Browse Month by November 2013
Alaska, Bicycle, Bicycle Racing, Cyclocross, Events, Races

Arctic Cross. Cyclocross in The Last Frontier.

The Whittier ferry dock was (and still is) broken, so we took the ferry to Valdez from Cordova, making the drive to Anchorage 300 miles, as opposed to the 60 miles it is from Whittier. Melissa and I decided somewhat last minute to caravan back to Anchorage with Bryan and Garret, spending a few days in the big city picking up this and that, read: booze, groceries, and my new fatbike.  They got a head start on us, as we stopped in Valdez for a late breakfast after we disembarked.  We caught up to them on the side of the road in between Valdez and Glenallen, where car troubles almost caused their rear wheel to fall off.  They hopped in with us and we left Garret’s car there for a few days- planning to bring Garret back with parts and tools on our return trip. Spoiler alert: I didn’t get a bike that weekend, but Melissa got a brand new Fatback for winter adventuring.

It looked like we may even get to witness a cross race- as the Arctic Cross series was having their final race while we were there.  I didn’t think I would be allowed to race- not having been part of the series this year so I didn’t bring my bike. Turns out it would have been fine, and I was pretty bummed that I was so pessimistic.  The Arctic Cross webpage is a little dated and is difficult to understand for somebody coming to town wanting to race bikes. Sure there is race info, it’s mostly results- you can’t find out much about how the race categories are setup, race times, and sometimes even the race days are incorrect. Ah well…computers are hard.

We made it to the Goose Lake race in Anchorage, the course was located right off the bike path in town.  We pulled in to the parking lot, saw  bike racks on cars and trucks, folks in spandex, a couple sections of course tape, and figured we were in the right place.  Parking was easy.

It rained the few days prior, so the course was a bit muddy- but race day was crisp and clear with soggy ground.  My favorite race days.

I often miss the cyclocross in Seattle and I most definitely miss my Hodala teammates.  As we walked into the park we saw the familiar sight of kids playing, riding around on bikes just a little bit too big for them, or too small.  Adults walking around with mud and smiles on faces- a BBQ was being prepared for the end of the season.  Beer flowed from 2 kegs, respectfully stowed out of plain site.  We scoped the course, similar in many spots to a mountain bike course, but with the cyclocross staples of barriers and a sandpit.  Near the BBQ epicenter and just prior to the first set of barriers was a giant chicane.  A spiral which made me dizzy just watching the folks go in circles.  Cyclocross feels new in Anchorage, especially singlespeeding.  People had a blast- and it was a pretty darn nice day.  

It was a diverse race, bikes ranging from mountain bikes, to cross bikes (a few singlespeeds in there too) to polo bikes complete with disk wheels and narrow bars to fatbikes.  Race attire was also from one end of the spectrum to the other. Costumes, team kits, whatever seemed comfortable… One of the most interesting things to watch, was the heckling.  The polo kids, god bless ’em- were doing well at it.  We came across them at the sand pit.  Beers in hand, they would rib the riders as they came by:

“Ride it!”

“You’re doing it wrong- you’re supposed to stay on your bike.”

“That’s why you’re not winning!”

Tall Bryan was also giving them some pointers- encouraging the racers to just get off their bikes and run the section that was slowing so many down.  “No!  Get off your bike!  Run it!  You’re going too slow!”

Heckling is something that I am quite familiar with though not nearly as skilled as my teammates at (much like riding.) Hodala is next level heckling.  Too much for some people- it’s never rarely coming from a place of anger.  It’s like when my mom would say to me “I love you, you little shit stain.”  I knew that “love” was the operative word.  Some people might take offence, and occasionally kick the team fire ring over- but if you can’t take the mud, get off the cross course.  When I first started racing cross, the heckling I heard consisted of:

“Shift!” (because I ride a single speed…. so clever.)

“It’s GO MEANS GO, not SLOW MEANS SLOW!”

I took these ribbings in stride and came out a better rider for it.

The kids race was, as always, fun to watch.  Seeing the boys and girls get stoked on cross is always a good time.

Next year I’ll be at the races, at least a couple of them.  Hoping that my team can make it up to race at least one as well.  Hodala can help ruin cyclocross north of 60°N too.  So keep riding dirty and we’ll see you at the races.

 

Commuting, Gear

First Glance: ABUS Granit X-Plus U 54 Mini

ABUS isn’t new to the lock/security game (they’ve been in business since 1924), but as of late they’ve really been pushing their bike locks and bike specific products to the North American market. They were also a major sponsor of this years NACCC which was held in Seattle back in July. I’ve been using the same Kryptonite Evolution Mini U Lock for the last 5 years, so when ABUS sent over their new Granit X-Plus U 54 Mini I was excited to try it out.

Here is what ABUS has to say about it:
The Granit X-Plus U 54 Mini, this lock is the highest level of security we offer in a bicycle U-Lock – but featuring a shorter shackle. The lock retains the wide profile of its full size siblings in the Granit X-Plus U lock family, which makes it ideal for cities that have reinforced parking meters available for bike parking and where high security is needed.   The best part is that because of the shorter profile, it’s more affordable:  $109.99 retail. Check out the full line of ABUS bike locks HERE.

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My First Lock-Up: The Granit X Plus 54 U Mini has almost the same length shackle as my old lock, but it is wider, appears more sturdy and is slightly heavier in the hand. The lock body is a little bulky with a plastic cover, but the locking action and turning motion of the key is remarkably smooth. The automatic keyhole cover is pretty slick too. I’ll be reporting back with a full review after some daily miles and lock ups, stay tuned…

Alaska, bikes, Photography, Travel

Alaska Trip Part 2: Cordova, No Road

After a few days of exploring Anchorage by bike during the day, and the inside of Anchorage bars by night, we were ready to leave the city. A 300 mile road trip, an improvised campsite and a high-powered catamaran ride later we were standing in front of Ryan on his Raleigh Port Townsend at the ferry dock in Cordova, AK. “Welcome to Cordova!” exclaimed Ryan, unstrapping some beers from his porteur rack and offering them up. “We’re the first house on the left”. Breath taking views in every direction, mountains rising up out of the sound, nothing but green trees, blue waters and a postage stamp sized town. This is the Alaska I was looking for.

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For the next six days and five nights we explored Cordova by bike, by foot and by bottle. We road out “the road” and the other road (yeah, there is two of them) as well as some scenic trails. One of the highlights was riding Saddlebag Glacier trail. It winds through the woods along a creek that has cut out a valley, the terrain changing several times before spitting us out on the shore of Saddlebag Lake.

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Bicycle Racing, Media

Pro Tour “Pin-Ups” 2014 Calendar

Here we have a 2014 calendar for the ladies (and boys) featuring some of your favorite Pro Tour riders like you’ve never seen them (and probably never wanted to see them) before. According to the website “proceeds from the sale of this calendar will go directly towards a unique prize for deserving riders in the 2014 Women’s Tour of Britain.”  A “unique” prize? Your guess is as good as mine there…

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Clicking through some of the months I can’t imagine why people would think bike racers are douche-bags… If nothing else this calendar might be a smash hit at your white elephant gift exchange this year. You can buy it online HERE.