28 January 2016

Almost famous again.....

A couple of weeks ago some friends and I were asked to help with filming for a video article for the local paper.
Four of us met with a local videographer who works for ADN (Alaska Dispatch News)  We ended up talking with him for about 1 hour and he put together a really neat edit of the local trails and basics of fat bikes.
Full article can be found here
Video article can be found here.

Scott also kindly uploaded the raw footage from the bikes which gives a real sense of what the local trails I ride around here are like with low snow.  As I type this its currently raining but I am hopeful for more snow to get the trails back into better condition than the videos below.

This is the raw footage from the front camera
This takes us down Speedway trail/fire break trail which is one of my favourties in Anchorage, although it can be ridden in the summer it is pretty technical.  The reason I like this trail so much is due to the views.

This is the raw footage from the rear camera
This takes us through some swamps which are unrideable in the summer and up to the top of baseball boogie.

This is the raw footage from the tyre camera
This takes us along part of Birch meadow which is a hard packed trail in the summer and can be ridden year round.

27 January 2016

Fat Camp - Riding, great company, fantastic food, an earthquake and some camping.

The weekend of the 23rd January I was lucky enough to get invited up to Willow for some winter riding and possibly some camping, after clearing it with Amanda (without who this trip wouldn't have happened) I said yes.
Adam and Angie live up up Willow, AK and will be some of the first to tell you this is where real winters happen.  Whilst Anchorage, Eagle River, Palmer and Wasilla are once again struggling for snow and fighting a tropical flow of warm temperatures and rain it seems Willow has highs around 20F and mostly the snow is sticking around, they also seem to be getting a little more snow than we do.

Fat Camp Day 1

Fat Camp started for me when Adam picked me up on Friday morning, we then made the two ish hour drive back out to Willow to begin some winter riding. Adam and Angies friend Eric was also staying and joined Adam and I for some riding. Due to the fantastic network of trails that the Willow Area Community Organisation put in we are able to ride from Adam and Angies (Shilman Quest Lodge*****)

Day one 22miles Shilman Quest Lodge (SQL) to Deshka Su river junction and back.

Following Adam across long lake
Eric and I on long lake
Blue sky and hard packed trails.
smiles all around
returning back to Corral Hill Trail
from the Susitna river in light snow

After some great local food, good conversation and the start of a really questionable movie choice we all headed to bed for a good nights rest. 

Fat Camp Day 2 

Today Angie joined Adam, Eric and I for some fun trails and a little snow storm riding. 
Once again we headed out from the Shilman Quest Lodge (SQL) and rode some sweet lake and swamp trails before hitting a singletrack gold mine, East red shirt lake trail.  This trail follows a ridge line for around 6 miles before dropping out onto red shirt lake. 
Day two 28 miles round trip
watching the clouds

the party of four

Swamp riding

Rest break 

Adam - East Red Shirt lake trail

Eric - East Red Shirt Lake trail

Angie - East Red Shirt Lake trail

End of red shirt lake

Red Shirt Lake winter trail

Snowing a little heavier

Starting to lose visibility 

High fives for snow

Pink flamingo island
Once back at SQL drinks and food were consumed, Eric had to head back to Anchorage for work which just left Adam, Angie and I until we got a surprise visit from Clint and Laura who due to the snow had decided not to camp out on the Yetna river as planned and came back to stay at SQL (Clint's Blog about the weekend).  

Fat Camp Day 3

During the night we experienced a little earthquake, I say little it was a 7.1 which is pretty big, fortunately we were a good distance from the epicentre though I can safely say it was one of the biggest shakes I have felt ever. 
After the excitement of the earthquake we all went back to bed and when we woke once again we had an awesome breakfast, SQL really living up to the 5* rating.  Adam and I planned for a short day of riding, however Clint and Laura set off earlier and put in a bigger day as Clint is training for the Su100 and  ITI ride to McGrath and Laura for the Su100.  
Adam had suggested that we go and check out the rolly creek trail which connects up with the Su river since it looks like it will be part of the Su100 course.  Since the course is set depending on trail conditions although it was in the plans for last year it wasn't used due to open water.  looking at the current map it would appear that again this is the planned trail that will be used.  On the way to the trail the fresh snow was ensuring riding was a little tougher.  After airing down we ended up finding some interesting trails that were a little soft in places, before we knew it we were on the Susitna and heading back on firmer trails back to SQL. 
Day three - 22 miles
Earthquake results on the lake

Interesting clouds and a moose

checking out some singletrack

Ending up at the river

back to solid trails and blue sky

happy Nick

Dog team out enjoying the trails
Once back at the SQL we awaited another member of the Fat Camp to arrive.  Kevin had been out riding the river way up into the hills with a couple of other friends.  Once we were all reunited we enjoyed some beer, conversation and great food then started planning for the next day.  Initially camping was going to happen Sunday night however that plan changed once we had enjoyed a little more food, beer and conversation. 

