Posted in Bikes, Dog Life, Fairbanks Cycle Club, Mountain Biking, Road Biking, Running, Summer Training, Trail Riding

A Pandemic Can’t Stop National Bike Month

The hardest part about training in 2020 is maintaining motivation. Group rides in Fairbanks are cancelled until June. Races are cancelled or have gone virtual like the Tour of Fairbanks, which is cool though I miss the competitive rush at the start line with the pack. A normal routine doesn’t exist no matter how hard I try to create one. Some days I want to abandon training all together.

Deep down I know the real struggle. I don’t do anything unless there’s a reason. I bike to get somewhere. I run to socialize. And I swim to escape the world.

There is no swimming since the pandemic. Sure our pools are open to a limited capacity, but you have to pre-register online, come already dressed to swim and leave wet because you can’t use the locker rooms. I haven’t run with my friends since my last major injury because I simply can’t keep up, and I can’t expect them to sacrifice the quality of their training. And the trails are still soft, so Java and I stick to our neighborhood dirt road. I have added road biking in the mix. Biking the Old Nenana Hwy that runs by our house is a 1,300-foot killer out and back.

I hate to admit the truth. I am not a competitive athlete. I’m not even an enthusiast. I’m a commuter who feels lost because there is nowhere to commute. Since I hate uselessly burning gas, I tie all my errands into the workday, mostly after I take Java to the dog park. I occasionally workout in the evenings, but not like I used to when I lived 2 minutes from the office and right next to a bird refuge with trails. Now I drive twenty minutes, which is mentally exhausting when half the people can’t at least drive the speed limit.

Most of my National Bike Month Miles come from morning rides with Java. However, I’ve started taking the road bike out for a couple climbs on a highway near our house.

Thankfully, 1 annual event in my life is not cancelled! I don’t even know how I first heard of National Bike Month. Maybe working at Goldstream Sports? Or when I took over as Fairbanks Cycle Club president? Either way, it is a reminder to get out and ride simply because I love biking.

National Bike Month simply celebrates cycling. The League of American Bicyclists established the event in 1956 to showcase the benefits of biking while encouraging new people to give it a try. The month usually includes Bike To Work Week, but that event has been moved to September when hopefully the pandemic eases and less people are working from home. National Bike Month is part of the National Bike Challenge that runs from May 1 to September 31, and includes several other events including Cycle September and National Bike to Work Day. Participation is free and cyclists can sign up on the Love to Ride USA website and start to log their miles, set goals, form groups and invite their friends to join. This year, the site is focused on using the event to create solidarity among cyclists during the pandemic. This include posting safe riding recommendations and encouraging people to post photos of their rides using the hashtag #BikesUnite. As we know I hate to stop when I ride, and so pictures don’t exist in my profile.

As of today, I’ve ridden 58 miles in the 8 rides I’ve done this month, mostly mountain biking with Java. If the weather holds, I will go out tonight on the road bike to bump that closer to the 75 mile mark. If this were an Ironman training year, my mileage would have been in the hundreds by now.

Last year we created a group for Fairbanks Cycle Club. Five people joined the first year. This year we got 6 more. Maybe someday we can get our entire membership and even our community to take part. As far as my personal rides, it’s just me and Java and the mountain bike, or me on the road bike for now. Hopefully, I do a better job with biking than last year when I quit road riding after June. Yeah, I could blame a heavy fire season, or the emergency dog watching gig, or our move to a new house. Yet, none of those things stopped me from finding time to ride with Java because those rides have a purpose.

Maybe this year I’ll learn that my personal enjoyment is reason enough to Love to Ride USA.

Posted in Bikes, Coronavirus, Fairbanks Cycle Club, Road Biking, Spring Training

Directing a Bike Club During a Pandemic

We announced yesterday that all Fairbanks Cycle Club group rides for the month of May were cancelled. Last month we cancelled group rides with a promise to review the situation at the end of the month. The FCC Board along with medical professionals in our membership reviewed the situation. Prior to reopening businesses in Alaska, the state had seen a decrease in cases/day of COVID-19. Fairbanks had gone 14 days without a new case. However, shortly after a limited reopening of the state, the nearby town of North Pole had a new case and the case/day is increasing again statewide. That is a trend we can only see increasing more if we allow group rides to occur.

