Friday, March 30, 2007

Commuting Dreams and a Broken Couch

I purchased a new couch from Fred Meyer's last week. Capt'n balance pointed out that the frame is broken - the arm isn't connected to the base. I never noticed it, the only visible signs are a slight wrinkle in the fabric at the base of the couch, on the side, not visible to you while sitting on the couch and he noticed the arm move out when Bike Boy sat down on it. I called Fred Meyer, they said it has to go through the manufacturer, who would come out and either fix it or replace it. I finally get in touch with the manufacture (not in Alaska), they say I have to go through the retailer - Fred Meyer. I call Fred Meyers, they say it's not their problem because it's been 2 weeks since I purchased it. I tell them it's not been 2 weeks since I 1st contacted them, I spoke to 1 male employee, who put me through to a lady employee who told me to contact the manufacture. It took a few days to get the manufacturer due to weekend and my work hours, the time differences caused delays, the manufacturer tell me to go through the retailer so I'm back where I started. So today, the department supervisor is on vacation and the assistant supervisor is not in today, maybe he will be there tomorrow. I have my receipt and all other paperwork, there is NOTHING that says there are no returns except within the 1st 24 hours. As I tried to explain to the 2nd person I spoke to today at Fred Meyer, THEY have been giving me incorrect information, based on THEIR directions, they have responsibility in this not being resolved in time-limits which they don't tell consumers about. I still have a broken couch, have not been able to talk to a single person who can actually help me and no end in sight. I am NOT happy about this.

I want the snow to be gone, the air to warm up. I want to start riding to work. BUT there is still snow on the ground, the air still has a chill, the bike path is still lost under snow.

I told Capt'n Balance that I am really looking forward to riding to/from work again. He isn't excited about it. He is concerned about me crashing on my skinny tires, getting hit by a truck, kidnapped and anything else that can go wrong. I certainly don't want anything to go wrong. Those are all possibilities. I all the precautions that I can. Probably the most dangerous part of my ride is crossing a main road, the bike path is in a really bad spot, not at a corner or a stop and I have to cross 5 lanes. It's a poorly thought out cross. Then about a hundred yards from that cross, the bike path becomes part of the road and a 90 degree turn is shared. This is a bad design because the only thing separating the road from the path is the painted yellow line, which wears away very quickly and the vehicles end up using the entire bike path as part of the turn. As this is an on-ramp, the road and path continue up a pretty steep hill. Going the opposite direction on this section, I can pick up a lot of speed, this hill is long and the steepest part of the entire ride. Going this direction, the hill ends at the 90 degree turn. Since vehicles are on the bike path 95% of the time, extra caution is required going both directions. There is no signs up showing the bike path is there and once the paint is gone, it's easy for the drivers not to even know they are on the bike path, so I don't blame them.

I then go through 2 more major high-volume intersections but I feel pretty ok there because vehicles have to stop, everything is well-marked and I am hard to miss with my hi-vis clothing.

The next problem area is another well-marked intersection BUT it is near a high school so there are a lot of stupid teenage drivers who don't know pedestrian laws, may parents who are dropping off kids who are in a big rush, etc. These drivers tend to look right through me, make right turns without looking and are just plain stupid.

One section is also regularly covered with a few inches of gravel and rocks kicked up by 4-wheelers, there is so much gravel you can't even see any pavement. My skinny tires can't ride that so I have to go into the road until it's cleaned off.

I recently purchased a hi-vis illumnite jacket and a Cygo-lite li-ion dual cross light. The small battery is GREAT! I won't need the light until fall, soon it won't get dark at all.

I'm thinking of taking the Kona out for it's maiden ride outside today. The road near my home is dry and ice-free, traffic shouldn't be too bad if I get out early enough. I have a few things to do today so it depends on if I have time.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

I Need a New Coffee Cup

It's snowing....

I think my coffee cup has some sort of weather juju going on. It's the graphics, I'm sure. This is my favorite cup but I'm willing to give it up.

Someone send me a cup that has summer juju.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

18 inch Lake Trout, too small, released it
Bikin' at the Cabin

Picture 1) Matanuska Glacier
Picture 2) Arriving at the Cabin
Picture 3) Crosswind Lake
Picture 4) Knot Art butterfly

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Cabin Time

We went to our cabin on Crosswind Lake on the 10th, got back yesterday. I was feeling pretty sick Friday the 9th and wasn't looking forward to being sick in the middle of the wilderness. I went to the dr, got a prescription even though the dr thought I had the flu. Dr said don't take it unless I really feel like I need to and if it was the flu, the antibiotics wouldn't help.

