Saturday, December 31, 2011

Back on Two Wheels (Almost)

This has been a slow week. The university administration declared a "hard closure" implying that they didn't want anyone around so that they could minimize power and heat for the week. If you didn't have any vacation time saved up then too bad. I am taking advantage of this slack time to do some things I've been putting off for a while. I finally put on the studded snow tires I picked up from REI in Anchorage last month and tried them out on a short trip up and down our road. They seem to work pretty well on the packed snow and ice but it was too cold (-36°F) to really try them out. Braking works better than expected and managed to stay upright though I was somewhat reluctant to try any quick turns. My plan is to take the bike to my office next week and try them out on the university roads once it warms up a bit.

I wish you all a healthy, happy and wonderful New Year.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Miscellaneous Update

Around the beginning of February, a small group of us from Fairbanks are heading to Africa for a couple of weeks on a short term mission trip. The group is being led by a couple who lived there with their family for four years and have maintained many excellent contacts as well as a wealth of knowledge and insight into things like appropriate behavior and language. They have led numerous small groups there over the years and I feel blessed to be able to participate. Projects and tasks are still in the process of being identified and prioritized by the local church. I have more details later in the STM tab.

One of the my first steps was a visit to the local clinic with an travel itinerary so the doctor could figure out the appropriate immunizations. Here is phase 1 along with a handful of oral medications. My arms are still sore. This trip may end up changing my long bike trip plans for the summer due to the expense and possible shortage of vacation time.

On another note, I am now a grandfather. My son and daughter in-law had a beautiful baby boy this morning here in Fairbanks. No problems, no issues that I know of and they should be able to head home soon. I don't know many details except 8 lbs. 7 oz. and named Talon.

Merry Christmas!
University Fire Department

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Princess' Challenge

High noon shadow
The days are getting shorter and the sun doesn't get very high above the horizon so there's lots of time to think about future rides. Moto-blogger Dar posted the following challenge on her blog Princess Scooterpie last week:

"1) to list at least 5 places in YOUR own country that you want to visit 2) if you could go anywhere in the world on your motorcycle or scooter where would it be?"

For the first part, I'll modify the challenge a bit to include Canada. It is difficult to reach most of the country without going through Canada.

Local Trips:
  1. Dawson City, Yukon Territory. Last year, I had included the D2D or Dust to Dawson non-rally on my "list" but I am more interested in just riding to Dawson City along the Top of the World Highway. I've driven this road several times and it is a beautiful trip above timberline.
  2. Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Last summer, a small group of us ventured up the Dalton Highway to the Arctic Circle. Since then, I've driven up to the Toolik Field Station north of Atigun Pass and feel that as long as the weather is decent, it should be a great trip.
  3. McCarthy, Alaska. Over the years, I've driven to McCarthy several times and it is a beautiful trip. The road is an old railroad bed with the tracks removed and the scenery is spectacular. Once the road dries up, it's pretty decent.
Non-quite Local Trips:
  1. New England/Newfoundland. I haven't spent much time at all in New England except for some work related trips many years ago and I hear that eastern Canada is a wonderful place to visit.
  2. Canadian/U.S. Rocky Mountains. I've taken many road trips across the Rockies in both Canada and the U.S. as well as many hiking trips. The idea of a road trip back and forth across the mountains sounds wonderful.
I would still like to tour throughout North America. I've been to just about all of the US states at some time or another as well as through many of the Canadian provinces. My only venture into Mexico was many years ago. A bicycle trip down to Cabo San Lucas. I originally wanted to make the North American tour on my bicycle but now I would be just as happy to do it on a motocycle.

Anywhere in the World:

This is a bit more difficult. Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Europe all look interesting. If I had to pick just one, I would try and combine Australia and New Zealand together. After all, they're sort of in the same quadrant of the planet...

