Sunday, June 2, 2024

Dirt season preparations

We've had two Wednesday dirt rides and the trails are riding great this season! Sure, it could be a little warmer, but nobody has overheated yet.

Now that it's June things are getting busy, including training sessions.

On Friday evening some people who are coaching during the Mountain Bike for Women Festival attended a coaches' training session. No matter how much I ride or provide pointers to others, I can always learn more at a refresher like this one led by Sofia Patroni. Sometimes it's just a different way of thinking about things: I've always said "pedals level," whereas Sofia describes it as "equally-weighted pedals." It's a subtle difference but made me think about my foot position and gave me something to play with on my next ride. 


Equally-weighted pedals!

If you have never attended a skills clinic or if it has been a few years, there is still time to sign up for the festival. You will learn something new and meet some awesome women! Current members of Alaska Dirt Divas will receive a discount on the entry fee and you'll see a few of us coaching. Go to the Meetup event for the discount code.

On Saturday, June 1, some Divas attended a First Aid and CPR clinic presented by paramedic Sydney Boyd. We learned how to assess a scene and determine first steps for caring for a person. We got hands-on practice doing CPR, using an AED (automated external defibrillator), and splinting a possible break.  Plus, Sydney had some first aid swag we could take home: I've already stocked my hydration pack with those and some other supplies I already had. I feel much more prepared in case I come across someone in distress.

Sydney demonstrating the malleable properties of the
SAM (structural aluminum malleable) splint. It's also reusable!

There will be no yoga mat on the trail!

I now feel more ready for the season, as I'm sure the others in attendance did. If we don't need to use these skills on any Diva rides, that's fine. But if something happens, a few more of us know what to do.

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Being prepared: first aid and CPR

There are so many ways we need to prepare for our rides: adjust our helmets, check our tire pressure, pack water, a snack, bear spray, tools for any trail side repair or adjustments, but what about being prepared for a medical emergency?

Join us on June 1st at the Hilltop Chalet for a first aid and CPR clinic* led by Sydney Boyd. Sydney is a nationally registered, state licensed paramedic. She is also a cyclist.

This is a basic training aimed at creating a foundation of knowledge of basic first aid targeted to outdoor enthusiasts who want to feel more comfortable recreating in the outdoors. 

Topics include:
Basic human anatomy & physiology
Heat exhaustion vs. stroke
Wound care/ bleeding control
Splinting of the joints
CPR & AED (automated external defibrillator) use

No previous education or training necessary. Training is part lecture part hands on. Training is held at Hilltop Ski area Chalet at 11am-4pm (may be shorter if fewer people). Be sure to sign up here so we know who to expect.

Bring a bag lunch and/or snacks.

*This course does not offer a certification or CME (continuing medical education) credit.

Friday, May 10, 2024

Wind and rain

May can throw all sorts of weather conditions at us. Is it feeling like spring or more like winter? The second ride of the season had wind and sprinkles and sideways rain. By the time we parted ways there were even some snowflakes in the mix. But it also had clear trails, some bike lanes, and great company!

This past Wednesday eight riders met at Westchester Lagoon and started up the Chester Creek Trail. With the wind and cold the trails were not as busy as on the weekends or sunny evenings. We rode through Russian Jack Springs Park which was recently swept but sill has lots of cracks in the pavement. We took Pine Street bike lane to Mountain View, then made our way to the Ship Creek Trail where wind and rain started to pick up.

Taking a break out of the wind near the end of the Ship
Creek Trail; photo by Heather Scobie

By the time we got onto the Coastal Trail, the wind was blowing the rain sideways and we could see whitecaps on the silty water of the inlet. Some of us took a short reprieve in the tunnel under the railroad tracks before finally returning to Westchester.

Diane, Rae, and Jo-Ann getting out of the rain.

I'll admit that even as I was getting drenched I was thinking of the brownies Rae brought for after the ride. And of a warm fire in the woodstove when I returned home! I was also thinking that if this is the worst storm of our riding season then it will be a great summer!

