Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Anchorage Awarded LAB Bronze, Cop Hits Cyclist

This past week, two separate items have been spinning around my mind. Today they finally came together. You might say they even collided.

I just realized that the same day the League of American Bicyclists designated Anchorage, Alaska as a bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community, announced by way of a volley of excited e-mails and blog posts, a local Anchorage woman, riding her bicycle on her morning commute, was hit by an Anchorage police officer.

While we'll likely never know the true cause or outcome of the collision, I hope it isn't a portent of the future of cycling in our fair city.

In light of these recent events, and in reaction to the confused tone the cyclist's husband had in his initial post of the collision on the AKspokes forum, I suggest making the time to read Bicycling and the Law very soon. You never know when something like this may occur to you or someone very close to you. It's best to be prepared ahead of time.

In closing, consider the current debate taking place in Seattle, attempting to address the epidemic of distracted and/or negligent driving with a "Vulnerable User Bill." David Hiller, Cascade Bicycle Club's advocacy director, notes something you should think long and hard about in regard to your own vulnerability and safety out on the road, "people who don't control their vicious dogs face more criminal culpability than drivers for negligence behind the wheel."

In the meantime, call your insurance company and get a UM/UIM policy.

Friday, October 23, 2009

2010 Brevet Calendar

The 2010 Alaska Randonneurs' brevet schedule has been approved by the Mother Ship.

Mark your calendars. Even more brevet goodness is in store beginning next April.

4/17/10 Kenai 200K
5/1/10 Homer "End-of-the-Road" 200K
5/16/10 Matanuska Valley 200K
5/22/10 Anchorage/Palmer/Anchorage 300K
5/29/10 Denali Hwy 200K/300K (in conjunction w/ Alaska Endurance Association's "Denali Classic")
6/5/10 Anch/Seward/Anch 200K/400K
6/13/10 Bread & Water populaire 100K
6/19/10 Gakona/Delta Junction/Tok 200K/400K/600K
7/17/10 Denali Dirt Road Randonnée 200K/300K
8/7/10 "PBP" Nord populaire 100K
8/28/10 "PBP" Sud populaire 100K
9/11/10 Glennallen/Chitna/Glennallen 200K
9/18/10 Chugiak/Talkeetna/Chugiak 300K

I look forward to riding with you next season for some challenging rides on beautiful routes.
There's a little something here for everyone; some familiar rides, a few new rides, some remote, some urban...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Donuts, Dogs & Draughts - Saturday Morning "Training" Ride

The first Frigid Bits ride of the '09/'10 season is this coming Saturday night. So, I figure I have to start training.

Open invitation for a short, informal, Saturday morning "training" ride. We're meeting at Dino's Donuts at 9:30-ish AM, and will carbo load until our 10:00AM departure. The next stop will be for dogs at the Debarr Costco. The final leg will be to the Midnight Sun Brewing Company for some post-ride electrolyte replacement, Frigid Bits strategizing and course preview.

Ride what you have: time-trial bike, unicycle, fatbike, etc. Wear your helmet, bring a lock, and cash for grub and suds.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

It's Time for Frigid Bits!

Figid Bits winter cycling series is starting soon.

I think this is a big deal. I strongly believe in supporting creative, local events, and Frigid Bits is about as good as it can get on both accounts. Carlos has been putting this series on for years now, and he does a hell of a job.

I urge you to come find out what it's all about.

10/17/9 at 7:00PM starting from the Goose Lake parking lot. Get there early for the 6:45PM riders meeting. Show up with an operable front light and your helmet.

More details available here.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Let's Do It Again! 100K Populaire This Weekend

A bit of a planning snafu by yours truly in regard to this weekend's populaire. I didn't get the Potter-Birchwood-Potter course submitted in time to get approved.

Have no fear though! Let's do the Bread & Water 100K again. (I always think a loop ride is more interesting than an out-and-back anyway.) If you didn't get to ride it the first time, here's your chance. It's a wonderful way to see our city. Come out and join us on this ride. It's a great introduction to what randonneuring is all about. Hopefully, you'll get hooked!

Ride info is HERE.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Denali Dirt Road Randonnée Postponed Due to Forest Fire Smoke

I just spoke to the Rangers up at Denali. The forest fire smoke up there is too heavy to ride in, so I'm postponing the Denali Dirt Road Randonnée until later in the summer/early autumn. It'll still be a beautiful ride; just healthier.

I'll let you know just as soon as I set a new date.

Photo: NASA

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Denali Dirt Road Randonnée

If you have lots of long-distance riding experience, are really strong, self-sufficient, can handle 300K of huge hills on dirt roads in Alaska's remote wilderness, with the possibility of truly awful weather, consider riding the July 18 Denali Dirt Road Randonnée.

This ride just might be the highlight of our brevet season. It's the most committed brevet in Alaska. If you'd like to ride it, you must let me know beforehand by sending me an e-mail or giving me a phone call.

