Browse Tag by alaska
Alaska, Bicycle, Bicycle Racing, Events, fat bike, Races

Frosty Bottom 2015.

As I said on my last trip to Los Anchorage, it is home to one hell of a fatbike community. Nearly 300 racers came out last Saturday, to race the 9th annual Frosty Bottom 25/50. A race that starts at Kincaid Park, heads up to Hilltop (where the 25 ends) and/or back to Kincaid (for the 50.) The race is open to runners and skiers as well, but the fairly dry and fast conditions only brought 2 skiers to the finish line- with most of the participants choosing a bike over shoes, like a civilized person would.

I got into town Friday and like most of my trips to Anchorage it started like this:

c2

A delicious beer from Midnight Sun Brewing that I enjoyed with my lunch at Cafe Amsterdam. A Cohoho Imperial IPA on Nitro. So good. The nitro gave it such a creamy consistency and opened up a lot of flavors that I hadn’t noticed in bottle or C02 draft. My food, like most found in Anchorage, at least in my price range- was ok. I didn’t get dysentery, but it was nothing to write home about. From my experience, you won’t find great food or an amazing cocktail in Anchorage- but you can find some good beer, a lot of it brewed in our wonderful state.

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Frosty Bottom 25/50

The Frosty Bottom 50/25 is an annual winter endurance event held entirely on the multi-use trails around Anchorage. Ski, bike, or run from Kincaid Chalet to Hilltop for the short version, or continue back to Kincaid for the long race. Sponsored by Chain Reaction Cycles, the 2015 event is slated for January 3.

The event starts at 9am at Kincaid Park. There will be a pre-race meeting at 8:45am.

Alaska, Bicycle, fat bike, Rides

Homer Big Fat Bike Festival 2015

I’m really hoping to make it this year to Homer for their Festival. 3 days of fun on fat bikes, beach rides and bonfires. February 6-8, 2015!

homer

 

The flier design is awesome, and the event page has all the details, HERE

I’ll likely fly in late on Friday, I hope I can find a rock to sleep under.

Alaska, Bicycle, fat bike

Can’t Run, Never Will. The words.




IMG_7816
It’s been a couple days since my return and the snow line is heading down the mountains. I walked up to the top of the ski hill and there were patches of snow and ice scattering the trail towards the top. Before I get this published it may reach town. Our deck stairs have been covered with frost the last few days and the lakes are getting a thin layer of ice- hopefully sign that ice skating will be around the corner.

Cordova, Alaska. The town that I call home. A little fishing village where Prince William Sound meets the Gulf of Alaska. Population 1,500 in the winter- it nearly doubles in the summer. This time of year is quiet. Then the occasional tragedy of a drug overdose death makes a headline in our weekly paper. I wish I was kidding, I am unfortunately, not.

But… Life does go on. And though sometimes times are hard in our little town, things are often good. Here we go with something positive- a bike ride, even.

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Alaska, Bicycle, fat bike, Gear

Can’t Run, Never Will. Part I.

Like most great ideas I have, it happened while drinking beer.

The packraft/bike combo is one that offers so much potential in this part of Alaska- surrounded by rivers, lakes, beaches, and not many roads. One trip that has been on my list for a long time was to the end of the road. Not the current end of the road, but the end of the road that we used to go see Child’s Glacier calve into the mighty Copper River- that and the engineering marvel of the Million Dollar Bridge.

