Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Into the Wilderness

I'm leaving tomorrow, driving 3.5 hrs up to Tulsona Lake, hopping on a Beaver (bush plane, this one is on floats), flying to Crosswind Lake to our cabin. 5 days of intense wilderness. Look out over the lake at night and it is pitch black, see stars like never before as there is no light pollution. Only sounds are from squirrels, gray jays, porcupine, hopefully caribou (caribou leg tendons make a snaping sound when they walk) and moose, eagles nest close by, always have young ones ready to leave the nest. Hopefully no bears will be interested in us. Tons of blueberries.

Beautiful fall colors, winter comes fast up there. We don't rough it, we have a dugout "refridgerator/freezer". It it like a root cellar I suppose. Keeps all our food cold. We have a generator for electricity when needed, we do have a tv up there so the guys can watch the Super Bowl at their annual Crosswind SuperBowl trip.
We have a shower, A shower stall which has a wash tub on top with a spigot coming down from the tub, works great. The newest cabin will have a bath house and sauna when it is finished.

Hopefully it will be good weather and good hunting. Sure would like to have a freezer full of moose or caribou. Last year the migration was different due to unusually cold then hot weather, the migration started, then the weather got hot so the caribou went back down, then it started up again once the weather cooled down and it was later than normal. I would like to stay up there for about a month sometime. Too bad I have to work...

My bike shop is coming along nicely, the new dementions are 15 X 21. The foundation is all done, the rafters are cut and ready to be assembled, framing shouldn't take too long. pricing windows and metal, it will be metal siding and roof. Also still looking for a little heater, which will either be propane or heating oil. Probable heating oil, cheaper than propane. I can't wait!!! The rain has slowed it's construction down a bit. Finally stopped raining but it's supposed to start up again tomorrow. Lots of flood damage towards Sutton and up the Parks Hwy, I heard.

Until next time

Monday, August 28, 2006

Commute Aborted

Got to the Park-n-Ride, unloaded the bike, got going on my way. Felt funny after about a 1/3 mile, flat back tire. GRRR. Turned around, pumped it up, went flat again, loaded the bike, took it home, got back in the truck and drove to work. I think I over-inflated it last night and popped the seal on the valve. My pump's gauge is NOT accurate at all and so I check it with the tire gauge. It was up to 110 lbs, the maximum, I lowered it to 100. I guess those few seconds at 110 were too much. That's just a guess, I could have punctured it in that 1/3 mile. I will inspect it tonight when I change out the tube.

Bummer, it's actually stopped raining (supposed to start again Wednesday). It's sunny and fairly warm. Would have been a great day to ride. I'm running out of time as winter gets closer and closer.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Strange Day

My morning commute started off uneventful. It was really nice to be able to ride the bike path the whole way now they have swept it off after I set some emails. No more having to jump in the road :)

I was running a little late due to a late start and was amost to my office when I saw a truck across the bike path and half way into the rode next to it. I thought it must have died and the driver tried to pull off the road, only it was facing INTO the street, rather than AWAY from the street...Hmm, I thought.

I got closer, had to get off my bike to get around the truck because it's blocking the bike path and I didn't want to drop down the curb on my road bike. Then I see that the truck is actually caught up in a fencing topped with barbed wire that protects a mini-storage complex. A bit further down, the security gate to the mini-storage units has been run over. This kid RAN through the big, metal gate with his truck into the mini-storage complex, couldn't get back out over the now twisted, broken gate so he decided to drive through the fence and ended up with barbed wire and fencing catching under his truck and he couldn't get his truck free. I decided to call the police, he saw me on my cell phone and took off on foot, leaving his truck caught on the fence and half in the middle of the street. A police car passed my about 30 seconds later. There is no way this was a "I swerved to miss a squirrel" situation. I think he was trying to break into the storage units.

I ride on to work, frustrating crappy work from co-workers that I have to fix, typical day.