Ride info may be found HERE.

A few important details:
This is not an event. Each rider is considered to be on an individual ride.
This is not a race.
There is no support whatsoever; nothing.
There are lots of important rules for riding in Denali. If you're the type that doesn't follow rules, please don't bother.

Looking forward to seeing you at the start.

Photo credit: Ed

Sunday, July 5, 2009

*** Special Alert - Beware of Recent IFAC Raids***

With the start of the the Tour de France this weekend, and most of the brevet series behind us, it appears that the IFAC is really stepping things up this year to insure that no cyclists, racers or otherwise, including randonneurs and randonneuses, gain an unfair advantage on the bike.

Here's a video of their recent press conference. Be careful out there folks. It'd be unfortunate if the IFAC caught up with you just as the summer riding is reaching its high point.

IFAC Press Conference/Raid Video Footage

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Alaska 600K Brevet

Where the Bread & Water 100K populaire embodied the light-hearted, fun nature of rambling on a bike from point-to-point around the city, the Alaska 600K brevet, that travels from Gakona to Delta Junction to Tok, and back to Gakona, is absolutely mammoth in scale, scope, and adventure-factor.

Seven riders, long-distance veterans as well as first-year randonneurs, left Gakona early Saturday morning, under a thick blanket of low clouds, to meet the challenge. It was more than an honest test of the randonneuring spirit...

...And a challenge it was! A tire boot and a Leatherman aside, the best tool anyone can bring to a ride like this is determination.

Weather forecasting across Alaska is never very dependable, but the predicted mid-70s temps were as fraudulent as Bernie Madoff's disclaimer statement. None of us realized that it had snowed 4" on the Tok Cut-off the week before. But Alaskans know we live in a land of extremes, and for the most part, the riders that showed came well prepared.

The beauty of this ride is absolutely remarkable. Each 200K leg has its own distinct character; quiet and intimate winding miles through lush subalpine landscapes, vast forests of spruce, birch, and aspen, the expanse of both the Alaska Range and the Wrangell Mountains...and some quirky little Alaska towns too. Its a wonderful way to experience that part of interior Alaska.

A hearty and sincere congratulations to those who finished. And to the riders who looked deep within themselves to understand their limits, be encouraged with the experience you gained. It'll be a really useful advantage next year.

Thanks so much to all the riders and volunteers who showed up for this year's 600K. It was great having that many riders show in a non-PBP year. And honestly, Kate and Susan, you were a tremendous help along the course. One of the best surprises were Sam and Max who traveled up here from Portland and Washington D.C, respectively. I hope you'll return to join us on another brevet again. In the meantime, please spread the word about all the fantastic riding and adventure there is up here. I'm grateful to you all for your support of randonneuring in Alaska!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Bread & Water 100KM Populaire

Summer is finally here, and we've had a great randonneuring season with 1,300KM of brevets so far. So we're going to throttle it back a tad this weekend.

Please join us for the inaugural Bread & Water 100KM Urban Populaire.

The ride will be just like a brevet, only shorter. You'll have 7 hours to traverse a scenic 100KM loop around Anchorage, and see parts of your city you never knew existed. The course will be interesting, and have its challenges. But remember...it's not a race.

The ride starts at 8:00AM from the Great Harvest Bakery, and ends at the Moose's Tooth Brew Pub for après vélo. Registration begins at 7:00AM. Get there early enough to get a muffin and coffee.
Full details are HERE.

Invite your friends. This is a great way to dip your toe into randonneuring, and see what it's all about.

Looking forward to seeing you at the start.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Anchorage-Seward-Anchorage 400K Brevet

Bore tides, beluga whales, eagles, mountains and more are why the Seward Highway holds the All-American Roads designation. The route also holds significant historical and cultural qualities.

If you're aiming to achieve Super Randonneur status this year (check out the special jersey) by completing a full brevet series, or if you're looking to pack in some additional distance work in preparation for the Fireweed 400 or one of Rio's AEA rides, you'll not want to miss this ride to Seward and back. The views along Turnagain Arm and through the Kenai Mountains make this ride a destination of its own. The hills and distance will provide the challenge.

The start will be from Carrs Huffman on June 6th, at 6:00AM. Registration will open at 5:00AM.

All the Anch/Seward/Anch 400K ride details can be found HERE.

With our long days and short nights, randonneurs in Alaska often overlook the use of lights on the bike. However, on this long ride through the mountains, don't underestimate the need for lights. Even though you may be able to finish the ride before sundown, overcast weather conditions during the later hours can make things very dark indeed; too dark to change a flat or a broken spoke, and certainly too dark to descend Turnagain Pass safely. Bring lights on this ride.

In addition to the requirement for lights, you must have a reflective vest or sash if you're riding any time between sunset and sunrise. If you don't you will be DQ'ed. The regulations are spelled out HERE. Please be sure to read them before the start.

As usual, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to shoot me an e-mail or give me a call before the ride.

