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.
It’s been one hell of a spring in Interior Alaska. COVID-19 aside, we had the most intense snowfall EVER for April. We got 20 inches of fresh snow by the first weekend! That is way more than we get for the ENTIRE month normally. And though I grumbled about sketchy rides in fresh snow, I was just grateful that I live in a state where there is plenty of open space to get out during quarantine.
How Quickly Things Change
When I lived Fairbanks, I knew I should be doing more curb waste, educate myself on the climate crisis, and make better environmentally friendly choices. I would commute some since I lived within a 2 mile radius of work, the market, the dog groomers, the dentist, and most essentials services. However, my move to Ester has created a heightened awareness of these issues since it is no longer easy to commute. I now have to drive 40 minutes or more per day, which really increased the guilt factor. Gas is expensive, not just financially, but in what it costs the earth. And though my friend who lives a mile up the road, commutes daily in summer and frequently in the winter, he does not have to transport children and pets. I no longer have children in the house either, but I regularly take Java to work with me. This year I will test out leaving her in the large dog pen and commuting a few times a week.
New Shopping Habits
That said, I changed a number of other behaviors since moving to Ester. I increased the use of sustainable shopping bags. Of course, during the outbreak they are discouraging the use of reusable shopping bags. I do reuse plastic bags as vapor barriers in my winter riding boots and to pick up Java’s poop during our outings in parks, but there was a time when the plastic bag collection was getting out of control. With the outbreak, I have taken advantage of store pickup at our favorite store, and will most likely continue once the pandemic is under control. The downside is that I can’t use sustainable bags, so it will definitely be a limited use.
New Dining Habits
The other change is a reduction in eating out. This mostly changed because I got a larger kitchen that is triangulated properly making it a joy to cook in. However, I did still eat out once a week before the outbreak, but one day I realized just how much waste I collected just trying to get a salad, sandwich, and soup from 2 miles down the street back to my office. Even if I opted for fast food, there were bags, paper wraps, or Styrofoam containers. I don’t drink a lot of soda or cold coffee drinks, so the number of straws per month is limited, but then added on are the cups and lids. Since moving out here, we have limited our coffee stand purchases to twice a week per family member now that our favorite coffee shop is a 10 mile round trip drive. So in that way, living far from town has led to change, but after cooking all the meals for quarantine, I am even more aware of the waste in my normal workday.
No Fast Fashion
I first heard the term “Fast Fashion” a few years after inventing my own term “disposable fashion” that referred to clothes that lasted only one season before blowing out because the fabric was so cheap– basically the Old Navy/ Target type clothing. Believe me my husband cringes when I talk about purchasing $100 jeans that last 5+ years, but quality is not just about appearance. Textile waste is a big drain on the environment. According to a February 2020 article by CNBC on sustainable fashion the $2.5 trillion fashion industry comprises roughly 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions the second-biggest consumer of water globally, enough to meet the needs of 5 million people every year.
Moving to Ester has allowed me to reestablish a sewing room that just didn’t fit in our Fairbanks residence. Though I had quit buying fast fashion items a long time ago, opting instead for second hand stores and vintage shops. Now I can make my own, which means selectively adding to my wardrobe. Of course, I have to be careful to select quality fabrics that will make long-lasting garments. Unfortunately, Interior Alaska has limited options for this, so I often have to have them shipped up here. Likewise, I have to be care to cut my patterns efficiently or else I am just wasting fabrics. I’m grateful that I’m not big into prints because matching designs is a huge waste of fabric, but not matching them results in odd looking outfits.
There are many changes in Alaska that are way out of my control. Ester is a mining community. They are building new roads in other parts of Alaska to additional mining sites. Oil has always run this state. And even though the pandemic has caused oil companies to reduce production, things will eventually resume. And then there is always a focus on forestry. The best I can do is stay aware of the issues, write my representatives, and vote in elections. Because I can’t imagine any other state I would want to hunker down during a pandemic, or live in on a regular day.
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.
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.