The Copper River Highway is the old railroad bed that used to connect Cordova and the copper mines in Kennecott, some 196 miles up river via the Copper River and North West Railroad. Not without hurdles to construction and maintenance, the CRNW crossed 129 bridges, including the Million Dollar Bridge (which cost $1.4 million and was completed in 1910.) On April 8, 1911, the first ore train hauled $250,000 of copper ore to Cordova. In 1916, the peak year for production, the mines produced copper ore valued at $32.4 million. The mines at Kennecott worked until 1938, and the Kennecott company donated the land back to the state in 1941 for use as a state highway route. The 1964 earthquake took care of that nicely, when the last span on the north end collapsed (it has since been raised and the bridge added to the Nat’l Historic Registry.) The CRNW Railroad is sometimes referred to as the “Can’t Run Never Will.”

million dollar bridge

In 1999 I got the opportunity to raft down from the Tazlina river to Cordova (27mile,) a 9 day float trip. It was absolutely incredible and I fell in love with the Copper River. We floated alongside the old railroad route, sometimes getting out to explore the old tunnels and old railroad line long ago reclaimed my mother nature. Alders had overgrown through the railroad bed and bridges were long washed out by heavy spring snow melt-making the idea of a bike or even hiking trip down the trail difficult if not impossible.

The Copper River makes this whole remarkable area where I live what it is. The river has changed much over the years- moving sand, rock and trees with it. A few years back, the bridge at 36 mile was washed out, eroding the section of earth between two bridge sections. Gone with it was access to Child’s Glacier. Sure we have other glaciers here, but Child’s Glacier is something. It calves directly into the Copper River when the water is high sending waves of water across the river towards the observation deck. As a town, it affects tourism some and was a great place for folks to go camping and explore out the road. But I digress… Where was I?

That’s right, I was drinking beer. Son of A Berserker. A stout. I started putting my bike together for an overnight trip. I thought at first I’d do it in one day- drive to 36 mile, paddle across, ride the remaining 12 miles up river and float back down to the truck. Seemed easy enough. But my plan started to change.

I says to myself, I says “Self, why don’t you stay the night? When’s the next time you’ll be out here? Why don’t you just stop and smell the cottonwoods?”

Maybe it was the beer, but I thought that was a pretty good idea. Unfortunately, it meant that my loose plan made with Hoots the day before was out the window. Hoots was interested in going, he could borrow a packraft from a friend and I’d set him up with a bike. With the change to an overnight, I didn’t have enough gear to get all our stuff over the river and to set up a camp. With that, I decided I’d ride the route solo instead of driving to the end of the road and making a day trip with a friend. Seemed fitting.

Choosing the bike. With most of my route on a gravel road, I didn’t need 5” tires. I knew the conditions on this side of the bridge because I’ve been around out there. On the far side, most bets were off. It’s been a couple years since the road has gone through and I was unsure if the sand had blown over the road, it was washed out, or something else. In the summer there is an outfit that takes people over on a massive airboat and then a shuttle van brings them to the glacier, so I know it’s been traveled, but I was still unsure. I may have to ride up the sandy river bed for miles looking for a place to cross. That and when it comes down to it- I don’t have a bike that is as well equipped for taking whatever is thrown at it as my Fatback. It may be slow, but it’s steady. And I’ve got some frame mounted bags for it so….

Packing the bike. This was my first overnight with the Fatback so I was a little unsure how to best pack it. The frame bag looks large, but doesn’t really fit as much stuff in the space as I was hoping. Heavy things like food should have gone in there to keep the weight low but I didn’t bring much of that- and my little “gastank” bag held my snacks for the road. I don’t have one of those fancy seatpost bags that would have been so nice, but I do have a seatpost mounted rack that worked pretty well. I strapped my sleeping bag and pad and lifejacket to it. It made for a tall package, but was light stuff and it worked. I also don’t have one of the fancy rolls for the front of my bike- but I do have a compression sack from Granite Gear that has three straps to make the roll skinnier and one strap to compress it length-wise. This gave me enough strapping points that I could lash it to my Jones H-bars without messing with the cable routing too much. It worked quite nicely actually, even strapping securely onto the stern tie-downs of my raft. That and I had it in my stuff already. I’ll be looking into a seatbag, but the handlebar roll will wait until I can afford it.

After everything was strapped up and lashed down, my bike weighed in at just over 63lbs. Not a very nimble beast, but hey- neither am I. Strap a 15lb backpack to my back and my 7lb pistol to my hip, and I was ready.