See you at the start, bright and early!!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Chin' an, Gu Ninyu.

"Thank you, you came here." That's the translation of the control clue found on the sign at Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church in the Native village of Eklutna, north of Anchorage.

Nine riders set off early on Saturday morning from the south end of Potter Marsh for one of six 300 Km brevets offered this weekend around the U.S. It was clear and chilly at the 7:00 AM start, but the immediate climb up Rabbit Creek Road warmed everyone up rather quickly. Alaska randonneurs were again treated to spectacular weather, and a new course that wound through every community between Anchorage and Palmer and back. It was a hard, but beautiful ride embodying the true spirit of randonneuring; seeing just how far you can go on a bike, traveling from city, to town, to village, to town, entirely self-supported and living off the land while doing it.

Congratulations to all the riders on finishing! Everyone's bikes and bodies seemed to hold up well against the distance.

Results for the Anchorage/Palmer/Anchorage 300 Km brevet, as well as the Matanuska Valley 200 Km brevet are now posted HERE.

Photos of both rides are on the AK Rando Flickr site HERE.

Our next ride will be the Anchorage/Seward/Anchorage 400 Km on June 6th. I'll have details posted soon.

Enjoy the rest of your Memorial Day weekend!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Anchorage-Palmer-Anchorage 300K Brevet

Now that the three 200K brevets have loosened the legs up a little, let's turn it up a notch. This Saturday is the Anchorage/Palmer/Anchorage 300K brevet.

This course is designed to really give riders the feeling of traveling from community to community, and living off the land while doing it. This ride will cover some beautiful backroads (I saw a black bear while driving the course yesterday) as well as interesting urban/industrial areas. There will be a few hills, but nothing unusual, and certainly not excessive. A 300K brevet has a time limit of 20 hours. So far, all of our 200K finishers have completed those rides well within the time limit, so I don't think it will be an issue on this ride either.

Please see all the details for the Anchorage/Palmer/Anchorage 300K are HERE.

Don't hesitate to contact me by e-mail or phone if you have any questions.

I'm looking forward to seeing you at the start!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Matanuska Valley 200K: 15 Starters/15 Finishers!

Another fantastic 200K in the bag! As you can see from the photo above, the views were butt incredible!

Congratulations to all who finished!! Not one DNF this weekend! Lots of familiar faces on this ride. Thanks so much to all who came out to ride and support randonneuring in Alaska.

I really want to acknowledge the generosity of our local randonneurs. These rides do take a lot of time and energy to put together. But, honestly, I really appreciate your support and the encouragement you show! It makes it worth it.

The 7:00AM start delivered chilly head winds, pouring off of the Matanuska glacier, all the way into the King River control. The traffic was really low, and the roads very quiet being that the ride was on Sunday, though it did seem to pick up later in the afternoon.

This ride did suffer from a rash of missing street signs on the course. Is that a Valley-thing? Is that something I should call the governor about? (Note to self: always carry a can of pink spray paint in the Rando-mobile.)

The Anchorage-Palmer-Anchorage 300K will start at 07:00 next SATURDAY at the south end of Potter Marsh. I'm aiming to have details posted on the website tomorrow.

We're stepping the distance up a bit with this ride. The 300K has a 20 hour time limit, so if you think you might be out after 22:00, I expect you to have an operating front and rear light. Check your light BEFORE Saturday's ride!!! Make sure it fits, make sure it shines, make sure it won't fall off. Also, be sure to have spare batteries, and if your light isn't an LED, have an extra bulb. This isn't overkill. This is practical, safe, good advice.

Again, congratulations to all the finishers. It was great seeing you out on the course!!

I look forward to seeing you next Saturday!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Consider the Kenai!

I am amazed at the high quality of road riding available on the Kenai Peninsula. Throw any stereotypes you may have of the area out the window, and do yourself a favor. Go down and explore those roads. Some of the best road riding in Alaska can be had down in Homer and Kenai.

The Kenai 200K was another fantastic ride. The weather cooperated again, and it was a beautiful day to be on the bike; though the start was a bit crisp, and riders had to push through some afternoon winds coming off the water. The riders were great too, and they came from all over Southcentral.

I'm grateful to Judy Abrahams and Angie Nelson who helped me out at the controls all day checking riders through. I couldn't have done it with out you. Thank you two very much!

Next Sunday, May 17th, will be the Matanuska 200K; an all new course. Details are HERE. I hope you will join us on some new roads.

The few photos I managed to take during the Kenai 200K are posted on the AK Rando Flickr site HERE.

The Kenai 200K results are posted on attached pdf on the results page HERE.

See you again next weekend!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

North Kenai Peninsula 200K Brevet on May 9th

Here are the details for next weekend's 200K brevet on the north end of the Kenai Peninsula.

It's another all new course, in an area we've never ridden before. It should be no less interesting that the now infamous Homer 200K. Plus, it will be much flatter!