Fat Camp Days 4 and 5

After a great breakfast of Raspberry and cream cheese rolls, they were fantastic Angie! Adam, Kevin and I loaded up and headed out for some winter camping in style. This meant that Adam took a snow machine and towed the tent, food, stove and sleeping things as Kevin and I rode.  We headed up the Deshka river, set up camp and rode a little more then camped overnight then packed up and headed back to SQL via an overland trail between the Deshka and Susitna rivers. 
Day four and five around 45miles

winter camping the easy way
our guides transport to camp
Lake crack and Kevin, Adam on sled in distance
The trail on the Deshka was a little soft in places and required a significant amount of airing down to keep riding in a straight line.  I would guess my tyre pressure was in the 3-4psi range, or very soft. However it worked and we were all able to ride up river on older snowmachine/animal tracks with 2-4" of unconsolidated snow on top. 

A little overflow at the start of the Deshka River

one of many moose

Catching up to Adam who found a great camp spot

packing in the tent space

Setting up the arctic oven
Arctic Oven tents allow the use of a stove inside to heat and cook on this meant that once we had the stove going we had a pleasant 70F inside the tent. 

riding up river setting our own tracks

taking in the view

Chasing the sunset back to the camp spot

camp stove jerry rig due to short chimney

ooophs the oven gets hot!

morning after packing up camp

Frosty bike it dropped to 12F overnight

packing up camp

riding the previous days tracks

overland trail

wheelie good fun

smiles all around

back on the Susitna River

more river miles

riding up Coral hill

Once back at SQL Kevin and I packed up our gear had another wonderful meal then headed back from winter into a wet spring it would appear. 
A huge thanks to Adam and Angie for hosting me, Amanda for looking after Fiona so I could take a holiday and Kevin for coming out and camping with Adam and I and for driving me back into town.

19 January 2016

Another week, a little more snow and I have still not fully recovered.

What ever bug I have had since the start of the year is still hanging around which to be honest is a real pain.  I don't have a fever or feel bad I just can't stop coughing randomly.  The good news is my resting heart rate according to fitbit (not very scientific I know) does seem to be dropping, hopefully this is a sign that I am kicking what ever I had. The only downside to this is it would appear Amanda and Fiona now have what I have or some variation, which sucks!
Seems to be finally going the right way. 

On Friday I was lucky enough to help out with some friends on a short video piece about fat biking in Anchorage for Alaska Dispatch News, it is currently being edited to be released in a couple of weeks I believe.  I do have a sneak peak of some of the raw footage but that will have to wait.
We got to talk a lot about fat bikes and then go off and use some go pro cameras to video us actually riding, it was a fun way to spend a couple of hours. 
Smile you are on camera
This is us mounting up cameras before some of the filming.
Mounting up a gopro

Fiona and I also built a snowman whilst Amanda was away
Meet Olaf
Amanda was away for a Cabi release which meant I was single parent again for a little while at least.  The rescheduling of the Frosty Bottom looked like it may work in my favour until I remembered we had already booked Fiona skiing lessons, no racing for me this year alas but in all honesty given the above sickness that is not a bad thing.  It also meant I got to go skiing again which was another fun filled 2 hours ish of runs to myself on freshly groomed snow.

Looking down to Fiona as I headed up for my first run

This is a short video I made of one of my runs down the hill at Hilltop Ski area.

I also got to watch a great sunrise over Denali

Sun just shining on the top of Denali

Next run more sun showing

Next time up more sun and some Fata Morgana

more of the Fata Morgana

On Sunday early early in the morning Amanda returned.  It is really great to have her back and getting out to enjoy playing with Fiona and I.   At 10:30 I had arranged a post frosty bottom recovery/family ride.  We rode over from the house and when we got there we had a huge turnout, I think there were 23 people on the ride. This is a great group selfie from Clint
Selfie time.... 
On the ride we had two trailers on skis, one child being pulled on skis, Fiona on her tag along and one child in a backpack.  I am pretty sure everyone had a great time on the ride with plenty of stops although the pace when riding was best described as steady!

One of my friends Ryan Greeff took some fantastic photos some of which can be found on Instagram/facebook.  Here are a couple of them from Instagram. 
A photo posted by Ryan Greeff (@akgreeff) on

A photo posted by Ryan Greeff (@akgreeff) on

After the long weekend (Fiona was off on Monday for Martin Luther King Day) and a full day of work for me I took the chance to spend some time today getting another fully loaded ride in around town.  I am a firm believer that you have to train with a loaded bike at least for part of the time with a loaded bike if you are going to race with the gear.
Fortunately for me the weather was perfect and I feel very lucky that my schedule enables me to ride when many other people have to work.

Great sunrise

more sunrise

one of the multiuse trails

looking out over the coast

into the sun on empty multiuse trails

And behind me

empty singletrack 

All in all a great day out on the bike and a great week in general.
Tale care all!