Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Bear, a Butt and a Titanium Snow Bike

Many of you have see pictures I have posted when we rent a yurt in Eagle River (see July 2006 and July 2007 archives for pictures) while backpacking. This yurt is our home base before moving back further into the valley and where we meet up with one or two of our friends and have a pretty active night of drinking, eating the tons of food the guys pack in (lightening up our load), bald guys wearing moss wigs reliving their hairy glory days, bike boys wearing moss moustaches dreaming of manhood, telling lies, etc., under the midnight sun.

We always seen bears on these trips, some quite close up, all black bears so far. We now always have a gun and bear spray, try to make adequate noise but with a 35 lb pack on my back, I get into a zone where I don't want to be talking or making lots of noise. The tinkle of our bear bells isn't really very loud, especially when hiking in the rain or wind, as in this case. But this is the risk we take whenever we go out mountain biking, hiking, camping, whatever. I was also surprised of the bear activity still going on this late in the year. Life in Alaska. I'm glad this girl is OK but I don't quite agree with her conclusion. A bluff charge is a warning, a bite is aggressive.

Jogger survives bear by seat of her pants
EAGLE RIVER: Sow grizzly bites woman in rump before being run off by a protective pooch.
Published: October 27, 2007 If there's an ideal way to be mauled by a bear, Sarah Wallner lived through it Thursday.

Wallner, a 32-year-old Anchorage nurse, was sore but otherwise fine Friday, one day after a grizzly bear attacked her about two miles from the Eagle River Nature Center in Chugach State Park.
Everyone from the victim to state biologists to the person who carted the injured woman to safety agree the encounter near the Rapids Camp yurt took every good turn imaginable -- other than the part where the bear took a bite out of Wallner's butt.
The grizzly was a sow protecting a cub rather than a fresh carcass, and she fled the area after the attack, Fish and Game biologist Rick Sinnott said.
The victim was a Providence Medical Center nurse who, despite the shock of being mauled, remained calm because she knew her wounds weren't life threatening.
"I knew I wasn't gonna bleed out from a wound on the butt," Wallner said.
The first person on the scene was a man on an all-terrain vehicle who is trained to respond to wilderness emergencies. Paul Hanis got Wallner safely away from the scene of the attack, stopped about a mile down the trail to check the wound, and decided emergency treatment could wait until they reached the visitors center.
Topping the list of best-case-scenarios was the presence of a genuine hero: A year-old husky-shepherd mix named Genaro (pronounced Hanero).
Genaro belongs to Hanis, but the medium-size dog was running on a leash with Wallner, who said she was about 20 yards from the yurt when the bear attacked.
"She was about 25 feet away on a bluff, and in a blink of an eye she was on me, just like you read about," said Wallner, who came to Alaska five years ago to attend nursing school and decided to stay.
"I was just trying to get down on the ground. I was turning to go down, and that's when she bit me -- that's why she got my butt, because I was turning.
"During that, the dog got loose and got between us and the bear let out this roar, and she went after him. He's really the little hero, because she ran after him."
Wallner propped herself up against a rock but was afraid to stand up, because she thought the bear might be guarding a kill nearby. After what seemed like an eternity to Wallner but was actually about five minutes, the dog returned, unharmed.
"I couldn't believe that a dog was able to get that bear distracted," Wallner said. "If I had really been alone, I think the bear wouldn't have lost her focus on me."
About 10 minutes later, Hanis -- who, like Wallner, is a volunteer at the nature center -- arrived on an ATV filled with firewood for the yurt.
He drove Wallner about a mile from the scene of the attack, toward the visitors center, before stopping to check her wounds.
"Judging by the rip in her pants I didn't think it was that bad, but then upon seeing the wounds, it was a little worse than I thought," he said.
They continued to the center, where Hanis washed two deep punctures. Wallner then drove herself to an Eagle River clinic, where she spent about four hours getting four puncture wounds, two of them quite deep, cleaned.
"The doctor said 'I can't believe you're not just shredded.' Even where she bit into tissue, she didn't hit the hip bone or joints," Wallner said.
Sinnott said park rangers and state biologists followed tracks that indicate the bear was a sow with a cub.
Some brown bears are already hibernating, he said, but it's not unusual for them to stay awake and on the prowl this late in the year.
What's keeping them up?
Salmon that a couple of months ago migrated up creeks feeding Eagle River and have since spawned out.
"They're not finding live ones, but there are certainly dead ones that they weren't willing to eat a month ago that look pretty good now," Sinnott said.
"We haven't had a cold snap or a deep snow, so they're hanging out," he said.
The Albert Loop Trail, which crosses the river in several spots near the visitors' center, is routinely closed each fall because of bear activity, Sinnott said. But Wallner and Hanis weren't on that trail Thursday.
Strong winds probably played a part in the attack, Sinnott said. Wallner was downwind from the bear, and the wind was loud enough to obscure any noise she was making.
Had she not been jogging, she might have noticed bear tracks, Wallner said. But she runs on the trail often and said she's never had a scare.
"It's one of my favorite places to run," she said. "I've spent the last couple of years making myself brave enough to go out there by myself.
"Usually I have bear spray with me, but I didn't that day because I wasn't thinking they'd still be out and about."
And even if she had bear spray, the bear charged so quickly she likely wouldn't have had time to use it.
Sinnott said the main trail remains open, and Hanis said anyone with yurt reservations needn't worry.
"I'd not be nervous at all," he said. "Fish and Game didn't find a kill, and they think it was just a sow-cub issue, which could happen anywhere."
As for Wallner, she plans to return to the trail soon. She doesn't think the sow is an aggressive bear, just one protective of her cub.
"I think she was just warning me," she said, "and then the dog nicely distracted her."