Please look over the documents and course map carefully. The only real issues that came about for those who DNFed last weekend seem to be related to navigation problems. Be sure to know how to use the cue sheets along with your cyclo-computer. If you have any questions about that, please don't be afraid to ask.

Before I get to all the brevet info links, I want to emphasize the importance of riding within the traffic laws on these brevets. Part of the Homer brevet's success was that all the riders really took it upon themselves to ride as traffic. While we may have all the rights to the road, we also have all the associated responsibilities; and there are a lot of them. That means stopping at all stop signs and lights, signaling for all turns, being courteous to drivers, yielding to pedestrians, and taking the lane if you need to. As we're the new kids on the block in Kenai, I want to make a good impression.

Kenai Brevet info, printable cue sheet, and waiver are HERE.
Rider Expectations are HERE.
Regulations are HERE.
Rules for Riders are HERE.

Please e-mail me, or call me at 907-276-6299 (hm) or 907-317-6030 (mobile), if you have any questions.

I'm heading down on Friday afternoon around 4:00M-ish

Looking forward to seeing you there! It's going to be another great ride!

Monday, May 4, 2009

The End-of-the-Road Is Just The Beginning

Thanks to all the riders who showed up and rode the inaugural End-of-the-Road 200K brevet in Homer, Alaska!

I really wanted to see this ride happen, and it never would have materialized without you showing up to ride it. And, now I think we've established a new standard, as one of the riders put it. You can count on the Homer 200K happening again next year, if I have anything to do with it.

It was an incredibly hilly course, especially for the first ride of the season. It was especially tough on some of the newcomers, with navigation being the primary challenge. But, the weather was spectacular, as were the views. I hope that was enough to occasionally take your mind off of your moments of suffering.

Don't forget, next weekend will be the first ever North Kenai 200K. This course is much flatter than the Homer course, and also has some very beautiful and interesting sections of road. I really hope you'll join us.

I've posted photos of the Homer ride on the Alaska Randonneurs Flickr site. Check 'em out! Relive the moment!! If you took any photos during the ride, please post them there too.

The results are now posted on the Alaska Randonneurs' website.

Congratulations to all the finishers!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

AK Rando Profiled In The Redoubt Reporter

The Mouth of the Kenai, aka the Redoubt Reporter, published a great article about randonneuring in Alaska, and the two new brevets we're going to have down on the Kenai. Let's hear it for keepin' it local! Thanks a lot, Redoubt!!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Homer End-of-the-Road 200K Brevet Details

Here's what you need to know about next Saturday's End-of-the-Road 200K brevet in Homer.

Read the Riders' Expectations here.

There's some more fine print here.

E-mail me, or call me at 907-276-6299 (hm) or 907-317-6030 (mobile), if you have any questions.

I'm heading down on Friday afternoon around 4:00PM-ish

I'm considering getting a large room at the Driftwood Inn with a private bath and shower. If enough people are willing to pitch in, I'll get the place. Then riders can have a nice place to clean up after the ride. The Seattle club and the Oregon club often do that for their remote rides, so let me know if this works for you, and if you're willing to chip in, I'll make it a sure thing.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cranking Up the Hype Machine

It's been a week since Rando Info night already, and the roads are that much drier. Thanks to Rose for the kick in the butt to do it. Without her persuasion, it wouldn't have happened. Anyway, it was such a good idea, we're going to have to do it every spring. The turnout was good, and I got hit with some great questions. I think the big take-away for the night was that now all the attendees understand a randonneur's fixation with things like low trail, taillights that don't blink, and fenders with mud flaps.

Today I had to make a run up to Wasilla, so I made sure to stop by the Valley's cycling nerve center to see what was up: Tony Berbeirch's Backcountry Bicycles. It's been almost a year since I've been up there, and boy was I surprised to see that they've doubled in size! The shop looks really great. I guess there are a lot of cyclists up there in the Valley! Good for Tony and the gang. Good for Valley riders!

So, we all chatted it up a bit, but mostly talked about the upcoming Homer and Kenai rides. I'm still really excited about these rides, and am so looking forward to them. Or maybe it's just the thought of a perfect blueberry muffin and latte from Two Sisters. Anyway, from the sounds of it, Palmer and Wasilla will be very well represented at the inaugural End-of-the-Road 200K and the North Kenai Peninsula 200K brevets. If you're a Valley rider looking to join us on these rides, you might want to hurry and check with Tony to see if you can hitch a ride with 'em. I think there's going to be a pretty significant caravan heading down.

Oh, and on the way back to Los Anchorage, I saw Bobby V heading home from REI. He was fighting a ferocious headwind just before the Eagle River weigh station. Good form Bob! From the looks of it, I don't think he's going to have any problems with those Homer hills.