We drive north 2.5 hours to Lake Louise, spend a long time loading sleds to pull behind the snowmachines. We had TONS of stuff to haul in - lumber and shower stall for a new bath house/sauna, windows and a couch for the guest cabin as well as fuel, food, a small ice-fishing house made out of a truck sleeper - in which my dog K.C rode in on the trail, and the ice bike. A very fast snowmachine/mobile ride (1 hour) on a PERFECT trail into the cabin, nice and smooth. It has never been that smooth and fast before.

The temperatures were way down there, it took hours for the cabin to warm up. Finally got everything unloaded, the cabin warm, dinner cooked, a few drinks and went to bed. Everything was great until I woke up the next morning, I was SICK.

Really sick. I am woozy, feeling like I will pass out every time I stand up, etc. I am telling Capt'n Balance he may need to bungee me to an sled, hook me up to a snowmachine and pull me out to Glennallen to the hospital if I don't start feeling a bit better, it was THAT BAD. I choked down some food and coffee and didn't feel like I was going to die, so that was an improvement. Spent the day being miserable and the cabin is no place to feel miserable. We are in the middle of NOWHERE. The wind is blowing, windchill is 25 to 40 below 0, REALLY cold. The kind of cold that makes my fingertips feel like they have been smashed by a hammer after being outside for only a few minutes. Oh yeah, we use an outhouse and being a girl, lets just say I use the outhouse more than the guys (It's a very nice outhouse, big open window for ventilation) and the outhouse is a ways away from the cabin so I have a little walk to it. So I am suffering....I get the medication the dr prescribed, still in the bag from the store with the paperwork on how to take it.

I read how to take it and then notice the pharmacist has a big red circle with a question mark around the allergy alert. It says I am not supposed to take this medication if I have had an allergy to another related medication and the pharmacist circled that I DO have an allergy to the related medication. what do I do now? I decided to take it anyway, telling all the guys to watch me in case my head swells to the point of exploding. No reaction and I finally started feeling better by day 4.

Temps continued to be COLD, 37 below 0 F. at night, no wind chill. I caught an 18 inch lake trout (too small, released it), took Bike Boy snowboarding, jigged for more fish, drank beer, ate rabbit (Bike Boy got his 1st rabbit, hunting only allowed if it is going to be for food, not sport), ate more food, slept, drank a little, drew on the walls - butterfly with a bike. (Knot Art, using the knots in the plywood for noses, is all over the walls of our cabin - Capt'n Balance is an artist).

Capt'n Balance and I had our own little Crosswind Ice Bike race around the cabins. No one else wanted to brave the cold and the snow. We were frozen by lap 3 but warmed up nicely with Tequila shots afterwards. This is the very 1st bicycle to EVER be at Crosswind Lake. Yeah, I'm famous on the lake now and maybe we will get more bikes up there and make it an annual ride, the winner is who can do the most laps without getting frostbitten. Notice I had on slippers, I was find while riding, but putting my feet down when stopping, the slippers lived up to their name.

I can't get any pictures to download, will post them later.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Bike and Beer T-Shirt Gallery

I recently did a Google search on Bike and Beer. Lots of interesting sites came up.

This one is pretty cool The Beer-Bike Tee Shirt Gallery.

I didn't know Oscar the Grouch drank beer!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Frigid Moose Drewl

Bike Boy, Capt'n Balance aka "The Sweeper" and I did the 1st Annual Frigid Moose Drewl race yesterday and it was a whole lotta fun!

The weather was PERFECT. We had been having some very high winds but they died down and the race was on!

Bike Boy was on his weekend visitation with his dad in Wasilla, so I headed out there to pick him up. I grabbed all the clothing, bikes and other gear I could think of. In the rush, I forgot his COAT. Darn. Fortunately his dad let him borrow a coat, so all was good. We get to the race location and the REAL RIDERS were showing up. Bike Boy and I spent some time trying to decided how may layers to pile on. I decided to go for more layers than I had originally planned. Bike Boy was good to go, even in his tennis shoes - that kid doesn't feel cold, blessing of youth I guess. He did have 2 pairs of socks on - one was a woolen pair.