One person has disputed FCC’s decision by pointing out that groups of 20 are allowed to gather. This is true. As I’ve said in previous posts, the state has been supportive in letting people get out for fresh air and exercise. However, our group rides usually are larger than 20, and we are hoping to prevent the backlash experienced by our fellow cyclist in Europe:

We feel encouraging people to ride solo will prevent sentiments like the one above from emerging in our Alaskan community.

We don’t anticipate the situation to change any time soon. As it is, we have already made moves to transform our race season into a series of virtual events. The revised Tour of Fairbanks is the brainchild of FCC’s top race director Christopher Knott who wants to see Alaskan athletes motivated to keep training and bring customers to businesses recovering from COVID-19 closures. Not only are we lucky to live in such a supportive state, we are also lucky to live in a time when technology can support our efforts to keep events going in an alternative form.

Posted in Bikes, Birthdays, Coronavirus, Dog Life, Ester Alaska, Fall Training, Fat Biking, Mountain Biking, Road Biking, Spring Training, Summer Training, Winter Training

Happy 2nd Birthday, Java!

We have a trend in my family. A majority of people are either born on the 2nd or the 28th.

  • My dad: May 2nd
  • Me: October 28th
  • Ivan (son): March 28th
  • Alex (brother): April 2nd
  • Java (pup pup): April 2nd

You read right. Java fell in line and was born on the 2nd, not like my rebel husband, mother, and son’s fiance who were born on some other day we can’t remember.

Two years has past really fast! Year 1 had a lot of stressful moment when Java visited the emergency vet for all sorts of reasons. This year was better even though we still had to stop into the vets twice for potential emergencies. Otherwise, we shared a lot of good bike rides, runs, and recovery walks. She adapted to the new house, even though she is very aware when we drive up to the old one where my son now lives. And we have teamed up to survive the COVID-19 scare. I told my husband as much as I love him, I’m really glad we have Java. Otherwise, I don’t know if I would be so sane through this period of isolation.

On that note, here is a small video highlighting the last two years. We hope you are staying safe during this time of crisis.

Posted in Bikes, Coronavirus, Dog Life, Ester Alaska, Fat Biking, Trail Riding, Winter Training

Social Distancing Alaska Style

I had a rather bitchy post about Daylight Saving Time set to go when the Coronavirus Crisis broke out. At first, we were only concerned since Alaska hadn’t yet reported a case. So I continued to get prepare for swim camp in Hawaii. Yet, as travel bans started and cases grew in New York, I started preparing for home isolation. I am highly asthmatic and this virus is deadly for me.

I cancelled my trip after the first reported case in Fairbanks. Ten minutes later I got an email that swim camp had been cancelled. I wasn’t too bummed because the endless cold snap had ended and the trails were shaping up nice for riding. Plus, it’s easy to social distance on the trails if you go at the right time. Most of the people in the surrounding neighborhoods don’t get moving until mid-morning, so if Java and I get up early enough we can often go for hours without seeing a soul.

Hopefully, the trails will be groomed after our recent snowstorm that accumulated around 19-inches of fresh snow. Last year, pavements were nearly dry and it was really warm outside. This weekend I will venture into town to gather work from my studio and office and grab necessities and come home for another week on our semi-isolated hillside. I am realistic that I may live life with just Java and my husband for the next two to three months. Honestly, I’m okay with that.

Posted in Bikes, Fairbanks Cycle Club, Running

A Deeper Community Involvement

I am into my sixth year as the president of the Fairbanks Cycle Club (FCC). I didn’t anticipate continuing in this position after year 5, but no one else wanted to step into the position. This isn’t a problem unique to the cycle club. Almost everyone I know who are involved with nonprofit work are facing the same issue. So, here I am trying to stabilize the club, get it reorganized under a new section code, and try to recruit new board members and develop new programs.

It’s the last of my great volunteer efforts. I left the Fairbanks Arts Association last year after reaching the limit of my time available for nonprofit work. I decided that the board had grown enough that my exit would not affect it much. So far I have been right in this assumption.

Other than working on restructuring FCC’s non-profit section code from a 501c(4) to a 501c(3), I have decided I should be involved in the development city infrastructure. I have limited political involvement and no kind of influence. I’m not one of the elite cyclists. I’m just a cyclist. But I want to FCC to be more involved, which means someone on the board needs to be more involved. And since my treasurer is working on getting a long-term accounting system built while developing promotional gear, and my trail people are gearing up for trail clearing season. That leaves me and another member, and she is more interested in the race development side.