I got news this week that Alaska now has its first permanent course! It's the 300K Denali Road Permanent. Permanents are sort of like brevets, only different. You set the time and date for when you want to ride them. There are other differences too, but that's the short explanation. Now that graduate school is behind me, I aim to get permanents all over this state. Anyone can submit a route for a permanent, and I encourage you to submit a route or two, or three. For more info about permanents check out the details on the RUSA website.

And two more things! Check out what's happening over at the BCA. There's Bike Summit this weekend here in Anchorage, with Mia Birk headlining, and Bike to Work Week/Day, and a very short survey regarding bicycle commuting and alternative transportation here in Anchorage. You may find the survey HERE.

Number two is, be sure to read Bob Mionske's new column in Bicycling Magazine. If you recall, Bob wrote the legal advice column for Velo News until just recently. Anyway, it's totally outrageous. You're going to find it really hard to believe. Do not miss it. Bob is always a good read.

More later...

Friday, April 3, 2009

Rando-Info Night 4/16 at Paramount Cycles

Now that the spring brevet season has been delayed a month, I’m getting more e-mails from riders wanting to know about randonneuring.

So, on Thursday, April 16 at 7:15 PM, you’re invited to join us for Rando-Info night at Paramount Cycles in South Anchorage.

I’ll cover the basics, including a bit of randonneuring history, why there are so many French words, how brevets are organized, a bit on training, how to eat for brevets, bikes and equipment for randonneuring, and more. Come join us and let us answer your questions about randonneuring in Alaska and the rest of the world.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Revised 2009 Brevet Schedule

April Fools Day is tomorrow, but this ash isn't a joke. 

Due to the persistent, residual ash on the brevet courses, and the related health concerns, this season's brevet schedule has been revised.

Since last Thursday, I’ve received numerous e-mails from riders voicing their concerns about volcanic ash on the roads. Initially it was difficult finding a definitive answer regarding ash exposure, as most of the advice from local and federal agencies only addresses exposure typical to a residential cleanup scenario, not an all-day athletic event. However, after discussing the situation with several physicians, other cyclists, state health officials, RUSA officials, as well as hearing from an occupational medicine physician, I believe it's prudent to let this stuff settle down for a month.

Notwithstanding another volcanic eruption, there are two areas of concern specific to ash exposure to cyclists. First, is increased lung ventilation during prolonged vigorous exercise; in our case for periods exceeding eight hours for a 200K ride. Second, is the risk to the eyes. One of the official recommendations was for all riders to wear goggles. I can’t imagine riding 200K while wearing an N95 facemask and goggles.

While the real-time air quality readings, according to state officials, in the areas of our rides are currently not showing any immediate problematic levels, state officials confirmed that they are not taking into account the ash and dust that street-level, long-distance cyclists are exposed to by 1) stirring the ash up themselves when riding on the sides of the roads where ash accumulates with gravel, dust and other debris, 2) cars and trucks passing cyclists and kicking up clouds of ash dust that riders ride directly into, or 3) simply by winds on the course.

The good news is that we still have a big variety of new rides available. I haven't canceled any rides from the schedule. I've just moved them around and pushed them together, trying to be as accommodating as possible while minimizing conflicts with other events on the calendar.

Please see the new, revised, ash-free ride schedule HERE.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Take the Bike Show Survey

Your bike is in tip-top condition, and you're not in such bad shape yourself for the beginning of the season. Yet, with no brevet this weekend you find yourself knocking around the house, checking hourly for volcano updates on the innernet, in need of some direction. Well, I have the solution! I urge you to spend some time listening to The Bike Show podcast. Download a few shows, or all of them, as they're available in the archives. They're great to listen to, especially while on the trainer.

I have a few favorite cycling-related podcasts, and Jack Thurston's, The Bike Show, is bar none the best cycling-culture focused podcast going. Jack covers a broad range of cycling topics including on-the-bike rolling interviews, PBP, the Giro, Belgium pavé, the summer solstice Rolling-to-the-Stones ride, as well as a tour from England to France linking 12 bakeries en route! Oh la la!!

And while it might be a push for brevet-riding Alaskans to relate to the London fixie scene or a tour of London's lidos, Jack imbues his show with a real continental flavor, and an inspiring excitement about being on the bike that is easy to appreciate. And his music selection is terrific.

Jack's show is like no other, and is refreshingly different from the racing-centric podcasts dominating the internet. Be sure to sample a few as some shows are better than others. It'd be a shame if you passed judgement too early and missed some of the really good ones.

And after you're hooked...take the Bike Show survey.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Homer 200K Date Change Due to Volcanic Eruption

It's funny that some people still think it's winter here in Alaska. Not the hardy riders chomping at the bit to christen the inaugural End-of-the-Road 200K brevet in Homer though. Sure, at this time of year, and at this latitude, we Alaskans expect a bit of snow, ice, wind, cold, etc.; key ingredients for character building. (Lord knows, we need some character.) And while we knew Redoubt has been grumbling for some time now, frankly I didn't think it would come to this. Remember my post about "Randonneurs for Global Warming?" I really didn't mean it! Honest!!

