A while back, I started rating my rides by how many bugs I end up eating. I observed that the more bugs I end up actually eating, the better the ride. The method has proven to not to be the most accurate but I like it anyway.
Johnson Pass is where this really came into play for me. The ride was short, as we had to be in Hope, AK, and only had a few hours to ride. That ride was easily the most beautiful so far. I also ate the biggest bug to date on that ride. I have never seen so many moths before. I'm talking Alaskan moths, not the gigantic, freak moths that I have seen down south. These were white and fluttery moths, the kind that remind you of fairies (oh, whatever). There were CLOUDS of them at times. Splattering all over my face and body. Getting in the vents of my helmet. At one point, a moth hit me in the mouth and it's wing stuck to my lip which I had applied lip balm to. I'm riding along swiftly, an area I needed both hands on the bars. I tried to blow it off, did all sorts of lip contortions to unstick it, it wouldn't budge. It's pretty much a reflex to lick your lips when something is on it, I realized I licked my lip at one point, now the moth is stuck to my tongue. I tried spitting it off without actually taking the moth into my mouth, didn't work. So I just brought it right in and swallowed it right down. Rather tasteless, sort of a hint of dust flavor. That was the only moth on that ride, I ate some gnats along the way. That ride got a 5 BUG rating.
Yesterday I did a 50 mile road ride from my house, through Palmer, up the Palmer/Wasilla Highway, through Wasilla, down the Parks highway to the Trunk Road Park and Ride, then turned round and came back the same way. It was a good ride, I give it a 4 Bug rating. I didn't actually EAT any bugs on this ride, road riding has much less bug encounters than mountain biking. This is a good route because there are hills and I don't have to get on the road too much, it has a nice bike path the whole way. The only time I have to get on the road is where the 4-wheelers have kicked up soo much gravel onto the path that you can't even see any pavement. It just looks like pure gravel. Not good for my skinny road tires. I'm beginning to really be disgusted with 4-wheeler riders. I ran into a rainstorm at mile 30. It was a really cold rain (this is Alaska, we don't have WARM rain). I got soaked totally through to my skin and within about 10 minutes of this, my thighs were numb. Yep, totally numb. I couldn't feel my shorts. I could feel them further up towards my torso which fooled my brain into thinking my shorts had ridden up my legs. It felt like I needed to pull them back down over my thighs. So I would look down, there they were, right where they were supposed to be. It was a weird mind/body disconnect thing. I finally got through the rain but wasn't able to warm up much. It would have been a 5 bug rating (the highest) if not for the rain.
Last weekend we took our ancient motorhome up to Gunsite Mountain/Eureka. The plan was to ride along Squaw Creek to Caribou Creek, into the back mountain valleys. It was supposed to be an easy ride but 4-wheelers have taken over the trail and have destroyed it. Mud bogs which are 3-4 feet deep, full of muddy, slick water even though it had not rained in awhile. The 4-wheelers get into a rut they created and then they spin out, making it worse, so they can get out of the ruts. The trail is getting wider, muddier and ruttier. We had to carry out bikes through a lot of brush a few times. Captain Balance had 1 crash when his tires slid sideways off a berm, he fell the opposite way down about 3 1/2 feet into one of the bogs which had a log under the water. He had a very sore thigh after that one. The weather turned bad, we turned around. That was a 1 Bug ride.
Its getting dark at night here, a sign that summer will soon be over. It's too short sometimes. I will be flying out in September to your remote cabin for Caribou hunting (we eat it and live off it, it's not for sport. That's life in Alaska. Dont judge it if you don't understand it). I may do a 5K run in a few weeks, I haven't decided. I blew off the last one for the Squaw Creek ride.
Time to think about winter riding.