally at this time of year people would be expecting to be able to start skating this lagoon, right now its just the ducks who are skating. 
skating ducks at West Chester Lagoon
From Westchester we headed along the chester creek trail to the university area, this is where the trails started to deteriorate.
starting to get icy
It was about now I wished I had studded tyres on my bike or if I was Kevin wished I had not taken the studs out. 
not fun on a road bike
Luckily the trail conditions improved once past Lake Otis Parkway and we were able to knock of the remaining miles fairly quickly.
Ice on Campbell Creek
We finished the ride close to where we started at Paramount Cycles.  In total we rode around 40 miles with a moving time of around 3 hours, clearly not setting the world alight with that time but at least we got out on bikes and both saw things we had not seen before.

With the way the weather pattern is set it looks like next week we will be road riding too.... :(
Take care all and stay safe.