Friday, December 9, 2011

San Francisco - Part 3

The AGU meeting pretty much ended by noon or so and I was feeling pretty burned out on listening to presentations and watching PowerPoints. I hung around at the Toolik Field Station booth for a bit while finishing my coffee. While there, I heard about the Cable Car Museum being somewhere around Nob Hill so I headed out. I've never been there that I know of. After what seemed like endless climbing up hills including some sidewalks that were steep enough to require steps, I finally reached to top. I wasn't sure that I wanted to head downhill for the two blocks to the museum.

Free admission! (There isn't much around here that's free.) And it as more than just a museum as the cables for the lines run through the building. This is at least one location where that drives the cables for four of the lines. I don't know if this is the only location or not. This is a shot of the motors that are driving the cable. They had a lot of old cable cars, tools, uniforms and such as well as a nice gift shop. It was pretty loud in there and I suspect that it probably affects the hearing of long time employees.

This is down in the sheave room under the street. One of the locations where where the cable is guided around corners. The museum is near the intersection of California and Hyde Streets where the cable cars release one cable and coast before they grab onto the next cable. I always assumed that there were some significant tunnels under the streets for the cable but I didn't realize how large the tunnels were. This was about a ten second exposure and it wasn't anywhere near that bright down there. The only view is through armored windows which are the angled blurry lines in the photo.

After the museum, I headed to Japantown which is mostly a shopping and restaurant area. I had a bowl of cold buckwheat noodles with some vegetables. Very refreshing. Total walking so far today is just under ten miles for a total of 65 miles for the week.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

San Francisco - Part 2

Starting out the post with a food pic. On Wednesday evening, I thought that I should get some carbs as I was feeling really run out. I used the Urbanspoon app on my phone and it came up with Coco Bang. It was a tiny Korean restaurant but the food was really good. Maybe a good sign was that I was the only patrons speaking english.  Dinner was pot stickers and bibimbap as well as an assortment of spicy treats. No smoking hot stone bowl but still pretty good.

During lunch break today, I visited the local BMW dealer since I had heard about it on SideStand Up, a motorcycle podcast (and soon to be syndicated radio show). It was only about a mile or so from Moscone but was in an area where I'm not sure I would want to be walking around in at night. They had a pretty nice collection of bikes including some used bikes. There was even an airhead for sale. An early 90's R100GS. But their asking price was pretty steep.

They had a really nice customer lounge complete with flat screen, free sodas, water and gourmet coffee. The leather furniture was pretty comfortable and was a great place to spend my lunch break. I managed to escape without spending a cent. Though I must admit that I wasn't even tempted. Much...

The AGU meeting is going on through Friday. Crowds seem to be always crossing through this intersection as Moscone West and Moscone South are on diagonal blocks. Today, there was a preview of an upcoming PBS series on global warming called Earth, the Operators' Manual. The difference from  some other shows on the same topic is Richard Alley, a research faculty member from Penn State who has been described as “a cross between Woody Allen and Carl Sagan”.  No politics, just research. At least that's the goal. During the session, he was very animated and an excellent speaker. He mentioned a lot of arguments that they hope to finally put to rest. They even had footage of Bernie Karl, the owner of Chena Hot Springs in Fairbanks, showing off his low temperature geothermal power plant. They are hoping the series will be shown on PBS April, 2012. They mentioned that the first of three shows is viewable on their web site.

I started this post with food so I may as well end the same way. This evening, I was out wandering around looking for something interesting and discovered a middle eastern restaurant called Yemeni. This is Meza, the appetizer sampler, with bread. The food was phenomenal and the flat bread was freshly made. I followed this up with the grilled lamb over rice which was equally good. I haven't had much middle eastern food so I don't have much to compare it with but I liked it.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

San Francisco - Part 1

I am in San Francisco for the AGU Fall Meeting. This is a large geoscience conference that takes place every year sometime near the beginning of December. I have been attending this event for the last five years initially to attend meetings related to the IT infrastructure in Barrow. There are still Barrow meetings but I also really enjoy attending the science talks. This year, I volunteered to help judge student presentations for the Outstanding Student Presentation Award. We are not to judge the science itself but the student's presentation and their ability to communicate with the audience. It was a great experience and I think I will continue to do this in the future given the opportunity. Like every other time I've been here I've learned a lot and have run into many familiar faces.