My beautiful bride (of ten days) was headed to work so I hopped in with her and she dropped me off 12 miles closer to my destination. We kissed goodbye- her wondering what the fuck I was thinking taking off by myself across the Copper in a plastic boat and a heavy ass bike, but being supportive as she always is.

The packing list:

  • 0º degree Wiggy’s sleeping bag
  • OR Standard Bivy sack
  • foam sleeping pad
  • MSR dragonfly stove
  • fuel bottle (I could have carried the smaller fuel canister)
  • MSR cook pot
  • Estwing hatchet
  • Coldsteel campknife
  • Couglan’s folding saw
  • EH tool roll
  • extra Surly fat tire tube
  • Lezyne pump (I haven’t used my mini pump to inflate a fatbike tire and I hope I never have to.)
  • point and shoot camera (which the wind blew overand broke)
  • GoPro & extra mounts
  • collapsible tripod
  • iphone
  • Delorme Inreach Explorer
  • Swrve Schoeller wool trousers
  • poly long underwear (tops and bottoms)
  • two pairs poly/wool socks
  • Club Ride liner chamois
  • Club Ride shirt
  • Chrome Warm vest
  • OR HAVOC jacket
  • OR wind/rain layer
  • Filson leather belt
  • Keen sneakers
  • mesh cap
  • Black diamond windblock fleece gloves
  • Alpacka raft
  • Carbon paddle
  • heavy type III PFD borrowed from seine boat
  • 3L water bladder
  • water bottle
  • bear spray
  • .44mag S&W revolver with 6 240gr. bullets.
  • sunglasses
  • Niterider Lumina 220 light
  • Black Diamond headlamp
  • small first aid kit
  • 2 Granite gear compression stuff sacks (one for raft, one for sleeping system)
  • Stanley flask full of Buffalo Trace bourbon

I want to take this time and stress that you don’t need all the new shit to get outside. It doesn’t need to cost a ton of money. In my head I kept thinking of that overused hashtag “#outsideisfree.” Sure it is- of course I’m typing that on a $600 phone, atop a $2000+ bike or $800 raft with $xxxx amount of shit strapped to it. It’s important to remember that the experience we are searching for isn’t something that most of us want to put a price tag on. I don’t want people to not go bike camping because they don’t have the newest, hottest thing. You don’t need a hashtag to get outside. If you have your essentials: Shelter, food and water, you can have a great time and make some memories. These requirements are of course regionally defined. Summer beach camping in San Diego is far different than fall camping on the Gulf of Alaska- be smart, think- but don’t overthink it. Have fun and enjoy the ride. My packing lists change on every ride, and yours will too, the more you do it the more you’ll figure out. You’ll find out how warm (or cold) you sleep and how much food you need (pro-tip: bring a little more than you think you need if you’re going to be self-supported.)

That’s what I’ve got so far.  I’ll do another post of the trip as it was, with the photos I could recover. Stay tuned.

Bicycle, Travel

You can never go home again.

