Archive for the ‘biking’ Category

A quick trip to Caribou Bluff..

Saturday, December 12th, 2020

Photos from a overnight trip to Caribou Bluff cabin in the White Mountains NRA. No words, just photos today.

Cache Mountain Cabin with the dogs

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020

Cache Mountain Cabin with the dogs

I have been a bit lost as what to do lately. COVID has hit my plans just like it has affected everyone else’s. I don’t have any big races or events planned, nothing to train for.. and no solid plans for winter adventures this season. It isn’t bad – my family and I are healthy, I am still employed, and life is going just fine. Just the idea of no adventures on the horizon has me a bit down and a bit directionless. It isn’t the end of the world, and I am sure I will find an adventure to look forward too..

Cache Mt Solo Trip

Randomly checking the White Mountains NRA reservation system I noticed Cache Mountain Cabin was open and unbooked for Sunday night. After checking with my wife Nancy and my managers (aka Molly and Lizzy) I booked it, packed, and headed out Sunday for a last minute overnight trip.

I was glad I did…

Cache Mt Solo Trip

Great views..

Cache Mt Solo Trip

A big moon..

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And lots of quality time with the dogs. Including Ed(dy) the silly 2 year old pup.

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The trails were mostly empty Sunday, and I didn’t see anyone Monday.

Stay well!

Moose Creek with the Family

Thursday, March 26th, 2020

With the COVID 19 outbreak, school closures, the White Mountains 100 canceled and social distancing looming Nancy and I discussed doing a last minute family cabin trip. The cabins do not see that much in the way of visitation, and hopefully would be safe from threat of COVID 19. After checking the reservation system for the White Mountains NRA, we noticed that Moose Creek cabin was open Monday night, and we quickly booked it planning to head out there via snow bike. It should be a mellow 16 mile bike ride one way.

The day before our trip I went for a 9 hour ride with some friends, and it was soft and a bit slow. When I got back I suggested we should consider skiing, but was poo-pooed. Hmm..

After a bit of work, we managed to get all four bikes, two dogs, and all our gear into (and on!) the truck, and headed off to the trail head. A bit of re-packing and bike juggling we were soon hitting the trail.. which was alas a bit soft.

A meltdown or too later, once everyone had tire pressures more appropriate to the conditions we made slow but steady progress towards the cabin.

Moose Creek with the family Moose Creek with the family Moose Creek with the family

It was warm and sunny, but there was almost no traffic on the trail.

Moose Creek with the family Moose Creek with the family

At about 5 miles in I told the twins we had three hills to go. Which to my mind was correct, but set off a lot of argueing about what was a hill and what wasn’t. Apparently I missed lots of little hills in between those “three” hills, and Lizzy offered to make three little piles of snow to ride over so we could then “be there”. Much eye rolling ensued, for once with me doing the eye rolling. While heading up the final big hill to the cabin Molly told me “You can’t understand how tired I am!!”. Many snack breaks and five and half hours later we finally arrived at the cabin.

Moose Creek with the family Moose Creek with the family

Moose Creek was still warm from the last visitors, so we quickly had it nice and warm, and even had a pine marten frollicking downhill from the cabin.

Moose Creek with the family

The evening was spent snuggling with the dogs..

Moose Creek with the family

.. hanging out, eating, and reading. The current “reading aloud” book was by Arther Ransom , with one of the main characters had to be in quarantine while recovering from the mumps. Strangely pertinent to the current times, as we had been reading this book since a bit before the current virus crisis…

Moose Creek with the family

The evening went by fast, and everyone hit the sack early – one of the advantages of family bike trips!

In the morning we headed out and enjoyed firmer trails on the way out.

Moose Creek with the family Moose Creek with the family

After a stop for ice cream bars at the local convenience store on the drive home, everyone agreed the trips was “ok”. 😀

I was quite impressed by the twins willingness to ride their bikes for nearly six hours on their first winter bike trip ever.

Stay healthy everyone!

And Now Winter!

Wednesday, December 18th, 2019

I have done a few overnight trips so far this year, all to cabins in the White Mountain NRA. I love the Whites – it is nearby, has great trails, and a wonderful cabin system. So when I received a last minute invitation to Windy Gap cabin I jumped at the offer. I was even more excited after calling BLM to see if they had any information on the trail conditions to learn they had just broken it out. Hurrah!