Tomorrow morning, I get to leave the hotel around 5:30 in the morning to head down to Pier 48 for the start of the AGU 5K Fun Run Walk. I was originally going to try and actually run the 5K but it's about a 2½ mile walk to the start of the event. I think that I'm just going to walk the event and not try to run. I also walked last year and but was able to take the bus to the start but this year, they had to move the start point due to the popularity of the event. Also, the t-shirts for participation are much nicer than last year. They refer to it as "technical" material. I have some other shirts of the same material and they are very comfortable as a base layer under your riding gear.

There seems to be a lot more bikes running around than there were last year. And this obviously includes scooters. During the day, all of the motorcycle parking spots are occupied and I've seen a number of San Francisco police on dual-sport bikes running up and down the streets and alleys. Just around the corner from my hotel, there is a parking garage and maybe a quarter of the spaces are filled with bikes and scooters. Maybe the high cost of gas and parking around here is getting more people to ride.

Picture from the Internet
Yesterday evening, I splurged and went to Sankura Japanese Restaurant. I remember this restaurant when it was in the Sony Metreon which used to be located across from the Moscone West Hall. I say used to since the building is being turned into a Target. How's that for progress. I had the sashimi plate with a side order of Otoro or fatty bluefin tuna. I haven't had the opportunity to have this since last year and it is a real treat. It almost melts in your mouth. No pictures since my iPhone battery was dead due to all of the data usage during the day. This evening, I walked down to Fisherman's Wharf and simply had some street food along the way since I wasn't very hungry and I wanted to make sure that I got back before it got too dark.

Wednesday Morning - There was a pretty good turnout for the 5K this morning and with police on motorcycles blocking the streets, we started out at 6:35 AM. I'm sure the early morning commuters were not amused. This was listed as a "Fun Run" but many were taking this quite seriously, at least from my perspective. The first runners came in in 17 minutes. From my hotel to the start, a couple of miles of the 5K (I got lost) and back to my hotel was over 7 miles. That was good enough for me. Now time to head back down to the Marriot and Moscone. Today should be good for at least 15 miles...
Near the finish line

It was still a beautiful morning for a walk.

Wednesday Evening - I did find out at least one reason why the course was changed this year. Occupy SF was camped out near the Port of San Francisco Ferry Building and the course had run right through there before. Over seventeen miles walking today. I think I'm going to sleep good...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

On the Way to San Francisco

Last Wednesday, I headed down to Oregon leaving behind the Chinook winds and unseasonably warm temperatures back in Fairbanks. This is after we had an equally unusual extended cold snap. The temperature has swung 70°F from -30°F to +40°F. Hopefully, we don't get rain like we did last year right before Thanksgiving. This photo is of Mount St. Helens during the flight from Seattle to Portland. The mountain is one of the most spectacular around when flying over and I don't think that I will ever tire of seeing it. This visit wasn't for a happy event but it was great to see all of my siblings and my mom as well as a few of my cousins.

On Saturday morning, I joined Troubadour & Trobaritz at their regular Saturday morning coffee with other riders in the area. It was frosty and foggy and due to the high humidity, it really felt pretty chilly. Troubadour really wanted help and encouragement for the scooter sidecar project in his last post. (At least I'm pretty sure he did...) I have been slacking off for the last couple of weeks on my walking so this was a great opportunity to put in a few miles again. I did manage thirty miles this week. On Saturday evening, I drove back to Portland since I had a morning flight to San Francisco and didn't want to deal with the fog between Corvallis and Portland with a time deadline. And thank you Trobairitz for the Indian buffet recommendation near the airport. No pictures as I forgot my phone and camera but the food was pretty good, a large variety but none were really hot. So it was a very short visit to Corvallis. I'll be back again at the end of this week for about five days.