Then we go to a friends for dinner. On the way home, I see what I think I a tiny little puppy in the MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. I warn my husband about it so he doesn't run over it, we pull off the road to go get it and the guy behind us stops his car and lays on the horn. Here is this FREAKED out animal, tiny tiny thing, in the middle of a 4 lane road, with some jerk honking at it. The guy probably would have run it over if we had been right there. Anyway, it starts squealing. Yes, squealing. It's not a puppy, it's a tiny PIG!!! In the middle of the road!! There is no place for a pig to wander away from in that part of town. We are baffled as to where it came from. We shoo'd it off the road and was able to pick it up. It was really squealing like crazy. It was SOO tiny! We thought it wasn't injured and so we jump back in my truck discussing what to do with a baby pig found in the middle of the road. We decide just to take it home, we have a farm after all, but no pigs, just cows. We are figuring we will have to feed it some of the calf formula but a calf nipple is too big, ect,ect. We are at a stoplight when a guy pulls up next to us and asks us if we are the people who found a pig in the road. He said he saw it fall out of a horse trailer and he had pulled the guy with the horse trailer over and told him, up the road a bit we saw it pulled over. So we give the guy back this tiny little piglet who fell out of a horsetrailer on the way to the Palmer State Fair (the state fair started tonight). Poor little pig, it was really happy to be back with it's mom. I can just imagine waking up every hour or so to bottle feed a baby pig. Yeah, good thing it's back with mom!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Bike and Beer photo: In Heat Wheat. I really like this beer. I realize I can't or don't want to drink all the beers that have been suggested to me, so whoever is interested, email me YOUR BIKE AND BEER PHOTO AND I WILL POST IT. You will still get your 1/2 second of bike/beer fame. Just reply to a post and I will send you an email addr to send your photos to.  Posted by Picasa

Pioneer Peak, behind my home - SNOW!!!! Posted by Picasa

Short break in the rain revealed SNOW on the Talkeetna Mountains (Hatcher's Pass/Gold Mint Trail area) - Yeah, those are a few of our cows :) Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Friday, August 18, 2006

My road bike, all dressed up for commuting!  Posted by Picasa


Yeah, you read that right! Captain Balance has finally realized I'm serious about this bike thing...only took 1 1/2 years but who's counting?

I was complaining the other day about having no room for my 2 bikes, my son's 2 bikes and all the gear, lubes, work stand, tools, etc. Right now it is all in my downstairs family room along with my sewing stuff, a couch, woodstove and my treadmill. It is also the main entrance to our home. I just have NO room. We have a big, really big barn but I don't want my stuff in there because whatever is in there seems to become "communal" property to all the in-laws and there friends, a philosophy I don't get because they take stuff without asking, maytimes damage it, then never put it back. This has happened with snowmobiles, vehicle tires, on and on. I'm big on RESPECTing other people's belonging, asking premission and returning it in better shape than you got it. And my bikes, tools, gear is MINE. Selfish, maybe.
My son and Captian Balance have free access to all of it (the bike shop), Bike Boy 2 has limited access to it, because I trust them to care for it all and put it back.
I took a personality test once and this was a main characteristic of my type of personality. DONT take my stapler at work without asking me!!! I have my NAME on my stapler, I will KNOW if someone has used it(joking)! I am the way I am, I don't apologize for THIS part of my personality. I apoligize in advance for the rest of my personality :)

So all this week in the evenings Captain Balance has been milling the lumber. It will be about 21 x 15, heated with propane or oil-drip stove, full electric, lots of windows, a ramp rather than stairs. Bikes stored on one end, work table and stand at the other end, lots of shelves, pegboards for tools. My Space. Captain Balance is calling it my DogHouse, so he can send me there when he's mad at me (What I'd do NOW????). "Michelle, go to your shop!!" my reply "OK!! WooHoo!!" and do the happy dance.

I am borrowing Bike Guy's Sidekick's road bike. It has carbon fiber fork and seat stays, drop bars and aerobars. I don't know how my shoulder will do with the drop and aero bars. I had riser bars put on my road bike, shoulder couldn't handle the weight distribution from the drop bars. Sidekick wants me to buy it, he's outgrown it. It is SOO NOT SET UP FOR ME. I feel way too stretched out on it to where I can't reach the brakes very well. I was going to switch stems from my bike but the cables on sidekick's bike aren't long enough to use my stem. I could go with even or a "little" lower than the seat. Sidekick's bars are 3-4 inches below the seat right now and I still need to raise the seat as it is too low for me right now. I might as well be folded 90 degrees. That is not comfortable to me.

Anywhoo, I am looking forward to getting some rest this weekend. The weather is still POURING RAIN. I purchased some neoprene shoe covers yesterday from the bike guy and I went to Walmart and purchased some waterproof neoprene gloves today. I think I may try to find a waterproof helmet liner with a flap that extends down the back of the head to help keep my long hair dry when I ride in the rain. So far I have only found them in stores in Canada. I will have to see about exchange rates and shipping. I really want to keep my hair dry if possible. it takes forever to dry and it is not appropiate to be soggy in my workplace.