Home [hohm]
noun
1. a house, apartment, or other shelter that is the usual residence of a person, family, or household.
2. the place in which one’s domestic affections are centered.
3. an institution for the homeless, sick, etc.: a nursing home.
4. the dwelling place or retreat of an animal.
5. the place or region where something is native or most common.
6. any place of residence or refuge: a heavenly home.
7. a person’s native place or own country.
photo 1
I spent my adolescence and some of my teenage years in the “San Francisco Bay Area.” That’s what you tell people that aren’t familiar with The Bay. When you live in the East Bay, which I did- people still want it narrowed down. Living in Oakland and Berkeley is where the cool kids were. Where do you NOT want to live in the 90’s? Concord. That’s where.
I graduated from high school (barely) and promptly got the fuck out of town, hitchhiking at 17 years old to any point East. After 4 years on the road by thumb, bus, bicycle and freight train I found myself in Alaska which is where I am today (having done a couple year stint in Seattle in order to convince my [now] bride-to-be to move even farther north.) Nope, I don’t have much use for California. Too much humanity.
The Bay Area never felt like “home” to me. I was born in Oregon if you ask. I’m not really “from there” either I guess, I don’t have as many memories of it as I do of California- but I always felt out of place in that Golden State of earthquakes and hustlers. It’s a place that doesn’t fit as “home” to me- as dictionary.com defines it and my heart sure isn’t there.  Don’t get me wrong- there are a bunch of few people that I do care very much about in California. It’s everybody else that make me lose faith in the human race. I left in 1995 and every time I return it I have less patience for it.
All that, but California does have one thing on it that can’t ever move out of state. A thing that I will forever be thankful for, which helped shape me into who I am today. California is where I learned to ride a bike.
I remember:
  • Riding my bmx in the drainage ditches of Pittsburg, (before my first foray into wrenching left the thing in a hundred little pieces that my step-dad had no idea how to put back together.)
  • Riding my Fila hybrid (if it was sold today it would be called a “gravel grinder”) in the hills off the Contra Costa Canal trail and to school before it was stolen.
  • I purchased my first “real” Mountain bike in California, a GT Timberline. The one with the blue splatter paint and a rigid fork. It had sealed bearings and rapid fire shifters!  A bike I brought to Cordova in the late nineties and still see riding around.

I have riding memories in Oregon as well, but no where near as many as exploring the East Bay, Marin County and San Francisco on two wheels. Some of my best rides have been in California and I thought of these as I flew down to the bay last week, as a surprise to my good friend for his wedding (second time’s a charm!) I knew in the cargo hold of that 737 was my bike and I knew I was headed down to 80 degree weather on trip that would kill three birds with one stone. Not only would I threaten to spend as much time in the saddle as I did on a barstool, I would see my good friend and my favorite family members.

I wasn’t surprised that the weather was hot and dusty. California is in a drought. I asked some kid at the park how long they’ve been in a drought.

“How should I know? I’m only 12!”

My family unit now resides in Crockett. A town built by C&H sugar and is now sustained by various oil refineries. It’s an odd town, with a couple bars, no grocery store and an $80,000 median income. It’s closest BART station (an extremely useful tool in getting around in the Bay without a car) is in Richmond- 15+ miles away through a handful of towns and a fair amount of climbing. All in all I rode about 200 miles that week in the sun. I got to explore the dirt trails connecting Crockett and Port Costa, another odd little delta front town with a bar worth visiting.

In my week in the Bay Area I got to share some good beers and good times with some of the most important people in my life and ride bikes in places that I haven’t in many years, as well as some places that I’ve never ridden before. San Francisco and the East Bay is really stepping it up when it comes to beer selection and I had a lot of fun rolling around looking for a place to wet my whistle with a fine draft beer.

In all of that I came to realize that “home” means different things to different people. To some it’s where they first saw the light of day. To others, it’s where they had their first kiss, or where they went to high school. Maybe it’s where their family lives, or at least their favorite family. Can you ever go home again? I’m not really sure. I still don’t miss California. Alaska is where I live now, but I’ve lived quite a few places. I’ve come to be the person I am from my experiences down life’s trail- and to me, I guess, home is where I ride my bike.

Alaska, Bicycle, Bike Porn, bikes, fat bike, Gear

New Bike Day: Fatback 190 Rocker

If you’ve been reading a while, ya’ll know my affinity/fascination/obsession with fatbikes. I’d wanted one since I moved to Seattle, but since my move back to Alaska it became a “when” not an “if” I was getting one.  I looked around a bit and figured out that the main thing that I was looking for was fatness.  I wanted to be able to float over the soft terrain without having to lose 75 pounds because let’s face it, that won’t be happening.  That meant a frame that would allow for 100mm rims and the fattest tire which is currently marketed at 4.8″.  I also didn’t want an offset wheel, and something that I could throw a 29″ wheelset on in the summer would be nice too.

I went with a Fatback 190 Rocker.