Today, I arrived in San Francisco and there is quite a crowd here for the AGU meeting. This was the first time I ever had to wait in a Disneyland style line for a BART ticket at the airport. I think there is something like 20k people attending this year. I went low budget on the hotel and staying at Hotel Vertigo, an older hotel on Nob Hill which has been nicely renovated. The front desk told me that a couple of scenes from the 1958 Alfred Hitchcock movie Vertigo were shot at the hotel.

For dinner, I visited (again) a San Francisco landmark Tommy's Joynt. They basically have roast, stewed or braised anything you want but I'm partial to the lamb shanks (Sundays and Thursdays only). No food pictures as nicely presented dishes are not what they are known for. Just good food in a very casual atmosphere. I was reminded of this place while watching the Food Network show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives over Thanksgiving break. TV is very bad for your health. And this is not the place to go if you are vegetarian. The good part is I walked about nine miles today and the hotel is uphill from just about anywhere.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How and Why I got into Motorbikes

Since Gary France asked...

From the Internet
When I was a kid, a privileged few in our neighborhood had minibikes and I was blessed with a few rides up and down the road. Later on when I was teenager, I was visiting relatives in Watsonville, CA, and one of my cousins friends came by with his Honda Trail 70. After I tried it around the farm roads, I really wanted one of these and started looking for a way to earn money to get one of these gems. Shortly after this, I got a car, job and a need to start saving for college. So no little Honda.

While in college in California, I was bitten by the bicycling bug and started riding everywhere. This was prompted by a lower back injury and my physician suggesting cycling as a low impact exercise that I could actually do. I got into bicycle touring and camping and travelled tens of thousands of miles on my bicycle over the next couple of years.

BMW R65 - From the Internet
In the early 1980's after I moved to Fairbanks, a friend bought a BMW R65 and he let me try it out. I rode briefly around the university and this brought renewed interest in getting a motorcycle. Another colleague had a Sportster and with my experience as a mechanic, I helped debug several weird problems he was having. Working on his bike just added gas to the fire. Unfortunately getting a motorcyle wasn't going to happen on my teaching assistant stipend. Some other friends after they finished school and got real jobs bought matching BMW R100RT's and I loved the way that they looked. At this point, I was still touring on my bicycle but there was never enough time to actually go anywhere. Then came marriage, kids, etc. and my first wife strongly discouraged me from getting a bike (motorized variety). It was portrayed as a selfish, irresponsible activity. Something that no sane person would ever seriously consider.

883 Sportster - From the Internet

Fast forward to the summer of 2007. Kids are mostly grown and my current wife told me to just make sure my life insurance was paid up. The bad influence in the next office from me at the university has about a dozen bikes. He strongly recommended the MSF BRC course as an great way to see if I am really interested in starting to ride. I thoroughly enjoyed the course and this convinced me to start looking for a bike both at the local dealers and on Craigslist. I made a couple of offers on 883 Sportsters, Honda Shadows and a 650cc V-Star
Yamaha V-Star 650
From the Internet
but they never went anywhere. People believe that their bikes are worth a lot more just because they had to be hauled up to Alaska. Plus, I was interested in touring and none of these machines fit the bill very well. The salesman at the local HD dealer suggested I consider a BMW instead of a HD. I guess I didn't fit the HD image very well. The BMW dealer shared the building with the HD dealer so it wasn't much of a trip. All of the new Beemers were really expensive and those GS things really looked weird. They had a couple of used machines there on consignment and one of these was an early 80's R100RT just like the bikes that my friends had back in the early 80's. I made an offer and I was now the proud owner of a 1983 R100RT. The only problem was that it was the middle of December. One of the other used machines was a Chang-Jiang sidecar rig with a BMW engine. Interesting but strange.