And on a bike note, I went into Anchorage this weekend and stopped in Speedway Cycles and checked out the titanium FatBack snow bike....sweet! Way light. If I was going to buy a specialized snowbike, this would be it. The Bike Dude got it down to 25lbs. I heard Surly Pugsleys average around 35 lbs and I imagine it takes a lot of strenght to push those fat tires and rims around on the snow. I don't think I would last long on a Pugsley. Of course, a featherweight isn't cheap, about 5000 smacks. The Bike Dude said he would let me take it for a test ride when we get some snow, how COOL is that! I will drive back into Anchorage just for that ride (Anchorage traffic really sucks)!

Check out the FatBack HERE

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


To the North

To the East

To the South

To the West, taken the evening of 10/13/07, before snow

Bike Boy, Jumping off his bike at high speed, sliding on the ice, then jumps back on the off! As soon as I got home today, we jumped on our winter bikes and went for a ride. It was really, really nice.

A corner in my bike shop

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Kitty JuJu

I'm really glad this week of over. It's been a difficult one.

It started off routinely enough, then progressively went downhill to a new level of yucky weirdness.

It started on Wednesday. I hit a cat on my way to work. It was one of those dark, dark mornings that suck up light rather than reflect it. I'm going about 55 mph when this BLACK cat runs RIGHT under my wheel. Thunk, bumpy bump. There was absolutely NO WAY to avoid it. I was freaked...I have never hit an animal before. And I like cats, squirrels, fuzzy bunnies....that kind of thing. But I knew there was no way this cat survived. And I have to say I was too much of a coward to go back and move it off the road, I couldn't handle seeing that cat. My cowardice made me feel even worse.

I called Capt'n Balance, he took care of it.

That evening, Capt'n Balance told me he was walking past an empty dumpster behind the shop where he works and heard a frantic meowing. He look in and there was a little white kitten stuck in the dumpster in about 4 inches of dirty, cold water. He got a box and a plank, dropped the box into the dumpster and leaned the plank on it up to the top of the dumpster (the plank was too short on it's own) but the kitten was too little and couldn't get up on the into the dumpster Capt'n Balance goes. The kitten is really scared so he scooped it into the box and climbed out. He set the box on the ground and walked away from it and then the kitten took off to where ever it came from.

So I kill a cat, he saves one.

The week continues on, one of my young clients is killed in a car accident. Uhhh, no...

I end up working a 50 hour week and I'm burned out. The sky is heavy with gray clouds and looks like I feel. All I want to do is go home, drink a beer or 2 and watch mindless TV and sleep. I did all that but sleep was difficult to come by.

