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.
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.
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!
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.
This is advice I didn’t take with my human child. As an unusually energetic 19-year-old, I thought I don’t need to sleep when Ivan naps. At 43, this is a whole different story. I napped regularly before Java. I nap more so now.
I have reduced my regular triathlon training to spend time with Java. This was the plan going into this whole puppy parenthood gig. I knew that having an obedient dog required a lot of consistent work. And with my schedule being unpredictable and often full, I knew I was going to have to say no to a lot of things until we got her trained.
Training a dog is mentally hard. So when she sleeps I sleep.
Other than that she seems to be happy living here. We try to keep her busy and introduce her to new experiences. Of course, we live in Fairbanks, Alaska so the experiences are seasonal and there are limited places to explore nearby. But fall and then winter will be here soon and she will get to learn about snow!
Somewhere exists a picture of my human son dragging toilet paper from the bathroom some 20 years ago. So when Java came running out of the exact same bathroom wrapped in a fresh roll, I had to stifle inappropriate parent laughter to take a quick picture and then pull it from her and tuck it away where she couldn’t reach it. Since then she has pulled down everything from backpacks to tool bags to blankets and jackets. I have my “Mom Ears” on all the time.
We are adapting so much better now. Java is starting to use the bathroom outside on a much more regular basis. She is adapting to her kennel though I would never say that she loves it exactly. We have decided to get her a kennel for the outside where we will designate a place for her to use the bathroom. We are also planning on getting a new style kennel for the house, moving the one my friend gave me outside. Honestly, my puppy doesn’t really need new kennels, but she definitely has my husband wrapped around her paw. So new kennels it is.
Puppy training class is going okay. Java would rather play with the dogs then go through drills. It is kinda hard because they are 11 other dogs and owners, which means there is a lot of wait time between demonstrating/practicing skills. I find the wait time boring and I’m sure Java does too. We keep going though and practicing at home and on the trail. Having a well-behaved dog will be worth it.
The outside kennel is up and ready for Java. It’s a boring chain link kennel. Hardly worth taking a picture. What is cool, is that it was sold to us on the cheap from my fat bike buddy whose husky passed away last year. He told me he had held on to her things in case he decided to get another dog. He said he has decided not to get one. So it now belongs to Java.
He also brought along a brush, nail clippers, and a few toys to play with. I posted this video for him on Facebook. He messaged me afterwards and said he missed his dog, but he was happy to see Java having so much fun already.
I finally got to bring home my new road bike–Trek’s Emonda SL7 Disc. I named her RichieDammit, which is a nickname given by my highschool friends. Richie was a nickname that started when I was in Japan prior to highschool and followed me back to the U.S. For the longest time, my friends started their sentences with ‘Richie’ and ended them with ‘Dammit’. For example, “Richie, you need to get to class before Mr. Harrington gives you detention again, dammit.” Eventually, it just got shortened to “RichieDammit.” And since this bike has some attitude to it, I passed on my old nickname.
So along with the drama of trying to get my puppy from South Dakota to Fairbanks, I was also trying to get my new road bike from Wisconsin. This was also some drama TNT style (We Know Drama).
I order the bike via Trek’s awesome Employee VIP program. They tell me the bike will be shipped at the end of the week.
The bike tech at the store I work (Goldstream Sports) tells me that the bike is on back order because customer orders have priority over employee orders. I will now have to wait until the end of the month. Okay, May 30th. I have a Mountain Bike. I can deal.
The bike ships on May 28th. Cool.
The bike is turned around on May 29th at Kentucky for a shipping violation. No notice from Trek. My bike tech has no idea. The store owner thinks it has to do with the lithium battery that powers the Di2 shifters.
I exchange a lot of emails with Trek. They confirm that it is the lithium battery. Someone forgot to put a sticker on the box needed for air shipment. This is after they tell me they don’t think they can ship the bike to Alaska because of the battery, which made no sense because we had two shipped up here for our customers and have e-bikes shipped up here all the time. This was about the time we were having trouble getting Java flown to Alaska too. There were a lot of tears that week. A LOT.
No more information for a week. I exchange emails with Trek again. They tell me it is on the shipping dock and will arrive in Alaska at the end of the week.
Minutes later I get this image texted to me from my inside connection at UPS:
I check UPS Tracking. Sure enough it had been shipped from Wisconsin last week.
The bike is delivered. The store is swamped with repairs, but the bike techs have mercy on me and get it put together quickly. I finally got to take it for a solid test ride. Tomorrow the store owner will do a thorough computerized bike fitting.