This picture was taken the day it was dropped off by the dealer. Also included were the side cases and a top box. The following Spring, I rode many miles up and down the roads in our subdivision. Lots of hills, dead ends and gravel. 20/20 hindsight. I probably should've looked for something lighter and dual-sport. Plus I was unaware of the valve seat problems affecting the early 80's models.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Not Much Going On

It's warmed up to -11°F today and there is a suggestion of warmer weather from the National Weather Service for the coming week. I won't be around to take advantage of it. Last week, my father passed away at the Veterans Home in Oregon. I will be coming down to Oregon for the service later this week and spend the weekend in Corvallis visiting with my family before heading down to San Francisco for the AGU Fall Meeting. The cold temperatures ensured that it was a very quiet Thanksgiving weekend around our house. Or as Bobskoot put it Nada, nothing, NIL. My wife took her younger son to visit a music school in St. Paul, MN, then spent the holiday weekend visiting her oldest son in Grand Rapids, MI.

This year, after seeing the show a number of times over the years, I tried the Good Eats Roast Turkey recipe from Alton Brown's show on the Food Network. We picked up the smallest turkey we could find that still met Safeway's free turkey offer, brined it overnight using boxed vegetable stock and roasted it stuffed only with an onion, a cinnamon stick and an apple. My youngest son declared it a success as the white meat was as moist and tasty as the dark meat. Around our house, I could just hack off the white meat and throw it away since no one even touches it. (Actually, I usually sneak it into other dishes) Making Thanksgiving dinner did bring back some memories as my dad had showed me how to make the dressing back when I was about 12 years old. I'm reminded of it every time I smell the onions and celery sweating in the pan with lots of butter.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Weekend Trip to Anchorage

Sheep Creek Lodge (from their web site)
This weekend was spent driving to Anchorage and back. We left Friday evening and stopped for the night at a beautiful place called Sheep Creek Lodge. The logs used to build this place are huge. The kitchen normally closes at 9:00pm but I called from Cantwell and mentioned that I thought we would arrive around 9:30. They read the menu off over the phone so we could order dinner. The food and service was fabulous though I think that we may have been the only guests.

We neglected to pick up an extension cord for plugging in the van. For those living in warmer climates, most vehicles are fitted with engine heaters, oil pan heaters, battery blankets and auto transmission pan heaters to help the engine start when it is really cold. So cars up here have this plug hanging out of the grill to power all of this. In spite of not being plugged in, the van started up just fine the next morning after sitting overnight at -35°F. At least that is what the weather underground said it was for Talkeetna. The temperature readout on the mini-van stops at -22°F. I guess Toyota engineers feel that no one should be running around if it's colder than that. This iPhone picture was taken at the McKinley view turnout.

While in Anchorage, I stopped by REI and picked up a pair of these. Nokian Mount and Ground W106 studded bicycle tires. Not designed for single track riding but more than adequate for me to play around on. Two summers ago, I picked up an old Specialized Stumpjumper HardRock for $50 from an older couple getting ready to leave the state. They had bought the bikes new back in the mid-80's with the intent of getting into shape. After one trip to town, they sat in the back of their garage unused. They still had the original tires. A quick overhaul (tires, tubes, cables, new brakes, grips, grease) and I had a brand new 30 year old bike. I can't wait to try these out on the road though I may wait for warmer weather.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

No Longer Tropical...

I guess I spoke too soon when I mentioned that Fairbanks weather was so much warmer than Barrow. And no one really believed me anyway if I say that after a period of really cold weather, any positive temperatures (°F) feel pretty nice. Right now it is +10°F in Barrow over 40 degrees warmer than it is in Fairbanks. I'm not sure I really want to head back home tomorrow!

