April has been amazing, and I've been getting some riding in.
Rode to the post office with Little to mail a birthday present to my brother in-law.
I had to hit up 3 different LBSs to find an AK shop t-shirt for a birthday present, but I was really pleased with what I eventually found.
Noticed this sign while I was locking up to the bike rack.
I'm pretty sure it's entrapment to install a bike rack where bicycling is forbidden.
Vic inspired me to experiment with some hose clamp, stem mounted water bottle. Little saw what I was doing and requested on for his trike. He and I were both pleased with the results.
LoL came by this weekend with a sweet new fork for his Moonlander. It's amazing how light this hunk of plastic is.
Fortunately I have an irrational fear of crabon that keeps me from investing large sums of money in shiny plastic bits.
Ocean Air Cycleshad their t-shirts on sale for cheap. Nice looking shirts, funky, small US bike company, how could I resist. I was even happier when the package arrived with more than just a t-shirt. A few stickers and some beautiful postcards were just above and beyond.
Like I said the April riding has been amazing. Blue sky, warm (above freezing) day time temps and smooth snowy trails are hard to beat.
Neither this guy, nor myself were in too much of a hurry this afternoon, so we spent a while checking each other out and sharing the trail before we both went peacefully on our respective ways.
The trails were holding up pretty well, even as the temps approached 50deg F. Nice to be out riding in a short sleeved jersey and shants.
Things were a little punchy and deep if you had to dab off the packed trail, but there are worse problems to have.
Stumbled across this old run down cabin in the woods. Less than two miles from our house, but on a little used trail that I had never explored before. Would have been a pretty sweet place to live back in its day.
I persuaded Little to help me slap the Big Apples back on the Dummy and ride to the park with me. He did an awesome job hanging on to the back of the Big Donkey. I still plan to build a proper seat for him or something, so that he and I can both relax a little bit while he's back there. As it was I was rolling slowly and constantly seeking conservation that he was still hanging on with both hands (most of the time he was).
It's really fun to have him out of the trailer and to be able to maintain a conversation while we roll along. 4 fun miles together this evening. His only complaint was that he hurt his bottom when we practiced riding off a curb at low speed. I'll set him up with a magic carpet or something similar soon.
I'm really excited for this next chapter of family riding.
Spring is most definitely in the air (you can smell 6 months worth of dog waste melting out of the snowbanks) and we have been blessed with a good long stretch of beautiful cloudless days. The trails have remained in fantastic condition, freezing firmly on the cold clear nights and staying firm almost all day long, and I have been fortunate enough to get some excellent riding in on a new (to me) bike.
That pink fatbike you see is now legally mine. The previous owner was kind enough to allow me a good long window to test ride and think about the purchase. Mrs. was in love with it the minute she saw it and has no qualms about being married to a man who rides around on an XL pink bike. Getting her stamp of approval was not insignificant.
The bike fit me amazingly well as soon as I threw a leg over it. It's not often I hop on another person's bike and don't feel the urge to fiddle with one thing or another.
The story is that the bike was originally built up by a local shop/fatbike company employee. He put in the special request for a XL frame in pink and then decked it out in the parts you might expect from guy who gets a shop discount: XTR rear derailleur, SLX front, Mr. Whirly crank, cut out Speedway 70mm rims, Thomson stem, etc.
Apparently he moved out of state not too long after finishing the build and a casual friend of mine scooped it up for a steal. However, it seems that for my friend the lure of 800cc snowmachines trumped pedal power and the bike saw almost no action for the past two winters.
Long story short, he was happy to let the bike go to someone who would ride it, the bike fit me and Mrs. approved. I initially hesitated, but encouragement and sound advice from a couple of fellow bike junkies pushed me over the edge.
It may be pink, but it rides like the darkest black of a moonless night.
I'm secure enough to enjoy the obvious jokes that will ensue. My favorite so far was the woman on horseback asking if I had borrowed my wife's bike.
I've actually had a thing for pink frames ever since I first saw Pat Irwin's pink 1x1 eight or nine years ago.
I figure with one kid and another on the way my manhood is adequately accounted for and I shouldn't let a good deal pass me by.
Changes thus far:
The bike came with a horribly narrow carbon bar, so I swapped it for an On-One Mary bar before I rode it for the first time. The Mary bar is nice, but I think I'll ultimately change it out for something with a little less back sweep. I was thinking a Salsa Whammy bar would be nice, but it seems no one is selling them these days. On-One Fleegle perhaps. To be determined.
