Saturday, October 23, 2010

Donkey Punch

"Slow is smooth.  Smooth is fast."  One of my favorite quotes with its origin in the sniper world.  I think of it every day as winter racing season draws closer. 

The temperatures during my morning training rides are dropping and I'm half tempted to train in the garage 80% of the week.  Just about the time my ego has me sold on a warm garage, my choice of entertainment and a huge mirror to "ensure proper technique," I remember why I ride super-early: because it's awful.  Awful cold, awful dark, awful hard to get out of bed - all things found in any good winter race.  I'm convinced  this training gives me a mental advantage over the rest of the race roster.  It's funny but I frequently think of a Guy Ritchie film when grinding out hours of solo training.  If you haven't seen Revolver I recommend you check it out.  It's violent but is a great story about one man's battle against his personal ego's desires - something all endurance athletes can relate to. 

The custom Fatback ( should be on the road next week.  It's going to be a sick bike with all the bells and whistles - dripping in carbon fiber.  Thanks to Greg and the guys at Speedway for putting up with my outside-the-box custom order and the dozen phone calls to check status.  In the meantime I modified my cross bike into a pre-winter training machine I call Donkey Punch.  It was such a great-looking cross bike but, now, with lights and bags it's more of a pack horse.  It's like putting a luggage rack on a Porsche - it's functional but ugly as hell.  They'll only be a handful of long rides on the Donkey before snow sticks and trails begin to firm-up.  Next weekend with Tony B will be the first over-nighter of the season.  We're planning on riding the complete tour DeValley from Palmer, up and over Hatcher Pass, down Willow Fishhook, through Wasilla and back to Palmer.  We're going to ride through the night and not bivy - lots of hours and lots of miles!

Hard to believe the first race is only 6 weeks away!  There are lots of unknowns in the inaugural year of any race.  The Sheep Mountain 150 ( should be a ton of fun - it's earlier in the season, it's going to have more elevation variation, and the distance will be just what riders have been looking for: something between the Susitna and the ITI.  In the meantime, there will be a few beer-inspired team meetings to discuss the future of cycling in our area, the Backcountry team and how to best prepare for the winter races.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

The New Guy

The Backcountry cycling team is growing at an alarming rate.  The idea was hatched at the shop this winter and became reality this spring.  Compared to the larger Anchorage teams we have just a handful of riders, but they've kicked ass this year.  Our laid-back approach to cycling, willingness to support other team members, and appetite for good beer make the Backcountry team a ton of fun.

Our newest addition is Kirk Louthan, a young man who definitely fits the Backcountry model.  Kirk is a 3rd year civil engineering student at UAA and lives in Kenai.  Kirk started riding a mountain bike around the Kenai-Soldotna loop for fun his senior year of high school.  He saved his fishing money and has since picked up a road bike.  This year Kirk was awarded the Supper Randonneur by completing a 200k, 300k, 400k, and 600k Randonneur in the same year.  Great work Kirk - quite a stretch from pushing a 40lb mountain bike around dirt roads!

It's great to have this guy as part of the Backcountry team.  Look for Kirk during the distance events next year and call him if you need a road or bridge built.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fall Rasin Rides

Without a doubt, my 2nd favorite time of year for cycling for a few reasons:

  • The State Fair has concluded.  Here in Palmer we're finally free of the "holy-shit" pace of life for these lovely couple weeks.  Thousands of drivers focused more on flat beer, funnel cakes and bricks of deep fried starch than my flashing bicycle light.  I'd love to have a dart gun for (a) the 197 year-old drivers who manage to drift over and give more space AFTER they've passed.  Jesus, just hang it up already.  And (b) the under-25 male your-tax-dollars-will-someday-pay-for-my-seven-kids crowd.  You know, the ones that have a confederate flag somewhere on there lifted truck and insist on dropping the hammer when passing.

  • It's getting colder.  School is back in session and people seem to have settled into the slower fall/winter rhythm of life.  Summers in Alaska are bananas.  Vitamin-D deprived Alaskans try and squeeze 6 months of living into 3 each summer, which makes for a noticeable let-down in the fall.  I love it.  My morning rides now include thermal arm and leg warmers, toe covers, hats and thicker gloves.  Cycling shorts are not made with wind guard material in the front crotch panel?  Am I the only one who dreams of a neoprene ball-koozie during the first 15 minutes of each ride?  It's too early for the fleece tights but too cold for the regular clothing.  I guess I'm just trying to squeeze more out of less this summer. . .it's Alaskan.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Let's give it a shot!

This is the first post in yet ANOTHER Alaska cycling blog.  Before you roll you eyes and exhale, hear me out.  Most other blogs I frequent have write-ups and great photos of past races, epic rides, or other events relating to cycling.  My blog will take a different approach and focus on the personal challenges of training, racing, gear and nutrition as it relates to cycling in Alaska.  Sure, they'll always be sweet photos and the dates of upcoming races but I'd like to share what's rattling around in my head at night.  We'll see where this blog goes from here. . .