Thursday Morning - Updated temperature. This is not a good trend!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Tropical Fairbanks

This grainy picture was taken at 10:40 this morning just northeast of Barrow, AK, located on the farthest north coast of Alaska. This is well before sunrise which is at 11:27. I was out for a walk around the NARL (Naval Arctic Research Lab) campus and tried to get a shot showing the open water. The village is still recovering from a blizzard earlier this week and it was still pretty windy. While I was out walking, it was about -10°F with a 35 knot wind. According to the National Weather Service this translates to -41°F (or °C) with wind chill and believe me you feel the wind. The official sunset today is at 2:54pm but the days are rapidly getting shorter. By this time next week sunset will only be 10 minutes after sunrise. This doesn't mean that it is dark since the path of the sun is so shallow near the horizon, dawn and dusk last for about an hour on each side.

I had asked one of the locals about the open water and was told that it used to be frozen solid by this time. At least near the shore. But he noticed that it was changing about ten years ago and now they can't count on shore fast ice until the middle of December. The open water is causing a lot more snow as they are now getting lake-effect snow, just like you hear about along the Great Lakes especially around upstate New York. After spending a couple of days up here, Fairbanks should feel almost tropical due to the lack of wind.
Doesn't this look a lot warmer?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Two Bikes Short

After seeing the seven bike challenge from Trobairitz this week:

"If you had unlimited funds and could have one bike for every day of the week, what bikes would you choose? Please do a blog post listing which bike you would choose for which day of the week and why. After posting, please leave a comment on this post linking your blog post."

I've only been riding a short time so I haven't looked around much. This is what I've been able to come up with.

I like the way the R1200GS looks with a sidecar and since I don't need to be able to reach the ground, it would be about the only way I would be able to ride the GS.

The F650GS (single or twin) is about the only other bike that I've ever thought about getting. They have more than enough power for me and you can still find them with the 21" spoked front wheels. I took one on a demo ride during the rally and it fit me just fine. This particular one was at the Twisted Throttle booth showing off a lot of their stuff. Both of these photos were from the BMW MOA rally in Bend.

Another that I thought looked interesting were the Zero electric bikes. It would work for commuting or running errands in town but so would a scooter.

I had never heard of a Vincent before Bobskoot posted some pictures of one last summer. I was really attracted to all of the exposed mechanical bits. 
Maybe the last one on my list is the Sportster Nightster. I've always enjoyed the sound of a stock Harley and this one is lighter than many of their other models. Plus it is available without forward controls. I rented an 883 a couple of years ago just for a day and thoroughly enjoyed riding it.

Still a few short of Trobairitz's challenge but that's what I've been able to come up with. I'm getting ready to head north so this was a great diversion. Thank you!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Feels Dark and Cold

It's getting to be that time of the year where it feels dark and moving off of daylight savings time doesn't help much. Today, sunrise was at 9:00am and sunset was at 4:09pm with the maximum sun elevation of just under 10°. In this image from, the orange line shows the sun's path today (blue is Dec. 21 and black is June 21). So it is starting to feel like winter. Today around lunchtime, I walked to the local Toyota dealer and it actually started to feel cold by the time I arrived even though it was around 8°F. Maybe time to dig out the warmer coat and stop wearing the mesh running shoes. The road crews still haven't gotten around to clearing the snow on the sidewalks so lots of tromping through snow. When I finally got back to the university maintained roads after dropping the car off at my wife's school, I really appreciated the efforts the university crews do maintaining their roads and sidewalks. All of the sidewalks and walkways are completely clear with pea gravel for additional traction.

This map was made using a GPS enabled iPhone app called Walkmeter which automatically uploads to the Internet when completed. The disconnect in the path around 4.7 miles is where I drove the van from the dealer to my wife's school. The app generally works pretty well though last week the phone stopped working due to low temperature. It was -21°F and when I arrived at my destination, the phone claimed that the battery was dead. After warming the phone back up, it said 80% battery. I guess it want's to be carried in an inside pocket.