I wake up this morning to about 1 inch of snow. It's white, light and beautiful but melting fast. I start my day, wishing I could sleep longer but it's no use in trying. Bike Boy needs a haircut so I go into my garage to get my truck out....and there....sitting on my truck bed A BLACK CAT. Kitten to be more specific.

I got home Friday night after 7 pm and pulled into my garage. The only time my garage door is open is when I pull in or out. No one has been in the garage since I got home from work Friday, the door hasn't been open. So how and when did this kitten get into my garage?? Did it stow away in my truck while I was at work or at the grocery store????

I get the fuzzy's shaking and scared. Bike Boy and I are just going "What??? How???". Now what are we going to DO with it??? Bike Boy wants to keep it and takes it into the kitchen to get it food, water, give it a name, make it a bed, give it bath, whatever. We can't keep it. Again, I do like cats and I am a tad tempted....maybe to redeem myself after Wednesday? Maybe this is the dead cat reincarnate?...but I don't believe in that hokey.

I call Capt'n Balance and tell him. He agrees this is getting sort of spooky and asks what I'm going to do with it. I decide we will go around to the neighbors to see if it belongs to any of them or if they want it. No one owns it or wants it. I go to the vet down the road to get the location of the Animal Rescue no-kill shelter. The girls at the vet tell me they just called the shelter and it's full, not accepting any animals. The only alternative is the pound and most likely this little fuzzball will be put down in 48 hrs. Damn. 2 cats gone in less than a week. Bad kitty juju.

One of the girls then says she will take it...YES!!! I'm relieved........the kitty will live. Good kitty juju.

So now I'm home again. The snow has melted and everything is starting to freeze up. I'm tired still. Ready to open a beer and watch mindless TV again. But tonight, I think I will sleep better.

I was taking my road bike to work to ride at lunch but I have been working through lunches. Next week I will take my Kona winter bike with the studded tires and just go for some slow, fresh air rides. I just feel drained.

I have some nice pictures to post but blogger is having some issues and I just keep getting error messages. I will post them later.

Friday, October 12, 2007

How to Communicate with the OTHERS

Now I understand how to communicate better with the OTHERS that we share this island with.

Written by Elden "The Fat Cyclist" on

"The fact that you are reading this tells me all I really need to know about you. You're a cyclist. I'm a cyclist. We therefore both know what's really important in life (riding). We see the world as it truly is (a place to ride our bikes). If we were each to answer the question, "What would you do with a million dollars?" our answers would vary perhaps in what equipment we'd buy and where we'd go to ride, but in little else.

If we were to have a conversation, we'd have an understanding of how each other thinks. Maybe you're a Cat 2 roadie and maybe I'm a cross-country endurance geek, but we both know that turning the cranks in a perfect circle is the ultimate form of self-expression.

Sadly, not everyone is like you and I. I am sad to say that there are people out there who rarely - if ever! - ride bikes at all. It's possible you even know someone like this. A coworker. A family member. You'd be surprised at how common non-cyclists are, actually. You probably encounter them several times per day and simply don't notice them, because they aren't interesting.
Mostly, you can safely ignore these people, simply by riding away from them. Sometimes, though - at a company party, say - it is impossible to avoid non-cyclists. Surrounded, you have no choice but to communicate with them.

Don't worry. I'm here to help. Just follow these five simple rules.

Rule 1: Understand their bizarre world view
You need to understand that non-cyclists don't realize that cycling is the most important thing any person can be doing at any given moment at any point in the universe. Non-cyclists' eyes - and minds - are shuttered, leaving them to believe that things like friends, community, work, and even family supercede what they naively call "just exercise." It's sad - OK, it's pathetic - but it's true.
To appease non-cyclists, when asked about what matters to you, you must from time to time mention friends, family, the environment, or some other such nonsense. Otherwise, they'll never leave you alone and it will be hours until you can get away, back to the comfort and kinship you feel when with your bicycle.