Next week is our Spring Fling. Let's hope the wind and rain retreat for our annual dress-up ride!

If you want maps of the paths, bike lanes, and bikeways in the Anchorage area, check out the Bike Anchorage page.

Thursday, May 9, 2024

We worked on our bikes!

On Monday evening the Divas descended on Off the Chain Bike Collective for hands-on instruction in caring for our bikes. Kendra and Lily welcomed us to the fully stocked repair area and introduced us to a few of the tools. We also talked about what to carry when we ride - we cannot be reminded enough that we must carry the tools we may need and always always carry a spare inner tube even if we use tubeless tires!

Kendra and Lily shared pointers on adjusting shifting, setting up the correct tire pressure, fixing flats, lubing chains, and so much more. It was hard to keep up with all that was happening as people split into small groups to learn different skills.

If you missed the clinic or want to learn to work on your own bike in a supportive setting that has all the tools you'll need, Off the Chain is a great place to go. Thursday is Women's Night and Diva Lisa Kenning - who organized our session - often goes to learn and to lend a hand. If you want to go with other Divas, reach out through the Meetup site to find a buddy who may have the same interest.

Kendra shows us how to check cassette teeth for wear.

Diem learns to change a tire while Lily and Callie look on.

Checking for chain stretch.

Lisa shows Celia and Sarah how to brush dirt from a cassette.

Off the Chain runs on donations, knowledgeable volunteers, and enthusiasm. We're fortunate to have them here in Anchorage and I hope we can partner with them again for clinics.

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Ride Leader Code

 Alaska Dirt Divas: Ride Leader Code

Thank you for volunteering to lead! Following is some guidance for successful ride leading.


Leading is not about being the first to the top; it’s about bringing everyone along with you.


Being a ride leader is about providing a fun, appropriate ride for your group. A good leader challenges riders and is willing to change the ride based on the group’s needs and/or skill level.


Before signing up to lead a ride:

o   Think about trails you enjoy riding and sign up to lead on those trails.

o   Check your schedule to make sure you can be on time and be at the ride for the full time allotted. If your schedule changes, find someone else to lead the ride.


Planning the ride:

o   Plan the route (with a friend if you can). If you’re not familiar with the route, practice riding your route for difficulty and time considerations. Remember a group will always take longer.

o   Notice places where you can take a break and check in with the group without blocking the trail.

o   Notice where it may be easy to take a wrong turn.


Immediately before the ride:

o   Describe the route/s offered so riders can decide which group is right for them.

o   Be sure to balance how many people are in each group – this may mean changing the ride based on the skill levels of the majority of those in attendance.

o   Conduct group introductions, welcoming riders.

o   Assign or ask for a volunteer to be the sweep (this should be an experienced rider).

o   Discuss trail etiquette, and reminders to be bear aware.

o   Remind people to wait at intersections if the rider behind them is not within sight: No Diva left behind!


After the start of the ride:

o   Stop a few times to gauge how the group is doing with pacing or skill level.

o   Pace yourself to not be too far ahead of the group and to not leave the slower riders in the group too far behind.

o   Communicate with everyone and alter the route or pace to meet the needs of the group.

o   Remember: No Diva left behind!


After the ride:

o   Check in with everyone, listening to their feedback.

o   Thank them for joining the ride.

o   Invite them to the next event!

o   Enjoy snacks!


Ride follow-up:

o   Turn in the sign-in sheet to Gloria.

o   Post photos on MeetUp

o   If a BLM ride, make note of ride route for reporting purposes.

Tubeless tire takeaways

It's time to get our mountain bikes ready for the trails, and if you're like many of us who have tubeless tires, you may wonder if you need to do anything with the tires as part of your preseason preparations. The answer is: yes.

