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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.