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, 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, 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!

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

The Paw Recovery Ride

Java is back! After a week on the doggie injury list, Java is back to running with the bike. We had an intense ride on Gilmore Trail picking up race signs on Sunday, and it was the first time she ever ran with a skilled mountain biker. Forrest is about 3Xs as fast as I am even with a backpack of stakes and signs and so Java went full out for 13 miles trying to keep up with him. Prior to that ride, the most miles she ever ran was a 6.2 miles and that was at my jog speed.

No surprise that she was sore and stiff on Monday and Tuesday. Unfortunately, she also wore down her paw pads. No bleeding. Thank goodness. So a lot of gentle walking for most of the week. Yesterday, we slogged through a 5 mile rainy run on campus. She seemed fine afterwards. So today we tried an easy trail on the bike.

After a week on the doggie injury list, Java is back to running.

She was slow. Maybe she was tired though she sure seemed able to sprint after stuff she really wanted. My guess is that she was being gentle on her paws since they bother her worse when she pushes her full power.

Honestly, I was in worse shape. I started weightlifting again after a year off. Though I posted faster race times this year, I haven’t had the strength or the power to train all three disciplines needed for another Ironman. Weightlifting has always been the answer, and I know this. Unfortunately, it leaves me extremely sore and my brain has a hard time accepting that I am benefiting from a half hour session. Even when the proof shows in the stats.

Java will spend one more week on light duty before we head up Gilmore Trail again. This time we will either have someone drop us off at top and ride down (8 miles), or do an out and back that’s about the same distance. I need to get back into winter riding shape, which includes way more hills than I’ve been riding this summer.

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

Fueling for the Weekend

Enjoying the last relaxing day until the weekend. Tomorrow I kick into high gear finalizing the last details for the 54th Annual Gold Discovery Run on Sunday. For the most part, I’ve been on top of things. For the most part. I did almost forget to pick up the medals. I haven’t yet seen the new part of the course up by the gold mine. And no matter how prepared I am on race day, I always seem to forget something. Even something as simple as trash bags.

This race is pretty unique in that the first 8 miles are on a trail the drops from the Kinross mine down to a paved neighborhood that continues across the highway to a brewery. The trail part is a multi-use trail and so you have both motorized and non-motorized traffic. No cars, but ATVs like four-wheelers and side-by-sides. And since we only half a day to mark all 16.8 miles, we take both a fourwheeler and side-by-side up the trail.

Originally, just Java and I were going to ride the 13-mile out and back of Gilmore trail on Sunday afternoon to pick up signs, but my friend Forrest volunteered to help. Two years ago he picked them up by himself because I was too tired to go. Last year Felipe and his friend too ATVs out. This will be Java’s first time going that distance. I told her she needed to start carb loading. She wisely chose raspberries growing in our yard.

Java has a small addiction to raspberries. Luckily we have have several growing in the yard.

It’s gonna be a tougher ride for me. I spend less time riding steep hills in the summer than I do in winter. And though I haven’t seen the new trail yet, the old one was already hilly. I anticipate a lot of pushing and some sore muscles Monday morning.

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

Early Spring/Late Spring

No, I didn’t report a lot on winter training. Hard to take pictures in Alaska when it’s nothing but darkness from November to March. The sunshine is out and today I remembered to take a pic of my early morning ride with Java.

Morning ride with Java at Tanana Lakes
It’s still chilly during our morning rides, but beautiful in the sunshine. Tanana Lakes is one of the few dry trails in Fairbanks right now, so we are here pretty often.

It’s hard to see her in the lower left hard corner she is as brown as the dirt! After some time off while she was in heat, followed by my recovery from my race in the White Mountains 100 and a knee injury, we have found 1 fairly dry trail in this town to ride. Java is not used to me stopping for pictures and was really confused by the delay.

It was unusually warm in March, so everyone thought we were going to have a an early spring. But I have lived in this town too long to believe that. The last two weeks have been snowstorm/melt/snowstorm/melt. One day I rode my Fatbike in the morning with Java in two inches of fresh powder and then my MTB on dry pavement later in the afternoon on my commute. The road bike is still on the trainer. I am superstitious about taking it out before May 1st.

A ton of snow still covers the trails, or there is a lot of mud where it has melted. So Java and I are hanging tight at Tanana Lakes. Not that we have a problem with mud. We want to let the ground firm up so we aren’t driving ruts into them. Trails cost $$$ to rehabilitate. It costs nothing to wait.

This is Java’s first spring with us, so this is my first spring riding this area. She arrived in mid-June last year when the trails were already dry and she was too young to ride with a bike. The ground was already starting to freeze when I did take her onto the trails. However, we didn’t really start riding consistently until December. This year I hope to train her to go with me on afternoon rides versus early morning. Difficult because she loves all humans, dogs, and discarded food. I want her to be a well-behaved trail dog, not a heathen.

Posted in Bikes, Fall Training, Mountain Biking

We Have No Snow Yet…WTF

Sunday is my birthday. Five days later, Java will turn seven months. Normally, we have snow.  Not just this fake frosty stuff that melts by 11am. I’ve pulled out the fat bike for our morning rides because I want wide, studded tires when I hit that frost. More so now that I’ve started training Java in the sport of bikejouring.

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Until today, she has only been running off-leash at 5am when there is no one else around. But the reality is that she will have moments that she will need to be leashed. Whether it is to cross a busy road, pass a dog mushing team, or allow other trail users to enjoy the day uninterrupted. She is well behaved for a seven month old dog, but she does not know how to keep herself from jumping on people when she greets them.  We work on it everyday, and it has gotten better. But not enough for a reliable performance on the trails.  Besides there is a borough leash law.  Not that everyone follows it. But the ones that don’t TEND to have well-trained dogs.  There are lots that don’t. Believe me I would run into them ALL THE TIME in the bird refuge or at the university. I don’t want Java to be THAT DOG. So we continue training and face the fact that she will have to be on the leash while we run and ride from time to time.

P.S. Bikejouring is kinda scary from a human perspective because the dog pulls you really, really fast. I am a bit terrified by how fast and powerful she is at this size.  I can only imagine what she will be like when she is older!