Saturday, December 12, 2009

I Fought the Daylight.. and the Daylight Lost.

High today: -3 F (and rising)
Low today: -15 F
Mileage: 22
Time from car to cabin and back: 5 hours

Waking up on a Saturday morning to an alarm alerting me now is the time to get up if I want to use all 3 hrs and 53 mins of sunlight (or 6 hrs and 40 min of twillight), my body ached and yelled and said it wanted to stay curled up underneath the warm blankets and rest some more. But luckily I know that that feeling is just a sign of winter hibernation in Fairbanks, and by telling myself I'm going to go and ride my bike in a cool place made my whining body get out anyway. I'm really glad that I did.
What a beautiful morning!

I headed up the Elliott Hwy to the Wickersham Dome trailhead to bike out to the Wickersham Creek Trail Shelter and back. Though I have been making sure to get on a longer ride at least once a week, this was the first ride I can truly say I worked on hills. The trails in town are pretty flat. Today I realized how much I miss riding hills.. no I'm not a fast uphill rider, but the thrill of working to get up and bombing down hills is what makes the sport fun!Upon showing up at the trailhead (an hour later than originally planned), I saw two friends from the univ. who I haven't seen in awhile, who were going on a hike up the other trail. That was pretty cool. You can drive an hour north but still catch people you know. Then a woman who showed up just after me and saw my bike invited me to stay out at Eleazar's cabin for the weekend. As tempting as it was to crash a cabin with a total stranger (who now I will know around town.. and we figured out that have some mutual acquaintances/friends), there were a few variables that made me definitely say no, like the fact that I had barely enough food for the ride alone (strike one, I know. That's one thing that was very irresponsible.), and I had a search party back in town waiting for news that I came out alive.. so no overnight this time. Plus, this was a ride for some energy burn-age and pushing myself a little farther all at one time. Plus, I need to finish writing Christmas cards that are sprawled all over my table. It's easy to abandon personal business though for adventures.. something I struggle with on a regular basis, esp since ever landing in AK for the first time.
Hey I have been here before! But onto new trail...
I took a photo here because when I think White Mountains, I think of this image. Snow-covered spruce trees and small mountains in the distance.

The ride in took me 2 hours and 6 mins if we want to be exact. It was ridiculously fast for winter biking because we have not had any new snow in weeks. :( There was a killer fun downhill also known as the "Wickersham wall" coming from the other way.. which of course I was slightly dreading to go UP on the way back (tho it could have been way worse). Anyway, I showed up at the shelter with a loud "YEAH!", excited that I made it there in such a short time even after stopping to talk with a skier on the trail for awhile. My rule was that I would turn back at 1:30 and I got there at 1:07. Perfect! Someone had left donut holes in the cabin - thank you thank you thank you! I took a couple which were so happily received by my body. Something to put on the list of foods for endurance cycling. I am still trying to iron out calorie intake on longer rides. The last thing my stomach wants personally, is wheat thins.. or any really dry food like Clif bars. As much as I love wheat thins, they are too much work to eat when on the move and are just not enough calories.Frozen eyelashes!! The temperatures plummeted whenever I went down the hill because of the steep temperature inversion. I didn't think about putting goggles on until it was too late.

I forgot to mention how I tried to ride over some overflow on the way in and wiped out. Oops. It was fine until the overflow terrain changed. That was one of those moments where I knew better, but did it anyway. How the experiences remind us of common sense. :-)On the way back, the moving was slower as the elevation profile was sided on an overall ascent. Then I hit the "wall", which was about a 30 min push up the hill. I'm sure others could push faster but I had no problem taking my time. Then the rest of the trail was ridable except one small section where I got off of the bike briefly. When I got to the junction at Lee's cabin it felt great after having ascended that big hill, and knew that the going would be relatively easy from there. There were several more uphills but they were all rideable.. at least without carrying a crapload of gear. I used my lights for the last few miles of the ride, which made me realize I need to start asking around to see if anyone has a good lighting set I can borrow because the ones I have are not that great.

Here's an elevation profile I stole from Ed's WM100 maps. I started from the right side of this plot at the "finish", and advanced left to the trail shelter, and then back to the "finish".. and labeled the fun downhill/walk-uphill part.
Looking back down at the trail after ascending most of the big uphill

The last downhill pitch was a blast and all of a sudden I was back at the parking lot. The sun was still giving some color in the sky.. barely! Then it was off back to town for a very large, well deserved dinner.
Do you see the mirage?

It's the beauty that fills me with wonder, It's the stillness that fills me with peace - Robert Service

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