Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Milking summer for all it's worth

The fireweed has turned, the ferns are beginning to yellow; fall is upon us. The four weeks between summer and the long dark stretch of winter. We ride through the mud and the rain eking out that last bit of singletrack beneath an already low hanging sun.
Camping outside of Nikiski with Nathan, for arguably the best stretch of beach riding between Hope and Homer.

I took about 50 pictures of this crazy house built straddling the sandy bluff and a huge boulder, one earthquake or tidal wave away from oblivion.

Plenty of river crossings to keep things interesting and ensure our feet were soaked. The stream was a deep oxblood rust from all the high iron content. 
What makes this 10 miles of coastline great is the myriad of oddly shaped stones littering the beach; creating an endless playground. The GPS said we gained 500 feet of elevation despite riding below the tide line for much of the day. 500 ft of rock crawling and sweet jumps. 

At this exact moment, I was wondering how strong my carbon steer tube is...

Euro-trip throw back: lunch of bourbon and bocadillos. 

Getting rowdy. 

The beautiful Nikiski: where every street in town this named after a petroleum company.

On the way back to Anchorage we surveyed some other beach riding options but none compared to the precious day's jib fest on the rocks.
Flat can be beautiful but is also boring.

Kenai Lake

Time for some single track up Devil's Pass to keep life more interesting.

Hunters on horseback out for moose, caribou, bear, whatever. 

 It's very important for one's equilibrium and riding performance to make sure that your bike components, helmet, clothing,and beer are all color matched. 

We chased a black bear for a couple miles, scared him off the trail with our constant screaming and horrible singing.

'Twas a glorious weekend.

Riding around Anchorage has been awesome as well, blessed with a few sunny days after record setting rains, meant muddy muddy trails.  I was impressed with the traction that the Vee Rubber Trail Taker 650b x 2.4 tires provided, allowing me to safely and stably peddle up the lung and leg burning Power Line Trail, a steady rise of over 3,000 ft out of the Anchorage city bowl.  

Great way to spend the afternoon, just out my back door.

The month of Fall in Alaska also means beautiful sunsets!

Cursing across town for a beach BBQ first time i've needed headlights in a long while.
Fortunately the dynamo power never runs out.

Making good use of the xtracycle bringing firewood, camp chairs, beer, and food down to the beach off Cook Inlet.

That small speck in the distance is the tallest peak in North America, Denali.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Fatbike Zeitgeist

Winter is almost here; the fatbike craze is in full effect.
Looks like these weird balloon tired bikes are catching on.

4 new carbon frames so your tongue won't stick to your bike when you get lonely on those long rides...

But they don't come cheap:

Fatback Corvus $2000 ($2000 for pre-order then jumps to $2300 for frameset)

Borealis Yampa $2249 (frameset)

9:Zero:7 Whiteout $2299

Salsa Beargrease $2600 (frame/fork/hubs)

38 Frameworks Hogback: $2600 frameset (Frame Made in USA)

A good read on carbon frame origins: Here

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

SSWC2014 in Alaska.

Single Speed World Championships just announced 2014 to be held in my current home state of Alaska. Clips from Italy this year:

SSWC2013 Italy - Cogne from Silvio Tonda on Vimeo.

I was living in Durango in 2009 for SSWC2009, and had a front row seat for the debauchery. I'm excited and scared at the same time.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Welcome Home to Alaska

IA month back from an epic bike tour of a lifetime though Iceland and Spain, the last 4 weeks of acclimating to city life in Anchorage was feeling like a drain on my soul.  Fortunately, one redeeming quality of Anchorage is its geographical proximity to the "real Alaska."  

Time to head south to Homer to see good friends, and leave the traffic, sirens, and crowds behind.  God was on our side and despite the predictions of rain throughout the Kenai Peninsula for the holiday weekend, blue skies and sunshine were a warm welcome to Homer after a 4 hour drive though relentless downpour.  

Within minutes of pulling into Homer I wa on my Surly Moonlander sprinting up the coast through sand, coastal mud, seaweed, and weaving through the rocks.
A solitary ride on a beach is good medicine. 

  Laying down turns while the girls went berry picking...

After the rejuvenating time on the beach, I rode back up the bluff to the Happy Cabin for a feast, shared with old and new friends. 


It looks so good; Fresh blueberry, raspberry, rhubarb crisp. 


Loaded up everyone's bikes to meet for a group ride the following day.

The next morning we set off for an omniterra* tour of Homer and Surrounding areas.

I tried out the fancy computer-phone-program called Strava for part of the ride.

Began the day with some road riding out of town.
Getting extreme on the bike path.

Climbed the East Hill Road out of town to rise about 1,300 feet in 5 miles of pavement and gravel. 

 Gravel gave way to mud and puddles winding through tall grass and fireweed just past its prime, signaling the end of summer.

 Cruised down past the reservoir, Homer's drinking water.

The faces of fat-bike envy.

Another series of paved climbs to access the trail head of narrow single track winding through the the thick late-summer foliage.

 Breaking for lunch at the overlook.
The mountains are getting smaller in the distance.

 "Slow down, what's the hurry?" Good call Reuben.

Good old fashioned Alaskan single-track. 

 Strategic boardwalk over the marshland.

At the end of the Diamond Ridge trail system, full of challenging  technical obsticals defined by the muddy root ridden terrain, Jesse and I split from the girls.   Rode a few miles up the Sterling Highway to meet up with some of the Homer Bike Club trail crew cutting some new single track on the bluff above the Diamond Creek beach access.

We misses the rea crew by about ten minutes but lucked out as the Guinea Pig  test riders for this vergin trail.
 Drop the seat post, it's gonna get techie.

Freshly cleared single track...then onto a steep  muddy descent to the beach.

The beefy Surly Lou tires kept me safe in a fast downhill trail to the coast, the same can't be said for the Jesse's less aggressive Knard tires, as he suffered two front tire wash-out crashes, once almost going over the edge...

Reaching the cost as the tide was letting out, revealing a seemingly endless playground to ride back to Homer.

Eagles galore.

Slept well that night.

Got to top off the trip with another fun challenging ride through marshy forest in town on Monday before we hit the road back to Anhorage. 

I love you Homer.