Windy Gap cabin is 30 miles from the Colorado Creek trail head I came in on, and the ride in was scenic, but a bit slow.

Early winter Windy Gap Early winter Windy Gap Early winter Windy Gap

There were tons of caribou tracks and more wolf tracks than I think I had seen in my entire life so far. It is great to see such a healthy ecosystem. Near Beaver creek I saw a small herd of caribou who took off soon after seeing us.. fortunately Eddy the dog didn’t chase them.

Early winter Windy Gap Early winter Windy Gap Early winter Windy Gap Early winter Windy Gap Early winter Windy Gap Early winter Windy Gap

It was much colder than I expected , the forecast was for a high of 16f, and a low near zero. It turned out more like a low of -20f, and a high of zero, with a few sections of brisk wind. I wasn’t dressed quite warm enough, but I survived, and it was a good wake-up to winter riding conditions.

Early winter Windy Gap

The trail was mostly in very good shape. The section from wolf run cabin to windy gap had been broken out just a few days before, and it was in great shape for biking.

Near the cabin the only crossing of Fossil Creek was a bit iffy, with shelf ice hanging a foot or so above the creek, which was maybe a foot to a foot and a half deep. No big deal on skis or a bike, but it could be an issue for a snowmachine, as it could be hard to get it the front out to make it out of the creek if it goes in…

Early winter Windy Gap

The evening in the cabin was pretty mellow. The host arrived on skis a few hours after I did, but took only slightly longer than me to get in. On skis this was an achievement as the conditions were less than ideal for skiing – hardcore!

In the morning we headed out, enjoying the nice walk up the hill, then the long downhill to Wolf Run cabin..

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There was a few miles of tussocks and low snow cover outside Wolf Run cabin. Maybe not the best skiing, but it was fine for biking. Though I was a bit worried about getting a flat..

Early winter Windy Gap

The moon was amazing!

Early winter Windy Gap Early winter Windy Gap

Thanks for reading, I hope everyone is enjoying winter!

Moose Creek Cabin with Molly

Tuesday, October 8th, 2019

Last winter our family picked up a fat bike for the twins from a family friend (thanks Amy!). Alas, one bike for two kids is a recipe for unhappiness, and it was slightly too small for Molly (the younger but taller twin).  So this bike became Lizzy’s (the older but shorter twin), and the hunt for another fat bike began. After much bargain shopping we decided to build one from scratch using the extra bike parts I had laying around and a frame we found on discount from Fatback Bikes.

Molly was interested in building it up, so over the course of several evenings she put it together (minus the headset and cranks – I don’t have the tools for those).

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I think she found the experience to be pretty rewarding, and hopefully it will set her up for better understanding of how to fix it (yay!).

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I was pleasantly surprised by the frame – it is one of Fatback bike’s rhinos, their aluminum framed “budget” fatbike. Their latest frames are very refined – I am impressed!

Shortly after Molly’s bike was finished the twins ended up with a Friday off from school, and I pitched biking out to a Whites cabin Friday night. Lizzy, alas, had a climbing competition Saturday morning and couldn’t go. Molly really really wanted to go ride her new bike, so Nancy and Lizzy stayed home to climb. Molly and I headed out to Moose Creek cabin in the Whites. Nancy unfortunately had to work on Friday, and got the short end of the stick.

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The ride out the cabin was fun, but a bit muddy. Molly had a “getting mud on her new bike” meltdown, but otherwise seemed to have a great time.

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Eddy and Shiloh (the dogs) also enjoyed the trip, and Eddy in particular was excited to see snow again.

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He is a little over a year old now, and very bouncy. This was his first overnight cabin trip – something that I hope he will do a lot of in the future – and he behaved himself admirably.

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The evening at the cabin was spent playing Go Fish (the only card game we could remember the rules for), (Not actually true, we had to look up the rules on Dad’s cell phone – Molly) reading, and goofing off.

In the morning thanks to a hard frost the ride out was much less muddy.

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I am looking forward to many family bike (and ski!) trips this winter. Hopefully more snow comes soon!!

Thanks Molly for editing this blog post! 

Chena Hot Springs to Eagle on the Yukon Quest trail

Wednesday, July 17th, 2019

Preface – I have a bit of a trip write-up backlog now, and am finally getting this trip written up, over a year later. Sigh..