Monday, October 31, 2011

65 Miles

Last Monday, I started listening to the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson. The audio version fits my lifestyle really well since I can listen while walking. This book caused me to exercise a bit more than normal as there were several times when I reached my time or mileage goal and just kept on going to keep listening to the book. I finished listening this weekend so, for me, this book was 65 miles long.

The book portrays Jobs as a very intelligent person who needs to control everything and was incapable of empathy. And what strikes me the most was that he was unhappy, irritated or mad more often than not. What also strikes me is the contrast to other CEO types within technology companies such as Microsoft and Google. His skill seemed to be design and sat at the intersection of the arts and technology. This is in stark contrast to Balmer's marketing background and Page's engineering focus and this has a lot to do with his success. There were many quotes from friends, enemies, colleagues and competitors. Some positive but many more were negative and critical but all appeared to be accurate. Since I have been working in the technology field for almost thirty years, I was familiar with many of the stories and products but this book filled in many of the details.

There were several references to his BMW R60/2 motorcycle including that it was usually parked in the lobby during the development of the original Macintosh. He put it there to inspire the engineers and designers.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Winter Exercise Goals

It has been getting pretty warm during the days but never enough to really melt all of the ice off of the roads. I have all but given up on getting in one more ride this year and have the bike up on the center stand in the back of the garage. Instead, I have been focusing on getting more exercise and maybe even obsessing about it. Over the weekend, I needed to run to the store and I managed to convince others at home, who were also running into town, to just watch for me walking along the road. On the DailyMile, a social website focusing on exercise, I had left a comment about not being able to get my speed up since I did not seem to be able to run. It was suggested that I try jogging for 20 steps followed by walking for 20 steps then repeat. This seemed like a pretty simple suggestion that even I could do and I tried it last Saturday. I was amazed that it worked pretty well. I was able to keep this up for miles and actually increased my average speed. Maybe I can actually do this...

Since it has started to snow, my favorite walking area, the x-country ski trails which fill the entire upper left of this map, are now off limits. There still really isn't enough snow to start skiing yet but maybe in another couple of weeks. I was also told by the university hired health consultant to start weight training. The cardio work was insufficient and I needed to work on building muscle mass. Of course, they have been saying that for the last couple of years but I never seriously followed up on it. I started using the resistance machines at the local health club a couple of times per week. At the last meeting with the health consultant, she told me that I needed to do two loops through all the machines. The little DailyMile widget is on the left side of the page and reminds me of my weekly mileage (their week starts on Monday). My short term goal is to get back up to the six to eight miles per day average that I was managing back in 2009. And a longer term goal is to finish the Equinox Marathon again. Hopefully a bit faster than my 2008 time.

Revzilla's Contest

The folks at Revzilla are giving away $500 in merchandise in a contest described on this Posterous site. I'm in need of some replacement gear so here is my entry. Thank you to Fuzzy and the ScooterDiva for graciously bringing this contest to everyone's attention.

What does touring or adventure riding mean to you?

It started out as "this may be a good way to save a little money on gas..." but within a couple of weeks, that thought went out the window. Riding has quickly become more than just another transportation option. It is challenging and enjoyable and even the most mundane ride makes me smile. And though I used to really enjoy bicycle touring, motorcycle touring allows me to cover much more distance in the same amount of time so long trips are now an option. And for me, every ride is still an adventure.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Probably the Last Ride of the Year

How many times have I said this already. The weather guessers were wrong again! Saturday was warm though not very sunny. I had a bunch of errands to run and ended up riding just over a hundred miles including some of my favorite "scenic routes". I didn't venture very far from home as it still looked like it was raining/snowing in the distance. Plus reports for the Parks and Elliot highways didn't sound too good. The lakes are now completely covered by a thin layer of ice. Here you can see that people have thrown rocks onto the ice to see how thick it was. Some of the rocks were pretty large and they didn't break through. This little pond is on the backside of the west ridge ski trails that I enjoy walking on and there is a nice trail along this road for a couple of miles. This is on the way out to the Goldstream Valley which received their first significant snowfall this past week. Today, most of it has melted and the roads were nice and dry. Since the leaves are off the trees, it looks pretty drab around here. Many are looking forward to the snow since it makes things look a lot less grey.