It also had Endomorph tires front and rear, which had amazingly awkward handling characteristics. I've since swapped those for (27tpi) Larrys. I picked one Larry up cheap at the local bike swap and acquired the other from a guy on craigslist who wanted to trade a Larry for an Endomorph, don't ask me why. Handling was noticeably improved by the tire swap.
Down the road I'll likely get the MWOD rings for the Mr. Whirly crank. I have absolutely no need for the big ring, and wouldn't mind moving the chain out from the rear tire a bit.
The little ski hill in town has closed for the season so I snuck over there one evening this week after a quick singletrack ride and goofed around on the groomed slopes.
They tell me it's April, but you could have fooled me.
Spring Time in Alaska. No offense to Johnny Horton, but June's voice makes this my preferred version of his song:
Had a modified version of this stuck in my head riding around last night:
"When it's springtime in Alaska there's four feet of snow."
We've had two storms move through in the past 5 days, each dropping 6-14inches of snow depending on where you're at in town.
While lot's of folks are grumbling and understandably ready for spring I've been more than happy to watch the snow come down. And what great snow it's been.
Not the heavy wet concrete snow you'd expect in the spring, but fine, light powder. One of the finer things in life if you ask a ski bum in recovery like me.
I haven't managed to ski much lately for a variety of reasons, but I have managed to get out and ride around in the fresh stuff.
In between storms.
Over 14hours between sunrise and sunset these days.
Fat tracks in fresh snow.
The front deck on our house has a ramp instead of steps.
The previous owner built it so a wheelchair bound friend
could drive his 4wheeler right up onto the deck and hang out.
The bike friendliness was a definite bonus when we bought the house.
Hard to tell by the photo, but it was still
coming down hard when I was out riding last night.
Spring will appear sooner or later, but for now I'm going to keep doing my best to enjoy the amazing combination long days and great snow.
Tonight I manged to get out and join the LBS ride that was in the neighborhood.
I have been fortunate enough to have yet another Fatback come my way. That's 3 in 3 weeks.
This pink steed was offered to me for an extended test ride with the option to buy at a very fair price.
Gypsy Nicholas told me what I should have know already, that I ought to thin out my stable in order to add a fatbike. If you are looking for a quality used bike give me a shout, I've got a few that I'm looking to part with.
The ride tonight was great. A dozen fine folks came together to roll through the woods on fatbikes. Conversations were pleasant and effortless and a few eye catching bike bits came out of the woodwork.
First was a pair of powder coated Surly Rabbit Hole/Knard wheels. These bits were not on a Krampus, but rather on a Pugsley (NeckRomancer if I'm not mistaken). Looked like a fun set of wheels to have for a fat bike, might have to do something like this some time if I should choose to acquire the pink Fatback.
The other thing I spotted on the ride was these wheels on a Salsa Mukluk:
I didn't get a chance to chat with the owner, but I did do some serious gawking.
I have had the pleasure of having the opportunity to spend some time aboard a couple different Fatbacks recently.
Cousin Rye N was out of state for a while for work, so Biermag, Little and I made the most of his absence.
The icing on the fat cake is that March is one of the finest months to
be in Alaska: snow, bluebird days, warmer temperatures, no bugs, no
bears, no brush. Take it from me, this is the good life.
I had to bribe that little face in the trailer with some tortilla chips to get him in there. After that he was good to go for a two hour ride.
The Pistenbully rolled through heading the other direction during our ride, smoothing out the 5+ inches of heavy wet snow that fell the night before.
Experimented with my sunglasses as a filter in the bright sunshine, no instagram action here.
GSC took off for a little spring break and was kind enough to invite me to take his new steed out for a ride.
That steel fork looks (and rides) awesome if you ask me.
I dashed up to a permit only winter trail and spent about an hour climbing in a t-shirt.
Trail was in great shape, I had a huge grin on my face the whole ride down.
Both bikes were a treat to ride. I most definitely concur with Gypsy Nicholas and Sheldon Brown that the fatbike revolution we are seeing is the biggest thing to hit the cycling world since the early days of mountain bikes.