Bike Guy's shop got broken-into. Smashed out the door and frame, grabbed 3 bikes and miscellaneous stuff. Grab and dash. That really makes me mad. It been a rough go for the Bike Guy, bikes damaged in shipping, dropped into water, break-in's. I hope it gets better.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Riding + Forgetting = I'm Tired

Got up this morning, felt tired. Decided to go ahead and ride in because I wouldn't be able to fall back asleep anyway. Was slow moving but got out of the house at 6:15 a.m. Temp was 47 degrees and rainy.

I got to the park and ride, unloaded my bike, realized I forgot the battery to my headlight. Darn, a dark drizzly day, really wanted to be as visible as possible. Oh well, I almost glow in the dark with my irradiated carrot colored reflective vest and rear blinky light, I should be ok.

The weather changed from a drizzle to an all-out rain (Alaskan-style). My jacket is waterproof but my Firewall pants are only water resistant. However, with my little front fender and back rack, I was happy to discover I wasn't getting much road spray. I stayed warm so that was good. I'm slogging along in the rain when I start to feel like I'm going to bonk. Yeah. I then realize I didn't eat any breakfast except 1 quickly cooked scrambled egg. That is not energy food. I'm going up hills, riding briskly to keep warm. nooo enneeerggyy. I feel like a deflating balloon. I'm starting to feel grumpy when a big red truck passes me and the driver gives me a honk and a thumbs up. That made me smile and squished the grumpies. I was probably quite a sight, orange dayglow with hi-viz reflective strips, soggy and dripping, weaving up a hill. Commuters are NOT common here in the Mat Su Valley, especially in the rain. I'm unique - :)

I tried out a new route to get through Wasilla, this one is much better. Don't have to dodge vehicles turning on and off the highway. Little longer but safer and also smoother as I have been riding the sidewalks. Wasilla wins the prize for bike paths that don't connect to each other. Starts at a logical place and just ends in the middle of no-where. I don't get it.

My shoes, socks and the legs of my pants were wet by the time I got to work. At lunch I realized I'm going have to do something to dry them out or I face a wearing wet gear home. What to do, what to do. I took my little fan, put it under my desk and laid out my shoes, socks and gloves. They were dry by the end of my day. I hung my shirt, pants and undergarments in the utility closet next to my desk. Just happens that the maintenance guy shows up today, out of the blue. I have to move my bike so he can get in there and 1st thing he sees are my clothing. I could see the wheels turning in his head, wondering if someone moved in there. I explained, he understood, no problem.

The ride home was good, much drier.

I need a break from work. Why can't people be reasonable and just DO their work instead of trying to pass the buck? Then committees have to be formed to figure out WHO should do the work and what the procedure should be. Now they are "giving" us 2 computer monitors to be placed right next to each other. Able to do twice the work. yeah right, we will be google-eyed zombies.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Monday, August 14, 2006

It's a Monday - The Daily Blunder

Weather: Rainy, 52 degrees F. 16 miles round trip, saved 1 gallon of gas and $3. Only $1586 more to go before I offset cost of my bike, gear and clothing. Damn, commuting IS worth it!

Got up nice and early today. I had been trying to figure out how to keep my long hair dry in the rain. I came up with a winner idea: My long hair is too long to put up in my helmet or tucked in a helmet/head liner. I figured I would put it is it's usual ponytail, then I would wrap the ponytail in plastic wrap, such as Saran Wrap. I would then secure it with another ponytail band. Damn, I get GREAT ideas when I can't sleep. I didn't do it today, instead I grabbed a shower cap. Yeah, tuck everything into a shower cap, it's baggier than the helmet liner and my hair won't be soaked with rainwater but I'm sure it would be soaked with sweat from the mini-showercap sauna. Suggestions for this problem are welcome...

Prepacked my work clothes and lunch last night. Hard rain had slowed to a drizzle. I added my bike rack, Topeak Trunk, blinky light for the rear and light in the front, put on my waterproof jacket, backpack and dayglo saftey vest sized for a full-keg beer belly. I changed out my pedals back to my SPD/platform style and dug out my shimano mountain bike shoes so my feet would stay drier. Cliping in and out of the SPD's is SOOO much easier than the Look style pedals. I will have to figure out what is going on with those pedals, probably over the winter.

Everything going great, feeling good and strong for the 8 mile ride with the hills I sometimes dread. I have to remind myself I CAN DO IT, I CAN MAKE IT UP THE HILLS. I get to where I have to cross a pretty big road, all is great and well. I clip out with my right foot, leave the left clipped in. I have done this hundreds of times but this is the FIRST TIME clipping out with a trunk rack!! My bike is now top-heavy. I immediately start falling to the left due to the top-heavy weight. Oh shit, I think as I land in the road I'm following. A guy in a truck is watching me, freaking out. I realize this, jump up, give him a smile and a double "thumbs up, EVERYTHING IS OK!". No pain, no injury, just stupidity. This is the FIRST TIME I have ever fallen due to being clipped in. I was thinking it won't happen to me, I'm too "aware". Well, I was fully aware of what was happening, so yeah, aware isn't always where it's at. The rest of the ride is uneventful until I decide to take a shortcut and realize I'm about to go off a curb, evasive manuever follows. Fortunately I was able to pull out. Gotta pay better attention.