I suspect that this really was the last ride of the year. The forecast is for snow for most of the week and highs just below freezing. Actually, few are complaining about the snow as we really need the snow to insulate the ground. Very little snow allows the cold to penetrate deeper into the ground potentially freezing water and septic lines.

In case you are interested, I ran across a link to this video on ADVrider in the Alaska section. It is a video of a trip from Fairbanks down to B.C. put together by the university. This is pre-Alaska Highway and the pair rode lightweight British bikes (since they knew that they would have to carry and push them), had to build rafts to cross rivers and hunt for their food along the way. Makes modern travel seem pretty cushy...

Near the end of the video, take note of the two bikes lashed together with a platform for the dog in between the bikes.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Quick Trip to Toolik Lake

This morning, I was on my north again to Toolik Field Station located about 40 miles north of the Brooks Range along the Dalton Highway. We left about 9:15 am and arrived around 4:30 pm with only a short stop in Coldfoot to pick up some fuel (last stop for ultra-low sulpher diesel) and some lunch to-go. This is a mountain south of Atigun Pass and it looks like solid rock. If you look closely you can see some frozen waterfalls which was the point of the photo. The other person in the truck had a friend that wanted to do some ice climbing in the area and was just wondering what conditions were like.

This is the view to the south as we were climbing Atigun Pass and as you can see, the weather wasn't too good. Lots of low clouds, snow and some fog. It looks colder than it actually was. I think the scenery is really stunning.

However, north of the Brooks Range, the weather was absolutely beautiful. Temperatures are in the mid-20s and there was a slight breeze. The distance between these two pictures was about ten miles.

I had forgotten one piece of equipment in my office the last time up here. A polarization mode dispersion analyzer to characterize the fiber optic cable we installed the last time I was up here. I figure it would take me about four hours to run the tests as well as collect the data on the tests I had run remotely. I still don't know how to transfer the data back to Fairbanks so I may just have to come up periodically to pull the data. Oh darn...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Still Riding...

I sometimes get the feeling like I am on borrowed time. We are having some beautiful, clear days with none of the white stuff that cannot be mentioned. The miserable weather that was predicted for the weekend never materialized except for a heavy drizzle early Saturday morning. This is an iPhone photo of Ballaine Lake using an app called Pro HDR. I pass this way just about everyday and on Sunday, I was on foot. I felt that I needed to make up some miles after slacking off with exercise while in Raleigh. So I decided to walk to town via a less than direct route (9.8 miles one way). The ice was just starting to form on the south shore of the lake and by today, Monday, it was about halfway across the lake and starting to look solid. This morning, it was a brisk 21°F according to the sign at the entrance to the university and I did ride the bike in to work. By mid-morning, it was all the way up to 26°F. I thought about trying out the grip heaters again but forgot about them once I got going. After about twenty minutes, the only part of me that was feeling a little chilled was my neck. I'm still wary about using the heaters due to the anemic charging system on these older airheads. I think it is rated at 280 watts at 4k rpm so unless I'm cruising down the road, I don't think that it would be a good idea to use them. I'm still planning on putting in an improved charging system this winter. Maybe the Enduralast system which puts out 450 watts but also gets rid of the diode board. Supposedly a weak point in the system.

Tuesday Morning - The weather was supposed to be cold and sunny. It was 23°F this morning when I rode in but it looked kind of overcast. By mid-morning it hadn't warmed significantly and the clouds were depositing a very light dusting of snow. Since I had several appointments around town, I returned home and dropped off the bike. I guess I don't like carrying around all my gear when reaching my destination. I had removed the cases earlier and put them away on a high shelf since I thought that they wouldn't be needed for a while. If it clears up later today I'm going to be annoyed...