Saturday, April 28, 2007

Nothing New

Nothing super exciting in my world.

The wind continues, the weather is non-cooperative. Funny, the wind stops me from riding but snow/cold temps don't.
Maybe I need to re-evaluate the wind issue.

Bike Boy #1 definitely blew out the upper seals in is fork. Bike Guy has it torn apart, last Thursday was the *target* date for the repair to be completed. Nope, it's not done yet but Bike Guy now has 369 bikes outside his shop waiting to be tuned up for the summer. People just don't learn and it's a bad time to have a major bike failure.

I have 3 neighbors who all have approached me wanting their bike's tuned up. They will PAY me. I start on the 1st one today. I am careful to explain I am doing a basic tune-up, not repairs. I will recommend professional help (bike and mental) if necessary.

I have been riding the Zing at work during lunch. It makes me happy! A good thing to do since the wind is still keeping me from commuting.

In a nearby field, a pair of eagles were munching down on a Canadian goose they cause. Feathers everywhere.

The Dr. gave me some news last week which has a major impact bike riding, as well as any other sustained exercising. Pisses me off. Maybe I will share more later, maybe not. Either way, I WILL NOT STOP RIDING MY BIKES and getting old is a bitch.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Ready to Ride

I got my commuter bike all ready to start riding to work. I added bar ends and decided to get a seat post mounted rack instead of using the standard pannier style rack. My K2 commuter bike is a road bike with riser bars instead of the drop bars, it has no bolt holes in the drop out area so I had to modify my old rack and mount it with the rear wheel skewer. I just wasn't really comfortable with the this set up, although I never had any problem. It just seems like it was on the outer limits of the skewer length. I also went ahead and mounted the Cygolight Dual Cross Li-ion but probably will take it off as darkness is becoming scarce.

I took the Zing out for another ride yesterday, so far every ride on it has been a battle with the wind. It's blowing so hard I ALMOST had to drop into the granny gear when going into it at the end of the ride. I took the K2 out today after getting it all tuned and loaded, I had just jeans and sweatshirt - no helmet (stupid, I know). I just was going to take it out for a quick spin to make sure the gears/brakes are functioning smoothly. I went a little farther than I initially planned, the bike is riding smoothly and I was enjoy myself. The ride back was into the cold, cold wind. My ears and head were hurting by the time I got back and the thaw out was even worse. I am ready for the wind to stop. It's worse than winter riding. I will ride to work tomorrow if the wind behaves. If not, I will delay the commute. Also since I am soo out of shape, I will start at the halfway point of my commute. I will park my truck at Lowe's and will ride from there, about 4 miles. 4 miles is no big deal, but hills are and there are some bugger hills on my normal 8 mile ride. A gallon of gasoline produces almost 20 pounds of CO2. I will be saving the environment about 16 pounds of carbon dioxide round trip just riding 8 miles a day to work.

I have been watching Planet Earth on the Discovery Channel. Pretty amazing stuff.

I forgot to add the sunrise picture to my last post!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Mountain Sheep

The sheep are moving down from the mountain tops. We saw quite a few on the drive home. Crazy sheep, hanging off the side of cliffs. If you don't see it right away, it is located in the lower right part of the photo.

I also saw an awesome shooting star. The stars up there are incredible because there is no light sources around at all. Billions and Billions of stars, northern lights, planets shining brightly. It's amazing.

Cabin Pictures

The cabins are nice and secure for the summer. A few people thought it was strange to close up a cabin for the summer, I never thought of it like that.

We go to the cabin in the winter and not in the summer because:
1) Bears, they will eat you if they can
2) Bears, they like to break into cabins, refer to #1
3) Bugs, masses and masses big, blood suckers
4) Tundra, very difficult to walk on, ride on, anything on. "In" is a better word, tundra is very spongy and wet. Boggy. In the winter it's all frozen and covered with snow, snow machines cause no damage to the tundra with adequate snow coverage and it's much easier to get around.
5) Lakes, go around in the summer, over in the winter. Also the water is cleaner in the winter than in the summer when the water is stirred up.
6) It's 90 degrees there in the summer, danger of wildfires from lightening strikes, bugs and smelly outhouse. Everything is frozen in the winter so the outhouse doesn't smell.
7) Summer transportation to the cabin is by float plane. Very expensive. Winter is by snow machine (mobile).