DSCN9911

 

Fatback Bicycles is not a big brand that has a bunch of backing, it’s a couple passionate dudes in Alaska.  At the forefront of Fatback is Greg Mattyas. Greg was born and raised in Anchorage- racing bikes and skis and being awesome.  He opened up Speedway Cycles in 2007.  A busy man, Greg spends his time juggling bike shop dailies, furthering the sport of fatbiking, going on epic adventures, family life, and innovating fatbike technology.  Fatback was one of the first mass produced options offering an alternative to Surly’s Pugsley- with a few notable features that set them apart.

  • They’re a bit lighter than a Surly. Being aluminum, they weigh in at under 4lbs for the frame.
  • They are made in the USA.  The aluminum frames are made in Oregon.  For a while they were doing steel and ti frames, which were also made in the US.  (They have recently added the carbon Corvus frame that I’m fairly certain is made over seas.)
  • Symmetrical rear wheels.  I like them- Surly doesn’t do ’em.  Figure it out. Makes for a nice transition to a 29″ summer bike with the same frame. Nuthin’ on Surly, but I like symmetry.
  • Fatback has been integral in the advancement of fatbike technology.  After starting with a 165mm rear hub, Fatback swapped to the 170mm symmetrical rear hub, which is currently the industry standard (though it’s really looking like 190mm might be the future.)
  • Fatback was a sweet funk band.  No- I don’t think that there was any relation to the brand, but FATBACK was awesome.  Check ’em out:


Anyway…
I met up with Greg at Interbike and asked him what I had to do to go home with a Fatback.

Apparently Fatback production was lagging and demo bikes had a couple more stops to make before they made it back to Alaska- but he’d make something happen.

When I got home, we emailed back and forth (more than he would have liked to, I’m sure.)  Even so, his communication was prompt- which was much appreciated.  I was fixated.  I wouldn’t stop until I was riding along the beach- on sand or snow, with 4.8″ wide tires underneath me at 8psi. Thankfully, things came together.

I’ll skip the part where Melissa got a bike and I didn’t… and just say that we left Anchorage with a Fatback for her- thanks to Robert at Speedway Cycles. He sold her on a a 14″ Fatback Deluxe which-  jealous as I was, I was super excited to see her so excited about a bike.  She loves it!

Well, I got the email about 2 weeks back that my bike was done.  Alaska being Alaska, it helps being creative on shipping.  I made some calls and the Lynden Transport barge was headed out of Anchorage the next day.  Greg had one of his guys bring it to the office and off it was- on a boat across the sound- to arrive between my loving legs a few days later.

On it’s arrival, the folks at the shipping company were all-a-chatter:

“Where’s the motor?”

“That thing is huge!”

“Is that a bicycle!?!”

I just smiled.  My bike was finally here! In all of it’s “mountain bike on steroids glory.”  It had seemingly traveled in the freezer van, as it was covered in frost on receipt of the bike. That’s okay.  It’ll see a lot colder temperatures in the future.

There it was- my Fatback.  All dressed up with a Revelate Designs frame bag and “gas tank” with no place to go (pedals were stored in the frame bag,) I walked it home and made it ready to ride.

The details:

  • Fatback 190 Rocker frame (The Rocker is the rocker dropouts allowing chain tensioning/belt compatibility)
  • Fatback Aluminum fork with hella braze-ons.
  • SRAM X9  2×9 drivetrain with Gripshift
  • FSA Comet cranks
  • Kona WaWa pedal
  • (F) Surly Rolling Darryl rim to 135mm Fatback (import) hub (4.8″ Lou tire)
  • (R) Surly Rolling Darry rim to 190mm Fatback (import) hub (4.8″ Lou tire)
  • Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes with 160mm rotors (one argument for mechanical brakes is price- the other is field repairability.)
  • FSA bars, seatpost, headset, stem

