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, 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.