A week ago Monday ten Divas attended a tubeless tire clinic at Paramount Cycles where their lead mechanic, Kurt, demonstrated how to install a tubeless tire onto a rim and to add sealant. He talked about methods for adding sealant and tools you need in your garage and in your repair kit. Here are a few tips and a link to get you started.

Refresh or Replace: adding more sealant

You should refresh (add more) sealant to your tires at the beginning of the riding season. This is because sealant begins to dry out over time and will no longer fill the tiny punctures it is designed to plug. If you know you have refreshed previously, you may want to remove the old and replace with all fresh sealant as there can be water mixed in with the sealant. Plus, more sealant adds more weight.

Before you begin, you should have access to a compressor or another way to blast air into the tire to quickly inflate it. I'm a fan of the Liv Cycling technical guides. For a list of what you need to set up or refresh your tubeless, check out this guide

It is possible to get a flat that sealant won't seal, such as a slice from shale or riding though a puddle of glass. It is also possible when riding with very low pressure that you hit an obstacle that causes the seal holding the tire to the rim to burst open causing an immediate flat! What do you do!?

Repair kit: spare tube or valve core remover, 2-ounce bottle of sealant, tire plug tool, and plugs, CO2.

You should always carry a spare inner tube for the situations mentioned above. If the flat is caused by glass or other object, make sure all of it is removed from the tire before installing the tube, then remove the valve stem from the rim and install the tube just as you would for a standard rim and tire. Re-seat the tire and inflate with a pump. (Put the valve stem in a safe place so you can re-install it when you replace the tire.)

If you want to repair the tire without using a tube, you'll need the other repair kit supplies so that you can remove the valve core and add more sealant. For a large puncture, you would use the tire plug (similar to what is used on car tires). The CO2 gives the quick burst of air needed to inflate the tire and re-seat the tire bead.

This is just a start, but now that you know... if you'd like to work on your own bike but you're not sure if you can do it on your own, reach out to another Diva with tubeless and team up to prepare your tires for another summer of riding. If you are working on your bike and you get stuck, contact your mechanic and ask for a hand. Even they run into tires that can be difficult!


Friday, April 26, 2024

Kicking things off!


The snow is melting so we'll soon be on the paved trails and roads for our first scheduled rides of the season as we prepare for the dirt trails to dry. This is a great time to rebuild your miles if you've been off the bike for a while, or to maintain your fitness between the snow and dirt seasons.

Before we talk about the rides, for those who couldn't make it, last week 15 women showed up for the annual Meet & Greet and it was fun to connect or reconnect with everyone. At the gathering, we announced our sponsorship of the Singletrack Advocates (STA) annual fundraiser to complete the Service Singletrack trails. As a sponsor, we had event tickets that we gave away to five lucky winners who were in attendance: Kyung, Jennifer, Michele, Kirsten, and Diann! Congrats to all the winners and we look forward to seeing you and other Divas at the fundraiser on Friday, May 3. For more information, visit STA

We have also made donations to GRIT: Girls Riding Into Tomorrow which mentors middle-school age girls interested in bicycling. And we are a sponsor of the Mountain Bike for Women Festival to be held this June at Hilltop. As a sponsor, we will have an information table with swag for sale and members of the Dirt Divas will receive a discount on their registration for the event (see the MeetUp page for event details). We're excited to be a bigger part of this event that teaches skills to other women in a supportive environment, an ethic that aligns with the mission of the Alaska Dirt Divas.

Now, on to the rides!

Our first ride is the Bike for Women course pre-ride in Chugiak. This is a paved route on somewhat busy roads that follows the race course. You'll find the course map linked from the site. It's a hilly route that will get the lungs working and will help those participating plan their race strategy. Be sure to sign up for the ride and watch for other events on the MeetUp page.

Check the schedule for other upcoming events. And remember, if you are a member looking for women to ride with on a day and time not on our schedule, post up! It's a great way to meet more people who have a similar schedule and want to ride where you want to ride. Reach out and make a new friend!