Biermag offered to watch Little wRider this evening, so LoL and I connected and caught up with a Thursday night shop right. Good to see LoL, it had been a while and I've had a blog warming gift sitting on my workbench for him for the past couple of weeks. He started up a fine little blog a while back, and this seemed like an appropriate gift:
He's got some good stuff over there do yourself a favor and check it out.
More than once in recent weeks Little wRider has protested when I begin to prepare for a cross country ski outing, requesting instead that we "go ride bikes in the woods." Who am I to argue with a request like that from a two year old?
So of course we go ride bikes in the woods.
It should also be obvious that I use the term 'ride' loosely. Regardless, it's tough to beat an afternoon of bike related goofiness in the woods.
The Little One is learning at a young age that there is plenty of hike-a-bike involved in winter riding. So far he seems to be okay with it.
Cousin Rye N disappeared to Jamaica for a few weeks on what he claims is a work related trip, so Biermag and I wasted no time commandeering his Fatback and riding it plenty. When the riding as good as it's been a bike like this should not sit idle.
Little has also developed an affection for rides on the back of the Big Donkey, or the "Backwards Bike" as he calls it. His logic, as he explained it to me was that having handlebars behind the seat is backwards, therefor it is "The Backwards Bike." I added a bit of titanium to the Donkey to give Little a more stable platform. Rides have mostly been super slow and mellow, back and forth to the playground, but he and I both couldn't be happier.
Of all the people I know I can't think of anyone who might enjoy a fatbike more than GSC, but up until recently he did not own one, and had only ridden them very briefly. Well it warms my heart to know that he took the plunge, and I had the pleasure of riding with both him and SHeck on a recent weekend.
GSC said something mid-ride along the lines of "I had no idea . . ." which I took to mean that he was very much enjoying his new, fat set of wheels.
Crickett the dogg approves of GSC's new dog walking machine.
Sheck borrowed LoL's Moonlander for the day, and rented herself a Fatback the following weekend. Call me crazy, but I don't think it will be long before she's rolling a fatty of her own.
The Iditarod rolled through town last weekend, and it just so happens that the finish of the first day, ceremonial run ends just a few short miles from our house.
A few years back GSC stuck an bbq grill on an old pair of skis and dubbed it Paco. I inquired into Paco's availability for the Iditarod and a small crew was quickly assembled for some sausage grilling and mushing watching.
Biermag was kind enough to tow Paco to the trails, much to the delight of numerous spectators, leaving me free to tow Little wRider in his Chariot.
Grilling sausage on a bluebird day in Alaska just about one of the finest ways I can think of to spend an afternoon.
One driver drove right off the road and into the soft shoulder trying to capture a photo much like this one on our way home from the Iditarod start. A grill on skis works out much better than one might initially think.
On one of my rides home recently I was pondering how few moose I have seen in the past month or two. Well below average for up here. Well it wasn't too much later that I heard a klunk outside and looked out to see that this guy had knocked one of my shovels over. There was a deck railing between us, but had I been inclined it would have been very easy to give him a pat on the nose.
I think that covers most of the good times from around here in the recent past, I'll try to stay a bit more on top of this blogging thing as turn the corner from winter to spring.
In a town where fat bikes are a dime a dozen it takes a special bike to turn my head in the dead of winter.
Case and point, I saw this gem locked up at the USGS office when I got to school.
I'm operating under the assumption that I'm mistaken, but I have a hunch it might be one of the bikes that helped create "a whole new sport." I'm thinking it is a 1981 Specialized Stumpjumper. I'm looking at you Nick and Andy to verify or dismiss my hypothesis
It's welded, the '82 was lugged. The downtube decal says 'Specialized'. The later years said 'Stumpjumper'.
I would apologize for the crappy cellphone pictures, but I'm not sorry, I was in a hurry.
I'll see if it's there again tomorrow and perhaps see if I can figure out a few more details.
The red Raleigh on the left belongs to a former classmate of mine, I plan on asking if he knows the owner of that vintage steed. Oh, and for those of you into fat bikes, that is in fact a Surly Moonlander just creeping into the lower right corner of the picture. Size small frame I believe.
In other news, Tarik let me into his club. Got this excellent postcard in the mail:
You'll have to take my word for it, but the front of the postcard was equally awesome.
Tarik, if there is a way to procure a small stack of those, apparently custom made, postcards let me know. I'd love to mail them far and wide.
While I am admittedly proud to be the only member in Alaska, I'd like to see that distinction changed to 'first'. There are some fine folks up here who would make great club members.