The temps at the cabin got up to the low 50's. Everything was melting FAST. There were some bare spots on the trail with tundra showing, that means no going back this season. The nesting pair of Eagles are back, fixing up the nest, eagle down floating all over the place. I found some fur bits around the area they nest, which is close to our cabin. The lakes are all frozen still so they are eating varmints. They like to come hang out in the trees around our cabin and watch what we are doing. Either that or they are trying to decide if KC the Wonder Dog is too big to eat.
A porcupine wandered through our area also, it sure was cute! Then it climbed this tree and hung out for awhile before moving on.
No fish caught this trip. But spent a beautiful day on the lake soaking up the sun. I didn't wear my snowsuit/Refrigware the entire trip. I started off wearing it on the ride into the cabin but got soo hot I took it off half-way there. All I wore the entire time was wool longjohns, jeans, polar fleece shirt and a sweatshirt over that, a light hat or ear band. My freckles started coming out. Ohh, I love the sun!

Only a few patches of snow left here at home, everything is all brown. I am looking forward to green. The run-offs (white water tubing below) are dried up. Fields of soggy, muddy brown. The wind has been blowing so it's still cold outside and below freezing at night.

Here is a picture of the sunrise this morning. The mountains are much bigger, I cropped out the building and stuff cluttering up the bottom of the pictures.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Killed in Action - Bonus

While I was at the cabin, I called my daughter. It was one of those weird mother/child connection moments, I knew I had to call her. I had been thinking of calling her earlier but didn't. So I called her on the 13th around 5 pm.

She answered the phone, sobbing. Trying not to freak out, I am in the middle of frickin' no-where and something is very, very wrong with my daughter. At 1st I thought something happened to my son, Bike Boy #1 "no...he's fine" (he was at his dad's house). She then told me that "Bonus is dead".

John Borbonus was a friend of hers, a soldier who was stationed at Ft. Richardson in Anchorage before shipping out to Baghdad. Bonus was only 19 years old, same age as my daughter.

He was killed by an IED, according to the Department of Defense news release.

This war sucks. I don't want to go into the politics of the war here, this post isn't about that. It's about my daugther's friend, Bonus, 19 year old kid and only child from Idaho and my daughter's pain. We have quite a few friends/family over there. Bonus will probably not be the only death that hits home. Shit.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Back to Winter

We are heading up north to close up our cabin for the summer. As my life gets busier, the less I go up there. Sometimes being an adult and responsible is just a bummer. I want to PLAY.

I took the Kona Zing out for it's maiden ride last sunday. It is way different actually riding to actually ride on the ROAD than it is to pedal on a trainer.

Drop bars are at totally different kind of ride. I felt insecure, not familure with how it handles, not used to being so far forward, unfamilure hand position and my thumbs kept cramping up. Even with feeling like that, it was a very smooth, fast ride. I went about 3 miles and was frozen by the time I got home, the wind was blowing and it's COLD.

Today I got off work a little early and the sun is out, releasing it's still weak warmth, the nicest day we have had so far. I got the Zing out and took it for a ride around the Springer Loop, a 4.2 mile square road system I live on. As it was before 5 p.m. the traffic was pretty light. I had on my hi-vis jacket because Alaskan drivers tend to get white-line fever whenever they drive and just don't notice anything that is smaller than a moose. The drivers noticed me and all except 1 guy went wide around me. That was soo much nicer than the normal 10 inch pass they usually do.

This ride was in strong, cold wind. The Springer has no hills, barely any incline at all. Hard wind is a fair substitue for a small hill, except it make you cold instead of hot. I am feeling much more confident on this 2nd ride. I have learned from mountain biking that it's good to trust the bike and just ride. So I trusted that I wasn't going to crash and had a nice ride. I think the insecurity comes from feeling like I am not holding on to the bars....riser bars my hands are gripping them, with the drop bars I am more leaning on the bars rather than gripping them...does that make sense? There was one spot where I was turning a 90 degree corner and went over a pile of road sand that had piled up...a nice side-slip. Not good. I could have totally wiped out in the middle of the road, but I didn't and so now I am reminded to be more careful. My thumbs still cramped up a bit, I am sure it will stop when I am more used to this bike. I think I am pushing outward on the hoods with my thumbs..squeezing them. I just figured this out at this moment. I will have to watch for that on my next ride.