Well, thank goodness there's a free weekend before the Kenai Peninsula 200K.

It's official, folks. The End-of-the-Road 200K will now be on 4/4/09. Granted, molten lava isn't flowing down Northernlights Blvd. quite yet. But, there's just too much ash in the air between Anchorage and Homer to put this ride on. I've been receiving a steady stream e-mails and photos from the Homer contingent describing and showing every speck of ash hitting the ground there. Those guys are on top of it! They've been on the beat letting me know the volcano's every burp as they're shoveling themselves out. I have photos from the Spit to the hills, and all stops in between. Rumor has it that if the ashfall lightens up enough to see though, they're going to hold their own version of the Homer 200K: 35 consecutive laps between Two Sisters and the Salty Dawg. I'm hoping that after the second beer at the Dawg, they get some sense and stop early. That ash can be really destructive to bike chains and cassettes.

So, go hit the trainer. Go tweak your steed a bit more. You just gained an extra week. Maybe it's a sign...

Hey, by-the-way, it was really great to see a bunch of you at BP's Cycling Fair today. There was a great turn out of Anchorage's broad spectrum of cycling interests accounted for. Huge thanks go to John Ingold for setting the whole thing up, and inviting the Alaska Randonneurs. I hope they do it again next year!

Monday, March 23, 2009

AK Rando Rides to the End-of-the-Road

We're droppin' anchor in Homer next weekend folks, merely one week after SIR's 200K opener. I just can't resist those soft ocean breezes down there this time of year, when we're still surrounded by snow here in Anchorage.

Our intrepid Homer-based randonneurs pre-rode most of the 200K course last weekend and report that, "It's all doable, even without studs." How's that for optimism? Pat, Joe, and Derek all went beyond the call of duty to keep me abreast of the course conditions, and they did an excellent job, with photos and all! I'm really grateful for their support. Its stuff like that that makes randonneuring work up here.

So, expect some ice on some of the road shoulders (it's still March in Alaska), but for the most part, nothing you can't ride around.

Looming large, though, isn't the question of "To stud, or not to stud?" (By-the-way, I recommend you wear 'em if you got 'em!) Rather, it's Mt. Redoubt. Currently the winds are favorable, blowing ash to the north and leaving Homer ash free. We're keeping a close eye on the situation, and will let you know if anything changes.

Before you show up to the start of the inaugural End-of-the-Road 200K brevet, next Saturday, at Two Sisters in Homer, be sure to review the ride details, the rider expectations, and the regulations. It's important stuff, and you've got to know it if you're going to ride any of the brevets.

Also, this is a great ride to test bags, lights, food, gear, etc. out on before you get on those longer rides. Take advantage of it.

Shoot me an e-mail if you have any questions.

See you at the beach!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Speed Linking in the Echo Chamber

Just a few noteworthy items...

Check out the fantastic "compendium of advice for new (and experienced) randonneurs collected from the DC Randonneurs listserv."

If you're planning on riding the full brevet series this year, you might want to acknowledge that achievement w/ the new RUSA Super Randonneur jersey. Personally, I liked #4. BTW, this jersey is only offered this year.

BikePortland.org has been following the LAB National Bike Summit 2009. There's some important stuff going on there. Especially Rep. Oberstar's speech on "Seeking a National Legal Standard to Ensure Traffic Justice."

The first ever Alaska Randonneurs ride schedule poster/flier is available for downloading. It's a great piece of work done by one of our local riders. Print it out in all its full-color glory, post it conspicuously, and e-mail it to all of your friends.

Check the conditions down at the Cosmic Hamlet By The Sea.

I drove back from a few days of skiing in Girdwood on Tuesday. The highway is ridable all the way to the Rabbit Creek exit. It's sloppy and cold, but ridable. Fenders and mudflaps are highly advisable.

The local forums are talking about the awesome Iditarod Invitational, the upcoming ABC bike swap, and the BP Cycling Fair. Alaska Randonneurs will have a table there.

Over on the Rando forum, there's been an interesting discussion regarding a possible increase in "local" 1,200K RM randonnees in 2011 (PBP) in response to the current global economic downturn. Does Alaska need it's own 1200?

Are you planning on riding PBP in 2011? Now is probably a good time to start talking about it, and how we can best run the Alaska Brevet Series in preparation for PBP.

And finally, Pat Irwin was gracious enough to post photos of his Homer brevet pre-ride when he was checking out the conditions (I'M KIDDING!)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

New Alaska Randonneurs Forum Group

I just created a new forum group as a place to discuss and ask questions about the Alaska Randonneurs brevets. I probably should've done it sooner, but I'm just starting to get this website stuff figured out.

So, if you're new to randonneuring, or simply are looking to carpool to Homer, Kenai, or Gakona for one of the rides, check it out HERE.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Randonneurs for Global Warming!

