Monday, April 29, 2013

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

The shoulder season between Winter and May in Alaska, is known as Break Up, and can be a difficult time of year for cyclists and lovers alike.  The double-endendre of Break-Up brings destruction of the ice slabs that have covered the city since October, and also the demise of several seasonal romances.  A right of passage  in the Alaskan dating game, Break-Up is the lynchpin of the cyclical nature to many Alaskan relationships; Partners who have been warm company for one-another through the long winter, part ways as the temperatures warm.

The sun returns, snow melts, ice slabs crumble, hearts are broken.
As the ice melts the urban landscape morphs in to streams and ponds of road grime, sand, silt, oil, and decomposed dog feces, making the daily commute by bike and riding around town less than pleasurable.
Full fenders, knee high rubber boots and studded tires become necessity.

Perfect time of year to escape the urban slop, for some real Alaskan riding.

Luckily just a short drive to the south,  the still snow-covered Chugach Range is in the midst of a short lived freeze-thaw cycle; leaving the back country playground of Turnagain Pass a rock hard wasteland. Terrain is rendered worthless to skiers for most of the day, but perfect for fat bike "crust" riding.

Get out of town.

Dawn Patrol. 

Riding the boilerplate snow crust opens up a virtual moon-scape of flowing rolling jumps and berms.
Surveying the playground. 

Conditions were variable, hard-fast crust, to soft powder in an instant:  exercise caution.

New carbon fork from Carver with a longer axle to crown slacked out the Moonlander geometry for confidence inspiring handing handling at high speeds when combined with the kung-fu traction of Bud and Lou.
The bumpy descents with a carbon steer tube tested my faith in the carbon gods. 

 We made a likely first descent (for bikes) of the south-west face of Tin Can after a grueling hike-a-bike.
Don't count on being able to stop on a slope of crusty snow that razor sharp ski edges would have trouble navigating. 
 Read fall line, have a clean run-out, counter steer into the drift, feather the brakes, don't high side, when in doubt point it.

Brakes were smelly and steamy by the end of this pitch.  


wishing there were more cold hours in the day, as the sun crept higher in the sky, the snow began to soften. 

By far the most fun I have had on a fat bike.  EVER.
The small window of time that conditions are set up like this, makes the experience that much sweeter, like unicorn meat. 

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