Overall weight: 32.5lbs

First impression.  It’s big.  Tire pressure was higher than it would be if I were on soft sand or snow- about 25psi.  I was riding alongside a curb, turned the bars and BOOP- up and over it.  The bike just rolled right over it like it was no big deal.  It was almost comical.  Pedaling felt a little sluggish at first- the wheel weight is far more than I usually have to contend with.  Once I picked up some momentum things were going good.  I wasn’t going to set any speed records, but the momentum was decent and once you just get used to the fact that you’ve got two speeds: 1) slow and 2) steady- it’s not half bad.  The 2×9 SRAM drivetrain operated via Gripshift worked well, even with the 4.8″ Surly Bud tires on 82mm rims and a 190mm rear hub pushing the drivetrain so far out.  No chain rub on the tires whatsoever.

I will say you shouldn’t get a fatbike expecting a mountain bike.  It’s a different animal.  Sorry.  It’s fun- but it WON’T BE AS FAST AS YOUR 29″er… Unless the terrain gets soft.  Then? Then I’ll be passing you by as you walk out.

No… I didn’t do anything epic.  I just rode around town. But I had fun.  I got out of the saddle and cranked on the pedals- the super wide bars giving lots of leverage.  Apparently the rocker dropouts weren’t secured, so they slipped  and the tire started rubbing on the frame.  I got it fixed up and tightened down and it was good to go.

Since then I’ve ridden on the mudflats of Hartney Bay, up the Ibek Slough Sands and on the Copper River Banks.  I’m excited about more adventures- when weather agrees to the travel plans.  I’ll be looking into a packraft next, which opens up way more terrain- even just paddling across the Copper River where the bridge is washed out and riding out to the Million Dollar Bridge would be fun.

I was thinking I was going to go with the Clownshoe rims, which are currently the widest fatbike rim available at 100mm.  I was dissuaded at the last minute by two reasons: 1)Lots of folks are going with 82mm rims, and since the frame will still run 4.8″ tires, it was splitting the difference.  2) More importantly- Clownshoes were back ordered and I may have had to wait another month for my bike.  So that settled that.  Rolling Darryls it is.

By no means is the honeymoon over- I am really digging the build and everything about the bike.  What I am seeing though is the insane cost associated with a growing, but still niche market.  Everything costs more.  The bikes themselves aren’t cheap. The Aluminum 190 XO1 bike– basically what I have, retails at $3700.  I got a bit of a deal as it’s a used bike- a prototype, even.  But it’s still more than I’ve plunked down on a bike ever.  I’ve got a boner for some studs, but the only factory studded tires available are the Dillingers from 45NRTH- coming in at $225…  Each.

I’ve got a few things that are on my list of upgrades though.  Things like:

  • 45NRTH Dillinger studded tires
  • I’d like to try 180mm rotors for a little more stopping power.  They come with 160’s to give more heel room, so I may start with the front.
  • A Schmidt SON dynamo hub (laced to a Clownshoe rim) Yeah- they make ’em in the 135mm spacing for the front.
  • A 29er wheelset for the summer.  Likely the Surly Rabbit Hole rims.
  • Jeff Jones H-bars.  
  • A Gates belt drive.  I’ve had mixed feelings on my Gates system on my SSCX bike, but for a beach tour- I think it’d be the best way to go.  Single speed.  The grit and salt can wreck havoc on a chain drive.  Derailleurs and all that- just take it off. It’s all the same grade, you don’t need gears.  A great option to have and one of the reasons I went with the rocker dropouts.
  • A packraft.  Because, that is the next step…

 

Interbike confirmed that things in the fatbike world were, as most of America- getting fatter… Of course there’s a way to lighten the load without dieting – carbon.  The carbon steeds at Interbike were under 29lbs complete with 4.8″ tires.  If that’s your thing then you can look towards the folks working in that medium.  There is the the Fatback Corvus, the 9:Zero:7 Whiteout and the Borealis Yampa to name a few.  Though I do like carbon, I wanted a bike that could be thrown around a bit.  I see the carbon option for the racers more than the adventure tour types.

So get out there and ride your bike.

 

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.