The Iditarod (and the “race” on the same trail, the Iditarod Trail Invitational) gets lots of press and interest, but there is another long sled dog race in Alaska, the Yukon Quest, that receives a bit less attention, but has a reputation for being remote, cold, and hard. 

In 2017 Jeff Oatley and Heather Best biked it near the tail end of the mushers, and I watched them with envy – it looked like a great snow bike tour!

Other folks have biked it, though not (to my knowledge anyway ) recently. I think Pat Irwin and Mike Curiak did in the early 2000s on semi-fat bikes, as did Andy Sterns, so this isn’t new. 

In 2018 things aligned such that I was able to do a portion of the route with a friend David, from Chena Hot Springs to Eagle, which is about 250 miles if we skipped the section of the trail on Birch Creek (slow, winding, and really cold).

The ride was awesome fun, though cold, windy, and remote. 
We started off with Rosebud and Eagle summits… 

Meredith Mapes on Rosebud
David, climbing the last bit of Rosebud summit
Looking down from Rosebud..
Heading down..
Winter single track, heading to Birch Creek
Heading up Eagle Summit just after dark

Then spent the night in Central, enjoying the last burgers and showers we were to see for 5 days. The next day we took the road over to Circle..

The road between Central and Circle

It was much hiller than I expected, and the downhills were petty cold at the -20f to -30f weather. When we arrived at Circle a photographer told us it had been -58f on Birch Creek, which caused a bit of a freakout, as our next leg had us riding up the Yukon River, a pretty cold place. After a bit of inreach texting back and forth with some weather folks, we headed out, pretty sure those seeing -58f were either confused or found a black hole sun cooled spot. 

This area in Alaska gets strong inversions, so low spots can be particularly cold. Alas, the Yukon river is pretty low..

The first night on the river we spent in “Brian’s Cabin”, a neat but run down shack, and in the morning we were welcomed by sub -40f weather. For the rest of the trip we tried to hit the trail at 6am, well before sunrise at 9:30, because I have always felt it is way easier to head out in the dark and cold looking forward to a warm(er) sunrise, than it is to set out in the sun, looking forward to a cold(er) sunset. Until the last day near Eagle, we saw mornings in the sub -40f, and mid day highs of -20f to -30f, sometime accompanied by stiff headwinds – it was cold!

Just as the sun rose we ran into the red lantern, camped out on the river. She had broken her headlamp, and camped when daylight ran out in a cold little hollow in the river. Quest mushers are amazingly tough..

Jennifer Campeau, getting ready to leave as daylight finally arrives.

The next three days we rode up the river, to Eagle, spending the night at Slaven’s a historic roadhouse staffed by a horde of National Park Service folks, and with a family in a giant octagon log cabin. I had been told the river was scenic, but I had dismissed this as unlikely, as I have spent a bit of time on the lower Yukon, which is wide, flat, and boring. I was wrong – it was fantastically beautiful! Alas, it was too cold to get very many photos (or any good ones at all ).. 

This section of the trail is very remote. On the 160 miles of river we traveled, we saw the Yukon Quest trail breakers once, the red lantern once, and no one else on the trail until just outside Eagle. There are a few families that live on the last 40 miles, and they were very welcoming. 

Wood island brownie stop..

At our last stop on the trail, at Trout Creek, we stopped and talked to Mike who runs a “hospitality stop” there in a little cabin he owns. Mike said over the years he has had three groups on bikes stop by stop by in the last 20 years. 

The final 30 miles into Eagle were a slog into a really stiff headwind, on bare glare ice in -10f weather. We arrived to a nearly deserted town, and it took an hour or so to find the place we stayed at. For most of the trip I was regretting my tire choice of a D5 on the back, and a Wrathchild on the front, as we had nice firm trail conditions and the Wrathchild rolls really, really slow on cold hard snow, but the last few hours I was amazingly thankful for the more aggressive studs and grip. 

This was a really fun, but very hard adventure! I have biked the Iditarod trail to Nome three times, and to McGrath three times, and this was a fair bit harder. Perhaps I was just lucky and had good trail conditions (I have been told this countless times), but the combination of shorter days and low sun angles means it is pretty cold and never really warms up, and the it is very remote.

Thanks for the company David!