Driver's on my ride home are much meaner. They have a bad 'Tude after working all day and rainy weather makes them grumpier. Am I that way behind the wheel?? I don't think so. Young guys are the worst drivers to encounter- late teens, early 20's. They are assholes.

Looking forward to tomorrows ride! I plan on not falling and watching out for curbs that jump out from nowhere.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

I'm Commuting - I'm offically a FREAK.

I started riding my road bike to work, at least half way to work. There is no way to get to the Park-n-Ride unless I ride the freeway, I'm not going to do that. So I load up my truck, ride 7 miles to the Park-N-Ride on the Parks HWY. Then I ride from there to my office 7.65 miles. It's gots some fairly decent hills up into Wasilla. I'm enjoying it but a few things would make it better. The bike path needs to be swept badly. There are sections where you can't even tell it's a paved path, it's so covered with gravel from 4-wheeler's shooting it all over the place when they spin out. There also is a 90 degree corner, which is actually shared with part of an on-ramp to freeway. The vehicles cut the corner, there is no more "lane" paint, so they just ride right onto the path. On my ride home, I come down a hill, opposite direction of the traffic on this on-ramp. Vehicles can't see me coming at this 90 degree corner, they are concentrating on driving. So I quickly figured out that I have to actually STOP, right at the end of this nice long hill, look for on-coming vehicles before continuing on. I don't blame the drivers, it's a bad design to combine a bike path and 90 degree turn onto an on-ramp. I called the State Dept of Transporation, asking if they will sweep off the bike path. I got a feeble response, I don't think it will happen. I'm going to see if Captain Balance might run his snowplow over the worst area, I think the gravel is too thick, big and heavy for a sweeper. It would fling golf ball size rocks like crazy. We will see. Maybe I will just get out the snow shovel and spend the weekend shoveling gravel.
I also need to figure out a better way to carry my lunch and clothing. I don't like the backpack. It's awkward and heavy, depending of how much food I bring for lunch :)

I have had some interesting comments from my co-workers since I started this. One lady told me I was "inspirational". I said "Really???" I wouldn't have thought of that. Most people come up to me and ask me "WHY??", I just say I'm a freak, willing to give up an hour of sleep so I can ride and they seem satified with that - Ha. Another lady, who's son was a pro-road racer in Europe and a long time road rider regularly asks me where I'm riding. I have discovered a few nice route for lunch-time, weekend long rides and quick hill rides. After hearing about my current commuting route, she thanked me for sharing my routes and said she likes the way I think. She said she never even considered the routes I take and she is going to check out a few more of them. The reality of Alaska, there aren't many routes, you have to look for them. She told me she has started riding more since discovering these routes. Cool!

The weather is really bad tonight and not looking good for tomorrow so I'm not sure if I will ride tomorrow. It was supposed to pour rain today, so I drove to work, it rained for an hour then nothing. I was a bit bothered so I put the bike on the trainer and did an easy short session.

I'm a little concerned with my road bike pounding over the potholes and cracks in the sidewalks/cross walks in Wasilla. I try to "float" my bike over as much as possible but there are still quite a bit of hits. I don't want to damage it. I wish I had a cyclocross or some other commuter type.

I was inspecting my bike a bit today as I was putting it in the trainer. I noticed my rear tire was toward the left chainstay. Turns out my rear tire skewer on the right side was not all the way in the dropout. Now how did that happen?? I haven't taken off my rear tire EVER that I can remember (no flats!!!). So I got it all where it should be, had to then adjust the rear brake so it didn't run on the newly centered rim. I will have to tighten up the quick release, maybe it loosened up with all the riding.

I give my commuting a 4 BUG rating. I need to also figure out a way to keep my hair from getting a terminal case of helmet/helmet liner head. It's tough being a girl sometimes - :)

Sunday, August 06, 2006

A guy, a bike and a dog... Posted by Picasa

K.C. completely stuck his head into the muddy water, his head is the golden color of his body, NOT the dark color. He's a mud head. Posted by Picasa

4-wheeler trail destruction at Squaw Creek Posted by Picasa

4 Bug Ride

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.