Rule 2. Use metaphors from "real life"
Non-cyclists aren't ready to hear about your exquisite existence in its unadulterated perfection. No, you will need to translate the sublime cycling experience into terms they might be able to understand. Naturally, you and I know that the following metaphors don't do the actual cycling event justice, but they'll have to do.
To describe how it feels to ride down perfectly banked, twisty forested singletrack on a cool autumn morning: "It's like that scene from Return of the Jedi where Luke and Leia are zooming on their flying motorcycle things. Except you're the one powering the flying motorcycle. And you're not being chased by stormtroopers. And you don't have to tolerate the constant chattering of Ewoks."
To explain why you gladly get up at 4:30am each weekday morning to ride your road bike for three hours on an entirely unremarkable road: "You know how you have to drive your car in stop-and-go traffic to get to work every morning? Well, imagine if you didn't have to stop. And imagine your car going as fast as you can make it go. And imagine starting the day feeling perfect. It's kind of like that."
To explain why you pay $200 to participate in a race you have very little chance in winning: "Ever play the lotto? It's like that, except much, much more so."

Rule 3: Pretend to be interested in their life
This one's going to knock you off your feet. Believe it or not, non-cyclists sometimes think they have something interesting to say, have an interesting hobby, or an interesting experience to relate.
This, of course, is utter nonsense.
Still, for the sake of propriety, you must act as if you care. Feel free, as they talk, to pleasantly daydream about biking. Just smile and say, "Absolutely," from time to time.
Warning: It's entirely possible that a non-cyclist will say something with which you disagree. When this happens, do not engage. If you do, you will have unwittingly stepped into a non-cycling conversation, and who knows where that will lead, or when it will end.
Always remember: Be polite, be brief, be gone.

Rule 4. Act like their theory on doping in cycling is very interesting
A tactic non-cyclists will often employ, once they have discovered you are a cyclist, is to try to talk with you about cycling. This usually takes the form of trying to talk with you about doping in cycling.
You will, no doubt, be tempted to gouge your ears out rather than hear their simplistic, uninformed opinion ("Doping is bad") to its rambling, incoherent conclusion. After all, as a cyclist, you have no doubt been pummelled with story after story after story about doping. You have heard so much about doping that you could now be called as an expert witness at the next doping trial. Or open a lab. Or be the next president of WADA (and you're rightly confident you'd do a much better job).
But if you point any of this out to your non-cyclist "friend," he will no doubt take that as a sign that you are interested in continuing the conversation. So, instead, repeat this simple phrase, "Yeah, doping sucks."
Your friend will feel like he has made his point, whatever it was.

Rule 5. Don't tell them the truth about how much your bike cost
Few people ever own anything that works, fits, or looks as well as a truly well-built bike. And yet, when they find that your bike costs as much as their high-end computer or mid-range stereo, they will fake a heart attack, guaranteed.
The solution? Tell non-cyclists you paid $499.99 for your bike, no matter how much you really paid for it. This number has been scientifically formulated to sound like more than a non-cyclist would pay for a bike, without otherwise drawing attention to itself.
No matter how you try, you can't always avoid non-cyclists. All you can hope to do is minimize contact with them - so you can get back to what's important.
And I think we both know what that is.

Elden "Fatty" Nelson blogs as The Fat Cyclist, where he says ridiculous things about bikes, biking, and bikers on a daily basis. Oh, and sometimes he gives stuff away, too. So that's something.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Just Wondering...

What is your general opinion on tattoos???

On guys?

On girls?

Ugly/Evil ones?

Pretty ones?

Do you have one (or more)?

Would you get one?

I personally I don't get the evil/ugly ones. And some canvases are better than others :) And I have to wonder what this guy has tattoo'd on his ass that is making this lady look at it that intently.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The End

Of my commuting has arrived. Not because of the weather, although it has been getting down to freezing, but because the City of Wasilla has dug up almost every street corner and a large portion of bike paths/sidewalks that I use to get to work.

It has become dangerous to be riding along in the morning, pitch black except for my little bike light, and suddenly have to stop so I don't ride into a big hole in the ground or wipe out on gravel and sand or even run into boulders. Yep, they have blocked off part of my route with huge boulders. They have thoughtfully placed plywood over some of the deeper holes they have dug, which must be about 4 ft down. Pallets in other locations, nothing but orange cones elsewhere. The boulders are spray painted orange. So helpful.

I have to ride along the highway and in roads because of the boulder, torn out paths and sidewalks. I'm loosing my nerve riding along the highway in the dark in the mornings. A couple of close calls has gotten to me. So it's turning out to be more stressful than enjoyable. Which bums me out.

On the upside, at least I won't have "balaclava hair" at work anymore.