Homer begins our bicycle Odyssey. You won't have ten years to complete this one though, and you have to use a bike, rather than a boat. RUSA regulations give you an ample 13.5 hours.  It’s early in the season, but as my friend Bob says, “Any reasonably fit cyclist can ride 200KM in a day. The recovery the following day might be tough, but it’s certainly do-able.”…and worth it, I might add.

As far as global warming...all I want is just enough to insure the roads will be clear for riding the inaugural "End-of-the-Road" brevet.

You won’t want to miss this ride. Homer is Southcentral Alaska’s banana belt, so I’m counting on the temperatures to be about ten whole degrees warmer than Anchorage. I’m also counting on the weather to cooperate enough to keep the roads clear. However, the 7 inches of snow we got here in Anchorage yesterday was quite a reality check. We're still locked in winter, but the grip is loosening fast. Keep the faith, folks! We’ve got nearly four weeks for it to melt. That’s plenty of time.

Get a preview of the route HERE. It's going to be a beautiful ride, with sweeping views of Kachemak Bay. For those riders into geographic superlatives, this ride will not only hit the “End of the Road”, but it will also reach the western most point accessible via the continuous North American road system.

As March 28th approaches, preparations for the Homer ride are solidifying. So make sure your RUSA membership is current. 

Two Sisters Bakery is on board to ‘host’ the start. I got an e-mail from them the other day assuring me that there will be enough biscuits and assorted victuals on hand so riders are well fed and caffeinated before Le Grand Départ. I’m still waiting to hear specifics about parking there at the bakery. Please check back here at the AK Rando blog for updates regarding parking. We don't want to jeopardize their hospitality by taking up spaces in their entire lot for the whole day.

I’m also working on some nice accommodations for non-Homer riders so you can be well rested before the ride, and for the long drive home. I’ll post an update to that here too.

Friday, February 13, 2009

RR41 - Hot Off The Press!

The new Rivendell Reader, chock full of 48 pages of steel, leather, and wool goodness, is now available here.


BTW, Peanut Farm tomorrow at 1:00PM Alaska Standard Time for the ATOC! See you there!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I Like to Watch

I'm not a sports fan...conventional, American-type sports that is. Stuff like football, baseball, basketball, golf, etc. And bars? I've never done the bar thing either. I mean, there was college of course... So the 'sports bar' is something I really never got. Sports + bar  = wrong. That was until today! Today I had a short e-mail correspondence w/ a cycling advocate here in town who asked if I knew of any place in Anchorage where a person could go to watch the Tour on television. Of course I was dumbfounded. How would I know any place like that?! TV?! Watch? I got rid of my TV back in 1982.

But the question reminded me of one of my favorite podcasts by Jack Thurston of The Bike Show. A couple of years ago one May, Jack recorded his weekly podcast whilst (d'ya like that?) watching the Giro from Bar Italia in London. They rode their bikes to the bar. It was a great show. They were really having a grand time, you could tell. Anyway, you can still download and listen to it.

So I reached for the phone book, flipped through the pages and immediately called the Peanut Farm. And you know what? The have Versus. AND...if you ask, they'll put it on for you! Right on! I'm heading to the Peanut Farm! Just like Chauncey Gardiner, "I like to watch."

Will they let you bring your trainer? It's a sports bar, isn't it?

(By-the-way, if you get a charge out of watching bicycle racing, check out this trailer for Road to Roubaix)

Here's the Versus schedule:

Tour of California

Feb 14 @ 5PM ET, Feb 15 @ 6PM ET

Feb 16 LIVE @ 12:30PM ET, Feb 17 LIVE @ 5PM ET

Feb 18-20 LIVE @ 4PM ET and Feb 21-22 @ 5PM ET

Paris Nice - Mar 8 and Mar 15 @ 5PM ET

Criterium International - Mar 29 @ 5PM ET

Tour of Flanders - Apr 5 @ 5PM ET

Paris Roubaix - Apr 12 @ 4PM ET

Liege Bastogne - Apr 26 @ 3PM ET

Fleche Wallone - Apr 26 @ 3:30PM ET

Tour de Romandie - May 3 @ 4PM ET

Dauphine Libere - Jun 7, 9, 14 and 15 @ 5PM ET

Tour de Suisse - Jun 14 and 15 @ 6PM ET and Jun 21 @ 5PM ET

Tour de France - July 4-26

Vuelta A Expana - Oct 11 @ 5PM ET

Paris Tours - Oct 11 @ 6PM ET

Tour du Faso - Nov 8 @ 6PM ET

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Renew, Renew...It's Time To Renew.

Once again, your loyal RBA is making it easy for you. It's time to renew your RUSA membership. Click on the link, download the form, fill it out, mail it off, everything is good. Next thing you know, you'll be road-trippin' down to Homer w/ your friends for the End-of-the-Road 200K season-opener.

