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.


07 November 2014

Getting Amanda's bike prepared for winter

This year Amanda's bike is having a few make overs to enhance her fun whilst out riding.
I am doing three things.
1. Hydraulic Brakes, mainly as they have a carbon fibre lever so feel warmer. (Avid X0 Brakes)
2. Studding the tyres to ensure we can ride even if it is a little icy
3. Converting the bike to a 1x10 drive train with a range extender, this is happening so we can speed Amanda up a little on the climbs, as a bonus it will save a little weight.

This is the process for studding the tyre.
 - Buy studs, this is the most difficult part as they seem to go out of stock really quickly.  This year I was able to purchase 10 packs of 100 studs which will be good for 4 tyres.
One of Ten packets of studs
- Put a good movie on (and/or drink a nice beer, I was doing this before work so no beer for me).  Studding one tyre takes about 1.5 hours including removing all the debris, the movie helps relieve the boredom (I watched Batman Begins and the Dark Knight).
 - Using a small flat head screwdriver remove all debris from the stud pockets.
Debris from one tyre
 - Using the handy tool, insert stud into pocket, this tool can also be used to remove studs from the tyre.
Inserting stud into pocket

Half way there on this tyre

Once I had studded both tyres I started to install the range extender and given this is Amanda's bike a little bit of extra purple.
The range extender allows a 1x10 drivetrain to replicate the range of a 1x11 drivetrain.  This should leave Amanda and I on about equal gearing but only time will tell on that matter.

11-40t out back and 30t up front.

That is all from me for now. 
Until next time enjoy yourselves.

06 November 2014

Wednesdays are becoming epic ride days....

Another Wednesday another epic ride!  I could get used to this :)

Owing to a great schedule at work and the fact that my riding buddy has his weekend on a Wednesday and Thursday I have been able to get some fantastic fat riding in on empty trails when most people are having to work.

Today was no exception.  I met Kevin at Carrs on Huffman at 07:30 just as regular work people are heading in to work and we started our drive down to the Kenai Peninsula with the intention to ride Resurrection Pass from Hope, at the turn off our plans changed a little due to looking at the weather. We guessed that riding from the other side (Cooper Landing) would make more sense as the weather was looking much better that way, we were not disappointed and once again managed to get super lucky with our trip.
This should show a nice image of where we rode, though possibly not if you have an apple device then you will need to click here

Here are some photos.

Riding up the first part of the the trail from Cooper Landing
Why not wheelie?
We saw a great waterfall which was partially frozen.
Waterfall with me
The forestry service completing some controlled burns, they were just about out on our way back down the trail.
Control burn
Riding Juneau lake, following in the tracks of some other riders who had tested the ice thickness we hope :)
Lake riding
When we were on the trail here, the weather was not looking favourable for us reaching the summit.
We didn't think we would make the top at this point
By the time we had reached the Devil's Pass cut off we had blue skies again.
Devils Pass cut off
Approximately 5 hours into our ride and we reached the summit of Resurrection Pass at 2800ft.
Resurrection Pass Summit 2800ft
Riding home we were chasing the sun all the way, it's amazing the difference just two tyre tracks made to rideability, most of the way back we rode, on the way up we spent a good proportion walking this section.
Racing the sun home
Taking in the view, enjoying a beer and listening to the lake, it was making some amazing sounds.
Admiring the view on a frozen lake
Bike Porn
Although we didn't beat the sun to the trail head it did mean we got to ride a fun descent in the dark, well I say dark both of us run a pretty bright light.
Good lights

Thanks once again to my amazing wife for letting me go ride.  She also cooked an amazing dinner for us when we returned home.  Until next time take care all.