Born in South Central Los Angeles, I am very comfortable with small yards, sidewalks, and views of my neighbor’s peeling sea green siding. I’ve grown up in all kinds of environments–from the undeveloped wilderness of Wasilla, Alaska in to the compact neighborhood of Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho. I don’t believe good fences makes good neighbors, but an invitation to thieves who want to know what you’re hiding. Sure we had one minor break-in, and two thefts from our yard– a mere 3 incidents in 22 years.
So I hold my tongue when outer city people lament the difficulties of inner city living. Usually, they list crime, lack of privacy, and noise as the reason they would never live in the city. But I’ve lived on both sides of that inner-and-outer city coin. My neighbors knew more about my business despite an acre of surrounding land; I had stuff stolen by people invited into my home; and, once a large dog yard sounds off, they most likely won’t stop for a while.
Off my pulpit. I’m about to move 12 miles out of town to the community of Ester, Alaska, affectionately referred to as the Republic of Ester. The house is big. The dog yard is big. We have an acre and a half of undeveloped land where I want to build a dirt running track. It’s a dream come true considering that my parents used to collect cans to buy my diapers. And believe me, I am grateful. It’s still had for a city girl to move so far away from all her activities. To learn a new set of trails. To develop new routines.
I envy Java. The moment I unlocked the door. She bum rushed her way through the garage and up the stairs. She investigated every level and hidden passageway. Then she went to the unfinished dog yard and hunted down old toys left by its previous occupants. She had such a good time investigating her new home that I almost feel bad for not being more excited about the move.
It will be a few more weeks before we have everything out of our old house. My parents are coming up next week to help me fix the dog yard and unpack the house. The kids will move into our College Road house. When I asked my son how he felt about moving back to the house that he grew up in, he responded, “Weird. But I’m accepting of it.”
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
August is rainy season in Interior Alaska, which means the trails are filled with lake-sized puddles and some slippery terrain. Java and I are starting bike training in less than ideal conditions. The first bike ride was fine on the wood-chipped Skarland trail despite the freezing rain. The ride below was a little more precarious:
Gilmore trail, a.k.a the Gold Discovery Race route, is rutted and greasy with puddles so deep a Loch Ness monster could live down there. I haven’t been taking her far distance-wise, as we want to build her strength and endurance slowly. But this two miles had some elevations and downhills that she can’t help but barrel down. I held my breath praying that she didn’t slip and injure herself again.
Java, in true fashion, took the path of least resistance (pun always intended). She used her trail skills to find pathways around the puddles or her horizontal leap to jump them; unless she was thirsty, then she was all in.
The sun has been out all weekend, but we’ve also started to have frost in the morning. So my trail selection will probably go back to beginner areas. My friend Andrew got a concussion during a bike crash up at Birch Hill during a Cyclocross Race. Java is getting better at staying out from under the wheel and focusing on the trail instead of nipping at my feet or hands. Still, the last thing I need to do is get tripped up and crash on top of her. In many ways snow would be much easier. Fewer people are on the trails and landing on snow is much more bearable than rocks and roots.