20 clams for a year-full of benefits:
 - Quarterly randonneuring journal.
 - Member's handbook (of which I highlighted in a previous post).
 - Fancy ACP commemorative finisher's medals.
 - Eligibility for yearly rando awards.
 - Groovy rando schwag from the RUSA store.
 - Entry to RUSA permanents.

Go ahead, support randonneuring in the U.S. of A. Renew today!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Homer is Certifiable!

We've heard the Sirens' call from the "cosmic hamlet by the sea!" Behold, Homer is certified!! ...The 200KM End-of-the-Road brevet course that is. The guy in the photo on the right with the red nose, however, looks like he's spent a little too much time at the Salty Dawg.

Anyway, I just got word this morning from the RUSA routes coordinator that the course is good to go. It's number 705. One down, a whole list of others to go.

Better hit the gym folks. Less than two months to go. We're starting early this year, and there are a few hills on the course. Bring the granny gear to this one.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

What Are You Reading?

I realize that many of the Alaska brevet rides are dedicated, serious athletes with their sights set on high-profile competitive events such as the Fireweed 400 or RAAM. That's great, and I'm delighted they ride the brevets. I believe they bring a lot to randonneuring that's important. As they say, randonneuring is a big tent, and there's plenty of room for all sorts of riders. To be sure though, I'm not ignoring the dedication and training necessary to finish the longer brevets or any of the big 1200s. It's just that there are a lot of other brevet riders up here who are just out for a personal challenge and a fine adventure. And they may find that challenge and adventure in the shorter rides, just as many others do in the longer ones.

For many of the latter type of riders, questions regarding training and preparation, especially when you're just starting out, can be pretty confusing. Where do you begin?! What's Chris Charmichael's phone number? Do I need that carbon fiber dog dish?

There's a whole sag wagon of information out there in the way of books, websites, forums, magazines, etc. And adopting any one of the sophisticated training and nutrition programs many of these sources offer can be, for many of us, more challenging than the rides themselves.

Listen...I'm going to make it simple for you; bordering on too simple. Maybe 'streamlined' is a better term. For the most part, you can ignore all of that stuff. Cancel that appointment to have your VO2Max tested. Stop worrying about what your composition of fast-twitch vs. low-twitch is. If you're looking for a solid place to start, something really digestible, get yourself the two booklets in the photo: Randonneurs USA Members' Handbook and the UMCA's Preparing for Long Rides. These two will get you as far as you wish to go in randonneuring. They'll provide you with an excellent base of realistic, distilled training principles, nutrition advice, and equipment choices. Read 'em. Then...if you find you still need more, or you want to put yourself on one of those programs, then you'll know just that much more when you go out and collect all those other books.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Looking Forward to Brevet Season

Our new website hasn't had it's official debut yet, but it's picking up a little traffic, guessing from the feedback I'm getting from some of you. I'll make the formal launch soon. Just working on the finishing touches.

From the sounds of it, the schedule is going to work. I think it's a good one; lots of variety, some new stuff, some familiar gems... I'll keep it as tentative for a few more weeks, make some changes if necessary, then lock it in.

My aim for this season is to pack as many rides in as possible, while not conflicting with any of the other major events going on. My fear, however, is for a spring snow that will eliminate the Homer ride. Last year's snow was really a drag. But, that happens sometimes. At least it wasn't a volcano erupting! Anyway, I'm hoping the warmer average temperatures down in the Banana Belt (Homer) will work in our favor. Personally, I'm really excited about the Homer ride. I think it'll be one of the most beautiful 200Ks around.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Happy New Year! & 2009 Brevet Schedule

Happy New Year  Alaska Randonneurs!

How are those garage spin sessions going?

Here's a suggestion...between workouts, do some active resting in front of your computer and upload your photos of your Alaska brevets to our Flickr site:

Well, I've been working on a zillion new brevets and permanents all around the state (Kodiak 200KM, Cordova 200KM, Glennallen...). I've got loads of exciting, scenic, and challenging new routes submitted, and I'm just waiting for final approval from RUSA.

Our calendar is shaping up nicely, but if we hope to actually put all of these events on, we're going to need more volunteers on event days. So, if you or someone you know is interested in spending a nice day out on the course this spring/summer, please pass their contact info on to me, or just have them get in touch with me directly.

Here's the tentative brevet schedule for 2009:

March 28 Homer 200KM

April 11 North Kenai Peninsula 200KM

April 18 Matanuska Valley 200KM

May 9 Anchorage/Palmer 300KM

May 23 Bread & Water 100KM populaire (Great Harvest to the Moose's Tooth)

May 30 Anchorage/Seward/Anchorage 400KM

June 20 Gakona/Delta Junction/Tok/Gakona 600KM

July 18 Denali Dirt Road Randonnee 300KM

August 1 PBP (Potter-Birchwood-Potter or Palmer-Birchwood-Palmer) Populaire

September? (When the leaves change color) Chugiak/Talkeetna/Chugiak 300KM

Please stay in touch. Let me know if you have any ideas, suggestions, questions, etc.

Bonne Route!