Bike Boy's newest bike in at Bike Guy's shop. He over pressurized the fork and blew the seals. Bike Guy will order a rebuild kit, it will take a couple weeks before it's ready. Bike Guy is getting into the psycotic season...this is a bad time for a major mechanical problem. So Bike Boy is on his hardtail for now.

Hopefully it will green up a little by the time I get back from the cabin. Time to start commuting to work pretty soon. The nights are still below freezing so there is still ice in the morning. I would rather have the ice gone, I don't want to wipe out on my way to work...or anytime. Ride on :)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Blogger is only loading 1 or pictures at a time

Winter White Water Tubing Pictures

The pictures wouldn't load last night. Later Bike Boy 1 & 2 got out the neoprene fishing full body bibs and raincoats and were perfectly warm. Today they are going down to the Matanuska River behind our farm to raft a very mellow tributary. Do we know how to have fun or what??

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Winter White Water Tubing

It's spring break-up time in Alaska. It can be an ugly, muddy, frustrating time of year, dirty snow and ice, pond-size mud puddles everywhere. No more winter riding as the snow is rotten and slushly, not yet summer riding because there is still snow and ice around. A person has to be creative and make their own fun this time of year. Not being afraid of getting cold also helps.

The weather has been in the 40's (nice!) and it rained pretty heavily last night. The snow is melting really fast so we have a LOT of melt-off from the snow in the fields. We have 2 temporary "rivers" running through our fields right now.

Bike Boy got out his tube and he and I decided to do some white water rafting. It was a lot of fun but the water was COLD! My butt and legs got pretty soaked and only felt cold for a moment before going numb. After that, it's all good :)

Bike boy had to grab me before going too far into the woods where stick and trees made the river impassable.

The afternoon was beautiful and the sunlight has warmth in it. Slogging back through a foot of slush is a good workout and warmed us up right away.

Now the boys are starting a fire outside so we can enjoy the beautiful evening. It's not getting dark until after 9 pm now. I'm drinking a Kona Fire Rock Pale Ale and the feeling is returning to my legs and butt. Pins and needles - oh yeah.

I had a BLAST! WooHoo!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

It's Warmer!

My couch problem has been fixed. I contact the store director and it was settled in 3 minutes...I wish I had gone that route in the 1st place. I had a new couch that evening. Of course I had to get the broken one loaded into the truck and drive back to Wasilla but it was worth getting it all finished up. The director said there is no "24-hr time limit" and I should have never been given this kind of run-around. Lets hope his employees get correctly trained, this isn't good for anyone - consumers nor businesses.

The temperature has actually reached 40 above! It's later than normal. The snow is ugly and dirty but it's MELTING! I can actually see bits of the bike paths! Still too much snow to ride them, but I think in about 2 weeks they may be ready to ride IF it doesn't snow between now and then. Alaska doesn't have bike lanes, but the 90 corner shared with the path is technically a bike lane for that section. I much prefer separate bike paths

In response to the comments on my last post - Is Alaska a dangerous place? I'm sure it's all subjective but it seems the humans are now more dangerous than the wild life, violent crimes rates are
rising here faster here than elsewhere in the U.S. I have run across some in-breeds that give me the creeps in secluded spots during my rides.

I didn't get the Zing out for it's maiden ride. Too busy with the couch issue and then a drive into Anchorage for some supplies not available here in the Valley. I am still spinning my wheels in my bikeshop, going nowhere.

The bike boys invaded my shop Monday and Tuesday...the results were not good and I am starting to lock the shop. Monday I came into my shop, my nephews bike was drip drying off my workstand but it was not put on the stand correctly and the stand looked like it was going to break. Then there was garbage all over the place, the floor and carpets were wet. I did my ride and as I was going into my house, I noticed my entire bottle of bike cleaner was laying empty on the ground. Bike boy 2, my nephew decided to wash his bike an dry it in my shop. I wouldn't have minded IF he had cleaned up after himself, didn't leave garbage around, etc. So I clean it up. Then yesterday I come home, go into my shop for the ride and an odor hits me. Bike boy was showing a girl the cows and then decided to show her my shop. They had cow poo all over their shoes and did a good job of grinding it into my carpets. It took about 2 hours of scrubbing carpets but Capt'n Balance took care of it all, he didn't want bike boy 2 there. We "tried" talking with bike boy 2, but he just gave a blank now he has lost shop privileges.

Here is a picture of a sunset a few days ago, the ice crystals in the air caused the rays to shoot up. Pretty. I hope to get on the road with the ZING this weekend!