To start my journey, I returned to attending Fairbanks Area Surface Transportation (FAST) Planning Meetings. When they were still FMATS (Fairbanks Metropolitan Area Transportation System), I would go when there was an issue that affected the biking and running community. However, I am long from completely understanding the process, what is at stake in the big picture, or how we can help. A lot of our membership rides outside the city limits and so some of the issues may not affect them. However, we would like to start recruiting commuters more, and the only way to encourage them to join is to support their daily efforts.

Today was a technical meeting with a roomful of professionals from the state, transportation companies, and city employees. I completely felt out of place, but stayed so I could learn how they were ranking projects for their 10-year plan. There are a few pathways and new pavement projects that will affect cyclist and a lot of air quality projects that may or may not interest our membership. These meetings are monthly and so I will probably continue to attend even if I don’t have anything to say. I have no doubt there will come a time when I will.

Posted in Bikes, Dog Life, Ester Alaska, Fat Biking, Running, White Mountains 100, Winter Training

There’s Nothing to See Here… No Really It’s Just Dark

The Alaska Darkness is 23-7

Well, it was that way on Solstice, which is about a month in the past and we have rounded the corner into the new year. Sure the we have gained about 2.5 hours of daylight, but guess what? None of it is when I ride or run with Java.

Nope, this 5am girl is still going out when its dark with all the unseen moose somewhere on the nearby ridge and the dogs running at us from their driveways because their owners think, “Who the hell is crazy enough it be out this early in the dark when it’s 20 Below?” This girl and her dog.

And so yes, I am terrible about updating my blog in the winter because I don’t go out much in the daylight because I’m either shooting videos, managing clients, or other media related things. Not that I haven’t tried to capture what it’s like to ride/run in the darkness. But as you can see in the video below, there really isn’t all that much to see.

There was one odd factor that came about either because we moved, or I’m not racing the White Mountains 100 this year: I kinda took a training break. I mean Java and I are running and biking regularly, plus I’ve joined and aerial sling class and still swim twice a week. However, we aren’t pushing the miles like I had in the past few years. I suffered from pretty extreme exhaustion until recently coupled with Achilles tendinitis in my left foot. So I reduced the intensity of my activity for the months of December and January focusing on the Strava 50K walking challenge until I could really start running again. It doesn’t help that it has continuously ranged from -20 to -32 below on a regular basis. Sure, I have biked lots in this crap to train for the White Mountains, but this year I am just not as motivated to suffer that way.

It’s supposed to warm up into the negative teens and negative single digits in the next two weeks. That will be a big boost to ride some trails in the valley during the day. But the real countdown is for swim camp in Hawaii in March. No, Java isn’t coming. Instead my mom will spoil her with many long springtime walks here in Alaska while I’m gone. But until then Java and I ride/run on!

Posted in Bikes, Dog Life, Ester Alaska, Fat Biking, Mountain Biking, Susitna 100, White Mountains 100, Winter Training

And Then The Snow Was Gone

This time of year is a small scsle version of the bipolar craziness that comes with living in Alaska. Daylight is now darkness that gets worse with daylight savings time. We get cold then we get warm. Then we get warmer, then we get freezing rain. That turns to snow then rain and suddenly we have two inches of fluff on the ground.

You saw it in the last vid. I swore it was here. But now its not.

The ground was still frozen, so Java and I headed out to Tanana Lakes for a ride on the island trail. In the winter this trail is buried under snow and only accessible by canoe or paddleboard in summer. There are only a few short weeks in the spring and fall when the ground is hard and dry enough to walk, run, or bike to it.

Today we biked. Here’s Java’s tour of the island trail:

We have gotten 5 or 6 inches of snow since this ride. And it’s staying. Most likely our next video will highlight our new riding spot now that we’ve moved to Ester– Standard Creek.

November 1 is the opening of The White Mountains 100 lottery. Not sure if I’ll sign up. After 3 consecutive years racing the course, and last year’s craziness with the Susitna 100 and it’s 10 inch snowfall, I’m not so motivated. It sounds nice just to ride without a goal though goals frequently make me ride more.

Posted in Bikes, Dog Life, Ester Alaska, Fat Biking, Mountain Biking, Winter Training

A Tour Around the New Neighborhood

Of course it snowed today just as I finished the video of our neighborhood ride where you can clearly see how much the snow has melted. The last couple weeks have been totally whacked as the power steering went out on the Ford Fusion. We hustled to get a replacement 4WD used Jeep Compass only to find out it didn’t have a hitch. So Java and I haven’t ridden outside much while we waited for it to arrive. But we did manage to get in one ride around the neighborhood. Java loves it out here. I’m still struggling to adjust, and considering all the other stuff that has happened like the Jeep locking me out of the vehicle after I turned on the car and shut the door, it’s gonna be awhile before I’m as happy to be up here as she is.