Then Carlos and Mark, the organizers, start talking about the courses, I'm trying to listen and finish getting my gear on when Capt'n Balance suddenly appears! He wasn't going to come because he had too many other things to do. He decided at the last minute to come and be the course "sweeper", hence the helmet he made from the hand broom we use to sweep up ashes around our wood stove. He cracks me up, what a goof. He's almost always there to support me in my attempts to do this kind of thing. He knows how frustrating it sometimes is for me to be what I am now, because I still remember how it felt to be tough and kick ass like I used to.

The race starts, the most of the real bikers are on fat tire bikes, a few on regular tires. We have on our studded tires. The beginning of the trail was churned up a little then was nicely groomed but full of post holes from horses and moose. This is our 1st real winter trail ride (I mostly ride around a icy, paved road around my home), a new experience. I have to say, those post holes suck. They are not hugely difficult to ride over but they definitely ruin a nicely groomed trail.

We got past the post holes and then the fun really started. Nice, smooth packed trail, little ups and downs and corners - the kind that make me want to yell "WooHoo"! Just plain fun. Then we got to a frozen swamp and it was just beautiful! I just had to stop and look around. That is one of the things that makes me a slow mountain biker. I HAVE to look around. The sun was shining, the mountains were beautiful, it was just perfect. Then Capt'n Balance got out the camera and had me back track a few times for some pictures. Bike Boy took off ahead so we didn't get any pictures of him - he takes racing seriously - HA!

We finished the race, which was a race-at-your own pace, for us, anyway. It was a great ride. It's a lot more work riding snow but packed trails than icy roads. I loved it. Those are not staged smiles!

We chatted with Mark of
Wildfire Designs Bicycles and Carlos of Anchorage's Frigid Bits, I got to plug into some of Carlo's knowledge - Thanks Carlos!

The famous Frigid Bits burn barrel was fired up and I have to say, this is the coolest burn barrel ever. Customized for the Frigid Bits SnoBoys, made by a rider called Thirsty Work. He also made Frigid Bits Burn Barrel Ale labels and relabeled some beer bottles with them. They are really cool also. The best part (to me) is the Government warning on the label. Instead of warning pregnant women not to drink or whatever, these say "GOVERNMENT WARNING: DON'T WORK FOR THE GOVERNMENT"

That is like a message from GOD or something...ok, not near that profound, but pretty darn funny. I'm going to take the label to work...I work for the State government issuing federal and state benefits. It can be a grind on a persons very being. We need all the laughs we can get. I think most of my co-workers will get a good laugh.

It was a great day, a great ride, my world has expanded a little. I hope to someday do the long course, it would be great to be as fast as the real riders but for now I'm happy I got out there and did it.

Now Bike Boy wants a Wildfire fat tire bike. Maybe when he stops growing...that should give me a few years to save up some $$.

Check out more pictures of
the burn barrel and the post-ride party

Friday, March 02, 2007

Who's Yo Daddy??

My parents came over to my house last weekend. I was showing my dad my bike shop. I was explaining to him WHY I have so many bikes, the purpose for each one, when I came to my little winter bike.

He thought the winter bike set-up was pretty cool and and decided to take it for a ride. OKAY...I was a little concerned, he is pretty inactive and getting a little long in the tooth. I am sure he will never read this blog, so I feel pretty safe saying "long in the tooth" :) . But he is still THE DAD. So he off he went.

He rode around the barns and was pretty impressed with the grip of the studded tires. He said he went up and down some icy snow berms and the tires started to slip out but then the studs gripped and he was back on track (thank GOD, it would have been awful if he got hurt).

He really enjoyed his little ride, he had a big grin on his face when he was bringing the bike back into the shop (I missed that picture-darn).

Dad and I had a micro-bonding moment.
Watch out Frigid Bits Boys, Dad just might take you guys on....and you better let him win :)
The wind is still out of control here but it's supposed to end tonight, just in time for the Frozen Moose Drewl race tomorrow. It is a race-at-your-own-pace. I have just about talked myself INTO doing it, the hardest part for me is actually getting the guts to show up. I'm not fast or a technical mountain biker. I figure I will be the last rider out there....which is OK because someone has to be last, right??? And being last in a bike ride is better than not riding at all...right? Right.
I just read the Alaska Forum on Sounds like trail conditions will be good. I only have studded tires, no fat tires or whatever else the real winter riders use. Tomorrow will be interesting!