So enough of my moping and enjoy this video of my happy dog running around our new neighborhood.

Java loves our new neighborhood and is anxious to start running on snowy trails again!

The hitch arrived yesterday and is now on the Jeep with a bike rack. I swam a 3,000-yard ePostal last night after running with Java and her crew at Tanana Lakes. A bit tired today. Hopefully, I’ll be ready to ride by tomorrow.

Posted in Bikes, Dog Life, Mountain Biking, road running, Running, Winter Training

#DogsofInstagram or The Ride Where Java Gets an Offer to Model Dog Bandanas

There’s a benefit of living in ‘The Hillz’– we get winter first.

And while most people are all ‘Eww, winter‘. Java and I are ‘Amen, it’s winter.’

Done are the 90 degree days. Done are the mandatory 5am runs as we try to outpace the rising thermometer. Done are the sleepless nights brought on from around the clock daylight. Welcome the lower temperatures that are more comfortable to ride in. Welcome the soften ground that hurts a lot less when you fall off your bike. Welcome are the full nights sleep because it is dark almost all day and night.

Okay, so yeah. Seasonal Affective Disorder sucks. And the closer we get the Christmas, the worse it gets because I know we are winding down to a mere 3hrs,45mins of daylight. I usually end up on the floor in a pool of tears babbling about how much I hate eating chicken or some nonsense like that. And yeah, so I have to wear/pack more gear when I ride, but it is better than feeling like there is nothing you can do except pass out from heat exhaustion. Winter Riding is my thing.

Java and I only rode a few times last month since the rainy season makes for a rut gutted slog. Down in the City of Fairbanks there are patches of snow and some wet stuff that might freeze at night. I remember having to delay my fat biking season when I lived in town because the snow was too thin to set up the winter trail system that doesn’t exist in the summer. But living 11 miles out of town in Ester. We have snow. Rideable snow. It is awesome.

This morning we headed back down Standard Creek Road. The road is good minus a rut gutted portion early on. I don’t know if the road is maintained during the winter, but we just bought a used snowmachine so Felipe can break trails for Java and I to ride. My husband is actually pretty jazzed about this because it makes him feel involved in my training. For now, the roads are good and we will ride them until they aren’t. By then the winter trail system in The Hillz should be put in.

My posted pic of Java on Instagram led to a request for her to model dog gear.

Snapped a quick pic of Java and the bike post-ride. I don’t carry my phone when I ride and I haven’t set up the GoPro yet on the fat bike. But since I haven’t posted much to Instagram lately, I got Java to hold a quick pose before she ran off to sniff more in the woods.

A few hours after posting, @banpaws asked us to DM them about Java modeling their products. Banpaws is a dog bandana, clothes, and accessories line, and they offered discount on their product and some profile promotion if we featured their stuff in our Instagram posts, etc. Java stays pretty warm down to 35 Below and doesn’t wear bandanas or dog clothes, so I thanked them for their offer. It cracked me up that someone wanted my dog to model. If Java were a human girl, I could just imagine what kind of ego boost that would bring on.

I have the HooDoo Half to “race” on Saturday, so we still won’t ride as much as I want. After that, run miles will decrease and the ride miles will rise. Hopefully, I will have the GoPro on the bike by then.

Posted in Bikes, Dog Life, Mountain Biking, Summer Training

Where We Ride

In a lot of these posts, we feature pics from our favorite riding spot Tanana Lakes Recreation Area. It’s a fairly new park that is flat with a number of trails, a swim beach, and gun range. Before Java joined our family, I practiced my open water swims down at the beach. Later I joined my husband at the gun range. Now I mostly ride with Java . Funny how our use of an area evolves.

Recently, I started capturing video of places that Java and I ride and run. There are a lot of beautiful areas we go all year around with old friends and meet new people. Before I started hanging out with Java, I would run and ride well-known areas since I’m prone to getting lost. Now I am open to explore areas because the only thing worse than an unexercised dog, is a bored one.

Below is a minute long video from my ride with Java a week ago. It was a sunny morning between the smokey days, and there were so many people. This is just a clip from our 30 minute ride. Enjoy! And see you on the trails!!

Java and I exploring Tanana Lakes Rec Area a week ago. Look at her go!